Moonlight magick: love and war

Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley (c1912) – from The Equinox, volume 1, issue 10 (1913)

In a previous post, I described a surrealistic walk that I made in 2015, starting with Ernest Dowson’s passion for absinthe, then meeting other poets, MoonCCat, Bertolt Brecht and Jim Morrison, and finally ending at Dowson’s great passion, little girls. Throughout this path I encountered the moon, which presides over the impermanence of all things.

Now I will relate my mysterious journey in the shadow of a fearful and scandalous magician: Aleister Crowley, whom the British journal John Bull called “the wickedest man in the world” and “a man we’d like to hang.” It is a secret world, which must be evoked in metaphorical language.

In April 2021, in order to awake Crowley’s magick, I decided to read again his novel Moonchild written in 1917 …

Cover of the book Moonchild by Aleister Crowley
Cover of the book Moonchild by Aleister Crowley

A white magician seduces a young woman, and persuades her to give birth to a supernatural child filled with the spirit of the moon. He makes her pregnant and keeps her in a secluded place in southern Italy, where special rituals are carried out by his team. Black magicians plot to thwart this project; several of them die in their efforts. But the woman lacks perseverance, and she is filled with the changing nature of the moon, so finally one young man working for the black magicians succeeds in seducing her, and he flees with her. The black lodge takes thus possession of the child. However, this woman was a bait to lure them; indeed, a faithful disciple has given birth to the moonchild in a secret place. Finally, World War I breaks out, and the remaining black magicians meet an infamous death, while the young seducer joins the group of white magicians.

On May the 1st, from the depth of a forest in a faraway land came beauty, youth and freedom. In the midst of a world pandemic, extremal love united the contraries across distances, shattering all prejudices. However, the moon’s magic shines only for a short time, the Moon Maiden’s love cannot last. So after two months, the May beauty slowly went away, and for the next six months she sometimes emerged from the dark only to disappear again, until she finally drifted towards a distant world.

When the chosen novice fails, the faithful disciple must take over. As soon as the May beauty had broken her moorings, a spiritual companion came in, a star shining through the pages of books in many languages. Love and art free all desires, opening the doors of the mind, without taboo. Let Jim Morrison “Light My Fire” while we enjoy forbidden beauty. We share the same passions that set us apart from he rest of the world, as in this poem by Edgar Allan Poe:


From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view —

(source: the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore)

Alas, with the moonchild comes war, separating people, trapping bodies and tearing hearts apart. Slowly, it wears out the link between souls, as they plunge into darkness. Nightmare triumphs, shattering the spiritual adventure of love. My mate drowns into the sea of despair. Everything is lost, we end more lonely than ever.

What will happen next? Crowley’s novel ends with the beginning of the war, it does not tell what has become later of the moonchild and her mother. But we know now that World War I lasted four years.

The moon is far away, and its light shines only for a brief moment … the spiritual link between distant souls is so insecure, it can fall prey to the darkness of infinite space.

Has this story ended? Will the moon’s magical power disappear? Will she remain sterile and dead? But does she herself know?

For, know! the moon is not the moon until
She hath the knowledge to fulfil
Her music, till she know herself the moon.
— Aleister Crowley, “Rosa Mundi,” Rosa Mundi, and other love-songs, in The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, Volume III (1907).

Aleister Crowley was also a poet, and from this magical journey remain several poems.

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