Especially if what thou wilt means having licentious, free-spirited sex with whoever tickles your ‘magickal’ fancy. Aleister Crowley was undoubtedly a charlatan. But he was also super-intelligent, a massively talented writer when he felt like it, heavily bisexual, extremely arrogant, a randomly excellent mountain climber (if you ignore the fact that he caused the deaths of quite a few people along the way), an extremely mediocre painter, a raconteur par excellence and an enthusiastic imbiber of drugs. Oh, and he was a magician. Whatever the hell that means.
Back when it got into magic it seems he probably did take it seriously. But as 99% of his magical practices involved plying young boys and women with drugs and then making them drink the elixir, it’s debatable how much magic came into the whole thing really. The elixir? That was his semen. A lot of his semen was apparently ingested over the years. Sometimes by him.
He would apparently achieve states of magic while having massive sex sessions under the influence of narcotics. And we’re not talking a bit of a spliff. He regularly got absolutely and totally wasted on everything from hash to cocaine and opium, mixed with revolting amounts of alcohol. He was contemptuous of those who couldn’t keep up with his iron constitution and confidently declared he wasn’t able to become addicted as he was in control of his Will. This changed when a doctor introduced him to the delights of pure heroin. Turns out his Will wasn’t actually any different from any other addicts after all.
He also believed he was here on earth to show people a new way to live. After spending his formative years under the yoke of the Plymouth Brethren and all the crazy that entails, he, unsurprisingly, decided to hate organised religion the instant he hit puberty and discovered booze, sex and drugs.
Like teenagers the world over, but with the added advantage of being really bloody rich, Crowley threw himself into a life where he basically did whatever he wanted, all the while attracting devoted followers who handily kept him in the cash when he’d spunked most of his own vast fortune self-publishing endless books and magazines, buying lots of magical gewgaws and having sex with prostitutes.
He was riddled with venereal disease, quickly lost what looks he had, shaved his hair off apart from a small triangle in the centre of his forehead and resembled a bloated frog for most of his life, and yet the ladies – and young men – just kept coming.
Every now and again he’d meet someone he really really fancied, shag them senseless and then proclaim them his next ‘Scarlet Woman’. This meant that they must be psychic and could do magical shenanigans at the same time as having a lot of sex with him. Almost every single one of his notable Scarlet Women turned to hard drinking, drugs, prostitution and/or suicide.
He sired bastard children left and right, some of whom died, some of whom he could not have cared less about, and at least one of whom never wanted anything to do with his raddled old carcass in later years.
The same man who called himself The Beast, hung out with writers and actors, possibly spied for the British during the war, definitely wrote some pro-German propaganda and was only truly sorry when one person in the world died - his mother, despite saying he loathed her, he clearly had some major mommy issues. He was mad, bad and dangerous to know, in the finest Byronic tradition and accurately predicted, among other things, genetic engineering and the danger of pushing the drug trade underground. He was funny, cruel and utterly selfish and I had an excellent time reading about him.
What a guy.