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Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, and Consent in Thelema

Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, and Consent in Thelema

by Fr. Enatheleme


Aleister Crowley did and said many things relating to his personal life and interests that are not Thelemic. His misogyny is a good example of this: in his diaries and personal reflections you can find pages and pages of hostility towards women, but the Thelemic literature is consistently clear about women being equal to men in all ways beyond physical differences.

Likewise in his Thelemic writings, Crowley was adamant about consent being paramount in sexual relations, and that consent should include a full understanding of the consequences of any sexual encounter. That precludes children and adolescents. Aleister Crowley was one of the strongest advocates for children’s rights of his time. He was against all forms of child abuse, and has said that if he were in political power, he’d have parents who bully their children arrested.

“… acts invasive of another individual’s equal rights are implicitly self-aggressions. … Such acts as rape, and the assault or seduction of infants, may therefore be justly regarded as offences against the Law of Liberty, and repressed in the interests of that Law.” — Commentary on Liber AL

“The Beast 666 ordains by His authority that every man, and every woman, and every intermediately-sexed individual, shall be absolutely free to interpret and communicate Self by means of any sexual practices soever, whether direct or indirect, rational or symbolic, physiologically, legally, ethically, or religiously approved or no, provided only that all parties to any act are fully aware of all implications and responsibilities thereof, and heartily agree thereto.” — Ibid.

Whatever Crowley might have done in his private life, or whatever he might have said about his sexual interests, it is not always relevant to Thelema. Remember that Crowley was The Beast and he wrote extensively of his own failures; he was far from being a paragon of humanity and he seems to have manifested all the worst aspects of this Aeon along with the best. He was not someone to emulate. Indeed his deep flaws serve as a reminder to us not to idolize him. His writings on Thelema are of course invaluable, but his footsteps are not for us to follow.

“Let this then be of great comfort to you all, that if I be so imperfect–and for very shame I have not emphasized that imperfection–if I, the chosen one, still fail, then how easy for yourselves to surpass me! Or, should you only equal me, then even so how great attainment should be yours!

“Be of good cheer, therefore, since both my failure and my success are arguments of courage for yourselves.” — De Lege Libellum

Moreover, even if Crowley indicated somewhere that children should be involved in sex, and if he implied that this was a good idea for Thelemic reasons (I don’t know of anywhere he has done this, but should something turn up), we are free to disagree with him — and in that case we must vigorously disagree, for there is ample scientific evidence to show that this would be a violation of the child’s will.

In OTO, in most states our clergy are mandatory reporters, and thus we are required by law to report any child abuse. This is discussed at length in the Psychology Guild’s Pastoral Counseling Workshop (PCW). There is also a class on sexual harassment in PCW, and another class like it in Kaaba Colloquium, both of which deal extensively with the subject of consent. Speech in the Silence podcast episode 60 also features a segment on sexual harassment and consent in OTO.


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4 thoughts on “Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, and Consent in Thelema

    1. The passage you are referring takes place during a long binge AC and his wife of the time, Layla had with damn near every drug they could get their hands on. In particular cocaine. It starts with the following passage:

      “He was not I, the Devil-God, but I the worm of the slime, the blind
      Mouth with loose lips, the deaf brain serf abused, the sewer-Body; I that am
      leech and tapeworm, bladder-barb by Nile and in the congo, Thread-that-is-Death-by-Sleep; I loved Her and I had Her. Mine was the joy to roam and feed upon Her, Her flesh infected, drink of Her, her blood polluted, so soon as Her God fled his temple, scurried to heaven with them that guarded her. Her, when Satan glared from Her damned eyes, laughed from Her murderous mouth, when she bestrode Her Beast, and drove her heels of hate to his heart.”

      So clearly he’s going to a dark place with his writing during this time. But this is clearly not describing literal happenings (ex. Crowley isn’t actually getting stabbed in the heart by her heels). Crowley is getting fucked up and attempting poetry of a sort. During the multiple paragraph long passage where he talks about having done every foul thing with Layla the following passage occurs:

      “And I the worm have trailed my slug-slow slime across Her Breasts; so that Her mother-mood is turned and Her beasts itch with lust of Incest. She hath given Her two-year bastard boy to Her lewd lover’s whim of sodomy, hath taught him speech and act, things infinitely abhorred, with Her own beastly carcass she hath tongued Her five-month girl, and asked its father to deflower it. she hath wishied Her Beast to rape her rotten old mother-so far is woman clean of Her!”

      And if this were taken literally it’d be a clear confession of the most heinous child abuse. The fact is though later in the same day AC talks about his wife being dead and wanting to have sex with her corpse:

      “I have wanted to do necrophilia, to rape her rotten corpse. But I don’t love Her; it’s her lust for evil, for our Lord, for me-Her futies, fi.lths, her frenzies, fantasies, her{would she but say Her word!)-this, this I love.”

      Yet his wife was not dead, and the other heinous actions he speaks of in the same passage we can be sure did not literally physically happen as all participants were definitely alive by the end of the day.

      After investigation it appears that AC and his wife got ridiculously fucked up one day and AC wrote some fucked up things. But the records we have both of his and his friends and enemies don’t indicate that AC was a child abuser. And those who knew AC when they were children such as Donald Cammell and Preston Sturges reported no abuse or attempted abuse. Sturges hated AC and had no kind things to say of his attitude or character but never said AC was abusive or sexually predatory. If more things come to light in the future they should be considered but as it stands AC was a lot of awful things, but an abuser of children isn’t one of them.

  1. That was a great article and really cheered me up, recently I had turned away from thelema for awhile to do some soul searching,and just started coming back around and finding this article was no coincidence ,thank you.

  2. I know that the author means well, but I have a problem with articles like this one. It is really easy to say that molesting children is bad and you should not do it. What is far more challenging is to recognize the dangers that sexual abuse poses to children, while also recognizing that people that are attracted to minors do not choose to be that way and that there is evidence that such attraction is “hardwired” into a person. Childhood sexual abuse can have dramatic adverse effects on a person and if we want to have a hand in preventing it then we need to give support to adults that are at risk of offending. If an honest and sincere person was struggling with their sexual desires in this regard then how would Thelema help them? If we are going to confront the challenges that the Thelemic concept of Will, and the implications that it has for sexuality, present then we need to ask some questions that are going to make us uncomfortable.

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