You are here
Home > Thelemic Philosophy > Concerning Aleister Crowley’s Opinion of Abortion

Concerning Aleister Crowley’s Opinion of Abortion

Concerning Aleister Crowley’s Opinion of Abortion

By Frater Parrhesia

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

General Disclaimers

In writing a statement about the opinions of Aleister Crowley regarding abortion, one had better begin with a few disclaimers. (1) First of all, let it be known that the opinions of that man, or of any other human, cannot dictate the Will of anyone, for each individual is absolutely free to arrive at their own conclusions, and act accordingly. (2) Next, needless to say, most of Crowley’s thought was developed over a hundred years ago. Thus, many of his opinions are very much a product of his time and merely display prevailing prejudices that he was by no means immune to. (3) Finally, Crowley was a man among men, as am I, and neither of us have any say regarding the choices women have concerning their own bodies; nor do the opinions of any other woman, for it is the sole choice of each woman to decide the fate of her own body. In Thelema, no one has the right to dictate what any other individual must choose, regardless of gender or ethnicity or any other arbitrary social classification.

Who Cares What Crowley Thinks?

It should be understood that no Thelemite is expected to agree with Aleister Crowley’s opinions on any topic. Fortunately, there is no precept in Thelema that requires Thelemites to merely parrot the opinions of the prophet. To the contrary, people are encouraged to question everything and arrive at their own conclusions. This is one of the principles that sets Thelema apart from all the old aeon religions, and makes this philosophy so attractive to the sort of free thinking radicals that are most likely to be intrigued by Crowley’s work. 

Although Crowley is the founder of Thelema and Thelemites are generally encouraged to study Crowley’s writing to better understand the philosophical framework of Thelema, it is ultimately the responsibility of each individual to divine the nature of the Will for oneself and thereby develop their own philosophy. Most Thelemites understand that Crowley’s thought merely reflects his own outdated opinions, while the current of Thelema continues to evolve. Crowley’s writing is frozen in the past and subject to all of the hindsight judgments that the modern age likes to cast upon its predecessors, but it would be foolish to assume that if the modern reader were in Crowley’s shoes they would be any wiser than he. Thelema is a static set of fixed dogma, but a progressive movement, composed of several thelemic organizations and countless unaffiliated thelemites, which continue to adapt to new circumstances as the new aeon unfolds. 

Still, the opinions of Aleister Crowley tend to be provocative and often conceal multiple layers of meaning, so it might prove enlightening to entertain his thoughts on this most controversial subject: abortion. Much of Crowley’s writing seems to be a series of provocations, crafted to lure those who are able and willing to follow his thoughts through the twists and turns of his flights of fantasy and inspiration, to attain higher levels of self awareness. This seems to be the case with his thoughts concerning abortion, so perhaps it might be worthwhile to humor him, even if he is particularly tactless regarding this subject.

Is Thelema Pro-Life?

If the term “pro-life” is taken literally, most Thelemites will agree that Thelema is indeed pro-life, as this philosophy is rooted in an affirmation of all Life. But the political position generally designated as “pro-life” clearly has very little concern for life and is solely preoccupied with the fate of the unborn, and could not care less for the fate of the living. The labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are regrettable and misleading. Perhaps the term “pro-fetus” and “pro-woman” would be more accurate, or maybe it would be more honest to phrase these positions in the negative: “anti-abortion” and “anti-oppression.” Still, all these labels present false dichotomies, which inevitably inspire vicious antagonism between opposing ideologies. In reality, “life” and “choice” are not at odds, as most people are both “pro-woman” and “pro-fetus,” but people have been convinced that we have to be one or the other. Of course, the situation is much more complex than these labels imply, so people are forced to ignore the complexity of the situation in order to make the facts fit the label.

