What is “The Book of the Law” by Aleister Crowley about?

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What is "The Book of the Law" by Aleister Crowley about?

David Lesak

Votes: 1094

It is about this dictum: “Do what thou willt shall be the whole of the Law; Love under will.” It is the actual book containing the Law to which this refers, and its cipher is 777. It is considered the core of Crowley’s Magickal workings. The correct name for the book is in Latin, “Liber Al vel Legis”, literally, the Book of the Law.

That dictum or motto is often misquoted and more often than not completely misunderstood and taken out of context. It is not only an exhortation to do whatever you want – free love etc., but rather to impose love under your will and manifest your own desires regardless of the effect upon everyone else. This was basically Crowley’s moral code, which he saw as giving him the right to act outside the confines of public morality or any concept of right or wrong. Crowley felt himself to be above the concept of right or wrong, and even engaged in sick rituals in an attempt to enter a spiritual realm which was not subject to Divine judgement – if such a realm exists…

Garland Headley

Votes: 3540

interestingly enough they both are right… Crowley was like the bad boy of magick and Franz was the level headed one with truth in its purest form. Also with franz he gave all the basic tools that would lead you to find and even design any magick system you want. whereas with crowley he focused on standards in order to break them and caused some very revolutionary ideas to promulgate our known psyche on magick today. for example he was the first to leave the “safety” of the magick circle and enter the triangle of manifestation with the entity still in there and he survived! if i’m not mistaken this was at the coliseum in rome. pretty epic. Franz’s approached is definitely more grounded so that if you were to do something like that you actually understand intently from start to finish all the laws involved with that procedure. My personal preference is Franz and I studied him extensively and that has given me a fortitude of longevity in this field. I studied Crowley to the point where i eventually understood why he wrote the book of lies in that perspective. he was brilliant but touched – I think.

That’s my take on it so far…:)


Votes: 5738

It was supposed to be his equivalent to the Tao te ching or whatever. But is drivel. A collection of some of his random thoughts and ideas

Alexander Duncan

Votes: 9608

Was Aleister Crowley anti-semitic?

Crowley was not above indulging in racial slurs, but when push came to shove, he expelled his German representative, Martha Küntzel, for anti-semitism, declaring that the Jews were the only civilized race in Germany.

Alison Hartley

Votes: 2882

Oh my goodness there is no comparison.

Crowley was the most infamous magician of the late 19th/early 20th century. His work with magick made the practice available to everyone: “Every man and woman is a star.” Prior to him, only secret occult orders (such as the Golden Dawn) had access to the theory and practice of “magick” and the mysticism that accompanied it. Crowley took exception to the secrecy, and devoted his life to making eastern mysticism, western mysticism, and the practical conceits that accompanied that publicly available. He even inadvertently, during his travels, stumbled upon tenets that were held in absolute secrecy by the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO,) and the heads of the order took him in so he would stop spilling their secrets. The OTO, which was ultimately re-done to reflect Crowley’s religion, Thelema, exists in that aspect today.

Crowley received, through his medium wife at the time, what became known as “The Book of the Law” in the early 1900’s. An entity named Aiwass spoke through her to deliver this canon. It was meant to herald a new age of the religion of man. This became known as the religion of Thelema, which focuses upon the Will of each individual. “Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the law” is the standard of its teaching. However, this does not mean to go out and do whatever you feel like. It means that it is the responsibility of each person to determine his purpose in life, mostly through the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, which sets each person on the proper path. Once determined, nothing and no one should interfere with that purpose, or the “Will.”

This last notion brings us to a little pamphlet known as “Liber Oz,”which Crowley wrote in 1941:


“the law ofthe strong:this is our lawand the joyof the world.” AL. II. 2

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” –AL. I. 40

“thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.” –AL. I. 42-3

“Every man and every woman is a star.” –AL. I. 3

There is no god but man.

1. Man has the right to live by his own law–

to live in the way that he wills to do:to work as he will:to play as he will:to rest as he will:to die when and how he will.

2. Man has the right to eat what he will:

to drink what he will:to dwell where he will:to move as he will on the face of the earth.

3. Man has the right to think what he will:

to speak what he will:to write what he will:to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as he will:to dress as he will.

4. Man has the right to love as he will:–

“take your fill and will of love as ye will,when, where, and with whom ye will.” –AL. I. 51

5. Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.

“the slaves shall serve.” –AL. II. 58

“Love is the law, love under will.” –AL. I. 57

Copyright © O.T.O.

