Aleister Crowley - Legacy and Influence - Popular Culture

Popular Culture

Fictionalised accounts of Crowley or characters based upon him have been included in a number of literary works, published both during his life and after. The writer W. Somerset Maugham used him as the model for the character in his novel The Magician, published in 1908. Crowley was flattered by Maugham's fictionalised depiction of himself, stating that "he had done more than justice to the qualities of which I was proud... The Magician was, in fact, an appreciation of my genius such as I had never dreamed of inspiring." Similarly, in Dennis Wheatley's popular thriller The Devil Rides Out, the Satanic cult leader Mocata is inspired by Crowley, and in turn the deceased Satanist Adrian Marcato referred to in Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby is likewise a Crowley-like figure. Long after his death Crowley is still being used for similar purposes, appearing as a main character in Robert Anton Wilson's 1981 novel Masks of the Illuminati and Jake Arnott's 2009 novel The Devil's Paintbrush.

The association of Crowley's name with various Satanic or dark individuals occurs widely in published works, especially those oriented toward a younger but technologically literate demographic target audience. In the cyberpunk novel Hammerjack (2005), author Marc D. Giller introduces the "Crowleys" on the second page of that sci-fi thriller, as one of the groups of "street species" inhabiting the cities. The long-running American TV series "Supernatural" also includes two villains named Aleister, and Crowley.

The acclaimed comic book author Alan Moore, himself a practitioner of ceremonial magic, has also included Crowley in several of his works. In Moore's From Hell, he appears in a cameo as a young boy declaring that magic is real, while in the series Promethea he appears several times existing in a realm of the imagination called the Immateria. V for Vendetta makes reference to "Do what thou wilt..." on more than one occasion in the comic series. Moore has also discussed Crowley's associations with the Highbury area of London in his recorded magical working, The Highbury Working. Other comic book writers have also made use of him, with Pat Mills and Olivier Ledroit portraying him as a reincarnated vampire in their series Requiem Chevalier Vampire. Crowley also is referenced in the Batman comic Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth where the character Amadeus Arkham meets with him, discuss the symbolism of Egyptian tarot, and they play chess. He has also appeared in Japanese media, such as D.Gray-Man and Toaru Majutsu no Index, as well as the hentai series Bible Black, where he has a fictional daughter named Jody Crowley who continues her father's search for the Scarlet Woman. Occult scholar Hiroshi Aramata, author of the groundbreaking historical fantasy novel Teito Monogatari, has described the protagonist of his work as a person "closely resembling" Aleister Crowley. He is also depicted in the Original PlayStation game Nightmare Creatures as a powerful demonic resurrection of himself. Ian Fleming used Crowley as a model for Le Chiffre, villain in the first James Bond novel Casino Royale.

Crowley has been an influence for a string of popular musicians throughout the 20th century. The hugely popular band The Beatles included him as one of the many figures on the cover sleeve of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, where he is situated between Sri Yukteswar Giri and Mae West. A more intent interest in Crowley was held by Jimmy Page, the guitarist and co-founder of 1970s rock band Led Zeppelin. Despite not describing himself as a Thelemite or being a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, Page was still fascinated by Crowley, and owned some of his clothing, manuscripts and ritual objects, and during the 1970s bought Boleskine House, which also appears in the band's movie The Song Remains the Same. On the back cover of the Doors 13 album, Jim Morrison and the other members of the Doors are shown posing with a bust of Aleister Crowley. Author Paulo Coelho introduced the writings of Aleister Crowley to Brazilian rocker Raul Seixas, who went on to write and perform songs (most notably, "Viva a Sociedade Alternativa" and "Novo Aeon") that were strongly influenced by Crowley. The later rock musician Ozzy Osbourne released a song titled "Mr. Crowley" on his solo album Blizzard of Ozz, while a comparison of Crowley and Osbourne in the context of their media portrayals can be found in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. Crowley has also been a favourite of Swiss Avant-Garde metal band Celtic Frost. In fact, the song Os Abysmi Vel Daath from Monotheist is based partially on some of his writings. In the early 1990s, British Indie band Five Thirty carried with them on tour a front door which they alleged had belonged to Crowley. The door was placed prominently on stage during their gigs.

Crowley has also had an influence in cinema. Photographs showing him on-set now in the Princeton University library confirm Crowley was hired in 1916 by Theodore and Leo Wharton, early filmmakers with a studio in Ithaca, New York, as a consultant on their film serial "The Mysteries of Myra" which featured a Crowley-like figure as the serial's occult-magician villain, initially depicted in a near-exact duplicate of a "Golden Dawn" costume including black triangular hat with golden triangle symbol. In the film series, members of the "Master's" cult perform occult rituals and spells wearing the triangle symbol and identify themselves to each other with the "thumbs-up" gesture depicted in the photograph attached to the top of this article. Crowley was also a major influence and inspiration to the work on the radical avant garde underground film-maker Kenneth Anger, especially his Magick Lantern Cycle series of works. One of Anger's works is a film of Crowley's paintings, and in 2009 he gave a lecture on the subject of Crowley. Bruce Dickinson, singer with Iron Maiden, wrote the screenplay of Chemical Wedding (released in America on DVD as Crowley), which features Simon Callow as Oliver Haddo, the name taken from the Magician-villain character in the Somerset Maugham book "The Magician", who was in turn inspired by Maugham's meeting with Crowley He also appeared as himself in the animated television show The Venture Bros in the season three episode entitled "Orb."

The Italian historian of esotericism Giordano Berti, in his book Tarocchi di Aleister Crowley (1998) quotes a number of literary works and films inspired by Crowley's life and legends. Some of the films are The Magician (1926) by Rex Ingram, based upon the eponymous book written by William Somerset Maugham (1908); Night of the Demon (1957) by Jacques Tourneur, based on the story "Casting the Runes" by M. R. James; and The Devils Rides Out (1968) by Terence Fisher, from the eponymous thriller by Dennis Wheatley. Also: "Dance To The Music of Time" by Anthony Powell, "Black Easter" by James Blish, and "The Winged Bull" by Dion Fortune.

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