The political slogan “pro-life” was not coined until well after Crowley’s death, nontheless he expressed very strong opinions on the subject of abortion. In the “Eqinox of the Gods,” Crowley states that he considers “abortion the most shameful form of murder, and loathe[s] the social codes which encourage it (Crowley et al., 1997, p. 431).” Many of the “pro-life” Thelemites jump on these sort of statements to prove that Crowley was “pro-life,” and some even go as far as to argue that this doctrine is central to the philosophy of Thelema. Yet, if one looks at the sentence more closely, it becomes apparent that the shamefulness of abortion is taken for granted, as a sentiment assumed to be shared with his audience; the emphasis is his critique of the social factor, the “codes” or norms which make abortion a necessity for so many women. Far from advocating regressive sexist policies, Crowley hoped that the advent of Thelema would liberate women from the oppression and exploitation they had suffered for the last several millennia.

Crowley goes deeper into the subject in his Confessions, and this is where he really spells out his views regarding the “social codes” which compel so many women to choose abortion. But before analyzing these social conditions, Cowley’s views on abortion must be addressed. In his Confessions, Crowley unequivocally condemns abortion as “one of the foulest kinds of murder (Crowley et al., 1969, p. 414)” – another statement taken as gospel by “pro-life” Thelemites. Yet again, if one follows his argument it becomes clear that this assertion is taken for granted, as this was the prevailing attitude of the day. The point he really seems to emphasizing is the necessity of constructing a society that respects women, and supports maternity, so that abortion would no longer be a social necessity. Nowhere does he advocate regressive legislation that would thwart the rights of women. 

Why Does Crowley Oppose Abortion?

It is worth noting that Crowley’s reasons for condemning abortion center around the negative impact this procedure had upon a women in his time, stating that “it nearly always ruins the health of the woman, when it fails to kill her (Crowley et al., 1969, p. 414).” Of course, this was a serious problem a century ago, but now it is only a concern when women are unable to obtain professional assistance, and are compelled to resort to more drastic measures. Thus, forbidding doctors to perform this operation today, far from improving the well-being of women, would undeniably make their plight far worse.

Yet the above statement may be taken as mere preface for a much more provocative point which Crowley slips into this argument. He casually asserts that, “The vigour of my views on this point strengthens my general attitude on the question of sexual freedom (Crowley et al., 1969, p. 415),” implying that many women in his day had to rely on abortion in order to hide infidelity or loss of virginity. Far from preaching abstinence here, Crowley seems to be asserting that abortion would no longer be necessary for most women if they were sexually liberated, for then they would have nothing to hide. Once emancipated from expectations of chastity, he believes that “very few women, left to themselves, would be so vile as to commit this sin against the Holy Ghost; to thwart the deepest instincts of nature at the risk of health and Life, to say nothing of imprisonment (Crowley et al., 1969, p. 415).” Again, that abortion is a vile sin “against the Holy Ghost” is taken for granted, the emphasis being placed on the safety women. Note that nothing is said of the rights of the fetus, nor of the rights of the father; he only mentions the suffering of the mother.

But Crowley’s critique does not end with this call for sexual freedom, rather this thought leads to a much more piercing criticism. Crowley points to the blatant hypocrisy inherent to the social expectations thrust upon women, in the form of cultural norms founded upon religious dogma, which at once demand chastity and promiscuity, virginity and motherhood, leading to the inevitability of the thing that society condemns. Crowley summarizes the paradox as such:

“Yet criminal abortion is one of the commonest of crimes and one most generally condoned by what I must paradoxically call secret public opinion. And the reason is that our social system makes it shameful and punishable by poverty for a woman to do what evolution has spent ages in constructing her to do, save under conditions with which the vast majority of women cannot possibly comply. The remedy lies entirely with public opinion (Crowley et al., 1969, p. 415).”

