Aleister Crowley

Colin Wilson

But there was, equally, a positive side to Crowley.  This emerges in Seabrook's account of Elizabeth Fox's experience at Thelema.  She was the "film star" who somehow avoided becoming Crowley's mistress.  Seabrook says that before she came to Cefalu she was in a depressed condition due to too much night life and bath-tub gin. Crowley dismayed her by telling her that she must begin with a month's solitary meditation in a lean-to shelter on the cliff-top. When she objected, he pointed out that there was a boat leaving the next day. To comply, she had to meditate naked, except for a wooly burnoose that could be utilized on chilly days. The shelter was completely empty; the latrine was a lime pit outside the "tent." "She would have, said Master Therion, the sun, moon, stars, sky, sea, the universe to read and play with." At night, a child would quietly deposit a loaf of bread, bunch of grapes and a pitcher of water beside her.

She decided to give it a try. The first days confirmed her fears. Sun, moon and sea are all very well, but if you feel bored, they are boring.  For the first days she felt nervous and resentful.  By the nineteenth day, her chief sensation was boredom.  And then, quite suddenly, she began to feel "perfect calm, deep joy, renewal of strength and courage."

There is nothing strange in all this, although few people know it.  The mind must be made to stop running like a wristwatch. It must be persuaded to relax and sit still. Its hidden fountain of strength must be persuaded to flow. This is the secret of the Hindu ascetics who sit still for years. It is not penance, but a continuous trickle of deep delight.  What is more, this is an automatic process. Our subconscious robot will adjust to any conditions if it is given long enough.  It adjusts to stillness, so that the stillness ceases to cause boredom. For you have boredom when nothing is happening inside you. And nothing is happening inside you when the outside world keeps the mind distracted.  If the outside world is distracted for long enough, the inner power-house begins to work.

(This brief excerpt is from Colin Wilson's excellent volume The Occult 1971. New York: Vintage Books. pp 374-375)