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Aleister Crowley: A Legacy of Racism and Nationalism

Aleister Crowley: A Legacy of Racism and Nationalism

and Other Forms of BIGOTRY
in the Writings of

These documents grew out of discussions in Usenet and in the Thelema93-L discussion group. They are archived with permission of the writers.


by catherine yronwode


I did not come to the writings of Aleister Crowley *expecting* to find a racist.

I came to his writings as an aspiring student of magic who happened to be Jewish, and this during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, at that.

I was privileged to be able to read all of his books in their first editions, one after another, because my parents owned an antiquarian bookstore and in the mid 1960s had purchased the estate of an elderly wealthy woman who had known Crowley well and had amassed an extensive library on ceremonial magic, physical culture, sex magic, and Theosophy. She was known to me as "The Mistress of the Lotus Lodge," and had lived in Oakland, California during her retirement, dying of a heart attack while performing what seems to have been a money drawing spell, for she was found dead within a circle of gold coins worth many, many thousands of dollars with a spiral of flung-out tarot cards around her (the first printing of the Waite-Smith deck, as it happened, although she also had in her library the Crowley-Harris cards and even a brochure for the art gallery display of Harris' original tarot paintings in London, with a colour cover, and text by Crowley).

My parents bought not only her books, but other things of value from her estate; i received a theatrical golden ceremonial headdress with pears and leaves worked into it (silver-marked from London in the late 1880s and plated with gold) for my part in cataloguing the library for sale.

As i catalogued, i read each book -- and some i was able to read twice or three times before they sold. I took extensive notes, for there were no xerox machines in those days. I copied out entire pages by hand, complete with sigils and diagrams. I still recall the beautiful raised leather bindings, some with gilded edges, some with fore-edge marbling, and the soft smell of the pure rag paper.

For the most part, i read the books in the order of their publication, trying to recreate the way The Mistress of the Lotus Lodge must have encountered them, interspersing Crowley with Waite and Mathers and lesser-known (but to me no less valuable) authors like John William Lloyd the sex-mystic, and Bernarr Mcfadden the proponent of physical culture.

After reading dozens, perhaps even a hundred racial slurs, epithets, put-downs, and denigrations in these Victorian and Edwardian era books, i began to feel oppressed. There was so much in them about "race purity" and "the Negro Problem" and "the Jewish Problem" -- and, of course, i knew full well where that had led, because my mother had fled Hitler's Germany in 1936 and settled in the United States to escape anti-Jewish violence. Many of the racist authors of these books on magic and the occult were British or lived in Britain, and i knew that Britain had "been our Ally during the War." So if they hated Hitler, why did they also hate Jews? And why did they write books on the Kabbalah?

My family was highly political. I had marched in support of racial integration and nuclear disarmament with my parents since i was a young child. We were just then, during the Lyndon Johnson administration, on the brink of finally, irrevocably bringing equal rights to all Americans, or so i believed, not knowing how long it would actually take in the case of Americans who were female, gay, or transgendered. I was (and am) a person of strong convictions, and the conviction of racial equality had been upon me since i was five years old and first met my fellow classmates in kindergarten, an assortment of children who self-identified variously as English, Scots-Irish, Portuguese, Italian, Jewish, Armenian, Mexican, Negro, Chinese, Japanese, and "Heinz 57."

The most unremittingly and consistently racist writings i found in the library of the Mistress of the Lotus Lodge were the works of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Annie besant, and Aleister Crowley. I finally stopped reading the Blavatsky and Besant books. They just made me sick. Their prose was tedious, they seemed full of fabulous lies, and i was not enjoying them, so i felt no remorse at removing them from my bedside stacks.

Aleister Crowley was another matter. His work was lively, engaging, filled with wit, and it emanated a hint of shared jokes with his educated readers. And those beautiful bindings! The rich paper stock! I gave him chance after chance after chance. But after reading the third or fourth dozen racist remark in 777, the Confessions, and the bound volumes of the Equinox, i finally came to the conclusion that he was a racist. And yet i finished his books, and read some twice, and the Book of Thoth three times at least. I will admit, however, that i had more enjoyment from the works of Arthur Edward Waite. They were doggedly scholarly and certainly gave my Latin dictionary a work-out, but Waite projected a friendliness and acceptance of all people among the agate-point footnotes that littered the bottoms of his pages and continued from page to page until some pages were more footnote than text.

