At long last, my record is broken -- as of yesterday* I am no longer the only person among the millions on LJ to list "Crowleyanity" among his interests. I have, I confess, been more than a little proud of that solitary distinction, these many moons...but now that it's no longer mine alone, let me post just a few (more**) words explaining why I included it in the first place. As always in discussions of Initiation, I will have to be somewhat indirect and unforthcoming, for the simple reason that absolute candor in such matters either (a) cannot be heard by, or (b) would spoil the fun of, those still undergoing Initiation. Furthermore, whaddayasay?, let's put this under a cut, so's most people won't read it.
I am a Crowleyan for the same reason that other reasonably intelligent people (as distinct from those either foolish, or merely lazy) are Christians or Buddhists or Muslims: because the spiritual insights of a once-living human being, in this case Edward Alexander "Aleister" Crowley, have proven so beneficial to me that I have chosen to transform my life in their light. This does not involve a belief in Crowley's infallibility, much less superhuman status; indeed, it doesn't require his having been either a good role model*** or a particularly nice guy.**** What, then, does it involve?
Throughout human history, the brightest and most sensitive human beings have tended to take a serious clobbering from life: the stupid but hardy thrive, while the smart and emotive get steamrollered. To some extent this has aided evolution, if only by ensuring that comparatively few dreamers would have the opportunity to reshape mankind in the image of their dreams. Especially as of the twentieth century EV, however, this mechanism has increasingly threatened human survival: if human beings didn't grow some smarts, and some sensitivity, pretty quickly, there might not be any surviving human beings left to worry about.
Like others before him, Aleister Crowley both undertook, and (after some eight and a half years) underwent, "Initiation." He got there by examining and practicing all of the spiritual disciplines of mankind that he could lay his hands on, and he succeeded as literally nobody in history had in formulating what amounts to a Unified Field Theory of Initiation itself.***** He spent the rest of his life establishing an interlocking initiatory system to help others find their own accommodations to reality, several aspects of which system, in varying degrees of health, exist today.
But most of all, he left an extraordinarily extensive record of that journey, and instructions for replicating it -- in prose and verse, in diary and fiction, Holy Book and instruction -- so that others might one day be "Initiated," and help yet others to do so...even if every other remnant of his initiatory system perished, as such human constructs are wont to do.****** Nobody else in the history of mankind had done this, either; it is an unspeakable gift, and his chief legacy. He also, like a few others, left an extensive record of attempts to practice Magick, which field he more or less single-handedly reshaped (and redefined, but then we're back to Initiation again)...but it is his record of the nature of Initiation, and his instructions for carrying it out, that remain absolutely unparalleled.
Not six decades after his death, one sees already the tendency to bury Crowley's actual insights under a body of doctrine; also, to mistake a part of his interlocking initiatory system for the whole (cf. CCXX I:49-50, "One Star in Sight," and OTO's "Liber CXCIV," among others*******). This is unfortunate, but to be expected. All a responsible Crowleyan can do is to take what insights he himself has won, and pass them along as far into the future as he can.
So now you know: that's why I'm proud to be a Crowleyan. And "blessing & worship to the prophet of the lovely Star!" :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* As noted here in some interesting additions to a previously dormant thread.
** When I took Minerval in OTO I noted to my initiator that it was part of my purpose in doing so to "Put the Crowley back in Crowleyanity," and that's just what I've spent years trying to do. I'm also big on dropping hints; my C.'.G.'. Student Handbook: Mysticism, Magick, Thelema (1997 EV) spends all of its third and final chapter (hence most of the book) doing just that, in the course of reviewing both the writings and life of Uncle Al himself. :)
*** In case you weren't aware of it, heroin and cocaine are very bad for you; AC became aware of this too late. I personally restrict my drugs to coffee and cigars, and even then I don't think either one is good for me.
**** He could be a very nice guy, but heaven help those who willingly became his slaves: Uncle Al strongly believed that those who chose slavery deserved what they got. Compare how he treated Gerald Yorke before, and after, Yorke chose to become independent. He also shared many of the unfortunate prejudices of his day; more than some few, but less than very many others. OTOH, he could be uncommonly vengeful, and (particularly in fancied vengeance) not infrequently cruel. All qualities not previously unknown in religious leaders, of course.
***** I wanted to say of "Religion" and/or "Spirituality"; all are correct, but "Initiation" is the most complete.
****** See his rewriting of Eckartshausen as "An Account of A.'.A.'.", and his own "One Star in Sight," for details. These are often misread as fanciful.
******* Have I mentioned the essay "Eleusis"?, and the rest of the original A.'.A.'. Reading List? I figured I prolly had.