The Occult, Right, And Wrong: Aleister Crowley and Morality

Most spiritual traditions advance the concept that one should structure one’s mind such that one does not judge. Why is this so? Because if one judges, one inadvertently judges themselves because they are acting from a place wherein they believe they have enough knowledge to comprehend a given action or situation–when they don’t. They only have a small piece of the cosmic puzzle.

However, that small piece is often enough to let us know that something ain’t right. In the Epistle of Jude in the Christian tradition, we find an interesting moment where Satan and Archangel Michael are evidently in a dispute over the body of Moses. Michael eventually tells Satan either “The Lord reprimand you”, or alternatively, “The Lord rebuke you.”. Why would Michael say something like this?

Well, it seems clear the Michael is aware in this situation that what Satan is doing isn’t ‘right’. However, as opposed to telling Satan to screw off, he phrases it such that what he thinks is known but it is not held to him–he lets his opinion be known while handing the authority of what needs to happen off to God.


Michael, he pities the fool. Literally–but also simultaneously kicks ass.

A judgment then is not the same as an opinion. One can render an opinion without it also being a judgment against a person. For instance, if one is speaking to an alcoholic and says “You know, you should really stop drinking,” that’s not the same as rendering a judgment against them. A judgment would be more akin to “You are a bad human being for drinking.” Even pointing out the consequence of the behavior is not passing judgment. “If you keep drinking and driving, you will have a wreck.” In the back of one’s mind, however, when they make these proclamations, they must be simultaneously aware that this is precisely what this person MIGHT need to be doing, even if it kills them. Even when what a person is doing is absolutely wrong on every level, it is still exactly what they need to do. If it is wrong, and they did it anyway, then they must have something to learn. Judgment rests then with the universe for only it can truly gauge the person–only it has all the pieces. The rest of us only have fragments–however, sometimes those fragments are enough to give us a “Very, very good idea.”

A good example of a polarizing figure with regard to “right and wrong” was the occultist Aleister Crowley. Crowley was deeply involved with metaphysics to the point of founding his own order on the basis of Kabbalah, an ancient Jewish mysticism that underlies all spiritual traditions in one way or another. One typically expects those who study such domains and who have a good grasp of them to come away from the study transformed in a more “enlightened” sort of way. By enlightened, one means essentially “full of light”. Crowley, however, did not do this. He achieved a high level awareness of the mysteries and elected to become “The Beast” wherein he tried every vice imaginable to man–or at the very least proclaimed to. Crowley ascended the ladder to then descend it. In a world of freedom where no judgment exists, many ask whether Crowley helped or hurt humanity.

To me, and keeping in light the above considerations, the distinction is fairly easy to make. By descending and trying every imaginable vice, Crowley was, in essence, no different than an ordinary crack head or anyone else with an addiction. The only thing that made him any different was that he had some very good metaphysical sounding excuses to engage in the activities which he elected to pursue. There are plenty of serial killers in the world and rapists and addicts. No one particularly needs another embodiment of those things–or let society see what taboos it is comfortable with. What has become taboo in society, it seems, is being a decent human being, so why not hit them with THAT taboo if one really wants to “shake things up?” The answer is pretty clear to me–being a decent human being is harder work in that one must learn to come to terms with dark impulses that exist within themselves and hopefully transmute them. Living one’s whole life indulging those impulses and justifying them by declaring what a beast you are is nonsense and a cop out.

Yet, all that being said, I cannot categorically say that Crowley did not do what he needed to do. I can only leave the judgment of his actions to the universe, and say that ultimately I don’t have enough pieces of the puzzle to say that he was a bad human being. Like Michael, I’m in a position wherein I must say of Crowley “May God rebuke you.” Perhaps that is the most fitting response to a man who declared himself to be the embodiment of the beast.