Within the next two years, after leaving home, i embarked upon a formal program of esoteric study, working my way through the various magical disciplines from their earliest times to the present -- folk magic, classical magic, spell-craft, alchemy, demonology, sex magic, Kabbalah. When i began concentrating on astrology -- an area of study that lasted 20 years and which i still find useful -- i discovered the wonderful writings of the 1930s newspaper columnist and astrological popularizer Evangaline Adams, whose two major books, it later came as no surprise to me, had been ghostwritten for her by Aleister Crowley.

I've always liked Crowley's writing, even when i thought someone else had done it. But he's still a racist. That's just all there is to it, in my opinion.

I could, i suppose, argue each instance of Crowley's racist writings, paragraph by paragraph. I could spend hours every day, submitting each racist remark he made, book by book and chapter by chapter, to the test of irony and to a thorough backgrounding in historical context.

I could even meet the racist Crowley more than halfway, relating each racial epithet to his personal sexual relationships at the time of writing -- for he tended to praise the racial make-up of those with whom he was having sex at the moment and to grotesquely derogate the racial make-up of his lovers' husbands or anyone with whom he was breaking up or by whom he had been dumped. But the very fact that he did this -- the horrible things he said about the racial background of the Indian author and scholar Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), for instance, merely because he was engaged in a failing affair with Coomaraswamy's wife! -- indicates that to him, the cheap and handy racial slur was second nature.

And why?

Because Aleister Crowley was a racist, a racial bigot.


I have been asked to provide examples of Aleister Crowley's racism, and i believe i can do so. The question here is not whether Crowley was "wrong" or "particularly awful" or "harsh." The question is whether it can be demonstrated that he was a racist. I think that this can been demonstrated.

I could provide half a hundred examples of Crowley's racism by going through his books, one by one, but there is a simpler, quicker altrnative that is open to anyone with a search engine. Here's how it works:

Go to and type in these keywords:

"Confessions of Aleister Crowley" (all in quote marks, as shown)
and then any second search term you choose that may touch on race, such as one or more of these words:
Your second search term need not be in quote marks.

Searching with this format, you will come up with hits from the online version of "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley" at Typically, only two pages from that site will be served up in the search results, but you will also be offered a link called "more results from" Hit that link and you will bring up all the results at's online text of the "Confessions" which contain your second search-term.

Read through the page-snippets that google presents for your viewing with each URL. If you choose to pursue a given URL, open it and use your browser's "find" function to find your chosen second key term within the page you have been served.

Here. I'll do a sample, just for drills. I will use the search format

"Confessions of Aleister Crowley" [race or nation]
What follows are not the pages themselves, or the most racist extracts from the pages; they are merely the page-snippets and the URLs for the pages that were served up by google in January of 2003. These snippets look to me as if the cited pages may contain examples of Crowley's racism:

search term: "Confessions of Aleister Crowley" Indian

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... We should never have shown our weakness to the Indian
student who fills Bengal with the tale of his sexual conquest
of white women, our servant girls who took ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... The British official in Ceylon is a very different
person from his Indian colleague. He is not "heaven-born" in
the same consecrated and ineluctable way. ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... certain to produce disaster. Similarly, hashish, which
excites certain types of Arab, Indian, Malay or. {490}. Mexican
to indiscriminate ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... In Colombo this world problem solves itself; for the
Indian toils, without ambition or object, from sheer habit;
the European bosses things, with ...

search term: "Confessions of Aleister Crowley" Bengali
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... No one could have suspected that he had a Bengali
grandmother. But in the first twenty-four hours I had
discovered the truth of the aphorism "Blood will tell". ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... brainless Scandinavians usually are. The doctor was a
Bengali named Ram Lal Sircar, a burly nigger of the most
loathsome type. I am not ...

search term: "Confessions of Aleister Crowley" Jew
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... We have the gross, hooked, pendulous proboscis; the thick,
flabby, moist lips; the patient stupid eyes, and timid, hunted
gait of the bad type of Jew. ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... A similar case is presented by the Jew, who really does
only too often possess the bad qualities for which he is
disliked; but they are not proper to his race. ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... character, he had been pauperized by the influx of
Europeans, and corrupted by the "evil communications" of Greeks,
Greeks, Armenians and the objectionable type of Jew ...

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
... In the previous spasm she had rushed to the registrar the
most nauseating colopter1 that ever came under my microscope.
It was a Whitechapel Jew. ...

