Aleister Crowley / Thelema Survey and Assessment

I received the following unsolicited offer to re-evaluate Aleister Crowley via the consideration of a whole undreamed-of world of marginalistas who nevertheless may have something to offer the spiritual aspirant. I have not taken the trouble yet to assess any of them myself, and may eventually list some, without ratings. Most are genuinely in the biz though.

So i present here with gratitude my correspondent Brahman Dass' assessments and brilliant packaging. Any insertions of mine indicated in Navy

[BD has disappeared for a while but additions and updates continue at page bottom.]

Sarlo Ji,

I admire the Guru Rating Service enormously and have been inspired to prepare the following for you to use as FEEDBACK if you wish. A fair portion of my own spiritual path has led me through the world of magick, Aleister Crowley and Thelema. I noticed your rating of Crowley in the Fringe area, and it gave me the idea to do a "Guru Rating" of the better known Thelemic "gurus". Of course it is every bit as subjective (especially the yellow parts) as your own. In this instance, you give Crowley only one bud, while I would have given him two buds. Perhaps my ratings of his followers would likewise be about a bud higher than you would give them (or perhaps not). If you decide to use this please add a title and/or introduce it however you'd like, mine are merely for fun. Incidentally, the link you give for Crowley is dead. You could do worse than to replace it with Tim Maroney's Introduction to Crowley Studies, which is about as "objective" an introduction as I've read. [BD has since informed me that Tim Maroney has died but his site is still archived at new URL] [And for an alternative Thelema survey site, equally subjective, try the link below]

Brahman Das


Brahman Das' Guru Rating Service


Within the religious world of contemporary paganism, occultism, and magickal practice a very specialized niche has been carved out by those who acknowledge Aleister Crowley as their "World Teacher". While Crowley's writings have influenced many in the pagan community only a relatively small percentage have accepted Crowley as their Prophet and the Book of the Law as their principal scripture. Though the numbers of those who practice Thelema (called Thelemites) are tiny — estimates vary from at least 10,000 to perhaps 50 or 60,000 worldwide (the largest Thelemic group has around 3,000 members) — they have no corresponding shortage of "gurus" (the list here is far from comprehensive). Most of these teachers claim some degree of attainment in one of the two "organizations" that Crowley left behind, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) and the Astrum Argenteum (AA). Roughly speaking, the IXth degree of OTO supposedly indicates a mastery of sexual magick, while the Xth degree indicates the political headship of OTO in a particular country or region. OHO is the designation of the international leader. The 5=6 (Adept) degree in AA perhaps roughly corresponds to kensho (in Zen terminology), the 8=3 (Master of the Temple, or MT) degree can be compared with satori, realization, liberation, etc., and the 9=2 degree (Magus) is one that is reserved for the very greatest religious figures — Crowley's list included himself (of course), Lao-tzu, Buddha, Krishna, Thoth, Moses, Dionysus (AKA Jesus), and Mohammed. If any of the guys on this page turns out to be the next Avatar or Messiah, please let Sarlo know (Feedback).

If your favourite figure is not here, send in the info and Sarlo might be happy to include, although he will keep it short. (Feedback) And if your favourite figure is here, but underrated or wrongly categorized, let Sarlo know and perhaps we'll have another look. No flamers please. [Please note that BD's ratings have more to do with how harmful or beneficial he thinks associating with these people or groups might be for the "average" Thelemic seeker than ideological niceties. Some teachers below do not even label themselves Thelemites, however they are profoundly influenced by Crowley's work and well within the Thelemic cultural ambit.]

Name, M/F, b/d, aka, rating, links          shtick, principles, rap (+ / –)

David Bersson
 M    b1952ish
aka Frater Sphinx 
Society OTO

American. "Items of policy that others have yet to imagine, I have brought forth as new articles to enhance the efficiency of a theoretical diagram, some of which, had not seen the light of day until I created those magical links to assure their reality. Also, with the unique insights of my initiations, definite commands from the Book of the Law others could not see became a reality for me." Semi-literate megalomaniac claims heirship to Motta as OHO and "Master" in AA. An openly fascist and sexist authoritarian. Definitely bogus, possibly dangerous. 

