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Crowley, I will argue, is not only a fascinating figure worthy of attention by scholars of religion, but he is also of profound importance for the understanding of modern Western spirituality and culture as a whole.
First, with his radical rejection of Victorian morality and his central emphasis on sex as the supreme magical power, Crowley is a remarkable reflection of his era and of the sexual attitudes of late and post-Victorian England.
During his Cambridgewhen he was introduced to group known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.A prolific poet as well as an accomplished mountain-climber, Crowley would also become one of the most reviled characters of the 20 Yet, as his most recent biographer Lawrence Sutin argues, Crowley was far more than a mere sadistic master of the black arts; not only was he a gifted poet, painter and "master modernist" in his prose style, but he was also one of the first Western students of Buddhism and yoga, and "one of the rare human beings …to dare to prophesy a distinctive new creed and to devote himself..the promulgation of that creed."The details of Crowley's life are fairly well-known, based on his own autobiography and numerous popular biographies, so I won't reiterate all of them here.I will simply provide a brief sketch of his background and context.He was one of many who helped to tear down the false, hypocritical, self-righteous attitudes of the time.What is peculiar in Crowley’s case it not that he chose evil but that in his revolt against his parents and God he set himself up in God’s place.In most cases he has been dismissed as, at best, a pathetic charlatan, and, at worst,a sadistic pervert and a ridiculous crank.Most scholars of Western esotericism, such as Antoine Faivre, make only passing reference to Crowley, while leading scholars of new age religions, such as Wouter Hanegraaff, give him only In fact, for most American readers today, Tantra is typically associated with Crowley-ian sex magick.If this secret [of sexual magic], which is a scientific secret, were perfectly understood, as it is not by me after more than twelve years' almost constant study and experiment, there would be nothing which the human imagination can conceive that could not be realized in practice.impact on contemporary new religious movements, esotericism and occultism, even as he has been almost entirely ignored by academic scholarship.Known in the popular press of as "the wickedest man in the world," and proclaiming himself the "Great Beast 666," Crowley was the object of intense media scandal, moral outrage and titillating allure throughout his life.There are many conflicting accounts of his final days: according to some hagiographic accounts, he slipped blissfully into the Buddhist state of final liberation, passing from "Samadhi to Super-Samadhi to Nirvana to Super Nirvana, expiring in the boundless bliss of the Infinite."In sum, Crowley might be said to be a remarkable reflection of the era in which he was born.While deliberately setting out to overthrow all established values, he was perhaps only expressing the darker underside or "secret life" of the Victorian world in which he was raised: Crowley was a contemporary of Freud; he grew out of the matrix of Victorianism...