Here are fuller texts from three of the above-cited pages:

On page 522 of "Confessions" we see one form Crowley's racism takes; he despises interracial marriage in Egypt and he describes the bad effect he feels has resulted from racial mixing between Egyptians, Greeks, Armenians, and Jews, which he calls "admixture of blood." He then goes on to discuss "national" "types of Jews" as if people were not individuals but mere cut-outs representative of race and nation:

"I had quite a number of other small adventures during my short stay in Morocco. The character of the people corresponds very closely with my own in its more salient aspects. I liked them very much better than the Egyptians, who seem to me to suffer from too much history, too much civilization, too much commerce, too much admixture of blood; and above all, too much cosmopolitanism. The Egyptian has little national character, he had been pauperized by the influx Europeans, and corrupted by the "evil communications" of Greeks, of Armenians and the objectionable type of Jew. The Jew in Morocco is, on the whole, a very fine fellow. He has a religion and a point of honour, to say nothing of his pride of race. It has been said that every nation has the government which it deserves. I would add, the type of Jew which it deserves. His imagination and sensitiveness make him the touchstone of his surroundings."
On pages 762-763 of "Confessions" he describes in greater detail what he has called above "the objectionable type of Jew." In this passage he is teaching the student of magick how to use a horoscope to judge a subject's character and physical appearance, and he opines that the rising sign or ascendent is more important than the Sun-sign in regard to appearance. He begins with the rising sign Aries, which he claims has two qualities, an "active" or "martial" quality and a "passive" or "evil" quality. The "evil" form of Aries rising is identified as Jewish:
"One must further remark that each sign governs two main types ... the active and the passive. Thus Aries: the high brows, long face, aquiline nose, tall thin muscular figure, shows the fiery and martial qualities of the sign. But there is an evil and averse counterpart corresponding to the ovine nature. We have the gross, hooked, pendulous proboscis; the thick, flabby, moist lips; the patient stupid eyes, and timid, hunted gait of the bad type of Jew.
On Page 471 of the same book we see his opinion of how race should be factored into social relations. Here he instructs the reader in his preferred method of relating to Chinese people. This was written in a passage describing his trip to China:
"One cannot fraternize with the Chinese of the lower classes; one must treat them with absolute contempt and callousness."
If i had the time, i would open up and look through more of the above-cited URLs for the most precisely racist extracts they contained and post them here. I leave it to you to do the rest of the leg-work, if you choose, and to work out similar searches for any or all of the other secondary search terms i gave above.

Please note that the above examples are only the racist expressions from ONE of Crowley's many books, the "Confessions."

Similar statements of belief will be found in other texts he wrote which may or may not be online and available for such a search. For instance, here's a choice example from a different book:

"...we [British] always somehow instinctively think of the Italian as a nigger. We don't call them "dagos" and "wops" as they do in the United States, with the invariable epithet of "dirty"; but we have the same feeling."
"Diary of a Drug Fiend" Book I, Chapter 9 (1922)


With respect to charges that Aleister Crowley was anti-Semitic or, more properly speaking anti-Jewish and that evidence of this is found in the preface to the original edition of "777" [This material was suppressed by the editor of the revised edition of the book, Israel Regardie --

In "777". Aleister Crowley wrote:

"CAN any good thing come out of Palestine? is the broader anti- Semitic retort to the sneer cast by the Jews themselves against the harmless and natural Nazarene; one more example of the poetic justice of History.
Crowley speaks here as a Christian, defending "the harmless and natural Nazarene" (Jesus) against the "sneer" of the Jews.

The rhetorical question -- and hence endorsement of the idea -- that it is "the poetic justice of history" for Jews to suffer persecution by Christians because they (as a race, as a culture, as a religious group) "sneered" at Jesus is a justification that is pandemic in Christian anti-Jewish thought. Entire books have been written which support this logical fallacy, which Crowley endorses, and which has at its extreme the accusation that "the Jews Killed Christ."

I recommend two recent books on the history of this anti-Jewish viewpoint, both written by Christians who seek to oppose and put and end to the hostility and damage caused by centuries of programmatic Christian anti-Jewish hatred: They are "Who Killed Jesus" by John Dominic Crossan and "The Sword of Constantine" by James Carroll.

