Since Aleister Crowley’s birthday was October 12, I thought I would run my new “Measure of a Man” (aka “homunculus”) spread to see what it might say about him. Of course I used the Thoth deck for this, although the layout got a bit crowded. I didn’t apply reversals because, in many ways, Crowley was already a “walking inversion” of everything that went before. I asked the cards to “give me Crowley’s number.”
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In the “head” position, the 4 of Cups (Moon in Cancer, “Luxury”) suggests that Crowley’s mental/spiritual abode was lavishly and ornately furnished.
In the “heart”position the 5 of Swords (Venus in Aquarius, “Defeat”) depicts his emotional state as “withering and sere” (in Poe’s memorable turn of phrase), no doubt a casualty of his austere upbringing. He was apparently a “perfect little beast” well before he became the “Great Beast,” and the card does seem “mean-spirited.” But push-back against that upbringing may have been the spur for his remarkable accomplishments.
The 3 of Wands (Sun in Aries, “Virtue”) in the “offering hand” shows that what he had to give was his brilliance, although I’m not sure I would call it “virtuous” except in the sense that he was true to his own vision in all things.
The “accepting” hand holds the Sun, indicating that he received the manifest “glory” he so avidly pursued and obviously basked in, although most of it was posthumous.
Now it really gets interesting!
In the “stepping out” position, the Tower reflects his self-appointed crusade to overthrow the old “Aeon of Osiris,” which he deemed to have been “destroyed by fire” in his 1904 Cairo working that produced the Book of the Law, and replace it with the “Aeon of Horus.”
The Fool in the “stepping back” position depicts the child Harpocrates (Horus) emerging from the Cosmic Egg, suggesting that Crowley should have just stepped back and “let it rip.”
But Lust as the “quint” card shows the Beast of the Apocalypse, providing clear evidence that Crowley, as the “Prophet of the New Aeon,” wasn’t about to let that happen. He may have decried the “lust for result,” but I doubt he was entirely immune to it. On balance, though, while he achieved a degree of notoriety during his lifetime as a substitute for fame, he certainly didn’t profit much by it. Samuel Weiser and Stuart Kaplan took care of that, which is why we have the Thoth deck today.