[An article by Ann Rodgers-Melnick, The Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, Sunday, October 27, 1996 E.V.]
Kelly is dedicated to redeeming the reputation of the Englishman who
is widely considered the father of modern Satanism - Aleister Crowley.
Aleister Crowley used sex and drugs in
his occult practices - his own mother called him the Beast - but that doesn't
necessarily mean he founded modern Satanism.
Kelly, 45, an apartment manager in Oakland,
is dedicated to redeeming the reputation of the Englishman who is widely
- and in Kelly's view, wrongly - considereed the father of modern Satanism.
This is not easy to do for a man who encouraged his followers to call him
"the Beast," who wrote "Diary of a Drug Fiend," and whose signature contribution
to the occult universe was the theory and practice of "sex magick."
As a follower of Crowley, "the closest
I could come to a sex scandal would be if somebody found out I was celibate,"
Since Crowley's death in 1947, his life
and teachings have been wildly distorted, both by his enemies and those
who claim to follow him, Kelly says. Crowley was not a Satanist. And the
horrific crimes attributed to him are based on misinterpretation of his
highly symbolic writings, Kelly says.
"He experimented with drugs. He experimented
with sex. But he never hurt anybody in his life. He isn't responsible for
one death. He is not responsible for one human sacrifice. And he never
cannibalized anybody - although I'm sure he loved the story getting around
and probably promoted it just for the fun of it."
Kelly's tiny apartment is a virtual shrine
to Crowley, whose face glares from many a picture frame, and whose Tarot
card designs adorn the walls.
Now 45, Kelly was born Gary Martin and
raised on his grandparents' farm in Mount Nebo. He later took the name
Kelly in honor of his Irish heritage.
He attended Catholic school, but never
felt the nuns answered his questions about God. And the liturgical reforms
of Vatican II left him cold. He was introduced to paganism in 1968, mostly
through a girlfriend who practiced Wicca, an ancient Celtic nature religion
better known as witchcraft.
Like many witches, she considered Crowley
a violent blot on the reputation of paganism. Her aversion piqued Kelly's
Kelly publishes the Newaeon newsletter
to promote Crowley's teachings. It is also the battleground for his continuous
war of words with several organizations that claim to be Crowley's rightful
heirs, but which Kelly considers bogus. His newsletter also skewers any
book or broadcast that calls Crowley a Satanist.
"Basically, all Satanists are is a lot
of adolescents - including 40- and 50-year-old adolescents - who are rebelling
against their mostly Christian upbringing," Kelly said.
"One of the problems with Satanism is that
they borrow terms and ideas from various religions and mystical theologies,
which they redefine and pervert for their own purpose. In the process,
they misrepresent every philosophy and religion that uses those particular
Crowley's followers are called Thelemites,
from "thelema," a Greek word for will. Thelema's central tenet is "Do what
thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
"'Do what thou wilt' doesn't mean to do
whatever you please," Kelly said. "It means to find your true will, your
purpose for existing, and accomplish that. And very often the accomplishment
of your true will means you have to ignore your own petty personal desires."
Goldie Brown of Monroeville is a witch
who, unlike many Wiccans, acknowledges Crowley's contributions to the craft.
Although she thinks that Kelly sometimes whitewashes Crowley's real flaws,
Brown admires his devotion.
"The other Thelemites I know tend to take
Crowley at face value. They tend to glorify aspects of Crowley that serve
their purposes, which are very self-serving, hedonistic and materialistic,"
"I admire what Kelly is doing to kind of
clean up Crowley's image, because there are a lot of myths and misconceptions
about him. And it's dangerous for people to identify with misconceptions."
Crowley was born Oct. 12, 1875, to a well-to-do
family of English fundamentalists. He wrote that his mother was the first
person to call him the Beast - the villain in the Bible's Book of Revelation.
