A Life of Aleister Crowley

by Lawrence Sutin

A Review by G.M.Kelly

St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10010

Copyright 2000 E.V., 483 pages, hardbound

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.


Finally, the review that I have long promised to publish here at the Castle of the Silver Star.  It is the end of June in the year 2001 E.V. as I sit down to do this work.  I have had to make use of over a week of sick days to attend to this and many other tasks.  The challenge was not in dealing with Lawrence Sutin's great intellect and powerful arguments, as I see no evidence of a great intellect and his arguments very often show an inability to observe and perceive matters clearly and judge them rationally, logically, unemotionally.  The challenge for me was in simply finding the time to first read Sutin's book, Do What Thou Wilt, and then to organize my notes, write my comments and review, and put them into neat HTML format for the Internet.  As always, I could have made this review three, maybe four times larger than it is, commenting upon so much more than I here deal with, but considering the time at my disposal - as well as the patience and average attention span of many readers - I have arbitrarily chosen to put only the relatively few comments to be found below into this review.

Immediately we find the source of many problems this book has when we read the Acknowledgments.  Richard Cavendish assisted Sutin, and Cavendish has always been antagonistic towards Aleister Crowley, viewing the occult in general from a rather dark and "evil" perspective, while making his living off of it.  Clive Harper, was also a source of information and/or assistance, acknowledge by Sutin, and while I have enjoyed over the years a friendly if superficial acquaintance with Clive, he is, after all, a member of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., which has done more to pervert the teachings of Thelema and the memory of Aleister Crowley than anything else.  Anthony Naylor was also acknowledged, probably for providing research material, but upon reading the book one wonders how much of Tony's opinions when into it.  Again, I have enjoyed a friendly if superficial relationship with Tony, but he is most definitely and devotedly a Christian and his perception of Crowley has proven to be greatly faulted by his less than objective viewpoint, albeit he also seems to genuinely admire the man's work.  Gerald and Marlene Cornelius and William E. Heidrick were also acknowledged by Sutin, and these people are also members of the "(C)OTO", as some people like to refer to the greedy copyright grasping Caliphate.  Jerry has always been rather confused, at one moment a devoted follower of the Caliph and the next a bitter enemy, yet consistently insecure and unable to cut the apron strings that bind him to Mother Caliphate.  He has never proven to be an accurate or objective student of Crowley's works and personality.

Perhaps the worst influence upon Lawrence Sutin while he was writing his biography of Aleister Crowley was that of Bill Breeze, who, at the time of this writing, seems to have fled the United States to take up residence in Germany.  The American judicial system will eventually explain this matter more thoroughly than I can.  Be that as it may, Sutin wrote in his Aknowledgements:

Throughout the entire decade of work, the support and friendship of Hymenaeus Beta, Frater Superior, O.T.O., has been of enormous value.  It was he who was the sole reader of my initial draft ... and it was he who kindly and thoroughly scrutinized the final version that is now before the reader. ... he and I disagree on numerous points as to the interpretation of Crowley's life, and my views as set forth in this book should not be mistaken as representing his own.

Nevertheless, Hymenaeus Beta, i.e. William Breeze, cannot be let off the hook so easily.  He is greatly responsible for often misleading Lawrence Sutin, who seems to have been willingly misled, his "friendship" for Sutin probably motivated more by a desire to use him to promote the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. than by anything else, and in many subtle ways, Sutin does just that for Breeze throughout the book.

Do What Thou Wilt, a title which took no imagination whatsoever, begins thusly:  "Biographers are fond of observing that their subjects have been much misunderstood."  Then Sutin went on to say that in Crowley's case this is more true than in many, explaining how, to this day, he has a sinister reputation, adding that "Crowley is, admittedly, a complicated case.  One can hardly blame people for feeling hatred and fear toward Crowley when Crowley himself so often exulted in provoking just such emotions."  He tended to view such emotions as "inevitable", Sutin wrote, and I agree, due to the revolutionary nature of his teachings and the challenge that it presents to the Judeo-Christian culture.

Sutin continued:

Antagonism toward the religious powers that be was the essence of Crowley's vision of his life and of his mission.  ... As one disciple of the Beast has observed, "There is no sense in trying to whitewash Crowley's reputation.  Aleister spent most of his life systematically blackening it."

One wonders which of Crowley's modern day "disciples" Sutin is quoting here.  Breeze, Heidrick, Cornelius?  These individuals and others in the Caliphate have always brushed aside legitimate defense of Aleister Crowley, whom they pretend to believe to be their prophet, as "whitewashing".  It is usually because they themselves lack the wit and understanding of the man and his works to properly defend slanders against them, and partly because they themselves believe those slanders, which makes one wonder why, then, they could count themselves among Crowley's "followers".  This aside, I agree that it is senseless to "whitewash Crowley's reputation", but it is of paramount importance to dispell and disprove the rumours and lies told about the man, put to rest the fables, speak out against the libellous slanders, and generally set the record straight.  This for the sake of Thelema and for the future of human society.  As for Crowley spending his life "systematically blackening" his reputation, it is a remark only a hypocrite or a mere faddist might make, for he did no such thing.  He merely lived his life, made his share of mistakes, and the greatest wrong he did in this was to imagine that people in his time and later might be wise enough to understand, at least a little, of who he was and what he was all about.  However, such statements as that quoted by Lawrence Sutin are quite common for the pseudo-thelemites of today, faddists mostly, and/or individuals with little real individuality and imagination who have found in a perverse view of Crowley and Thelema a means of gratifying their petty ego, justifying their words and deeds by misinterpreting phrases from the Book of the Law and works by Crowley, taken out of context, and thus misrepresenting both Crowley and his works.

Sutin continued, on page 2 of his book:

Clearly, this Crowley fellow was an egregious sort - a shameless scoffer at Christian virtue, a spoiled scion of a wealthy Victorian family who embodied many of the worst John Bull racial and social prejudices of his upper-class contemporaries, a blisteringly arrogant opportunist who took financial and psychological advantage of his admirers, an unadmiring and even vicious judge of most of his contemporaries, a sensualist who relished sex in all forms, a hubristic experimenter in drugs who was addicted to heroin for the last twenty-five years of his life.  No question that the sheer egotistical bombast of the man could be stupefying.  For the Beast regarded himself as no less than the Prophet of a New Aeon that would supplant the Christian Era and bring on the reign of the Crowned and Conquering Child, embodiment of a guiltless, liberated humanity that had, at last, chosen to become the gods it had merely worshiped in the past.

But as for any alleged sympathy with the Christian Devil, Crowley viewed Satanism as a tawdry sport unworthy of his time and skills.

Clearly Sutin's view of Crowley is much too pedestrian for one who has chosen to become a biographer of this most complicated man, this magician, who cannot be so easily judged by common standards.  Interestingly, Sutin calls Crowley an "arrogant opportunist who took financial and psychological advantage of his admirers", while claiming the friendship of Breeze who is quite obviously an "arrogant opportunist" who takes "financial and psychological advantage" of Crowley's "admirers".  Although the Caliphate is at every turn sabotaging the efforts of those who would speak out to prove this on the Internet, it is, despite their efforts, and thanks to the great effort on the part of others, mostly ex-members of the Caliphate, becoming a widely known fact.

Also regarding the above quotation, Crowley was not "addicted to heroin for the last twenty-five years of his life," although there were times when he felt like an addict, simply because, after conquering a relatively brief addiction to the difficult drug he found that he had to make medicinal use of it in order to fight off illness and pain in his old age.  He hated having to rely upon anything outside of himself, as do many of us, but the limitations of the flesh are not always so easy to overcome.  Crowley had travelled widely, pushed his body to the limits in many ways, and in his old age he paid the price in pain and discomfort, yet his scientific experimentation with drugs had given him a certain degree of immunity to the effects of less effective medications, necessitating the use of more powerful means of dealing with the physical discomfort he suffered with in his fifties and sixties.  People who have never experimented with drugs beyond a puff or two on a joint, as well as those who have fallen into addiction and then were "saved", cannot comprehend the real difference there is betweeen "drug use" and "drug abuse".  Admittedly heroin is a most difficult drug, easy to become addicted to, but a genuinely strong and determined individual can avoid addiction altogether or beat it and then go on to use what was once abused.  Such people are, I might add, apparently few and far between when it comes to something like heroin, and of course it is not "politically correct" to even imply that this may be the case with the on-going "war on drugs".  However, objective reason and logic might be a better ally in this so-called "war" than unreasonable and irrational emotionalism.  Certainly it would have a greater effect on our younger generation than the preachy emotionalism that they can see right through, easily ignore, and even view as something to rebel against, finding delight in plucking from the tree of life that fruit forbidden them by the authorities.

And why shouldn't Crowley have declared himself the prophet of a New Æon that would replace the old æon and it's slave religions?  Especially if he was that!  Somebody had/has to be the first prophet of a new "age of man", and reason dictates that as Christianity supplanted older religions that had themselves replaced still more ancient religions, so too must Christianity one day fade out of existence for something better, something more in keeping with the growing, maturing consciousness of humanity as a whole.  If Christianity as it is preached and practiced today is the greatest we can hope for from the spirit of man, than humankind is indeed truly doomed and the end is near!

As an aside:  a co-worker of mine who shares a love of Greek mythology but who was raised in the Baptist religion noted one day that earlier civilizations were destroyed by their belief in pagan gods, oblivious of the fact that they had actually thrived in the worship of their native religions and it was not until Christianity invaded their lives and was forced down their throats that their civilizations withered and died.  A perfect example of this can be found in "modern" times in regards to the native North American "Indian" civilizations.  It was Christianity more than anything else, not their own native beliefs, that destroyed thousands of Native American cultures, which are in our times preserved by a relative handful, many understandably resentful of Christian interference, having lost so much of their past, their spirit.  Christianity "supplanted" Native American religions throughout North and South America, and it would be only just if another religion forced it's way and "supplanted" Christianity, although this is not at all how it will happen in regards to Thelema.

Lawrence Sutin, however, does from time to time make many good points within the pages of his less than perfect biography.  This one quoted above, for instance, pointing out that Aleister Crowley was not a satanist and that he found the whole subject rather "tawdry", is most important for it undermines many of the irrational, overly emotional, slanderous charges levelled at A.C.

On page 3, Sutin earned the first red X in his book from my editorial pen when I found the technical misquote of a key phrase from The Book of the Law, to wit:

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law"

The L in the word law should be capitalized.  It's a small thing, I grant you, but if Sutin really understood his subject and the cornerstone of his life, the Law of Thelema, he would not have made that error.

Sutin seldom gives the source of the many quotations used in his book, and sometimes he is less than accurate in those quotations he does give the source of, as for instance on page 258, when he writes of the "Star-Sponge Vision" he misquoted "Nothingness with twinkles!" thusly:  "Nothingness but twinkles!", and as Sutin himself pointed out in his bio, Crowley was a master of the exact meaning of words, and this completely changes the meaning of the phrase.

Crowley is as irresistible a fantasy for the counter-culture (which typically casts him as a defiant rebel who stood for individual freedom first and foremost, this despite Crowley's lifelong aristocratic - and even, at times, fascistic - bent in politics) as he is for Christian fundamentalists (who have, paradoxically, succeeded in perpetuating Crowley's fame by casting him as the Evil Exemplar best suited to sustain a healthy fear of the Devil in the faithful).

But beneath the greasepaint of these popular images, does there remain a Crowley worthy of the serious attention of the intelligent reader?

The above can be found on page 3 of Sutin's book.  While essentially true, I cannot see what it is about Crowley's "bent in politics" that the author so casually and without example calls "fascistic".  I am inclinded to believe that he came to this belief not so much by an objective study of Crowley's writings, but in fact because of the misinterpretation of those writings he received from his association with the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. which has proven itself far more "fascistic" than Thelemic.  The point being that here we have, once again, an example of how the Caliphate has done a grave disservice to the memory and teachings of Aleister Crowley, to Thelema, it's representation to the public at large and establishment in society, and in general society.  As for the answer to the question that follows:

It is the claim of this biography that such a Crowley does exist.  Indeed, as the twentieth century has come to a close, it is clear that Crowley stands out as one of its more remarkable figures.  A "minor" figure he may be, if one measures him on a scale of ultimate deeds.  But such calipers will nullify all but a handful of those who shaped our times.  Crowley is most emphatically a part of the spiritual history of this century, and as such it behooves us to reckon with him both sensibly and sensitively.  Say what you will of Crowley, judge his failings as you will, there remains a man as protean, brilliant, courageous, and flabbergasting as ever you could imagine.  There endure achievements that no reasoned account of his life may ignore.