Michael Bertiaux  
  M   b1933ish    

American. "As a 'spider-sorcerer' or 'spider- magician', writes Bertiaux in one of his order papers, 'you have woven your web by meeting with your own magical force each of the eight sources of cosmic energy. Thus, cosmic energy is met by god-energy...'" Popular with many Thelemites, but has far more connection to Voudon and Gnosticism than to Crowley. Considered a lightweight joker by some, at least he has a sense of humor. One of the few openly gay teachers in the Crowleyan world. Benefit of doubt. 

David Cherubim
  M    40s?
aka Frater Aurora Aureae 

American, org = Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn. "Ye must not listen to the false voice of thy Reason; but in the pure rapture of silence hear the Voice of thine All." One man band doesn't really toot his own horn, just writes clumsily and superficially about Thelema and occultism. $93-156 annual dues for correspondence courses in "self-initiation"? The cook is earnest, but the soup's rather thin. 

Jerry Cornelius 
 M   b1951 
aka Frater Achad Osher 583
Jerry Cornelius   

American, student of McMurty. "I am sorry if I seem less than sympathetic but the anger and bitterness that I am seeing is like an infectious disease which our lineage does not wish to be part of. " Longtime OTO member has struck out on his own. Apparently claims MT grade in the "Grady McMurtry" AA. Largely a mix of basic instructional material and convoluted political diatribes. Preaches maturity, tolerance, while ranting on unnamed others' lack of same. New URL* mainly McMurtyana, sangha closed for now (Jan 2010)

Amado Crowley
  M    b1930
aka Andrew Standish 
Amado Crowley 

British. "Amado does not tell his students what to believe, nor does he tell them what they wish to hear. His principle is this: when an individual is spiritually sick, concentrate on a cure ... not on feeding that sickness." Claims to be the illegitimate son of Crowley, but provides no evidence. Claims to be a "Magus", but writings are just a pedestrian rehash of older ideas. Spurious, but probably not dangerous. 

Gerald del Campo
  M b1960
Gerald del Campo     OTK

American. "I am a Thelemite: that is, I am an adherent to the Book of The Law. I am really a Gnostic, which means that I believe it is more important to know than to fear; and that faith becomes useless when one has Knowledge. You either know, or you don't." Author of some primers on magick. Member of many different groups including Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. His own "Order of Thelemic Knights" is, untypically for Thelema, a charity/service org. Humble, good guy, but still growing. 

Lon Milo DuQuette
  M  b1948
aka Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford

Lon Milo DuQuette


American. "Me." was his response to the question "What scares you more than anything else?" Witty, self-effacing presentation belies real depth of knowledge of Western occultism. Recognized as IXth degree in Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. Particularly expert in the Enochian magick of John Dee, which was used extensively by Crowley. Widely traveled lecturer is probably the best writer on Thelema since AC. Respected across various factions.

Ray Eales 
  M   b40s? 50s? 
aka Frater 939, the Overseer 

American. "To assign all decisions to one's Mentor ... is to fail to make yourself worthy of independence, in other words you make yourself a slave. In most cases a Mentor ... will reject this kind of behavior adamantly. This kind of rejection will, in the weaker aspirants, be interpreted as 'cruelty'. Nothing could be further from the truth and the Mentor ... will do well to hold their course and not allow an aspirant to feel 'comforted'." Another MT spawned by Motta, he and Bersson "recognize" each other. Strongly authoritarian.

Ebony Anpu
  M   1950-1999
aka Charles Reese 
Ebony Anpu

American, inventor of "Tesseract magick". "Polyamorous Religion. Religious Hedonism. Free Love. Sexual Freedom. Thelemic Morality. Western Tantra. Well what did you think? Did you think that it would be easy?" Well known as student/teacher of Egyptology. Reputed many sexual affairs with his students (not always an ethical issue with Thelemites). Founded Hawk and Jackal organization and then set it free. Will others pick up the mantle, or is this necrophilia? What might have been?

