Aleister Crowley Meets Peaches Geldof and Pop Culture



“I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” Jim Morrison of The Doors[1]

…by Jonas E. Alexis


From 2013 to 2014, the Daily Mail and the Guardian published a number of stunning articles which ought to give an astute observer a pause. It stated that the late Peaches Geldof, born Peaches Geldof-Cohen, was “a devotee of Ordo Templi Orientis, known as OTO, and even has the initials tattooed on her left forearm.” The Daily Mail moved on to say:

“Crowley’s motto — perpetuated by OTO — was ‘do what thou wilt’. And it is this individualistic approach that has led to a lasting fascination among artists and celebrities, of whom Peaches is the latest in a long line.

“Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, for example, routinely took part in occult magical rituals and was so intrigued by Crowley he bought his former home, Boleskine House, on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland.

“And there are now OTO lodges scattered around the country, practicing the same ceremonial rituals and spreading the word of Crowley.

“While membership is secret, Peaches is said to have been initiated into it, raising the prospect that many of her impressionable fans could try to do the same.

“Indeed, when one of her Twitter followers asked how she could find out more about Thelema, another word for Crowley’s teachings, Peaches directed her to read his books, which she described as ‘super interesting’.

“Other celebrities linked to OTO include the rapper Jay-Z, who has repeatedly purloined imagery and quotations from Crowley’s work.

“Whether wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with ‘Do what thou wilt’ or hiring Rihanna to hold aloft a flaming torch in his music videos (a reference to the Illuminati, an outlawed secret society whose name supposedly derives from Lucifer, or ‘light bringer’), he has given the sect priceless publicity.”[2]

The Daily Mail said elsewhere that Geldof-Cohen used to encourage

“her tens of thousands of Twitter followers to read up on the notorious OTO  cult…. She has been recommending controversial books written by infamous occultist Aleister Crowley…”

“Miss Geldof has now been encouraging her 148,302 Twitter followers to pick up Crowley’s contentious literature, which include The Book of Law, after one of her fans asked her: ‘Where can I get more info about Thelema?’ She replied: ‘I would buy Aleister Crowley’s books on it, they’re not expensive and super interesting.’

“Peaches has also dabbled in Scientology and is now said to have converted to Judaism, the religion of her musician husband Thomas Cohen.”[3]

Peaches’ mother died of heroin back in 2000. Peaches followed a similar path and died last year at the age of 25. Her heroin overdose was

“ten times bigger than the one that killed her mother Paula Yates. Stashes of heroin, burned spoons and almost 80 syringes were scattered around the 25-year-old’s country home. Her husband returned from a weekend away to find her slumped dead on a bed, covered in needle puncture marks. A used syringe was in a sweet box next to her body and a pair of knotted tights had apparently been used as a tourniquet.”[4]

Peaches’ spiritual teacher, Crowley, was also a walking drug addict and died miserably. The Daily Mail did not hesitate to say that

“Crowley, who styled himself as ‘the Great Beast, 666’ and was dubbed ‘the wickedest man in the world’, revelled in sadomasochistic sex rituals with men and women, and the use of hard drugs including opium, cocaine, heroin and mescaline.”[5]

In March of last year, Peaches “posted a photograph of Crowley’s book, Magick: In Theory And Practice, praising him as a ‘beautiful writer and thinker…’ One of [Crowley’s] books, The Diary Of A Drug Fiend, was among those picitured on Peaches’ bookshelf.”[6]

The questions which the Daily Mail readers ought to ask are simply these: What did Aleister Crowley teach his followers? Why did young and devoted disciples such as Geldof willingly choose to immerse themselves in the OTO and in the writings of a man who was, according to the British press, “the wickedest man in the world” and “the man we’d like to hang”?[7]

Well, perhaps there is more to Aleister Crowley than meets the eye and ear.

amy winehouse
Amy Winehouse

Hugh B. Urban of Ohio State University makes the point that

“If there is one figure with whom the practice of sex magic is generally associated in the modern imagination, it is surely Aleister Crowley.”[8]

This is actually true. Crowley grew up in the Plymouth Brethren but left it to pursue a dark enterprise known as sex magic. This dark enterprise dominated much of his life. But Crowley was far from alone. Urban says that