Yet, by calling Crowley a "minor" figure, it is obvious that because in part of his association with Breeze, Heidrick, and the Caliphate gang, and how badly they misrepresent the Master Therion and his teachings, Sutin cannot come close to appreciating the full impact of Crowley's life and work on society.  He cannot "futurize" today's possibilities because he is locked into the false belief that the Caliphate represents Thelema, not realizing that the gang is nothing more than a minor aberration that will in time fade off into oblivion as genuine Thelemic Orders assert themselves in society, representing Crowley and Thelema far more accurately than anyone or any group is doing today.  When Sutin calls Aleister Crowley, the Beast 666, a "minor" figure, with the New Æon not even a century old, I am reminded of Roman officials and historians about 2000 years ago calling Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, a "minor" figure - the leader of a small but basically insignificant "cult".

Sutin then proceeds to list some of those achievements, such as that of being "an accomplished mountain climber" who ascended K2 and Kanchenjunga to heights not previously achieved, being one of the first students of Buddhism and yoga, a prolific poet "who displayed, intermittently, a pure and genuine talent."  But we begin to see a problem with Sutin's viewpoint when he went on to say:

Crowley consciously utilized poetry to explore his forbidden bisexuality and to defy cultural taboos.  The standard surveys of twentieth-century gay literature will someday be revised to take in Crowley's contributions.

Certainly this is true.  I absolutely had to purchase The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse edited by Stephen Coote when I noted that "The Lesbian Hell" by Crowley had been included in the collection.  However, this above sentence is one of the first hints of a problem with Sutin's perspective that was destined to pervert everything that he wrote by way of a false premise, ascribing to Crowley motivations for his thoughts, words and deeds that were not true.  I will deal with this later.

The 9th Achievement Sutin noted on page 5 is as follows:

Crowley was one of the rare human beings of this or any age to dare to prophesy a distinctive new creed and to devote himself - with some success - to the promulgation of that creed.  Adherents of Crowley the Prophet of Thelema (we are not speaking here of self-styled Satanists who shave their heads and parrot random phrases from Crowley's writings) number in the low thousands worldwide - a less than imposing figure, but one that fails to take into account a high level of organization, ongoing publishing efforts, and ardent devotion to the cause.

One of many such subtle "plugs" {i.e. "a favorable public mention of a commercial product"} Sutin has slipped into his book for the Caliphate gang.  First, I am again grateful that he made the distinction between students of Crowley and satanists, although one wonders by the qualifying phrase "self-styled" if he considers satanists such as those associated with the Temple of Set and the Church of Satan to be serious "adherents" of Crowley.  But secondly, the "adherents" Sutin is here talking about, at least primarily, are those who consider themselves members of the Caliphate, and many of these people "parrot random phrases from Crowley's writings", i.e. throw them about with little or no understanding to impress others and justify the gratification of their petty ego.  They are not highly organized, they are barely organized at all, although I am certain Breeze and company did everything in their power to make him believe that they are highly organized.  Their "ongoing publishing efforts" have actually hampered greater publication efforts of Crowley writings because of their "fascistic" attempts to claim to be the only holder of Crowley copyrights, including rights over the majority of his works which were never copyrighted and are in the public domain.  As for their "ardent devotion to the cause", while there may be new members, not yet savy to the ways of the Caliphate "leadership", and I use that term very loosely, who are indeed ardently devoted, it is not to "the cause" to which men like Bill Breeze are devoted.  That is, unless, "the cause" be defined as the emotional gratification and financial suceess of Bill Breeze.

Sutin wrote on page 8:  "Crowley did also recognize the hubris of the swollen self, and his genuine revulsion against it spurred him to singular efforts to escaping its domain."

There are many such truisms throughout Sutin's book, yet he often attacks them at some other point in his book in what seems to be an attempt to prove the contrary.  Lawrence Sutin destroys faster than he builds and it makes one wonder where Saturn is in his natal chart.

Whatever one thinks of Crowley's sexual morés - and Crowley could be lustful and crude and, at times, even vicious towards his partners - sexuality as a means to gnosis became, from the middle decades of his life, a guiding reality for him. ... But Crowley was no hypocrite and his magick was no mere ruse for obtaining sex; when sex was all Crowley wanted, he was hardly ashamed to say so.  {Page 11}

Again, true, and something to be grateful for in the book, but I found it particularly amusing in the light of his friendly association with the Caliphate gang, many of whose members are hypocrites who use their talk and play of magick and Thelema as a "ruse for obtaining sex".  And although the Caliphate is doing it's best to silence those who have learned this firsthand, sabotaging e-groups and the like to prevent their voices from being heard on the Internet, there are many, mostly women, who can testify to this fact.

Crowley, a gifted dialectician, made the task of measurement as difficult as possible for his biographers.  Esoteric traditions universally acknowledge that the black-and-white distinctions of ordinary consciousness may be merely shallow delusions.  Crowley, secure in having transcended such delusions, insisted that any deviation from the sacred "Great Work" - the forging of a link between the human soul and the divine presence, or, as Crowley often phrased it, the "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel" - is "black magic."  {Page 13}

Sutin then went on to quote Crowley on the presumptiousness of a magician to pretend to understand the universe and make judgements as to right and wrong when "Only a Master of the Temple can say whether any given act is a crime."  However, Sutin failed to fully appreciate what Crowley was here saying, for he proves himself most presumptious indeed in his biography, often judging Crowley wrong by way of insufficiant information, misleading information, and a lack of personal experience as a Thelemite and a magician which would be necessary to understanding the man who rightfully claimed the title of the Beast 666.

There are many instances that prove that Sutin does not truly understand magick, is not a magician, and so cannot understand the mind of a magician, much less one who had achieved the grade of Magister Templi.  For instance on page 282 he wrote "the creation of a 'divine Self' fully released from the fears and inhibitions of the all-too-human soul", when, in fact, the so-called "divine Self" is not a person's creation, but rather the creator of the person.  It is not "created" by man or woman, but "real-ized".

If a general rule for assessment of Crowley's work may be offered:  He was at his best when pointing the way to diligent individual effort, and at his worst when purporting to govern his fellows and to forecast the course of history.  Alike at his best and at his worst, he may be seen as instructive.  {Page 13}

Unfortunately Lawrence Sutin does not seem to be well qualified to judge what was and what was not Crowley's best and worst.  He often failed to fathom the mind of the Master, the Magus, and later in life, the Ipsissimus.  As for his forecasts of the course of history, which Sutin here only vaguely alludes to in a rather casual manner, expecting you, the reader, to just accept this as a fact ... well ... let us leave that up to the future to decide.  Apparently Sutin is expecting "overnight" results - "overnight" being a relative term when discussing the events of an æon that will endure for several thousand years.  Trust not the critic of a prophet who judges such matters so quickly.

In the opening of Chapter One Sutin quoted Crowley and commented:

"It has been remarked a strange coincidence that one small county {Warwickshire} should have given England her two greatest poets - for one must not forget Shakespeare (1550-1616)."  In making the jibe ... Crowley casually ascribes the wrong birth year to the Bard, who was born in 1564.

In the first place, Lawrence Sutin is merely noting the apparent error that John Symonds and/or Kenneth Grant noted in their editorial notes to the 1969 E.V. Hill and Wang edition of The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  Secondly, the birth date of Shakespeare may have then been, may even now be, uncertain, a matter of debate, and perhaps at the time Crowley was writing 1564 E.V. was the common date ascribed to his birth.  Be that as it may, it seems to be a common trick of the ego, a failing that authors suffer when writing about Crowley, attempting to appear superior to their subject.

Religion was the second great influence that flowed through his family.  His parents were devoted to an intensely sectarian creed, that of the Plymouth Brethren.  Plainly, Crowley grew to despise the Breathren as he came of age.  Yet his new religion of Thelema recapitulates the Brethren worldview in several vital respects.  The paradoxical truth is that Crowley was an astonishing emulator of the creed he professed to hate."  {Page 17}

Following this, Sutin remarked upon the "pared-down simplicity" of the Brethren's "three central precepts:  (1) An insistence on the literal truth of Scripture (as embodied strictly in the King James Translation); (2) Elimination of all priestly authority - all worshippers were equal at Brethrenn meetings, and free to speak as the Holy Spirit moved them; and (3) An imminentist belief in the Second Coming ...".  After which Sutin concluded his assertion by writing that "When one compares the structure of Brethren beliefs with those of the new religion of Thelema established by Crowley, the parallels are fundamental and unmistakable."

However, this assertion in inherently absurd.  (1) Thelema does not insist upon a literal truth of "Scripture" (as embodied in The Book of the Law, much less Judeo-Christian Scripture).  Very little about The Book is literal, plus the insistence is not to believe, but to test for one's self.  (2) While freedom and equality are the hallmarks of Thelema, priestly authority is not eliminated, and of course the supreme authority in all matters pertaining to Thelema, even long after his death, is Aleister Crowley.  And finally, in these three matters above, (3) there is no belief in a "Second Coming" - certainly not a Second Coming of Christ, nor a Second Coming of the Beast 666.  So in truth, when one compares the structure of Brethren beliefs with those of Thelema, the parallels are, well, nonexistent!  How can Sutin, by his own written words, conclude otherwise?

Furthermore, on page 23, Sutin claimed that:

Edward {Crowley} was a staunchly pedestrian explicator of his creed.  But there are surprising parallels between the father's Brethren beliefs and Crowley's magical creed of Thelema.  ... Crowley was, for example, much reviled for his belief in the efficacy of blood sacrifice ... But in father Edward's tract The Plymouth Brethren (So Called)/Who They Are - Their Creed - Mode of Worship, &c./Explained in A Letter to his Friends and Relations (1865), the concrete saving power of Christ's sacrificial blood is stressed repeatedly.

However, this is a superficial matter and not a very good comparison.  Crowley, who actually performed very few blood sacrifices in his magical experiments, was only reviled for them by a handful of squeamish sorts - W. B. Yeats for one, if memory serves me right.  Furthermore, his father, Edward Crowley, was referring to the spiritual or metaphorical blood of Christ, for certainly the actual physical blood of the Christian messiah is not today available.  And all of this, anyway, stems from the universal belief that "the blood is the life".  Employing this doctrine, if you will, to prove the so-called parallels between the belief structure of the Plymouth Brethren and teachings of Thelema is hardly fair since one can also, in this way, prove that all religions on the face of the planet have parallel beliefs; that there is really no difference between Thelema, Fundamentalist Christianity, Judaism, and any religion you can think of, including Wicca and the pseudo-religion of modern day satanism.  Absurd.  However, Sutin counts on the laziness of the reader to simply accept his statements as fact and neither investigate the matter nor think and reason for himself.

Confusing the issue further, Sutin wrote on page 126 that "The Thelema of Crowley {as opposed to the Theleme of Rabelais} is, by contrast, a break rather than an embrace with the past, particularly the Christian Past."  And by so saying, he thus contradicts his earlier statements.  Well, really, what can one expect from someone so confused that he accepts Bill Breeze and his associates of the very unthelemic Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. as genuine Thelemites?

On page 19 Sutin wrote that "Emily {Crowley}, it would seem, was not quite so hidebound a bigot as Crowley would have us believe, nor was he quite so thankless a son."  And throughout his biography the author does indeed dispel some of the misconceptions about A.C., portraying him in a more realistic light, not quite so "beastly" as many sensationalistic commentators and would-be biographers would have the world believe.  Yet Lawrence Sutin continually ascribes motivations to Crowley's choices in life which were not his, or which, at least, were considerations that were no more compelling than they are for any of us.  Take for example that which can be found between pages 21 and 22 of his work:

The reason for Crowley's choice of magic as a lifework was to escape the mortal coil and to achieve something underlying - like unto the Christian heaven of his father.

Sutin seems to be implying that Crowley had an unhealthy fixation on and fear of death, but this was certainly not the case.  Crowley did state, however, that he had hoped to achieve some form of immortality through his work, but that is quite natural for writers, poets and prophets, the latter being immortality through the teachings that they hope live on long after them.  Crowley, a serious student of Buddhism, certainly had no hope for or desire in escaping inevitable death nor in finding that escape in a fairy tale like heaven.  There doesn't even seem to be a hint of desire or belief in Crowley's writings that he would reincarnate on earth, although he obviously found merit in the doctrine of reincarnation, having himself claimed several "past lives".  However, there is ample evidence that he looked forward toward the eventual dissolution in the Body of Nuit, roughly, something akin to the Nirvana of Buddhist philosophy.

Three weeks after Edward's death, Crowley committed a school offense for the first time.  In classroom lessons, he probed at the inconsistencies of Biblical texts.  An example recalled by Crowley:  how could Christ have been in the grave for three days and three nights if he was crucified on Friday and rose again on Sunday?  One might translate the query here more bluntly:  How could death truly be evaded?  {Page 25}

How, exactly, might a reasonable individual translate Crowley's question in this manner?  It was merely a technical matter; a matter of logic that had nothing to do with death per se, but rather TIME.  When I was a child attending a Roman Catholic grade school, upon being told by the nun who was teaching science that no two things can occupy the same place at the same time, I spoke up recalling the hours upon hours of catechism foisted upon us and remarked that "If God is everywhere, he must then be everyone and everything", continuing on to point out that among other things God must be the dog shit on the sidewalk outside.  This was most distressing to the good sister, and one would assume that from this Lawrence Sutin would conclude that I had an unhealthy interest in and fear of dog shit.  It becomes apparent, when reading Do What Thou Wilt, that very often the motivations Lawrence Sutin ascribes to Aleister Crowley were more likely dredged up from his own troubled psyche.

