Aleister Crowley\'s Fascination with Joseph Smith .edu
Although the Angel Moroui's visitations to Joseph Smith and the Angel Aiwass' revelation to Aleister Crowley may both be...
The Beast and the Prophet: Aleister Crowley'sFascinationwith JosephSmith* MassimoIntrovigne CESNUR 1. Magic and Religion in the New Revelations In our secularage, one hears more "rumours of angels"tthan one would expect,despite the fact that Frithjof Schuon-a disciple of the esoteric teacher René Guénon-wrote that (becauseof a cyclicaltheology of history) no genuine new revelation is possible after the Middle Ages.2 Perhapsso, but any scholar familiar with the so-called new religions of the last two centuries knows that there have been more new revelations in the last 200 years than in the entire Middle Ages, which lasted, according to conventional chronology-for 1,000 years. Any scholarwho pays seriousattention to the "new religions" should also be prepared to consider new revelations.3 Not all new revelations,and, indeed, not all angels-areequal. Although the Angel Moroui's visitations to Joseph Smith and the Angel Aiwass' revelation to Aleister Crowley may both be classifiedas new revelations,it would be hard to imagine more divergent revelations. In fact, there are a number of different categoriesof new revelations. For example,specialcategoriesmay be found amolry literally thousands of new religions in Africa, among groups in the Islamic world like the Ahmadis, and among a growing number of large new religions, sornewith nillions of followers, in Japan. [The two latter categories, by the way, have been encounteredby Mormon missiouariesand it is interesting to note that some similarities in revelatory structure have been noticed with the Ahmadis,owhile the Japanesenew revelationshave only appeared "strange"to their Mormon observers.s] To many obseryersof new revelations, one principal difference which has emerged is the difference between religiotts and nrugical new revelations. The very possibility of this distinction implies a theoretical framework within which it is possibleto establisha distinction betweenreligion and magic. The great evolutionary model of Keith Thomas-where religion gradually evolves frorn primitive magic or mixed formsó-is perhapslessuseful here than the categories introduced by Mircea Eliade and Julien Ries.7 Eliade, followed by Ries, does not deny that the categoriesmay merge at somepoint in a gray area, but insists that magicalandreligiousexperiencesarefundamentallydifferent.He describes the religious experienceas a "hierophany,"a manifestationof the divine, and the rragical experienceas a "cratophany,"a manifestationof power. True, both
*Presentcd at ihe Monnon History Association Twenry-S&th Annual Meelittg Friday, May 31, 1991. et Sy4,gt: J