The Ghosts of Winston Churchill

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Sir Winston Churchill’s intriguing relationship with the supernatural has been largely overlooked. The man who was voted ‘Greatest Briton’ in a nationwide poll at the turn of the century will forever be best remembered for his heroics during our darkest hour. When Great Britain stood alone against the tyranny of the Third Reich in 1940, Churchill’s dogged determination, superhuman spirit and rousing rhetoric rallied the nation against seemingly inevitable annihilation.

churchill statue

A Sense of Destiny

In his 2001 biography of Churchill, Roy Jenkins noted the great statesman’s vigorous sense of destiny. From an early age Churchill seemed certain that his life had a higher purpose and that at a critical moment in history, he would be called upon to robustly defend the national interest. Despite the calamity of Gallipoli in 1916 and of being dismissed as an anachronism by younger politicians prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill never lost this inner sense of purpose and commitment.

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Churchill’s generosity towards Gypsies is well known

A Sensitivity to the Supernatural

As an artist and accomplished author, Churchill was far more open minded and sensitive than is commonly assumed. Jenkins and other commentators have highlighted his respect for the Gypsies who would often pitch close to his ancestral home of Chartwell. Clearly the Prime Minister understood that it would be fortuitous to treat them with kindness and viewed their appearance as a good omen.

The British occultist Aleister Crowley also claimed to have suggested the PM make use of the ‘v for victory’ sign during the war. Several sources have indeed confirmed this to be true, and Crowley’s connections with the British secret services are now largely accepted. The mercurial occultist believed the sign to be symbolic of the god Horus who would help the British defeat Hitler. Whether Churchill spoke directly to Crowley is unknown, but his use of the sign became one of his defining war-time features.

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It was very unusual for a British politician of Churchill’s generation to adopt a sign. Did the Prime Minister accept advice from Aleister Crowley?

A Ghostly Visitation

Churchill wrote candidly about an extraordinary supernatural event which occurred at Chartwell after the war. Whilst painting, the ghost of his dearly departed father mysteriously materialised in the studio. According to the former Prime Minister’s account, his famous stiff-upper lip held firm and he felt no fear. He subsequently conversed with the apparition of Churchill Senior for several minutes – dutifully updating him on political, cultural and social events which had occurred since his passing. However, perhaps the great man’s composure could be attributed to an earlier esoteric experience. During a trip to the White House, Washington DC, several years before, Churchill claimed to have sighted the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.

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Chartwell in Kent where Churchill saw the ghost of his long-departed father.

Immortality

Churchill is now firmly embedded within the British national psyche – symbolic of cultural attributes such as the bulldog spirit and our sense of fair play. The ubiquitous spectre of Churchill may live on metaphorically, but there have been numerous sightings of his ghost since he exited the world stage in 1965. One of the most recent was at Queensway Underground Station in 2017 where Craig Cooper took a photograph of a peculiar misty apparition. Churchill utilised local tube stops in the Hyde Park area as bunkers during the blitz, and his formidable presence appears to still be looming large over anxious commuters and tourists.

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Craig Cooper’s mysterious photograph on the Tube. He also spoke of a strange ‘presence’. Source: mirror.co.uk

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer who is currently based in the UK. Visit his website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Feel free to email us any strange stories to: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

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Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Sammy Davis Jr – Dancing With The Devil

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Super group Led Zeppelin. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page harboured an intense interest in Aleister Crowley and the Occult.

Magician David Fox investigates…

They say the Devil has all the best tunes – and maybe there is an element of truth in this well-worn cliché. Many of the finest rock acts over the past half century are clearly indebted to the infernal influence of Old Nic himself…

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Sammy Davis Jr was an early member of the Satanic Church.

Would you sell your soul to The Lord of Darkness for temporal gain? The late great Sammy Davis Jr was a celebrity member of the Church of Satan. Founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor Lavey, the legions of Lucifer have boasted several world famous luminaries among their congregation – the most recent being Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson!

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Anton Szandor Lavey founded the Church of Satan in 1966.