Next, skipping the portions of Crowley's arguments for and against a study of the Kabbalah, we arrive at Aleister Crowley writing this:

Human sacrifices are to-day still practised by the Jews of Eastern Europe,
This is certainly an anti-Jewish lie. There is no way to retroactively soften the impact it was designed to have on the reader. Crowley states this as FACT.

Some folks refer to the above as an "anti-Semiti slur." Semites are those whose native tongue belongs to a particular language group known as Semitic, which includes Akkadian, Ugaritic, Hebrew, and Arabic. Semitic languages, in turn, are a sub-set of the Afro-Asiatic-Semitic language group, which also includes ancient Egyptian, Berber-Tuareg, Chushitic, and Chadic languages.

Arabic Moslems are Semitic, and they are, quite obviously, not Jews. Cushite Ethiopians also are Semitic. Semitic is the oldest language family in continuous use, date back to 3,000 B.C.

In Aleister Crowley's era -- and until fairly recently -- it was considered "polite" to call bigoted people who disliked Jews "anti-Semitic" -- as if they also hated Arabs and Ethiopians with equal venom, when in fact such people were generally unknown to them and the race-hatred was focussed almost entirely on Jews.

With the entrance into world politics of formerly remote Semitic people who are not Jewish, and the mass migrations that have led most European and American cities to house large populations of Arabs as well as Jews, the term "anti-Semitic" has become obsolete, and modern usage recommends calling a spade a spade and identifying a person who expresses bigotry, prejudice, or hostility against Jews as "anti-Jewish."

But let us continue with the quote from Crowley in "777":

as is set forth at length by the late Sir Richard Burton in the MS. which the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress, and evidenced by the ever-recurring Pogroms against which so senseless an outcry is made by those who live among those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals."
There is no evidence of lampooning here. Aleister Crowley flatly says that

      1) "the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress" the late Sir Richard Burton's documentation of human sacrifices practiced by Eastern European Jews
      2) the recurring pogroms against Eastern European Jews are factual "evidence" of the these ritual murders by Jews, and
      3) it is "senseless" for the attacks against Jews in Eastern Europe to be politically or socially protested by liberal non-Jews who live among the English Jews because the latter are "degenerate" human beings, albeit "not cannibals."

The trouble with writing like this, as it affects younger readers of Crowley, who have no historical knowledge, is that words like "pogrom" and arch inversions of syntax like "those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals" confuse readers who lack knowledge of 20th cntury history.

For those completely unfamiliar with Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890), to whom Crowley refers in the passage quoted above, i recommend a google search or a trip to the library. Suffice it to say that Burton was a great 19th century explorer and Orientalist, and a hero to Aleister Crowley.

With respect to the writings of Aleister Crowley, the most notable of Sir Richard Burton's works is "The Perfumed Garden of Sheikh Nefzaoui" -- Burton's translation of an Arabic heterosexual erotic manuscript, which Crowley in turn used as the direct stylistic and format template for his own homosexual erotic pastiche published under the title "The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist of Shiraz."

The evident leader-follower connection between Burton the explorer and author and Crowley the tourist and pastiche-writer makes Aleister Crowley's admiration for and debt to the works of Sir Richard Burton quite obvious to all of his biographers and to even the most casual reader of Crowley. Thus, when Crowley cites Burton as an authority on the fact that Jews murdered people as part of a cannibalistic blood sacrifice, he is citing an author whose work he had been reading, following, and even imitating all of his life.

To understand the word "pogroms", consult a dictionary -- or, do as i just have done for you and go to and type in these words:

pogrom definition
Doing that results in a list of 4,080 web pages contain the terms "pogrom" and "definition", of which the page given top ranking for relevance by the google search engine is "Pogrom Definition" at
where you can read the following:

Derived from the Russian word meaning "wreak havoc," a pogrom is an organized attack, often a massacre, against a minority group, particularly Jews. For centuries the Jews in Russian lands were periodically victim to such persecutions, often with the active encouragement of local officials.

Notice the definition mentions that Jews in Russia (part of Eastern Europe) were "periodically victim" to pogroms -- and that Aleister Crowley calls these attacks "the ever-recurring Pogroms" -- so the two authors agree that these pogroms or massacres of Jews were a periodic, recurrent phenomenon, which, in fact, a study of history will confirm. (I have no idea why Crowley capitalized "pogroms," by the way; it is not a proper noun.)

