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Crowley, Hitler and World War II

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Aleister (Alexander was his birth name) Crowley, the self-proclaimed Magus of the Aeon, was destined from his inception to be an exception. His father, a preacher, hounded him relentlessly to “Get right with God”; his mother, equally obsessed with biblical lore, referred to him repeatedly as a “beast,” and beyond doubt all this left its mark on young Alexander,  the great beast to be. For years later, he did indeed assume the title—or station—of “To Mega Therion,” The Great Beast, signing all his correspondences in later life not with a name but a number—666, all in his continued quest for supreme significance in the eyes of a hostile, if not plain indifferent, world. Infamy, Crowley reasoned, was every bit as valid as fame, and that much easier to claim; in this, as in countless other ways, he was far ahead of his time, one of the first con-artists to realize that “all publicity is good publicity.” Both amount to influence, which amounts to power.

From the very first of his reinventions (the name change) his purpose was plain:  whatever games Crowley played with the perceptions of the world, he was undoubtably a master, though after a fashion wholly his own. Never a dabbler, he applied himself to a number of diverse disciplines and excelled in them all: chess, literature, languages (ancient and modern), philosophy, poetry, espionage, mountain climbing, wild-game hunting, yoga, drug-taking, sex magick, and so forth. His claims to fame, indeed, are as many and myriad as his names—Hitler’s guru, self-made Messiah, Babe of the Abyss, and let us not forget, Prophet of the New Age! His greatest claim of all was what he himself termed, “crossing the abyss,” being what is known nowadays ego-death, or being “born again.”  It was by this accomplishment, highly esteemed in all magikal circles, that Crowley assumed, or pretended, his role as “Magus of the Aeon.”

Crowley was notoriously perverse in both his personal and professional life. But, though he was to all intents and purposes a sort of inspired lunatic, he did practise all he preached, a rare enough commodity these days to command respect. The central event in his life was undoubtedly the writing of The Book of the Law, an event that was to give him the most grief but also the most gratification in his long and fruitful career. Apart from anything else, it fulfilled his fantasies, from the most exalted to the basest and most abominable. The Book of the Law, or Liber Al vel Legis (Liber Al for short) is a text considered by many to contain the profoundest secrets of magick, as well as the keys to the inauguration of the long-promised (and long-delayed) New Aeon. For what it’s worth, it is a book that claims to have been written (passive voice), rather than one which Crowley (or anybody) actually wrote. Nowadays, we’d call it a “channelled work,” but in this case one channelled with such a degree of precision as to entirely separate it from the vast mass of “automatic writings” so popular today, and which amount to little more than the wishful free-associations or mystical ramblings of the supposed “channellers.”

In distinction, Crowley claimed that, on the 8th of April 1904—in Cairo at 12 noon exactly and for the following two days at the exact same time—he actually heard a voice in his ear, dictating the words of the text (as if through some transmittor in his brain), and that he transcribed them faithfully. It was not “inspired,” then, so much as received. The voice itself claimed to be that of Aiwass, or Aiwaz,  “the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat,” or otherwise, Horus—the god of force and fire, child of Isis and Osiris, and self-appointed conquering lord of the New Aeon, officially announced through his chosen scribe, “the prince-priest the Beast.”  This much of Crowley’s controversial life and claims is more or less confirmed. It is, as promised, to be found there in the writings themselves—the proof as it were is in the pudding.  Anyone who has read the work, and suffered the resulting conflictive feelings of admiration and disgust, will not doubt that there is something about the “little red book”  that puts it in a class all its own. It might be argued that it is simply the work of a poetic genius, were it not for the fact that Crowley was to prove again and again in subsequent works that, for all his magikal prowess and philosophical brilliance, he was anything but a poetic genius. It seems rather as though the book partakes not of the qualties of Crowley, but that, conversely, Crowley himself grew over time to partake of the qualities of the book. And this he did, by his own admission, with boundless reluctance and distaste.

