Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Biography of Aleister Crowley

Edward Alexander Crowley (1875-1947) was born Leamington, Warwickshire, England, to wealthy but fundamentalist Christian parents. As he grew up, Crowley rebelled against the strictures of the rigid form of Christianity practiced by his parents. Crowley appears never to have fully succeeded in overcome Christianity of his youth, as it overshadows his magical brilliance with an unfortunate veneer of “Crowleyanity.” For his refusal to fall in line his mother called him "the Beast 666" (the Antichrist, from Revelation 13:18), a title he eventually boasted of. Crowley was sent to public school after his Father passed away in 1887. In 1894 he entered King's College and went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, the next year.

Introduced by George Cecil Jones, Crowley was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898. He was an avid pupil and quickly progressed under the guidance of his first mentor, Allan Bennet.

Crowley was later befriended by Golden Dawn founder, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, but his homosexuality and flamboyance aggravated an already developing split between Mathers and rebel adepts in London. Crowley sided with Mathers during the schism, but ultimately betrayed both Mathers and the Golden Dawn. Crowley published a number of Mathers works as his own, including the “Goetia” from Mathers translation of the “Lemegaton” grimoire, as well as “Liber 777” containing the hierarchies of magical entities originally compiled by Mathers. To justify these misdeeds, Crowley accused Mathers of having fallen victim to possession by a Martial spirit. Crowley later also betrayed Mathers’ Alpha et Omega and the Golden Dawn as well, by publishing both initiation rituals and skeletal aspects of their magical system.

Mathers attempted to block further publication, but lost litigation due to not having properly protected the copyright on the material. Mathers’ Alpha et Omega was devastated by this and subsequent betrayal by Crowley’s apprentice, Israel Regardie.  Its Rosicrucian Second Order never fully recovered until 1999, the year of the Reformatio Fraternitatis, when the wounds caused by Crowley and Regardie were healed and a replacement Second Order curriculum was prepared using pre-Golden Dawn Hermetic and Rosicrucian esoteric transmissions.

In 1903 Crowley married Rose Kelly. They traveled together to Egypt in 1904, where they channeled Crowley’s "Book of the Law." Having left the Golden Dawn, in 1907 Crowley later founded the Argentum Astrum (AA; Silver Star) then went on to become the head of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).

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