"Do what thou wilt."
Written in the early twentieth century, the four books contained within this collection make up one of the most complete and groundbreaking works on the practice of magick ever written. They are considered to be the masterpiece of occultist, magician and philosopher Aleister Crowley and the core texts for the religion of Thelema. Their influence on alternative western thought and philosophy cannot be exaggerated.
Also known as Book Four, or Liber ABA, the four parts bring together many rituals, received texts, theorems and unequalled insights into the practice of magick, culminating in The Book of the Law, the central, sacred text dictated to Crowley by a preternatural entity. Anyone interested in yoga, ceremonial magic, esoteric thought, invocation, divination and beyond, or those looking to delve into the fascinating, playful and illuminating writings of a unique man, will find inspiration.
For the first time, one of the world's leading experts on Western esoteric traditions and magic, Dr. Stephen Skinner, introduces the text, sharing his insights into Crowley's take on yoga, ceremonial magick and Thelema. His long involvement with magick, both as an academic and as a practitioner, enabled Dr. Skinner to highlight the differences between the psychological and the spirit-orientated approaches to magick, and to show how that dilemma shaped Crowley's practice and his founding of Thelema, enlightening the reader to many previously unknown connections.
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Average rating from 5 members
A great compilation of the more popular Crowley books.. This is a great introduction to his writings for someone interested in Thelema or Crowley in general.
“Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head?” Show-off, womaniser, charmer, the wickedest man in England or just a bit of a prat? The jury on Aleister Crowley has been out for decades, but now this welcome collection of his work may help to rehabilitate him. History has forgotten Crowley’s “distinctly original contributions” to the study of yoga in the West, and his many mountaineering records, some of which still stand today, in favour of the “sexier” stuff. Stephen Skinner’s excellent, lucid and often funny introduction to this definitive collection of the four Parts that make up Crowley’s “Book Four” magnum opus is worth the asking price alone. There is also a timeline of Crowley’s life which shows he packed in enough action to fill several lifetimes, but there is also a clear decline as age and hard times caught up with him. Skinner also examines how Crowley’s attempt to start his own religion, Thelema, and how it came to obsess him. I’ve never swam so deep in AC’s world before so I appreciate the guiding hand of author Stephen Skinner; an expert in the world of magic and a Crowley admirer, but unafraid to be critical when needed. The four books are presented in their original form with new footnotes where necessary. The author has also moved certain original appendices around so that they are now grouped by type, rather than Crowley’s own often haphazard system. This collection is a welcome (and successful) attempt to simplify Crowley’s work and to present it as a coherent whole. Crowley’s work is, to the uninitiated (and possibly even to the initiated) utterly impenetrable nonsense. True, some of it was Crowley’s own invention which he added in for show, and he was not averse to “fiddling the numbers” to make his Kabbalah calculations work better. But, as Skinner explains, Crowley’s desire was to modernise magic and to explain it in scientific terms, thus making it accessible to the masses. I vividly recall buying a copy of “Magick” back in the early 90s, feeling quite naughty and being convinced I’d be able to summon up demons in no time, but utterly failing to make any sense of the bizarre words and weird diagrams within. Unsurprisingly, I still can’t get anything out of Crowley’s work but thanks to Skinner’s lucid annotation I can at least get the basic gist, and I’m truly glad that this collection exists. This volume will be of great benefit to the reader who is already well-versed in the subject matter. A reappraisal of Aleister Crowley is long overdue, and this erudite, definitive work is the best of all possible starts. Thanks to NetGalley and Watkins Publishing for allowing me to view an advanced reading copy.
My practice is more earth based but I have always wanted to know more about Aleister Crowley and his beliefs…and this book is just what I needed. While it includes four of his most prolific works, it gives great insight into his beliefs. For me, I took it as the “Illuminating writings of a unique man” and will be reading this again in more detail over time. Let’s just say there is unique, and then there is what did I just read? I need to read that again. This is definitely a great read for anyone interested in learning more about the man and his beliefs.