The Crowley Affair
by Jean-Pascal Ruggiu & Nicolas Tereshchenko
Excerpt from the Historical introduction of the Ahathoor N° 7 Temple of Paris
The initiation of Crowley into the grade of Adeptus Minor remains very doubtful: although he always claimed that Mathers had initiated him into this grade in Paris in January 1900, many indices seem to prove the opposite.
Firstly, Crowley himself was not certain about the exact date of his initiation. He wrote in his periodical (The Equinox) that he had been "allowed into the glory of Tiphareth" (i.e. into the grade of Adeptus Minor) on Tuesday January 16, whereas on the parchment scroll of the R.R.A.C. Isis-Urania Temple, he wrote the date of January 23, 1900. However, the first of the Minute Books of the Ahathoor Temple establishes formally that at the time of his only and single official visit in Paris, July 1, 1899, Crowley was yet only Philosophus and that he was a visiting member of the Isis-Urania Temple in London; contrary to Allan Bennett, for example, he had not been elected honorary member of the Ahathoor Temple. Consequently, normally, he could not receive the grade of Adeptus Minor in Paris, since he was not a member of the Ahathoor Temple.
Obviously, Mathers could have made departures from the rule; however, it is curious that the name of Crowley does not appear in the account of assemblies of the Ahathoor Temple which took place on January 19 and on February 2, 1900, whereas all the members of the Inner Order of this Temple were present there. As Crowley indicated it himself in his periodical, he arrived in Paris Monday January 15, 1900 and remained there at least for the whole week. February 7, he was back at Boleskine in Scotland, after having passed by Cambridge. That implies that he was certainly present in Paris Saturday January 19 and perhaps even on February 2. If he had really been inititated into the grade of Adeptus Minor on January 16, he should have been present at the assembly of the Ahathoor temple of January 19; and if he had received it on January 23, he should have been present at that of February 2. In all cases, his initiation should have been mentioned at the time of these two assemblies.
Secondly, Crowley had been inititated into the grade of Philosophus in May 1899: according to Order rules, he was to thus to await a 7 months minimum to be able to pass the examination of the Portal grade, then 9 months to pass that of the Adeptus Minor grade. Consequently, he could not receive the grade of Adeptus Minor in January, but only that of Portal. However, we repeat that to receive this grade within the Ahathoor Temple (which had a Vault of the Adepti and an Inner Order independent of that of the Isis-Urania Temple), he should have initially been elected as member of this Temple, which was never the case according to the accounts in the returned Minute Books of the Ahathoor Temple. According to rules, he could not receive the grade of Adeptus Minor before October 1900; however, Crowley was excluded from all the Temples of the Order as of May 1900.
It is thus not very probable that Crowley was ever initiated regularly into the grade of Adeptus Minor. In fact, Crowley undoubtedly accepted, in an irregular way, the documents of the grade of Adeptus Minor on behalf of Alan Bennett, in thanks of the financial assistance that Crowley had given him so that he could leave to Ceylon in 1900, where the climate favoured his health. Besides, it seems that Bennett and Mathers disputed at this occassion: according to allegations of Crowley, it was because of Bennetts conversion to Buddhism that Mathers had not accepted. But one can doubt it, because we know according to certain testimonys, that Mathers continued to attend the Theosophical Society in Paris and that he was interested in certain aspects of esoteric Buddhism, like Tchan. It is possible that the true reason of this argument had a certain relationship with the fact that Bennett communicated the documents of the grade of Adeptus Minor to Crowley without authorization (although Crowley claimed the opposite).