Crowley would later take it as a title to mean that he was the next great
His youth coincided with an occult revival
in England, which drew on the mystical Jewish Kaballah, some Masonic traditions,
Middle Eastern imagery, numerology and - later - the psychiatric doctrines
of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. By the turn of the century, Crowley was
on his way to becoming the most influential of these occult writers and
practitioners, who called themselves "magicians."
This had nothing to do with stage illusion.
Magic, according to Crowley, was "the science and art of causing change
to occur in conformity with will." And most of the change he sought was
internal or psychological.
"The main purpose of magic is...the reintegration
of your divided self. Magic tries to bring the conscious mind and the subconscious
mind into alignment," Kelly said.
In the 1920s Crowley came in contact with
a quasi-Masonic German group called the Ordo Templi Orientis. The OTO -
which Crowley later led - had been influenced by the Kama Sutra, a fourth-century
Hindu sex manual. The OTO showed Crowley that his own ceremonial prescriptions
contained a great deal of sexual imagery. So, Crowley reasoned, why bother
with the symbols for sex when you can incorporate actual sex into the ritual?
The tales of orgies, child sacrifice and
the like grew from Crowley's enthusiasm for "sex magick," Kelly says. (The
K is for the Hebrew letter Koph, which is supposed to symbolize sexuality.)
But sex magick "has nothing to do with
orgies or deflowering virgins. All of that would invalidate the whole process
of sex magick, which is supposed to occur between two consenting adults
who know each other very well. What you try to do is build up a great deal
of emotional energy and finally let it out, directing it towards a specific
goal - your magickal child," Kelly said.
According to Kelly, Crowley's OTO died
out because Crowley and his chief lieutenant stopped accepting new initiates.
They were appalled that the lodges had deteriorated into sleazy sex clubs,
Kelly said. He contends that no legitimate Thelemic OTO now exists - a
point furiously disputed by several groups that call themselves the OTO.
The worst myth about Crowley is that he
practiced child sacrifice, Kelly said.
He did write that the best ritual sacrifice
was "an innocent child." But that was a fanciful reference to sperm, Kelly
said. Specifically, it denotes sperm used for ritual purposes, rather than
for the purpose of procreation.
"He is talking about a child that is totally
innocent because it has not even been conceived," Kelly said.
"Crowley loved children. ... He had one
child who was a year old when she died of a disease. If you read his diaries,
he was frantic. When she died, it broke his heart terribly."
Crowley did use drugs, hoping they would
help him achieve the altered state of consciousness he needed for his magick,
Kelly said. But, when he started, the drugs were legal. At different times
he was addicted to cocaine and heroin, but conquered both habits. He was
mentally alert and productive when he died at 72, Kelly said.
By then, Crowley had concluded that drugs
did more harm than good, Kelly said. Kelly himself rails against drug use,
saying that it interferes with the ability to achieve one's true will.
Crowley "was not a perfect man. He was
not a perfect husband or a perfect father. But he was a good man. He was
a British gentleman, which is something that he himself would probably
shudder to hear me call him," Kelly said.
"He was a man who did the things that people
did in the '60s, with the sex and the drugs. But he was doing it in Victorian
England. He was a man out of his time."
1997 E.V. COMMENT
[on above newspaper article]
Do what thou
wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
One can ignore the headlines and blurbs
because they are meant to catch the reader's attention. When all is said
and done, Ann's article is an unusually fair treatment of Aleister Crowley.
However, because it is a newspaper article it could not be too long, consequently
it had to be somewhat superficial in places, glossing over details, and
of course one cannot expect a newspaper reporter to get absolutely everything
right! As I have said elsewhere, it is constitutionally impossible for
a newspaper reporter to be absolutely accurate. Of course, one could say
the same for every human being on the face of the earth. Be that as it
may, the article was unusually fair, unusually good and definitely needed.
