Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult
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Aleister Crowley is best known today as a founding father of modern occultism. His wide, hypnotic eyes peer at us from the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and his influence can be found everywhere in popular culture.
Crowley, also known as the Great Beast, has been the subject of several biographies, some painting him as a misunderstood genius, others as a manipulative charlatan. None of them have looked seriously at his career as an agent of British Intelligence.
Using documents gleaned from British, American, French, and Italian archives, Secret Agent 666 sensationally reveals that Crowley played a major role in the sinking of the Lusitania, a plot to overthrow the government of Spain, the thwarting of Irish and Indian nationalist conspiracies, and the 1941 flight of Rudolf Hess.
Author Richard B. Spence argues that Crowley—in his own unconventional way—was a patriotic Englishman who endured years of public vilification in part to mask his role as a secret agent.
The verification of the Great Beast’s participation in the twentieth century’s most astounding government plots will likely blow the minds of history buff s and occult aficionados alike.
Author Richard B. Spence can be seen on various documentaries on the History Channel and is a consultant for Washington, DC’s International Spy Museum. He is also the author of Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly (Feral House).
commanded it. More likely, it was part of his ongoing feud with former brethren of the Golden Dawn, particularly Macgregor Mathers. The Beast managed to fend off the resulting lawsuit, but his act of spite would cost him dearly. Beyond the offense he gave to Mathers et al., Crowley’s flagrant indiscretion offended the values and sensibilities of secret society members in general. These included hundreds of thousands of British Freemasons, many of whom filled the ranks of the Foreign Office and
mastermind of that outrage, “Peter the Painter,” had vanished, and was rumored to have sought refuge among the Alps with others of his ilk. Near the picturesque Swiss town of Lugano was the thriving commune of Monte Verita, the de facto capital of the European counterculture and a mecca for rebels of every political, spiritual, and sexual orientation.46 Whether Crowley ever visited the place is uncertain, but it will figure prominently in Reuss’ wartime intrigues. According to the Beast, soon
his basic approach to money was to spend until it was gone and then pray for more to drop into his lap. Oddly, this approach usually worked, although it kept him swinging from one extreme to the other and frequently fretting over impending destitution. As we will see, however, the future Mega Therion was never without means to keep himself fed, housed, and clothed, usually quite comfortably, and seldom was so stretched that he could not afford such indulgences (necessities, he might argue) as
complained of ill health and Mrs. Bishop’s surliness. Mooching off relatives saved money, but some other reason must have delayed to return to New York. Was he waiting for something, or lying low? He was not incommunicado. On 28 March, Crowley received a letter from Frater Fiat Pax, a.k.a. George Macnie Cowie, financial trustee of the OTO lodge in London. Whatever the letter contained enraged and/or frightened the Beast and resulted in a break with Cowie. As the war progressed, recalled Crowley,
May. Its official justification was Crowley’s “obscene and perverted” sexual activity, including polygamy. The others at the Abbey were free to remain and continue their orgies; the Italians were not bothered by the alternative lifestyles, just by Crowley. Mussolini’s men believed that he was up to something besides mere vice, but they could not prove it. The key likely was a Sicilian nobleman and prominent politician, Giovanni Antonio Colonna, Duca di Cesaro, then a non-Fascist member of