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Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law

Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law [Kindle Edition]

Don Webb
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Aleister Crowley wrote many works himself, and many works have been written about him. Most of the latter focus on his colorful lifestyle, while others seek to interpret his meta-poetic words in terms of one or another Thelemite orthodoxy. In this volume, Don Webb goes beyond either of these approaches. Webb, who made his way along the same arduous initiatory pathways pioneered by the First Beast, here focuses on the initiatory and philosophical meanings of Crowley's life work. He does so in a way that can be of personal magical benefit to all who read the book."

Product Description

New commentaries on Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law reveal how it is connected to both Right- and Left-Hand Paths

• Examines each line of the Book of the Law in the light of modern psychology, Egyptology, Gurdjieff’s teachings, and contemporary Left-Hand Path thought

• Explores Crowley’s identification with the First Beast of Revelations as well as his adoption of the Loki archetype for becoming a vessel of love for all humanity

• Recasts the Cairo Working as a text of personal sovereignty and a relevant tool for personal transformation

• Includes commentary on the Book of the Law by Dr. Michael A. Aquino, who served as High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996

Received by Aleister Crowley in April 1904 in Cairo, Egypt, the Book of the Law is the most provocative record of magical working in several hundred years, affecting not only organizations directly associated with Crowley such as the Ordo Templi Orientis but also modern Wicca, Chaos Magic, and the Temple of Set.

Boldly defying Crowley’s warning not to comment on the Book of the Law, Ipsissimus Don Webb provides in-depth interpretation from both Black and White Magical perspectives, including commentary from Dr. Michael A. Aquino, who served as High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996. Webb examines each line of the Book in the light of modern psychology, Egyptology, existentialism, and competing occult systems such as the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and contemporary Left-Hand Path thought. Discarding the common image of Crowley formulated in a spiritually unsophisticated time when the devotee of the Left-Hand Path was dismissed as a selfish evil doer, Webb unveils a new side of Crowley based on his adoption of the Loki archetype and his aim to become a vessel of love for all humanity. In so doing, he shows how the Book of the Law is connected to both Right- and Left-Hand Paths and reveals how Crowley’s magical path of mastery over the self and Cosmos overthrew the gods of old religion, which had kept humanity asleep to dream the nightmare of history.

Providing in-depth analysis of Crowley’s sources and his self-identification with the First Beast of Revelation from a profound esoteric perspective, Webb takes his views out of the Golden Dawn matrix within which he received the Book of the Law and radically recasts the Cairo Working as a text of personal sovereignty and a relevant tool for personal transformation.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 920 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 1 edition (8 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #538,535 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Poor Thelemic Commentary 2 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Aleister Crowley was such a diverse character that even today, long after the magickians death, there is still room for another radical re-appraisal of the man and his volumous literary output and, despite warnings to the contrary within its pages, even of the central text to Crowley's writings - Liber AL or 'The Book of the Law'.

Don Webb is a respected advocate of the Left-Hand Path and a long-serving member of the Temple of Set. In 'Overthrowing the Old Gods' he takes a broad look at Crowley and Liber AL and analyses the book in detail - the trouble is, a great deal of the content of this book is aged and has been reprinted from sources that are both his own and others. Even if you can forgive him and his publishers that much then the material that is original commentary upon BOL is vague, inconclusive and so evidently tinged with the perceptions of a Sethian rather than a Horian that the reader is left wondering whether the author has actually understood the core context upon which Liber AL is founded.

I am by no means an advocate of the idea that Liber AL is a sacred text but I do feel that it contain essential and illuminating occult insights - ideas that extend beyond Crowley's slightly 'colourful' sub-conscious. I was hoping that this publication would dust off a few of them but sadly it fails and one is left wondering why the book was written in the first place by someone who appears to have ended up writing a book that illuminates Liber ALs weaknesses rather than its strengths.

I have decided to give the book two stars rather than one simply because in its latter pages the author does offer an interesting appraisal of Crowley but this is a somewhat fleeting relief in a pretty grim, badly formulated and misleading publication.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 31 Aug 2014
By richard
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book that redefined the cosmos
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vital new interpretation of Crowley's lifework and his Book of the Law 7 Nov 2013
By Walter Five - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is always interesting to read the opinions of Crowley and his work given by Writers and Magicians formed outside the "bubble" of Thelema, and its subsets. This is one such book; it contains writings and opinions of Dr. Micheal Aquino and Don Webb on Crowley's Book of the Law, Liber Al Vel Legis (or Liber L). Both gentlemen are former High Priests of the Temple of Set. This work is particularly interesting because of the TOS's insistence on excellence in academics-- Both of these men have studied and seem to understand Ancient Egyptian much better than Sir Wallis Budge or Aleister Crowley, and offer many insights that would have been impossible for Crowley or anyone else to make at the time of the Book of the Law's communication in 1904.