After his father's death and the realization of the above discrepancy in the gospel narrative, Sutin pointed out on pages 25 and 26, by way of a quote from Crowley, a quote that he does not, as is usual for him, give the precise source of, that Crowley had "'accepted the theology of the Plymouth Brethren. ... I simply went over to Satan's side; and to this hour I cannot tell why.'"  Following which the author then made certain to point out:

For those who would use this passage to brand Crowley as a Satanist, any attempt at clarification will read as untoward apology.  Simply stated, however, Crowley's going over "to Satan's side" is a description not of his enduring life viewpoint but rather of an adolescent grief that expressed itself in the most extreme form of rebellion open to him - impiety.  But the defiant schoolboy saw himself as the paradoxical preserver of the faith.  As Crowley later explained:  "It seems as if I possessed a theology of my own which was, to all intents and purposes, Christianity.  My satanism did not interfere with it at all; I was trying to take the view that the Christianity of hypocrisy and cruelty was not true Christianity.  I did not hate God or Christ, but merely the God and Christ of the people whom I hated."

Furthermore, on page 36, Sutin pointed out that it was "common within Crowley's generation, to regard Satan as more a romantic than an evil figure.  Crowley was far from alone in his rebellion against Christian morals, though he distinguished himself in the lengths to which he would carry it."

And, on page 96, by way of quoting The Sword of Song, Sutin points out that "Crowley takes care to specify that it is the husk of exoteric dogma in Christianity (and in all organized religions) that earns his hatred, and not the mystical teachings of Christ."

In such instances as this, to write as Sutin writes, Lawrence Sutin is at his best.  The point he is making is not only true, but necessary to make since the image most people have of Crowley is that rather of "the demon Crowley", the wild-eyed and violently anti-Christian satanic Apocalyptic Beast.  Although it also sometimes seems as if Sutin were trying to prove that A.C. was and always would be a Christian.  Still, it is important to dispell the myth that Crowley was a satanist and that he found no merit whatsoever in the teachings ascribed to Jesus called the Christ.

We find on page 27 one of several statements in Do What Thou Wilt which justifies and lends necessary and appropriate credence to statements and judgements made by Crowley:

... this rage toward Champney and his school arose only after Edward's passing.  It is tempting to conclude that the boy's grief transformed a perfectly ordinary public school (a private school in American usage) into a horrific psychic crucible.  But the charges made by Crowley against the Ebor School and Champney parallel, in all fundamental details, criticisms raised against English public schools by respected historians of the era.

On the other hand, Sutin errs in many ways, such as his conclusion on page 28 that:

To a certain degree, sex never lost its sense of naughtiness for him.  Further, Crowley largely accepted the notion, implicitly embodied in Victorian sexology, of women as secondary social beings in terms of intellect and sensibility.

As to the first part, perhaps so.  It is one of the unexpected and by them undesired gifts of the Judeo-Christian culture's doctrine of shame to have instilled in most of us a sense of "naughtiness" and "wickedness" in regards to sex.  I call this a gift because by making sex the "forbidden fruit", the Judeo-Christian religions have made sex for us more desirable, more full of flavour, far more delightful than it would be without this sense of naughtiness.  No apple tastes sweeter than that apple we pinched right under the shopkeeper's nose, the one that we were told we could not have.  No kiss is sweeter than the kiss stolen from a chaste maiden.

Regarding the second part of Sutin's statement, the biographer misunderstands his subject.  It was indeed the common notion of Victorian "sexology" that women were secondary social beings in terms of intellect and sensibility, yet while Crowley was certainly not uneffected by this social injustice that was common to his time, he constantly strove to rise above this attitude.  And he was certain that there were women who were equal to men in intellect and sensibility, that it was the destiny of womanhood to achieve the equality that was essentially theirs, and he dearly hoped to meet such a woman.  Unfortunately, while he came close to achieving his desire at least a couple of times in his life, Crowley would remain frustrated throughout his 72 years on the planet, meeting women who allowed themselves to fit into this Victorian stereotype.  Sutin's statement can be considered true, but it is superficial in the extreme and is thus equally false.  Definitely misleading.

Crowley acknowledged, in the Confessions, that as a child he had a streak of "congenital masochism" that revealed itself in fantasies of physical agony ... It is with this background of brutality in mind that one can approach, with a modicum of comprehension - if not sympathy - one of the most appalling incidents in the Confessions.  At roughly age fourteen, shortly after he left the Ebor School, Crowley committed the cold-blooded murder of a cat ...  {Page 29}

Sutin goes on to quote Crowley regarding how he killed a cat in nine different ways as part of a childhood experiment, finishing with Crowley's statement:  "I was genuinely sorry for the animal; I simply forced myself to carry out the experiment in the interest of pure science."  Sutin followed his quotation by writing, "One of the strangest aspects of this ghastly passage is the absence of any acknowledgment that the violence was satisfying to the boy."  To Sutin's twisted reasoning this implies that the account may not be true, or "plausible", as he put it, implying that Crowley was either a cruel and sadistic "beast" or a liar.

The first thing worthy of note is that Crowley stated that either as a condition of birth or upbringing he entertained fantasies of suffering physical agony, which he referred to as "masochism".  Masochism is a condition that causes one to feel pleasure from pain, and it is worth noting that fantasies of masochism no more prove a man a true masochist than fantasies of a homoerotic nature prove a man to be homosexual.  In either case the fantasy may be enjoyed for various reasons while the individual would never truly enjoy the reality, the fantasy merely being symbolic, and he would probably never seek to realize his fantasy.  Furthermore, Sutin leaps from this "admission" of masochism into an account of supposed sadism as if the masochist is quite naturally also a sadist.  This, of course, is not necessarily so.  In fact, it is usually not the case.  While the masochist derives pleasure from experiencing pain, and this may only be emotional pain, for instance, and not necessarily physical pain, the sadist is the individual who enjoys inflicting the pain.  The second thing that should be noted is that a "confession" of enjoying masochistic fantasies as a youth is hardly a "background of brutality".  Sutin over exaggerates to an absurd degree here to portray Crowley as cruel and unfeeling.  But he fails miserably.  Except, perhaps, in the mind of the careless reader.

The "cold-blooded murder of a cat", such a phrase intended to raise in the reader an emotional reaction against Crowley, was to the young boy merely a scientific experiment, no more cruel than the animal experimentation that qualified researchers are sometimes forced to carry out in an effort to develop vaccines and such to save human lives.  Sutin undermines his attempt to portray the "cruel" side of Crowley by quoting the master in regards to how he truly felt sorry for the cat the whole time.  It merely shows that while he possessed compassion, his scientific curiosity was the stronger part of his nature, as must always be the case with pioneers in any field of endeavor.  Sutin, however, cannot seem to understand this, probably does not want to understand this, and so he stated that he found it surprising that young Crowley expressed no satisfaction in the experimental killing of the cat.  It is not surprising to anyone with a clear head who reads the account objectively.  If Crowley had a streak of masochism in him, fine, but this is quite different from sadism, plus he expressed compassion for the cat which would quite naturally negate any possibility of deriving pleasure from the act.  There is nothing surprising in Crowley's childhood anecdote, especially as there are few of us who cannot look back upon some cruel act we performed as a child out of curiosity or fascination, without taking into account the full ramifications of our act, failing to sympathize fully with our victim, whether it be an act similiar to Crowley's youthful experiment or some cruel joke we played upon another child.  One must wonder just how sheltered Sutin's childhood was, or how overly fastidious he must have been as a young boy and how this may have stunted his emotional and psychological growth in life.  Now if young Crowley had continued such activities it probably would have been an indication of a true psychological disease, genuine sadism and perhaps pathological antisocial behaviour.  However, we have only this single incident, and even if there were a few more such incidents, these alone would in no way prove Crowley to have been cruel and heartless, just as a few experiments in homosexuality or lesbianism would prove the sexual experimenter to be an "invert" or "pervert".

On page 108, Sutin quoted Crowley from Science and Buddhism:

If Science is never to go beyond its present limits; if the barriers which metaphysical speculation shows to exist are never to be transcended, then indeed we are thrown back on faith, and all the rest of the nauseous mess of mediaeval superstition.

After quoting Crowley, Sutin remarked that "In recent decades, the view urged by Crowley - quite ahead of its time - for the application of scientific method to the study of the nature of consciousness has earned broad interest."  And it is quite true that Crowley's thinking, to apply the scientific method to such things as the nature of consciousness, altered states of consciousness, i.e. mystical experience, was very much ahead of his time and perhaps an encouragement to some of today's researchers in the field.  It is this intrinsic scientific nature that is indicated in the anecdote Crowley related in The Confessions regarding the experimental killing of the cat.

Chapter Four begins with Sutin writing that the rest of Crowley's days were shaped by "the contact he believed to have occurred on Aptil 8, 9, and 10, 1904 ...", and that "This dictum", i.e. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, properly quoted this time, "evokes immediate unease, even fear."  In whom?  I never felt that unease or fear, and I was raised Roman Catholic, had eight early years of schooling in a Roman Catholic school with plenty of church and catechism.  Yet when I first read those words I casually accepted it as the epitome of common sense and "rightness" about life.  I seriously wonder about people who find this simple and direct statement to be a source of dis-ease and fear.  One here wonders if perhaps the fear that such people feel might be based upon a fear of freedom, a fear of being expected to think for themselves, to act according to their own conscience and venture outside of the tiny box universe within which others have been determined to entrap them.

On page 133, in reference to the authorship of The Book of the Law, Lawrence Sutin wrote:

The question of style returns one to the vexing issue of authorship.  Crowley's insistence on the "praeterhuman" or - sometimes more emphatically - "divine" origin of the text has given pause even to some of Crowley's most ardent supporters.  A frequent approach has been to make the question seem irrelevant.

Sutin was hanging out with the wrong crowd, the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., generally a rather confused and conflicted lot lacking any true cohesion as an "order", ill-educated in matters relating to Thelema, poorly guided if guided at all, and for the most part still victims of their mostly Christian upbringing, accepting "on faith" what they are told by the so-called leadership, with little or no understanding.  What his "friends" in the Caliphate gang shy away from, I will explain.  The matter really is quite simple.

Aleister Crowley claimed not to be the author of The Book of the Law, technically called Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, but rather that Aiwass, also spelled Aiwaz, his Holy Guardian Angel, was the sole author.  However, critics have noted Crowleyesque phrases and other marks that seem to them to indicate that Crowley, whose hand was indeed on the pen, was the sole author of The Book.  This shows a complete lack of understanding as to the nature of the H.G.A., also called the Daemon, Genius, Atman, True Self, etc.  The H.G.A. {Aiwass in this case} is the True Self, the Supraconscious Self, which is to say the perfect union of the divided self, the perfect alignment of the subconscious and conscious aspects of the mind that are in a nearly constant state of conflict in most if not all of us.  Desires in conflict with reason and that sort of thing.  What we want to do and feel driven to do as opposed to what we know we should do in any given matter, to put it very simply.  The essential goal of the magician is to mediate between the warring factions of his own conflicted psyche, bring together those factions through initiation and the art and science of magick, i.e. through a communication between the warring factions of self, and bring the conscious and the subconscious into alignment so that there is an end to the internal conflict, so that the self is no longer divided against itself, thus real-izing the supraconscious mind or self, the True Self.  Now it is this True Self, this Supraconscious Self, that created the persona through which it manifests upon the somatic levels of consciousness for the purpose of self-realization, or as a Christian mystic might put it:  to redeem oneself from the effects of the Fall and achieve atonement - at-one-ment - a unification of the divided self or psyche.  Now this persona {Aleister Crowley in this instance} is the instrument of the True Self, purposely created to be, as it were, the right tool for the right job.  It is no more surprising that Crowley, the instrument, should have left upon the work of Aiwass, the author, marks characteristic of his personality and education, than it is that a pen or typewriter should leave upon the writer's work marks unique to that instrument, for instance, say, a slightly raised P on the typewritten document.

The true authorship of The Book of the Law may be debated for an eternity, but this is, in a nutshell, the reason Crowleyesque "style" is to be found in the work of Aiwass, which work must have surely influenced Crowley's own style thereafter.  And it is further worth nothing that while Aiwass {the creator} was Crowley {the creation}, Crowley was not Aiwass.  I will leave it up to your own ingenium to fathom this vexing statement.

