The Divine Cactus and the Great Beast: Aleister Crowley’s relationship with peyote from 1900 to 1918
Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947) is one of the most colourful characters in the history of modern religion. Once an initiate of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, he was also one of the first Westerners to study and practice Eastern yoga. Crowley advocated a scientific investigation into the processes that occasion mystical experiences, including meditation, ritual, sexual activity, and psychoactive drugs, which earned him a sinister reputation as a ‘black magician’. One of the drugs Crowley experimented with was peyote, the mescaline-containing ‘divine cactus’ of Mexico, at a time when almost nothing was understood about peyote’s dramatic effects. This presentation will outline the details of Crowley’s relationship with peyote, illustrate the important role peyote played in his own life and work, and highlight his place in the history of psychedelic research and psychedelic religion in the twentieth century.
Patrick Everitt holds a B.A in Philosophy and Classics from Maynooth University, and was awarded several prizes by the Department of Philosophy for his grades during his degree. He also holds a Baccalaureate in Philosophy from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and previously completed a B.Sc. in Software Engineering and a M.Sc. in Security and Forensic Computing, both at Dublin City University.
He studied for a M.A. in Philosophy at KU Leuven and is currently completing a M.A. in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. His current research focuses on the work of the occultist Aleister Crowley and the field of study Prof. Wouter J. Hanegraaff has recently dubbed ‘Entheogenic Esotericism’.