Copyright 1991 E.V., 182+ pages, softcover
I received this book as a gift from a fellow in Great Britain in March of 1994 E.V. and finally got around to reading it in February of 2002 E.V. The 182-page book, composed of twenty-six chapters, a trade paperback, was priced on the cover at £ 5.99, the binding so cheaply glued that it is sure to fall apart within a decade. The cover, with title and author's name in white, simple block letters, is deep purple and garishly adorned with a white and lavender picture of Crowley's face, a childishly scrawled red serpent painted to appear as if it is coiling about the face, and around this is a circle of runes. I had hoped to find some important phrase conveyed by the runes, but even with my limited knowledge of these ancient characters it was easy for me to determine that the phrase, the same on the lower half of the circle as the top half, merely said:
EV(E)RY MAN & EV(E)RY WOMAN IS A STAR
The use of the runic alphabet was hardly perfect, technically speaking this could be considered a misquote from Liber AL vel Legis, otherwise known as The Book of the Law, Chapter I, Verse 3, "Every man and every woman is a star", and while the verse itself is important, it is highly doubtful that the author, writing under the name of "Amado Crowley", actually understands the meaning and import of this simple Thelemic phrase.
The back cover blurb:AMADO CROWLEY was a child deliberately created as a vessel for the handing on of his father's craft: Magick.
During the years he was permitted to know Aleister Crowley he received an extraordinary education, culminating in initiation by his father. In carrying this legacy, throughout his adult life he has hidden himself from the attentions of the jealous, the prejudiced and the state. With good reason.
More than forty years after his death Aleister Crowley is still reviled with all the emotional fervour of agitprop, but the effort is heaped on discreding the man, whilst his teaching is largely ignored.
If Magick is so very dangerous just who, or which section of society, would be threatened by its survival and growth?
And if Crowley was so very dangerous just who, or which section of society, still feels threatened by him?
His son knows.
To me the above reads like the voice-over for the preview trailer of a bad B horror flick. By the way, if you don't know what an "agitprop" is, it simply means "a vehicle, such as a government department or a state-controlled press, by which Communist-oriented political propaganda is disseminated."
So we have the book by a man who calls himself "Amado Crowley" in our hands and it purports to tell us The Secrets of Aleister Crowley, yet at the top of only page 3 the author writes, "That, very briefly, is Aleister Crowley's life", and what little we had been told in those two and a fraction pages had been gleaned from the pages of Crowley's own book, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Throughout the book there are a few things mentioned, most of which, again, can be found in previously published books, and this includes factual errors. As an example, in that first chapter, on page 5, Amado tells us in regard to Aleister Crowley that
"He was expelled from various countries at varous times for doing things that were otherwise quite common in the streets of their own capitals!"
And while we can applaud Amado for pointing out that the alleged "wickedest man in the world" really wasn't that wicked after all, we need to point out that he had not been expelled from that many countries. Sicily well before the outbreak of World War II when Benito Mussolini had power was one such country, and this not because Crowley was so "wicked", but because he was attracting a lot of media attention and he was the head of a "secret society" that Mussolini, as a dictator, had to assume might be covertly planning the overthrow of his regime. Shortly after that Crowley was asked not to set up shop in France, this again becaue of the notoriety the yellow journalistic tabloids of his day had heaped on him and suspicions that proved to be false. I am not, off hand, aware of any other countries he had been expelled from, but even a couple more would hardly justify Amado's statement. And that is one of the problems with The Secrets of Aleister Crowley. The author will dispel this and that lie told about Crowley within its pages, but then he will either strengthen another false story or create a new fabrication to further muddy the complex history of the Great Beast 666, cancelling out what little good he could have done with his book.
The man who calls himself "Amado Crowley" went on to say on that third page
"As I will explain, Crowley was the victim of a conspiracy whose main aim was to make sure that his teachings would never be taken seriously. So they zoomed-in on the horseplay and, as we all know, the conspiracy succeeded... until now, anyway! One of my aims in writing this book is not to whitewash his name but simply to tell some of the other truths about him, i.e. those truths that have been repressed. I would like him to be judged against all the facts."
A lofty sounding goal, but aside from the fact that many of Amado's "truths" appear to be true only within the tiny universe of his own possibly disordered mind, there is also the alleged "conspiracy" to deal with here. Had Crowley been conspired against? No doubt there were small conspiracies here and there, such as the scheme of the tabloids of his day to completely discredit and destroy him, but that was done, no doubt, mostly to sell papers rather than to thwart his spiritual mission in life. Certainly there were and still are abstract forces in the universe that worked against Crowley and his mission and are at work today, but this is merely the constant action and reaction of universal forces, natural during the course of change, the revolving of the wheel of fate. Quite clearly Amado is referring to more human forces, but what of this? It brings up an interesting point in regards to Amado's personality. First let us pose the question:
This is a question he does not easily answer for us. Yes, of course, he tells us that he is the legitimate illegitimate son of Aleister Crowley, but he also goes on to tell us many other things in his book which are, to put it mildly, dubious at best. Is he the son of To Mega Therion, the Great Wild Beast? Here's his story ... briefly
On page 22 Amado tells us that "The top notch magician of the entire century had decided he wanted a child!"
"He'd had a brace or two already, of course, and was not quite sure of the exact number. A few he had heard about in the natural way of things. But there were others who were never announced. ...
Perhaps true for many reasons you can imagine, although this contradicts what Amado wrote on the following page, that "he had never wanted a baby before," but Amado's idea here is that he wanted a special child, a son because the "family business needed a successor." In other words, Amado, like so many others, took Crowley's novel, Moonchild, just a little too seriously. This never failed to amuse Crowley himself.