However I would not be G.M.Kelly if I did not have comments and corrections
First let me ask this question: Why is
it newspaper reporters find it so difficult to bridge the gulf between
journalism and creative writing? "Kelly says", "Kelly says". Why not occasionally
"Kelly remarked", "the magician affirmed", "declared the Thelemite", or
"Crowley's defender asserted"? Perhaps the City Editor or the Managing
Editor would have disapproved. Whatever the reason, it is one of the reason
I quit working for The Pittsburgh Press in 1974 E.V. and decided against
Oh, and by the way, why is it when a newspaper
photographer takes dozens of photographs of a person to accompany an article
inevitably the worst possible picture is chosen? Admittedly the model that
Mr. Darrell Sapp had to work with has long ago lost his boyish luster,
It is indeed true that there are numerous
framed photographs of Crowley in my apartment, as well as a hand-drawn
picture, ten at present, but, alas, I have only one of his tarot designs
up--an enlargement of Atu 0, The Fool. Other than that there are a couple
of Frazetta posters, paintings of the Rosy Cross, the Tree of Life, the
astrological Greek cross and serpent of Golden Dawn design, reproductions
of eight famous paintings including The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by
Sir Joseph Noel-Paton (1849 E.V.), Ivory, Apes and Peacocks by John Duncan
(1923 E.V.) and Nymphs and Satyr by William Adolph Bouguereau (1873 E.V.),
as well as miscellaneous wall hangings such as a reproduction of an ancient
Egyptian plaque of Horus. I would, however, like to have enlargements of
Crowley's tarot cards framed and hanging on my walls--if only I had more
Now, let's get this straight. I was not
born Gary Martin. I was given the name Gary after I was born
by my parents Margaret and Hugh Martin. And can you believe their audacity
in not even consulting with me as to what I might wish to be called throughout
the rest of my life! Shocking! Well, I supposed it could have been worse.
If my parents had been parents in the sixties I might have been named Moonbeam!
But what is it about this bloody name thing? Kelly is my chosen
name, assumed at least as far back as 1968 E.V., only in part because of
my mostly Irish heritage. In point of fact I am Dutch-Irish, maybe more
of a mongrel than that. However, the Irish does tend to pretty much
There are other reasons I chose the name
Kelly, writing under the name G.M.Kelly, which combines my given as well
as my chosen names obviously with no great effort to conceal my identity
as, for instance, members of the Caliphate gang imply, maniacally referring
to me in print as "Gary 'G.M.Kelly' Martin"--you know, those fellows who
insist upon being called Hymenaeus Beta and Frater Nanivartante, to name
but two, while doing their best to conceal their own given names. A sublime
reason for choosing to be called Kelly that was essentially unknown to
my conscious mind at the time is that it is derived from the Irish-Gaelic
Ceallach (I later changed the spelling to Keallach for my "magical name")
which means, generally, both "warrior" and "church man" or "priest". A
full discussion of this name and all of its magical implications, numerological
significance and so forth, you can find elsewhere. A less sublime reason
for choosing the name Kelly is that at that time I was a big fan of a television
series called I Spy in which Robert Culp and Bill Cosby played the roles
of spies who traveled the world under the guise of a tennis pro and his
trainer. Cosby was Alexander "Scotty" Scott and Culp was Kelly Robinson.
At that time my best friend and I started to play tennis and we took on
those roles, horsing around as Robinson and Scott while we played. Any
more questions? A person wears the name they feel comfortable wearing.
Why is that such a big deal? If I told you that we were going to discuss
the career of Curly you would probably be ready to hear about one of the
Three Stooges, but in fact I would relate the life of the Oglala Sioux
war chief Crazy Horse. As a boy he was called Curly, but after a vision
he changed his name to Crazy Horse, which certainly fits a fierce warrior
better than Curly! Native Americans did that as a matter of course, and
once a brave had changed his name that was that. The other braves did not
gather around and whisper, "Have you heard what Crazy "Curly" Horse said?"
or "His real name is Curly!" So how about a little grown up behavior,
folks. I prefer the name Kelly, even some members of my family such as
my own sister Lin (Linda Ann) refer to me as Kelly. What's the big deal?