Kenneth Grant 
  M    b1924

about Typhonian OTO


British, student of Crowley. "As a result of many years' research into obscure phases of occultism I have evolved a method of dream control for contacting extra-terrestrial and non-human entities". Possibly the best known and best selling Thelemic author after Crowley. Books are mostly a mishmash of UFOs, dreams, numerology, etc., with a few insights sprinkled here and there. Passed reins of small or nonexistent organization to Michael "Mick" Staley. Nutty and knowing by turns. 
But rated highly by Nema, herself rated highly below by Tau Aleph. See also "MORE" link, positive partisan feedback in support of Grant and Staley.

Bill Heidrick    
  M    b1942 
Bill Heidrick

American. "There shall be many things yet, O wanderer after wisdom. Some little bit of the foretold has started. It will never end." Commonsense approach to "real" world accompanied by profound knowledge of cabala, Tarot, and Thelema (all supplied free of charge). Onetime right-hand man to Grady McMurtry is recognized as IXth degree in Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. Claims AA status of Adept. Best Thelema has to offer, but still not for everyone. 

Hymenaeus Beta
  M   b1955
aka William Breeze

American, born in France, lives in Germany. "Aleister Crowley ... considered a balanced, wide-ranging education a prerequisite to complete initiation." Pedantic Crowley scholar is OHO of the legally recognized OTO, the largest Thelemic org. About as "orthodox" as Thelema gets (and just as boring as that sounds). Critics say he's only in it for the money, but give no evidence. Benefit of doubt.

G.M. Kelly 
 M   b1951     
aka Gary Martin     

G.M. Kelly    

American. "Thus it is important for us, as Thelemites, to look within our own ranks and find the traitors, the Enemies Within, and deal with them now, before they bring us and Thelema down so that when we are assailed we are too weak to stand and fight against the Enemies Without." Virtually all other Thelemic teachers are "the traitors" he revels in exposing (i.e., repeating gossip and making innuendoes). Claims MT grade in AA, but his few 'non-attack' essays are unimpressive. Also a writer of turgid fiction. Has no org. He's sincere, but is he correct? 

Grady McMurtry 
 M   1918-1985 
aka Hymenaeus Alpha

Grady McMurtry
Alt site

American, student of Crowley. "The Aleister Crowley I knew had the greatest respect for the right of an individual to manifest their Will without interference." Reputedly charismatic founder of Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. But addled drunk/druggie apparently used Bill Heidrick to do all the work. Much of his writing is said to be ghostwritten. Link in the chain, at least. 

Marcelo Ramos Motta
  M 1931-1987
Marcelo Motta     Anti (orig site disappeared, this one preserved by

Brazilian. "A word to tell you of the Catholic Church. It is dead, as all they who belong to it" Student of Crowley's "official" heir Karl Germer. Claimed MT status in AA. Started legal battle for Crowley's copyrights which he ultimately lost to Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. Published Crowley, but usually mixed in his own odd comments. Reputed alcoholic. Most prominent "heirs" are David Bersson and Ray Eales. By their fruits ye shall judge them. 

Jack Parsons
   M  1914-1952
aka Frater Belarion, the Antichrist
Bio (new URL, part 1 of 4 poorly connected parts)

American. "There is danger in all organization. But there are times when there is greater danger in the lack of organization." Rocket fuel inventor has crater named for him on the Moon. Headed only active OTO group (in Pasadena) during Crowley's later years. Did magickal working with L. Ron Hubbard who then took off with Parsons' wife and $50,000. Died in a lab explosion. Accident or murder? Some interesting writings, but "Success is your proof".

Paul Joseph Rovelli
  M  b1965 ish?

Ambrosii Magi Hortus Rosarum 

[Correct Opinion rebuttal of of BD's review]

American. "Self professed Aspirant to the sanctuary of the Gnosis of the A.’.A.’./ and founder of the A.M.H.R. and the G.C.L. Disciple of Runar as lineal Benefactor and Student of Spagyria and the Alchemical Gnosis." He's interacted and fallen out with a variety of Thelemic organizations and teachers. Founded his own AA lineage and "Gnostic" church, but publicly only claims relatively unauthoritative Zelator status. Political views distasteful to many. Has Thelema found its new Marcelo Motta? 