"Evidently, this was not going to be just another anonymous bastard. This was going to be a bespoke, Crowley special, crafted by supernatural means and hallowed to the cause."
"All the more urgent then, to conceive the chalice 777. He would be the new teacher for the Aeon of Horus. He would be the Aquarius from whom the healing waters would flow. Everything must happen well before the explosion." (Page 24)
May the gods forbid that "Amado Crowley" be "just another anonymous bastard"! He has to be very special indeed.
On page 27 the author begins speaking of his mother by telling us that "Her name was Stella Taylor." She was twenty-two at the time she allegedly met Crowley. Stating on page 30: "It was there that Aleister Crowley found her, on the ferry to Boulogne." Supposedly Crowley had picked her out of all of humanity to be the mother of his successor and while at times Amado tells us that all of Crowley's friends and associates betrayed him, he also expects us to believe that Crowley maintained a loyal network of friends and associates who watched over the woman and later her child. His story often leads to contradictions of this sort. While I, as a Thelemite, affirm that "Every man and every woman is a star", each unique and special in and of him- or herself, and while it is only natural for an individual to believe that his or her mother is extra special, it seems to me that Amado wants us to believe that Stella Taylor was something akin to the Christian "Virgin Mother" in her uniqueness and unfortunately his book seems to indicate that she was, after all, only a woman - a unique individual, vested with that which is wonderful about womanhood, but no more special than, say, my mother or yours.
While Jesus was supposedly "the son of God", for all practical purposes his father was Joseph. Who then was Amado's Joseph and what is Amado's real name?
The author goes on a great deal throughout his book to tell us how many idividuals and groups his book will upset and how they will surely seek him out, destroy him, steal his secrets and the special property that he guards. In fact, he went on and on about this so much throughout his book that for a moment I was beginning to think that he and the late Marcelo Ramos Motta might have a great deal in common.
"My book will get some backs up. I'd love to be wrong, but what a fool I'd be to imagine it could be otherwise." (Chapter 1, page 3)
Actually it seems obvious that he would love to be right about this as it would validate him, but it is wrong. You probably haven't even heard of this book until this review. It seems to be mostly ignored in the occult and so-called Thelemic community, and of course those outside of that relatively small clique would not even understand what there is about the book that would make it "good" or "bad", nor would they care. And has it gotten my back up? No. I deal with it here only because it further muddies the already confused history of Aleister Crowley, complicates the issue a little more, preventing the world at large from taking an interest in the man and his work, thus thwarting the Will of To Mega Therion and, if you'll pardon the expression, the Will of Thelema, and because I find this man who calls himself "Amado Crowley" somewhat interesting ... but not in the way he would like to be thought interesting. He represents something I often like to draw attention to for the sake of students and their more sure-footed treading of the Path of the Wise: "Amado Crowley" is an example.
"Another reason why I won't be very welcome is that the occult scene teems with experts already. Most of them pride themselves on knowing all there is to know about Crowley. I can see how they will react when they learn that they do not. They are not going to be best pleased." (Chapter 1, page 4)
In point of fact, while he obviously hopes to upset the "experts", he fails to understand that those individuals who are deluded and believe that their misconceptions are facts are likely to shrug off anything he or anyone else says to the contrary, lost in their delusions, their ego-centric belief strong enough to stand against any fact in their own minds. The "experts" who truly do know their subject instantly recognize just how silly, how farcical The Secrets of Aleister Crowley is, and at most they will only find the book and it's author a bit of a minor annoyance, a pest to brush away. No one is pleased with a pest, but I doubt there are many who will be terribly bothered by Amado's claims. Well, there are bound to be a few: those other self-proclaimed children of Aleister Crowley and reincarnations of the Beast. It would be amusing to watch Amado and the rest battle it out, locked in a room together. Perhaps one day an entire wing of a mental health clinic will be devoted to individuals who believe they are the legitimate illegitimate children of Aleister Crowley, his many self-proclaimed magical children, and those who are convinced that they are the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley.
"Of course, certain gentlemen will call me an imposter on the grounds that Crowley never told them about me - and he would have done so. They are very sure of themselves. In fact Crowley knew which ones were likely to crow too loudly and guessed what they'd do with his secret. They betrayed all his other confidences, didn't they?"
"Whatever others may say, they cannot be sure. They are just surmising, whereas I possess proof. Not that it matters. It is what I say about him that counts." (Chapter 1, pages 4 & 5)
And yet, throughout the entire book, Amado fails to actually give us that supposed "proof". Can we be sure that he is not the son of Aleister Crowley? Maybe not, unless one wishes to check all of the legal documents, the facts of his birth and the history of his parents, but even then, his story being what it is, there would be some room for doubt. However, in the long run, what would it matter? As he himself wrote, Crowley has impregnated more than a few women in his life and there may be many "illegitimate" sons and daughters of his still alive to this day. There is evidence to support the theory that Jesus of Nazareth was a married man, that he had children, and some claim that his line is still in existence, that his descendants still walk the earth? What of it? If a man or woman's worth was based solely upon his or her parentage or ancestry then how many of us would be worshipped and how many of us condemned despite our own accomplishments in life or lack thereof? We cannot judge Amado and his "truths" on the basis that he may have been sired by Aleister Crowley. That is irrelevant. We have to judge the man and his work according to his own words and deeds, and based upon The Secrets of Aleister Crowley things aren't looking too good for "Amado Crowley".