Don Webb is to be commended, analyzing each passage in light of modern Psychology, Egyptology, existentialism and competing occult systems such as the teachings of Gurdijeff, or the Golden Dawn, of which Crowley was an initiate. I don't know that I agree with all of Mr. Webb's (or Dr. Aquino's) conclusions about Crowley or the Book of the Law, but I must defer to their respective fields of expertise. In any case, their observations and interpretations are valuable to seekers on both the Left Hand *and* Right Hand Paths, and offers insights to Crowley and his magick who are willing to think outside the box on the topics of Thelema, Crowley, and Modern Ceremonial and Chaos Magick.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good 18 Mar 2014
By BlackLight333 - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most of materials coming from the Temple of Set are good and this is no exception. It's an interesting interpretation of Crowley's Book of the Law from a different perspective, aligning it with the current of Set, showing that it's not a book limited to Thelemic systems only but a universal message that can be applied also to other magical paradigms. I'm neither Setian nor Thelemite, but I found this book fascinating and inspiring and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the current of Set. Most of "Thelemic" philosophy these days is based on studying the "sacred books of Thelema" without attempting any personal conclusions or interpretations. Here we have a totally different approach, and I can imagine that many people might feel offended by this book, but I don't believe in "sacredness" of any books. The only sacred thing is the mind of the practitioner - it is the temple and the altar for all magical operations. The Book of the Law is in many ways personal to Crowley and I believe it can be also made personal to everyone who has the courage to take a step further and interpret it in their own way. This book is for an open-minded reader and for such it is definitely a must read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aleister Crowley changed the face of spirituality 26 Aug 2014
By New Dawn Magazine - Published on
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) changed the face of spirituality. His approach to magic(k), which included exploring Eastern practises, sex and psychedelics, was a breath of fresh air to the staid world of ceremonial magic and brought the West’s attention to Yoga and Tantra.
At the same time his bisexuality and wild lifestyle caused a media frenzy and he became known as “the wickedest man in the world.” Looking back from the present, his experimental approach to magick seems before its time and is still considered to be relevant for many seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and who are willing to go beyond the boundaries of conventionality.
One of the most significant aspects of Crowley’s work was his receipt of ‘The Book of the Law’ in 1904. This text clearly differentiated his new system of spirituality based on Will (Thelema) from that which went before. It rejected previous religious systems as the “lumber of the ages” and posited a new and more healthy approach to life, refusing the suffering ethos of the monotheistic religions. Crowley wrote a number of commentaries on ‘The Book of the Law’ and many whom came after have done the same. Sadly, most of these commentaries have been mired in “Thelemic” orthodoxy, and while wordy and filled with debate and heat, they offer little light.
Overthrowing the Old Gods is one of the very first books to attempt to truly engage with ‘The Book of the Law’ from a variety of angles. Webb became a High Priest in the Temple of Set in 1996, and thus views Thelema from a different angle (the Temple of Set holds that in 1975 a new Aeon of Set proceeded the Aeon of Horus that ‘The Book of the Law’ heralded). In many ways this gives him a deeper retrospective insight into Thelema, allowing him to offer a highly insightful commentary on ‘The Book of the Law’ coupled with a commentary by Dr. Michael Aquino, High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996. These commentaries are dense and will take much study to fully unlock but they are well worth the effort.
Webb’s commentaries and essays show an encyclopaedic knowledge of Thelema, psychology and magick. They cover new discoveries related to Egyptology, Gnosticism and psychology.
The second half of the book is composed of a series of excellent essays divided into the Force and the Fire. I suggest those new to these subjects first study the essays starting at page 248 which offer an introduction to Thelema and the Left Hand Path. The essays in the Force section explore the subject deeper and all of these help elucidate the position taken in the commentaries on ‘The Book of the Law’.
It should be noted that Webb takes the position of a Left Hand Path practitioner. While such a term may strike terror into the heart of those who don’t understand, it simply represents a tradition that aims at individual discrete self-deification rather than union with the universe or submission to a given deity or deities. Such a tradition is found throughout religious and mythic history from ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ where Gilgamesh rejects the Goddess and at great cost (the loss of his lover Enkidu) must create his own path, to the heroic tales of the Germanic peoples and ancient Greece.
Webb uses his commentaries and essays to clearly communicate the nature of this elite spiritual path to those who seek it. Hence this work is important in both its insight into Thelema and ‘The Book of the Law’, and its clear exposition of the Left Hand Path and its practise in the modern world.
This is a must read book for any modern magician, indeed anyone who treks beyond the boundaries of conventional spirituality.
– Reviewed by Robert Black in New Dawn magazine 143 (
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful and engaging 13 April 2014
By Setken - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am new to Crowley and found this tome a wonderful introduction.

The short essay series in the second half provide much to ponder, and dare I say have some inbuilt initiation triggers?

Will be rereading this for enjoyment and to make sure I have gleaned all the treasures within.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 27 Nov 2014
By c. mort - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
very prompt shipping of excellent item!!
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