The Book {of the Law} can and does serve as a scripture for a few thousand modern-day Thelemites.  There are those who have warped certain verses of the Book to justify the worst of themselves; but this can be done with the Bible as well.  {Page 134}

The Judeo-Christian Bible has indeed been abused, time and time again, to justify murder, rape, and countless other crimes, and the point Sutin is here making is a valuable point to make.  Unfortunately, I see in it his confusion, for surely most if not all of the "few thousand modern-day Thelemites" he is referring to are those individuals who have joined the Caliphate gang, and but for those members who soon realize their mistake and leave the group, these are not genuine Thelemites.  They are, in fact, to be numbered among those who have "warped certain verses ... to justify the worst of themselves", a fact which is becoming more and more evident to students of Crowley and Thelema, thanks in part to the efforts of individuals using the Internet to allow ex-Caliphate members and others who have come into contact with the Caliphate to share their experiences with the world, despite the fact that at every turn the Caliphate does it's best to silence these voices and inhibit their Freedom of Speech, their rights as given in the Thelemic Rights of Man, Liber OZ, possibly inhibiting if not outright interfering with the True Will of others in a most unthelemic manner.

Sadly, of the "few thousand" Sutin here refers to as Thelemites, most are faddists and opportunists but not genuine Thelemites.  On the other hand, I am quite certain that there are millions of true Thelemites in the world today who have simply not yet realized their Thelemic nature, have not even as yet heard of the word "Thelema" and know nothing about the man called Aleister Crowley.  It is only a matter of time before those who would prefer Thelema remain a relatively small cult that they can profit from are thwarted when Thelema takes its rightful place in human society and history.

The Book of the Law may readily be dismissed as the ravings of a self-deluded occultist who wished - despite his protestations - first and foremost to exalt himself.  And there may well be some truth in that viewpoint.  But it is not the entire truth.  {Page 138}

I would not even call it part of the truth.  Einstein's Theory of Relativity can easily be dismissed by some as the ravings of a self-deluded individual, but that only shows their ignorance to those who are better educated and more intelligent.  As for the statement that Crowley, "first and foremost", was interested in exalting himself, it sounds to me like an echo of John Symonds' massive effort of character assassination, The Great Beast.  It is a statement made in complete conflict with those statements made by the subject of the biography, Aleister Crowley, inflicted upon the reader without worthwhile evidence to support the claim.  You are merely expected to accept the statement "on faith".

Justice to the concept of true will put forward in The Book of the Law demands that its persistent linkage - by uninformed critics - with unbridled anarchy and wayward licentiousness be refuted.  To an extent, Crowley has himself to blame for the misunderstanding.  In the subsequent decades of his life, there were few indulgences, no matter how egregious, that he failed to attribute to his true will, as opposed to an all-too-human set of conflicting and limited desires.  But the Thelemic true will of The Book of the Law, and of Crowley's commentaries thereon, is a purified state that emerges only after the secondary personality and its emotional ties are left utterly behind.  {Page 127}

Naively put, but essentially true, and we are greateful for such small nuggets of clarification that, metaphorically, flowed from the pen of Lawrence Sutin.  However, as always, he cannot find it in him to utter a word of truth without showing his own "conflicted and limited desires" by mixing with the truth a good portion of poppycock.  It is not Crowley who is to blame for a misunderstanding of Thelema and The Book, but rather the blame falls upon writers like Kenneth Grant, John Symonds and, of course, Lawrence Sutin.  The blame also belongs to those who would read such things and not actually think about what they are reading - carefully analyze what was said and why it was said, and determined what it might actually mean as opposed to what it may seem to mean upon a quick glance.  And who is Lawrence Sutin to determine what was and what was not a necessary aspect of Crowley's True Will, of any man or woman's True Will or purpose for existing?  Crowley, as a pioneer, as one of the first, virtually as the first Thelemite, had to, of necessity, explore many avenues of human existence that the rest of us may now learn from.  Not only does Lawrence Sutin fail to understand his subject, not only does he fail to understand the nature of a magician and his magick, but he also fails miserably to understand the nature and necessities of any pioneer in history.  Once again the Caliphate may be blamed for Sutin's attitude, since we are here, as guided by Sutin, attributing blame.  For decades now the Caliphate almost without deviation, has promoted The Book of the Law {to serve it's own petty, personal ambitions, it should be noted}, while speaking ill of the prophet who made The Book possible, carelessly dismissing the man and agreeing with his ignorant critics because it has always been the simplest thing to do, requiring the least amount of thought.  And these are the people Sutin honours with the term Thelemites?

When Crowley, in his Thelemic writings, revels in his Scarlet Woman and her whoredom, he is thus spitting in the eye of the Christian vision.  But Revelation had been, in turn, an equally vehement rejection of the pagan mystery creeds, in Greece and the Middle East, that had honored the sacred prostitutes of temple worship.  The Book of the Law may thus be seen as an attempt at redress.  {Pages 130 and 131}

Another good point made by the would-be biographer.  However, Sutin then went on to confuse the words "prostitue" and "whore", as is common among the majority who mistake synonyms as words meaning exactly the same as other words.  He taints every positive and truthful statement he makes in his book with the negative of lies or misinterpretation.

But again we have, as here on page 132, statements worthy of a genuine biographer, showing that Sutin had some understanding of his subject, albeit it a very limited understanding, perverted by his own personal shortcomings and the influence of those people he chose to believe were sincere adherents of Thelema and knowledgeable on the subject of Aleister Crowley.

... if Crowley the prophet did not become a feminist by modern standards, he did emerge somewhat from the pervasive chauvinism of his day, going so far as to decry sexual harassment in the workplace.

As for prostitution, it would be the paradoxical triumph of the Scarlet Woman, the Whore of Babalon, to preside over the extinction of that societal ignominy.  Where sexual freedom prevails, payment for gratification declines:  "Prostitution (with its attendant crimes) will tend to disappear, as it will cease to offer exorbitant profits to those who exploit it."

After which Sutin pointed out that "Nearly two thousand years after Revelation, Crowley sought to redeem the sacred whore and to overthrow the Christian malaise".

Regarding A. E. Waite, Sutin wrote on Page 41 that "Waite was a mystically inclined man of letters and a scholar of esoteric lore against whom Crowley would direct - in the decades to come - a persistent and largely unjust stream of critical abuse."  And yet he doesn't explain why it was unjust.  In studying Waite's work over the years I myself grew to dislike the man, finding him terribly pedantic, so awfully verbose that he makes me seem positively laconic by comparison, and his Christian orientation and focus upon the mystical with very little practical work that I could perceive, thus lacking in personal experience, put me off entirely.  To me Waite was a turn of the century version of a new age guru.  Lots of words, little substance, and plenty of sappy hokum.  I can think of plenty of justification for Crowley's "stream of critical abuse".

{Sir Gerald} Kelly, in his later years, offered a simple explanation of what drew them together.  "I liked him; we made each other laugh; but he was a poseur, a great pretender to scholarship and languages."  {Page 50}

Sutin, seldom giving the precise source of his quotations, making it impossible for the reader to double check them or the context in which the opinions were originally voiced, uses the opinion of others to mostly speak ill of Crowley.  What he doesn't explain is the possible personal motivation behind such opinions that were, after all, merely subjective opinions.  In this case Gerald Kelly and Crowley were not only friends at one time, but in-laws.  Things did not work out well between Aleister and Gerald's sister Rose, Crowley's first wife, and A.C. had cause at times to criticize Kelly's career as a portrait painter.  Gerald had plenty of reason to feel bitter, resentful, and to thus speak ill of the man in an unjust manner, based more upon his personal feelings than upon an objective evaluation of the man.

Of course, on page 105, in all fairness to Lawrence Sutin, he wrote:

According to a later testimony of Kelly, "Crowley was widely unknown in the Montparnasse quarter.  His French was poor.  He was, for the most part, I fancy, disliked by the few whom he met."

After which Sutin pointed out:

Still, there was a rather eminent circle in which Crowley certainly made an impression. ... These included the British novelists Arnold Bennett and W. Somerset Maugham, the Bloomsbury art critic Clive Bell, the American sulptor Paul Wayland Bartlett, and the Canadian painter James Wilson Morrice.

One might argue that Sutin was trying to be fair, that he was presenting both sides of the case, but an overall reading and study of this biography makes me think that it was simply a matter of conflict, that is to say, Sutin reacted emotionally to Crowley and his work and wished to oppose it, but the reasoning part of his psyche forced him to view A.C. from a more objective viewpoint at the same time.  However, it does not appear as if the writing of the book exorcised Sutin's personal demons, for he seems conflicted throughout, to the bitter end.

While Sutin would at times eagerly employ the personal opinion of someone who had a chip on his shoulder to throw a "bad" light upon the dear old Beast, he seemed forced at times to admit to the existence of an entirely different Aleister Crowley:

As Crowley later put it with admirable candor, " {Oscar} Eckenstein recognized from the first the value of my natural instincts for mountaineering, and also that I was one of the silliest young asses alive."  {Page 50}

Of course, it was usually only when Crowley spoke ill of himself, pointing out one of his own human faults, that Sutin thought him admirable.  In some way he seems to have believed that the "admission", the "confession", strengthened his case against Crowley - a case made under the surface, as it were, as sneaky as John Symonds' but perhaps more conflicted.

Perhaps without realizing how this must have strengthened Crowley's case against W. B. Yeats, Sutin wrote on page 78:

Arthur Machen recalled an anxious meeting with the poet.  "He described the doings of a fiend in human form, a man who was well known to be an expert in Black Magic, a man who hung up naked women in cupboards by hooks which pierced the flesh of their arms.  This monster ... hired a gang in Lambeth, who were grievously to maim or preferably to slaughter the dark young man. ..."

Yeats' delusions of grandeur and paranoia are clearly illustrated here, and one can understand a little better what Crowley was talking about when he wrote of Yeats.  Likewise, if one studies the personalities of Crowley's critics and of those whom Crowley has criticized instead of simply accepting their statements regarding him at face value, it is almost certain that you will discover just how on the money Crowley's evaluation of the other party was, and how terribly off the mark their opinions of A.C. were.

On page 215 Sutin implies that Crowley was a cad for not testifying in the defense of the April 1911 Jones v. The Looking Glass trial, but in point of fact, not only was he not called to the stand, and of course court rules forbade him seize the stand, but he was wise enough to realize that whichever side might call him to the stand, questions would be asked that he would have to answer honestly which would inevitably be misunderstood and twisted, disapproved of so much that his testimony would in no way help his friend.  Then Sutin went on to state that

there was genuine hesitance on {J. F. C.} Fuller's part in continuing his friendhsip with Crowley, above and beyond the latter's failure to testify.  In one letter to Fuller from North Africa (perhaps during early 1911), Crowley had enclosed a number of sexually explicit postcards.  As Fuller later explained, "At night, when drunk, it may seem funny to put obscene postcards in an envelope, but when one opens it, in the morning, and has them fall out on the breakfast table, it is merely disgusting.  It could have been opened in transit and it could have been wondered why I should be the recipient of such stuff.  I decided I could no longer be associated with him."

Yes, one might take into account a few aspects of this, such as the overly sensitive attitude towards the distribution of "pornography" through the mails at that time.  However, it seems to me that Fuller, who had no qualms about attending Adolph Hitler's birthday party, not worrying about what others might think of that, was here being overly sensitive, overly prissy about an admittedly sophomoric joke.  And really, have you ever seen the kind of "obscene" postcards that existed at that time?  I find them to be rather amusing and quaint, actually quite silly, and one can only wonder at how oppressive the sexual atmosphere must have been at the time that these absurd and laughably posed pictures had the power to titillate the "wicked" and outrage the "righteous".

On page 289 Sutin employed comments by C. F. Russell to prove that Crowley had a conflicted character, and he employes the late Russell here as if he were a sound judge of the matter.  However, any reader of Russell's memoirs, Znuz is Znees, can clearly see that his mind and judgements were anything but sound!  I believe at heart Russell was a "good man", but dear Frater Genesthai was quite mad, as even a glance at his memoirs makes all too obvious, and he was mad before he even met Crowley.  But Sutin employs the hearsay collected from various sources that he presents as unquestionably sound and objective, when in fact those testimonies are generally perverted by madness, petty jealousy, spite, anger, and common misunderstanding.

On page 327, misled here and in many other instances by Hymenaeus Beta, i.e. Bill Breeze, "Caliph" of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., Sutin once again casts Crowley as the villian in a dispute and C. S. Jones as "the most gifted theorist of all his magical students", Jones thus portrayed as the "good guy".  But Jones was not terribly gifted as a theorist.  He came up with a small bit of information that was useful to Crowley and then went steadily mad thereafter.  Jones completely perverted the arrangement of the qabalistic tree of life, proved himself suffering from delusions of grandeur, announcing himself the prophet of the Æon of Maat when the Æon of Horus had only barely taken it's first breath, proving his madness in more common ways as well, and yet it suits Sutin to use him to prove the vilness of Aleister Crowley.