"Please: I have no wish to offend you. I would prefer not to become an occult Salman Rushdie. I rely on my memory but where I am unsure of my facts, I do say so. I have tried to do my duty by him. I hope he would approve." (Page 5)
Would Crowley approve? I think he would be amused. Mildly amused after all of the other "children of the Beast" and "reincarnations" that have run amock in the occult community since the sixties. It's getting a little boring now. And does he really wish not to offend? Does Amado really hope not to become "an occult Salman Rushdie"? Quite obviously he loves to upset and shock people. And nothing would validate him more than to become a hated man in the "Thelemic community" with a price on his head. It would, for him, prove his worth. Unfortunately, he's safe. Unless there is another individual in the world claiming to be the one and only true son of the Beast, a weird twist on the Christian "son of God" thing, so outraged that he is plotting Amado's demise, I think the man is safe, quite safe. That is to say, he is probably safe from physical harm, but safe from institutionalization? That's something else altogether!
On page 5 Amado tells us that he didn't want to "be a freak at a side-show", and that that was one of the reasons why he has always kept a low profile, and yet only the page before this, the author of this improbable book tells us of a meeting he had with "a gauche American girl" who said that she had been "freaked out" by Voodoo, California Witchcraft and even "Sioux Indian sweat chambers", yet as he relates the story he obviously still takes delight in shocking the girl when he said "Would it freak you out ... to know that I'm Aleister Crowley's son?" Allegedly she responded with "Aw, aw ... Awww shi-i-it!" then "vomited copiously and explosively."
And again, on page 5, Amado tells us why he's tried to keep a low profile when he wrote:
"Also, he had given me things that I was supposed to guard. I am not using that as an excuse, but that job was more easily done if certain people never found out where I was. Oh yes, this probably sounds paranoid, the flawed logic of a cracked brain. Take my word for it: it was just plain old cowardice. I could live without any fuss, so I kept my head low."
Then, he tells us on page 5, "At the age of forty, I became less craven." Amado wrote an open letter to a weekly occult publication, BPC Publishing Ltd., Man, Myth and Magic, No. 81, London 1971 E.V., entitling it "A LETTER FROM 777" claiming that he was A.C.'s son, his heir, and that he "would carry on his work and to this end he gave him careful and secret instructions". Amado added after this in his book:
"You can hardly call that hiding my light under a bushel. But between my father's death and middle-age, I did keep a low profile. There was my career, you see - and my everyday work. I was a psychologist, a university tutor, and a chief examiner for a national award, all of which clashed badly with my other role as an occult Master."
So in 1971 E.V. he no longer hid his light, however it was approximately twenty-four years before I had even heard of him, despite my study of Crowley and Thelema since approximately 1968 E.V., and this is probably the first many of you reading this have ever heard of him. He tried to shine for all to see, but his light was so dim that he has hardly been noticed. And upon reading his book, The Secrets of Aleister Crowley, it is quite understandable to me why he remains virtually unknown.
"Amado Crowley" claims among other things that he was a "psychologist", "a person trained and educated to perform psychological research, testing, and therapy," according to my computer's American Heritage dictionary. Possibly true, but one should not confuse a psychologist with, for instance, a psychiatrist, i.e., again according to my onboard dictionary, "a psysician who specializes in psychiatry." It is easier to become the former than the latter, and when all is said and done, even if this is true, it doesn't make "Amado Crowley" a man who cannot lie, or who cannot become a victim of his own delusions, and I wondered when he wrote on page 58 and 59, in reference to the giggles he remembered from "friends of Satan" and "lovers of Lucifer", "I've heard those same giggles in psychiatric hospitals, in the closed wards", if he had heard that sound as a visiting psychologist or as a patient.
That Amado can become a victim of his own delusions, his own lies, is a fact that he himself confirmed when he wrote the following on page 79 in reference to the man who married his mother, but whom he claims was not his father:
"That is how I began the great lie in my life. If anyone asked, and they did ask, often, for my father's name and profession, I used to say, 'Dead. Soldier killed at Dunkirk.' Instead of the horror I expected, I got looks of sympathy, even admiration. I hadn't meant to be the son of a war hero, but that is what I became.
His father, Len Standish, had been seriously wounded in World War II and he had spent a great deal of time in the hospital undergoing reconstructive surgery. Amado continued:
"Naturally, the other kids questioned me closely and I had to pad the story out by supplying more detail. I invented madly. We were saving up so that one day we could visit his grave in France. My mother had been sent a post hymn house medal by the King. Little by little, the lie became a habit, and the habit a kind of second reality. Once launched, there was no way to stop it. It caused me trouble when I did my National Service because I had to write it all down on documents. They let it go. They let it drop because they probably thought that this was what I believed. ... "
"Len Standish died only some thirteen years ago and he never did find out that I wasn't his son.
Thus "Amado Crowley" established that at an early age he had learned to become a consummate prevaricator, i.e. a good liar, and once he got started he couldn't stop himself, he lost control, and he began to believe his own lies. We are here talking about a man who becomes the victim of his own delusions. And what of this Len Standish?
His mother, Stella Taylor, married a man named Len Standish, and while Amado insists that Aleister Crowley was his father, he still refers to Standish in the above quotation as his "father" without distinctions being made, as if for that brief moment sitting at his keyboard the truth escaped him.
Of this Len Standish we know only what little Amado tells us in his book and he does not paint a pretty picture of the man. On page 34, for instance, Amado wrote:
"the enraged father hanged and killed the boy's dog. ... he shoved the lad's fingers into an electric socket. ... 'Lying little bastard,' screamed Len, knocking the child off the chair and across the room."
