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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the beast book i red this summer, Miss!!!, 18 July 2014
By 
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
I suppose I, like many readers, was rather in awe of Crowley for many years. I thought the bloke was a git, but a clever git with remarkable abilities and insight and I believed him to be largely responsible for opening up the mysteries of esoteric philosophy to the world at large. Maybe he really was the herald of the new age?

I have read and reread this interesting book several times over the forty-odd years since I first encountered it and I have to say I am far less in awe of him than I was. Then I was, and now I am appalled by his arrogance and amazing lack of common sense. The most striking example of cavalier, arrogant, tightrope walking without a net, Aleister-knows-best foolhardy irresponsible what happens if I press this red button marked "Do not press!" assumed impunity has to be in regard to the Abramelin working. Whether or not the reviewer reader believes in the efficacy of this particular piece of ceremonial magick is irrelevant; Crowley believed in it and Crowley was very aware of the warnings, caveats and Health & Safety At Work rigmarole that the beginning of the Sacred Magic advises its owner about. Crowley knew that simply possessing the book was (supposed) to make the owner cursed as unlucky, though this is a separate tradition of superstition and not part of the book's instructions and I do not blame him for scorning this particular piece of twaddle but he also showed complete disdain for the working.
OK, if anyone is not too familiar with it, the Abramelin working is essentially a super-condensed mind-changing piece of devotional mysticism, rather like fitting twenty arduous years in a monastery into six months of practice so intense that the book warns against attempting it unless the practitioner can follow the instructions to the letter, without deviation or distraction.

Imagine the common meme beloved of screenplay and games writers.
The aspirant knocks on the door of a windswept mountaintop retreat full of completely devoted, single-minded and uncompromising seekers after truth and is left sitting on the snowy doorstep for six days, during which he is insulted daily and told to go home. At the end of this time, head covered in garbage and backside sore and seized up, he is grudgingly let in, thawed out enough to be put to work peeling vegetables for a year and is generally treated like scum. Throughout this long year - or more - he is beaten up by a team of kung-fu masters (or crazy monks/nuns with sticks) and set to long vigils without moving a muscle, under pain of being thrown out.
Eventually he finds himself with all the spirit knocked out of him, aware that he is truly now a blank slate able to begin the long process of learning that his true nature is ******* and that he, no longer he at all for "he" is dead, is as immortal as can be understood by anyone not of that nature and is no longer an individual but the whole universe becoming conscious of itself at one point.

Abramelin is a home-study version of this. You don't get the kung fu etc. etc. You get a devotional regime that is so intense, requiring concentration on the goal for every minute of every day, that the "self" (whatever) is purified and humbled and all traces of ego are rubbed off to make the operator a worthy, disinterested (i.e. "safe") vessel to commune with his higher self, or Holy Guardian Angel and assimilate that depersonalised consciousness into the human body that previously contained a human personality. Then, thus fortified to the point of unassailability, and ONLY then is he ready to confront the demons (whatever) that he evokes in the final stages of the operation.

Whether you regard this as a literal description of supernatural intelligences at work or simply a metaphorical account of the personal transmutive alchemy that can be understood and better explained in the jargon of modern psychology is again, not relevant. The process is a willing submission to a life-changing process or deep metaprogramming that once started (so the Mage Abramelin says) must not be stopped or interrupted until completed. It should also be performed in a secluded oratory, free from mundane distractions where the operator can apply himself to the work in hand for twenty four hours a day, blah blah blah.

So what did Crowley do, after researching this self-improvement manual as thoroughly as one could, back in the 1890s?
He rode off around the bloody desert on a great big holiday, starting and stopping the operation capriciously just whenever he felt like "doing a bit of it." He had effectively opened himself up psychologically (imagine being in a post-hypnotic, suggestible state where anything you encounter will imprint you at the deepest level) while indulging in all manner of hedonistic Englishman-abroad chicanery, most of it apparently with the impressionable young poet Victor Neuberg's handsome phallus rammed firmly up Crowley's greasy fundament.
The exhortation to embellish the working in this manner is strangely missing from my copy of the
Sacred Magic of Abramelin The Mage which is otherwise most particular in regard to the details of what the operator can, and cannot, do.

Crowley trifled with the sacred flow in this manner for a while, opening his unconscious self up ready for all the expected self denial, fasting, prayer and will to remove the obstacle of ego to take effect, except he was not immersed in the appropriate psychically sterile environment. He was immersed in an arrogant egocentric self-agrandising vat of debauchery and prejudice...

- and then things got worse. In this highly impressionable state, he began working with the Aethyrs of Enochian Magic, designed to introduce the operator to alternative universes so different from his own that they open him up
to all manner of influences which must be rigorously tested and either learned from or protected against. Not trivial, for those who might believe in this system of explaining the whole ∞ #!