Anti-Jewish legislation in various parts of Europe -- mass forced conversions to Christianity under threat of death, mass expulsions, laws forbidding Jews to own farmland, etc. -- began in the Medieval period of the Crusades and by way of the Catholic Inquisition it persisted through the Renaissance. For instance, all Jews were expelled from Spain and its colonies such as Sicily (now part of Italy) in 1492.

Many of the Jews displaced from Western and Central Europe by the Inquisition and its allied legislative evictions settled in Eastern Europe. In Poland, Lithuania, and Russia (the former two nations eventually absorbed by the latter), anti-Jewish campaigns waxed and waned in frequency and intensity and were incited by leaders of the local Christian churches. The massacres of Jews in 1349 in Silesia and 1648-1649 in Poland typify the sporadic onset of non-legislative attacks on Jews in Eastern Europe.

Eventually, under Tsar Alexander III of Russia (1845 - 1894; Tsar from 1881 - 1894) there was a distinct rise in non-legislative anti-Jewish violence and term "pogrom" came to be universally applied to such violent attacks and massacres.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s, political protests against the tacit governmental condoning of illegal pogroms in Russia began to be made by Jews living in Western Europe and the Americas. These protests included attempts to document government and Christian church collusion in supposedly "spontaneous" pogroms. One such protest was held in London.

It is these outcries to which Crowley is referring when he says it is "senseless" for British non-Jews to speak out against the pogroms because, he claims, the Jews of Eastern are actually guilty of ritual murder "as evidenced by" the pogroms.

The mid-19th century pogroms at Kiev and 30 nearby villages, the devastating 1903-4 pogroms at Kishinev in Southeastern Russia, and the 1905 pogrom in Minsk led to the waves of emigration by Jews from Russia. Many of the refugees relocated to the USA and England. The Russian pogroms -- and worldwide protests against them -- continued after the fall of the Russian empire in 1917, for during the Russian Civil War, there were pogroms in the Ukraine in 1919. However, the Bolsheviks put an end to the pogroms. (They had other failings as rulers, but that is another story.)

You can read a bit of documentation of the pogroms that were contemporary to Aleister Crowley's life in the writings of the Anarchist Jew Emma Goldman, who described the pogroms in Kiev in her book "My Disillusionment in Russia" (1923). Find an excerpt online at:
You can learn much more about the centuries long history of Eastern European pogroms -- and quite a bit about the history of the Kabbalah as well -- by reading a book called "History of the Jews in Poland and Russia" by Simon Dubnow. It was originally published in 1918 but is still in print, and well worth checking out. A table of contents (and an order button) for this book can be found at
I suggest that you *at least* read Dubnow's table of contents if you needs some historical backgrounding in what Aleister Crowley was referring to in "777" and why people say Aleister Crowley is anti-Semitic or, more properly, anti-Jewish.

To better compehend the antiquated syntax in the last portion of this Aleister Crowley text from "777" -- the reference to Jews who were 'at least not cannibals' -- look in Dubnow's book for "The Ritual Murder Trial of Velizh" in the early 19th century and "The Ritual Murder Trial of Saratov" in the mid 19th century.

Jews were frequently accused of ritual sacrifice, murder, and cannibalism in Eastern Europe. This sort of accusation, which dates back to the Medieval period, is called "the blood libel against the Jews" -- a malicious falsehood (libel) that claims that Jews drink the blood of human victims as part of their rituals -- that ritual human sacrifice is part of jewish religion.

What Aleister Crowley is claiming is that it is "senseless" to make an "outcry against" or to politically protest the pogroms and concomitant accusations of ritual murder in Eastern Europe -- because the pogroms themselves are confirmation that the ritual murders took place -- and that it is "especially" senseless when the political protests are "made by those [English NON-Jews] who live among those degenerate [English] Jews who are at least not cannibals" -- that is, not themselves personally guilty of ritual murder.

In other words, Aleister Crowley is saying something to this effect:

"Jews deserve persecution because they sneered at Jesus Christ .... The wealthy Jews of England may not be cannibals, but they are degenerate human beings and they are moving heaven and earth to suppress evidence of the ritual murders and cannibalism committed by their fellow Jews in Eastern Europe, as documented by Sir Richard Burton. Don't be fooled into protesting the pogroms against Jews in Eastern Europe, because those pogroms are proof that Eastern European Jews do commit ritual murder and it would be senseless for a non-Jew to take the side of the degenerate wealthy English Jews in making such protests against the pogroms."
This is no joke and no lampoon.

