Collected Works of Aleister Crowley 1905-1907

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Collected Works 1905–1907
Collected Works
Author Aleister Crowley
Illustrator
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre poetry/plays/religion
Publisher The S. P. R. T
Publication date
1905, 1906, 1907
Followed by 'Konx Om Pax'

The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley 1905–1907 was originally a trilogy of books published by the occultist, magician, and self-proclaimed prophet of Thelema, Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) during his early career as student of magick, and is now considered among his very numerous rarities.

Collected Works volume I 1905[edit]

The first volume was published in 1905 but contains his poems and plays between 1898 and 1902 and is what he admits to be his juvenilia. It is noted at the beginning:

The great bulk of MSS. from 1887 to 1897 have been sedulously sought out and destroyed. They were very voluminous.

CONTENTS

Page Title Type Year Read online
1 Aceldama poem 1898
7 The Tale of Archais dramatic poem 1898
29 Songs of the Spirit poems 1898
57 The Poem play 1898
64 Jephtah play 1899
90 Mysteries poems 1898
129 Jezebal and other Tragic Poems poems 1899
136 An Appeal to the American Republic poem 1899
141 The Fatal Force play 1899
154 The Mother's Tragedy play 1899
166 The Temple of the Holy Ghost poems 1900
214 Carmen Saeculare poem 1901
222 Tanhäuser play 1902
263 Death in Thessaly epilogue
265 Qabalistic Dogma appendix in [1]

Most of these early works show little in the way of magic but are an introduction to Crowley's knowledge of religion and mythology. It's interesting to see how, after Crowley's first book White Stains was banned and pulped, his consequent works of 1898 were quite mellow, almost gothic and Christian, with the first two hiding behind the pseudonym "A Gentlemen of the University of Cambridge" (no doubt after Percy Shelley's "A Gentlemen of the University of Oxford" for similar reasons). Aceldama, named after the place where Judas hanged himself ("the field of blood") is a philosophical lament that sees sin as the only abyss of life. The Tale of Archais is a dramatic love poem telling the story of Charicles and Archais, a girl condemned to turn into a snake. Charicles prays to his mother Aphrodite to change him into a beautiful girl to lure Zeus' love and make him vow to change into a mortal for him/her, this then so Archais can bite and finally kill Zeus to lift the curse. The allusions to adultery and the Christian God are obvious in this comedy.

After Songs of the Spirit the poems pick up Crowley's love of adulterous sex in the name of sin with the likes of "The Honourable Adulterers", "The Five Kisses" (both in Mysteries) and Jezebel and other Tragic Poems (in fact the word "tragedy" was added to these pieces, along with their own pseudonyms "A.E.C" and "Count Vladimir Svareff", again to protect Crowley's early reputation. He knew in himself they were actually comedies)

The Temple of the Holy Ghost is a fusing of the poems in The Mother's Tragedy and other Poems and The Soul of Osiris: A History and now introduces Golden Dawn allusions, Sanskrit yoga terms, qabbalistic terms and Egyptian mythology. It was this latter book that was reviewed by the British poet and writer G. K. Chesterton quite polemically that led to Crowley's early feud with him.

The last piece, Tannhäuser: A Story of all Time, ends Crowley's amateur stage and tells the legend of the Christian knight [[Tannhäuser]], already expressed by Wagner. Crowley's source for the tale was probably the occult scholar Arthur Edward Waite. Tannhäuser in the play leaves his Christian community and his childhood darling Elizabeth for the mysteries of Egypt and the God beyond time. Oddly, Crowley once stated that this play contained the theory of special relativity only Einstein usurped the phenomenon in 1905 by being more blatant.

Collected Works volume II 1906[edit]

The second volume showed Crowley's maturing poetry and plays of 1902–1904, with the second half of this book breaking into many prose works based on his new-found interest in nineteenth-century philosophy and Buddhism; keeping in mind that Crowley received The Book of the Law from the intelligence Aiwass about this time. Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden and The Goetia were not included in this volume.

CONTENTS

Page Title Type Year Read online
1 Oracles poems 1905
58 Alice, an Adultery dramatic poems 1903
86 The Argonauts play 1904
121 Ahab and other Poems poems 1903
130 The God-Eater play 1903
140 The Sword of Swong concept poem 1904
212 Ambrosii Magi Hortus Rosarum satire 1902
225 The Three Characteristics satire 1902
233 Berashith essay 1902
244 Science and Buddhism essay 1902
262 The Excluded Middle essay 1902
267 Time essay 1902
283 epilogue

The first work to appear in this volume, Oracles: the Autobiography of an Art, is like a little collected works in itself and contained Crowley's backlog of poems from 1889–1903, including an unfinished Buddhist classic the Dhammapada, Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal (also unfinished) and some from Green Alps, his teenage collection of mountaineering poetry. Alice, an Adultery however is a sign of Crowley's maturing poetical skills (as well as again his love of adultery) and claims in the introduction to have been passed him in MS. form from the dying lover of "Alice" on his journeys in the East. It is written in the form of fifty sonnets numbered from the first day to the fiftieth and laments the poet's desire to make love with a married woman.