Reliance upon the offspring of people who were once associated with A.C., but who themselves, do not or cannot even remember Crowley is unfairly used in Sutin's book as well.  For instance, on page 404 Sutin wrote that "The fundamental disagreement between Oliver Wilkinson and his father {Louis} on the merits of Crowley's life outlook were aptly summarized by the son:

Crowley's belief in the words with which he ended his letters, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law," seems inexact for so intelligent a man; for there was always equal emphasis on "The slaves shall serve."  "Is that the slave's will?" I asked my father.  "Yes," he answered without hesitation, "The slave wishes to serve - knows that is what he is fitted for."  Which is, of course, convenient for the slave-owner.  Compare Christ washing the feet of the disciples.

Well, to begin with it seems rather unfair to compare the historical Crowley with a largely mythical Christ, and the tale aluded to, the washing of the disciples' feet, was recorded as a one time only incident and something of a ritual.  It should also be noted that Crowley did not place the same emphasis on the 58th verse of Chapter II that he placed on the Law of Thelema, "Do what thou wilt", The Book of the Law, Chapter I, Verse 40.  Furthermore, if this quotation is accurate, Oliver Wilkinson is judging Crowley and Thelema upon his father Louis' interpretation, or rather, his interpretation of his father's interpretation.  In the matter of these "slaves" who shall "serve", it has always seemed to me odd that few people tend to ask who or more accurately what is it that these slaves serve?  It is automatically assumed, and quite rudely, that Thelemites are to be a kind of "master race", served by non-thelemites.  And yet there is nothing in The Book which would really imply that this is so.  In point of fact, while in one sense Louis might be right, that it may be one man's Will to serve another one, it is more likely to be as an assistant or servant rather than a "slave".  Furthermore, to the question of what the "slaves shall serve", it is more accurate to say that The Book is telling us that the slaves to alcohol will serve alcohol, the slaves to drugs will serve drugs, et cetera, rather than to be as "kings of the earth", i.e. masters of their own somatic nature, forcing such things to serve them.  Ultimately the verse refers to those who enslave themselves to ego, not to another human or an elite group of humans.  I cannot be sure if Louis Wilkinson understood this or not, but if he did both his son and Lawrence Sutin do Crowley's friend a great disservice here by implying that such understanding escaped him.

By the way, Oliver's memory and understanding prove something less than perfect immediately when he stated that Crowley "ended his letters" with "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law", for in fact he began his letters with that phrase and ended them with "Love is the law, love under will."  I note here that Oliver has chosen to completely forget or disregard the element of love.

Throughout Do What Thou Wilt Sutin seems to place too much reliance upon the wrong sort of people.  For instance, on page 405:  Kenneth "Grant has, in the past decades, become one of the most prominent interpreters of Crowley's magick."  Much more accurately, Kenneth Grant has proven to be one of the most prominent MISinterpreters of Crowley's magick and Thelema.  He has, by way of his books, more than anyone else, managed to thorougly pervert Thelemic teaching as well as the holy art and science of magick.  Kenneth Grant has, long ago, lost his grip upon reality and has proven himself to be a dangerous man to share the Circle of Art with.  Rather than to repeat myself here I suggest that the reader turn to The Sword of Horus section of this web site and read what has already been written about Mr. Kenneth Grant to gain a better perspective on this subject and thereby Lawrence Sutin.

Critics who wish to assassinate Crowley's character always do their damnest to convince people that he was a thief and/or blackmailer, and yet they always fail to provide actual proof of their allegations.  Why?  Because Crowley was not a thief, nor did he blackmail anyone.  In one instance Sutin dispels one such allegation by putting it into perspective.

This arrangement must have seemed simple and pleasurable enough - it included a fortnight together in Paaris - but it came to grief for two reasons.  First, Laura sent importuning letters to Crowley even during his Abra-Melin retreat in 1900.  Second, the matter of the £100 {given to A.C. for Allan Bennett's passage to Ceylon} was reported to the police as theft - most likely by her husband - though Laura refused to prosecute.  {Page 71}

The fact that the woman was married, that she refused to prosecute, all makes it quite clear that Sutin's conclusion is correct.  It was the jealous husband who reported the incident to the police, lying in an attempt to exact revenge upon the man who had had an affair with his wife.  It would be a fine thing for Lawrence Sutin to have made this situation clear if he didn't undo such work later in his book.  For instance, on page 109 Sutin perpetrates his own charge of theft in regards to Mathers' translation of the Goetia when he wrote that

it is doubtful that Crowley ever "employed" Mathers.  According to J. F. C. Fuller, who would become an intimate friend of Crowley in the years ahead, Crowley had simply helped himself to a copy of the translation in April 1900, during the time of the London revolt, when he had enjoyed brief but unrestricted access to the Golden Dawn files stored in the headquarters of the rebels, the Isis-Urania Temple.  If so, then Crowley published the work with neither proper credit nor payment to Mathers - a rank and grievous theft.

First question:  Why is Crowley's assertion that he had employed Mathers to translate the Goetia doubtful?  Sutin does not say.  He merely expects you, the reader, to accept what he says "on faith".  Actually it is hardly doubtful.  Mathers needed the money, young Crowley, with plenty of money to spend at the time, would have wanted the translation, and perhaps even more so, he would have wanted to assist the man he then admired without making it seem like charity.  I know how this works as I have often, in my fifty years of life, been at either end of such a relationship.  The second question:  How would Fuller know that Crowley had filched a copy of the Goetia at the time of the Golden Dawn conflict?  Crowley and Fuller hadn't even met until quite a long while after this event, therefore Fuller wasn't present and could have had no firsthand knowledge of the alleged theft.  Fuller either invented the story of the theft of the translation, his attitude toward the then late Aleister Crowley rather different than it was back in the good old days when they were friends and he virtually worshipped A.C., a thing that perhaps at a later date made him feel a bit foolish, or, at best, Fuller got this story from another and it was secondhand, or worse.  Yet the way Sutin relays this apocryphal tale, Fuller was present at the time and observed the supposed theft.  Why would Sutin present the story in this way, misleading the reader?

By the way, on page 375, Sutin subtly advertises Breeze and company, as he does throughout the book, by making reference to "the growth of a small but distinct American Thelemic offshoot {of the O.T.O.}, one that has continued to the present day."  I find it particularly disturbing, but not uncommon and unexpected, that Sutin should go to such great pains at time, even against some part of himself that admires Crowley, to assassinate A.C.'s character and then go on to promote the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., its lies and false claims.  Of course, these things go hand in hand, really.  The Caliphate has done more harm to the memory of Crowley, his work and Thelema than Fundamentalist Christianity ever could.

Aleister Crowley was a mountain climber.  Relatively recent assaults upon the mountains Crowley climbed, sometimes with Oscar Eckenstein and sometimes without, by acclaimed modern climbers has led to a vindication of Crowley in our times.  Called a liar and a humbug, slandered by the Alpine Club and its members, it is now being proven that Aleister Crowley had been truthful, he was every bit the excellent climber he claimed to be.  Before we continue with this review of Do What Thou Wilt, let us take a brief detour, and traverse these treacherous ways with Mr. Jim Curran.

The following quotations reviewed here are from K2:  Triumph and Tragedy by Jim Curran, {Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Copyright 1987 E.V.}, starting with the back cover blurb.

K2, "the savage mountain," is the second highest peak in the world. And the most difficult to climb.  In 1986 it saw both dazzling triumph and the greatest tragedy in the history of mountaineering; twenty-seven men and women reached the top, but thirteen died trying.

Jim Curran, a climber and photographer, was on the mountain the entire summer.  Through his eyes and his photographs we are caught up in both the thrill of achievement and the almost unbearable agony of the tragedies - the avalanche that buried two Americans; the climber who fell to his death in a crevasse just minutes from base camp; the seven climbers trapped for six nights at 26,000 feet, only two of whom survived, one of them rescued by the author.

K2 is a tale of courage and obsession, of luminous success and thwarted ambition on the world's most demanding mountain.

It also says on the back cover that "Jim Curran has photographed expeditions in South America, India, China, and the Karakoram Range.  He lives in Sheffield, England."  Like Galen Rowell, whose book has been elsewhere reviewed on the Castle, Curran was there, he experienced the full brutality of K2, and his personal experience gives him a clearer perspective of Crowley's climb than Lawrence Sutin could ever hope to have.

The Abruzzi Ridge seen from our Base Camp was once described by Al {Rouse} as "the longest slope in the world" and when layers of cloud swirled around it, revealing and concealing sections, it did look interminable.  Apart from an early reconnaisance by Conway in 1892, and the first serious attempt on K2 in 1902, when Oskar {sic} Eckenstein and the infamous Aleister Crowley attempted the North-East Ridge, every single expedition to the mountain had attempted the Abruzzi Ridge until the American North-West Ridge Expedition in 1975.  Crowley (otherwise known as the Great Beast 666 or even the Wickedest Man in the World, from his fascination with drugs, sex and black magic) had in his youth been a mountaineer of great judgement.  He had spotted the possibility of climbing the South-East Ridge but had been overruled by the others in favour of the North-East Ridge.  Had they attempted it, the ridge might well be known now as the Aleister Crowley Ridge!

But despite Crowley's opinion being confirmed by the subsequent climbing consensus, the Abruzzi ridge is no pushover. ...  {Chapter 7, Page 83}

It is obvious by Mr. Curran's words that he is not a student of magick and may even have some misgivings about Crowley.  He was not, per se, a fan.  Yet, his personal experience and the general consensus of modern day climbers who have faced K2, encouraged in Jim Curran a deep respect for Aleister Crowley the climber.

Jim Curran, in K2:  The Story of The Savage Mountain, {The Mountaineers, 1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134; copyright 1995 E.V.}, wrote further of Crowley, devoting all of Chapter 4, entitled "The Great Beast 666", to him.  It begins badly, showing that Mr. Curran is ignorant of magick and no great fan of A.C.'s, but this only serves to validate his opinion of Crowley as a climber.

Then in 1898 he {Eckenstein} met the man who was to become an unlikely and quite bizarre cult figure of the twentieth century.  Climber, mystic, charlatan, magician, Satanist, 'sex fiend', Aleister Crowley was all of these and more. ...

Well, of course Crowley was not a "Satanist", nor was he a "charlatan", and I hardly think that anyone deserves to be labelled a "sex fiend" just because of a healthy sexual appetite, but again, this only shows the author's ignorance in these matters, this ignorant opinion encouraging Currant not to be a fan who would have a desire to prove Crowley a saint.  Yet his own personal experience seems to force Jim Currant to "give the devil his due".

"Crowley was no fool," Curran wrote.  "Clever, articulate and widely read, he was educated at Malvern and Tonbridge and then Cambridge University."  Of course he then went on in K2, through gave misunderstanding of the man, of magick, et al, to misjudge Crowley's motivations in life and other matters.  Curran misquoted The Book of the Law by way of too many capitalizations, "Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law", and then he went on to equate the Law of Thelema with "do your own thing", which any study of Crowley and his works quickly proves to be incorrect, for the Law of Thelema has nothing to do with the gratification of the petty ego, but rather the discovery and accomplisment of the True Will, or purpose for existing.  But let us here concern ourselves mainly with Crowley's K2 expedition.

One of Crowley's few redeeming features was his love of climbing and mountains generally.  He was, in the words of Tom Longstaff, the great Himalayan pioneer, 'a fine climber, if an unconventional one'.  He started climbing on the chalk cliffs of Beachy Head, which must have given him a refined eye for the safest line up what is still considered suicidally dangerous ground - only recently have any of the sea cliffs of the south of England been explored using ice-climbing gear in the soft rock.

He climbed in the Lakes and the Alps - again unconventionally.  Longstaff saw him solo the dangerous and difficult true right side of the Mer de Glace icefall below the Géant, a horribly risky and ill-advised escapade by any standards.  Crowley despised guided climbing and it was this that probably attracted him to Eckenstein - and vice versa.

In some ways Crowley was indeed a climber ahead of his time, in attitude if not achievement.  Hatred of guides, pitons and fixed ropes (which were already in use in the Alps) would strike chords with generations of climbers to come.  {Page 54}

However, Mr. Curran spoiled this some by adding that "compared with the great British names of his day - Mummery, Collie, Raeburn and Eckenstein himself - Crowley was an erratic and occasional performer who, had it not been for the notoriety of his private and public life, would probably have only been a footnote in the history of Victorian climbing."  However, we can forgive him for this as Crowley was indeed an "erratic and occasional performer", i.e. a climber who did not devote a great deal of his life to climbing.  It was, quite simply, not his True Will - merely a passion.

Jim Curran, on pages 59 and 60 of his latter book wrote:

Crowley's assessment of the South Face is almost as wildly optimistic as Pfannl and Wesseley's intention of climbing K2 in three days from Askole, and it is questionable whether any credit given to him in being the first person to spot the feasibility of the South-East Spur is really justified, with or without the competing claim of Robert Lerco.  He didn't appear to notice the barrier that would come to be known as House's Chimney and totally ignored the presence of the Black Pyramid, the large broken buttress below the Shoulder.  As for the difficulties above it, over thirty years would elapse before anyone even realised that the last six hundred metres of the South-East Ridge would prove to be as hard, or harder, a way to the top, as any of the 8000-metre peaks.  But however unaware of the true problems posed by the Spur, Crowley did recognise that it was the most likely weakness, and this must be acknowledged.

