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Interesting Occult Artifact, Not Much More
am 9. Juli 2000
I've known so-called "Thelemites" who treat this book as their "Bible," and Aleister Crowley as their prophet. If all you read of Crowleys work is this book, it will be very hard to see why. Indeed, it will probably be hard to see why even if you read more.
This book was supposedly dictated to Crowley on his honeymoon, by a spirit called Aiwaz. It details a "religion" that can only be called hateful--Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims...all condemned! "This is the law of the strong," Aiwaz declares. In other words, might makes right. When Crowley/Aiwaz writes, "Love is the law, love under will," what are we to believe? There is nothing in here, really, about love--Crowley was notorious for his smorgasbord of depraved sexual practices...perhaps this line is what he used to justify them. The most memorable line from "Liber AL," as it is frequently called, is the infamous, "Do What Thou Wilt..." which, contrary to Crowley's wild self-promotion, was plagiarized from Rabelais.
Most of what is here is barely intelligible, and lacks an iota of literary merit by any widely-accepted aesthetic standard. Crowley was a third-rate writer who (believe it or not) honestly believed he was a greater poet than his magical arch-rival, Wm. Butler Yeats, who once referred to Crowley as "that man of unspeakable life." Any reasonable person who reads Crowley's opinions of Jews and blacks (and the frequent ethnic slurs he deploys while talking about them) will be inclined to agree. Some of this is apparent in Liber AL; it is pretty hard to take.
Nevertheless, for anyone interested in Victorian esotericism, this may be an interesting read, as a cultural artifact, if nothing else.