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Magia SexualisSex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism$
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Hugh Urban

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247765

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247765.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 06 June 2020

The Beast with Two Backs

The Beast with Two Backs

Aleister Crowley and Sex Magick in Late Victorian England

(p.109) 4 The Beast with Two Backs
Magia Sexualis

Hugh B. Urban

University of California Press

This chapter examines the unique melding of Western sexual magic and Indian Tantric traditions at the dawn of the twentieth century, focusing on the work of the Aleister Crowley. It discusses how Crowley made sex the supreme magical secret and the ultimate source of power, and considers his work in light of the debates surrounding sexuality and deviant sexual behavior. The chapter argues that Crowley is a remarkably Janus-faced figure, a kind of beast with two backs, turned both forward and backward because he reflected some of the central sexual and cultural issues of the early twentieth century while foreshadowing the crisis of modernity after the Second World War and many trends in recent postmodern thought as well.

Keywords:   sexual magic, Indian Tantric traditions, Aleister Crowley, sex, sexuality, deviant sexual behavior, cultural issues

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