Aleister Crowley in 1925 (public domain photo).
When I read the Illuminatus! trilogy back in the 1970s, when I was in college in Oklahoma, I didn't know anyone who was seriously into magick or Aleister Crowley. I did know quite a few libertarians; in fact, all of the people I knew who read the book were libertarians, and so I was under the impression that libertarians were the core audience for the book. Of course, there are plenty of libertarians who have read the trilogy, and read other work by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, but I did not realize how many RAW fans really were more into magick than political philosophy. When I began this blog in 2010, I assumed that most of the people who bothered to read it would be libertarians, and I was surprised at the number of people I encountered who identified with the left instead, or who were into magick.
While my views about RAW's audience have shifted, I am still capable of surprise. I am reading Lion of Light because I am taking part in the ongoing online reading group at Jechidah, so I duly read the pieces by Lon Milo DuQuette and Richard Kaczysnki, and a couple of passages caught my eye.
DuQuette: "Ordo Templi Orientis is now arguably the largest and most influential magical order in the world. In the first 15 years since our local lodge in Newport Beach officiated scores of Degree initiations. Of the new initiates I interviewed in those years at least 75% told me they had been initially drawn to magick and Aleister Crowley because they had read The Illuminatus! Trilogy and the works of Robert Anton Wilson."
Kaczynski: "In the late 1970s, when I dove into the sci-fi con and pagan festival circuits, one or both of Wilson and Leary were frequent guests of honor. To me it seemed like more of the attendees had come to Crowley's magick through The Illuminatus! Trilogy than all of the aforementioned 'establishment' authors combined." [Kaczynski says that in 1974, the occult "establishment" was Israel Regardie, Francis King, John Symonds and Kenneth Grant.)
So it sounds like the revival of Crowley's magick is another way Illuminatus! has influenced the culture.