Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Crowley and Loch Ness monster Glastonbury lecture

Boleskine House.

I am presenting a Typhonian entertainment on Aleister Crowley and the Loch Ness monster this Saturday afternoon in the Assembly Rooms in Glastonbury High St between 2.45 and 3.45 as part of a Glastonbury Mystic Fayres event. £5.00 admittance for entire event including other lectures.

Aleister Crowley is the second most famous inhabitant of Loch Ness, having owned a home there in the early years of the last century. Occult folklore has suggested a link between his activities there and the later return of the monster. This power point presentation examines these stories in the greater context of monster hunting, UFOlogy, and the magick of Crowley's Aeon.

It is based on the chapter 'Loch Ness Leviathan and the Boleskine Kiblah' in my book 'Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus'.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Stele of Revealing anniversary

Stele of Revealing in 1997. Photo Andrew Collins, enhanced by Sue Collins.

Today is an important occult anniversary. It marks the occasion when Aleister Crowley first saw the artefact that played a central role in his reception of The Book of the Law. Here is a brief account of that event. A full version of the whole story, including what followed a few weeks later is featured in my Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus.

Rose and Aleister.

The most important event of Crowley’s life occurred in Cairo in 1904 when he believed that he received a holy scripture for a newly dawning epoch, the Aeon of Horus. The previous year, when on honeymoon with his wife Rose, they had briefly passed through Cairo and spent the night in the Great Pyramid. At that time Crowley was not actively involved in ceremonial magic of the western mystery tradition. He had dedicated a lot of time and energy to work within the Golden Dawn between 1898 and 1900. After that he had put it all aside to climb mountains, study yoga and Buddhism, and play the role of the world traveller and romantic poet.

The evocative environment of Egypt and the desire to impress his wife tempted him to perform what he would later refer to as a little “exhibition game” of magic inside the King’s Chamber. This may have acted as a stimulus for the sequence of events that followed a few months later. In February 1904, they were back in Cairo. By March, Crowley was involved in Golden Dawn type magic again. His wife began to experience altered states of consciousness and conveyed a message to Crowley that “they” were waiting for him. Crowley always stated that, until that moment, she had shown no interest or aptitude in the magical realm. At first he was dismissive of the material but the trance like states persisted and, under his questioning, she began to reveal details that compelled his attention.


On March 18th Rose said that it was the Egyptian God Horus who was “waiting.” As a result of this, Crowley performed two ceremonial invocations to him. They were interesting because the ritual details were supplied by Rose and did not conform to Golden Dawn procedures. She went on to state that the “Equinox of the Gods” had come. The old world, the epoch of Christianity, had been destroyed by fire on the inner planes. At that crucial time, Crowley was to formulate a link between the solar spiritual force and humanity.


During the whole of this process, Crowley held to a certain attitude of scepticism towards the strange behaviour of his wife. Over a period of a few days he applied twelve tests to verify the genuineness of the communication from Horus. They mainly consisted of him asking Rose to pick out various attributes of Horus, such as the planet associated with him, his weapon, enemy, and Golden Dawn colour and numerical designations. She was entirely successful in every instance. Given her complete lack of knowledge of Egyptology, Crowley considered that the statistical odds against her picking them all correctly by chance were astronomical.

The most spectacular “proof” came when, on March 21st, he took her to the Cairo Museum to see if she could identify an image of Horus. She passed by a number, which greatly pleased Crowley, as he was irritated to see his wife seeming to have a melodramatic episode like the kind of fake mediums he despised. Amidst the “Boulak collection,” a group of items brought from another museum that had closed in 1890, she then exclaimed “There he is,” pointing down the end of a corridor to an exhibit that was not yet clearly in view.

Mobile phone pic of Stele in its current location.

It turned out to be a wooden funerary stele of one Ankh-af-na-Khonsu, a Priest of Mentu, a God of War, dating from about 725 BC.

Mobile phone pic of funerary sarcophagus of Ankh af na Khonsu currently located just outside room holding the Stele.

Detail on Ankh af na Khonsu sarcophagus.

On it was an image of Ra Hoor Khuit, who is a kind of amalgam of Horus and Ra. This was interesting enough but what clinched the matter for Crowley was seeing that the exhibit number was 666.

The original 666 exhibit card is still displayed although the Stele is now catalogued under the number 9422. Photo Andrew Collins.

