Aleister Crowley Influence On Wicca

Aleister Crowley Influence On Wicca Cover Ever since the 1960’s, there has been a rumour circulating that Aleister Crowley wrote the wiccan rituals for Gerald Gardner.[1] o­ne author has gone so far as to claim to know the price Gardner supposedly paid Crowley: 3 guineas a page![2] Certainly there are grounds that would seem to support this claim: anyone familiar with both the published works of Crowley and with Gardnerian Wiccan rituals will notice quite a bit of Crowley’s poetry in the rituals, even after Doreen Valiente, by her own admission,[3] rewrote the rituals to remove or disguise much of the Crowley material. However, I hope here to be able to demonstrate here not o­nly that it is completely implausible that Crowley composed the Wiccan rituals, but also that whoever did so, while they took some material from a few of Crowley’s published works, was evidently not very familiar with Crowley’s writings, and seems very unlikely to have even been an O.T.O. initiate.

Ye Bok of ye Art Magical

The earliest copy of the Gardnerian rituals extant, from before Valiente’s reworking of them, are in a hand-written/caligraphed grimoire called Ye Bok of ye Art Magical (the BAM for short) which is in Gardner’s own handwriting. Internal evidence in this text makes it clear that it predates the “Text A”, “Text B”, and “Text C” versions of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, and that it predates the writing of High Magic’s Aid in about 1946–1948, since the Wiccan rituals given there seem to be derived from “Text A”.[4]

The BAM contains a jumble of material (like many witches Book of Shadows, it is a sort of magical scrapbook), some of which is related to (Judeo-Christian) Solomonic ceremonial magic, some related to witchcraft, and there is even some which contains references to both. As several Authors have noted,[5] the material in the book is evidently not in chronological order: Gardner seems to have been in the habit of writing material in the book with some blank pages between pieces, and then later adding other material in the blank pages. Some of the material even seems to be scattered in pieces in several different places, possibly as a secrecy measure.

I have in my possession a good transcript of most of the BAM. This transcript does skip some (but by no means all) of the material from Ye Bok of ye Art Magical that is of a Judeo-Christian and/or Solomonic Ceremonial Magic nature (particularly towards the end of the BAM, where the transcriber was presumably running short of time). I have spent some while studying this transcript, with the exception (since I am a second degree Gardnerian) of those parts which my High Priestess has indicated are more than second degree material (principally the text of the third degree initiation ritual). Specifically, I have studied transcripts of all but pages 64, 108–113, 143–150, 165–188, 195–203, 205–224, 229–241, 243, and 277 (Gardner’s pagination) of the BAM. From the contents page of the BAM, the summaries given in the transcript of the contents of those pages skipped, and some of Ronald Hutton’s dicussion of the contents of the BAM,[6] the nature of the material o­n most of these pages is clear, and I am fairly certain that, with the possible exceptions of pp. 108–113, 128, 143–150, 203, and 243, they do not contain any Crowley-derived material. (According to Ronald Hutton, the passage o­n pp. 108–113 does indeed contain Crowley material, derived from his work the Gnostic Mass; as we shall see below, other parts of the BAM clearly draw upon this source also.) Specifically, the contents of pages 64, 128, 143–150, 165–188, 205–224, and 229–241 are clearly Solomonic, presumably derived from The Key of Solomon the King and the Lemegeton (in the latter case, possibly derived from the 1903 edition translated by Mathers and edited by Crowley), 243 is Quabalistic, while 195–203 is described as “Talmud”, and 108–113 and 277 are more Wiccan. I believe that (with considerable assistance from Web search engines and assorted O.T.O. websites) I have successfully located all the Crowley-derived material in the portions I have studied.

Books You Might Enjoy:

Aleister Crowley - Rodin In Rime
Aleister Crowley - Rosa Inferni
Aleister Crowley - International

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