The Great Beast

A prominent character in my upcoming novel occupied an intriguing place in history.

Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) was a British occultist, mystic, writer, ceremonial magician, and a fairly self-indulgent and privileged provocateur. Best known for his influential role in the development of modern occultism and Western esotericism, he was a controversial and charismatic figure, often referred to as “The Great Beast.”

The Fin de siècle in France was a tumultuous period of religious and scientific metamorphosis. The Industrial Revolution had ushered in the age of speculation where staggering poverty and unimaginable wealth coincided. The traditional concept of “God” was losing currency, as a fascination with the supernatural and occult galvanized belief systems. This shift in perception propelled Aleister Crowley to the status of grandmaster mage and he took every opportunity to capitalize on peoples’ lust for instant gratification.

Theatrics, spectacle, ritual magic, kabbalistic ciphers and questionable libations laced with morphine and opium, became de rigueur in privileged Paris salons – all led by a self-appointed magus. Crowley serves as catalyst, unknowingly engineering the tipping point where humanity teeters on the brink of collapse. He represents the basest of human desires – the relentless quest to acquire more at the expense of others.

— Deborah Johnstone