Dr William Sargant – The Sex Magick and drug based practises of Aleister Crowley 01
Type of Spiritual Experience
Dr William Sargant was born in Highgate, London, in 1907 and educated at Leys School and St John's College, Cambridge. Up to 1972 he was Physician in Charge of the Department of Psychological Medicine at St Thomas's Hospital, London. He was Associate Secretary of the World Psychiatric Association and on the staff of the Maudsley Hospital, London for many years, He was also Registrar of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association, Rockefeller Fellow at Harvard University and Visiting Professor at Duke University. He was also the author of Battle for the Mind, and The Unquiet Mind.
A description of the experience
The Mind Possessed - Dr William Sargant
Aleister Crowley, a highly intelligent and persistent seeker after the means by which man could make contact with the inhabitants of the spirit world, and command gods and devils to do his bidding, made a detailed study of Indian mysticism and tantric practices. He was a member of a number of secret societies, including the Golden Dawn, among whose distinguished members was W. B. Yeats.
Later, like others before him and since, he started to experiment with drugs to enable him to contact spirits more easily. From various psychedelic drugs he went on to 'hard' drugs like cocaine, and finally his writings became verbose and meaningless, as he mentally drifted further and further away from reality. His day-to-day diaries are a mine of information on a subject which it is difficult to obtain correct information about because the use of abnormal and normal sexual practices for religious and spiritual ends conflicts with conventional attitudes. These methods are therefore still invariably practised in secret.
In the early 1900s Crowley was already showing interest in mysticism and esoteric Eastern practices, and he travelled and studied in the Orient from I902 to 1906. He also claimed to have worked with Dr Henry Maudsley for some months and says in his diary for 1903:
‘Dr Maudsley, the greatest of living authorities on the brain, explained to me the physiological aspects of Dhyana (unity of subject –and object in meditation) as extreme activity of one part of the brain, extreme lassitude of the rest. He refused to localize the part. Indulgence in this practice (mystical trance) he regarded as dangerous, but declined to call the single experience pathological.'
Crowley proceeded to join the order of the Golden Dawn and later the Ordo Templi Orientis, a German occult society primarily concerned with sexual magic. He writes:
The art was communicated to me in June 1912 by the O.H.O. (the outer Head of the order, Theodor Reuss). It was practised in a desultory manner until Jan. 1st, 1914, when I made the experiment described elsewhere (a homosexual working in Paris with victor Neuburg). The knowledge thus gained enabled me to make further research-and produce certain results ... my bronchitis was cured in a day. I obtained money when needed. I obtained sex force and sex attraction . . . much of the great work done by me all this summer may be considered due entirely to this Act.
Earlier, in 1911, Crowley had started to use a sexual trance technique which he later called ‘Eroto-comatose Lucidity’. It helped him, he thought, to get into more direct contact with the spirit and demon world. Later, on the evening of 11th October 1911, for instance, he met a Mrs Mary d’Este Sturges at the Savoy Hotel in London, and their attraction was mutual. He met her again in London on 13 and 14 October and joined her in Paris a month later; then they went on to Zurich. On 21st November in Zurich, he records:
At about midnight she was in a state of excitement, exhaustion and hysteria . . . one little removed from an amorously infuriated lioness . . . suddenly and without warning [this] gave place to a profound calm hardly distinguishable from prophetic trance, and she began to describe what she was seeing . . . The lady . .. had seen in a dream the head of 5 White Brothers . . . The person now appeared again to her. He was an old man with a long white beard . . . His first counsel to the seer was ’to make himself perfectly passive' in order that he might communicate freely.
Crowley then went on to ask Mrs Sturges, now in deep trance, questions as to the identity of the possessing spirit.