And this is why folks say that Aleister Crowley was an anti-Jewish bigot and racist.


There have been several attempts by Crowly supporters -- particularly those who hold offices in the ordo Templi Orietis (O.T.O.) to soft-pedal or otherwise sanitize Aleister Crowley's claim in "Sepher Sephiroth" -- collected in "777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley" -- that (and i quote from Crowley here):

Human sacrifices are to-day still practised by the Jews of Eastern Europe, as is set forth at length by the late Sir Richard Burton in the MS. which the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress, and evidenced by the ever-recurring Pogroms against which so senseless an outcry is made by those who live among those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals."
Back in the late 1980s, when Bill Heidrick, then the treasurer-general of the O.T.O., typed out and posted the electronic file version of Crowley's anti-Jewish preface to "Sepher Sephiroth," he added an editorial note to the Crowley paragraph above. He claimed that Crowley was writing with "irony." Said Heidrick:
WEH NOTE: Crowley's irony at times has led to his detriment. Elsewhere, and much later, he denies the validity of the "Blood Libel." Here he writes in somewhat dubious humor an anti-Semitic seeming introduction to a book on Jewish mysticism
You can find copies of the Crowley manuscript, as edited and annotated by Bill Heidrick, at several places on the web. One such place is:
However, Heidrick's editorial note aside, there is absolutely no literary or biographical evidence that the passage in question was intended by Crowley as "irony" or even as "humor." It is, rather, Crowley's simple, straightforward acceptance of and agreement with Sir Richard Burton's claim that human sacrifice was, during the late Victorian era, circa 1880 - 1890, actually being practiced by Jews in Eastern Europe -- and it is accompanied by a simple, factual comment by Crowley that a group of wealthy Jews in England had paid a lot of money to suppress Burton's manuscript detailing these charges and to see that it was not published.

There is current documentation that proves that Crowley's comment that a group of wealthy Jews in England had bought the unpublished anti-Jewish Burton manuscript with the aim of suppressing it is entirely factual and not in any way humourous. In fact, this group of Jews succeeded in suppressing the Burton manuscript for almost 100 years -- until 2001.

Please go to
where there is an article titled "Controversial sale of anti-Semitic book falls through," written by Richard Allen Green of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The Greene article is protected by copyright and so i cannot reproduce it here, but hitting the high spots, it says that "nearly 100 years ago" (e.g. circa 1903-5, at the time when the violent anti-Jewish pogroms and massacres at Kishinev and Minsk in Russia were in the headlines) "the Board of Deputies of British Jews," an "umbrella organization" of Jewish groups in England, gained possession of "a controversial Victorian manuscript" written by Sir Richard Burton, titled "Human Sacrifice Among the Sephardine or Eastern Jews." The manuscript has never been published and in fact only a few scholars have read it.

The article further states that in June 2001 the Burton manuscript was put up for auction at Christie's in London in order to raise funds for the British "umbrella group" -- a highly controversial plan that ultimately failed when the bidding did not achieve the pre-set reserve price and the manuscript therefore remained unsold.

The failed sale of Sir Richard Burton's "Human Sacrifice Among the Sephardine or Eastern Jews" created a lot of negative publicity about both the long-dead Sir Richard Burton and the Jews who had suppressed the manuscript and whose descendants then tried to sell it for ready cash. The ensuing controversy tore apart inter-Jewish alliances in England at the time. The Burton manuscript specifically targeted one group of Jews, the Sephardim (called Sephardine by Burton, who evidently did not count Hebrew among the many languages he spoke) and the Sephardic Jews on the Board of Deputies of British Jews were said to be "'shocked and surprised' at not having been consulted about the sale" by the board members who were Ashkenazy Jews.

Further discussion that took place in 2001 regarding the Burton manuscript and its implications can be found at this web-board archive:
I hope that these notes help O.T.O. members and others understand that when a Jew such as myself says in usenet or on the web that Aleister Crowley was a racist, an anti-Semite, an anti-Jewish bigot, or that he was prejudiced against Jews, it is not a failure of "humour" or an inability to appreciate "irony" that elicits the comment.

Further, while i appreciate Bill Heidrick's diligence and have sympathy for his thankless task, i cannot condone his attempt to mislead people into thinking that Crowley's paragraph stating a clear belief in the premises expounded by Sir Richard Burton in "Human Sacrifice Among the Sephardine or Eastern Jews" was some sort of literary prank. It was not.