The work itself, not for its artistic merit so much as its sheer intensity and relevance to our times, is perhaps the most substantial evidence for the much-insisted upon (by Crowley) greatness of its puppet-author. Yet Crowley also claimed to revile and disdain the work (particularly the third chapter) for many years, above all for its barbaric and warlike diatribes, and its ruthless rejection of all philosophies and creeds previous to it, its utter savage as it let fly its war cry and word of the Aeon (be it anarchy or be it harmony): Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law!  These characteristics of ruthlessness, arrogance and blasphemy were of course, rightly or wrongly, traits for which Crowley himself would become most commonly and widely known in the public mind, while there is a fair case, in conventional history alone (Crowley’s claims aside), to be made for the fact that—besides the “secret four-fold word, the blasphemy against all gods and men...Do What Thou Wilt”—Adolf Hitler whole-heartedly adopted many of the central tenets of Liber Al.  Whether or not he actually embraced “the Law of  Thelema,” as such, there can be no doubt at all that Hitler was aware of the Book, and probably derived a certain demonic inspiration from it. The third part of the Book, pertaining to Horus, begins:

Now let it first be understood that I am a god of war and vengeance. I shall deal hardly with them... I will give you a war-engine. With it ye shall smite the peoples; and none shall stand before you. Lurk! Withdraw! Upon them! this is the Law of the Battle of Conquest: thus shall my worship be about my secret house.” (I:3,7-9) [It continues:] “Mercy let be off: damn them who pity! Kill and torture; spare not; be upon them... (18) Argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch! Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter; and destroy them utterly. Swift as the trodden serpent turn and strike! Be thou deadlier than he!  Drag down their souls to awful torment: laugh at their fear: spit upon them!
Certainly such sentiments, if taking at face value, would have appealed to the young monomaniacal Austrian bent upon leaving history in ruins. As he had done with Nietzsche, however, Hitler was wont to twist and distort the text to his own ends, and to pervert the whole by taking what were perhaps (one hopes) as much metaphorical expressions as literal commands.  Nevertheless, between Nietzsche and Hitler, it seems, came Crowley. Crowley himself made no bones about it: “Before Hitler was, I am,” he boasted, in imitation of Christ, who said the same about Abraham.  (It might be fair to reply, however: “Before Crowley is—Aiwaz!”)

Crowley’s involvement in espionage on both sides of the first and second world wars (he worked for both US and British intelligence writing deliberately “absurd,” i.e., counter-productive, German propaganada during the first) is well known and presumably well-documented.  Nevertheless it is extremely difficult to find any author anywhere who will admit to Crowley’s involvement with Hitler, despite the fact that Crowley himself confessed, or more accurately bragged, about it to his associates.  Yet, Hitler’s interest, nay obsession, with the occult is well-known and there are dozens of books upon the subject, of varying degrees of ludicrousness and sensationalism (it even served for the plot of the pulp action movie Raiders of the Lost Ark).  It is a well-known fact that he set out either to recruit or to persecute all practising occultists in Germany, and Crowley eventually found himself on the “shitlist” too, which by no means refutes the possibility of their working together. (The apparent vilification of Crowley might have been simple cover, or even genuine but as a result of a “falling out” between the two men.) The fact remains that at the deepest, most occult level, and behind the political facades and the theatre of war performed for the public, the most powerful factions—occult and economic—of both Germany and Britain were not enemies but allies,  bound together in the one great war for the conquest of men’s souls and minds. This in itself makes it highly probable that Hitler and Crowley would have met, and that some relationship existed betwen the two men, of such different charcters but sharing so similar an obsession. Perhaps even it was a relationship similar to that shared by Rasputin and the Tsar and Tsaress of Russia at roughly the same time—the one priest, the other king, and each equally benefitting from the favors of the other?     

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We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched and the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is  our law, and the joy of the world.
—Book of the Law, II:21

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In order to qualify such off-the-wall remarks, we need to take a brief excursion into the philosophy of war: All warfare must be understood, first and foremost, as internal warfare—hidden, domestic and “cold,” of which the external, overt and heated warfare between nations is no more than an outburst, a brief orgasm, if you will, after years of foreplay. Wars are never won or lost, they are merely negotiated, and World War II might best be seen as the greatest business deal ever accomplished. As a battle between “good and evil,” or justice against crime, it was but one more in a long series of hollow dramas, engineered expressly for the hoodwinking of the masses. It seems likely, however, that Hitler, in his bid for world-domination (or destruction?), lost his head and alienated the very “powers” that put him in place to begin with: he became an unmanageable element, if not an actual embarrassment, and so had to be removed. It’s possible even that he was as guilty of “betraying” Chamberlain and later Churchill, as much as he was Stalin—by setting his sights on the whole of Europe, and so banishing all possibility of an unholy alliance between the two powers. Ideologically they were perfectly compatible, however, and the same might be said of the US, which also only entered the fray when it became completely unavoidable.  Hence, victory was denied Hitler, by his own excess of zeal and lust for power. At the same time, however, and all appearances aside, his “defeat” was anything but total.  In truth, Nazism was as much a global phenomenon as was Christianity 2000 years before (though it required considerably less time and effort to take hold), and there was little likelihood that a minor setback such as the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945 would quench the raging ideological pseudo-religious thirst and fervour of such a movement. The explosion of rage might be checked and contained—and so postponed—but the collective psyche which had spawned it could by no means be so easily satisfied: Because Nazism was no aberration, but rather the NATURAL AND LOGICAL development of a global wave of systemized, ritualized and economized warfare.  It was the realization of an age-old political dream—the perfected face of tyranny. Hence, while to all the world it appeared as if Nazism suffered a mortal defeat at the end of the war, in reality, it merely underwent a sophisticated facelift. Behind the wholesale destruction of Germany and Hiroshima, and the empty facade of the Nuremberg trials, another, occult agenda was being pursued—that of establishing a secret treaty between the Nazis and the Allies—specifically the American Intelligence community—through which Hitler’s goals and dreams would be subtly resumed, albeit in a mutated form, and continue to manifest over the years in only thinly disguised ways.

