Crowley’s children

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

It turns out all those nutty Christian evangelists who warned that rock and roll was satanic were right, Jules Evans notes:

[Aleister] Crowley appears on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. John Lennon once said ‘The whole Beatles thing was do what you want, you know?’

A statue of him also appears on the cover of the Doors’ album, Doors 13. The Doors admired Crowley as someone who’d ‘broken through to the other side’, and who was a master of anarchic showmanship. Jim Morrison once said, in very Crowley-ite words: ‘I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that appears to have no meaning.’

Jimmy Page was a huge Crowley fan, and bought his house next to Loch Ness. Crowley’s famous motto, ‘Do What Thou Wilt’, was embossed on the vinyl of Led Zeppelin III.

The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull were into Crowleian magic through the film-maker Kenneth Anger — hence their album His Satanic Majesties and their song Sympathy for the Devil. Jagger also made the soundtrack to Anger’s film, Invocation to my Demon Brother, while Marianne Faithful appeared in Anger’s Lucifer Rising, which starred a future member of the Manson Family.

David Bowie was also a big fan of Crowley — he mentions him in the song ‘Quicksand’, and was very influenced by Crowley’s magic techniques, symbolism, and superman philosophy. Bowie was deep into the occult in the 1970s, particularly during the making of ‘Station to Station’ when he feared he’d invoked an evil demon, and that witches were trying to steal his semen to make a Satanic love-child (no, really).

In the 1980s, of course, various metal bands were explicitly into Crowley, from Black Sabbath to Iron Maiden. More recently, and perhaps more surprisingly, Crowley’s ideas are apparently an influence on rap stars like Jay-Z, Kanye West, and that ardent practitioner of sex magick, Ciara.

More broadly, as we’ll examine, pop culture helped to make Crowley’s philosophy of unfettered egotism — do what thou wilt — the ruling philosophy of western society. We are all Crowley’s children.


  1. Bert E. says:

    Fleetwood Mac too. Rhiannon means WITCH in the language of the ancient Welsh people. Lots of escort service ads feature women that go by the name of “Rhiannon”. Do what you will but take your chances.

  2. Anomaly UK says:

    Sabbath and Maiden were into using the dramatic imagery of horror films rather than seriously interested in Satanism in the way Page and Bowie were.

  3. I agree with Anomaly UK on this one: that was imagery, not endorsement. Would love to see the citations behind “support”; definitely Ozzy referenced Crowley in song, negatively, but can’t think of a corresponding Maiden reference.

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