This famous number, attributed to the Great Beast of the Book of Revelation, and the happy hunting ground of numerologists and nutters down through the ages, was one that Crowley had already personally adopted as his own. His parents had been members of a fanatical Christian sect and his mother had used the name of the Beast to castigate her young son. He had happily accepted this as a token of rebellion. Today educated pagans consider that it represents the energy of the sun. Some of the other tests could be interpreted as Rose somehow reading her husband’s mind. This would be remarkable in itself but not as striking as the idea that an ancient Egyptian God was seeking to communicate. From that point onwards, Crowley allowed himself to go along with the strange adventure.

Thanks to Daniel Gallagher for leading me to funerary sarcophagus of Ankh af na Khonsu and Richard Sprigg for clarifying some details on the 'Boulak collection'I was unaware of at the time of writing my book.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Gurdjieff, Tibet, and the Kali Yuga.

Having felt Gurdjieff in the airwaves I have decided to post almost all of a chapter from my Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus that forms part of an ongoing theme in the book to establish a wider context and perspective for Crowley's Aeon concept. I believe there is a striking correlation between the events in Cairo experienced by the Beast in 1904 and what Gurdjieff described as occurring simultaneously in Tibet.


George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was perhaps the most mysterious, haunting magus figure of the twentieth century. Like Crowley, he has been reviled as a charlatan. Others have seen him as a superhuman ambassador of Central Asian esoteric schools. Born some time in the eighteen-seventies in the multicultural melting pot of Armenia, he claimed to have spent decades on a quest for living sources of ancient wisdom. His overwhelming charisma and unusual knowledge and abilities convinced many he had succeeded. He came to prominence as a teacher of esoteric knowledge in Tsarist Russia. The revolution forced a departure to Europe. In the early twenties he established a base in France in a large house with extensive grounds. Many people of a high level of culture and breeding joined him there.

Gurdjieff wrote a gigantic and difficult to read work entitled Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson which included much material that seemed to be autobiographical, including a strange account of events in Tibet at the time of the dawning of Crowley’s Aeon of Horus.

During the late nineteenth century Britain and Russia engaged in what’s been called the “Great Game” in Asia. India was the jewel in the imperial crown. Russia had expanded across the continent. Spheres of influence were contended. Afghanistan and Tibet became places where political intrigues were played out as the two super-powers vied for position. One result of this involved a British expedition entering Tibet in 1903 led by a man named Francis Younghusband. It was not a full-blown invasion but the group was primarily military and its intention was to force Tibet into opening up more fully to British influence.

Francis Younghusband

Gurdjieff was supposedly in Tibet during this period. Beelzebub’s Tales gives an account of the history of a particular esoteric group, always numbering seven people, which had been founded by a divine messenger named by Gurdjieff in his typically idiosyncratic style as Saint Krishnatkharna. This is generally taken to refer to Krishna. This group endured and adapted through the time of Buddha and the arrival of his teaching in Tibet with its adoption by Saint Lama who can be thought of as Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The group were extremely powerful and played a mysterious role in the balance of global forces.

They were still active when the Younghusband expedition entered Tibet. Their leader was present when a kind of national assembly discussed how best to meet the challenge. He advocated a pacifist approach which was subsequently adopted with him accompanying a group sent out to meet the British. This went horribly wrong when the great adept was shot dead.

The dynamic of the group of seven which had lasted for millennia was fatally compromised. There were detailed instructions handed down from Saint Lama concerning the transmission of the teachings by the leader which were determined by the spiritual preparedness of the other six. The leader was on the verge of becoming the divine messenger of the age. At the vital point the survivors were on the threshold but the process was incomplete. They took a hardcore esoteric option, attempting to communicate through the corpse of their leader with what might be termed his spiritual energies. Gurdjieff used a variety of complex terminology to describe the process. For such an undertaking to be successful it should have been started whilst the leader was still alive.

Sufficient to say the gamble catastrophically failed. Some kind of negative alchemy occurred resulting in a huge explosion referred to by Gurdjieff as the "Sobrionolian contact.” The remaining group were killed and all of the texts and relics of their tradition were destroyed. This disaster meant that planetary conditions as a whole immediately deteriorated. To what extent the story is meant to be taken literally is difficult to assess. Nonetheless Gurdjieff is clearly pointing to a time and place where he believed that a crucial shift had occurred.

March 31st 1904. Just before the catastrophe. Younghusband, seated on the right, wearing pith helmet, negotiates with Tibetans.

