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Light & Dark
on 12 June 2011
This is a novel by Crowley about a magical war between a white lodge ( led by Iff ) and a black lodge ( led by Douglas ) over an unborn child, the "Moonchild" of the title, with the action moving between London, Paris and a villa in Naples. It was written in 1917 in New Orleans.
Crowley keeps reappearing, first in the 1960's and now again in the jumble of ideas of the New Age movement. He was a mountaineer with expeditions to K2 and Kangchenjunga, otherwise "Brother Perdurabo" studying under "McGregor" Mathers, chief of the Golden Dawn movement, and also a good writer as this book shows. It switches between being surprising, humorous and stomach churning with Crowley showing his invincible English class prejudice along with the magical themes.
The main thread of the story is a Taoist one with the plot twisting and turning nicely around this axis. Supposedly Crowley identifies with Simon Iff and the forces of light but the undercurrent of the book and the not so obvious ending suggest a darker different conclusion.In any event it is probably a good idea to read some of the Tao Te Ching to catch the full flavour of the book.
Crowley was persistently hunted by the press and eventually bankrupted by legal actions but he didn't do anything to discourage the speculation. He loved to showboat ( the self-proclaimed Beast 666 ) and wanted the publicity. However, the relevance of the story for today is that strands of the New Age movement take the magical aspects completely seriously which is surely a trend worth watching.
His view on the advantages of being a magician:"...all one's different parts are free to act with the utmost possible vigour according to their own natures, because the other parts do not interfere with them. You don't let the navigators into the stoke-hole, or your stokers into the chart house".