Crowley admired Sir Richard Burton beyond all measure. He wrote an entire book aping a book by Sir Richard Burton. He knew that around the time of the violent anti-Jewish pogroms and massacres in Kishinev and Minsk, the Board of Deputies of British Jews had purchased the manuscript copy of Burton's "Human Sacrifice Among the Sephardine or Eastern Jews" in order to suppress it, and he alerted his non-Jewish readers to this fact, while also citing the pogroms themselves as "evidence" of the truth of Burton's charges, and labelling as "senseless" the political protests in England, Western Europe, and the Americas that were then being mounted against the pogroms by people he called "degenerate" Jews.


Whenever obvious examples of Crowley's racism are presented in discussion groups such as usenet or e-lists, it is fairly predictable that someone will either state that (or ask whether) such expressions of derogatory racial stereotyping were "common" or "normal" for Crowley's era and social class.

I believe that during the era of Crowley's life, only the most rabidly racist people would title a chapter of any book "'Monsters,' Niggers, Jews" -- much less a book purporting to teach "Magick Without Tears"! I think that most intelligent adults who have studied world history and who realize that Crowley lived most of his life in the 20th century should know this. I advise anyone who says that "people talked that way, even in the recent past" to take some time to read about the history of America and Britain, including the political and social conventions of that era.

Ignorance of history as a form of apologetics for one man's blatant -- and at that time blatant -- racism is simply not going to come across well in the world-wide forum of usenet, e-lists, and in the magical community in general. There are too many educated people present for anyone to succeed in perpetuating the myth that Crowley's racist writings were not exceptionally vile at the time they were published.

A sense of historical perspective would do a lot to clear up misperceptions about Crowley. The problem is that through ignorance, and/or through a deliberate attempt to bolster the reputation of the man by downplaying his blatant racism, and/or through an attempt to foster racism (unlikely, i admit, but a logical possibility), some posters present a bogus "historical perspective."

The idea promoted by a person who claims that "people talked that way, even in the recent past" -- which absolves Crowley by virtue of his unexceptionality in the matter -- is deeply flawed. It is a false and misleading "historical perspective" that is not borne out by even a superficial examination of the public writings and speeches of other British-born novelists, poets, politicians, philosophers, magicians, and clerics of Crowley's era.

To look for samples of Crowley's style of racist writing during his lifetime, one would have to scan the speeches and texts of Ku Klux Klansmen, members of the Aryan Volkisch Movement, pro-Nazi Bundists, and the few famously racist American politicians (such as Senator Bilbo) and clerics (such as Father Coughlin) who supported them. These public figures -- Bilbo, Coughlin, and the rest -- were pariahs in intellectual political and religious circles. They were regularly condemned by both mainstream conservatives and liberals alike.


Another way to rebut a fallacious "historical perspective" defense of Aleister Crowley is to contrast his racist writings with the writings of other spiritual and magical authors contemporary with his period. I intend to do so, citing another author, one perhaps fairly familiar in the rather closed circle of Thelemic celebrity.

This true "historical perspective" puts Aleister Crowley is a far worse light than some people may wish to admit. Crowley's racism was more than "way out of line" -- it was off the map!!!

To underscore the generally non-racist social mores of 19th century Caucasian sex-magicians, and to display Crowley's deviance from this norm, allow me to introduce the Reverend Hargrave Jennings, one of the "saints" named in the collects of Crowley's Gnostic Mass.

Jennings was a 19th century British cleric, scholar, and author who wrote extensively about sex-magick and solar-phallic sex-worship in a large number of books (e.g. "Ophiolatreia," "Phallicism Celestial and Terrestrial," "Phallic Remains," "The Crux Ansata," etc.). A Freemason and Rosicrucian, he was approximately a contemporary with the African-American sex-magician Paschal Beverly Randolph.

Jennings began writing while slavery was still legal in the United States, and he knew Randolph before the American Emancipation declaration had been signed by Randolph's friend Abraham Lincoln. The two men were familiar with each other's published works, had friends in common, and seem to have corresponded with each other. In addition, Jennings apparently met with Randolph when the latter visited England on a spiritualist lecture-tour in the mid-19th century.

