Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil is a new play by John Burns about the infamous occultist, poet, chess grand master, and rather good mountaineer. It can be seen at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival from August 6-28. Hear Burns read from Crowley's Confessions, including a section on how he became a climber here. The site also features a trailer for the play, an excerpt, and a podcast on how it came to be written.

Perhaps not surprisingly, no mention of the fact that Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page used to own Boleskine House, Crowley's place on the south east shore of Loch Ness. There are all kinds of stories about what 'the wickedest man in the world', and indeed Page, allegedly got up to in the house. Perhaps it did hold some dark secrets, but part of the attraction must have simply been that it's a handsome looking residence set in stunning surroundings - not to mention the mountain of Meall Fuarvounie just across the water.

For a detailed description of Boleskine read Mick Wall's So Mote it be from When Giants Walked the Earth or listen to this BBC radio documentary.

In 1902 Crowley and Oscar Eckenstein made the first attempt on K2. Eckenstein and Crowley are sitting in the middle.

Thanks to UKClimbing for pointing me in the direction of the Crowley play.


  1. Thanks for posting on Crowley -- always a fascinating figure. As a teen, I had quite a collection of his books; they had all of the right sorts of things that a kid fascinated with the "occult" could wish for -- secret signs, seals, and books with obscure Lain names.

    I seem to recall that one of Crowley's bigger mountaineering feats was the climbing of some famous sheet of sheer rock and ice that had never before been scaled, but have forgotten the details -- did you come upon any reference to this in your reading?

  2. Richard Nelsson2 July 2010 at 23:53

    Will check that out and will post asap. Despite his Himalayan adventures, Crowley is remembered as much for his pioneering work on the chalk cliffs of Beachy Head. See these for starters:



  3. Thanks for your comments, more audio coming on Crowley as a mountaineer. Book the show here. http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/aleister-crowley-a-passion-for-evil?day=06-08-2010&performance=34%3A1#book