Jim Keith writes extensively on the subject in Casebook on Alternative 3:

As can be seen by the activities of US and British business, statecraft, occult groups, and “aristocracy,’ the Nazis were no isolated phenomenon, only one expression of a multi-faceted and murderous world wide game...  Shortly after the collapse of the Third Reich... General Reinhard Gehlen, Nazi spymaster and Knight of Malta-to-be, began negotiations with Allan Dulles and the American O.S.S. Using Nazi intelligence networks as a hole card to provide for his own survival and the survival of his huge spy network, Gehlen made a separate peace with Dulles, resulting in the clean grafting of Nazi spy apparatus to the American clandestine services. This was the birth of the C.I.A, and part of a nexus of betrayal that continues to this day.

 Regardless of whether one bothers to research all this however (and there is an ever-growing amount of literature on the subject), the evidence seems to speak for itself.  The CIA alone (one of the smaller of countless similar US intelligence organizations), which built itself around a nexus of ex-Nazis, has been responsible for as much havok and wholesale slaughter in Central and South America as the Nazis ever accomplished during their brief “reign of terror” in Europe.
The Art of War then, like that of business, has been to make itself as smooth and as efficient as possible, as silent, secret and sustained an affair as the explosive, unpredictable nature of the work itself will allow. The ultimate war-machine, mili-medical-industrial complex (established in ’47 and consolidated in ’63), is designed to “serve” man in just precisely the manner which MacDonalds has been “serving” cows for the last few decades.  All the unpleasantness is under the counter. War itself—as a commodity—must be rendered as appealing as any other “product,” not only to be propagated and disseminated to the populace, but to be advertised and glorified, until it is coveted and consumed willingly, hungrily, as if it were manna from heaven itself, and not poisoned rain from polluted sky. Above all, it must be made to seem an intrinsic—however undesirable and inexplicable—feature of existence: an indispensable element of human nature. Thus war becomes not a single condition but the primary nature of life, and of mankind, be it ever a state of fear and loathing, empty of growth but full of decay, all of savagery and none of noblesse.    

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For he who is ignorant until the end is a creature of oblivion, and he will vanish along with it.
—The Gospel of Truth, Nag Hamadi Library

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The war-like nature of many of the passages in Liber Al would seem to be a direct response to this. It seems to treat of this condition as a disease that must be purged, like a boil brought to a head, in order that it might be squeezed finally out of existence. To read many of his other writings, however, leaves one in little doubt that Crowley, like Nietzsche before him, was a kind of proto-Nazi (though he abhorred all forms of fascism, just as Nietzsche despised anti-semitism). On the other hand, Hitler himself doubtless aspired to both immortality as a world-avatar and invulnerability as the chosen “Savage Emperor” of the New Aeon: his Fourth Reich/Millenium of peace, prosperity and perfection is illustrative of this insane mix of the best intentions with the very worst of methods. There seems little doubt that, for his part, Hitler believed that worldwide destruction was a necessary process, by which to pave the way for a new evolutionary step for mankind.  He did not acknowledge any god or saviour, as such, but was firmly persuaded of the existence of “the superman”: “The new man is living amongst us now. He is here! I have seen the new man. He is intrepid and cruel. I was afraid of him.” Whether or not Hitler was referring to Crowley here—it sems doubtful—or, as seems more likely, to some incorporal force or preterhuman entity, conjured by his own demented will, it is impossible to say, nor does it much matter. Hitler’s preoccupation with the Superman seems to be parallel to Crowley’s own claims of affiliation (through Aiwaz) with the “Secret Chiefs”—namely, the preterhuman intelligences previously mentioned which “rule occultly over the destiny of mankind.” Crowley himself also considered contact with these beings the next, inevitable, evolutionary step for mankind as a whole, and it is an indisputable fact that the SS—and Nazism as a whole—was established upon an occult basis, and that its inner structures and purposes were not merely political, but also magickal.

