Born in 1875, the world-renowned — and, in many places, reviled — British occult icon Aleister Crowley transfixed humanity as a mystic seeker, a ceremonial magician, a spiritual philosopher, a pansexual libertine, a pioneering drug enthusiast, and a limitless traveler of this plane of reality and, according to him, a multitude of others.
After Crowley established the religious system Thelema and lived by its anything-goes maxim of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of law,” the U.K. press disparaged him as “The Great Beast” and “The Wickedest Man in the World.”
Among the accusations leveled at Crowley were that he routinely practiced human sacrifice, once roasted and ate a baby (while drinking “wine from a virgin’s skull”), advocated and participated in sex crimes that included rape and pedophilia, and both inspired and colluded with the Nazis.
Crowley faced no formal charges for any of these allegations. Such claims most certainly did, however, add to his simultaneously luminous and sinister legend.
One thing Aleister Crowley actually did, in fact, was take notice of future Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1946. A letter from Crowley disciple Jack Parsons to his mentor proclaimed:
“About three months ago I met [US Navy] Capt. L. Ron. Hubbard… Although Ron has no formal training in Magick, he has an extraordinary amount of experience and understanding in the field… He is the most thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our principles. He is also interested in establishing the New Aeon… We are pooling our resources in a partnership that will act as a limited company to control our business ventures.”
“It’s fascinating work in itself, and that’s work written by Aleister Crowley, the late Aleister Crowley, my very good friend.”
Numerous observers point out similarities between Crowley’s Thelema beliefs and the tenets of Scientology.
Both practices focus on taking participants back through their actual births to achieve enlightenment. Both espouse out-of-body traveling as a goal to be achieved through ritual learning that can eventually be implemented at will. And both Crowley and Hubbard despised psychiatry as humanity’s primary force of evil.
On that topic, Crowley wrote:
“Official psychoanalysis is committed to upholding a fraud … psychoanalysts have misinterpreted life, and announced the absurdity that every human being is essentially an anti-social, criminal, and insane animal.”
In Dianetics, the basic text of Scientology, Hubbard proclaims:
“We discover psychoanalysis to have been superseded by tyrannous sadism, practiced by unprincipled men … This, then, is the end of the trail for psychoanalysis — a world of failure and brutality.”
In addition to these philosophical similarities, Scientology’s triangular and cross symbols visually bring to mind emblems created by Crowley even at first glance.
A seemingly simplified charge thrown at Crowley and Hubbard alike is that they essentially just practiced “black magic” in honor of the Christian embodiment of evil, Satan.
Defenders of each man vehemently argue against any such notion, and impartial researchers agree that far more exists in Thelema and Scientogy than mere devil worship. Still, Satan does often precede the reputation of both global-scaled troublemakers in the general consciousness.
Crowley, perhaps puckishly, did refer to himself in public as “666” and “The Anti-Christ.” Hubbard’s son later claimed the same of his estranged father.
In a 1983 Penthouse magazine interview, L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. (who later changed his name to Ron DeWolf) stated:
“I believed in Satanism. There was no other religion in the house! Scientology and black magic. Black magic is the inner core of Scientology — and it is probably the only part of Scientology that really works. Also, you’ve got to realize that my father did not worship Satan. He thought he was Satan. He was one with Satan.”
In the end, Aleister Crowley is said to have died a penniless drug addict, but his influence on the world continues to be massive, in everything from his appearance on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Westerners embracing yoga and meditation to the outlier rock music genres of punk and heavy metal.
L. Ron Hubbard departed his earthly vessel in 1986. Scientology remains a major world religion of seemingly unending controversy.
To learn more about Scientology, watch the “A Scientologist’s Escape” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Dangerous Persuasions on ID GO now!
Main photos: Aleister Crowley [Occult Free Public Domain Images]/L. Ron Hubbard [Wikipedia]