The words, “shameful and punishable by poverty,” standout as particularly relevant in today’s climate. Certainly, the fate of women in Crowley’s day was far more restricted, socially and sexually, with religious fear, guilt, and shame, playing a much more dominant role than today. Yet, still to this day talk of sex is taboo in many homes, seen as dirty and immoral, and an aura of shame develops around the subject of sexuality. Meanwhile the man is conditioned to view women as sex objects, here for his enjoyment, to be taken advantage of at whim. This situation places considerable demands upon women to have sex, not to mention the woman’s own innate sexual desire, making abstinance an unrealistic form of birth control. Yet, in today’s economy it is virtually impossible for a single mother with multiple children to rise above the poverty line; no doubt, in Crowley’s day it was much worse, when women were far more reliant upon men.

What Sort of Solutions does Crowley Offer?

So then, what does Crowley propose as the solution to the problem of what he refers to as “criminal abortion”? He certainly does not preach abstinence, or the virtues of chastity. Nor does he advocate the institution of legal restrictions which would merely further oppress women, whom he hoped the Law of Thelema would rise up to equal status with men. No, his solution is far more interesting, even if the wording is unsettling. Crowley states his solution as such:

“Let motherhood be recognized as honourable in itself, and even the pressure of poverty would not prevent any but a few degenerate women, with perverse appetites for pleasure, from fulfilling their function. In the case of such it would indeed be better that they and their children perish (Crowley et al., 1969, p. 415).”

Well, if it is possible to momentarily set aside the fact that Crowley appears to be advocating murder and eugenics as the final solution to abortion, it might be enlightening to analyze the statement, “Let motherhood be recognized as honourable in itself.” In reference to the historical and philosophical context of Crowley’s life and writing, it is clear he is not merely reasserting the traditional christian “family value” of maternity as of woman’s duty to a man, God or the State. Rather, he seems to be suggesting that society should divorce the sanctity of motherhood from the dominion of marriage, implying that if women were free to procreate as they will, “when, where, and with whom they will” without fear of religious or political persecution, very few women would choose abortion. In hindsight this hope seems a little misguided, if not hopelessly flawed, no matter how radical it may have seemed at the time, for the social conditions which lead to the inevitability of abortion are far more complex.

Now, it is necessary to return to the rest of the quote, which reeks of the arrogant drivel currently circling among reactionary fundamentalist conservatives. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to describe the phrase “degenerate women, with perverse appetites for pleasure,” as anything but the bigoted rhetoric of a male chauvinist attempting demonize any woman that chooses not to fulfill “their function,” defined (by men) as baby-maker. But is the Will of a woman really reducible to the function of her womb? Of course not, no more than a man’s Will is merely to galavant about filling women with semen. The thought is clearly absurd according to common sensibilities today, now that modern society has grown accustomed to the fact that women are capable of doing anything a man can do. Why should a woman who chooses to pursue her “appetites for pleasure” be demonized as “perverse,” simply because she does not want to sacrifice her freedom to the responsibilities of motherhood?

Is this Position Feminist or Mysogynist?

Alas, Crowley’s thought never fits neatly into black and white boxes, for he sought to transcend the limits of reason, as he embraced paradox and contradiction. In thinking about abortion, it seems that Crowley was ultimately at odds with himself regarding the role of women in society. It seems that he simultaneously supported the emancipation of women, while harboring many chauvinistic sentiments. Unfortunately, some of his backwards religious upbringing, along with the general ignorance and bigotry of the age, has seeped its way into his philosophy here, as it has in many other cases. As is often the case with progressive thinkers, Crowley was incredibly revolutionary in many respects, but he also had several blind spots where the worldview he inherited seems to have gone unchallenged. If one studies his work carefully, one can see the way his prejudices often contradict his ideals, as his thought evolves (sometimes devolves) over time. Thus it is deceiving to claim that any one statement made by Crowley in a given context, can be generalized as defining the spirit of Thelema.