“From D. H. Lawrence and Oscar Wilde to Havelock Ellis, many British intellectuals were throwing off the sexual shackles of their Victorian parents and embracing a new ideal of erotic liberation, including the most ‘deviant’ and ‘abnormal’ acts such as masturbation and homosexual intercourse.”[9]

Crowley himself added, “Indeed, my falling away from grace was not occasioned by any intellectual qualms; I accepted the theology of the Plymouth Brethren. In fact, I could hardly conceived of the existence of people who might doubt it. I simply went over to Satan’s side and to this hour I cannot tell why.”[10]

Crowley was indeed a grandchild of the Victorian era, and he was quite happy to liberate himself from that environment. To do so, Crowley “asserted his sense of independence and rebellion against the religious fanaticism of his family by performing one of his first sexual acts with a servant maid on his mother’s bed.”[11] Crowley moved on to eat one of her lovers’ excrement (Leah Hirsig, whom he called the “Scarlet Woman”) so that he could “reprogram his mind of Victorian mores.”[12] One observer noted,

“They justify these practices by saying that all of man’s natural inclination and tastes should be destroyed, that there is neither good nor evil, pleasant or unpleasant, etc. Even as human excrement fertilizes a sterile soil, so assimilating every kind of filth makes the mind capable of any and every meditation.”[13]

Crowley said:

“To us Victoria was sheer suffocation… We could not see, we could not breathe…The Soul of England was stagnant, stupefied!”[14] He said elsewhere: “I say today: To hell with Christianity…I will build me a new Heaven and a new Earth…I want blasphemy, murder, rape, revolution, anything bad…”[15]

In order to have “blasphemy, murder, rape, revolution,” and “anything bad,” Crowley immerse himself in Hermeticism, Freemasonry, Rosicrusianism, and Kabbalah. Those occult and secret societies attracted “prominent artists, poets, and intellectuals, including W. B. Yeats.”[16] Furthermore, all those occult movements are the grandchild of Jewish magic.[17] In fact, one of the noted Kabbalists who had a tremendously profound influence on the Golden Dawn and indeed Crowley was none other than Eliphas Levi.[18] One scholar writes:

“Cowley’s enthusiasm for Levi as a ceremonial magician was so pronounced that the controversial British occultist claimed to be a reincarnation of the French sage. It was Eliphas Levi who had first proposed the symbolic connection between the Major Arcana of the Tarot and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet…

“S. L. MacGregor Mathers, co-founder of the Golden Dawn, accepted Levi’s proposal that because the paths linking the ten sephiroth on the Kabbalistic tree of Life were associated with specific Hebrew letters, the Major Arcana linked to these Hebrew letters could be used to gain meditative access to paths on the Tree.

“Mathers’s Golden Dawn colleague, A. E. Waite also praised Levi for emphasizing the importance of the ‘magical will.’”[19]


Crowley got the idea of sex magick (Crowley’s unique spelling) from the Gold Dawn around 1904 and spent the next thirty years of his life developing and refining it. This also included magical homosexual acts.[20] “Crowley quickly came to believe that sex magic was an unrivaled means to great magical power, and he became one of its most innovative practitioners.”[21]

Crowley said: “the Book of the Law solves the sexual problem completely. Each individual has an absolute right to satisfy his sexual instinct as is physiologically proper for him.”[22] Crowley moved on to put the issue in a context that the Dreadful Few would almost certainly understand:

“The battle will rage most fiercely around the question of sex….Mankind must learn that the sexual instinct is …ennobling. The shocking evils which we all deplore are principally due to the perversions produced by suppressions. The feeling that it is shameful and the sense of sin cause concealment, which is ignoble, and internal conflict which creates distortion, neurosis, and ends in explosion.”[23]

Crowley then moved to posit that “sexual magick” was like an atomic bomb, which to him had the potential to create havoc and esthetic terrorism in society:

“If this secret which is a scientific secret were perfectly understood…there would be nothing which the human imagination can conceive that could not be realized in practice….If it were desired to have an element of atomic weight six times that of uranium that element could be produced.”[24] (Wilhelm Reich would have called this “sex economy.”[25])

So, Crowley would have probably applauded Bill Cosby, who has been accused of drug facilitated sexual assault by over 40 independent women. Cosby even used “financial sleight of hand to keep his wife from finding out about his serial philandering.”[26] If we follow Crowley consistently here, Cosby is just an individual who “has an absolute right to satisfy his sexual instinct as is physiologically proper for him.”