Supposedly this latter incident was when Amado was only four, the other incidents either occurring at or around the same time. The implication is that Amado was physically abused by his father at an early age, that the father, Len Standish, had no love for his son. He even seemed to be accusing Standish of attempted murder on page 25 when he claims that he confronted Standish with a fact the man had thought the boy unaware of when he allegedly said: "'You took her blankets off when me and Mam was asleep. You opened the window next to the cot.'" Apparently the intention was to expose him to the elements so that he would die of "natural causes". Be that as it may, abuse either real or imagined, is it any wonder that Amado would want to claim another man as his father?
The author went on to say of his mother:
"Stella left him. She took the child and two suitcases and walked out of the house. ... Len would pay maintenance until he was sixteen. He didn't. She never insisted. We lived with grandma in a cramped slum at Brighouse."
I in no way mean to belittle the experience of those who have come from "broken homes", but what we seem to have here is a perfectly ordinary woman who marries a cruel man (according to Amado), leaves him, was supposed to receive financial support from him but then did not receive that support, but who then carries on with her life as best as she can. This more than anything I or another critic can say to Amado must irritate him to the point of, well, madness. Such droll, ordinary, mundane facts cannot be true for an "occult Master", which he referred to himself as contrary to the fact that a genuine "Master" would hardly refer to himself, seriously, in such terms.
So on January 26, 1930, according to page 33, Amado was born to one Stella Taylor, whose husband was Len Standish, and on page 13 the author claims that "In daily life I used my mother's married name." The man who calls himself "Amado Crowley" often goes on about how he had to remain hidden, keep his residence secret and hide behind the pseudonym of "Amado Crowley", for that is, after all, what the name is - a pseudonym. Yet, unless the names given are but more lies, he has given us his "real name" within the pages of the book. His mother's "married name" would have been Mrs. Stella Standish, and thus he has been living under the name that no doubt appears on his birth certificate: Standish. Yet, for a man who claims to be so smart he proves to be something less than that as he has even given us his first name. On page 39, after relating how he had finally met "his real father", Aleister Crowley, referring to himself as "the boy", Amado wrote:
"The boy asked what he should call him. Crowley hummed and hawed and said that 'Master' might be best all things considered.
"'Oh,' laughed the child, 'but that's what they call me. They always write it on my birthday cards: "Master Andrew Standish.'"
So if indeed "Amado Crowley" wished to keep secret his real name, his legal name, Andrew Standish, he failed miserably. Or is it his legal name? And if this isn't just another lie in the book, what would compel him to reveal his legal name? Had his desperate need for recognition and praise gotten the better of him?
By the way, the author claims on page 40 that Aleister himself gave him the name Amado:
"She had called him Andrew, she explained, but Crowley announced that from here on his name would be Amado.
"'It means: a gift of love,' he declaimed."
Throughout The Secrets of Aleister Crowley the author's apparent delusions of grandeur and paranoiac fear are constantly displayed, although one might call that fear more of a hope, for if indeed he had been attacked, robbed, in some way without doubt acted against, it would have validated his delusions and given him the sense of worth that I suspect he has been lacking his entire life.
"I held many secrets and there were, and still are, people who'd like to get their hands on them. I'm not just speaking of young weirdos, or over-zealous devotees of Crowley or of Magick. I mean groups, departments and organizations with a world-wide face. You will have to take my word for it: this is why I did not blab my head off. As regards my career, I don't think anyone cottoned on. I got the reputation for being slightly unsociable, reserved, and not someone who would join a rugby team or drop in for cocktails. In that respect I was probably quite unpopular. But that was the price I had to pay." (Page 7)
The implication is that even the government, the British government in this case, is out to get him. It also rationalizes his lack of popularity. When he first tried to get a book published he had trouble and he wrote on page 12:
"I am not a professional writer. I never intended to rival Catherine Cookson. But I do wonder a teeny weeny bit whether someone hasn't been leading me up the garden path - just to see how much I know. As you probably all realise, the Freemasons are quite well represented in certain parts of London. Not the slum area, of course."
Like so many others before him, partly because of the pretense of secrecy that Freemasons operate under, the author of this book, whom we will in this place continue to call Amado, also likes to believe that they too are working against him, no doubt in conjunction with the British government, which we all know (if we are up on our conspiracy theories) is run secretly by Freemasons. One might argue the Illuminati, but here we are just splitting hairs.
You see, in his mind he is a great being of light in the world that threatens the establishment, the men in charge, be they the heads of occult orders or governments, and therefore if he has trouble publishing a book it cannot be because he lacks skill as a writer, it cannot be for any other reason than that his secrets are dangerous and powerful people wish to keep him from being heard. However, upon reading his book and finding precious few "secrets" in it, and none truly relating to the supposed subject of the book, Aleister Crowley, I can't imagine why anyone would feel threatened by the author of the work and anything he might possibly say. He utterly failed to convince me that he is anybody of any great importance at all and this seems to be the consensus of thought among those whom I have encountered who have also read this book and/or other things "Amado Crowley" has written.
I can't imagine he was an easy man for any publisher to deal with. On page 10 he tells us that he made a deal with a publisher after he had retired to become "a full-time teacher of occultism", figuring that now he couldn't lose his job, and
"The company undertook never to reveal my address or my pseudonym. Just to be sure, I never gave it to them. Business was done through middle-men or via post boxes belonging to other people.
"All very awkward but... you can never be too careful."
