Occult - Aleister Crowley - Black Magic at Boleskine House?
During his lifetime Crowley was vilified by the popular press as 'The Wickedest Man in the World', and the tabloids regularly carried sensational stories of his latest shocking exploits in occult experimentation. Naturally, when he purchased a mysterious old mansion on the shores of Loch Ness, allegedly to perform some strange secret rites, the press were fascinated.
Boleskine House is located on the south-eastern shore of Loch Ness, close to the village of Foyers, Inverness shire, Scotland. The mansion was constructed in the late 18th century by Archibald Fraser. According to a local legend, there was once a church on the site, which caught fire trapping its whole congregation inside, burning them all to death. Aleister Crowley purchased the foreboding Boleskine House in 1899 and styled himself 'Laird of Boleskine and Abertarff'. He remained there until 1913, and bizarre tales of odd goings on at Boleskine House during his occupancy are legion, though the majority probably originate in local folklore.
One story concerns a local butcher who called at the house for the meat order while Crowley was involved in the lengthy difficult ritual of Abramelin (see below). The butcher's incessant ringing of the bell broke Crowley's concentration and, irritated and frustrated, he hastily scrawled the meat order on the nearest piece of paper, which happened to have a spell written on the back. Shortly afterwards, when the butcher was cutting up the meat for Crowley's order back at his shop, he apparently lost concentration and sliced all the fingers off his right hand with the cleaver. Other stories tell of the unexplained disappearance of Crowley's housekeeper and a local workman who went out of his mind after being tormented by the dark spirits conjured up by Crowley's rituals.
The actual magical ritual which Crowley attempted to perform at Boleskine had nothing to do with black masses or black magic. It is known as the 'Abramelin Operation', taken from ' The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage', a famous grimoire (book of magical knowledge), dating back to at least the middle of the 15th century. Crowley seems to have become aware of the ritual from the 1897 translation of the book by occultist Samuel Liddel Mathers, one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which Crowley had joined in 1898, before falling out with most of its members, including Mathers, a few years later. The purpose of performing the lengthy and intense Abramelin ritual was for the magician to communicate with his 'Holy Guardian Angel' or Higher Self. Unfortunately for Crowley and those around him the Abramelin rites seem to have succeeded mainly in summoning 'demons' or 'the Abramelin devils' as Crowley calls them. During Crowley's occupancy there were reports of a heavy, oppressive atmosphere at Boleskine, dark eerie shadows filled the house, fierce winds blew through the rooms despite calm weather outside, and strange figures were seen in the area. There is also a legend of an underground passage way linking the house with a nearby graveyard, said to have been utilised by Crowley for some unknown reason, perhaps to scare off intruders.
Crowley later sold Boleskine House and it subsequently had a series of private owners including, in the 1970s, Led Zeppelin guitarist and Crowley fanatic Jimmy Page. Even today the property retains a slightly sinister atmosphere. To many modern occultists the geographical and spiritual significance of Boleskine remains extremely important. In fact, practitioners of Thelema, Crowley's religious philosophy, are still instructed to 'turn and face north to Boleskine' when conducting certain magical ceremonies.
Sources and Further Reading
Booth, M. A Magick Life: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Coronet Books. 2001.
Crowley, Aleister. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1979.
Kaczynski, R. Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.
Sutin, L. Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley. Griffin Trade Paperbacks. 2002.
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