Indeed, the 1960s heralded a new age of rebellion and decadence. Civil-rights protests, a growing spiritual re-awakening – and of course Rock and Roll music – are defining hallmarks of the era. The Rolling Stones classic ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ controversially portrays the Prince of Evil as the perennially misunderstood anti-hero. The Beatles also chose to include the self-proclaimed Great Beast 666 Aleister Crowley on the cover of their multi-platinum ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album in 1967.

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The Beatles multi-platinum selling album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘ (1967). Crowley can be seen at the top left.

Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist Jimmy Page developed a deep interest in the Occult, and most notably Aleister Crowley. The English mystic’s doctrine of Thelema (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law) seemed to resonate strongly in the mind of the musical genius. Page duly purchased Crowley’s former home – Boleskine House on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland.

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Aleister Crowley’s libertarian doctrine of Thelema appealed to musicians such as Jimmy Page, David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne

The Beast had conducted a complex magical operation at the spacious manor at the turn of the twentieth century known as the Abramelin Ritual. Consequently, it was widely believed to be haunted by ghosts and demons – a terrifying legacy of Crowley’s diabolical dabblings! Curator Malcolm Dent, a close friend of Page who lived at Boleskine for several years, frequently spoke of supernatural phenomena at the residence. Visit link: Malcolm Dent at Boleskine House.

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Jimmy Page at Boleskine House near Loch Ness.

Black Sabbath would define the genre of Heavy Metal with their ground-breaking self-titled album in 1970. Deliciously dark, menacing and sinister, the riff to the title track is played in the spine-tingling tritone of G to C# which incidentally was banned by the Medieval Church for fear of summoning daemonic forces. Bassist Geezer Butler harboured a deep interest in the supernatural, and the lyrical content throughout their best known work reflects his fascination.

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Black Sabbath would define the Heavy Metal genre with thunderous tracks such as NIB, Black Sabbath and Paranoid.

A new wave of heavy metal groups and rock bands from the 1970s onwards continued to explore the darker realms of our existence. From British Black Metal fore-runners Venom, to Los Angeles Thrash legends Slayer, the lyrics became more intriguing, disturbing and down-right shocking. The Devil seemed to be lurking on the periphery at all times, casting his anarchic authority over the proceedings like an ominous orchestral conductor subtly manipulating the creative strings.

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US legendary Thrash Metal band Slayer. Pushed the boundaries throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In recent years, Rock and Roll music has enjoyed a sensational resurgence and is now appreciated by fans of all generations. Old Nic has been firmly accepted as part of our main-stream culture. Contemporary acts such as Queens of The Stone Age and Royal Blood frequently pay homage to icons such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – politely recognising their common infernal heritage! The Devil clearly works in mysterious ways – but is he really such a fearsome fellow? After all, ‘Lucifer‘ is actually Latin for ‘bringer of light’ or ‘The Son of the Morning Star’.

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The archetype of rebellion. Perhaps the Devil simply represents the belligerent streak which resides in each and every one of us?

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer who currently resides in the UK.

Visit David’s new website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk or contact him at: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

Dion Fortune – Sane Occultism

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‘the material plane, as we see it, is the end result of a long chain of evolutionary processes that have gone on in the subtler planes, the realms of spirit, mind and astral ether’

Dion Fortune, (1890 – 1946) otherwise known as Violet May Firth, continues to cast her formidable influence over seekers of the Old Wisdom. An early practitioner of psychotherapy, Fortune was introduced to The Path through the Theosophical Society during the First World War. Blessed with both powerful intellect and steely volition, she would become one of the most prolific and widely read Occult writers of all time.

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The Qabalah forms the basis of Western Occultism

In 1924 Fortune co-founded the Fraternity of the Inner Light with Charles Loveday. The group continues to function today as The Society of the Inner Light and offers spiritual guidance for those so inclined. Promoting a Christian morality, the order draws from the teachings of the Golden Dawn and utilises the Qabalah as a framework for personal development.

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Like Madame Blavatsky, Dion Fortune claimed to commune with higher entities.

