Friday, July 19, 2013

Boleskin House, The home of the Wickedest Man in the World.

'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.'
 Aleister Crowley 

Crowley is known by many names; The Beast of Boleskine, The wickedest man in the world, Great Beast 666 and The Other Loch Ness Monster. He was an infamous occultist, a mystic and the master Satanist of the twentieth century, claiming that 'ordinary morality was for ordinary people'. He was a bisexual who took a lot of drugs and had a lot of sex. He once owned a insignificant looking house on the hillside near Loch Ness and both he and the house have been absorbed into folklore, with a little help from the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
Crowley bought Boleskine House in 1899, but superstition surrounding the house goes back much further. A carriage once fell off the bridge nearby killing the occupants - a bride and groom. Their ghosts are rumoured to roam the hillside, looking for each other in eternity. Local dogs used to run around with bones in their mouths - not surprising as the graveyard had no walls. This is real Edgar Allan Poe stuff.
And then there are the rumours that Crowley summoned the Loch Ness Monster for its famous photograph in 1934. Ok so that photo was a fake but we won't let fact spoil a  good blog. He is a man surrounded by very strange events and has many labels attached to him,  including rape and sexual acts that may or may not have involved minors. Or do we just prefer to distort the reality of what he was, so that we can think of him as the 'most evil man in the world.'
Crowley was born into a wealthy family, with a private income so could devote all his time to the pursuit of the higher self or Satan. He was actually a chemist with an interest in alchemy. As a young man he joined the Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn, an organisation that helped to shape western occult beliefs and in the late 1890's he was looking for a house to perform a ritual from the Book Of Sacred Magick of Abra-Melin the Mage. Boleskin house was ideal, secluded and possessed a north door where Crowley could build a terrace  to cover  in fine sand ( to monitor the footprints of spirits as they come and go.) The ritual was to last six months, its aim to evoke the lords of darkness. He got the Loch Ness monster instead. Interestingly his diary states that he refuses to use these powers for evil. But public opinion held another view - rumours of locals going mad and trying to kill each other, local animals dying of starvation, a local butcher accidently chopping his hand off after speaking to Crowley.
The problem was that Crowley halted the ritual half way through to go to Paris and that has led to Boleskine House becoming a portal to the other world. When Crowley returned to the house he wrote in his diary about changes to the house; even on the brightest of days he had to use lights, the darkness inside was 'physical', the long hall was inhabited by ghostly shadows. Crowley left soon after for New York.
The house has changed hands many times since then, the various owners have reported terrible luck. Animals starving to death, people going to jail,  suicides. One ex soldier shot himself in the head and his housekeeper was  greeted at the door by the family dog with a part of a skull in his mouth. So the portal to the other world story grew.
Crowley was declared bankrupt in 1934. When he died of respiratory infection at 72, he was a heroin addict. His last words were, sometimes I hate myself.
The house has become notorious. Jimmy Page, Led Zepplin guitarist and occult enthusiast,  owned the house for  nearly 20 years. In Rolling Stone magazine in the mid 70's he describes how the bad vibes got to him.
Quoted from Rolling Stone magazine:-“There were two or three owners before Crowley moved into it. It was also a church that was burned to the ground with the congregation in it. And that is the site of the house. Strange things have happened in that house that had nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there. A man was beheaded there, and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down. I haven't actually heard it, but a friend of mine, who is extremely straight and doesn't know anything about anything like that at all, heard it. He thought it was cats bungling about. I wasn't there at the time, but he asked the help, 'why don't you let the cats out at night? They make a terrible racket, rolling about in the halls,' and they said, ‘The cats are locked in a room every night.” Then they told him the story of the house. So that sort of thing was there before Crowley got there.
When the interviewer went on to clarify that Page himself never had contact with the spirits, Page cut in with, “I didn’t say that. I just said I didn’t hear the head roll.” He went on to tell the interviewer that he preferred not to discuss the issue further. Though never actually residing in the building for long periods of time, Page instead had it lived in by a long time school friend by the name of Malcom Dent. Malcom describes the living situation as a constant and “definite feeling of a strong presence trying to get into you.”

 Despite this, Malcom lived, and raised a family in the house, while simultaneously ignoring as much of the strange activity as possible and fending off the weirder groups of Crowley devotees who would creep onto the property at all hours of the night. Jimmy Page sold Boleskine House in 1992, and it was, for a time, used as a bed & breakfast. Either the strange occurrences in the building have since settled, or the latest batch of property owners have been decidedly quiet about the activity.

Part of the fantasy sequence in the Led Zeppelin concert film, The Song Remains the Same
was filmed on the mountainside directly behind the house.

Reading around about Crowley, in the middle of the  day and never alone, a few interesting facts emerge. Statements like “I have been accused of being a ‘black magician.’ No more foolish statement was ever made about me. I despise the thing to such an extent that I can hardly believe in the existence of people so debased and idiotic as to practice it.” He was a strong  advocate for children’s rights in his time. Moreover, he was unequivocal that abuse of anyone’s rights is contrary to his religious philosophy of Thelema. “… acts invasive of another individual’s equal rights are implicitly self-aggressions. … Such acts as rape, and the assault or seduction of infants, may therefore be justly regarded as offences against the Law of Liberty, and repressed in the interests of that Law.”

Even the 'fact' that he died alone in poverty seems to be untrue. Until the day he died he had regular visitors to his lovely house overlooking the white cliffs  he had climbed as a boy. I'm happy to believe that his death was accompanied by a gust of wind and a peal of thunder. 'It was the gods greeting him’ said his companion.
He probably was a heroin addict, but in those days he would have been prescribed it, no doubt becoming addicted like anyone would.
Much of what is written about him, and maybe much that he wrote about himself  is entertaining fabrication. He might not be the wickedest man in the world, but he was a great self publicist.

Oh and there is also a persistent rumour that he was the father of Barbara Bush. I doubt that one too.

Caro GB


  1. I shall take this as a sign, Caro, hopefully not one of grand disaster. I do not mean to turn this into one big BSP moment for me, but in looking for a quote to summon up the essence of my new Andreas Kaldis mystery coming out in that would describe what I'm trying to say through MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT...I found and put at the opening of my book the following quote from "Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) The Wickedest Man on Earth"--

    Magick: "It is theoretically possible to cause in any object change of which that object is capable by nature."

    Thanks to you, I now know a lot more about Crowley than ever before...Led Zepplin, too.

  2. There are stranger things...thank you for another fascinating and picturesque post.

  3. Human-kind are truly fascinating and varied!

  4. There are more things in heaven and earth, dear Caro, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  5. Talking of truly fascinating and varied human kind- I read two of Jeff's books while I was on my hols. Will he get big headed if I ponder why anybody made the film The Divinci Code when Prey On Patmos is a book of much more ...what's the phrase.... intellectual integrity? But I would never say that to him as his jokes are bad enough
    already :)

  6. Caro, coming from a STILL ("Scottish Top International Literary Legend") your words sent my head so far off into the clouds, that I can't seem to make out my keyboard or screen well enough to properly thank you. But I do thank you, my friend, with every ounce of whatever intellectual integrity I can muster--hold the relish. :)