The Sword of Song was a major breakthrough for Crowley as it was the first to refer to himself as "The Beast" without any reticence as regards his critics, and the cover daringly had "Aleister Crowley = 666" written in Hebrew. It was basically a work based on Robert Browning's Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day and itself contained two long, likewise-colloquial poems called "Ascension Day" and "Pentacoste", both quite anarchic and unreadable because of the constant use of neologisms, disenjambment and punctuation, the poems really set way by means of hundreds of footnotes for collected prose witticisms in the back (even the line-numbering, going up naturally in five, cheekily missed "665" for "666"). The essays and poems in the back include "William Shakespeare", "Pansil", "After Agnosticism", "Preface to Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis", "Summa Spes" and "The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magick" (the introduction also to his edition of The Goetia).

The rest of this volume contains prose, almost avante garde, satire. Of no exception is Ambrossi Magi Hortus Rosarum claiming to be translated from a work by "Christeos Luciftias" and is similar to the fantasy attainments such as The Wake World and The Heart of the Master with the aspirant in alchemical fashion moving through the pictures of the Tarot cards. The Three Characteristics is a tongue-in-cheek take on what is known as a "jataka" story, or incarnation saga of Buddhism, but sounds more like the Book of Job with Ganesh being tempted by Jehiour (really Iehi Aour, Allan Bennett) to inflict various karma on the reincarnating Per R Abu (Perdurabo, Crowley). These two works were originally appendices II and I respectively of The Sword of Song whilst Berashith and Science and Buddhism were its supplements and further philosophical works.

The Excluded Middle, or the Skeptic Refuted and Time are also philosophical satire and previously unpublished. They are both dialogues between "Mysticus" and "Skepticus" ("....Hindu Mystic and a British Skeptic....") and also breaks off into footnote essays actually bigger than the main context.

Collected Works volume III 1907[edit]

CONTENTS

The final volume of Aleister Crowley's collected works have a flamboyancy of style which will be seen in the following period of his editorial The Equinox. It collects his writings from 1904–1907. The contents appear less than the others only because the final work Orpheus was substantially long, taking up maybe 40% of the book.

CONTENTS

Page Title Type Year Read online
1 The Star and the Garter concept poems 1904
20 Why Jesus Wept play 1905
51 Rosa Mundi and other Love Songs poems 1905
68 The Sire de Malétroit's Door play 1906
84 Gargoyles poems 1906
109 Rodin in Rime poems 1907
126 Orpheus concept poems 1905
219 epilogue of I, II, III
233 (bibliographical note) appendix A
240 (index of first lines) appendix B

The Star and the Garter is a work that is similar to Alice, an Adultery, only this time the dilemma of the poet represents Crowley upon his wife discovering a prostitute's garter belt in his room. This marks the last time until his divorce that Crowley romanticised unbridled sex. Rosa Mundi was one of a trilogy of poems written for her (Rose Kelly) published under the pseudonym "H. D. Carr" after Katie Carr, the wife of French artist and sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) who supplied water-colouring to the editions' sleeves. His works were also honoured by Crowley in the following Rodin in Rime (Rosa Inferni itself appears in Gargoyles, whilst Rosa Coelli was published possibly after this volume in 1907).

The last work to appear was Crowley's Orpheus: a Lyrical Legend and was meant to be his crowning work as a poet. As he points out in the introduction, not only was Crowley unhappy with the final product, its lengthy and uninspired creation from as far back as 1902 (uncommon in Crowley who was turbulent in his creative output) was also badly received from friends. But many would agree the pæan style in which Crowley glorifies these mythological characters was pertinent to his career as a conjuror of gods, and the many complicated rhyme schemes were if anything a signpost of the incantatory style of Crowley that is now stereotyped in witchcraft.

The chapters are

  • LIBER PRIMUS VEL CARMINUM (Orpheus' tuning his lyre to antistrophe of various "elemental forces")

TO OSCAR ECKENSTEIN, with whom I have wondered in so many solitudes of nature, and thereby learnt the words and spells that bind her children

  • LIBER SECUNDUS VEL AMORIS (Orpheus laments Eurydice's death)

TO MARY BEATON, whom I lament

  • LIBER TERTIUS VEL LABORIS (Orpheus travels to Hades)

TO THE MEMORY OF IEHI AOUR, with whom I walked through Hell, and compelled it

  • LIBER QUARTUS VEL MORTIS (Orpheus on Mt. Ida with the Mænads)

TO MY WIFE

Editions[edit]

  • The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley 3 vols. 1905–1907, Foyer, UK: S. P. R. T.
  • The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley 1 vol, "traveller's ed.", 1907, Foyer, UK: S. P. R. T
  • The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley reprint, 3 vols. 1974, Des Plaines, IL: Yogi Publication Society, ISBN 0-911662-51-0, ISBN 0-911662-52-9, ISBN 0-911662-53-7

See also[edit]

External links[edit]