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Creator: Aleister Crowley

"To know, to do and to keep silent."
—The man himself.

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, was an influential English occultist, provacateur, hedonist, mountaineer, chess player, and artist dubbed "The Wickedest Man in the World." His motto was "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law; love is the law, love under will." He is known for his occult writing and drug experimentation. Also noted for appearing on the cover of The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album, drawing the interest of Jimmy Page, and being the subject of the Ozzy Osbourne song "Mr. Crowley." Not to be confused with Anthony J. Crowley.


Aleister Crowley and his works provide the following tropes:

  • The Antichrist: His Alter-Ego. Though in his case, he didn't see the "Beast 666" as the harbinger of Hell on Earth, but simply as the prophet of the new aeon, the old order of Christianity having served its purpose.
  • Anything That Moves: What he claimed, anyway. Probably just for shock value, though.
  • Arc Number: In Crowley's system of numerology, the number 93 was the numerical value of several significant words and phrases, and has become a common salutation among followers of Thelema.
  • Bald of Awesome: Albeit for only a short portion of his life-he was noted to change his appearance constantly.
  • Been There, Shaped History: A real life example. Crowley advised or at least had contact with many important historical figures. He even claimed to have been pen pals with Adolf Hitler before the war. But then, he would. There's also a rumor that he might be former first lady Barbara Bush's father, her mom having been a member of his order, which would make him the grandfather of former president George W. Bush.
    • He is unquestionably the grandfather of notable jazz musician Eric Muhler.
  • Black Magic: According to Crowley, any magical operation other than seeking contact with one's Holy Guardian Angel is black magic.
  • Broken Base: As often happens in these matters, Crowley's demise has been followed by a plethora of claims to be the "real" Thelema/Ordo Templi Orientis/A.A. (Paralleling Crowley's own role in breaking the Golden Dawn base.) Suggesting that this is even debatable can be a Fandom Berserk Button.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Depraved Bisexual: Arguably a rare real life example.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: In Crowley's system, influencing the outside world through magick always takes a backseat to the attainment of personal enlightenment, though (in theory) one leads to the other.
  • Ethnick Magician: He was a huge bigot, as noted by his contemporaries. He still got a lot from those guys.
  • Freudian Excuse: Arguably the reason he hated the Church so much was because of his own upbringing in the Plymouth Brethren.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Sort of. The magic(k)al organization Crowley founded (as opposed to taking over) was the A.A. (not to be confused with a certain other organization with twelve steps). What "A.A." stands for is a closely guarded secret (although there is a popular rumor that it means Astrum Argentum, and Robert Anton Wilson has suggested that it stands for nothing (so anyone claiming to know the secret is exposed as an impostor)).
  • Gnosticism: Crowley incorporated it into his texts, although his version of Gnosticism was understandably mangled considering that he created his philosophy decades before the Nag Hammadi texts were discovered.
  • Guardian Entity: The Ascended Demon Aiwass.
  • Hermetic Magic: Could very well qualify as the trope codifier.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: His last name rhymes with "lowly". This doesn't stop a lot of media (including Ozzy's famous song) from pronouncing it to rhyme with "foully".
  • Jerkass
  • Junkie Prophet: To thousands of Thelemites the world over. Thankfully, most of them don't try to imitate his lifestyle.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Not Crowley, but a disciple. Wilfred Smith ran an OTO lodge in Los Angeles. Crowley was tired of his running the place, so he declared Smith to be a god, told him to meditate on whatever god he truly was at a turkey farm in the desert, and let someone else take over his old job.
  • Mad Love: Victor Neuberg, a young Jewish gentleman who became one of the first probationers in Crowley's A.'.A.'. Crowley was apparently patently awful to him, going as far as to attack his ethnic background. Neuberg, however, was utterly devoted to Crowley, and even helped him skry the 30 aethyrs.
  • Magical Gesture: Crowley believed that Isadora Duncan was the world's best at this. To be fair, she once danced by herself, in a toga on an empty stage and the audience left praising the elaborate costuming, choreography, and set design.
  • Magical Society: The point of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Sex magic in particular, of course. Or wait: maybe they're just a Brotherhood of Funny Hats. Or, according to many a Conspiracy Theorist, a Secret Circle of Secrets.
  • Magick: Possibly the Trope Maker; he was the one who originally coined the spelling.
  • Man in a Kilt: During the "Revolt of the Magicians" in 1900, Crowley presented himself in full Highland dress to demand the surrender of the London Golden Dawn temple. He was told to get lost.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: The A.'.A.'. functions in this manner, such that most members will only know their immediate superior and anyone they themselves bring into the organization.
  • Mean Brit
  • Nice Hat
  • Occult Detective: Frequently referenced/mentioned such figures.
  • Our Angels Are Different: His idea of an Angel? Don't look it up. Don't.
  • Pet the Dog: Crowley adored children and was an affectionate, if libertine, father.
  • Purple Prose: In pages and pages.
  • Religion is Magic: The religion Crowley founded, Thelema, is heavily intertwined with ceremonial magick. Although not strictly necessary, most Thelemites practice magick in one form or another.
  • Religion of Evil: Averted, despite common belief, though his publicity hounding and antagonizing of Christianity did little to set the record straight.
  • Satan Is Good: He did not actually worship the devil, as this would have by extension meant acknowledging the existence of Yahweh. The central Gods of his own Pantheon were mostly Egyptian Gods and Greek Gods, with a few demons of Sumerian, Norse and Australian Aboriginal Origin. That said, he did play up the whole 'Great Beast 666' angle a lot.
  • Self Insert: Sir Peter Pendragon and King Lamus from Diary Of A Drug Fiend, Cyril Grey and possibly Simon Iff from Moonchild (and other writings in Iff's case). Peter at least had somewhat of an excuse.
  • Small Reference Pools: Any mention of a real life Occult Guru will almost certainly be him.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Crowley was a noted Chess player in his time.
  • Smug Snake: Could've been a Magnificent Bastard, just had too much ego.
  • Take That: Many of Crowley's Real Life enemies (e.g. Samuel Mathers as SRMD, Arthur Edward Waite as Arthwaite, and Yeats as "Gates") appear as villainous, German-allied caricatures in Moonchild.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Not one himself but some think he may have advised and/or influenced them.
    • ...Which is odd, because Crowley actually spent WWII spying on the Germans for Britain. He was actually quite Patriotick.
      • Mainly because, similar to HP Lovecraft, he viewed British society as the height of human civilization, and was extremely racist against anyone who wasn't an ethnick Briton.
    • His disciple and chosen successor Karl Germer spent most of the war in a concentration camp.
  • Unreliable Narrator
  • Xtremely Kool And Magickal Letterz
  • You Can See Me?: "Oh, it's only Mr. Crowley being invisible again."


