ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
Give thou place to me, O Jesus; thine aeon is passed; the Age of Horus is arisen by the Magick of the Master of the Great Beast.”
Crowley returned to Britain when the war ended, and with two mistresses for company, immediately went to Sicily. Here they rented a villa at Cefahu and consecrated a temple to the New Aeon. The motto over the front door, not surprisingly, was: DO WHAT THOU WILT. His aim was to make Cefalu the world center for the study of the occult. During his later years, he continued to travel about, settling in various European countries, devoting himself to his highly narcissistic causes which, stripped of rhetoric, seemed to be little more than various forms of adolescent self-indulgence. During his later years, he became a heroin addict, and published his magnum opus, Magick in Theory and Practice. He died in 1947, leaving behind a very unsavory reputation. One wonders why he has not been the subject of a novel by Stephen King, or a horror movie. He fits the bill admirably. I have met people in England who knew Crowley, and were still afraid of him!
The Mediums and Spiritualism
The post-Christian religious quest of the ninteenth century took other forms than the adoption and adaptation of Eastern religions. One of these was Spiritualism. The Fox sisters, two young girls in a family living in Upstate New York, professed to hear and interpret rappings supposedly done by spirits of the deceased. This attracted much interest as a breakthrough, actual physical proof of life after death. Many years later, one of the sisters confessed that they had been making the sounds by cracking their toes. By then, however, Spiritualism was well established both as an American religious sect and also as an unorganized occult phenomenon.
The basis of spiritualism is the medium. According to the theory, certain individuals possess unusual occult powers, that is to say they are “psychic.” They see and hear things which others do not, especially when in a state of trance. As mentioned in an early chapter, this belief is very closely akin to shamanism, and in some respects, the medium can be regarded as a modern shaman. The medium, almost invariably a woman, claims to enter a trance state during the séance. Each participant holds the hands of the person next to him or her, thus establishing a psychic connection, by which power the medium goes into her trance. While in this state, a “control” enters her psyche. The latter is a spirit from “the other side” who is also a medium, but from the realm of the departed. The client who wishes to communicate with a deceased mother or son, for example, does so through the help of the two mediums. Materialisations may occur; trumpets may be flying about the room; strange, ghostly figures may appear, and the table may levitate. The message from “the other side” is usually banal: “I am very happy here,” or “It is very beautiful here,” are the usual messages. Investigators of these séances have proven them frauds in almost every case.
There have been a few cases in which fraud was more difficult to prove. The most celebrated of these was that of a Mrs. Piper of Massachusetts at the turn-of-the century. She did not hold séances, nor did she collect fees for her