Indeed, like Madame Blavatsky before her, Fortune believed that she had communed with Masters beyond the physical realms who imparted great wisdom and insight. ‘The Cosmic Doctrine’ (eventually published in 1949) provides an explanation of the creation and machinations of the universe itself. The text also reveals the individual’s place and role within the great cosmic schemata.

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‘The Mystical Qabalah’ has long been essential reading for those seeking spiritual guidance.

‘The Mystical Qabalah’ (1935) is arguably Fortune’s tour-de-force and candidly demonstrates her tremendous talents and profound appreciation of the Western Esoteric Tradition.  Regarded as a classic of the esoteric cannon, it is still widely studied throughout the world nearly a century after publication.

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‘Through The Gates of Death’ is an extraordinary text.

Other texts of note include: ‘Through The Gates of Death’ (1930) and ‘Psychic Self Defence’ (1930). The former is an extraordinary exposition of the astral realms and the process we all must face upon shedding this mortal coil. Fortune addresses this subject with tremendous insight and sensitivity. The latter is essential reading for anyone who decides to embark upon the practice of ceremonial magic, or who may suspect they are a victim of psychic attack.

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Fortune’s novels remain highly entertaining and readable.

Like all the great occultists, Fortune understood and appreciated how ancient wisdom can be communicated to students via the medium of art. The author of several novels such as ‘The Winged Bull’ (1935) and ‘The Secrets of Dr Taverner’ (1926), they are still highly entertaining, readable, and contain invaluable pearls of wisdom for us all to absorb and appreciate.

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During the dark years of World War Two, Fortune and her associates used magick to thwart the enemy.

Throughout the dark years of World War Two, Fortune drew upon her immense occult knowledge and magical talents to combat the menace of the Third Reich. Her travails are documented in ‘The Magical Battle of Britain’ ( a collection of letters from the war period advising members of her society on how to assist the nation through powerful visualisation techniques). A proud patriot, much of Fortune’s work is influenced by the rich folklore of the British Isles.

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In the 1940s Fortune struck up a friendship with Aleister Crowley.

During the 1940s Fortune initiated a fruitful correspondence with the Great Beast 666, Aleister Crowley who was now in his twilight years. Indeed, such a relationship between two seemingly diametrically opposed personalities may appear bizarre to the casual observer. However, both Fortune and Crowley appreciated each other’s genius and would later meet in Hastings. Fortune became sympathetic to Crowley’s doctrine of Thelema (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law) and was sophisticated enough to see beyond the Beast’s notoriety – recognising his exceptional intellect and wisdom.

The Society of the Inner Light’s website provides details of their aims and philosophy: www.innerlight.org.uk

Dion Fortune’s works and rare occult texts can be purchased from Thoth Publications of Loughborough: www.thoth.co.uk Visit their website for an extensive range of titles or contact them for expert advice today.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit David’s website for more details now: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Magician Mystic Soldier Spy – The extraordinary life of Uri Geller

‘Nowadays even presidents, vice-presidents and heads of big agencies are opening their minds to accept psychic phenomena because they know it works.’ 

Uri Geller

Uri Geller needs no introduction. A household name the world over, the indefatigable Israeli has been amazing audiences for the past five decades. Minds are read, metal mysteriously bends, watches and clocks which have not worked for many years suddenly spring to life and impossible predictions are made which will soon come to pass. These are the hallmarks of the mild-mannered entertainer’s sensational performances. However, recent revelations of Geller’s involvement with secret intelligence agencies, most notably the CIA, have further enhanced his legendary status.

Oscar winning director Vikram Jayanti’s documentary The Secret Life of Uri Geller  charts the charismatic mystery man’s meteoric rise from humble origins to worldwide super-stardom. From an early age Geller developed a heightened sense of perception and an awareness of his psychic capabilities. After serving in the Israeli army during the Six Day War in 1967, he was invited by Mossad (the Israeli secret service) to demonstrate his preternatural talents. Hardened military men were perplexed by Geller’s telepathic abilities and he would later be called upon to assist the state of Israel during times of emergency. Subsequent CIA interest in his inexplicable aptitudes followed, and Geller was promptly summoned to the USA to participate in a rigorous course of scientific experimentation.

