Aleister Crowley

On Sexual Freedom

by the Master Therion

[ published in The Revival of Magick, edited by Hymenaeus Beta & R. Kaczynski (1998 ev.) ]


Bodily secretions, suppressed, infiltrate the tissues, poisoning them. Semen unnaturally accumulated clogs the brain as bile does; morbid mental and moral symptoms result. Sex is a physiological process; interference perverts it. Sex has no moral implications, except the welfare of the race. Sexual superstitions have made sex paramount. Toothache tyrannizes thought; the nerve seems All-Reality. Disease destroys proportion and precision of perception. Obstructed organs disturb and disorder the whole system; the poisoned blood infects the brain, mind utters body, sense misinstructing spirit, reason misreading the report, will misapplying power, and muscle mistranslating motive.


In the Abbey of Thelema at Cefalù sex is studied scientifically without shame or subterfuge. Passions are physiologically assayed; all acts are allowed, if they injure not others; approved, if they injure not self. This liberty, far from fomenting lust, destroys sex-obsession. Sex-fever abates; the inflamed imagination recovers its proper proportion; the function, freed from friction, acts automatically. We forget about it as a half-drowned man forgets about breathing as soon as his lungs are clear again. “The word of Sin is Restriction.” “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”[1]


Healthy human beings who innocently obey instinct are no more liable to cause trouble than other animals; sex-calamities are artificial creations of a savage superstition. Chained mastiffs become dangerous; repressive laws breed revolutionaries.

Bedlam made murderous maniacs of harmless imbeciles; kindness and recognition of their rights disarms the madman’s desperation.

Sex is the sacred song of the soul; sex is the sanctuary of Self.

Scoff; the priest shrinks or snarls. Protest; he grows fanatical or cunning. Persecute; he abjures his faith, is martyred for it, or, sceptre changed for sword, asserts it against the aggressor.

In every case, his intimate absorption suffers, his individuality is invaded; his Absolute is profaned by his reaction to the Relative. Sex is the supreme sacrament, wherein the body and blood are offered up to the soul. The elements thereof must be worthy, their consecration absolute. They must be utterly consumed, the God in Matter and Motion slain for the sustenance of the God in Spirit and Soul. This Eucharist is every man’s, inalienably, uniquely his; let no man dare approach another’s altar! Who should presume to legislate for the inscrutable, or arrogate authority over an alien Absolute? Who criticizes sex, condoning this, condemning that, not only usurps for himself the Universe, and proclaims his prejudices omnivalent, but abdicates his own autonomy by manifesting his own Mysteries, and praying the profane to pollute his priesthood by mimicry of his Mass, that can be naught for them but mockery, and now no more to him than formal fiction, seeing he valued his own Isis less than his own vanity, thinking men flattered him by fouling her!

He who censures and constrains the sexual character of another not only makes himself the measure of the Universe, but sets himself up against inexorable Necessity, denying the Order of Existence, and resisting the rights of Reality; but condemns also himself, for he is one of the causes of the Cosmos, and constricts himself, for to change the course of another would cause a reaction, a counterpoise falling on him.

All souls exist, eternally; identical in essence, individual in expression. Each is equally ineffable, impenetrable, inaccessible. The nature of each is necessary, therefore all Destiny is also Design, and its Way no more than the name of Will. None can be aught but what it is; did it will to be anything else, that will would be the norm of its nature; self-contradiction may be its proper quality, just as the idea of a square number contains that of two equal roots of opposite sign whose self-multiplication generates it with impartial propriety. Each soul is thus absolute and independent, not less but more for its inherent identity with itself, is implicitly involved in its consubstantial co-existence with an infinity of coordinate companions. Each seeks to interpret itself, and to increase itself (without impairing its integrity) by imagining itself in a medium of illusion — matter, motion, and mind. This enables it to gain indirect experience of other souls, just as we convey thought (more or less exactly) by creating conventional symbols to represent our ideas.

Why then should certain illusions conflict with others, and cause their creators to suffer? One would suppose that these phantom shapes would mingle like shadows in a room with several sources of light. But we have expressly designed our phantoms so that they may make definite contacts; thus, though A and B are arbitrary and unsubstantial glyphs for meaningless sounds, we cannot use them indiscriminatingly, as if one could write Blight for Alight.

We suffer when our illusions make inharmonious contacts with other illusions, because we sometimes (too often!) forget their nature and our own. We think ourselves involved in the conflict, although we know that the resolution of the struggle is the very device by which we become aware of ourselves and our relation with others, the apparent antagonism being no more than an opportunity to increase our comprehension of the cosmos and our capacity to contain it. The “patriot” protests against the word “amour,” and suffers the penalty of his delusion that the word “love” is the reality of love, the sole expression of the idea; the philosopher accepts “amour” as synonymous, is glad that the strife of the symbols is a sham, and delights to find “love” on his Oxonian lips melt into “amour” on the lips of his leman[2] as they kiss in the shadow of the Sorbonne and realize the sublimity of their Selfhood, and the ecstasy of surrendering Self to each other, both the Two as One — rejoicing in Self-Knowledge attained by the Mystery of separation in spirit and manifestation in matter.

But one soul may be so absorbed in its error as to think real incompatibility is possible. They are thus led to assail a set of illusions, and seek to prevent their projection.

The sexual nature of a man is his most intense expression of himself; his subconsciousness endeavours thereby to inform his consciousness of his Will. Sex is thus rarely intelligible to its possessor, save in very partial and ambiguous terms. It is supremely sacred to him, and to interfere with its expression, or try to edit it, is an abominable crime. But it is this sacredness which makes some people think that their personal peculiarities are universal truths. This error has caused more disasters than all others combined; for the warfare is an unmitigated mistake, and is conducted with insane cruelty on account of the atrocious suffering inflicted by even trifling wounds, which almost always cripple, and hardly ever kill. The curse of moral deformation is hereditary, and the whole organism is infected by the disease of this one part, which is the generating idea whereby the character of the whole is determined.

It requires elaborate investigation and indefatigable efforts to eliminate the error. The wound must be probed and cleaned thoroughly before it can heal. Anaesthetics and salves aggravate the case.

We cannot in this place enter into details of curative treatment, which differs with each patient.

But the underlying principle in all is to establish understanding of the nature of sex, to make all its forms familiar, and all equally proper to the person who prefers them. The patient is accustomed to analyze “shock,” and so to become immune to it. He is taught to observe his own reactions to various practices, so as to perfect his technique.

As the cure proceeds it constantly occurs that various aberrations of the instinct, supposed ineradicable, disappear, or at least lose their importance.

It ends in serene self-confidence and in total destruction of the power of perverse irritation to interrupt the functions of the mind.



[1] Liber AL I:41, I:40.

[2] [An archaic word for a mistress, sweetheart or lover.]