Now, this was written a bit tongue-in-cheek at the time, but it was written with the idea that once man has determined his Will via conversation with the HGA (Holy Guardian Angel – and yes, there is a very extensive ritual for that,; the movie “A Dark Song” does a fairly good job about a woman seeking this knowledge) the above becomes rote, because no one should conflict with a person who has this knowledge. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean go out and do whatever you want.

Several years later, a professional carney and lion-tamer named Anton LaVey comes along, and pretty much wants to start a cult. He decides that for dramatic purposes, he’s going to call it the Church of Satan and publishes the “Nine Satanic Statements:”

The tone of the Nine Satanic Statements rather reflects that of Liber Oz. However, to LaVey’s Satanists, their version of “Do What Thou Wilt” means doing whatever the hell you want (literally.)

People tend to confuse the two frequently. The Church of Satan was founded in 1966 and does borrow heavily from Crowley, or at least it thinks it does. Someone not familiar with Crowley and Thelema might fail to see the difference, but it’s definitely there.

It’s a difference of doing whatever the hell you want, and discerning and doing what “god” put you here to do.

The difference is huge.

Alison Hartley

Votes: 608


It’s a strange book that even Crowley himself struggled to understand.

But, my favorite part is the Adoration, from Chapter III:

37. I adore thee in the song –I am the Lord of Thebes, and IThe inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;For me unveils the veiled sky,The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsuWhose words are truth. I invoke, I greetThy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Unity uttermost showed!I adore the might of Thy breath,Supreme and terrible God,Who makest the gods and deathTo tremble before Thee: –I, I adore thee!

Appear on the throne of Ra!Open the ways of the Khu!Lighten the ways of the Ka!The ways of the Khabs run throughTo stir me or still me!Aum! let it fill me!

The light is mine; its rays consumeMe: I have made a secret doorInto the House of Ra and Tum,Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.I am thy Theban, O Mentu,The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!

By Bes-na-Maut my breast I beat;By wise Ta-Nech I weave my spell.Show thy star-splendour, O Nuit!Bid me within thine House to dwell,

O winged snake of light, Hadit!Abide with me, Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Rodney Orpheus

Votes: 6480

A lot of occultists and Crowley scholars are atheists, which seems contradictory to most people who assume that if you practice magick you must believe in gods and demons etc. That’s not the case. Many modern practitioners of occultism don’t believe those things have any objective reality but are simply imaginary constructs that we use to help understand the working of our own brains.

Aleister Crowley was one of the first occultists to propound this theory. In The Goetia, published in 1904, Crowley writes:

If, then, I say, with Solomon:

“The Spirit Cimieries teaches logic,”

what I mean is:

“Those portions of my brain which subserve the logical faculty may be stimulated and developed by following out the processes called ‘The Invocation of Cimieries.’’’

And this is a purely materialistic rational statement; it is independent of any objective hierarchy at all.

Later he would write in Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae:

In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.

So it’s quite possible to be an atheist and appreciate Crowley’s work – in fact I think it’s an advantage.

Mo Abdelbaki

Votes: 6494

I believe that Crowley was simply a man who despised the rigidity of the Victorian era. Born in 1875, he was raised in a highly religious household, yet an obvious genius, as proven by his writings and vast capacity for understanding complex spiritual concepts, he found it all stiff. He became an iconoclast and seems to have developed a deep loathing for sycophants, although he often depended upon them.

He was a world class mountaineer, chemist, romantic, poet, artist and world traveler. He insisted that the social constraints that restrained the open mindedness of most individuals were outdated and needed to be revised.

He was in his prime during the 1920s and 1930s, a time known for hedonism, sexual promiscuity and blatant counter culture activities, including the use of psychotropic drugs, hashish, alcohol and the embrace of many religions, such as Hinduism, Taoism, Islam and most strikingly, paganism. He was not only fascinated by ancient Egyptian religion and magic, but emulated it, making it the very foundation of his created religion in the form of “The Stele of Revealing.”

At the same time, he was a heroin addict, sexually vigorous (if the tales told are to be believed), bisexual at the very least and openly disdainful of authority. He knew he was more intelligent than most others, and wasn’t shy about that fact.

Crowley was many things, but not evil. Evil was fully shown in the mass slaughters of WWII. That was evil. The Killing Fields of Cambodia were evil. There is evil in the world, all humankind created, but Crowley wasn’t an example of it.

He lived an incredibly full life. He was capable of good, as we all are, and of being an arrogant jerk.

He was neither all good nor bad. In other words, he was quite human, and a remarkable one at that.

Andrew Olson

Votes: 4609

Actually Heinlein pointed this out … it is not prescriptive, it is descriptive.

That is, people do what they will, not telling people to do what they will.

It’s like saying water flows downhill because that’s the nature of water. Ok. That’s not very informative. Descriptive yes. That’s what happens.