Uri Geller at the Stanford Research Institute circa 1973

It was during this intense period of investigation at Stanford Research Institute in California during the early 1970s that Geller would develop his reputation as a man of extraordinary capabilities. Scientists were amazed by his propensity to read minds, find hidden objects and successfully conclude experiments in remote viewing (observing objects, places and people many miles away by using the power of his mind). The experts were unable to discern any logical explanation for these seemingly miraculous feats and conceded that Uri Geller must possess some sort of extra sensory perception (ESP). These findings would eventually culminate with Geller being invited to assist with covert intelligence operations throughout the world.

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Salvator Rosa’s famous painting of Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor.

Inevitably many will find such a disclosure difficult to digest. However, governments calling upon the aid of psychics and paranormal experts, particularly at times of crisis, is certainly not a novel concept. Since time immemorial, powerful leaders have sought to gain the upper hand against an adversary by invoking the mysterious forces of the unseen. Indeed, one of the earliest accounts of this practice is King Saul’s clandestine meeting with the Witch of Endor in the First Book of Samuel. The King sought divine inspiration prior to a major battle with the Philistines and was terrified by the witch’s ominous prediction. The next day the prophecy was fulfilled: the battle was lost and the King took his own life shortly afterwards.

Dr John Dee. The original 007 and confidant of Queen Elizabeth I.

Thankfully not all interactions between great leaders and soothsayers have ended in disaster. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I is now celebrated as a golden age of British history, and perhaps this can be credited in no small part to the travails of the enigmatic Dr John Dee. Highly regarded throughout Europe as one of the most learned men of his age, it is believed that Dee provided Shakespeare with the inspiration for Prospero in his final play The Tempest. He was a trusted confidant of the Queen and used the number 007 (later to be adopted by Ian Fleming for his fictional character James Bond) when serving as a spy for the Crown. Dee possessed a deep knowledge of the occult arts and was said to have conversed with angelic beings from another dimension. He foresaw the coming of a great British Empire and provided Sir Francis Drake with tactical advice on how to defeat the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588. It is said that he may even have used his magical powers to summon the storm which assisted Her Majesty’s fleet.

Aleister Crowley. Most people are still unaware of his work as a British spy.

The English occultist and self styled ‘Great Beast 666’ Aleister Crowley gained notoriety during the early twentieth century and revelled in his sobriquet of the ‘Wickedest Man in the World’. But was Crowley really so wicked? In recent years academics have begun to appreciate that he may in fact have been a misunderstood genius. Crowley was also a secret agent who worked with British intelligence during both world wars. Whilst masquerading as a German sympathiser in New York during the early years of World War One, Crowley secretly lobbied to ensure that the USA came into the war on the side of the British Empire. Crowley’s close connections with occult groups in Germany during the 1930s naturally made him a person of interest for MI5. The Nazi’s obsession with the occult is well documented and Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond who then worked with British Naval Intelligence) contacted Crowley in order to entice Rudolf Hess (deputy Fuhrer and a man with a deep interest in the occult) to come to the UK. Hess’s ill-fated clandestine flight to Scotland in 1941 soon followed and was said to have had a devastating impact upon Hitler when he learnt of this betrayal. It is widely believed that Crowley used his mysterious influence to draw him to the UK in order to discuss possible peace negotiations.

The mysterious Wolf Messing who amazed Josef Stalin.

The cessation of hostilities in 1945 would pave the way for a new world order and the dawning of the Cold War era. A tense stand-off between the two major Super Powers naturally intensified the covert activities of intelligence agencies across the globe. The campaign to identify and utilise people who exhibited extra sensory perception and psychic abilities would unearth some exceptional individuals. One such person was the Polish entertainer Wolf Messing who came into the orbit of the KGB (the Russian secret intelligence agency). Messing had been amazing audiences throughout Europe for many years before being forced to flee to the USSR during the Second World War. His ability to influence the thoughts of others, read minds and cast accurate predictions became legendary in Soviet Russia. Josef Stalin was said to have been mesmerised by his incredible talents and it is widely believed that Messing assisted the KGB during the post-war years.