All very awkward, especially for the publisher, I'm sure. But he made them promise never to reveal his "pseudonym"? That would be "Amado Crowley", as his real name appars to be Andrew Standish. The man is, at best, sometimes confused.
Amado wrote on page 13 that "It's a sorry thing to say, but magic always has been for hire", rationalizing his writing of this book by mentioning that even A.C. peddled charms, pills, potions and spells, although stating that he did this only when he was broke. Following this, as he often does, imagining an argument between himself and his unseen listener:
"'Fine talk', one mighty say, 'and him setting up shop as Aleister Crowley Junior'. Come on! Do grow up. What sort of ninny would pretend to be that man's son? If I wanted to be an imposter, I'd have chosen a model that was easier to live with. Sheer common sense says don't pick Aleister Crowley! Let me tell you, it has been a very mixed blessing and so far I haven't made a penny! So if I'm a fraud, I'm also a failure.
"I am not ashamed to be his son but I don't feel particularly proud either."
I get the impression that he often imagines debates and arguments with others, as if he lives so much within himself, isolated from society, that his imagined opponents often seem to take on a life of their own in his mind. Be that as it may, his argument falls flat when one considers the fact that he is not the first to have claimed to be the son of Aleister Crowley, his "magical child", or even the reincarnation of Crowley himself. Many of us in "the community", so to speak, have encountered a number of these individuals. What sort of a "ninny" would pretend to be Crowley's son? So far experience has proven that it would be the sort of "ninny" who is mentally unbalanced, who cannot face himself honestly, despises himself, and has constructed a fantasy in which he is someone else, someone important, in an effort to hide from himself. The big challenge in life becomes making others believe the delusion - you know, by doing something like writing a book that proclaims the delusion to be a fact - so that their acceptance of the fantasy as fact secures the delusion in the "ninny's" mind.
It must annoy Amado (Andrew Standish) to no end that he has so far not profited from this fantasy that he is the son of Aleister Crowley and his magical heir apparent - after all, so far he hasn't "made a penny", he tells us. So unfortunately for Amado, as a fraud he is just as much of a failure as he is convinced he's become in "real life". This book is not going to convince many people of its claims.
On page 15 Amado tells us that "Gerald Yorke was the only one who showed me any kindness", and my guess is that he rather pitied Amado, and/or found him humourous, and simply humoured him. Page 17:
"It is hard to guess what he [Aleister Crowley] would have called the scholars and experts who 'reveal' new meanings, 're-print' his own words, or 're-hash' his rituals. I don't know if they are sincere when they pretend to be servants of the Law of Thelema. I am not sure what kind of satisfaction they get from forming new groups and netting in new members. But they never knew Aleister Crowley, so how the hell do they know 'where he was at'?
"They have no licence and no authority. ..."
And how it seems to irk him that others should prosper from their false claims while he cannot. Plus, it would not surprise me to learn that he had attempted to become a member of the Caliphate, for instance, or some other pseudo-thelemic group, perhaps more than one, and that he had been rejected. Possibly he offered to lead them to the light, as he would have seen it, and been rejected as the self-proclaimed heir apparent to Crowley's magical kingdom. However it may be, it seems to me his argument falls flat as it appears that if indeed he did know Crowley when he, Amado, was a child, he knew him no better than the late Grady Louis McMurtry or Kenneth Grant, both of whom went on to start their own pseudo-o.t.o.s when they felt that it was safe to do so and their assumed leadership would not be too seriously challenged. As I have said before, Crowley's butcher probably knew Crowley better than any of these men.
Amado, in his book, often makes excuses for his lack of details, specific details that would allow a careful researcher to check the author's so-called facts. For instance:
"Oh how I wish I could give more detail about the places where these things happened. But as I've told you, all signs had been obliterated [during World War II], and to be frank, Crowley changed address quite often. ...
"I don't doubt I could make up this kind of detail, if I were so minded. But where would it get us? There are gaps in my story simply because... there are gaps in my memory. That seems to be perfectly natural." (Pages 85 and 86)
On page 47 Amado implies that he had an almost miraculous childhood, that as a boy he had come close to death and serious injury many times but miraculously escaped with barely a scratch. However, how many of us, especially those of us who went through childhood as boys, can't recall narrowly escaping serious injury and even death? Falling out of trees, playing with guns that go off when we least expected it, setting off M-80s and fireworks and barely getting out of the way in time - and that first car that some of us totalled soon after getting our licence! Convinced that he is somehow more special than anyone else, every little thing that happens to practically everyone in life confirms to him that he is indeed special, protected by higher powers for some great future. At his now advanced age his mind must be reaching critical mass, although he's probably convinced himself by now that he will be famous and highly regarded after he's died. Hopefully he won't be in a position to learn the truth.
Amado claims that he first met Aleister Crowley in November of 1936 E.V. and that:
"I saw him several times a year up to the age of fourteen and usually spent my summer holidays with him." ... "I savoured the little hints of secrecy and the notion of a special mission. It put me in mind of the films I liked at the Saturday matinees. I quite fancied myself as a caputured prince, a kidnapped heir, a baby suckled by apes or, best of all, Mickey Rooney ... a great favourite with children at the time." (Page 39)
On page 5 Amado says that he was young when he knew A.C. and their "relationship lasted only seven years." "I was in my teens when he died." So even if he had known Crowley when he was a boy, would he have known him any better than the older men I have mentioned above could have known A.C.? And besides, just as it appears as if the late McMurtry exaggerated his time with Crowley, so too, if indeed he had spent time with Crowley, it appears as if Amado has exaggerated. In the amount of time he claims, at best Amado could have only spent some weeks here and there with Crowley, maybe some months, probably no more than a year all totalled up, since he did, after all, have to attend school and apparently lived some distance from Crowley. Of course, the amount of time he spent with A.C. and the quality of that time is a moot point if the whole story is a fabrication.
