(07/14/1943) Aleister Crowley to Grady McMurtry

93 Jermyn Street,
London, S. W. 1
14th July, 1943 e.v.

Lt. Grady McMurtry
Los Angeles, California

Care Frater:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

As you say: “I hope you will pardon my delay in answering your letter. My duties are rather strenuous”.
Yours of May 11th is extremely illuminating and exciting. I am going to ask you to make copies of this letter, and send to the other members of the triangle. I wonder if you will be very surprised at my saying that the only person who comes out with a perfectly clean record is Claire.

I hardly ever smoke cigarettes; but lots of people do, and I consider it a point of hospitality to offer them to my guests who favour me with visits. I like these cigarettes to be of the best quality; and I like the general atmosphere to be as pleasant and prosperous as possible. It is therefore without scruple or diffidence that I ask you to contribute to my personal welfare; I don’t think I ought to be worried about rent, and such matters; I don’t think that I ought to have to economize on cigarettes.

Why is it, in God’s holy name, that you cannot get this point of view automatically? Can you not realize that it is because you are yourself enslaved by base, ignoble passion that you want to enslave others, and do you not see that it only makes it worse, and affords additional evidence of the true nature of the case, that you become hypocritical and base your attacks upon Claire upon principles which have nothing whatever to do with the matter? I, too, am “shiftless and irresponsible”. A woman like Claire is an aspect in herself; in the old days, when these matters were seen clearly and cleanly, when they were properly understood, she would have been a consecrated priestess. (This is implied in the Gnostic Mass, Section II, lines 3 and 4, and is secretly indicated in the Manifesto, Liber III, Section IV, last three paragraphs — “The hidden retreat where members may conceal themselves”). These “Temple of true worship, specially consecrated by Nature to bring out in a man all that is best in him” should have suggested something to a poet of your perspicacity.

Of course, I went through one or two experiences quite similar to yours, and suffered accordingly; but then, my poor friend, that is just what I came to this world to hele; one of the principal points of the doctrine is to make it easy for everybody in the future to avoid this stupid, unnecessary torment.

Jealousy is obviously in plain breach of the law of Thelema — “There shall be no property in human flesh”. As Voltaire said: “I hate your opinions, but I will fight to the death against anyone who wishes to suppress them”. It is the most outrageous arrogance to presume to arbitrate on the most sacred functions of other peoples’ conduct. What you can and should do is to enlighten the ignorance of such as have little or no experience, by telling them of the various dangers with which this voyage is fraught; dangers of shipwreck, dangers from piracy. It is particularly important to instruct people in the real importance of this side of life; more than in any other department of the factory, immense quantities of energy of the highest possible potential are developed and expended; it is extremely important that none of this should go to waste; in nothing else is it so important for the people to remember “It is my Will to eat and drink, (or whatever it is) that my body may be fortified thereby, that I may accomplish the Great Work”.

Of course, it is by no means natural for everyone to become a consecrated priestess; there are, in fact, very few women who have the strength of character necessary to pursue successfully such a career. One of the greatest dangers lies in the tendency to cheapen and vulgarise the whole proceeding, and any blasphemy against this force of nature does lead to the most shocking degradation of character. If anything of the sort has taken place in the case which you mention, it is owing to the comic behaviour of yourself and Jack. One sentence in particular is a most amusing admission; the idea of keeping the distribution of cigarettes within the Order. In the name of three hundred and thirty-three thousands million devils, why? What has that got to do with anybody? Of the documents before me, I must say that I think you attitude is less reprehensible than Jack’s; but you none of you seem to have read the ‘Duties and Privileges’. This question of the child is very clearly explained. It is so simple and obvious that I should have thought it would not have needed explanation to anyone who looked at the subject with clean eyes. May I try to put it for you very simply?

The female body is constructed (very clumsily) with the object of producing children; to produce children may be called the True Will of the body. If that body belongs to a member of the Order, it is the business of the Order to look after its welfare; to drag in questions of paternity is simply asking for trouble. You can ask Jane about this. At Cefalu there was a French girl who, before she ever heard of the Order, had this idea in a rather curious form. She thought that this reproduction of her species was “her duty to the planet”. As it so happened, she had a child as a result of a house-hunting journey that we took all over France and Sicily. She happened to be a fairly good cook, and was able to pay her way in that manner. A year or so later another child appeared, owing to the intervention of somebody, I don’t know who, in the town; and this again happened, again a year or two later. This happened still once more another year or so later. The question was never even discussed as to what to do about it. She was doing her job; and it was up to all of us to look after her as best we could. That, in fact, was the key-note of all our lives in the Abbey. If the typist wanted a new machine, she ought to have one. She is doing the job for the Order, and has an essential right to the supplies. Of course, practically all the typing that she did was done for me personally; but then all the dictation that I did was done in the interests of all the others. It all evens out if people will only refrain from taking these petty, personal standpoints and arguing about whose responsibility is which, and why what is when and whither, and if so, why not. As soon as you start like Lord Alfred Douglas, writing for over forty years long articles to prove that he, and nobody else, paid for the supper held at Willis’ Rooms on 23rd October, 1891, you never stop — like him again.

At the same time I have to say, that so far as Claire’s situation is in any way bad, it is you and Jack between you who are more responsible for it than anyone else. It is quite clear from his letter, that the situation was created by the pair of you. Jack, in fact, is more responsible than you, because his excuses are decidedly disingenuous. However, this is a matter entirely for you to decide; the benefit to be derived from the whole business is that in future this case should serve as a sort of “sealed pattern”. These conditions are bound to recur millions of times in the next two thousand years, and if you will pay a little attention to what I have written in this letter, there would be no trouble whatever for anybody.

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally in the bonds of the Order


Note: Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, September 2000 and October 2000.

(07/14/1943) Aleister Crowley to Grady McMurtry #1(07/14/1943) Aleister Crowley to Grady McMurtry #2

Note: Thank you to William Heidrick for making these images available.