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Jonathan Margolis’ recent publication.

In the early 1970s Uri Geller was invited to a meeting with Wolf Messing in Berlin. The Polish master was clearly amazed by the young Israeli’s amazing talents as well as the fact that Geller is a distant relative of Sigmund Freud (who Messing had mesmerised alongside Albert Einstein many years before). The exchange shared between the two men will perhaps forever remain classified, but it is a great testimony to the respect Messing had for Geller that he chose to divulge the secret techniques he used to perform some of his incredible feats.

As the world enters an era of political uncertainty, Uri looks certain to remain very busy.

Thus, it could readily be argued that governments and leaders who do not take the powers of the unseen seriously do so at their peril. Indeed, with Brexit negotiations looming and some challenging times ahead, perhaps Uri Geller can expect a phone call from Prime Minister Theresa May very soon?

*Special thanks to Uri for his kind assistance with this article.

Recommended Reading

Uri Geller’s website: http://www.urigeller.com/

Uri Geller’s Little Book of Mind Power Uri Geller, Robson Books, 1998

The Secret Life of Uri Geller – CIA Masterspy?  John Margolis, Watkins Publishing London, 2013

The Queen’s Conjurer: The Science and Magic of Dr John Dee Benjamin Woolley, Flamingo, 2002

Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult Richard Spence, Feral House, 2008

Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin Tobias Churton, Inner Traditions, 2014

Wolf Messing: The True Story of Russia’s Greatest Psychic Tatiana Lungin, Glagoslav Publications, 2014

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit David’s website at: www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Tarot Reading – The 78 Keys to Wisdom

Magician David Fox explores the origins and significance of the Tarot Deck…

‘it is a complete symbolic map of all the transformative processes in the universe’

Dr. David Shoemaker, Chancellor of the International College of Thelema

The Mystery of the 78

The origins of the Tarot deck are as mysterious as the cards themselves.

The origins of the Tarot deck are as mysterious as the cards themselves.

As a professional magician, I owe an incalculable debt to the 52 pieces of laminated cardboard popularly known as the humble deck of playing cards. However, I am fully aware that the origins of the four suits are far more mysterious and profound than even the most mystifying card trick in the conjurer’s repertoire. It is widely accepted that the contemporary deck originates from the Tarot cards: that peculiar collection of colourfully illustrated rectangular pictograms which are most commonly utilised for divinatory purposes.

The origins of the Tarot

The Tarot of the Witches. Popularised in the James Bond movie 'Live and Let Die'

The Tarot of the Witches. Popularised in the James Bond movie ‘Live and Let Die’

Some Occult historians claim that the Tarot originates from the times of the ancient Babylonians and the Egyptians. There may be a grain of truth in this somewhat Romantic theory, but the earliest recorded proof we have of such cards being used (primarily for parlour games) dates from late Medieval times. The wealthier inhabitants of Milan and present day northern Italy could afford to have such cards produced and ‘the game of trumps’ became a popular pass-time for the upper classes. Nonetheless, those with a deeper awareness of the arcane would always maintain that the cards were more than mere accoutrements for frivolous flights of aristocratic fancy. The rich symbolism evident within the Tarot clearly illustrated something much more profound, enduring and mystical. The ancient mystery schools had long since communicated Truth in such a manner: through the use of signs, symbols and codes which could only be discerned by those of the appropriate spiritual disposition and awareness.

Designs of Tarot

A Shakespearian Tarot Deck. There are many designs of Tarot.

A Shakespearian Tarot Deck. There are many designs of Tarot.

There is a multitudinous array of Tarot decks currently available for those who wish to explore the intriguing art of Cartomancy (the practice of using cards for divinatory or fortune-telling purposes). The enduring aesthetic appeal of the Tarot is a fitting testimony to the skill and talents of the artists who have sought to recreate, and offer their own unique interpretations of the Major and Minor Arcana, throughout the aeons. One of the most widely celebrated and used of decks is the Tarot de Marseille. This vibrant collection of pictograms dates from the late 16th century and is favoured by contemporary cartomancers the world over. However, it must be noted that the choice of deck is entirely a matter of personal preference. In Occult circles it is commonly accepted that for those who are so inclined to explore the world of the Tarot, the deck will choose them…

The Book of Thoth

The Thoth Tarot deck is one of the most beautiful ever created.