On page 5 Amado claims that the text of the book is his, "but the ideas, opinions, theories and attitudes are all very much his." Meaning Aleister Crowley. And yet one can find very little Crowley in Amado's book - nothing whatsoever that resembles the man, his ideas, opinions, theories and attitudes as expressed in the many volumes he has written and which, despite the efforts of some, remain in print today.
On page 8 Amado claims that a man was sent "by the Crowleyite Temple at Zurich" to test him and that it wasn't the first time someone tested his claims to be Aleister Crowley's son and heir and "an occult Master". There were representatives from America, France, and even Japan, he alleges, but:
"To be honest, I've failed every single test that they have ever put me through! ... Over the last thirty years, I've sat patiently through something like a hundred similar interviews. I am so used to them, I've had so much practice, that common sense would tell any ordinary person that if I wanted to pass them, I would know how to do it! But it never crosses their minds.  Each thinks he's the first, you see, and all of them presume that Aleister taught me nothing! I know quite well the answers they are looking for. The trouble is, they don't know the questions that I am waiting to be asked!
"It's sad, when you think about it. All these groups tramping along the path my father's finger indicated before it fell in death. Yet here I am, carrying out his wishes, and teaching the ones who are humble enough to see my light instead of being dazzled by their own."
It is obvious to me that he is rationalizing the fact that he could never pass these tests, that he could never prove his claims, and he proposes to pity those who have tested him, not a very Thelemic thing to do, and then proves that indeed he couldn't have learned much from Crowley when his delusions of grandeur led him to write that last sentence above. It is very important to him that others see his light, as it were, so much so, catering to ego, that he failed to realize that that is not what Thelema is all about. "Every man and every woman is a star", about the only verse in The Book of the Law which seems to have impressed Amado, and as a Thelemite, if indeed he were a follower of Aleister Crowley's teachings, it would be his duty to assist others not to see HIS "light", but to perceive the light of their own Star, recognize, communicate and eventually achieve a perfect union with their own True Self (Holy Guardian Angel, Daemon, Genius, etc.) and be dazzled by That "light". Amado has missed the point of Thelema entirely and he has proven it here with his own words, revealing his slavery to the personal demon Ego.
Frankly I'm not even interested in knowing what Amado would consider to be the right question one should ask him. It may, however, be of some interest to anyone who would care to spend a great deal of time with him in the course of psychiatric treatments
But we must get on with this review.
This book which is supposed to be about The Secrets of Aleister Crowley really focuses upon "Amado Crowley" (Andrew Standish) and it doesn't deliver any secrets at all. Oh, there are some anecdotes related in the book, which sometimes reads as a farcical tongue-in-cheek comedic novel, that might be considered secrets, but they do not in any way justify the blurb on the back cover of the book or the words of concern written by Amado about the "conspiracy" to silence him.
To, among other things, rationalize his vertigo, a failing unbefitting the alleged son of one of the world's greatest mountain climbers, Amado relates on page 53 his experience with A.C. on a narrow path on the chalk cliffs of Dover when father and son, as the story goes, encountered Sisters of Mercy.
"The sea was as still as a mill pond, nor was there so much as a whisper of wind. But Crowley didn't let this stop him, and neither did it prevent the nuns' rosy cheeks from taking on an apple-green tinge. 'We trust in the good Lord, sir.' 'How very correct and virtuous, ladies. However, here and now we are face to face with a slight problem. How do we go out opposite ways without causing any distress? No cause for anxiety, I assure you. It is we who must cede passage to you.'
"So saying, he grasped my hand tightly and walked me off the edge of the cliff. I describe events exactly as they happened. There was no preamble, no magic formula. Quite literally, we just walked out as if the surface of the path had some sort of invisible extension. And we stood there, our feet in midair, as he raised his hat and gave a courtly bow. The two sisters seemed to have taken root. They both boggled at our shoes and let out a series of little yelps and whimpers.
"'Sisters!' chided Crowley regretfully, 'didn't your mothers teach you to say thank you?'
"The nuns just hoiked up their skirts and ran.
"My own jaw was clamped tight shut. Even when we were back on the solid path, I couldn't speak. 'Oh do cheer up,' he grumbled. 'I simply took you through a door, that is all. ...'"
Doorways to other dimensions that "Amado Crowley" claims he could now teach you how to find and use. To say that this story is rather improbable would be to understate the matter. Fortunately he doesn't load his book with too many stories as "improbable" as this one, but there is quite enough to encourage any bookseller foolish enough to stock this volume to place it in his section devoted to fiction.
There is also, beginning on page 73, the story of the so-called "Black Mass" that Crowley supposely took the young Amado to witness from cover, which Crowley then broke up by frightening the participants.
"The priest hoisted the choirboy's robes, who was as naked as a newly shorn sheep. Then flinging him on to a make-shift table in front of the altar, he dropped his own pants and proceeded to sodomize him. No, I was not so young that I didn't know about those things!
"'I read somewhere that they were supposed to de-flower a virgin?' I said.
"'Difficult to come by, these days. All that rationing, I'm afraid. You can only get them slightly sullied. But what does it matter anyway? If anything, society is even more sickened by the thought of sexual acts between men. Give credit where it is due: they're at least trying the second nastiest thing on the list.'"
