When I first moved to Inverness over 10 years ago the legend of the Loch Ness Monster was a story that was well known to me, in fact there can’t be many people worldwide that haven’t heard of the Loch Ness Monster. The far more interesting story of Boleskine House situated on the shores of Loch Ness and it’s somewhat eccentric one time owner Aleister Crowley was a story that I knew nothing about, however over time I kept on hearing the occasional tale of “The Most Evil Man In The World” and what he was alleged to have done at Boleskine House.
I must admit though that my first interest in the house was more to do with the fact that it was once owned by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and being a big Led Zep fan I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Eventually when I started to probe deeper and look for more information I started to view the fact that Jimmy Page owned it as a distraction; because no matter where I looked on the internet it seemed that Jimmy Page’s name would grab the attention of most peoples interest and therefore a lot of the stories centred around his “occupation” of the property. I use “occupation” in the loosest sense of the word because although Mr. Page owned the house for a number of years he only ever spent one night there and when you hear the stories of what happened there many years before; then it doesn’t really come as any surprise.
The reason for Jimmy Page buying the property was due to his long time interest in the religion “Thelema” and it’s leader Mr. Aleister Crowley; whose reason for buying the house is the possible cause of the countless tales of evil spirits, mysterious happenings and ultimately what many people believe to be the “Loch Ness Monster”. I’ll come back to this but first I think it would be helpful to divulge a little background information about Aleister Crowley and his carefully chosen residence in the Scottish Highlands.
Probably the most notorious magician of his period, if not of all time, Aleister Crowley has had far more influence after his death than at any time during his over-indulged life. Many stories about Crowley have been heard over the years and most of them focus on “Black Magic”, “Satanic Rituals” and a life of drug abuse and sexual experimentation. Needless to say it would be easy to fall into the trap of viewing Mr. Crowley as a most disreputable man and one to be avoided. But human nature being what it is we are prone to elaborate upon basic facts before we pass on any heard rumours and in the case of Aleister Crowley his stories have been circulated many times with many elaborations upon elaborations. In the Inverness local press; whenever there is a mention of him it is always accompanied with the four horses of the apocalypse and wild accusations that are never based on actual fact.
In a poll conducted by the BBC in 2002 and voted for by the British public Crowley appeared 73rd on a list of “The 100 Greatest Britons”. On the cover of The Beatles 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Crowley joins esteemed company when he appears on the back row standing next to Mae West. On the reputable website “Poemhunter” Crowley appears at number 159 on a list of the 500 greatest poets. Three facts that begin to build a picture of a man who surely can’t be the same man that has been labelled ‘The Wickedest Man in the World’.
Born Edward Alexander Crowley, on the 12th of October 1875 in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Crowley was brought up in the strict ruling of the Plymouth Brethren. His rebellion against his upbringing, and the fact that his mother identified him with the Great Beast of the Revelation, was something that would steer his life on the course of overindulgence and theatrical evil.
Crowley’s father died in 1887, and Crowley was sent to live with his mother’s brother, an alleged vicious bully called Tom Bishop, during that time he attended a school run by the Plymouth Brethren. Crowley’s childhood was a very unhappy one; he later described his experiences saying that it was only his iron will that got him through the whole experience. Crowley soon came of age, and at 21 made a final split from his family. He became an undergraduate reading moral science at Cambridge University. Crowley seemed set for life; he had inherited his father’s fortune, and was mixing with people who were soon to become high movers in society.
As a keen mountaineer Crowley had earned a great deal of respect, he was driven and courageous, undertaking ambitious adventures in the Himalayas. His reputation in these exploits led some people to say that he was possibly one of the greatest European mountaineers of his time. In 1902 his mountaineering exploits led him to attempt Chogo Ri in the Himalayas with Oscar Eckenstein. They spent 63 days surviving on the Baltero Glacier, and Crowley claimed to have climbed alone to a height of 22,000 feet, until he was driven back by severe weather conditions. In 1905 Crowley’s mountaineering pursuits involved an attempt to conquer Kangchenjunga, which is the world’s third highest peak. There was great controversy during this abortive adventure; Crowley was accused of beating porters, and leaving men to die alone in an avalanche. There was also a slight mutiny within the camp and this trip became a large black mark on his reputation within the mountaineering community and it was noted that he had a huge problem with his inability to stand weakness in others.
A hugely important aspect of Crowley’s early life was his association with the Golden Dawn, the most influential occult group in Britain. He was initiated into the Golden Dawn on November 18th 1889 and took the name Frater Perdurabo, which means I will endure. He was not well liked by the majority of the members of the Golden Dawn. W. B. Yeats, the Irish poet called him “An unspeakable mad person”. During his time in the Golden Dawn he lived with a fellow member called Allan Bennet in a London flat. Here they experimented with magic rituals in two purpose built temples, and if Crowley is to be believed they had some startling results, including the manifestation of a host of supernatural beings and poltergeist activity.
I first “met” Mark when I wrote about my England trip and realised that we were at the same place at the same time, just on different sides of the Loch. It’s overwhelming, sometimes, to see just how small the world can be, with all it’s masses and water bodies. Still, he discovered my love for local legends and decided to tell me a story that I want to share with all of you. This is my first (and hopefully not the last) Guest Post Series. If you do have a story for me, write me at my blog title (the one about labyrinths) minus the ‘this’ at the famous google mail dot com. (I do know how to dodge them spammers).