Put simply, if Crowley wanted rape, then Cosby got it, because “Mr. Cosby had admitted obtaining Quaaludes in the 1970s to give to young women with whom he wanted to have sex…”[27]

Were Crowley alive today, he would have supported Cosby, for it was Crowley himself who postulated: “Take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where, and with whom ye will!” In fact, for Crowley, “The word Sin is Restriction. O man!”[28] Crowley added that “all suppression or distortion” of the sexual act “is contrary to the Law of Liberty.”[29]

So, if we take Crowley’s philosophy to its logical conclusion, then modernity is morally toothless, defenseless, and ultimately worthless. The logic is pretty clear: If “degenerate moderns” condemn Crowley, then they would have to condemn the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and other Crowleyites who advanced Crowley’s philosophy in one way or another. If they condemn Crowley and his devoted disciples, then they would have to appeal to the moral law and order. If they appeal to the moral order, then they would also have to condemn the Dreadful Few in Hollywood who constantly violate that moral law or deviates from its principles.

To put it another way, if “degenerate moderns” consistently follow the moral law, then Cosby accusers and prosecutors such as lawyer Gloria Allred and most specifically former Playboy playmates such as Victoria Valentino, Judith Huth, Sarita Butterfield, would have to condemn Hugh Hefner as well.[30] If those Playboy playmates do not want to condemn Hefner, then it would be hard for them to defend the thesis that Cosby has done something wrong. In fact, it was Hefner who said that “morals are a relative thing.”

In other words, what is moral for Cosby may not be moral for Valentino or Huth. It is a matter of different taste and appetite. (Huth said that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Manson, a place in which moral gravity breaks down and where former Playboy bunnies like Holly Madison almost committed suicide! How can Huth balance that moral contradiction without splitting her head into different particles?)

The crux of the story here is that it is hard to take those women seriously because they are trying to build with their left hands while their right hands seek to destroy. They are working in the sex industry and at the same time trying to appeal to the moral law when they get into trouble. That is indeed a contradiction. Those people need to start learning that they are not free to do what they want. They are only free to do what is right.

Aleister Crowley

Crowley went about engaging in all sorts of sex in order to gain magical powers. He was kicked out of Italy “by the order of Mussolini”[31] for this very reason. At the Abbey of Thelema, Crowley’s own ritual chamber in Italy, he attempted to do some incredible things:

“Life at the Abbey was for the most part Crowley’s attempt to translate his magical and Thelemic ideas into social reality. For the participants, the regime of life involved a great deal of occult and sex magic activity as well as experiments with various mind-and mood-altering substances, such as hashish, cocaine, heroin, and opium….

“In a certain sense, life at the Abbey of Thelema may be taken to paradigmatically represent Crowley’s lifestyle and philosophy in their most intense aspects. He considered himself the prophet of the New Aeon, which was to replace the old patriarchal religions that are most typically exemplified by Christianity.”[32]

Crowley “is said to have taken part in 150 ritual murders, most of whom were children.”  Various papers around England said that he was involved in “blasphemous and bestial ceremonies—or orgies.”

What is particularly interesting to our study here is that Crowley had a huge following in popular culture, most specifically in the music scene. Musicians such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Sting, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Ozborne, Iron Maiden, among others, have all been influenced by Crowley’s philosophy in one way or another. Crowley also had a tremendously powerful influence on John Lennon and Timothy Leary.

“One recipient of Leary’s psychedelic wisdom was John Lennon, who in 1966 found a copy of The Psychedelic Experience (1964)—by Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert—in London’s Indica Bookshop, an emporium of countercultural literature run by Barry Miles…

“Leary’s advice that, ‘whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax and float downstream,’ struck home, and Lennon incorporated the line in his song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’ from the album Revolver (1966), generally regarded as the Beatles’ first psychedelic track. Lennon spent the next few years turning off his mind by ingesting very large doses of LSD.”[33]

Writer and musician Gary Lachman declares,

“The area of popular culture in which Crowley has had the most impact surely must be music. It took some time, but by the mid-1960s, the occult revival had reached the burgeoning ‘youth culture,’ which was itself on its way to becoming a serious rival to the mainstream, what became known as the ‘counterculture….’