Media where Crowley plays an important role

Anime and Manga
  • He is one of the most important characters in A Certain Magical Index, where he's the Man Behind the Man to all of Academy City, and is the number one heretic among the Magic Side. Aiwass is also his mentor.
  • His Unicursal Hexagram is the main symbol for the Seal of Orichalcos in Yu-Gi-Oh!. In the dub, Amelda was changed to Alister in honor of the Hexagram.

Comic Books

Literature
  • W. Somerset Maugham based Oliver Haddo, the villain of his novel The Magician, on Crowley, a contemporary of his. Haddo reappears as the villain of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III: Century with even more specifically Crowleyan associations.
    • Crowley retaliated by publishing an article in which he claimed that all the characters in The Magician were thinly-disguised caricatures of his and Maugham's acquaintances and the whole plot had been plagiarized from various other works.
  • Frequently appears in the works of Robert Anton Wilson, most prominently in Masks of the Illuminati.
  • Not directly, but he was the major source of inspiration for the villain of Dennis Wheatley's book The Devil Rides Out. Officially the two of them met and got on surprisingly well. There are rumours and good grounds for believing that Wheatley was an initiate of the Golden Dawn or the O.T.O. and directly studied with Crowley. As Wheatley became more socially respectable, he tried to deny the association.
    • He is mentioned directly in To the Devil A Daughter where what is apparently Wheatley's version of the "Paris Working" is ascribed to "one of Crowley's young men".
  • James Bond writer Ian Fleming was said to have based Casino Royale villain Le Chiffre on Crowley.
  • In the Elemental Masters series, he is a disgraced Magician turned con man. The Elemental Masters positively loathe him, but consider him to be a useful idiot for keeping up The Masquerade; as long as people associate Magick with him and his crowd of drug addicts, they'll be less likely to see it as real.

Live-Action TV
  • Two of the more powerful and important demons in Supernatural are named Alastair and Crowley, respectively. The latter in life sold his soul for a bigger dick - make of that what you will.

Music
  • Probably the most well-known example: Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley". Despite arousing the wrath of Moral Guardians, it's actually a very ambivalent and slyly humorous song, based around the protagonist's bemusement about whether Crowley was a genuine spiritual adept, a trolling charlatan, or both.
  • Can's Tago Mago album was named after the Illa de Tagomago, which Crowley was said to have visited at one point. The side long "Aumgn" was supposedly based on one of his chants.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, Crowley is a common influence on Black Metal bands. French group Blut aus Nord have subtitled one of their albums The Destruction of Reason by Illumination after a quote from his writings and have titled a trilogy of albums 777 after one of his qabalistic writings. There's probably more as well but since they don't release most of their lyrics only the band is likely to know for certain.
  • The rock band Choronzon and the Tangerine Dream song "Choronzon" are named after a babbling demon described in Crowley's writings.

Radio
  • He has an occasional guest role in The Scarifyers as an advisor on the occult to the heroes. They themselves believe he is utterly insane. He's depicted as rather camp and generally harmless.

Video Games
  • He appears as a boss battle in Shin Megami Tensei II with real magic powers and a One-Winged Angel form, as a horny, completely insane wizard who attempts to kill the heroes out of anger that he can' preform a wild demonic orgy. It's not made clear if it's really Crowley you see or if it's a demon assuming his form, and it's also not made clear if he dies or simply escapes after you win the battle with him.

Webcomics

Web Original
  • Elfen High: Where he appears as the sex-crazed wizard in charge of the school.
    • Also a prominent character in the creatively named reboot Elfen High 2, though he is not the real Crowley here.

Western Animation


Ben CounterAuthorsRoald Dahl
Stephen KingLovecraft on FilmTome of Eldritch Lore
Oliver CromwellHistorical-Domain CharacterCyrus The Great

alternative title(s): Aleister Crowley
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