Aleister Crowley, the founder of Thelema, has gained a lot of titles throughout his whole life: an occultist, poet, novelist, painter, ceremonial magician, mountaineer, drug addict, sexual libertine, and maybe more. From all these titles, you can tell Aleister Crowley lived an amazing life even though he was judged and criticized by many.

Who Is Aleister Crowley?

Whenever someone says “dark magic,” you should immediately think Aleister Crowley. Born Edward Alexander Crowley on October 12th, 1875, in Warwickshire, England, Crowley grew up to be an English occultist and founded Thelema - the religion and philosophy which declares that love is the law and you should serve the law. Not only is Aleister Crowley the founder of a religion, but he was also a multitude of other great feats: magician at ceremonies for Thelema, a poet, a painter, a writer, and a major mountain enthusiast. Though Crowley passed away on December 1st, 1947, he is still prevalent to the world today because in 2002, Crowley was ranked as the 73rd greatest Britain has ever had by a poll conducted by BBC.

Aleister Crowley lived a very intense life when it came to what he loves. He attempted to climb Mountain Kanchenjunga in China (he did not succeed), he opened and ran a commune known as the Abbey of Thelema, and Aleister Crowley also liked to claim that he worked as a part of the British Intelligence Services during the first World War.

Even though Crowley was labeled as a Satanist, he was much more than any rumor. Aleister Crowley broke many social barriers that were really considered unheard of during his time and became quite an influential figure in Western culture - we even have Crowley to thank for the beautiful music that Led Zeppelin made for us to enjoy. By playing such an influential role in many mystical aspects of the world back then and today, Aleister Crowley is one of the most fascinating men that have ever lived.

8 Facts You Must Know About Aleister Crowley

Though it is difficult to limit myself to only eight of all the most interesting and the most important facts about the late and great Aleister Crowley, there are some key factors that need to be mentioned when we are talking about Crowley’s life. Without each of the eight facts that are mentioned below, there would be no reason for people to have voted Aleister Crowley as one of the greatest British that have ever lived.


Aleister Crowley lived during a time when sexuality was unheard of, or at least not spoken about. However, Crowley broke many barriers that people are just now becoming comfortable with these days. Not only did Aleister Crowley not wait until marriage to lose his virginity, he also identified himself as a Bisexual, which is quite astonishing back then. By breaking the social norms, Aleister Crowley really paved the way for more open discussions about sexuality, at least for the time period.



In a time when Catholicism and Protestantism were still the only religions that the higher class allowed in most countries, Aleister Crowley created a religion that had him rumored as a Satanist. Though Thelema is very magical and borders on gothic romanticism, there is a real theme of love that runs throughout the religion. By focusing on love being the law, Aleister Crowley developed a more tolerant tone for those who practiced the Thelema religion that he built.



Aleister Crowley was a highly educated man. Crowley attended Cambridge University from 1895 to 1898. Crowley studied philosophy, and most of his life’s work can be accredited to the education that he received at Cambridge. During his time at the university, he experienced what he called his first mystical experience that really broke the barrier for what Crowley later produced in his writings and teachings.


The Golden Dawn

Throughout 1898-1899, Aleister Crowley was heavily involved with a group called “The Golden Dawn”. Crowley was initiated into the group in 1898 by The Golden Dawn leader himself and then Crowley ended up joining the British secret services with orders to supervise the said leader, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.



During his time in the group “The Golden Dawn”, Aleister Crowley delved deeper into the art of writing and fell in love with the art form. Crowley wrote tons of poetry like his pieces entitled Jezebel and Other Tragic Poems as well as Songs of the Spirit and many more influential poems and teachings that have continued to benefit and teach people throughout the world, like Jimmy Page of the popular bands The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin. Aleister Crowley also has many books that people still use for religious purposes today.


The Development of Thelema

In the month of February in the year of 1904, Aleister Crowley arrived in Cairo with his wife, Rose. Together, they experienced much mysticism and fully delved themselves into learning about the religious aspects that were in Egypt at the time. After their time in Egypt, Crowley was able to write The Book of Law, which is what he used as the basis for the religion of Thelema, and what many people still apply to the way they live their lives everyday.


Mountain Climbing

Though Aleister Crowley was not successful during his attempt to climb the Kanchenjunga mountain in China, the fact that he still tried is influential in itself. Like many other philosophers, Aleister Crowley found a lot of spiritual teachings and mystical experiences on the mountain range that he could not have gotten if he was on the ground. Crowley’s love for mountaineering really helped him commandeer the Thelema teachings, as well as his open attitude towards life.


Abbey of Thelema

During the years 1920 through 1923, Aleister Crowley developed and ran the religious commune called the Abbey of Thelema. This is the commune where Crowley led his followers and taught them the most important aspects of the practices of the Thelema religion. Towards the end of the Crowley’s three years of leading the commune, people began to believe him to be a very wicked man and this made him drop off the radar quite a bit for the remainder of his life, though he stayed devoted to his teachings.

10 Famous Aleister Crowley Quotes


"One would go mad if one took the Bible seriously; but to take it seriously one must be already mad."

— Magick: Liber ABA


“I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.”

— The Book of Lies


“The joy of life consists in the exercise of one's energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.”

— Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography


“Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.”

— Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography


“Having to talk destroys the symphony of silence.”

— Diary of a Drug Fiend


"For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

— The Book of the Law/Liber Al Vel Legis


"What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over." 

— Diary of a Drug Fiend


"Science is always discovering odd scraps of magical wisdom and making a tremendous fuss about its cleverness." 

— The Confessions of Aleister Crowley : An Autohagiography


"I've written this to keep from crying. But I am crying, only the tears won't come.”

— Diary of a Drug Fiend


"The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without." 

— Aleister Crowley

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