"To know, to do and to keep silent."
— The man himself
"Crowley had the first two down pat."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. He ended at #73 in One Hundred Greatest Britons.
— Alan Moore, on the above
Aleister Crowley's works provide examples of the following tropes:
- The Antichrist: His Alter-Ego 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.
- 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.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The muckraking site Judiciary Report describes Crowley as "Satanist, pedophile, murderer and Kabbalah adherent." Not only that, but "the grandfather of George W. Bush". (Speculation about Crowley being the father of Babara Bush necessarily remains just that.)
- Black Magic: According to Crowley, any magical operation other than seeking contact with one's Holy Guardian Angel is black magic.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: In Crowley's system, influencing the outside world through magick always takes a back seat to the attainment of personal enlightenment, though (in theory) one leads to the other.
- 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.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: The Thelemites themselves seem uncertain whether it is "THEL-um-ite" or "Thel-EE-Mite".
- 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.
- Number of the Beast: The self-proclaimed "Beast 666". He considered it a solar number, and once when he was questioned in court about his moniker, he snarked:"It means merely sunlight. You may call me Little Sunshine."
- 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.
- Satan Is Good: 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.
- 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.
Media where Crowley plays an important roleAnime 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.
- Is a VERY evil vampire in Requiem Vampire Knight, namely the one calling himself Black Sabbath. There are some clues as to his former mortal identity before The Reveal, though.
- The Spider-Man: Fever miniseries had "Albion Crawley", a turn of the century occultist whose journeys in to other dimensions led him and his assistant into a fateful contact with spider-demons called Arachnix.
- The subject of Elmer Crowley by Tom Bradley, where Crowley botches a reincarnation ritual during his last hours and comes back as Elmer Fudd.
- 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.
- 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.
- He turns up intermittently throughout the Rhapsody of Blood novel series by Roz Kaveney, as the character who Mara is telling her sections of the story to. He turns out to be a lot cleverer and more dangerous than she assumes.
- Two of the more powerful and important demons in Supernatural are named Alastair and Crowley, though they never interact with each other. The former was the head Torture Technician of Hell, the latter was the boss of Hell's Deal with the Devil division (and currently the King of Hell). It's revealed that when Crowley was human, he sold his soul for a bigger dick. Make of that what you will.Crowley: Just trying to hit double digits.
- He ended at #73 in One Hundred Greatest Britons as one of the more controversial people in the list.
- He can be seen on the far left of the top of the crowd on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.
- 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. The Blackened Death Metal band Akercocke also named one of their albums after Choronzon.
- Reverend Bizarre's "Aleister" and "Cromwell" are both inspired by Crowley (the latter quotes the second half of Crowley's motto almost verbatim).
- David Bowie references him in both "Quicksand" from Hunky Dory and Station to Station.
- The song "Elizium" by Fields Of The Nephilim'' had a recording of Aleister Crowley reading his poem "At the Gates of Silent Memory."
- "Great American Nude" by dEUS, from their album Worst Case Scenario namedrops Crowley:She had this thing about Aleister Crowley
- "The Pentagram" by Tiamat has lyrics lifted from Crowley's poem of the same name.
- "Revelations" by Iron Maiden from "Piece Of Mind" references "Revelations" by Crowley.
- John Zorn: His albums "IAO" (2002) and "Moonchild: Songs Without Words" (2006) are inspired by Crowley's works.
- 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.
- 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.
- Times Like This: Matt goes back to 1946 and gives Aleister some lyrics to Ozzy's "Mr. Crowley", framed as a short questionnaire.
- 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.
- In The Venture Bros., Crowley is a founding member of the original Guild of Calamitous Intent (along with Col. Venture, Eugen Sandow, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and even Fantômas) sometime near the turn of the century (before Wilde's death).
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy quotes Aleister Crowley in one of her typical (very) cold openings: "To do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".