magical arts and witchcraft during wartime

April 24, 2017

It is surprising the number of practitioners of the magical arts and witchcraft who were involved in military and intelligence work during the Second World War. Perhaps the best known ‘occult spy’ operating in the Second World War, and in fact long before, and whose intelligence career has been well documented, is Aleister Crowley. Author Dr Richard B.Spence believes that Crowley began his journey to being a secret agent when he took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This was at the Malvern College boarding school in 1891when he joined the cadet corps of the local Worcestershire Royal Artillery Volunteers. Later in life Crowley was to say that despite his problems and issues with the British establishment he had always felt that he was bound to that oath. In fact it had strengthened his link with England. It is possible he meant on a magical and psychic level as well as the physical and patriotic one.

As a young man, through an introduction by his aunt who was a member, Crowley joined the Primrose League. This was a semi-secret, quasi-Masonic, right-wing group within the Conservative Party whose aim was to protect it from its political enemies. Dr Spence suggests that Crowley’s Jacobite sympathies in support of the return of the Stuart dynasty to the British throne to replace the Hanoverian usurpers, could have been used by the League to persuade Crowley to spy on potential enemies of the Crown. This however would suggest that his Jacobite inclinations were not genuine or a passing teenage phase.

Crowley was lucky enough to come under the patronage of the Marquess of Salisbury, the Grand Master of the League. It has been suggested that Salisbury helped Crowley to enter Cambridge University and was grooming his young protégé for a lifelong career in the Diplomatic Service, which might well have involved spying for his country. However Crowley had other ideas, although it was at Cambridge that he met the future artist Gerald Kelly and later married his sister Rose. Forty years or so later both men were to serve in the wartime British Secret Service.

In the First World War Cowley was living in New York and he was accosted by a stranger on an omnibus. During their conversation about the war in Europe the man handed Crowley a business card.Printed on it were the addresses of two pro-German magazines and subsequently Crowley wrote anti-British propaganda for these publications.

Naturally the British government took a dim view of this anti-patriotic, traitorous act. They labelled him a traitor and the police raided his magical temple in London and closed it down. Crowley always protested his innocence. In fact he said he had been working for British Intelligence and written the satirical articles at their request. The aim was to ridicule the pro-German movement in America and discredit the magazines. This has never confirmed by the British Government, but it has also not been denied.

Michael Howard
THE OCCULT WAR
Secret Agents, Magicians and Hitler

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