Anyway, Crowley mixed systems, ignored ALL safeguards and opened himself up to influences so potent that he was completely unprepared for the consequences. The psychic battering of encountering an Enochian intelligence (whatever) on its home territory of a completely alien world with different physics, moralities and even basic definitions so utterly different that the most bizarre nightmare would seem like
an ordered and intelligible data presentation.
This would have been difficult enough to cope with if everything else had been done by the book, except none of it was.

This was an open invitation to obsession.

Proving the rule, Crowley then actively courted demon possession (whatever) by breaking all the H&S rules and invoked (into himself) that which he should have evoked (watching through the bars of a very stout cage well out of arms' length.)

He conjured an archetype into the triangle of Art, a device traditionally used by ceremonial magicians to constrain, restrain and control malign intelligence while the magician remains firmly inside a protective magic circle, well out of arm's reach.

Crowley's improvement on this was to scratch the triangle of Art into the desert sand, and instead of keeping fixedly outside it, to then sit inside it while the potent entity was brought forth into that same constraining triangle - and Crowley himself.

This would be rather like dismantling a fully-connected, traditional television set while sitting in a bath of salty water with the overhead shower running.

This must surely be even lower than the suggestion of being shafted up the repository by a vigorous youth in anybody's "to do" list. Not so Crowley. Crowley took into himself that which would conventionally be termed a "demon."

Crowley believed he had attained great wisdom through this....

In deprecated terminology, he had become puppet to his id - or his Mr. Hyde had been given the keys to the roadster. Thereafter, everything Crowley does is tainted and delusional.

I've pulled this particular piece out because it is absolutely pivotal in understanding Crowley and his legacy. An awful lot of people regard him as nothing but a genius and have fallen for the religion that he founded parasitically in the dying body of the O.T.O. and likewise many believe in the other "ancient pagan" religion that he effectively co-founded with Gardner. I realise I'll be treading on a couple of cloven toes here. People get precious about religions, particularly when they don't realise they belong to one.

Aside from documenting his self-inflicted fall into delusion, Confessions is largely an interesting and, in parts, entertaining read. The travelogue is quite marvelous; Crowley is off in all manner of places filled with the sort of Johnny Foreigner chappies who died out long ago under the influence of more contact with western civilization and in places one could be reading Ryder Haggard or following Indiana Jones blazing paths through heathen lands full of skulking natives. Ripping yarns indeed.

There is also the matter of Crowley's skill as a mountaineer and if the book is to be believed, and I think I do, here, the boy was soloing up and down the Alps like a mountain goat, probably in just his underpants with a length of clothesline at a time when he could have made a proper career of it and been another Edward Whymper. With hindsight it is obvious that his fearlessness was a product of innate psychopathy, but then that explains so much of the book. He starts off telling us how he attempted to find how many ways he could to kill a cat. I'm unsure if he is just toying with us here and attempting to convince us of his infamy, but then again it could just be a factual account. His humour is often too dry to parse and his irony, if any, is well-hidden.

Do I recommend this book?

Well, yes. The trouble is that it will be misunderstood by a great number of its readers who will come away from it with their heads filled with nonsense that they will then take seriously in completely the wrong direction, and for those readers I would suggest they re-wrap the book in a dust jacket upon which they write, in ye blacke inke blood of an unsuckled cockatrice, with an quille made from ye wing of an virgyn goose, the new title;

"Confessions of a spoilt brat - or how I spent my entire life showing my uptight puritan dad how naughty I can be."

