Aleister Crowley at Boleskine House
Aleister Crowley was born Edward Alexander Crowley, on 12 October 1875, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England. Crowley was an occultist, prolific writer, mystic, astrologer, poet, painter, hedonist, and social provocateur, as well as an expert mountaineer and chess master.
An influential and controversial character, Crowley is known today for his occult writings, including The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Magick without Tears and The Book of the Law.
The latter work was apparently ‘received’ by Crowley from a an entity named Aiwass in Cairo, Egypt in 1904, and represents the fundamental sacred text of his philosophical / religious / occult system known as Thelema, whose central concept was ‘Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of The Law’.
During his lifetime Crowley was vilified by the popular press as ‘The Wickedest Man in the World’, and the tabloids regularly carried sensational stories of his latest shocking exploits in occult experimentation. Naturally, when he purchased a mysterious old mansion on the shores of Loch Ness, allegedly to perform some strange secret rites, the press were fascinated.
The Myth of Black Magic at Boleskine House
Boleskine House is located on the south-eastern shore of Loch Ness, close to the village of Foyers, Inverness shire, Scotland. The mansion was constructed in the late 18th century by Archibald Fraser. According to a local legend, there was once a church on the site, which caught fire trapping its whole congregation inside, burning them all to death. Aleister Crowley purchased the foreboding Boleskine House in 1899 and styled himself ‘Laird of Boleskine and Abertarff’. He remained there until 1913, and bizarre tales of odd goings on at Boleskine House during his occupancy are legion, though the majority probably originate in local folklore.
One story concerns a local butcher who called at the house for the meat order while Crowley was involved in the lengthy difficult ritual of Abramelin (see below). The butcher’s incessant ringing of the bell broke Crowley’s concentration and, irritated and frustrated, he hastily scrawled the meat order on the nearest piece of paper, which happened to have a spell written on the back. Shortly afterwards, when the butcher was cutting up the meat for Crowley’s order back at his shop, he apparently lost concentration and sliced all the fingers off his right hand with the cleaver. Other stories tell of the unexplained disappearance of Crowley’s housekeeper and a local workman who went out of his mind after being tormented by the dark spirits conjured up by Crowley’s rituals.
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