This almost seems to contradict what he said in his earlier book and one must wonder if he was bowing to the opinions of others.  In fact, one wonders when reading Lawrence Sutin's book if Sutin knew anything about mountain climbing or if he was merely repeating the opinions of others however it suited him.

Eckenstein's decision to attempt the North-East Ridge was a strange one. ... The ridge was not to succumb until 1978 when it was climbed by a very strong American expedition who nevertheless took over two months to reach the summit.  In 1902 Eckenstein's little team didn't stand a chance.  {Page 61}

And so for the first but certainly not the last time, a K2 expedition ended in disarray and petty feuding, a circumstance not unique in the annals of Himalayan climbing, but there does seem to be something in the very remoteness and savagery of K2 and its surroundings that undermines the unity of so many expeditions.  The relentless strain of just living there is much greater than, for example, the Everest Base Camp, which has easy access to civilisation in the form of tea houses, villages, and varied company.  {Page 62}

"The 1902 K2 expedition," Curran tells us on page 55, "has the distinction of being the first actually to declare its intention to climb the mountain."  And we have the testimony of Jim Curran and many others that an assault on K2 {also known as Chogo Ri} is a tempting of the Fates, one might say an arrogant challenge hurled at the mountain god which few have, over the years, walked away from unscathed ... if they walked away from the mountain at all.  To blame Crowley, to blame any one man for being defeated by K2 shows gross naïveté and not only a willingness but perhaps a desire to find wrong in that man.

Given the result of the 1902 expedition it is almost unbelievable that any two members of it should ever contemplate another joint project, but in 1905 Crowley and Guillarmod teamed up for an attempt on Kanchenjunga.  Eckenstein and Knowles wisely declined to accompany them and the expedition ended disasterously with the death of a Swiss climber, Alexis Pache, and three porters.  Crowley was not directly involved but his behaviour throughout the expedition and particularly after the accident was irresponsible and callous in the extreme.  Crowley was emphatically disowned by the Alpine Club who pointed out in the Alpine Journal of 1906 that Crowley had never had any connection with the Club.  From then on Crowley lost interest in climbing, and his life degenerated into the self-indulgent, self-deluding shambles that lasted until his death in 1947.

So Jim Curran tells us on pages 62 and 63 of his latter book.  Yet while making it clear that Crowley was in no way to blame for the death of Pache and the porters, he felt it necessary to be "politically correct" about this matter and express the opinion that Crowley's actions and attitude were horrible.  As for the Alpine Club, they must have loved the disasterous end of this assault on K2 for finally they could strike back at the man who had long spoken out against their lies, false claims and machinations against climbers who were not members of the club.  One wonders what would have happened if the assult of K2 had been successful, if Crowley and his team had reached the summit and returned to tell the tale and prove everything beyond question.  I have little doubt that the Alpine Club, if there had been no way to prevent the world from knowing of A.C.'s success, would have welcomed Crowley into the club with open arms.

Regarding Curran's opinion of Crowley's life after this, it must be remembered that this is the opinion of a man for whom only mountain climbing seems to be a valid and worthwhile pursuit in life, and who is so focussed upon this endeavour that he tends to view everything else as inconsequential, causing him to fail utterly to see the importance of anything else in life.

But let us return to Lawrence Sutin's book, Do What Thou Wilt.  On page 99 we find the following:

Eckenstein had waited ten years for his return to the Baltoro Glacier.  In Crowley's view, there were behind-the-scenes machinations by Conway intended to frustrate Eckenstein at every step.  Definite proof here is lacking, but Crowley's charge becomes plausible as one sifts through the evidence.

Jim Curran, on page 56 of his latter book, said:

Guy Knowles seems to have agreed that this was the explanation but there is no other evidence to support it.

Curran followed this by pointing to reasons Conway may have done this as well as reasons why he may not have interfered with Oscar.  Following this he offered two other possibilities as to why Eckenstein may have been frustrated in his attempts to return, both of which seem plausible.  I was, at this point, merely wondering how much of Lawrence Sutin's opinions were merely parrot-like echoes of the opinions of others.

Sutin, on page 100, points to what he views as an undesirable character fault in Crowley, although he admits to some redeeming quality:

There is present here a colonialist bias that at times verged into outright racism.  Crowley was, at least, more frank than most Englishmen of his age.

Sometime after exercising 20/20 hindsight in an account received, at best, secondhand, and judging Crowley a cruel task master, Sutin retold on page 101 the story of one of Crowley's more "Solomonic" and amusing judgments in a dispute among the porters and says that "This time there came a more sanguine judgment, one that reveals the best of the man."  Yet Sutin sometimes seems to revel in the telling of Crowley's supposed cruelty, while that part of him that cannot help but to admire the man fights him the whole way.  It is worth noting that it is far too easy to judge - or misjudge - Crowley's behaviour with the porters and his team, and I am sure that any climber with experience would agree that there are times on a climb when one is forced to seemingly behave like, well, like a beast for the good, for the safety of all.  No leader who has ever walked this earth passes through history uncriticized at a much later date by people who could not possibly judge accurately the decisions that they had to make.

Pfannl and Wesseley had gone on to establish a Camp 11 ... and argued that an ascent up the northeast ridge of K2 from the camp would be preferable to Crowley's proposed route from Camp 10.  By vote on July 7, Crowley was overruled.  It is impossible, in retrospect, to properly judge the respective merits of the two routes.  The eminent mountaineer and author Galen Rowell did note - in his generally admiring account of the Eckenstein-Crowley expedition - that Crowley had fallen victim to a mistaken sense of scale, in the face of the Himalayan vastness, by imagining that a mere two days would suffice for a K2 ascent from Camp 10.  But Crowley's firm belief that the alternate route was folly, coupled with the terrible weather, led to his conviction, as July wore on, that "the expedition had failed in its main objective, and I was not in the least interested in killing myself gradually against my judgment."  {Page 102}

Crowley's judgment, his very agreed upon leadership, was being overruled and given this and the poor judgment of his team members, one cannot fault Crowley for feeling as he felt.  And what, really, could he do but to leave the fools to their folly?  His judgment in so many matters had proven good, and yet they opposed him.  Take for example the following as an example of Crowley's intelligence and good judgment.

Sutin, on page 102, related that "In the case of an illness that afflicted Pfannl, Crowley showed himself to be - despite his contempt for his patient - a remarkable amateur diagnostician."  And Jim Curran, on page 61 of his latter book, mentioned that it was "an astoundingly accurate observation and {he} prescribed the only successful action to be taken. ... Amazingly Crowley appeared to know and understand the problem years before it was accepted that the illness wasn't simply pneumonia.  Even the deaths on K2 in 1954 of the Italian Mario Puchoz, and on Masherbrum in 1957 of Bob Downes, were both misdiagnosed as pneumonia."

Furthermore, on pages 60 and 61, Curran gives us yet another example of Crowley's wisdom and ahead-of-his-times thinking:

No one knew whether it was possible to live for any length of time above 6000 metres, and the mechanics of acclimatisation were a closed book.  Even so, Crowley, by luck or good judgement (or Satanic intervention?), stumbled upon an important insight when he asserted that the only way of getting up the really high mountains was to 'lay in a stock of energy, get rid of all your fat at the exact moment when you have a chance to climb a mountain, and jump back out of its reach, so to speak, before it can take its revenge'.  This is an almost exact description of the alpine-style tactics developed and promulgated seventy years later by Reinhold Messner and others ...

On page 103 of Do What Thou Wilt Sutin wrote:  "As Roswell {sic} later observed:  '... By chance, Crowley's group did exactly the right thing by removing Pfannl immediately to lower elevation.  The isolation of edema from pneumonia in Crowley's account was long before its time and one of the earliest ever recorded.'"  Sutin then pointed out, in the next paragraph, that "The brutal wear and tear of extended encampment at high altitudes led Crowley to another medical realization that - while disputed in his day - has since become accepted."  He then goes on to explain further, but what gets me, always, is how someone like Sutin can time and time again recognize Crowley's knowledge, wisdom and understanding, and yet, when faced with a situation Crowley experienced firsthand and the critic merely reads about, often in a less than objective account, that critic forgets everything he learned about Crowley and chooses to believe the worst about the man.  And in the case of Lawrence Sutin specifically, it seems to me that he either errs by accepting without sufficient investigation the opinions of others or he draws his conclusions concerning Crowley based more so upon his own all too human failings in life rather than Crowley's, projecting his psychological problem, his complex onto Crowley rather than recognizing it in himself.

Sutin, on page 149 of Chapter Five, tells us that "Eckenstein, the leader of the 1902 K2 expedition, declined Crowley's invitation to attempt Kanchenjunga.  In the Confessions, Crowley was awkwardly vague:  'Eckenstein had been approached, but for one reason or another had refused.'  Whatever he may have told Crowley, Eckenstein confided to their mutal friend, Gerald Kelly, that he felt the risks too great with Crowley as leader."  In Crowley's statement I can agree to it being "vague", but I see nothing "awkward" about it.  As for the rest, well, we must first trust Sutin to be telling the truth, and secondly we must trust that Gerald Kelly was also being truthful.  For all we really know, Eckenstein may have merely made a humorous remark that Gerald chose to take far too seriously.  Oscar's reasons for not joining the Kanchenjunga climb may have had nothing to do with his friend, Aleister Crowley, but more so with other matters entirely, perhaps Crowley's choice of team members.

In continuing with this story of the Kanchenjunga climb it is important to note the following, relayed by Sutin on page 151 - italics mine:

Guillarmod was to be the 'sole and supreme' judge as to all matters of health and hygiene.  Crowley was acknowledged as the 'sole and supreme' judge as to all mountaineering questions.  No one would be obliged to risk their lives for any reason.

August 29, Pache arrived there with men and supplies.  This was contrary to Crowley's express order, conveyed by courier, that Pache settle in at Camp 3.  This lack of coordinated movement - and respect for Crowley's judgment - was typical of the expedition.  As Crowley would later acknowledge:  "The root of the problem, apart from any ill-feeling, was that none of my companions (except Pache) understood that I expected them to keep their word."  {Page 154}

And Sutin noted that given Pache's untimely arrival at Camp 4 the exemption of Pache from the above quote was odd, even going so far as to suggest that "Crowley wished to stress his good relations with Pache in light of what was to come.  For in three days, while attempting to descend the mountain, Pache would die."  Yet was this the reason A.C. exempted Pache from the above remark, or was it that he was simply showing "respect for the dead", respect for a fallen comrade that he was not so "callous" about as to have had no compassion for the man and sorrow for his fate?  Be that as it may, it can easily be seen that Crowley was certainly not to be blamed for Pache's ultimate fate, for from the very first he refused to live up to his part of the agreement made by all that Crowley was to be the sole judge in matters of mountaineering.  It never ceases to amaze me how an individual can come to a bad fate after not following Crowley's advice, after ignoring the advice given by Crowley that would have protected the individual from harm, only to have the critic either place the blame on Crowley for that individual's ill-fate or go on with a holier than thou attitude about how "callous" Crowley was about that idividual's fate.

On page 154 Sutin made mention of a "physical beating" of a climber by Crowley, however, as the story goes, there was "a little avalanche" and

one of the men lost his nerve and began to untie himself from the rope linking him to Crowley and the other climbers - a taboo in terms of safety and technique.  As Crowley explained, "There was only one thing to do to save him from the consequences of his suicidal actions, and that was to make him more afraid of me than he was of the mountain; so I reached out and caught him a whack with my axe.  It pulled him together immediately and prevented his panic communicating itself to the other men.  Things went on all right."

Now I hardly consider a single "whack" to be a "beating" - that would imply several "whacks" - and what Crowley did was no different than slapping a hysterical person to snap him out of it.  It was probably the wisest and only thing A.C. could have done at the moment to save that man, himself and others from possible death.  People like Sutin who seem to view such emergency actions as brutal are usually the critics who have themselves never left the safety of their easy chair, taken responsibility for the lives of others, and stared death in the face.  Sometimes life is brutal and one has to occasionally resort to apparently brutal measures to deal with any given situation.  That's life!  Live it or at least have the good sense and integrity not to criticise others for living it.

After this, Sutin points out on page 155, despite Crowley's attempt to hold things together, some of the porters slipped away during the night.  Then, as Sutin wrote, "De Righi ... and Guillarmod resolved to depose Crowley as leader and to terminate the expedition, which now seemed to them a fatal folly."  A bit later Sutin lays the fault of the oncoming failure at Crowley's feet by saying that "The ill will was a fact, and stemmed from the careless formation of the expedition team - an error that must be laid at Crowley's feet".  Sutin wasn't there.  He did not climb with the people Crowley climbed with and one wonders if he even knows anything from firsthand experience about climbing, so for all we know, despite whatever faults Crowley may have found with his team members, he may have felt confident that they could pull together and conquer the mountain.  Sutin reminds me of the armchair quarterback who, after the game is over and lost, has all the answers and who, according to him, would have won the game if only he had been in charge and on the field.  Perhaps Crowley misjudged his team members, but the fault of the coming disaster cannot be laid at Crowley's feet.  If disaster strikes after a mutiny, it is more likely the fault of the mutineers.

