Utopia Britannica - British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

Sgt Magick’s Lonely Hearts Club

Gazetter entry

The 'Wickedest Man in the World' died in quiet obscurity in Hastings in December 1947, his reputation havingbeen somewhat overtaken by one Adolf Hitler, and in quiet obscurity he might have stayed had he not appeared on the cover of one of the1960s iconic rock albums. When asked to draw up a list of names to appear on the cover of their forthcoming Sgt Pepper album John Lennon included that of Aleister Crowley thereby introducing 'the Beast' to a whole new generation.

Crowley's diabolical reputation was based on press reports of his activities at the Abbey of Themela in Sicily in the early 1920s. The Abbey was to have been an 'ark of refuge' from the 'Aeon of a Dying God,' and an archetype of a new society based on ideas outlined in Crowley's The Book of the Law. In reality it appears to have been a rather squalid Mediterranean villa, with occult paintings covering the walls, where Crowley and a small band of followers carried out sex magick under the influence of drugs. Following the death of a disciple Raoul Loveday from gastro-enteritis at the Abbey the British Press had a field day with stories of drug induced 'bestial orgies' and 'satanic rituals' - not helped by Crowley's attempted to finance the community by publishing a fictionalised account of it under the title - The Diary of a Drug Fiend. Mussolini ordered the now notorious Crowley out of Italy and the community disbanded.

Abbey of Themela Sicily

Crowley had been born into a strict family of Plymouth Brethren. As a young man he was an adventurer on both the physical and the spiritual plane, firstly as a leading climber and mountaineer and secondly as a leading Edwardian occult magician, moving quickly through groups like The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis, going on to try and form his own occult group based on his eclectic fusion of oriental and Masonic ideas. His personal mantra,' Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law', his advocacy of the legalisation of drugs and liberal views on sexuality all chimed with a generation rediscovering him in the 1960s and has led to a rehabilitation of his reputation from the 'Beast' of the gutter press headlines to a key figure in the development of the occult.


Abbey of Thelema Links:
Articles on the Abbey
Recent pictures of the Abbey
Short Biography of Crowley

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