Writing to his friend Louis Wilkinson, on 7 April 1945, Aleister Crowley remarked-in uncharacteristically charitable fashion--If it had not been for Waite, I doubt if, humanly speaking, I should ever have got in touch with the Great Order.' Inevitably he prefixed this praise with abuse: 'Waite certainly did start a revival of interest in Alchemy, Magic, Mysticism, and all the rest. That his scholarship was so contemptible, his style so over-loaded, and his egomania so outrageous does not kill to the point of extinction, the worth of his contribution.' Even this is muted criticism for Crowley; more often he heaped abuse on Waite with gusto, tingeing it with venomous personal attacks that were as unjustified as were his assaults on Waite's writing. His characterization of Waite (in his novel Moonchild) as 'Edwin Arthwait', 'a dull and inaccurate pedant without imagination or real magical perception', is more a reflection of his self-perception. But why should Crowley, flamboyant, indifferent to public opinion and public morals, and with a perpetual circle of sycophantic acolytes, be so exercised with the need to condemn a man he perceived as a fellow occultist? Throughout the ten issues of his periodical The Equinox Crowley maintained a stream of invective and abuse against A. E. Waite, condemning the man, his works, his friends and all that he stood for. As there was virtually no public circulation of The Equinox these attacks seem futile, and can only be explained by a wish on Crowley's part to justify his own actions.

 

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AE Waite - A Magician of Many Parts - RA Gilbert

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