Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley
Boston: Weiser Books, 2004, (1927). paperback, 335 pps.
Aleister Crowley remains a bit of a controversial figure nowadays. I do have a few acquaintances who are fascinated by the legend. Truthfully, I myself have a grudging respect for someone who walked naked through an English town to a favorite cafe, believing that the invisibility spell he had cast rendered him invisible [as told by John Sutton in his biography].
But there are plenty of other things which are less admirable. One of them is Crowley's track record with women. He tended to pick out unstable addicted women, encouraged them to believe that they were "channeling" ascended masters or spiritual entities of some sort or another, and cheated on them with predominantly other males. Crowley was interested in gaining personal power through the use of "magick." Crowley-- not present day fluffy bunnies so-called-- popularized the spelling of "magick" with the "k" in order to distinguish it from sleigh of hand magic. The extra "k" was also a subtle reference to the Greek word kteis which meant the female reproductive organs.
Moonchild is a work of fiction which is interspersed with his own occult ideology. Crowley in real life was interested in creating a perfect specimen of humanity-- a sort of god incarnate. There are other references in the book to a few of his rivals; a "black" lodge, the poet William Butler Yates [who appeared in the book as "Gates,"], and H. Spencer Lewis who founded A.M.O.R.C. [who was a character named "Butler"]. The appearance of Eliphas Levi [who in real life Crowley claimed to be a reincarnation of], and the hideaway on an Italian island are among the many references in the book which point to things that Crowley believed or experienced. In order to truly understand Moonchild, the reader must know something of the author who penned it.
The story itself, reflective of Crowley's pathos, is engaging at once. From the first chapter dealing with a "chinese god," through the introduction of Lisa, and right on through to the ending introduced and developed a formidable cast of characters. The plot and dialogue were both engaging. Narrative passages were explanatory and flowed into the story.
I was not seeking any great mystical understanding when I picked up Moonchild. As a work of fiction written by a crazed occultist, it did not disappoint. Those who are hoping to gain an unbiased understanding of the author won't find that in the book Moonchild. Moonchild is chock full of Crowley's delusional 'magick' and the casual reader might do better elsewhere. Those who do not recognize the truth about Aleister Crowley will plow through Moonchild looking for hints of his present-day charisma I am sure. As for me, I liked the book even though I do not like the man.