It does seem, however, that Sutin at least tries to be fair to Crowley most of the time, such as when he continued on page 155:

As for the ascent route, while it is impossible to determine retrospectively what success the expedition might have enjoyed, the evidence suggests that Crowley chose a feasible route.  Testimony on this score comes from British mountaineer John Tucker, a member of a 1954 surveillance expedition to Kanchenjunga, the findings of which were instrumental to the success of the 1955 Evans expedition.  Tucker was no admirer of the "notorius" Aleister Crowley.  But he made an honest assessment that ended five decades of pointed silence in British climbing circles:  "The disrepute attaching to this man has caused the high endeavor and achievement of this [1905] expedition to fall into undeserved obscurity."

Specifically, Sutin continued, Tucker vouched for Crowley's planned route:

After our 1954 reconnaissance which, it is true, took the climbers near to the face itself - Guillarmod's pessimism appears excessive.  Nor is it possible in the light of our reconnaisance to dismiss Crowley's excessive optimism as springing from a lack of technical knowledge.  Guillarmod's defeatist attitude may well have contributed to the long-standing neglect of Kanchenjunga's West Ridge and South-West Face.  It also must be conceded that Crowley's route up the steep slopes toward the Kangbachen Peak (one of the lower summits of the Kanchenjunga West Ridge), was not ill-chosen.

Sutin informs us on page 156 that

When Crowley would not be moved, Guillarmod seized leadership, supported by de Righi and Pache.  Reymond alone decided to remain with Crowley, though he maintained good relations with the mutineers.

During Guillarmod's climb down the mountain, Sutin tells us that "Crowley claimed afterwards that Guillarmod failed to see to this," i.e. that all six of the party were roped together, the rope fully stretched at all times, "and there are ambiguities in Guillarmod's narrative that bear Crowley out here."  There was then the fall, creating an avalanche, with Guillarmod and de Righi escaping serious injury.  Reymond heard the cries of the victims and ran off to help, but it took three days to finally uncover the victims buried under ten feet of snow.  Sutin then wrote:  "when he {Crowley} heard the cries he chose not to respond. ... 'A mountain "accident" of this sort is one of the things for which I have no sympathy whatsoever ...'", Crowley was quoted as having written, and Sutin made it clear that he thought Crowley, well, a beast for not having run to the rescue.  However, in Crowley's defense, these men brought their disaster upon themselves, mutinied, and merely reaped what they had sown, experiencing a little "instant karma".  Besides, as A.C. himself remarked, which Sutin recorded in his book, that he felt there was nothing he could do and in light of the subsequents events after Reymond made an attempt to be helpful, Crowley was absolutely right.  And keep in mind that not only had everyone, including the mutineers, agreed upon Crowley being the sole judge in all matters of mountaineering and the team leader, but they had also all agreed that no one would be obliged to risk their lives for any reason.  Crowley chose not to risk his life in this instance.  It may seem cold and callous, but it was rational, understandable, and natural in a cold and callous situation, on an unforgiving, cold and callous mountain.  Crowley was merely being realistic.

Sutin recorded that true to his word, Crowley did descend the mountain the following morning, having chosen not to make the foolhardy night time descent and risk his life for no good reason, and Guillarmod, who deserves the blame for this disaster, claimed that Crowley "deserted" the expedition.  This from the head mutineer who had seized the leadership from Crowley!  It was not Crowley who deserted the expedition.  It was the expedition that deserted Crowley!  And as has always been the case in Crowley's life, after disaster falls upon the person who turned his or her back upon Crowley, ignored A.C.'s advice, or otherwise chose an unwise course in life away from the direction offered by the Master Therion, the blame is always and most unjustly laid at Aleister Crowley's feet.  As the Antichrist, the Beast 666, tends to be the scapegoat for irresponsible Christianity, so too has Crowley become the scapegoat for so many who have failed in life and were never capable of accepting the responsibility for their own choices, their own actions.

On page 223, in disgussing Crowley's Book Four, Sutin remarked:

In his Preliminary Remarks, Crowley inserted a vile repetition - gratuitously out of context - of the fraudulent "blood libel" charges of ritual murder made against the Jews of Eastern Europe.  Blatant bigotry is a persistent minor element in Crowley's writings.

To respond to and comment upon this I wanted to refer to an earlier reply to the charge Sutin here makes yet again, but, mysteriously, I had trouble finding the passage he was referring to, although I had read Book Four dozens of times.  More mysterious still, I could not for the life of me remember exactly what I had written and in which article I had written it!  Finally, although with the help of a friend I found the passages Sutin had referred to, I gave up in frustration trying to find my earlier response to this issue and was virtually forced {by...?} to look at the passages with a fresh perspective, and having done so, I understand why.

First, these are the passages to be found in the Preliminary Remarks of Book Four by Aleister Crowley - a brief paragraph and accompanying footnote:

The history of Christianity shows precisely the same remarkable fact.  Jesus Christ was brought up on the fables of the "Old Testament," and so was compelled to ascribe his experiences to "Jehovah," although his gentle spirit could have had nothing in common with the monster who was always commanding the rape of virgins and the murder of little children, and whose rites were then, and still are, celebrated by human sacrifice.*

*The massacres of Jews in Eastern Europe which surprise the ignorant, are almost invariably excited by the disappearance of "Christian" children, stolen, as the parents suppose, for purposes of "ritual murder."

The friend who helped me find the mysteriously elusive passages above, which actually stand out as if written in flashing neon - go figure! - told me that he had found them by consulting a web site and there found this footnote added by "WEH".  That would be William Emet Heidrick, one of the worst pseudo-scholars of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o.

This unfortunate perpetuation of the "blood-libel" myth was later recanted by Crowley.  The blood-libel was visited upon early Christians by the Romans and is visited today upon Thelemites by Christian Fundamentalists.

Certainly it is a well known fact that the new "cult" in history is frequently attacked by the reigning "religion", which justifies the use of outright and outrageous lies to discredit the new "cult".  Christianity, when it was a mere underground "cult", was charged with such crimes by the Roman Empire.  Later, when Christianity came to power, the "Holy See" made the same charges against the earlier Pagan religions in an attempt to discredit them, to turn the masses, primarily their own followers, against the older religions whose legitimate viewpoints challenged Holy Mother Roman.  And, yes, Bill is right when he says that fanatic Christian Fundamentalists are making the same charges against Thelema today, as well as Wicca and other Pagan religions.  However, we have here a man who pretends to be quite a genius, taking seriously that which was obviously meant as a jest, but one which was making some serious points.  Rather than trying to understand what Crowley was trying to get at, Heidrick merely brushed it off with the unsubstantiated claim that Crowley later recanted.  Why would he recant?  He said nothing wrong.  And he certainly did not say what Heidrick thinks he said, and which he and others led Lawrence Sutin to believe.

Let me help you look at this basically simple matter with fresh eyes, as I was forced to upon the writing of this article.  Keep in mind that Crowley had a great sense of humour, but that all too often it's British subtlety eludes even the English, most especially when something he had written touches upon the reader's emotions, clouding reason.

Sutin alleges that Crowley was a bigot, in this case Anti-Semitic, and that his remark was "gratuitously out of context".  But was Crowley a bigot?  Was this an Anti-Semitic remark?  And was it "gratuitously out of context"?  Absolutely not!  Crowley wrote, in the Preliminary Remarks, that "Jesus Christ was brought up on the fables of the 'Old Testament'...", so he was in fact talking about FABLES.  It was in this "context" that Crowley mentioned the old "blood-libel" made against the Jews, precisely because it is a FABLE and Crowley was obviously recognizing it as such and branding it a FABLE.

Crowley's remarks about the lawless harshness of Jehovah in the Old Testament are proven by a simple reading of the Bible.  Various individual stories or fables aside, I was particularly amused when reading comments Mark Twain had made in this regard.  He found it quite difficult to love and obey a god who would, for instance, utterly destroy two cities.  Given that the adults were terribly wicked, let us even presume rapists, thieves, murders, "sodomists", and worse, what of the children of Sodom and Gomorrah?  Certainly, especially with all of the irresponsible "licentious" and "illicit" sex that was going on in the two "wicked" and "sinful" cities, there had to have been children.  Original Sin aside, a Christian doctrine that makes a person guilty of sin upon birth, how would newborn BABIES in Sodom and Gomorrah earn a death sentence from a god who is called in the New Testament a "God of Love"?  But I digress.  The point is, Crowley was remarking upon the FABLES that Jesus had been raised to believe were true, and in the context of fables believed to be facts Crowley mentioned the blood-libel.  And for more reason than this.

In the paragraph Crowley does not claim that the Jews, then or now, murdered little children and practiced human sacrifice.  He said that these were the things the god of the Old Testament FABLES commanded his followers to do.  Ah, but you note that he wrote:  "whose rites were then, and still are, celebrated by human sacrifice", and you think you found a fault in my reasoning and careful reading.  I am afraid it is not I who have erred here, dear reader.  Christianity does indeed celebrate "human sacrifice" in its rites today.  It celebrates in numerous ways, including the rite of Holy Communion, which is also a celebration of canabalism and blood drinking, the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross - and although considered by Christians "the Son of God", he was still considered human, possessing a human body, human feelings, suffering and dying like any human would.  Christians today still do, in effect, celebrate human sacrifice.  But Crowley's brief remark does not end there.  One always has to keep in mind that there is very little that Crowley wrote which did not pack the biggest punch in the least amount of words.  Here his often misunderstood sense of humour also came into play.  A common thread in both Judaism and Christianity is the idea of suffering and sacrifice.  Jews and Christians are in the habit of torturing themselves daily, programmed by their respective religious doctrines and the priesthood that indoctrinates them from early childhood, to believe themselves "sinners", to feel guilt for the simplest, most human and natural things, and they are taught virtually from infancy that to atone for their "sins" they must make sacrifices.  Ultimately, the jew and the Christian essentially sacrifices his or her entire life, afraid to explore aspects of his or her nature, natural desires and curiosities, and thereby almost inevitably fails to realize his or her True Self and True Will, or purpose for existing on earth.  Thus, in effect, both Christianity and Judaism, through their rites and doctrines, still "celebrate by human sacrifice".  Crowley was making a point about the "slave religions" that he opposed, believing that we were not created to deny our natures, to sacrifice and suffer throughout life, but rather to rejoice in life, enjoy all things of sense and rapture, and spurn any god who would deny us for this.

And what of the footnote?  How this could be read as something Anti-Semitic is beyond me!  It is anything but Anti-Semitic bigotry!

Crowley began the footnote with:  "The massacres of Jews in Eastern Europe ...".  He did not say "The massacres committed by the Jews"!  Here Crowley was speaking of the murder of Jews in Eastern Europe which were occurring with great frequency, culminating many years later when Hitler and the Nazi Party took control of Germany and swept through Europe.  Crowley, slanderously libelled as an Anti-Semitic bigot by Lawrence Sutin, even by William E. Heidrick, who claims to represent Crowley and Thelema through his association with the group which most loudly and falsely claims to be the Ordo Templi Orientis, was, in fact, commenting upon the deplorable situation in Eastern Europe in which great numbers of Jews were being murdered.  He was further commenting upon the rest of the world's disblief that such things should be happening, the virtual apathy of the rest of the world which was finally banished by wartime film footage during and after World War II of emaciated Jews freed from Nazi death camps and mass graves of starved and abused Jewish bodies; piles of stolen gold teeth, pocket watches, broaches, rings and other loot taken by the Nazis from their victims.  These things were going on well in advance of World War II, although on a less "grand" scale, but the rest of society refused to believe it, did not want to believe it, and there was Crowley alluding to this, speaking up in behalf of the murdered Jews, then and to this day branded an Anti-Semitic bigot by individuals like Lawrence Sutin and William E. Heidrick.

Note further regarding this footnote that Crowley was not repeating, i.e. promoting belief, in the "blood libel", that Jews kidnapped Christian children and sacrificed them in "religious" rites.  In the first place, by attching this footnote to a paragraph that spoke of the FABLES that Jesus was fed as a child, he was implying that this tale of kidnapping and child sacrifice is also a fable, i.e. NOT TRUE.  What he wrote in that footnote is that Jews were being murdered in Europe with the justification of the lie that they kidnapped Christian children and sacrificed them during unholy rites, using the lie to "demonize" the Jew in Europe, to stir up public resentment against and hatred for the Jewish citizen in their society.

