The first documentary study of Aleister Crowley's contemporary followers in North America told through the life of their de facto leader Wilfred Talbot Smith 1885 1957 Smith 'Frater 132' the unacknowledged offspring of a prominent English family emigrated to Canada where he encountered Charles Stansfeld Jones 'Frater Achad' and through him the works of Aleister Crowley 'Baphomet 'and 'Therion' Although Crowley and Smith met only once their twenty year correspondence proved to be a major link to the few and the faithful attracted to Crowley's work in the USA and Canada THE UNKNOWN GOD is a fascinating and complex human story intimately interwoven with the lives of most of Crowley's American disciples including CF Russell Jane Wolfe Max R Schneider Jack Parsons Louis T Culling Frederic Mellinger and Grady L McMurtry as well as occult teachers like H Spencer Lewis AMORC Paul Foster Case BOTA and Wayne Walker OM Hollywood actors such as John Carradine and even the founder of the Mattachine Society Harry HayStudents of 19th and 20th century esoteric movements including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn the Theosophical Society and the Crowleyan Orders will find THE UNKNOWN GOD worth reading


10 thoughts on “The Unknown God WT Smith and the Thelemites

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    I almost wish I hadn't read it I am at least glad I waited until moving through some of the OTO degrees myselfWhile the bulk of the book focuses on the personalities and histories of Smith's associates in the world of Thelema there come times when Starr unrestricted by any vows surrounding the degree work refers to information that some particularly members of the Order may regard as secret Of course since most of this focuses on the early history of the OTO in North America in the first half of the 20th century much of it no longer applies or applies differently today—even during the course of the narrative while Aleister Crowley was still alive he re edited or rewrote virtually all of the OTO initiations Still for those of us who prefer to go into each initiation clean without having read ahead this book may provide some unwanted insights and set up uncertain expectations I would not however consider any of them to be outright spoilers and Starr includes precious little information regarding the upper degrees that wasn't already widely available even within Crowley's public teachingsApart from that this is a fascinating look at the history of the OTO in North America and at one man's successes and failures in following out The Path as outlined by Crowley in his OTO and A∴A∴ systems of High Magick Since they were close associates it also offers a good if peripheral view of the work of authorCharles Stansfield Jones Frater Achad as well as touching upon Jane Wolfe Regina Kahl C F Russell Jack Parsons and very tangentially L Ron Hubbard and Phyllis Seckler among others It also represents the first publication of all three parts of Crowley's Liber 132 Apotheosis a specific instruction from TO MEGA THERION to SmithFinally it is useful as a guide to anyone involved in the middle degrees of OTO mostly as a handbook of what NOT to do in the running of a fraternal magical order narratively outlining the problems and pitfalls that still plague some such orders and bodies today as anyone familiar with Pasadena's Agape Lodge could have told you already