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

devil 1

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…

devil 2

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!

devil 3

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.

devil 4

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.

crowley 2

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.

devil 5

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.

devil 6

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.

Devil 7

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’.

devil 8

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

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’).

crowley

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