why i think aleister crowley’s teachings are ultimately bogus

It has never occurred to me to say this before. It’s a difficult thing to say, because it isn’t as clear as you might think, what the word “bogus” can ever possibly mean in these realms. Occult writing is by nature pseudepigraphical, almost always. Pseudepigraphy was a perfectly respectable practice in the ancient Mediterranean world, and in this respect as others, occultism is the repository for ancient and discarded ideas of all sorts. Pseudepigraphy was even regarded as a form of sincere tribute in the ancient world, at least by the authors who practised it: by signing your little book “Plato” or “Socrates”, you expressed an aspiration. So in this sense, the culture of occultism is inherently fraudulent. But even within the terms of this pseudepigraphical and hence inherently fraudulent intellectual subculture, Crowley was a fraud in a much more specific sense. His great ‘encyclopedia of occultism’, “The Equinox”, was almost entirely based on stolen Golden Dawn manuscripts which he republished there as his own. By doing this, he entirely destroyed the Golden Dawn, which perhaps was no bad thing, it’s hard to judge it.

The Golden Dawn was a product of the variety of high-grade scholarly freemasonry that generally refers to itself as ‘Rosicrucian’. I want to explain one particular thing about this tradition, because of its relevance to the authentic Jewish kabbalah. The form of kabbalah which was taught to the post-Renaissance ‘Christian kabbalist’ authors by Jewish sources, was basically Lurianic. But someone took very good care to impose an elaborate and completely bogus superstructure onto it. The first deliberately fake element was a system of allocating the letters of the hebrew alphabet to the paths in the “Tree of Life” diagram, which was completely contrary to the fundamental axiomatics of the Sefer Yetzirah. They then added on further bogus layers: their very own ‘kabbalistic astrology’ and ‘kabbalistic tarot’. The tarot itself is entirely useless to serious kabbalists. I don’t mean that it is powerless, I mean that it is irrelevant, it has nothing to do with kabbalah. Its mystique is the result of idle speculation about the origin of playing cards by pre-French Revolution high-society ‘salon gurus’, repeated and elaborated upon ever since.

On top of all that, Crowley attempted to build his own system, which employed all the same vocabulary almost without change, but also without really being able to connect it to the new vision (a very common predicament not only in occult writing but actually in religious writing generally). Crowley’s new vision was intentionally pagan, and worked out on fairly logical lines of amateur scholarship. He didn’t attack Jew or Judaism as Blavatsky had done, by the way. He was too dependent on the Jewish kabbalah that he had learned, and on his Jewish secretary and amanuensis, Israel Regardie, the kind of Jewish agent who always slips in unobtrusively and makes as few claims as possible for himself. Crowley tried to work around and behind the so-called Judaeo-Christian tradition, first by invoking (literally) an ancient Egyptian ‘priest of Khem’, one Ankh-f-n-Khonsu by name, who initiated him into a new rite of Horus (and implicitly, of Set, the dark twin). Beyond even this, Crowley began very slowly to construct a Sumerian kabbalah. This would be a system of Sumerian root names for deities, based an alphabet (or syllabary) with occult power. The oldest proto-runes possible, so to say. But he never got far with this. Who could? It’s dotty – RB

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