Rather like Nietzchie’s infamous ‘To desire the ends is to desire the means.’

It doesn’t mean do whatever it takes to get what you want. It means you will want to put in the effort to reach your goals … or you didn’t really want those goals in the first place. If you want to be a doctor, you will want to go to medical school and study hard. If you want to write a novel, you will want to sit your butt in the chair and write. (Not even necessarily like, but have enough drive to actually do it.)

It’s the same kind of thing. What you actually do, not just talk about or dream about, is what you will.

It’s a description of how people behave, not telling people how to behave. Different direction.

The best example of these is Bujold’s “The one thing you can never trade for your heart’s desire is your heart.” This is because when you give up your heart, you’ve given up that thing which desires.

It’s The Gift of the Magi.

That’s why it’s such a hard concept to express, because, ultimately, humans aren’t naturally wired to see inside that blind spot. Many will attack to defend it even, saying that’s wrong and throwing a screaming fit. People have even killed over that particular glitch.

Which could be said to be where the evil lies in that particular lacuna. When looking into that mirror, many become insanely violent, totally out of proportion to the offense.

Mo Abdelbaki

Votes: 2834

As I see it, the statement refers to being conscious about everything one does. “Will,” in occult parlance can refer to more than one thing, but in this case it is most likely applied to the idea of concentration and focus on the results of an act, thought, or outcome. This is no easy feat, and takes practice and training. Such a way of thinking is bound to empower one over time. It implies a mind without random thoughts and full attention. It could be thought of as saying, “don’t do anything you don’t intend to do, or that you’ll regret.” Impulsiveness isn’t always bad, but it can lead to trouble if the end result isn’t clear. This is especially true in the magical arts.

Crowley’s credo has been misinterpreted to mean, do anything you want, anytime you wish to do it. This hedonistic view of his work is wrong. The lack of “will” in an act renders it impotent and ridiculous. If we do something because we want to do it, even if it’s illegal, we risk punishment. This is not a good use of the will. This has become an issue with certain sex workers who mistake libido to be a compass for the journey. Everything must have a frame of thought. This certainly doesn’t rule out the idea of pleasure for the sake of pleasure, as long as it is within the realm of willful thinking and the consequences are held in mind.

This is an oversimplification of the meaning, but I hope it does help.

Paul Hume

Votes: 3072

Crowley’s writing is often dense, often florid by modern standards. I first encountered Magick In Theory And Practice (in the good old Castle edition) in 1967 or ‘68, when I was a freshman in college. I doubt I really followed one word in five (I think I may have that up to 3 or even 4 words today), but it showed me that magic (or magick) was a living tradition in the modern world, not a relic of the Mediaeval and Renaissance. It led me on a book hunt through the Library of Congress for more of the same: The Equinox, Regardie’s Golden Dawn, Book 4 parts 1 and 2, and of course The Book of the Law. As well as many other goodies.

Llewellyn and Weiser were just beginning to reprint a lot of this material , so in the years that followed I obtained my own copies, but that first summer, esconced in the Jefferson Reading Room at the LoC, firing off request slips like mad, still comes to memory as a golden time.

There are a bunch of Thelema 101 books by other authors out there – and every one has its fans and detractors. I won’t get into those.

Thelema Texts (sacred_texts.com) has online editions of most of Crowley’s work. So you can browse for free. Myself, looking back, I’d start with what is called Book 4, part 1 and part 2. Magick In Theory And Practice is part 3. Equinox of the Gods is generally viewed as part 4.

All of them are very good introductions, albeit parts may make you feel you’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool.

You might try a Crowley biography (not The Confessions yet…his autobiography, or as he called it, his autohagiography) – Richard Kaczynski’s is very well researched, but written by an adherent of Thelema so it has that bias. Lawrence Sutin’s is more…shall we say secular? Understand more of the life of the man, as opposed to his writings as a magician.

Medora Mithridora

Votes: 4158

A little complex, that one. Here are A.C.’s own words on the subject, from Chapter 21 of “Magick In Theory And Practice”:

Before leaving the subject of Black Magic, one may touch lightly on the question of Pacts with the Devil.The Devil does not exist. It is a false name invented by the Black Brothers to imply a Unity in their ignorant muddle of dispersions. A devil who had unity would be a God

“The Devil” is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes. This has led to so much confusion of thought that THE BEAST 666 has preferred to let names stand as they are, and to proclaim simply that AIWAZ — the solar-phallic-hermetic “Lucifer” is His own Holy Guardian Angel, and “The Devil” SATAN or HADIT of our particular unit of the Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade “Know Thyself!” and taught Initiation. He is “the Devil” of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection. The number of His Atu is XV, which is Yod He, the Monogram of the Eternal, the Father one with the Mother, the Virgin Seed one with all-containing Space. He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover his letter is Ayin, the Eye; he is Light, and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty. (Note that the “Jehovah” of the Hebrews is etymologically connected with these. The classical example of such antinomy, one which has led to such disastrous misunderstandings, is that between NU and HAD, North and South, Jesus and John. The subject is too abstruse and complicated to be discussed in detail here. The student should consult the writings of Sir R. Payne Knight, General Forlong, Gerald Massey, Fabre d’Olivet; etc. etc., for the data on which these considerations are ultimately based.)