Amado seems to be riding one of the earlier waves of allegations made, often with justification, of Christian priests molesting the children in their care, the altar boy being the favourite of bad joke tellers. Of course this sort of thing happens, as we are all aware of these days, but it is more than doubtful that young Amado actually witnessed this event that he calls a "Black Mass" but which had so little resemblance to the perversion of the Christian mass scholars have laid before us. And Amado's priorities! He, through his caricature of Crowley, considers homosexual acts between men the next worst thing to a heterosexual "deflowering" or rape of an innocent virgin, but he seems to miss here what may be an even greater "evil": the molestation of a child - the altar boy. What kind of a mind would miss this?
Perhaps the "secret" that Amado "reveals" in his book which he considers the most damning is that of the alleged ritual Crowley was asked to supervise during World War II, aimed at Adolph Hitler. If this is what Amado fears the British government might seek revenge for revealing he need not worry. Aside from the fact that the whole story is probably nothing more than fantastical nonsense, if it were true it would be nothing more than one more silly tale about how desperate actions were taken during desperate times, and the governmental body as a whole would have to laugh over it, cheerfully admitting it if it had actually occurred. After all, there cannot be too many in political office today who were in office during WWII who could be embarrassed by such a thing.
The story, to be brief, starts off with Crowley insisting that his very young son, that would be Amado of course, be permitted to attend the secret meetings representatives of the British government were having with Aleister Crowley. Naturally Crowley got his way and Amado had a ringside seat for the merry event - or so Amado would have us believe. Never mind the fact that he would have never been permitted to attend secret government and military meetings, especially during a time of war. However, as the story goes, early in 1940 E.V. Crowley, with the cooperation of "a bishop and Dean of the Vatican's Diplomatic Corps", working with MI5, performed a top secret ritual, the description of which only made me laugh and which was hardly befitting the magical artistry of Aleister Crowley.
Supposedly Rudolf Hess' flight to Britian was the result of this absurd ritual Amado describes. He wrote on page 130 that "no explanation [for Hess' flight] fits as well as mine. In fact, no other explanation has ever been put foward." Yet I am sure many World War II scholars have given an explanation for Hess' actions, and certainly we do not need to accept a story about a goofy pseudo-magical ritual to explain such a simple matter. In all likelihood, Hess, not a complete fool, could see that Hitler was losing it, his mind was deteriorating, his ability to make rational decisions growing more and more impaired with consequences disasterous to the Third Reich, and he simply saw that the end of the Reich and the Nazi Party was near. Hess, rather than to go down with the ship, simply decided to jump ship before it was too late and like a petty criminal hoping to gain immunity for his crimes by informing on his partners, Hess believed the British government would show him some leniency if he cooperated in their efforts to take down Adolph Hitler. It's probably as simple as that. Certainly it explains Hess' actions more believably than Amado's fanciful story of a magical ritual performed by "the wickedest man in the world", called a "satanist", sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, and conducted by MI5 and the British military!
Perhaps the story that most destroys the credibility of The Secrets of Aleister Crowley, even more so than those above described, is the one that begins on page 101 under the title of "The Sacred Book":
"... He [Crowley] went to the shelf and brought a huge book. 'Is that "Liber Legis"' I asked in a hushed voice.
"'No,' he said simply. 'It is "The Book of Desolation".'
"He gave me that one and only copy to keep safe. It was not the original transcription though. It was his own rendition of the text in English. He had made it with the help of the spirit-being, Aiwass. I have read it, of course, and there isn't a great deal I can tell you. There are some typical Crowley touches, here and there, but on the whole it doesn't read like anything else he composed.
"'But I thought that was the time you produced "Liber Legis"?' I said in puzzlement.
"'"Liber Legis" was written because I had to produce something,' he said bitterly. 'Certain people had got wind of bits and pieces of the story. I did "Liber Legis" to put them off the scent.' He shrugged regretfully. 'Just a red herring, really.'
"'You mean there's no truth in it? You just made it up?' He smiled sadly. 'Not as simple as that. I threw in just enough truth to make the cake taste of chocolate. Otherwise it is a work of my own invention. Not without merit though.' ..."
"... The book is now disguised as something else. I would be daft to say what, so I'm not even admitting that it looks like a book any more. My whereabouts are not widely known, and I have learned to be fairly secretive. You have to be when you are Aleister Crowley's son! ...
"'A pity that your original story isn't true. What I mean is - if Aiwass had dictated this, then there wouldn't have been any bits missing, eh? He'd have done the job properly and the book would be complete.'
"'Oh my dear, trusting boy! We dare not tell the truth. A book that was written by Aleister Crowley and on sale at many bookshops - that wasn't going to tempt anybody. But "The Book of Desolation", imperfect and incomplete, would have attracted rogues from every corner of the earth. Somehow or other, they would have tried to steal it.'"
And so, according to "Amado Crowley", A.K.A. Andrew Standish, basically The Book of the Law and presumably Thelema was a hoax meant to put everyone off the scent of the REAL book of importance that came into Crowley's hands, The Book of Desolation. (You may wish to go elsewhere on this web site and read the article I wrote many years ago on T. Casey Brennan, "Aleister Crowley reborn", for there are some interesting similarities here.)
