Aleister Crowley (12th October 1875 – 1st December 1947).
Poet; chess-player: ‘nobody ever beat him;’ traveller; artist and occultist, labelled The Beast was born on this day 140 years ago and died in Netherwood boarding house (sitting 500 feet above sea level) on The Ridge, in my town of Old Hastings, East Sussex.
He chose room 13, at the front of the house, with extensive views of the Norman castle, Beachy Head and the sea.
He was described by his landlady as “popular, pleasing, charming; very erudite; a good companion, a stimulating talker and quite unlike anyone else; from the day of his dramatic arrival, he was clearly no ordinary mortal.”
He had a large collection of friends, received many visitors, and parcels of chocolate from America – when rationing was rife in Britain. In fact from his room permeated the smell of a strong molasses-tobacco; it was stacked from floor to ceiling with his books and packages of chocolates.
He often took long walks along The Ridge, leaning on lampposts, palms to the sun.
But during his lifetime, he promoted himself as “the wickest man in the world” and “the devil incarnate.”
On the evening of his burial, the coffin travelled from Hastings to Brighton for cremation, there was a tremendous thunderstorm with lightening that continued all through the night; his good friend remarked, “Crowley would have loved that.”
He had an extraordinary presence, and an unusual persona, was distinctively different, possessing secret magical powers, beyond all ordinary comprehension, and keen to make friendships with the inquisitive and intelligent.
Netherwood house was demolished in 1968.
“But this is dawn; my soul shall make its nest
Where your sighs swing from rapture into rest
Love’s thurible, your tiger-lily breast.”