There are plenty of counter-cultural figures I like and admire. I have even discovered a magician, John Michael Greer, a Druid, whom I think is really interesting and worth knowing about (blog here
) . Always had a bit of time for Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (albeit no contact with the schools). But Crowley gives me the creeps. 'Beware the dark side, Luke'.
I read JMG regularly, I like some of his posts but he always hated Crowley and is not really being fair to him.
Crowley was prescribed cocaine and heroin when they were still legal, he realized he got addicted, didn't like it and he managed to kick the addictions and only went back on heroin later on because he was prescribed it again, during WWII. His final years were spent in good company, a boarding house for learned men from all walks of life and he regularly entertained interesting visitors of all sorts. At the time of his death, the OTO in America had members successful in their personal lives in various highly placed and connected positions, such as Jack Parsons so JMG's claims that he ran it into the ground are just not tenable.
I'm not saying he was a saint. Tom above make the point that he treated the women in his life badly, which is true, he tended to abandon them when they started becoming alcoholic, or unstable in other ways. But his "dark" reputation is vastly overstated. There is much darker magic than Crowley out there. He wasn't some fluffy bunny (though he loved playing with rabbits in his final years), but he wasn't some kind of inhuman monster.
I find JMG's argument thst Crowley cooked up his own system rsther funny:
It’s a failure that stalks everyone who tries to come up with an original system of magical training without first mastering some existing system from top to bottom, and finding out what systems of magical training are supposed to accomplish. One of the goals of magical training, to turn to technical language for a moment, is the equilibration of the lower self: in less opaque terms, the balancing out of the habitual imbalances of the personality, so that the aspiring mage can use his or her habits of thought and feeling rather than being used by them. Magical systems cooked up by people who haven’t had such a training inevitably miss this; having projected the habitual imbalances of their personalities onto the cosmos—and we all do this, until appropriate disciplines teach us how to stop—they end up reinforcing their imbalances rather than equilibrating them.
If that were the case then there is no useful Western magical system at all. The Golden Dawn system, which Crowley did learn, was cooked up by people who never mastered any existing system, so everything based on them later on would suffer from the same flaw. He does claim that Dion Fortune later reformed the Golden Dawn system to be more balanced, but on what basis I'm not sure exactly. Crowley trained under the masters of the GD system (Allan Bennett, Mathers).
But, if his claims were true, then Vajrayana would be best magical system available.