“Music has always had an element of danger associated with it because of its ability to subvert the conscious mind and reach directly into the unconscious; Plato, we know, famously banned most music, except for a few bland modes, from his utopian Republic…

“When the ‘60s occult revival met the growing counterculture something strange happened. Each recognized that they had a common enemy in what was called ‘the establishment.’ This term stood for the values, institutions, sensibilities, tastes, political ideals, and morality of the previous generation, and the distance between it and the burgeoning one became known as the ‘generation gap’—a phrase put to good marketing use when the Gap clothing retailer opened for business in 1969.”[34]

Lachman moved on to say:

“Twenty years earlier [Crowley] had died in obscurity in somewhat squalid circumstances, but by 1967 Crowley was hanging out—posthumously, of course—with some of the most famous people in the world, and was more popular than he had ever been. If any one sign marked that the counterculture had given its imprimatur to the occult revival, it had to be the fact that the Beatles had included Crowley on the cover of their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in the fateful summer of 1967.

“Designed by the artist Peter Blake, the cover has Crowley’s by-now-familiar shaven head and bulging eyes cropping up between the Indian guru Sri Yukteswar Giri and the actress Mae West: aptly, as mysticism and sex formed the heart of Crowley’s life.

“Other figures sharing space with Crowley—Aldous Huxley, C. G. Jung, Sri Mahavatar Babaji, and Sri Paramahansa Yogananda—show that by the time the Beatles came to know about the Beast, magic, mysticism, and altered states had become the hottest things in town…

“That the Beatles were fully behind Crowley’s program is clear from a remark John Lennon made in an interview for Playboy magazine, some years later and shortly before his death. ‘The whole Beatle idea was to do what you want…do what thou whilst, as long as it doesn’t hurt somebody…’

“The Rolling Stones, the second most famous people in the world, got deep into Crowley through the filmmaker Kenneth Anger, who arrived in London in early 1968. The Stones were already friends with the alchemist Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, author of Alchemy: The Secret Art (1974)….

“The Stones’s own shot at a psychedelic LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), released a few months after Sgt. Pepper’s, speaks for itself, as does what soon became their signature tune, ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ from Beggar’s Banquet (1968).”[35]

Crowley also had a powerful influence on some Hollywood celebrities. His publication, The Equinox, was well known among “Hollywood luminaries.”[36]

“In July of 1920, a Hollywood silent film actress named Jane Wolfe joined the community at Cefalu [Italy]. Prior to that time she had been engaged in an intense correspondence with Crowley, and there was a strong mutual attraction between the two.

“When she finally met Crowley face-to-face, she was appalled by his unkempt looks and by the general state of affairs at the Abbey. Only later was she to learn from another of Crowley’s disciples that he was at the time undergoing a phase of deliberate exposure to the ‘mystery of filth.’”[37]

In short, one cannot study the worldview that posts beneath much of the music and entertainment industry without coming to terms with Aleister Crowley’s philosophy, which involved sexual magic and indeed “murder, rape, and anything bad.” Peaches Geldof indeed revered Crowley, but she never told her fans what happened to the man before slipped into eternity in 1947.

Crowley said before he died, “I am perplexed.”[38] Other accounts declared that he was “a bored old man who found the lonely evenings frightening.” Other biographers quote Crowley saying before he passed away: “Sometimes I hate myself.”[39] Urban, agreeing with other scholars, writes that Crowley

“spent his last years in a small guesthouse in London, increasingly addicted to heroin (taking as much as eleven grams a day, enough to kill most men).”[40]

Sad story indeed, but many of Crowley’s disciples ended up following the same tragic end. Crowley’s philosophy largely created the counterculture revolution, but that same revolution ended up killing its children. As has been pointed out earlier, people like Janis Hoplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobaine, Robert Johnson, all died at the age of 27.

In 2011, Amy Winehouse joined the list of artists who died young and hopeless. Winehouse was certainly juiced by “The Industry,” and by the time she died at the age of 27, she looked like a 60-year old woman who never had a chance to interact with the real world.

In 2013, Peaches Geldof got on the Satanic sinking ship and consequently lost her precious life at the age of 25. These people were all victims of Crowley’s New Aeon, which is Masonic and indeed Satanic.