Today, the final solution Crowley provides to deal with those “degenerate women” with their “perverse appetites for pleasure” sounds unapologetically cruel: “it would indeed be better that they and their children perish.” The only reason given is that these women want “criminal” abortions, which is supposed to bare witness to their degeneracy. No consideration is given to the myriad of reasons a woman might need an abortion; there is no mention of rape or medical complications. It is simply assumed that every conception is a divine act of nature, and that it is the woman’s duty to fulfill this obligation. Nor is any mention made of the man’s responsibility in conception. In short, the whole passage reeks of the patriarchal sentiments prevalent in Crowley’s time. Still, this is no excuse for his bigotry, for many of his more enlightened contemporaries (such as Bertrand Russell) were far more advanced in their recognition and respect for women’s right to autonomy.

Although any attempt to justify Crowley’s prejudices would be futile, it is worth noting that he never advocates legislation forbidding abortion. To the contrary, no matter how severe his final solution might sound, in some sense it is a merciful sentiment. For Crowley is not in fact advocating murder or eugenics as such, but rather championing woman’s choice; if a woman so desperately wishes to abort, that she is willing to sacrifice her own life, let her. Indeed, there is an implicit recognition here that if a woman does not wish to be a mother, it would be better that the “child perish.” After all, what worse fate could a soul encounter than to be born of a mother that does not want them? 

In this context it is worth noting that in most modern countries abortion has been decriminalized and is no longer lethal, so that the bulk of Crowley’s argument against “criminal abortion” no longer stands. All that is left is his critique of the hypocrisy of “public opinion” which at once condones and condemns abortion, along with an insistence upon the necessity of social policies which honor and support maternity, as well as a recognition of the woman’s ultimate right to choose for herself.

Personal Conclusions

In presenting my personal conclusions on this topic of controversy, I by no means intend to assert my position as authoritative. The following remarks are not meant to convey the position of Thelema, or any Thelemic organization, but only the perspective of one Thelemite. I will not deny that I hope to persuade others to recognize the validity of my position, but I would be disappointed if my opinions were mistaken as Thelemic doctrine. Rather, I would prefer these conclusions to be recognized as part of an evolving conversation on an incredibly controversial and critical issue, concerning the rights of humanity. 

My recommendation is that we all take a good look at ourselves, as individuals and as a society, and ask ourselves what it is we really want. Of course, most of those that identify as “pro-life” would say they believe procreation is a sacred act, that every fetus is a miracle and deserves a chance to see the light of day. I think most of those who identify as “pro-choice” agree with this general sentiment, but counter that if we really believe in the sanctity of child-birth we should focus our attention on ensuring that the children who come into the world are properly cared for, and are provided ample opportunity to thrive. Again, I think most “pro-life” supporters would agree with this idea in theory, if not in practice. The problem comes down to the fact we have created a society where most people believe they have to pick sides, for in today’s world it appears that we cannot be both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”

Regardless, I think most will agree that both the “pro-life” and the “pro-choice” positions are ultimately rooted in compassion. Obviously, “pro-choice” advocates are not merely deranged “baby-killers,” and most “pro-life” advocates are not just belligerent “woman-haters,” as the media and political leaders would have us believe. Unfortunately, the debate has become so polarized at this point in history it is difficult to think clearly about the issues surrounding the debate. Now more than ever, I believe the people of the United States of America need to find a way to initiate productive dialog across the “fence,” to stop throwing stones, and work on putting holes in the fence instead of erecting more walls between us. In other words, we had better focus more on communication, and less on accusations. In this spirit, I will do my best to clarify my own position as briefly as possible, in an attempt to encourage fresh thought, and open up dialog on the topic of abortion specifically, and human rights more generally. 

My current stance leans heavily towards “pro-choice” for a variety of reasons. First I should clarify that in advocating a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body, I am not saying that abortion should become the future of birth control. In fact, most “pro-choice” advocates believe that abortion is a regrettable choice that should only be resorted to in extreme cases, it is just that we do not trust the government to dictate what cases qualify for which women. Rather we place that responsibility in the hands of the woman affected, since only she is entitled to make that decision for herself. Personally, I do not believe that the government has a right to control the body of any human against their will, but this is especially urgent regarding women’s bodies since they are so often abused by men.