.It was said by the Sorcerer of the Jura that in order to invoke the Devil it is only necessary to call him with your whole will.This is an universal magical truth, and applies to every other being as much as to the Devil. For the whole will of every man is in reality the whole will of the Universe.It is, however, always easy to call up the demons, for they are always calling you; and you have only to step down to their level and fraternize with them. They will tear you in pieces at their leisure. Not at once; they will wait until you have wholly broken the link between you and your Holy Guardian Angel before they pounce, lest at the last moment you escape.


Votes: 4883

Is “The Book of Lies” by Aleister Crowley worth the read?

For myself I consider it one of the three or four essential books by Crowley – if you’re at all interested in his branch of mysticism. It’s among the shortest and densest of his works: dense in the sense that it contains more esoteric information per page than any of his other works – apart from his version of the tarot (The Book of Thoth).

However, like a tarot deck it is rich in symbolism and riddles which cannot be understood without considerable study – so it’s not an easy read…

Henrietta Skolnick

Votes: 3380

What are the teachings of Aleister Crowley? What are the main practices that he emphasized?

The basics of Thelema are usually put forward “in a nutshell” in the following sentences:

– “Every man and every woman is a star”

This refers to that every human being is an individual and that each individual has their own path to follow in the universe. Each individual follows his/her own path freely without colliding with other human being’s paths.

– ”Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and “thou hast no right but to do thy will.”

According to most Thelemites, every human being has his/her own True Will, which is the purpose of their being. The Law of Thelema defines that everybody

Dan B

Votes: 5596

Is Aleister Crowley Barbara Bush’s father?

Barbara Bush’s father was a Pennsylvania native named Marvin Pierce, president of McCall corporation, which published the McCall’s and Redbook magazines.

Aleister Crowley was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer.

I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly confuse the two…

…well, okay, maybe.

Alexander Duncan

Votes: 8452

Was Carl Jung familiar with Aleister Crowley?

I’ve read about 60% of Jung’s Collected Works and I don’t think he was familiar with Crowley. Crowley became acquainted with Jung later on. He read at least his Psychology of the Unconscious I believe. In many ways Crowley anticipated Jung. Keep in mind that Jung’s first ‘Jungian” work, Symbols of Transformation, was published in 1913, after Crowley had penned most of his “holy books” so-called. In a very real way Crowley anticipated Jung, although his personal psychology was decidedly Freudian. For one thing Crowley had no concept of synchronicity. His view of the unconscious was also very Fr

Doug Sandlin

Votes: 9464

Who is Alister Crowley?

Aleister Crowley.

This guy.

Image Source.

The Basics

“Born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life.”

Source: Aleister Crowley – Wikipedia

The basics don’t really begin to cover it, though – Crowley was quite the colorful figure. Many people saw him as evil – largely because Cr

Alexander Duncan

Votes: 8819

Was Aleister Crowley most likely schizophrenic?

Schizophrenics are highly intelligent and suffer from involuntary fantasies, hallucinations, and delusions which severely impair their adjustment to consensual reality. Crowley was highly intelligent but had very little natural psychism, which is why he used his “scarlet women” to scry the astral plane (The Vision and the Voice is an exception). He did not suffer from impaired adjustment to consensual reality as far as I can see, although he was antisocial and a spendthrift. I think more likely Crowley was a sociopath, not schizophrenic. (After writing the foregoing I did a sociopathy test onl

Keith Flippin

Votes: 6964

What are Aleister Crowley’s main works?

It’s a bit difficult to be definitive about what constitutes his “main” works; which ones are “main” for any given person probably depends on what they’re trying to get out of the reading. I’ll try to break a few down by topic area.

Eight Lectures on Yoga since you mentioned Yoga excplicitly; this one is short and mostly to the point.Magick (Liber ABA, Book 4) is his magnum opus, in which he attempts to cover the basics of everything.Magick in Theory and Practice which is part 3 of Book 4, so you don’t need separate copies of both.Magick Without Tears is a collection of letters written to s

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