The Thoth Tarot deck is one of the most beautiful ever created.

Aleister Crowley has bequeathed to posterity an incredible text entitled ‘The Book of Thoth’. This is a profound and engaging treatise on both the origins and significance of the Tarot. The Thoth Tarot Deck (which accompanies the book) is truly an exceptional work of art, and was finalised, after several years of toil, by both Crowley and Lady Emma Harris, who carefully painted each card to Crowley’s precise specifications. Indeed, her instructor often insisted that a deisgn be painted several times in order to capture the True essence of the particular pictogram.

The Book of Thoth is an outstanding demonstration of Crowley’s awareness and profound understanding of the Occult arts. Well versed in the philosophies of Qabalah, Astrology, Alchemy, Geomancy, I-Ching and Numerology, Crowley appreciated that the symbolism contained within the Tarot is essentially a synthesis of the ancient spiritual traditions of the human race. He sought to demonstrate this through the unique design of each and every card. Fundamentally, he understood the following principles:

The four suits of the Tarot correspond to the four ancient elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water:

Coins are associated with Earth and mundane matters (money, material transactions)

Swords are associated with Air and thus the realm of the intellect (education, decisions)

Wands are associated with Fire: spiritual energy and vitality (masculine)

Cups represent Water and the realm of the emotions (feminine)

The Twenty Two Tarot trumps correspond with the paths on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, and the ten spot cards of each suit can be linked to the Sephiroth of the Qabalah in their corresponding element. Indeed, students with even a rudimentary awareness of the Western Mystery Tradition will glean much from working with this unique deck.

Methods of divination

Consultation of the Tarot permits us to view the 'bigger picture'.

Consultation of the Tarot permits us to view the ‘bigger picture’.

There are a variety of intriguing methods one can use in order to ‘divine’, or ask questions, with the Tarot. Some ‘spreads’ use several cards, whilst others may utilise the entire deck. I have personally found the well-known Celtic Cross method to be as effective as it is practical.

The following website by James Reeducks provides excellent instruction in conducting this spread, as well as an illuminating commentary on each particular card in the Thoth deck:

The Thoth Tarot Deck by James Reeducks

 It must be borne in mind that the Tarot provides one with a valuable opportunity to assess a situation, or problem, from a new, and often refreshing, stand-point. Consultation of the cards should not be regarded as a crutch to disregard responsibility and passively accept a particular outcome. The curious harmony of will and fate may be perennial, but human beings can take more control over their destinies if they have the courage and conviction to do so. Indeed, the Tarot affords us with a startling insight into the curious forces which incessantly influence the lives of men and women upon this planet for better or for worse…

Aleister Crowley – The Beast 666 – MI6 Agent?

Title: ‘Secret Agent 666’  Author: Richard B. Spence  Year of Publication: 2008

The name Aleister Crowley is always certain to exacerbate an intriguing myriad of reactions from both dedicated Occultists and those with merely a casual acquaintance with the arcane alike. The self-styled ‘Great Beast 666’ continues to cast his influence over the contemporary New Age movement, as well as the artistic world, many years after his death in 1947. Mysterious, eccentric and with talent in abundance, Crowley is both revered and detested in equal measure. Indeed, such a complex personality always makes for ‘good copy’ and it is small wonder that numerous texts have been produced over the past sixty years focusing primarily on Crowley’s colourful lifestyle and his profound interest in Occultism (or Magick as he preferred to call it: ‘the Art and Science of causing Change to occur in conformity with the Will’).

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I have been fortunate to have read several biographies of this mythical figure, as well as Crowley’s ‘Confessions’. All these offerings have been most illuminating, but in my opinion Lawrence Sutin’s ‘Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley’ offers the most objective, balanced and well researched piece of investigative work to date. The purpose of this article is certainly not for me to expound a character reference of Crowley (there is ample opportunity for those interested to formulate their own opinion in the local library or bookshop) but to draw attention to a refreshing and insightful piece of investigative work by Richard B Spence.

