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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Simply believe the prophet..., February 10, 2009
This review is from: The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis (Hardcover)
As the old saying goes, "If you can't dazzle with brilliance, baffle with BS." Aleister Crowley had the concept of baffling with BS down pat. The closer one looks at Crowley the more clear it becomes that he was little more than a garden-variety con man. Of those who actually knew him, very few found anything in him worth emulating. Like most good con artists he was adept at hiding his tracks, but there is plenty of evidence of his chicanery for those who are diligent enough to seek it out.

The Book of the Law is, so it is said, a message to Crowley from the Graeco-Egyptian god of silence Harpokrates. Since a god of silence doesn't speak, it needs a mouthpiece; this is where Aiwass comes in. Aiwass was supposedly a superhuman go-between who actually delivered the message to Crowley. The one and only person who can verify all of this of course is Crowley himself and the reader is expected to simply take his word for it.

The basic outline of the Book loosely follows the design of a funerary stele that Crowley's wife (at the time) had brought to his attention at the Boulak Museum which was exhibit #666- Crowley's own number as self-proclaimed Beast 666. This was all he needed; he saw 666 and immediately viewed it as a sign that the stele was of immense importance and intended for him personally. He believed the figures on the stele held the keys to the past, present and future. But Crowley was unaware that funerary stelae of this nature with similar design and text were common in ancient Egypt, a "stock" item if you will; there really wasn't anything that special about this one. These stelae were modified according to the needs of the deceased, but the basic elements- those which Crowley believed were of unique importance to him and his message- remained the same on all of them.

What is of particular interest to me is Crowley's gradual evolution away from his original source of inspiration- the ancient Egyptian deities on stele 666- to the tale of Harpokrates and Aiwass. Writing in the third person in Equinox of the Gods Crowley says:

"During the period March 23rd--April 8th, whatever else may have happened, it is at least certain that work was continued to some extent, that the inscriptions of the stele were translated for Fra. P.(Crowley), and that he paraphrased the latter in verse. For we find him using, or prepared to use, the same in the text of Liber Legis (Book of the Law)."

This says that during the time beween his discovery of the stele and his actual writing of the Book of the Law, Crowley had the stele translated and was more or less expecting a "revelation" that corresponded to his paraphrased interpretation of it. What he actually got was a lot of nonsense. For all of his "superhuman" help from Harpokrates and Aiwass, Crowley completely misidentified two of the deities on the stele. Horus the Elder he believed was "Houdit," a nonexistent deity. Ra-Harakhty he misidentified with Amon. He also believed "Houdit" and Nut (the one he got right) were lovers, though Egyptian myth tells us that Nut's lover was Geb. It seems clear, from reading his commentaries, that correctly identifying these deities was important to Crowley. He did try but was ultimately unsuccessful. Only after this failed attempt did he "discover" that Harpokrates' message was not ancient Egyptian after all, but Qabalistic (Hermetic), a subject with which he (Crowley) was vastly more at ease; and one that can be easily manipulated simply by changing the spelling of words and names.

"Prophets" are a penny a dozen; most don't even rate a blip on the radar screen. Occasionally one comes along who is particularly colorful or good at reading trends and attracts a following. The "Aeon of Horus" has come and gone; Crowley's biggest mistake was in claiming to know what the next 2000 years and beyond would hold.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 20, 2012 6:35:27 AM PST
I found Ur's to be the most unbiased & helpful review of Crowley's work. I looked into Crowley before deciding to buy this book because of all the "b/s" ever written and found that he was of "questionable" character at best. That said, I wonder if U'd take a look at a recent "back & forth" I had w/ a "self proclaimed" 30 yr student of Crowley and/or his doctrine, and provide some input.
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