I have read at least 12 of Jennings' books and as far as i can tell, he never wrote or said one hostile or derogatory thing about Randolph's race, nor about any of the other races (e.g. Asian, Semitic, Caucasian, Native American), whose cultures he mentioned in his world-wide surveys of sex-magick. Yet some here would ask us to believe that Crowley, born far later -- a decade after Emancipation, around the time that Randolph died, and about a decade before Jennings died -- was of only average racist inclination for a British man of his own, later, more progressive, time-period.

If Crowley was average, then what was Jennings -- an advanced thinker? I would argue that Jennings was not all that unusual or advanced, but that socially he was, in fact, representative of the average or norm for an educated, intellectual, philosophical British sex-magician of the mid-to-late 19th century.

It was Crowley who was out of step with his contemporaries, especially as he continued to foment anti-Semitic and anti-Negro propaganda after the first decade of the 20th century, by which time the very conventional and mainstream President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, had invited the Negro leader Booker T. Washington to dine with him in the White House. Given the era in which Crowley lived and the progress for social justice made during that time, he was nothing more than the lowest sort of xenophobic racist plug-ugly.

If Crowley's aeonic dream of a world that embraces Thelemic religion and practice is to ever develop into anything more than a small club, the international O.T.O., like the Mormon church before it, is going to have to work out a strategy to acknowledge and deal openly with the fact that the originator of virtually the entire corpus of Thelemic theoretical, practical, and liturgical text was a racist and that his personal reminiscences and magical lessons contain explicitly racist statements of belief and/or advocate specific forms of racist behaviour.


Rather than sweep Crowley's racism under the rug, i believe that it is important to recognize it. I believe that racist thoughts coloured his world view and informed his self-appointed task as a teacher and mentor of magick.

When Crowley wrote of the Chinese, "one must treat them with absolute contempt and callousness," he was speaking as a teacher, a sage, a leader, a public figure instructing his followers.

Anyone who chooses to follow his advice in regard to the treatment of the Chinese people, or the Indians he wished to ban from studying in England because he believed they were intent on having sex with "white women", will become, as their teacher was, a racist.

I think racism should NEVER be "disregarded." I think we should gaze upon it. I think we should look it in the eye. I think we should think about it. I think we should talk about it. I think we should make it a matter of public discourse.

Crowley claimed to have contact with Egyptian (Negro) deities and Crowley's magical theories owed a vast debt to the sex-magickal writings of the mid 19th century African-American author Paschal Beverly Randolph, so as i see it, his racism appears to have included gross hypocrisy of the lowest sort as well as race-hatred. Allow me to amplify:

Example One: Crowley claimed to be in communication with Egyptian goddesses and gods. Anyone with half a moment's experience can see that most of the ancient Egyptians and their deities -- generally coloured with dark tan to very dark brown skin in their own frescoes -- were of mixed Negroid features. Was Crowley disrespecting his own chosen deities? Or was his fixed racism so hypocritical that he had blinded himself to the fact of the race who worshipped these gods portrayed themselves and their gods as African Negroes with thick lips, flattened noses, and brown skin? In titling a chapter "'Monsters,' Niggers, Jews" what was he saying about the sincerity or coherence of his own worship?

Example Two: Crowley learned much from the writings of Paschal Beverly Randolph -- a mulatto free man of colour who worked for the Abolitionist cause as early as the late 1820s and was said to have been a friend of Abraham Lincoln's during the Civil War era, all the while writing voluminously on sex-magick, seership and scrying, hashish use for trance induction, the creation of an order for ceremonial magicians, and many other topics of great inspirational value to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, G.D., O.T.O., et al. Crowley learned from Randolph -- and then he proceeded to make derogatory comments about people of Randolph's race! It simply defies reason, and it does so in such a way as to make me think that race-prejudice ruled Crowley's world-view to the extent that he was literally incapable of accepting that one of his own major sources was a black man!!!

Example Three: Crowley abhorred Indians, as i easily demonstrated above by searching his autobiography for the terms "Indian," and "Bengali." Despite this, he claimed to have become a master of Yoga, an ancient spiritual tradition developed in India. Nt only that, he claimed to teach yoga to teach it to Westerners. Again we see a deep rift between belief and practice: Crowley appropriated the religious practices of a people he openly despised, for use in promotion of his position as a teacher and a sage.

It is up to the individual student to decide for him or herself if a teacher enmired in hypocricy is a fit mentor.

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