Several years ago Channel Four ran a series of documentaries entitled ‘Masters of Darkness’. These focused upon the familiar rogues gallery of historical ‘villains’ one is likely to encounter in any compendium of the weird and the wonderful: the Marquis de Sade, Dr John Dee and, of course, Aleister Crowley all featured. I was amazed that Crowley was branded a ‘traitor to the British people’ by the narrator having been made aware of his involvement within the secret services of Her Majesty’s realm during a conversation with a prominent occultist many years ago. Thus, I was most intrigued to learn of the publication of a text dedicated entirely to his activities within the world of espionage and counter-espionage.

Meticulously researched and engaging, Spence sets out his intentions from the onset: ‘this book is not intended as a general biography of Crowley nor in any way a treatise on his writings and thought, and it takes no position on the reality of magic and the supernatural’. Furthermore, Spence very correctly deduces that ‘the same magical retreat may be both essential to the health of the spirit and useful as a cover for spying’. This was most certainly the case for Dr John Dee during Elizabethan times and Crowley who, as a student of Cambridge University and as a member of the Golden Dawn, had access to many of the most influential artistic and political figures of his generation. In essence, it would have been extremely foolish for the British secret services not to have utilised someone of Crowley’s pedigree and caliber during the turbulent times of World War One, the uncertain inter war years, and the calamity of the Second World War.

Spence’s research into Crowley’s activities in New York during the First World War is captivating, and he invites us to appreciate how instrumental Crowley was in influencing the emerging super power to support the British war effort against the Kaiser. American sympathies very much hung in the balance between British and anti-imperialist (primarily Irish and German interests against Britannia) during this critical period. Spence also sheds light upon Crowley’s involvement with the Lusitania disaster, which will be of great interest to conspiracy theorists; the sinking of which ultimately drew the Americans into the conflict on the side of the British Empire.

The reasons for Crowley’s seemingly bizarre decision to establish an occult commune on the island of Sicily are also addressed. Spence puts forward strong evidence to suggest that he was in fact spying for the British government on both the French military and the Italian fascists. Indeed, such a strategic position in the Mediterranean would have rendered Crowley an excellent accessory for the British security services. This section of Spence’s work also compliments the account provided to me by the gentleman I spoke to several years ago. Mussolini’s decision to expel Crowley may have not been solely for his much publicised occult practices and more so on account of his involvement with the shadowy embryonic machinations of MI6.

Crowley’s influence and involvement within various German occult groups during WWII would most certainly have been appreciated by MI5 and MI6 alike. Indeed, Spence notes that on the outbreak of hostilities, Crowley ‘completed form for NID’ (British Naval Intelligence Division) and raises questions on his involvement with the Rudolf Hess affair. This episode has been previously visited by Amado Crowley in his work ‘The Riddles of Aleister Crowley’ and once again parallels the account I was provided with by a prominent occultist. Whatever the truth, we can rest assured that Crowley would most certainly have been considered a useful appurtenance in the fight against Nazism by the British security services. Indeed, Crowley himself did take credit in suggesting the famous ‘V for victory’ sign which was famously used by Churchill during the early 1940s.

Spence deserves a considerable amount of credit for producing such a well-researched and captivating text. One might say that it is a thankless task to paint a figure of notoriety such as Crowley in a more positive light, but this is an essential piece of academic study which will doubtless draw much more critical acclaim. The author has clearly spent a substantial amount of time researching British and French governmental archives, as well as a diverse range of extraneous sources, to provide an incredible profile of Aleister Crowley which has, until now, remained hidden from the public gaze.

For anyone with an interest in Aleister Crowley, ‘Secret Agent 666’ is essential reading and will not only expand one’s awareness of this extraordinary colossus of occultism, but greatly extend the reader’s appreciation of history and the shadowy political underworld during the tumultuous period of the early twentieth century.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional magician and freelance writer based in Nottingham, England. Visit his website at: http://www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk