IN THE MID - 1920's, roughly two blocks from where the Warlock Shop once stood, in Brooklyn Heights, lived a quiet, reclusive man, an author of short stories, who eventually divorced his wife of two years and returned to his boyhood home in Rhode Island, where he lived with his two aunts.
Born on August 20, 1890, Howard Phillips Lovecraft would come to exert an impact on the literary world that dwarfs his initial successes with Weird Tales magazine in 1923. He died, tragically, at the age of 46 on March 15, 1937, a victim of cancer of the intestine and Bright's Disease. Though persons of such renown as Dashiell Hammett were to become involved in his work, anthologising it for publication both here an abroad, the reputation of a man generally conceded to be the "Father of Gothic Horror" did not really come into its own until the past few years, with the massive re-publication of his works by various houses, a volume of his selected letters, and his biography. In the July, 1975, issue The Atlantic Monthly, there appeared a story entitled "There Are More Things", written by Jorge Luis Borges, "To the memory of H.P. Lovecraft". This gesture by a man of the literary stature of Borges is certainly an indication that Lovecraft has finally ascended to his rightful place in the history of American literature, nearly forty years after his death.
In the same year that Lovecraft found print in the pages of Weird Takes, another gentleman was seeing his name in print; but in the British tabloid press.
NEW SINISTER REVELATIONS OF ALEISTER CROWLEY read the front page of the Sunday Express. It concerned testimony by one of the notorious magician's former followers (or, actually, the wife of one of his followers) that Crowley had been responsible for the death of her husband, at the Abbey of Thelema, in Cefalu, Sicily. The bad press, plus the imagined threat of secret societies, finally forced Mussolini to deport the Great Beast from Italy. Tales of horrors filled the pages of the newspapers in England for weeks and months to come: satanic rituals, black masses, animal sacrifice, and even human sacrifice, were reported - or blatantly lied about. For although many of the stories were simply not true or fanciful exaggeration, one thing was certain: Aleister Crowley was a Magician, and one of the First Order.
Born on October 12, 1875, in England - in the same country as Shakespeare - Edward Alexander Crowley grew up in a strict Fundamentalist religious family, members of a sect called the "Plymouth Brethren". The first person to call him by that Name and Number by which he would become famous (after the reference in the Book of Revelation), "The Beast 666", was his mother, and he eventually took this appellation to heart. He changed his name to Aleister Crowley while still at Cambridge, and by that name , plus "666", he would never be long out of print, or out of newspapers. For he believed himself to be the incarnation of a god, an Ancient One, the vehicle of a New Age of Man's history, the Aeon of Horus, displacing the old Age of Osiris. In 1904, he had received a message, from what Lovecraft might have called "out of space", that contained the formula for a New World Order, a new system of philosophy, science, art and religion, but this New Order had to begin with the fundamental part, and common denominator, of all four: Magick.
In 1937, the year Lovecraft dies, the Nazis banned the occult lodges of Germany, notable among them two organisations which Crowley had supervised: the A\ A\ and the O.T.O., the latter of which he was elected head in England, and the former which he founded himself. There are those who believe that Crowley was somehow, magickally, responsible for the Third Reich, for two reasons: one, that the emergence of New World Orders generally seems to instigate holocausts and, two, that he is said to have influenced the mind of Adolf Hitler. While it is almost certain that Crowley and Hitler never met, it is known that Hitler belonged to several occult lodges in the early days after the First War; the symbol of one of these, the Thule Gesellschaft which preached a doctrine of Aryan racial superiority, was the infamous Swastika which Hitler was later to adopt as the Symbol of the forms, however, is evident in many of his writings, notably the essays written in the late 'Thirties. Crowley seemed to regard the Nazi phenomenon as a Creature of Christianity, in it's anti-Semitism and sever moral restrictions concerning its adherents, which lead to various types of lunacies and "hangups" that characterised many of the Reich's leadership. Yet, there can be perhaps little doubt that the chaos which engulfed the world in those years was prefigured, and predicted, in Crowley's Liber AL vel Legis; the Book of the Law.