(01/04/1943) Grady McMurtry to Aleister Crowley

1803rd Ord MM Co (Avn) (Q)
68th Service Group
Pendleton Field, Ore.
January 4, 1942
{Note: Date is a typo for 1943}

Edward Alexander Crowley, Esq.
93 Jermyn St., S. W. 1
London, England

Dear Sir & Brother,

As one of the lesser children of light I come to you. Almost three years ago I came into contact with the group in Southern California. Since that time I have read, been amazed at, ridiculed, half believed and seriously studied your works. Having spent the last two of those three years in the Army, first as a draftee and gradually working up until I now command a Company, I have not had the requisite time to give a wholehearted study to either your books or those of others on that esoteric principle of mysticism that you have called Magick. I have, however, had time to think. Perhaps the best expression of my thoughts is to be found in my poetry, which seems an outpouring from a deep well of subconsciousness. Never having had the opportunity to study verse forms and styles, most of my efforts have been gropings into the unknown. My conclusion to date might be summed up as follows: Grammar is an attempt to form a logical continuity of thought in words. Poetry may very easily scorn grammar as a mode of expression when visualizing thought as thought in itself may be competent {sic} the illogical. The abandoning of grammatical forms in the expression of emotion may be compared to the unfettering of art in the realm of surrealism. How describe a nightmare logically? Can the true glory of natural phenomena be perceived if viewed through the small end of telescoping words? The mind perceives the substance as unit, sing of it thus if you wish. Verse forms are moulds into which a poetical thought may be poured and cast. Some of these are very beautiful casting and they serve their purpose well as such, however be not deceived that all thought may be expresses as so. As examples of ornamental bric-a-brac I suggest “Dance of the Gargoyle” and “Cyclops”. As symbols of untrammeled expression I give you “Spirit of Earth”, which might have been called “Creed of the Commando”, and “Godhead”. As a sample of my overpowering revulsion at your ego-mania I humbly offer “Perturbations”. A paradox? Maybe. You are a freak. No normal man could have made such giant strides in the realm of the overdrive (translation: Wakeworld). Therefore you have information which I desire and I see no reason for personal likes or dislikes interfering with the transfer of that knowledge. Your decision as to what I should know, or am capable of knowing, will rest on your decision as to my capacity for learning and for the application of said learning. Before this you must realize my existence and so this communication is for the purpose of introducing myself.

Perhaps some of my perplexity may be explained thus: You “Proclaim the Law of Light, Life, Love and Liberty”. You say that “The word of Sin is restriction”. Yet my observation of your devotees, those people who are prone to lean back with closed eyes, inhale deeply and exclaim “Ah, Crowley, that ineffable genius”, has been that they are more prone to practice a philosophy of death rather than of life. They have given every appearance of being children demanding all the benefits of life, and yet being unwilling to assume the responsibility of perpetuating same. In one particular instance the birth of two children to the order was looked upon with such disfavor that the mother became a veritable outcast. They give every indication of preferring abortion to birth. I am not exactly the parternal {sic} type. Nor have I a great yearning to stroll the midnight floor packing a screaming brat. But while it may be all very well to be “a bornless babe in the womb of the universe” it is also very true that life, and a way of life, can only be carried on by strong men who are willing to accept responsibility. Thus my dilemma. Is this which I see what you actually preach or have our interpreters bungled the job?

Another example of foggy thinking may be seen in the matter of the “Great Chipmunk Experiment”. Time and again I have listened to learned discussions comparing “stocking up that place in the country for purposes of weathering the storm of inevitable economic chaos to follow this war”. I have yet to hear a discussion comprehending the fact that such an experiment would be worse than futile. They can’t seem to realize the fact that America, 1942 version, or ’43, sustains a dynamic economy. I would appear to be beyond their comprehension that should such a tidal wave of industrial collapse ensue as they so glibly speak of that a full ninety per cent of the population of this continent would perish in one gigantic orgasm of anarchy. That when this black run of Nihilism had run its course there would not even be a fragment of the body politic upon which to build a civilization. Is this also a part of your philosophy or are these followers of yours just naturally sleep walkers.

As I have previously stated my time has been limited for the actual practice of Magick. Perhaps my greatest handicap was that of not having a counselor, some one to whom I could turn when those myriads of minor points confused the neophyte. Of course a person was appointed for this function, but I was not in a position to appreciate those months of silence. Thus my few attempts at simple trances, I achieved the Lotus Seat as a comfortable position until my duties called me away from even this, ended in defeat. My closest approximation to a true experiment was an exercise of my own devising, the principle action of which was, while in the Lotus asana, to throw my arms sharply out and up while roaring something about “in the form of the Striking Falcon”. Maybe it was a manifestation of Thoth but results were indecisive.

I will greatly appreciate your answer to the questions I have asked as well as any sign you may wish to give me concerning the course that I should follow in the archiving the full mesh of my own “overdrive”.


2nd Lt., Ordnance.

Note: This was Grady McMurtry’s first letter to Aleister Crowley in self-introduction. He managed to date it to the wrong year, as many do in January; but otherwise fared well. Crowley was pleased to answer and another letter was sent by Grady not long after. Not much later, Grady was posted to Europe himself, in military service. The two met, and another chapter of history began for the OTO. Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, June 2000