Monday 28 March 2011

Moral Cretins

A guest post from Mogg Morgan

The so-called Kidwelly Sex Cult Case probably raises all sorts of mixed emotions amongst the UK’s many occultists and Pagans. It has just the kind of lurid details that make it difficult to focus on the core issues in the case and the temptation must surely be to keep one’s head down and hope the scandal blows over. And after all, rational discourse largely stops as soon as the boogeyman of Aleister Crowley or to give him his full name “Mr Aleister Satanist Crowley” or “Sir Aleister Notorious Crowley”, enters the narrative.

Let me say right out that I think the culprit Colin Batley and his accomplices are moral cretins (The same term was applied to Karen Mathews – who faked the kidnapping of her own neglected daughter in order to claim some putative award). People like Colin Batley claim they are following the imperatives of the Devil, Satan or Aleister Crowley for the bad they do. And the courts and the media are happy to accept that the long dead libertine Aleister Crowley and his works are somehow responsible for the wrong people do. I’m not sure if they ever bother to discover which came first, the Batley’s violent, abusive personality or his interest on Crowley and his Thelemic religion – it is just assumed that one must have caused the other. But I say that in the end the evil people do is down to their own moral failings.

The details they are reported from the trial show to my admitted practice eye that these people have misinterpreted and misunderstood Crowley and more especially his Thelemic Religion that has many thousands of law abiding modern disciples. Contrary to what you may hear in the press and indeed even in some Pagan commentary, in my opinion Thelema is not an immoral creed. Its famous axiom “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” (reported as “Do what thou wilt” in some new reports) is an ideal intended for an enlightened community of refined adults. Its core myth is found in the Early European novels of Rabelais, where he envisions an ideal community as an escape from the chaos, crime and madness of the times. Its motto is indeed “Do what thou wilt” (Fais ce que voudras) but this commune can only function if certain kinds of behaviour are excluded. In other words perverts such as Colin Batley would be excluded from the Thelemic community, for the simple reason they are dominated by their most base desires.

Crowley emphasises this very point in a pamphlet called Liber II, widely circulated amongst all true seekers of the Thelemic religion. He is at great pains to emphasis that “Do what thou wilt” is not the same as “Do what you want”. In comparative religion this approach is more akin to yoga and indeed it is in the widely despised Tantrik texts that the explanation of Crowley’s system really lays. But in short Thelema aims to develop enlightened, compassionate human beings.

For a more modern version of the rules of an ideal community – see John Rawls’ “A Theory Of Justice” which contains a “thought experiment” not unlike Rabelais’s “Abbey of Thelema”. The whole is the subject of the Harvard University’s first freely available online course on Justice – see
For press reports of the trail see

The Kidwelly group’s actions show them to know none of this. They are merely venal criminals who use the widespread fear and ignorance of Paganism and magic as a smokescreen for their abusive personalities. This case has very little to do with any genuinely held religious beliefs but is about one person using his power over others to fulfil his own perverted needs. I venture to guess that his personality was formed long before he ever heard the name Aleister Crowley and absorbed the popular myths about Satan and the Devil, As 'cult leader' he found a way to gain power over other gullible or otherwise vulnerable people.

It is easy for us to be sidetracked by the sensational details, which shows just how powerful the image of “cult leader” is in mainstream society. The details of the trial make me seriously doubt that he ever had contact with a genuine, Thelemic or Crowleyian group or was aware of the appropriate training in the tradition. His knowledge of Thelema is superficial and minuscule and based on unsupervised reading and uninformed secondary sources, perhaps even the media. I have no problems condemning what Colin Batley has done and feel sure I am not alone in my condemnation.

Mogg Morgan with contributions from Kym and Floortje

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