Actually I was raised on a farm in a rural
area and very Pagan by nature and studying paganism and magick at least
as early as 1968 E.V. before meeting Thalassa in 1970 E.V., but that association
did help matters a great deal despite her prejudices, ignorance in some
things, and problems that forced many Wiccans, I discovered after our relationship
ended, to ostracize her.
I am sure Ann incorrectly reported some
of my wording, trying to condense my tendency (ever so slight...) to be
verbose and overly informative, and I certainly would have said "magick"
with a K, "Thelema" with a capital T, and never ever (well, not any more)
"magical" with a k, but that does not come across well when verbalizing
such words. I will also not be too much of a nitpicker here, wasting precious
bytes and trying your patience.
The Beast is only perceived of as the villain
of the Book of Revelation by those who do not know any better due to childhood
indoctrination and a lack of initiative to dig for the truth under the
muck of dogma.
Had the original O.T.O. been influenced
by The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana? Perhaps in part. Who can say for
certain? I didn't.
"The K is for the Hebrew letter Koph, which
is supposed to symbolize sexuality", Ann wrote in regard to the spelling
of magick. Generally, the Hebrew letter's name is spelled with two letters
that equate to our K and Ph, the initial letters of Kteis (Yoni) and Phallus
(Lingam) and the error is not mine. In fact, I got the early edition of
the P-G, noted the mistake instantly, and called the paper's City Desk.
I informed the fellow doing duty at the desk that day that it should be
KAPH, with an A not an O, basically equivalent to the English K, whereas
KOPH is a legitimate alternate spelling of QOPH, the Hebrew letter roughly
equivalent to the English Q, and anyone who had gone to Hebrew School would
be able to pick out the error. "Oh! Thanks a lot!" the fellow on the City
Desk enthusiastically exclaimed, promising me that the error would be corrected
in the later editions, which would have been an even easier task to perform
now than it was back in my days at the Press, circa 1970 to 1974 E.V..
Needless to say, the correction was not made. Newspapers!
In talking about "sex magick", I stressed,
again and again, the role of LOVE. However, Ann chose not to quote me here
or even mention this fact, perhaps because LOVE is a four-letter word.
Actually I never said that the last legitimate
O.T.O. Lodges "had deteriorated into sleazy sex clubs", but then again
she did not place quotation marks here though it still appears as if I
said those exact words. In fact, I only spoke of one Lodge, perhaps the
last genuine Thelemic Lodge, that being Agape in Pasadena, California in
the 1930s and 1940s, and I related the stories of wild man Jack Parsons,
his wife and Smith, et al, but to the best of my recollection I did not
have much in the way of "sleazy sex" to say on this matter. However, the
thought of how crazy this phrase would make members of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o.
more than makes up for the partial inaccuracy of it! Frater Nanivartante
(aka Kevin Bold) of the Whiskey Rebellion Camp here in Pittsburgh, for
instance, called Ann, gave only his "magical name", which she could not
quite remember, and whined in his usual manner "Why did you write
an article about him?"
Crowley did not turn to drugs so much in
the hope finding assistance in achieving altered states of consciousness
for himself. He had already learned how to achieve the various levels of
consciousness without the artificial stimulus of drugs and he was quite
adept at this. However, he was curious as to the altered states various
drugs might achieve and how useful these drugs might be in assisting others
who did not find magick to be second nature as it was for him.
Did I really say that Crowley was "a man
out of his time"? If so I meant to be more faithful to the cliché
and say he was "a man ahead of his time". However, all in all, errors
and glossing over subjects, simplifying for the general newspaper reader
and so forth, it must be said that Ann's article was a refreshing break
from the usual sensationalistic godforsaken gobbledygook of misinformation
newspapers usually print about "occult" subjects, and it was a nice break
from the usual Halloween stories of hauntings, Witches and everything else
that goes bump in the night.
Love is the
law, love under will.