The Beast with Two Backs

Hugh B. Urban

in Magia Sexualis

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247765
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932883 | DOI:
The Beast with Two Backs

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This chapter examines the unique melding of Western sexual magic and Indian Tantric traditions at the dawn of the twentieth century, focusing on the work of the Aleister Crowley. It discusses how Crowley made sex the supreme magical secret and the ultimate source of power, and considers his work in light of the debates surrounding sexuality and deviant sexual behavior. The chapter argues that Crowley is a remarkably Janus-faced figure, a kind of beast with two backs, turned both forward and backward because he reflected some of the central sexual and cultural issues of the early twentieth century while foreshadowing the crisis of modernity after the Second World War and many trends in recent postmodern thought as well.

Keywords: sexual magic; Indian Tantric traditions; Aleister Crowley; sex; sexuality; deviant sexual behavior; cultural issues

Chapter.  12422 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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