The most notable event in the Younghusband expedition could well be the one referred to by Gurdjieff. On March 31st 1904 British and Tibetan forces faced each-other at point-blank range in a situation that seemed to offer possibilities of peaceful resolution. Discussions were in progress when a shot was fired. The Tibetans, hemmed in and armed with antiquated muskets, soon suffered somewhere in the region of 700 fatalities. Himalayan mountaineer Crowley was already in Cairo. A few days before, he had been informed that the old world was in the process of disappearing in flames. The usual accounts state that barely a week later, he took dictation of The Book of the Law. This fits together very interestingly.

There is another Tibetan flavoured strand of evocative data independent of Gurdjieff that also gels intriguingly with the Thelemic mythos. Gods, Beasts and Men by Ferdinand Ossendowski was published in 1922. It was an account of Central Asian travels and the author’s encounters with a tradition of a secret kingdom where the true rulers of the planet reside. Shambhala is the most well-known name for this fabled realm. It represents a living and vital reality for the Tantric Buddhists of Tibet and Mongolia, who believe it to be the home of a system of secret wisdom. Some of this is embodied in the teachings of the Kalachakra, which means “Wheel of Time,” a system widely taught by the current Dalai Lama. Its origins are believed to predate Buddha, who visited Shambhala himself to be initiated in its mysteries. On the one hand it has a tangible physical location but also strange qualities which can hide it from the profane, making it all but invisible to the outside world. Its pilgrims are somehow summoned by subtle inner means.

In some versions, this kingdom has a connected underground realm called Agarttha. Ossendowski related that an awesome being known as the “King of the World” lives there. A remarkable story tells of how he actually appeared above ground and visited a Mongolian monastery in 1890. He uttered a series of prophecies concerning a time of warfare and tribulation that was soon to come upon the world and would usher in “a new life on the earth, purified by the death of nations.” After this, the underground super-beings of Agarttha would rise up and claim the world. One obvious problem here is that the account was published after the First World War and the Russian Revolution so cynics can wonder if the traveller created a retrospective fiction.

Beyond Ossendowski, during the twenties, there was a powerful belief in Central Asia that a time of an earthly kingdom of Shambhala was near. There were elements that a westerner could recognise from Christian millennial enthusiasms over the coming of the New Jerusalem. In a time of profound uncertainty in Asia following the Bolshevik revolution and the increasing power of Japan, Shambhala focused nationalist aspirations. A warrior lord was expected to lead the process. He was Gesar Khan. This hero of Tibetan and Mongolian myth cycles may have lived in the 8th century AD. A champion of righteousness, he had disappeared with a hint of return. I rather feel that something of this idea of a coming Shambhalic epoch presided over by a warrior and involving “the death of nations” has resonances with the Aeon of Horus.

Blavatsky’s Theosophy introduced to a western audience the vast Hindu time cycles known as Yugas. There are four of differing lengths during which planetary conditions range from paradisiacal purity down through a declining spiral to a dense darkness of unrighteousness. We are currently in one of the final Kali Yugas and therefore surrounded by things likely to induce a general fear and desperation and the sense of a world that is ending. The great French esotericist and expounder of the Yugas Rene Guenon cautioned against what is in the bigger picture a false perspective. Ends are inseparable from beginnings. The golden age follows the greatest darkness. Regardless of planetary upheavals, humanity survives the Kali Yugas.

The different ages call forth particular religious forms. One primordial wisdom tradition remains functioning on varied levels of visibility. Many groups lack a true connection with it and therefore serve only as often debased expressions of temporary conditions. Guenon believed that most of the occultism and Theosophically inspired eastern influenced beliefs of the current times are typical Kali Yuga manifestations and did not serve true spirituality.

Rene Guenon

In The Lord of the World published in 1927, Guenon linked Agarttha with the Yugas. He depicts it as the spiritual axis of the planet, the true source and centre of the primordial tradition. During the Kali Yuga it is hidden from sight and its connections to religious groups weakened or broken. Now, as we experience the greatest darkness, we are also near to the ending of the cycle with the hope of change to come. Agarttha emerges again and the presence of its mysterious ruler who has both material and spiritual power is discernable.

This raises questions concerning Crowley’s magick, and the Aeon of Horus. Is it a transient and debased cultus or does it link with the primordial wisdom tradition? Are there other links between Crowley and Gurdjieff? And what of the vexed issue of the so-called Secret Chiefs who allegedly govern the great occult and mystical groups down through the ages? These are themes that will be examined in Extra-Terrestrial Gnosis.

For now it is sufficient to register that the two most significant magus figures of the twentieth century both stated that a cataclysmic new epoch had been unleashed upon the world. Not only that, they both dated it’s beginning to exactly the same obscure period of time that had been generally unheralded by astrologers and other prophets.