Crowley wrote, and forgive me for repeating myself and belabouring the point, but it does seem to be necessary, that most people seemed to be ignorant of the charges that were levelled at the innocent Jew to incite hatred of him and justify his murder.  He further wrote that the "disappearances of 'Christian' children, stolen, as the parents suppose," italics here mine, were "for the purposes of 'ritual murder'."  That is to say, dear reader, Crowley himself did not believe that the Jews were kidnapping and sacrificing children, but rather, he clearly asserts, that the parents of the missing and murdered children believed that this was true and were encouraged to believe it.

As an aside:  in the process of writing this review and commentary I was reminded of an introduction I wrote gratis for Excerpts From The English Review {Hoor-paar-kraat Publishing, 1996 E.V.}, which can be found at along with a great deal of rare Crowleyana, some of which I provided as gifts for the owner of the site and those who would visit Yohonza.  Therein I commented upon Crowley's somewhat tongue-in-cheek article The Jewish Problem Re-Stated, a reply to an article by the Rev. Joel Blau, of Temple Peni-El, New York City, published in The Atlantic Monthly, which "posed the Jewish problem in new dimensions", and in part I quoted The Confessions thusly - italics mine:

I am not a snob or a puritan, but Eurasians do get on my nerves.  I do not believe that their universally admitted baseness is due to a mixture of blood or the presumable peculiarity of their parents; but that they are forced into vileness by the attitude of both their white and coloured neighbours.  A similar case is presented by the Jew, who really does only too often possess the bad qualities for which he is disliked; but they are not proper to his race.  No people can show finer specimens of humanity.  The Hebrew poets and prophets are sublime.  The Jewish soldier is courageous, the Jewish rich man generous.  The race possesses imagination, romance, loyalty, probity and humanity in an exceptional degree.

But the Jew has been persecuted so relentlessly that his survival has depended on the development of his worst qualities; avarice, servility, falseness, cunning and the rest. ... The irrationality and injustice of their neighbours heightens the feeling (of "the shame of being considered outcasts") and it breeds the very abominations which the snobbish inhumanity of their fellow-men expects of them.

How easy it is for morons, madmen and character assassins to glance at carefully written words, packed with meaning, and charge a man like Aleister Crowley, a man greater than they could ever hope to be, of crimes that he was, in fact, absolutely opposed to and speaking out against!  And how difficult and time consuming it often is to rectify this wrong and explain matters that should really be quite obvious to the careful reader.  Of course, some of the blame goes to our system of education for how poorly it teaches the youth in its care to read and reason.

If individuals like Lawrence Sutin and William Heidrick fail to understand something Crowley wrote with such simplistic clarity, how can we trust their interpretations of anything written by A.C., technical and non-technical?

Finally we come to a subject which entirely spoils Do What Thou Wilt - not in and of itself, mind you, but because it seems to be an emotional issue with the author, Lawrence Sutin, that perverts his perception and causes him to ascribe to Crowley motivations that were not Crowley's.  The subject which tripped Sutin up badly is that of homosexuality - a subject that seems to be a greater emotionally upsetting issue with Sutin than it ever was with Crowley.

On page 38, after quoting Crowley and for no good reason interpreting the passage in a homosexual context, Sutin wrote that

The part of Crowley's "nature" that had until now been concealed from him was his bisexuality, revealed through his first homoerotic experience.

The quotation is innocuous at best, and there is nothing to really suggest that what had awakened in Crowley was homo- or heterosexually oriented.  In fact, this life altering awakening "to the knowledge that {he} possessed a magical means of becoming conscious of and satisfying a part of {his} nature", may have had nothing to do with sex, or if it did, it was of a more abstract nature than what Sutin alleges.  It was the use and efficacy of "magic" {or magick}, most likely, that he had become aware of.  Sutin points out that this occurred "on New Year's Eve 1897" then failed to quote Crowley further when he wrote {on page 123 of the 1969 E.V. Hill and Wang edition of The Confessions}, that "It was an isolated experience, not reapeated until exactly twelve months later, to the minute", and it had a profound effect upon A.C.  It has even been noted by Stephen Skinner in The Magical Diares of Aleister Crowley {Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1979 E.V.}, in "1896 31 December - Crowley decides to pursue mysticism annd occultism."  And, "1897 Begins reading the alchemists, mystics, and books on magic."  And then notes in his "Crowley Chronology" that A.C. was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898 E.V. and in December he was initiated into the Zelator Grade.  There is the possibility that Crowley had, on that New Year's Eve, a homoerotic experience, and that it awakened him to the possibility of employing sexual intercourse as a means of achieving higher states of consciousness, but the point is that it it was not necessarily or even likely that it was his "bisexuality" that he had been awakened to, but rather the use and efficacy of magic, possibly "sex magick".  Lawrence Sutin seems to be fixated on the subject of homosexuality, and all too often it seems to cloud his judgment, twist his conclusions and possibly misinterpret the focus of an event or the motives of the man, Aleister Crowley.

On page 41 Sutin wrote:

At the time that Crowley was reading {The} Cloud {Upon the Sanctuary} at Watsdale Head {sic Wastdale}, he was on vacation with the one person with whom, during his years at Cambridge, he had fallen deeply in love.  This was Herbert Charles Politt (who preferred to go by the first name of Jerome)...

And furthermore, on page 42, in reference to this young female impersonator:

According to Crowley, this stage allure sadly did not carry over to Pollitt's day-to-day male existence.  "Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise.  His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth."

And Sutin concluded, "But in the Confessions, Crowley cannot speak of their relationship without indignant - and false - denial of its physical erotic component".  I ask:  Why False?  Sutin writes nothing to prove that Crowley's claim was false.  He merely presumes it was false because he wishes to believe otherwise.  There is no evidence whatsoever that Crowley and Pollitt had a sexual relationship.  Crowley called this his first "intimate friendship", but the word "intimate" then did not possess the almost exclusively sexual connotations that it seems to possess today.  For most of us, especially early in life, our most "intimate" friendships are with members of the same sex, but there is rarely a sexual element to the intimacy we shared with that close friend or confidant.  With Crowley, in the case of Pollitt, young A.C. was perhaps enamored with the charming and probably daringly bawdy female persona, they became fast friends, but it seems obvious that the real personality of Jerome Pollitt held for Crowley no allure whatsoever.  Thus it would have been highly unlikely that he would have shared a sexually intimate relationship with Pollitt, for it was the fantasy that Jerome created, not the reality, that Crowley loved.  You might say that in the exaggerations common to female impersonators, as well as the boldness uncommon especially for women in those times, Crowley had a glimpse of the Whore of Babylon, and it was this archetype of womanhood that the Beast loved.

On page 112 Sutin describes a quotation from a letter alleged to have been written by A.C. as "a frank admission of Crowley's shame over his sexual nature - in particular, his bisexuality" then he quotes the letter, which is, in part, as follows:

I may have been a pig-fancier in my youth; but for that very reason I should not attempt to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse [Rose].  It is the ignorant that make such mistakes.  I have been trying since I joined the GD in '98 steadily and well to repress my nature in all ways.  I have suffered much, but I have won ...

Then Sutin explains that "The 'victory' referred to here is, it would seem, the final conquest of the 'atrophied' homosexual element in his 'nature' by means of the ultimate heterosexual ratification - marriage."  But is that what Crowley actually means?  Well, so "it would seem" to Sutin!  But please note that he, Lawrence Sutin, inserted Rose's name above.  Note also that this then is a compliment to his wife, for he is referring to her as the "silk purse" rather than the "sow's ear".  And if Crowley was using the word "pig" in reference to women, it was not necessarily a condemnation of all women, just as referring to some men as a "dog" is not necessarily a condemnnation of all men.  However, we cannot even be certain here that the reference to being a "pig-fancier" has anything to do with women.  It may, for instance, have to do with the religion that does not revile pork as does Judaism, and the above may mean that Crowley gave up trying to make something grand of his once cherished Christianity, which was, after all, at the root of the original Order of the Golden Dawn, and that the "nature" Crowley had been trying to repress was "the nature of the Beast".  However, Sutin seems to need to see this struggle, this conflict in Crowley, and his eventual victory over it, while ascribing to this imagined internal conflict in A.C. a root source for many of his psychological problems, that is to say, problems that Sutin chooses to perceive.

It was growing clearer to Crowley, in his middle age, that it was men for whom he had the strongest feelings.  As he wrote in a letter to his American friend Montgomery Evans, "There have been about four men in my life that I could say I have loved ... Call me a bugger if you like, but I don't feel the same way about women.  One can always replace a woman in a few days.[...]  But with men it is altogether different.  What attracts one is the positive individuality."  {Page 334}

Yet Crowley is not necessarily talking about romantic or even sexual love here.  Furthermore it is common for men and women, in their latter years, to recall and miss the strong friendships they had had with members of their own sex.  Generally speaking, it is easier for men to understand men, women to understand women, more so than it is for men and women to understand one another, and because of this our deepest friendships are very often, most often, forged with members of our own sex.  And yes, it is love, but not all love has a romantic or sexual element.  Take love of a parent or sibling, for instance.  And yet "blood is thicker than water".  As for the remark about calling A.C. "a bugger", it does not prove that Crowley was talking about love with a sexual element, but more so that he probably believed Evans would think that and, with a Crowleyean wink of the eye and elbow to the ribs, he was joking with his "American friend", Crowley keeping his reputation in mind as well as possible homophobic fears on Evans' part.

On page 128, in reference to The Book of the Law, Sutin wrote:  "Given Crowley's own bisexuality, it is striking that the erotic imagery of the Book is pronouncedly heterosexual."  And the fact that Liber CCXX is probably the purest output of Crowley's true nature should tell Sutin something, but he seems to miss it.

It is startling - this uneasy, self-righteous protestation by a man who is known to the world as a shameless sensualist.  As a matter of societal perception, Crowley was deeply ashamed of his homosexual aspect, as it conflicted with his status as a manly gentleman coming of age.  Crowley was willing to be iconoclastic when it came to Christianity, but he felt compelled to take a virulent stance against the effeminate decadance - as perceived by late Victorian society - of homosexuals.  {Page 43}

Then Sutin went on to bring Oscar Wilde's trial and imprisonment into it.  And he refers to "a scathing verse attack ... against a Cambridge homosexual ... who had championed Wilde's cause", bringing Pollitt's name in again and again.  Yet on page 46 Sutin wrote:  "There is, for example, a joyous poem in praise of homosexual love in the bottom position, 'A Ballad of Passive Paederastry,' which deserves a place in any wide-ranging anthology of gay poetry."  After this the confused would-be biographer once more introduces Pollitt's name to go on about Crowley's supposed joy and shame in having a relationship with him.  Throughout Crowley's writings, Sutin takes every vague reference, every innocuous word or phrase as being a reference to Crowley's supposed feared and hated homosexual nature, to my mind reading into things not what is written, but what he wants to believe.  Whether this is because Lawrence Sutin is himself gay or bisexual and both admires Crowley and hates him for the conflict he perceives, or because Sutin sees sexual conflict where none exists because he is himself sexually conflicted, or perhaps because he's a raving liberal taking up the gay cause, so overboard he's an embarrassment to the gay community, I cannot say.  It just may be that he's straight, even homophobic, and perceives or wants to perceive such a fault in the character of Aleister Crowley.  Whatever the root cause, it is obvious when reading Do What Thou Wilt that the person who has the biggest problem with homo- and bisexuality is Lawrence Sutin himself, and he transfers it to another, as is common among those who cannot face their own personal demons, projecting his psychological complex outward, onto another, to either deal with it or escape it, or both, as it typical of conflicted people.  Sutin needs to believe that Crowley was a homosexual filled with shame, and his obsession with satisfying this need permeats and perverts his otherwise decently done biography.

When all is said and done, what we have in Lawrence Sutin's Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley is another unoriginal biography of dubious worth.  Once again the would-be biographer lacks the proper perspective, that of a serious and sincere student of magick and Thelema.  He repeats too easily the opinion of others while at times a good point is occasionally made, an important fact revealed that might bring one closer to the truth of Aleister Crowley, his life and work, if only because a part of Sutin's divided self, his conflicted and somewhat confused self, cannot help but to admire the subject of his work.  However, the book is so terribly faulted by Sutin's assumed motivations for choices Crowley made in his life, things he did and said, motivations that are more likely psychological projections of those complexes that motivate and bedevil Sutin himself, that much of the worth of Do What Thou Wilt is cancelled out.  Furthermore, the work has been badly and wrongly guided by the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., one of the groups today who are most responsible for misrepresenting and perverting the teachings of Aleister Crowley for personal glory, aggrandizement and gain.

I will not say that Do What Thou Wilt is completely without merit, but one would be wise to wait until it is published in a less expensive, softcover version to save money, and then read it with these few comments above in mind, keeping a sharp hawk's eye open for the numerous misstatements, untruths, misunderstandings and gross errors of judgement and perception that abound in this here-we-go-again-biography of Aleister Crowley.

Unfortunately, the most accurate and truly definitive biography of the Beast 666, Aleister Crowley, has not yet been written.  But it's only a matter of time before I set myself to the task.

Love is the law, love under will.