C.F. Russell
   M   1897-1987
C.F. Russell 

American, student of Crowley. "Growth has its ups & downs, can be charted & is not monopolistic. Polarity of opposites is transcended & another duality appears. Those who agree with me & those who are disagreeable will choose up sides." With Crowley at Abbey of Thelema in Sicily, but later developed Thelemic ideas independent of him. Arcane, theoretical writing can be tough sledding. Ephemeral orgs = Choronzon Club, G.B.G. Influence limited by inaccessibility, combativeness.

Phyllis Seckler
   F   1917-2004
aka Soror Meral
 CoT & ToT

American, orgs = College of & Temple of Thelema. "If the preliminary purification has not been done, the student of the occult arts can get himself into a lot of trouble." Student of Crowley students Karl Germer and Jane Wolfe, one-time wife of McMurtry, later separated. Decades as a public school teacher left their deadly mark, she's utterly conventional. IXth degree in Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. Explicitly claimed AA status of Adept, rumored to have claimed MT. Heir presumptive was James A. Eshelman. Will he succeed? Only about eighty years out-of-date.

Martin P. Starr
   M   b1959
Teitan Press 

American. "It is difficult to encompass in a few words the depth and breadth of the genius of Aleister Crowley." Was right-hand man to Motta, then testified against him in court. Edits and publishes fancy limited editions of Crowley. Reputed "secret chief" of AA recognized by Hymenaeus Beta's OTO. What's he hiding?


PS – Three others submitted not by Brahman Das, but by another 
correspondent, Tau Aleph: Descriptive material below consists 
of his ratings and words in
yellow and purple, mine in navy.

Frater Achad M new URL from BD

Canadian no personal info, multi-esoteric author, many works online. Said to be Crowley's spiritual son, then abandoned in occult quibble. Devised English Qabala, org = QBLH. Historical importance.

Nema F**
aka Maggie Ingalls  new URL from BD

No personal info, founded Horus/Maat Lodge 1978, author, Double Current work (Aeon of Horus=93, Maat=696, 2=0). Is entitled to smoke a cigar. BD indicates TA is a Nema acolyte, would rate her

Shri Gurudev Mahendranath
  M   1911-1991 

aka Dadaji  

[** = NB ratings changed by Sarlo from 4 and 5 respectively for Nema and M'nath down to 3 to be in line with system change]

Brit hung with Aleister Crowley, who sent him to India to study "yoga and the I Ching". Arrived in India in 1953, penniless. Immediately took Sanyasin vows and wandered as naked Sadhu. The last Guru of the Adinath and Uttara Kaula Tantric sects. Founded a sect of western Naths called the International Nath Order, currently headed by his successor, Shri Kapilnath of Seattle. Impressive Breadth. Already listed in Middle Path.

PPS – And two more from yet another correspondent, anon, 
with his ratings and words in
yellow and purple.

Marcelo AC Santos
  M  b1974ish

Brazilian. Former leader of Brazilian branch of Hymenaeus Beta O.T.O.. Left Order for personal reasons. Founded UR-OTO (United Rites of O.T.O.), a free confederation of groups that used the same initiatic rituals from O.T.O.. Left thelemic organizations to dedicate to his career as a judge and to practise Kung-Fu. As relevant as a pen to a beef. Site is in Portuguese.

Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida
   M   b1934ish
aka Frater Aster

Former disciple of Marcelo Motta and natural successor, came to a clash with his guru because of a discussion about money. Founded his own thelemic societies, SNA (Sociedade Novo Aeon - New Aeon Society) and the OCT (Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Thelema - Order of Thelemic Knights, with Marcelo Santos), both collapsed. Good intentions and some knowledge but not enough action.  Site is in Portuguese.

PPPS – And from yet another anon correspondent, 
another opinionated Thelemic survey site, (by Paul Joseph Rovelli)
Manifesto of the Ambrosii Magi Hortus Rosarum

with comments on lots of these guys and much more.

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