If this were true, how does Amado explain the fact that Crowley spent the major portion of his life from 1904 until his death in 1947 E.V. writing and publishing books intended to explain and elaborate upon The Book of the Law and Thelema? Certainly that would have been going above and beyond the call of duty if it were only a red herring! This claim is not improbable, it's impossibly absurd, and I have little doubt that if he has not already produced it, Amado has intentions of producing this so-called "Book of Desolation" with the intention of foisting it on students of the occult, feeding off of the gullibility of the youth, and earning, as he hopes in vain, a big pay cheque from some publisher. But this is not the only thing he set up with The Secrets of Aleister Crowley. On page 92 he tells readers of his book Liber Fulgur, a book Crowley supposedly asked the young Amado to write regarding the universe as he saw it and how it, magick (and Amado always spells it "magic"), et al, works. The book, he tells us, was largely rewritten by Crowley and no doubt, if he hasn't already done so, he intends to seek publication for it, once more abusing Crowley's name and reputation to try to build a name and reputation for himself.
There is little about The Secrets of Aleister Crowley which is likely to be true, and throughout the author proves that he loves to shock people, that he does indeed desire the limelight despite his weak protest to the contrary, that he suffers from delusions of grandeur and paranoia, that he does not know the mind of Aleister Crowley, probably never even met the man, and that he does not in the least understand The Book of the Law nor the Law of Thelema, which, if his story were true, he should understand better than any other man living. Some of his stories are midly amusing, but only if they are understood to be the fictions that they almost certainly are. And finally, the book does not give to the reader what it promises. It fails utterly to reveal The Secrets of Aleister Crowley. This primarily because the book is not about Crowley, it is about Andrew Standish, A.K.A. "Amado Crowley", or rather, what he would have us believe to be the truth about him. Now if the volume had been entitled The Secrets of "Amado Crowley" and it were heavily commented upon by qualified individuals in the psychiatric field, it might indeed be worth something and true to its title.
Amado wrote on page 139 the following:
"But heirship via the eldest male child is a matter of politics and not religion. It is of interest only when you are carving up power and land; it has nothing to do with the way we distribute truth. We are all heirs to divinity and every man and woman is a star if only because human beings are descended from that very first amoeba which swam in the primaeval slime. In some cases, it shows."
Despite the fact that Amado seems again to misunderstand the meaning of the Thelemic phrase, "Every man and every woman is a star", the above statement should be considered carefully in reference to the book in which it appeared. Is "Amado Crowley" the biological son of Aleister Crowley? As Amado himself says, we cannot be absolutely sure one way or another, at least, not without a DNA test and that would require a DNA sample from a man who was cremated in England in December of 1947 E.V. However, while Bill Breeze and the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. might disagree with me, this is not a matter of politics and we are not here carving up power and possession. If Amado hopes to claim Crowley's copyrights or anything else the Caliphate is now trying to claim and take possession of, he is doomed once more to failure. What we are talking about here is something more subtle, something more, well, magical, and the true heir to the wealth that Aleister Crowley left behind, the spiritual and intellectual wealth, cannot and will not go to someone who has proven via blood and DNA tests that he is biologically related to Crowley. It will go to the ones who prove their true worth as well as their devotion to Thelema and human society as a whole. And the truth, like the Law of Thelema itself, is for all.
Under the heading "Unknown Teachings" on page 180 of the 182-page book, Amado wrote
"It is right to end with a few examples of Crowley's hidden teaching. These are the ideas he gave to personal students and never put in any book. ..."
Yet only some trivial bits of nonsense fill these last couple pages of the book, only about a quarter of the last page even used, and he finishes his volume with the following:
"But lastly, ultimately, the most splendid of all: 'Every man and woman is a star. Some fall. Some burst into dust. Some shine on steadily through the long, dark night. We start them off, we Masters, by handing them a candle.'"
The author of this idiocy misleadingly titled The Secrets of Aleister Crowley, talking more about himself than Aleister Crowley, constantly bragging about himself and his assumed talents throughout the book in the hope of giving him the appearance of a wunderkind who should now be followed, respected and admired, not only fails to even mention the Law of Thelema, let along explain "Do what thou wilt" - but then, he did dismiss it and The Book of the Law as a red herring - but the one phrase from that book that he seems to have taken a shine to he never seems to quote correctly, even when he claims Crowley has spoken the words. And once more, in this last paragraph of his book, Amado proves that he does not in the least understand the teachings of Aleister Crowley. Neither in this place nor elsewhere in his book does he explain that "Every man and every woman is a star", that "star" implying the True Self (Genius, Daemon, et al), because everyone is a unique individual, with his or her own magnitude, self-luminous and needing no fictitious god in some fantasy heaven to pray to, to beg for what he or she wants, because the power to achieve belongs to everyone. Nowhere in The Secrets of Aleister Crowley where this verse is frequently misquoted and misused does its author explain that every star has its unique orbit in the universe of being, that each and everyone of us has a course to follow in life, a True Will, a means of expressing Existence. Nowhere in this book by the man whose real name may be Andrew Standish, who calls himself "Amado Crowley" - nowhere is there anything written that is of any worth to anyone other than the student of psychology who may learn something of mental illness from the examples this man has given in his book.
Amado, in his book, frequently rationalizes his reasons for not giving dates and names that would, if his stories were true, verify those stories; he frequently justifies his attempts to be mysterious with tales of what can only be described as paranoid delusions, and throughout it all he says "trust me". Well, if you did you would be a fool for doing so. Even if it was proven that "Amado Crowley" is the biological son of Aleister Crowley, his book proves that he is not a Thelemite, he does not understand Thelema, he does not understand Crowley nor his teachings, and by studying the works of Aleister Crowley, one might for ones self discover more of his "secrets" than would be possible from reading or listening to the senseless babble of the man who calls himself "Amado Crowley".