Was Crowley a Drug Addict?

By enquirewithin · Jan 25, 2008 · ·
  1. enquirewithin
    Certainly towards the end of his life Crowley was a heroin addict. He took large daily injections, as much as his doctor would prescribe, it seems. He did take heroin as a cure for asthma. His most fervent admirers like to make excuses for him, but the fact remains.

    Kenneth Grant, one of his more enthusiastic 'followers' recalls in Remembering Aleister Crowley:

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]"The complications which Crowley found too fearful to contemplate concerned his need for medicaments which he was taking against his severe bouts of asthma. His health was deteriorating rapidly and when I finally went to stay with him many of my services consisted in getting doctors and chemists to supply substances which they were far from eager to dispense. These included veronal, heroin, ethyl oxide, and cocaine. The state of Crowley's health necessitated such massive doses that one doctor in Hastings hinted to me in confidence that he feared that his patient was a drug addict! Nevertheless, despite his poor physical condition, Crowley never lost his mental elasticity and alertness."


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  1. Expat98
    "Physician, heal thyself!"

    So when it is known that someone was a drug addict, what does that say about how his writing/teaching should be viewed? Especially when that teaching revolved around the human mind? I was wondering about this the other day in regard to Alan Watts. He was a great spiritual teacher, but he died as an alcoholic.

    People like Crowley and Watts are seen as having been in possession of the knowledge of how to lead a life of genuine freedom...and yet they themselves fell prey as a slave to a drug addiction. Kind of makes you go hmmm, doesn't it?
  2. enquirewithin
    The analogy with Alan Watts is a good one. Another case in point is John C. Lilly, another 'teacher', although one who didn't look for followers, who was addicted to ketamine (a real pioneer in that area!), taking it constantly for over a year. He was later a cocaine addict for 5 years or so, before going back to ketamine which he stopped taking in his 80s!

    I think all three of them are fascinating individuals, although I am not looking for a guru of any type. They interest me, especially Lilly and Crowley, because they explored the outer reaches of the mind fearlessly and wrote intelligently about it. As for following their example-- that's for sheep!

    BTW, Watts and Lilly were good friends, Lilly stealing Watt's girlfriend at one point. Lilly writes of Watts demise after a long plane journey during which he drank excessively.(Not very "Zen', is it?)

    Crowley was a hypocrite. He wrote about the triumph of the will over drugs, but in his case, drugs won. He would blame his asthma.
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