Nevetheless, a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to know more about the Master Magickian?, 6 Nov 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
The book that brings Crowley's life just that little bit closer - but personally I wouldn't want a mind so excessively awe-inspiring any closer... the book itself is fascinating and enlightening, informative yet questionable, but also hilarious and sometimes frightening. Everything you'd like to ask the self-proclaimed Master Magickian but would be afraid to ask. Well worth the (lengthy & sometimes taxing) read, but watch out for those few inconsistencies that make him not quite the man he seems - if seeming and being can be distinguished in his 'world'. After reading this you'll love him or loathe him. But as we all know, there's a fine line between the two. You have been warned. Don't come crying to me afterwards.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aleister Crowley - Complete!, 21 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
This work successfully combines a myriad elements: travelogue, biography (of numerous flamboyant characters of the time from artists, writers and poets to athletes and pioneers) philosophy, social commentary and I daresay sections not out of place in the Guinness Book of Records too! Crowley himself, an indomitable character, through all his failings feels like a companion and friend throughout the course of this substantial work. Keen to impart his incomparible knowledge on so many subjects, he was erudite and insightful with a cutting wit. Although far from laconic in style, I find this piece of literature all the more personable for the wonderfully picturesque digressions: after all this is not an impersonal documentary, it's his life, and what a life. Remarkable. If you're even in the minutest way interested in Crowley or the era, you've gotta get this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Confessions Of Aleister Crowley - A Review By Barry Van-Asten, 10 Jan 2010
By 
Mr. B. P. Van-asten (London, England.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, written in the nineteen-twenties, mostly at the Abbey of Thelema, contain his fascinating exploits in magick, his travels and mountain climbing and his Great Revelation for Mankind - the Law of Thelema, as received in the Book of the Law, in Cairo, 1904. Crowley broke all the conventions of his day and explored the outer regions of mind and body through the use of sex, drugs, ceremonial magic and Eastern philosophy. He exhausted himself on adventure and although he often lived up to his reputation as the 'wickedest man in the world' he was sometimes capable of heroic gestures and he wrote some of the most sublime passages of poetry in the English language. I have read this book several times and it is always a delight. Written in six parts with easy to digest chapters the interest remains throughout the major events of Crowley's life - his encounter with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage; his meeting and friendship with Allan Bennett, his marriage to Rose Kelly; Liber Al vel Legis; the Kanchenjunga expedition; the Abbey of Thelema, and so on...
However he is remembered: magician, poet, mountaineer or chess master, this book will remain a witty and wise account of one of the greatest enigmatical figures in English history. Superb!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgive me Father, for I have sinned., 13 May 2001
By 
adam@new-tech.fsnet.co.uk (The Wescountry, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
Crowley confesses all. It does require a modicum of ambition to start a book of almost 1000 pages, but this autohagiography certainly has a magical moment or two. You may be surprised that it is not all about the Master Therion's magical career; it also details his mountaineering exploits, travels, philosophy, political intrigue, illnesses and upbringing. In the early stages one is shown Crowley's deep seated shcizophrenia (read it and find out!) if you will forgive the euphemism... I was most interested in the Magick contained and was not dissapointed. Crowley has not duplicated his efforts by detailing the rituals - these are adequately described in other books. The illustrations, although not in colour, are many. I do think it requires at least two readings to grasp; such is the level of its variety. See the life of the great man. Ironically the feeling I got from at the end of it was that Crowley was just an ordinary man, after all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars READ READ READ, 10 May 2014
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
I have so many books it is ridiculous but the only book I have ever purchased based on the fact that someone looked so engrossed in a book and was enjoying it so much is this book. I was on a train from Portsmouth to Southampton 20 odd years ago and knew nothing of Aleister Crowley. I went to a book shop and ordered this book, I have read it a couple of times since and love it each and every time. Oh what a life, Crowley is / was and will always be a master.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Man or Beast?, 12 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
One of the best book that I have ever red. next to The Secret Life of a Satanist, this book might very well be the best. After reading this by yourself you will have the choice of deciding if Crowley is a Man or Beast.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most wicked man that ever lived - in his own words, 5 Feb 2009
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
Crowley's Autohagiography was a breath-taking enterprise. It was therefore necessary for Crowley to employ his faithful Ape, amongst others, to scribble furiously - longhand - the reminiscences, meandering memories, opinions, recollections and general thoughts of the most original thinker of the current Aeon. Crowley's complex, fragmented and concurrently dichotamous opinions, on himself and others, society, the world at large, can be summed up in just one sentence found early on; describing his personality: 'I can't decide if i am the world's biggest snob, or no snob at all'. Half apologia, half panegyric, this magnificent book takes the reader deep into Crowley's id and ego, psyche and numen. Along the way we get fascinating and unique insights into the Edwardian period,early 20th Century travelogues, meetings with artists and publishers, mathematicians and magic(k)ians. It is the constant high water mark of his natural, and wonderful, humour that leaves the longest lingering impression however. The name he took at his initiation 'Pedurabo' - ' i will endure to the end', is most apt, for his stoic acceptance of what is placed on the path in front of him, shows the strength and depth of his personal beliefs.

It is fitting, i think, that the book finishes sometime in the mid '20s, before his decline into increasing psychological disorders, dipsomania and unfettered drug addiction, that etched out the last two decades of his life. I was left with a renewed appreciation of the man behind the myth. Required reading for any lover of magick, in theory or practice
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law., 14 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
Describes, in the most excellent poetical literary form possible to man, the story of 666's life. The miscellaneous adventures in his early life are all recorded with the utter zeal that only he can produce. After 1909 though, he was pulled liberally along with the current of Prana that most fitted him. I remember a childhood story of Scientific Sadism. I have the belief that this book should be supplemented with Israel Regardie's famous " Interpretation of Aleister Crowley," although I would think that it is much too over-exagerated: Regardie does display massive amounts of knowledge (regarding the price, also, it is reasonably cheap for the content of information manifested).
To sum up, I think I can do no better than to direct the attention of the wary over to " An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley."
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alister Crowley, 26 April 2013
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This review is from: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) (Paperback)
I have not read it jet. It is HUGE 923 side.
,But i have read a little and it is good reading.
Read it.
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The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana)
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (Arkana) by Aleister Crowley (Paperback - 17 April 1989)
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