He is a Mighty, Strong Duke, and appeareth in the Form of an hurtful Angel riding on an Infernal Beast like a Dragon, and carrying in his right hand a Viper. Thou must in no wise let him approach too near unto thee, lest he do thee damage by his Noisome Breath. Wherefore the Magician must hold the Magical Ring near his face, and that will defend him. He giveth true answers of things Past, Present, and to Come, and can discover all Secrets. He will declare wittingly how the Spirits fell, if desired, and the reason of his own fall. He can make men wonderfully knowing in all Liberal Sciences. He ruleth 40 Legions of Spirits.
Such is the temptation of the devil - he drips away at the minds of weak people. And none are weaker, it seems, than the Daily Mail journalist:
Crowley, who was born into an upper-class British family in 1875, styled himself as 'the Great Beast 666'. He was an unabashed occultist who, prior to his death in 1947, revelled in his infamy as 'the wickedest man in the world'.
His form of worship involved sadomasochistic sex rituals with men and women, spells which he claimed could raise malevolent gods and the use of hard drugs, including opium, cocaine, heroin and mescaline.
To be honest - as the hat tells us - Crowley was rather more of a libertine than he was ever an adherent of some evil faith. Indeed the motto of the Ordo Templi Orientis - "do what thou wilt" - rather makes this clear! These organisations barely merit the term religion or cult and the 'beliefs' are syncretic making connections between ancient myths, christian iconography and supposed gnostic insight. And for many these secret (or rather secretive) groups fascinate with their combination of the slightly naughty with an esoteric justification for such naughtiness.
It has always seemed to me that Aleister Crowley, for all the occultist guru status laid on him by modern ODO followers, was chiefly interested in such mish-mash religiosity because it excused his rampant (and not especially choosy) sex drive. Terms like the "wickedest man in the world" were more or less self-penned - Crowley revelled in the symbols, candles and drugs far more than in any sincere belief in the strictures of the ODO scriptures, many of which he wrote himself anyway.
Such decadence and libertinism appeals to a certain sort of person - perhaps the wayward child of rockstars or someone similarly blessed with the means to pursue a debauched lifestyle without recourse to doing any real work. After all, Crowley was just such a person and so, it seems is Peaches Geldof:
Given her own dabbling in heroin and casual sex, particularly during a rootless period when she lived in Los Angeles a few years ago, it is perhaps natural that the troubled offspring of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates should be attracted to such a liberal school of thought.
It seems to me that the Order in question appeals precisely because of the heroin and casual sex rather than because of some supposed "satanic" ritual. But - as the Daily Mail find - there's always one person who is prepared to believe that these are evil sectarians who do human sacrifice:
A former FBI agent, Ted Gundersen, who investigated Satanic circles in LA, found that Crowley’s teachings about 'raising demons to do one’s bidding' suggested human sacrifice, preferably of 'an intelligent young boy'.
This is placing altogether too much credence on the ravings of a drugged up libertine - a creative and clever drugged up libertine but still a drugged up libertine. And we shouldn't be surprised that the secret club purporting to descend from Crowley's little clique appeals to modern day drugged up libertines, should we?
Finally though we need to be clear - the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order of the Golden Dawn or any of the other cranky pseudo-masonic clubs associated with Aleister Crowley are not devil worshippers. Mad, bad and dangerous to know maybe but not satanists.
And as ODO's UK leader points out:
...his is the only religion that sends people a letter of congratulations when they decide to leave