It is well documented that women have suffered a long history of oppression at the hands of male-dominated governments. Of course, things are far better now, but the cards are still stacked against the woman in favor of the man. The arguments justifying this inequality are nearly always founded upon a belief in the woman’s natural weakness, and her essential roles as baby-maker and baby-sitter. Gradually, modern society is growing accustomed to the fact that women are capable of doing anything men can do, but gender-role expectations continue to stifle the realization of their full potential. Securing the woman’s right to bodily autonomy is an essential step in raising women to a position of equality with men, who have always exercised the right of choice regarding their involvement in childbirth.

Anti-abortion laws tend to be marketed as a means of preventing frivolous abortions, but the reality is that they merely force poor women give up their ambitions, and settle for a life of servitude. Were we to live in a “perfect” world, free form sickness and violence, abortion would scarcely be necessary, and likely considered a great tragedy. Indeed, the reasons women are inclined towards abortion are generally tragic: risk of life, knowledge of infant morbidity, severe addictions, rape. Very few women, if any, choose abortion frivolously, for the experience is inherently traumatic and many women grieve the loss of their unborn for life. This places a very heavy burden on the heart of the mother, which I think most men scarcely understand. To think that any man would be better equipped to make such a decision is hopelessly naive, if not willfully ignorant.

I do not mean to imply that abortion cannot be just as traumatic for men, only to say that it is biologically easier for many men to disassociate from the experience, especially if they have not developed a significant attachment. Thus I do not think men should have any say in the woman’s choice in this matter. If a man believes abortion is wrong, it is his responsibility not to impregnate any woman who will want to abort his child. Otherwise, it is the sole decision of each woman for oneself, to decide the fate of her own body, and no man has the right to interfere with that decision. Of course, a hopeful father might do his best to convince the prospective mother not to abort by professing undying love, or even agreeing to accept full custody and paying for the labor. Still, it is ultimately the woman’s decision whether or not she is willing to give birth: it is her body, and therefore her choice.

At the same time, “pro-life” advocates present valid concerns regarding when the unborn becomes “human” and what qualifies as murder, which cannot casually be dismissed without careful consideration. Admittedly, there is still a great deal of controversy surrounding these subjects, and there are no easy answers to questions of life and death. Still, it seems that most of the arguments asserting the rights of the fetus rest on religious beliefs regarding the soul of the fetus, and all accusations of murder are based in this assumption. In this case, as in several others, the Supreme Court appears to be dealing with a theological debate, which is one reason it is so dangerous that most of the Justices share the same religious faith.

In my opinion (which I share with many of our country’s founders) religious dogma has no place in the laws of a secular society composed of many religious faiths and a host of atheists and even more agnostics. We might just as well outlaw meat, since Hindus and Buddhists believe in the sanctity of the souls of animals; in fact, a fish has more awareness than a fetus, but few “pro-life” supporters find fault in killing fish. Once we allow religious superstitions to inform legal policies there is no telling what might pass through the courts: perhaps we should forbid the consumption of alcohol because it is condemned in the Koran. To think that all Americans should be forced to live according to the precepts of fundamentalist Christianity would be a mockery of the United States constitution, which explicitly protects us from the imposition of religious fanatics.

In any case, I think a woman’s right to bodily autonomy is a far more real and pressing concern, which affects the livelihood and quality of life of actual people. An aborted fetus does not suffer, whereas forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy can cause untold suffering for both woman and child. Further, it must be recognized that abortion laws primarily target poor women, for the rich will always have the choice to leave the state, or even the country, regardless of our laws. Worse, these laws would target victims of violence, if minors and rape victims are forced to carry a child they never consented to. What woman is really going to want to abort her fetus anyways? Happy humans in healthy relationships do not want to abort their fetuses; the man and woman are overjoyed with the prospect of bringing new life into the world. If one hopes to reduce reliance upon abortion, one should begin by working to remedy the social ills which most often lead to abortion, such as poverty and ignorance.

