Aleister Crowley was even more beastly than we’d imagined

I have never had much time for Aleister Crowley. Magic(k) is nonsense; the mystical societies he founded were simply pretexts for him to take as many drugs and have as much sex as he could. And he was a second-rate writer at best. When the novelist Arthur Calder-Marshall said he had gone ‘from Great Beast to Great Bore’, I thought it a fair summing-up. Crowley initiates were some of the dodgiest people in the western world – either frauds or hucksters themselves or the most gullible of fools. There was always the matter of his self-reinvention. Aleister Crowley was not christened thus: he changed his first name because he thought