"BEAST 666," CULT CHIEFTAIN, LOSES DEFAMATION
The Charleroi Mail - Charleroi Pennyslvania
July 5, 1934
Charges Libel by Authoress; “Impossible,” Rules British Judge.
London – For the second time Aleister Crowley, “Beast 666,” has sue a woman novelist charging defamation of character – and lost.
The reputation of being “the worst man in the world,” which the amazing Crowley has enjoyed for years, doesn’t seem to impress British judges
and juries as a good basis for claiming damages. But two suits have brought this “master of magic” and “love–cult high priest” back into the
limelight after a lapse of some years, and the question now arises, whom will Crowley sue next?
This man, whose weird “religious” orgies have gotten him kicked out of country after country, turned suddenly sensitive a few months ago when
Ethel Mannin, chatty English authoress, referred to him in print as “a poseur who has come to believe in his own poses.”
He sued her. In reply she used against him some of the writings which Crowley had claimed were dictated to him in person by satan himself –
and the suit collapsed.
His second futile attack, upon Nina Hamnett, authoress of “Laughing Torso,” a book of memoirs, has just been thrown out on court – with
indignation – by a London judge and jury. Miss Hamnet told half-humorously about her acquaintance with Crowley, “who was supposed to be
very clever and very wicked.”
She described his invention of a laudanum cocktail, drew a vivid pen-picture of the ‘magician’ with his red and purple robes, shaven head and
heavily palated features, mentioned how he nibble hasheesh somewhat as other folks nibble candy, and repeated the gossip about the blood
rites of the “O.T.O.” love cult, which Crowley ran for years in New York’s Greenwich village before transferring it to Cefain, Sicily.
Nina Hamnett’s attorneys put enough such stuff in evidence so that, after four days, Crowley’s suit collapsed and Justice Swift declared: “Never
have I heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous stuff as that produced by this man calling himself “the greatest living poet!”
This stirred echoes of the famous Ryerson scandal in Detroit a decate ago, when a branch of Crowley’s “O.T.O.” love cult was exposed in
federal court, and Frank Murphy, now governor general of the Phillippines, then an assistant United States district attorney, branded Crowley’s
mystic volume, “The Equinox” as “the most lascivious and libilinous book ever published in the United States.”
Went to Cambridge.
Born in England of a family of Plymouth Brethren, Crowley wrote mystical verse as a Cambridge student and was hailed as a poetic successor to
Shelley and Swinburne. He disappeared in the Orient for several years, returning with wild tales of having climbed Himalayan peaks, sat in the
sun with a rice-bowl as a Yogi priest, and being the world’s greatest student of magic both black and white.
In a Greenwich village studio he thrilled his followers – mostly neurotic women – with “O.T.O.” rites featuring himself as “Beast 666" – and his
priestess, Lea Hirsig, a former school teacher, as “The Scarlet Woman.”
Branches were organized in various American cities, including Detroit.