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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Did RAW revive interest in Crowley's magick?

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. 


Oz Fritz said...

I completely agree. I knew RAW influenced people like myself to get into Crowley but had no idea of the extent until reading Duquette and Kaczynski in Lion of Light. I would argue that Wilson later became part of the occult establishment.

Eric Wagner said...

I know I first became interested in Crowley due to Bob's writings.

quackenbush said...

Part of what I love about Kaczynski's foreword is that it can be seen as an intro to RAw for Crowley fans. And thus the cycle completes itself.

For some reason I am unable to sign in a post on the Lion of Light blog of Gregory.

Podcast with Lon dropping in two weeks. This is my favorite episode to date.

Rarebit Fiend said...

My introduction to both men came from Alan Moore. But, I believe I mention this in my afterword, Wilson was who made Crowley start making sense to me.

@quackenbush: LVX15 said the same thing. I am going to look into this matter a little more deeply, I have made the commentting as unrestricted as I can tell right now. I'm sorry that my blog is acting weird, but I imagine I'm missing something.

Oz Fritz said...

If anyone wishes to comment in the Lion of Light discussion and they can't sign in,, they can email the comment to me and I'll post it under their name.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Until this gets fixed, if someone is having trouble putting up a comment on Jechidah, you can post it here and I will repost it for you at the other blog.

Rarebit Fiend said...

If someone who wasn't able to comment could try again, I've tooled around with the blog.