If one suspects that careless women will abuse their right of autonomy as a convenient form of birth control, one neglects to recognize the psychological toll this operation has on a woman. Now, it is easy enough to acquire contraceptives that there is really no reason for unwanted pregnancy, aside from worst case scenarios. So, if one really wants to reduce the number of “careless” abortions, it would be more effective to invest in proper sex education and family planning courses in high school and middle school, than merely instituting laws that would only impact the poor. Those who identify as “pro-life” would do better to ensure that all women and men are well aware of their options, along with the pros and cons of each, before they reach puberty. Further, I believe that a significant portion of highschool curriculum should be devoted to the study of child development, so that young couples adequately understand what they are getting into when they start exploring sexuality.

Whatever I may think, I am not so naive as to believe it is merely a given that the woman’s “right to choice” will inevitably take precedence over the fetus’s “right to life.” Nor do I think it is humanly possible for most people to suspend their religious and political biases in order to think objectively; indeed, objectivity is virtually impossible regarding controversial subjects. That is why, whenever I am confronted with a serious disagreement, I remind myself that the truth is likely somewhere between here and there, and I try to remain receptive to the opinions of those I disagree with. I am aware this is a lot to ask of myself, or anyone else, but it seems a crucial stance if there is to be any hope for mutual understanding and meaningful compromise.

This is also why I tend to advocate State rights, even if this goes against the common “pro-choice” position, because I recognize it could just as easily end up being the other way round, with the “moral majority” of the religious right forcing everyone to pray in school. It would certainly be naive to assume that reason was destined to prevail over emotion, when the reverse is more often the case in human history. So I say, we should not be so quick to centralize power in the hands of a bi-polar government that may be just as likely to use the power we give it against us, as it is to use its power for the common good. Thus I maintain great respect for the independence of States, so long as they do not thwart the rights of individuals.

To put my political views simply, I think that individual rights should be recognized as the foundation of the United States government, and of primary importance; next comes the autonomy of each State to organize their own affairs; the function of the federal government being to prevent States from violating the basic human rights of citizens or foreigners. Of course, this hierarchy is overly simplistic, and fails to mention just how one is to go about determining just what constitutes a “human right.” No doubt this question is at the root of endless debate, ranging from college campuses right up to the Supreme Court, and countless books and articles are filled with theories attempting to devise practical solutions to the problem of human rights. But all theory falls short when put into practice, no matter how well thought out, and this is clearly the case in determining rights. 

The failure of thought to consider all possible outcomes, and the subtle effects these may have on the lives of real people, is why open discussion is so crucial on controversial subjects. Indeed, conversation is especially critical in dealing with human rights, as they apply to very different sorts of people, with very different opinions about what our rights are. Since these issues impact all humanity, all humans must have a say; which is to say, everyone can expect their rights to be respected and recognized just as much as any other group or individual. Thus it is absolutely essential that all reasonable opinions be brought to the table when creating laws that threaten the rights of any human. Unfortunately, it can be difficult convincing opposing groups to respect, or even recognize, the rights of people they hold strong prejudices against, so the process of deliberation is typically fraught with hostility, as any decision is doomed to leave the majority of people dissatisfied.

To my understanding the primary function of good government (if government is ever good) in a democratic republic, is to ensure the equal representation of all citizens, so the laws serve the general welfare of the population, not merely favoring some subsection. This is one reason it is so important to design social policies to prevent any one group, or any number or groups, from imposing itself upon others. Of course, this can be even more challenging when a group is incapable of speaking up for oneself, such as young children or people with mental disabilities. No doubt, any argumentation for or against the rights of a fetus lies in this dubious category, and requires extra care on the part of all those who are no longer fetuses. We should not be too quick to dismiss their rights categorically, but need to carefully consider the impact our decisions have on those who cannot speak for themselves.

