Found in the Peter Haining Archive, two letters that raise objections to the author’s views on Black Magic expressed in his Witchcraft and Black Magic (1971). Both emanate from distinctly offbeat sources. Here is the first letter. The second may feature in a later Jot.
The first letter ( dated only May 30th) was sent by someone called August Vironeem on behalf of ‘ the Directors ‘ of an American ‘Thelemic ‘ group ‘ described by Vironeem as an ‘ offshoot of Aleister Crowley’s ‘Initiatory lodge in England known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn ‘. Objecting to Haining’s section on Crowley as ‘ totally eroneous ‘, the writer goes on to repudiate ‘ with a high degree of certainty ‘ the Great Beast’s association with Black Magic:
'neither Crowley, not any of his disciples, partisans, sympathisers, nor modern day devotees do have, or have ever had, anything thing at all to do with black magic, ( and here , I must firmly state that Manson’s Solar Lodge of the O/T/O and other perversions do not bear upon Crolwey. Had he been alive today He’d have been nasueated by such groups.'
Vironeem ends by maintaining that although Crowley had his faults, he also had his ‘ moments of genius’; he then invites Haining to ‘take a quick look at’ Crowley’s ten volume set of The Equinox.
Your present Jotter is not really qualified to comment on Crowley or his philosophy, but most of his apologists have strongly denied that their hero practiced Black Magic. Indeed, the Crowley Wikipedia entry tends to suggest that his cult of Thelema was a much more intellectually nuanced philosophy than his simple-minded critics would have us believe. To me as a tyro it seems to be a philosophy that centres on a world view of extreme individualism, containing aspects of anarchism, and showing the influence of William Blake.
It appears that someone with the name August Vironeem actually exists and very probably did have connections with Thelema. Today, in Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, lives August Vironeem, aged 65. According to the records, someone with this name was born in 1951 in New York. And as the present HQ of the International College of Thelema is in Sacramento, CA, it seems possible that our Mr Vironeem became an early follower of Crowley, then by his early twenties had moved to California to take a leading role in the‘ offshoot‘ of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn that eventually ended up as the International College of Thelema. This is all speculation, but the facts are suggestive...[R.M.Healey]