Hopefully Geldof’s fans and other celebrities like Jay Z and Rihanna have learned enough lessons from Geldof’s tragic death. Hopefully they now understand that deconstructing the moral, social, and sexual order ultimately leads to chaos and sometimes pathetic death. People like Jimi Hendrix, Bon Scott of AC/DC, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, all choked to death on their own vomit.[41] The sad thing is that those people could not see that life is not only precious and valuable but is only for a short time. As Solomon would have put it:

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them…

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

[1] Quoted in Gary Lachman, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (New York: Penguin, 2014), 330.

[2] Richard Price, “Forget Scientology, celebs are now falling for an even more sinister ‘religion’: Introducing the Satanic sex cult that’s snaring stars such as Peaches Geldof,” Daily Mail, April 21, 2013; “Peaches Geldof has signed up to Aleister Crowley’s sex cult OTO,” Guardian, April 15, 2013.

[3] Simon Cable, “Peaches and the religious cult with a very dark past: Geldof uses Twitter account to urge followers to learn about Order of Oriental Templars,” Daily Mail, April 15, 2013.

[4] Lucy Crossley, “Peaches’ heroin overdose was 10 times bigger than the one that killed her mother Paula: Baby son was alone with the body for 17 hours, inquest is told,” Daily Mail, July 23, 2014.

[5] Cable, “Peaches and the religious cult with a very dark past: Geldof uses Twitter account to urge followers to learn about Order of Oriental Templars,” Daily Mail, April 15, 2013.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Quoted in Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr, eds., Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 122.

[8] Hugh B. Urban, Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006), 109.

[9] Urban, Magia Sexualis, 111.

[10] Aleister Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (New York: Penguin, 1969), 66, 67.

[11] Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr, eds., Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 124.

[12] Ibid., 126.

[13] Cited in ibid.

[14] Crowley, Confessions, 112.

[15] Quoted in Israel Regardie, The Eye in the Triangle: An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley (Las Vegas, NV: New Falcon Publications, 1987), 287.

[16] Urban, Magia Sexualis, 115.

[17] See for example Geoffrey W. Dennis, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2007), xi; Nevill Drury, Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 6.

[18] Nevill Drury, Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 6-7.

[19] Ibid., 37-38.

[20] Bogdan and Starr, Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, 22.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Quoted in Urban, Magia Sexualis, 120.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., 121.

[25] Reich used that “sex economy” to destroy the spiritual lives of many Catholic priests. See for example E. Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2000).

[26] Graham Bowley and Sydney Ember, “Bill Cosby Deposition Reveals Calculated Pursuit of Young Women, Using Fame, Drugs and Deceit,” NY Times, July 18, 2015. Since much of Hollywood and the media have been directly and indirectly unleashing Crowley’s doctrine upon the masses for years, perhaps Cosby should have said that Crowley implanted those thoughts in his head.

[27] Graham Bowley and Sidney Ember, “Cosby Legal and Publicity Teams Opt for Silence After Admission Is Released,” NY Times, July 8, 2015; “Bill Cosby Admission About Quaaludes Offers Accusers Vindication,” NY Times, July 7, 2015.

[28] Quoted in Bogand and Starr, Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, 125.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ryan Gajewski, “Victoria Valentino alleges that the star gave her a pill and took her to an apartment in 1970,” Hollywood Reporter, November 24, 2014; “Bill Cosby Rape Allegations: Former Playmate Victoria Valentino Becomes the 16th Victim to Speak Out,” US Magazine, November 23, 2014; “Playboy Bunny claims Bill Cosby tried to kiss, touch her breasts during Christmas Eve dinner with his family,” NY Daily News, November 23, 2014.

[31] Bogdan and Starr, Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, 122.

[32] Bogdan and Starr, eds., Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, 122.

[33] Gary Lachman, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (New York: Penguin, 2014),330.

[34] Ibid., 323.

[35] Ibid., 326.

[36] Richard Kaczynski, Perdurado: The Life of Aleister Crowley (Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Publications, 2002), 273.

[37] Bogdan and Starr,  Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, 124.

[38] John Symonds, The Great Beast: The Autobiography of Aleister Crowley (New York: Roy Publishers, 1962), 296.

[39] Urban, Magia Sexualis, 119.

[40] Ibid.

[41] “Stuart Cable death: rock stars who choked on their own vomit,” Telegraph, October 20, 2010.


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Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.