The whole apparatus of ceremonial magick (as conceived and adapted by the Golden Dawn and its offshoots, many of which were directly influenced by Crowley) that formed the true inner protocol of Nazism (originally spawned by the Thule Society) is dedicated—in theory—to the one single end and purpose of: contact with preterhuman or extraterrestrial forces.  To achieve this end, the aspirant must prepare himself vigorously, mind, body and soul, for the contact, lest he be driven mad (like Hitler?), diseased, or even destroyed, by the catastrophic nature of the encounter.  And yet Hitler was—to look at at least, and all his considerable accomplishments aside—an ordinary, even mediocre person. It seems as though he knew little or nothing of the forces which possessed him, and was at most a low-grade medium with a deranged sense of self-importance.  If so, then he was perfectly chosen to embody and so fulfil the demonic will of the mass, which he himself so despised.
John Symmonds has Crowley remarking:

I never met... someone so demonic as Herr Hitler. Why do you think I spend so much time with him? And come when he bids me? I tell you only the universe can prevail against Hitler. But the universe for the present doesn’t seem to be interested; though Hitler is the enemy of the universe, that is to say of God; for the universe is only God’s instrument. It is as if God said, “Let mankind learn a lesson; they need to open their eyes a little wider. Hitler will do that for them. Just wait. They will see things that men have never seen or heard before—such horrors that there will be no word in the German or any other language to describe them.’ That is what the demonic is when it appears in a very ordinary person, a man of the people, someone the intellectuals are contemptuous of but not the masses. With an uncanny instinct, they know who he is.”

Crowley was one of the most terrible and formidable shit-stirrers in recent history: he wrote for example about the traditional “black magickal” practise of child or animal sacrifice (also referred to in AL), and almost certainly performed it occasionally himself, even if only in a symbolic fashion (shedding of one’s own blood or the spilling of semen, for example). He enjoyed the thought of his words being miscontstrued by the unwitting masses, and of all the mischief and grief that it would cause them. Hitler, on the other hand—in many ways a common Thug with an incredibly high intelligence but extremely low imagination—took the whole thing to its literal, appalling extreme, and set about to construct actual factories, complete with cages and showers and ovens and gas chambers, all with this single purpose in mind—of feeding—and thereby appeasing—the powers that would otherwise devour him. This is nothing new, of course: the Mayans and Aztecs performed similar rites of mass sacrifice (holocaust), and Jehovah of the Old Testament apparently has Moses perform the same basic “rites” by sending him and his men into city after city to butcher the populations therein and burn the bodies. Hitler was simply upholding an ancient tradition, and taking it to new extremes of post-Industrial, technological effeciency.

There seems no reason to doubt that, directly or indirectly, Crowley was responsible—at least partially— for feeding Hitler’s dark fantasies and lustful ambitions as a “black messiah” and “scion of darkness.” Crowley, a true Magician and Trickster, would have taken no sides in any battle, but deliberately and consciously played both sides against one another, in good Machiavellian fashion. His goals, however (even when evil), would have always been spiritual, never temporal.  In Symmonds’s work, we have the following exhange:

Hitler: “And are you an angel of darkness?” Crowley: “You’ll find out in good time all about me. For the present, I’ll say this: if I were an angel of light, you wouldn’t want to know me.” 

This has been a fable from the age of paradoxes—a fairy tale about a “good war” that never was, that still rages and has yet to be fully understood—or divulged—by history. Mythologicaly speaking, it doesn’t seem an excessively arbitrary or irresponsible leap of the imagination then to propose the following: that if Adolf Hitler was—archetypally if not in actual “fact”—this century’s “Antichrist” (and few would dare deny it), then Aleister Crowley—the man in the shadows—qualifies (even as he so carefully fashioned himself to) as its corresponding “Beast.” For when men assume the temerity and audacity to play the roles of the gods, the mischief they make can indeed shake the foundations of the Earth; we are still shackled to the power of myth, even if we now prefer to call it history, and still caught under the spell of magick, even if we choose to call it politics. One shudders, then—or perhaps marvels—to think that this myth-story has yet to be completed; and that the prophecy, as yet, remains unfulfilled.

(from "The Medusa's Head"  by John Symmonds)

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08/02/2003 10:50:50 AM