In any case, the solution to this problem is not merely to instigate more ideological wars between competing factions. No, any working solution to major political disagreements will require bipartisan or multi-partisan collaboration, in order to resolve the fundamental issues underlying our social ills, not merely perpetuate them by shifting blame back and forth. I am aware that this is a lot to ask of a population that has been divided and conquered by a ruling elite that is fully invested in maintaining power by all means necessary. At this point in history, I think it would be foolish to expect our political leaders, or the mass media, to genuinely represent the will of the people. Thus it has become necessary for the people themselves to open up new channels for constructive dialogue, so that we might put all of our concerns on the table, and see if we can come up with some reasonable solutions for the problems we all face.

I do not mean to imply this will be easy, as the animosity between far right and far left has become so extreme that conversation is virtually impossible. Still, opening up communication is absolutely essential for political progress, and may be crucial for the survival of our species. If we hope to change the world for the better, we must be willing to do our share of the work, and take part in the deliberative process. We need to initiate lively debate with our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and people from all parts of our community. We need to learn to communicate respectfully with whom we disagree. But this will never happen so long as we rely on corrupt politicians or a sensationalist media to do all the communication for us; as they merely stir up hostility, rather than facilitating mutual respect and understanding.

At the end of the day, when I cast my vote, or speak out on controversial issues, I am merely doing my best to stand up for what I believe is right. Likewise, I have great respect for all those who stand up for their beliefs, regardless of whether I agree with them, so long as their belief is not merely rooted in prejudice and hatred. But more often than not, people’s hopes and dreams are rooted in love, they are just afraid and misguided. Ultimately, I have more respect for those who speak out against my points of view, than those who share my perspective, but fail to say or do anything to make a difference. Indeed, democracy is not a spectator sport, where the citizens merely cast their bets then sit on sidelines and watch the players/politicians do all the work. That sort of thinking is a recipe for Fascism. Rather, we need to institute new social networks designed to facilitate thought and discussion between the people of the world, and wean ourselves off the dependency upon leaders to do our thinking and speaking for us.

Again, I do not mean for this essay to be take as a statement embodying the Thelemic position on abortion. It merely represents the musings of one Thelemite struggling with the vice of compassion, in a hope that we might work together to alleviate some of the unnecessary suffering humanity continues to carelessly perpetuate throughout the world.

Love is the law, love under will.


Crowley, A., Desti, M., Waddell, L., & Beta, H. (1997). Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4 (2nd Revised ed.).             Weiser Books.

Crowley, A., Symonds, J., & Grant, K. (1969). The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An    Autohagiography. Hill and Wang.

Other articles by Frater Parrhesia

Enjoying the articles? Support the Thelemic Union and help us keep our site running, ad-free, and hacker-free by pledging $1+ on Patreon:

Thelemic Union is open to all articles that are relevant to Thelema in some way. Send your submissions to thelemic[dot]union[at]gmail[dot]com

5 thoughts on “Concerning Aleister Crowley’s Opinion of Abortion

  1. Does the Will to live of a unique person in the womb not have a say in Thelema? It is not the woman’s body that is being aborted — it is the body of another human being who would invariably chose to live if given the choice. The idea that an aborted fetus does not suffer is just wishful thinking based on nothing but a desire to not face the consequences of the act.

    1. Nobody, including a fetus, is allowed to use another’s body against their will. This is why you have to give your consent before donating organs, for example.

      1. we can twist and contemporize the context of the teachings all we want, but in the end, that “fetus” is a soul – its Self that has the right to its true orbit. This isnt a political statement and I am not on the side of the “pro-lifers” but each soul must be allowed to express its true Will according to the law of growth, it’s innate nature and the impulse of its experiences. Terminating the life of that soul isnt justice. its just not.

      2. What do you think about the idea that Aleister Crowley believed the soul enters the fetus only after 3 months? Would that justify abortion to you up to 3 months?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: