Occultist. Widely considered the most influential figure in Western occultism, Aleister Crowley first rose to prominence in mystical circles as a member of the London-based Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric offshoot of freemasonry with many well-known members, including poet and folklorist William Butler Yeats. After a power struggle within that group, Crowley broke with the order and formed his own philosophy of magic, which he called Thelema. During his career, he achieved a great personal reputation as an author and bon vivant. His eclectic writings largely consisted of recommended readings, including Hindu and Buddhist sacred texts, Cabala, and the works of Western authors like Cornelius Agrippa, Eliphas Levi, and James Frazer. In the scientific spirit of the Victorian era, Crowley also experimented with his own novel magical practices, including spending the night inside Egypt's great pyramid (which led to his then-wife Rose allegedly dictating Crowley's "Book of the Law" from the Egyptian deity Horus), Cabala-inspired numerology, and, in the tradition of the Kama Sutra, experiments with "Sex Magick" (which he intentionally spelled with a "k" because of that number's numerological properties). These practices spread into his notorious social escapades as well. Upon meeting actress Sarah Bernhardt, Crowley asked her if she would like a "serpent's kiss", whereon he bit her hand and licked up her blood. In 1934, Crowley sued sculptor Nina Hamnett for libel after she referred to him as a "black magician" in her autobiography. During the trial, Crowley admitted to various lurid debaucheries, including feeding blood to a skeleton, rampant drug abuse (his own autobiography was titled "Diary of a Drug Fiend"), and ubiquitous orgies. Faced with Crowley's revelations, the jury awarded his a pittance, leaving Crowley bankrupt and broken, though there is some evidence that he would later collaborate with Gerald Gardner on the founding books of modern Wicca in the 1940s. In the decades following his death, Crowley was a favorite of many occult-oriented musicians, including guitarist Jimmy Page, who purchased Crowley's one-time Loch Ness estate "Boleskine House", singer Ozzy Osborne, who recorded the homage "Mr. Crowley", and the Beatles, who included his likeness on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Crowley's statement of ethics, "[If] it harm none, do what thou wilt," has become a motto for many magical groups and is probably his most enduring legacy.
Bio by: Stuthehistoryguy