Recently Sacha Mirage sojourned to Europe and managed a swing through Italy and Sicily to the island of Celafu the site of Aleister Crowley’s Abbey of Thelema; we posted a few pictures he took on his visit. Sacha’s now been kind up to share some of his experiences on this trip.
“Since variety is the spice of life, every year my partner and I travel somewhere new for a short while in the spring. Last year, we spent a week on the Yucatan Peninsula, exploring Mayan ruins and underwater caves, and this year we took two weeks to become acquainted with Italian culture. Our first week was spent in Northern Italian cities, such as Milan, after which we headed south to the Island of Sicily, where we explored Palermo, Cinisi, and, of course, Cefalu.
“As you can imagine, the interest of two Thelemites in spending a few days in Cefalu lay predominantly in a visit to the Abbey of Thelema, where Crowley, Leah Hirsig, and others lived and did ritual in the early 1920s. Unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative as we had hoped. After a pre-dawn train ride on three hours of sleep, we were stuck lugging all of our luggage up several miles of steep hills through the heavy rain. We might have purchased umbrellas, were any stores open, but we happened to arrive during some sort of local holiday. Luckily, a Brother from Golden Lotus Lodge had supplied us with the GPS coordinates of the Abbey, saving us a good bit of extra wandering.
“There are a few ways of accessing the Abbey. One is by taking a driveway from the north and walking through an overgrown path that eventually leads to it. The other, which we accidentally ended up taking, thanks to the limitations of our phones’ navigational software, involves an approach from a stadium to the south. This approach used to involve scaling a wall, but fortunately we found a path around a fence and down a steep hill that provided relatively easy access.
“We were a bit surprised to find that the roof of the Abbey was visible from the road near the stadium. There was a moment of excitement when we first saw it—the building wasn’t labeled, but these were the right coordinates. Could that really be the Abbey, and if so, how many people walk by this building each day without realizing its significance?
“Upon reaching the base of the hill, we saw an open window into which was engraved: ‘Thelema Abbey – Fa cio che vuoi…’ I wasted no time in climbing inside, eager to see what remained of the art Crowley had painted on its walls. There was a definite “holy shit!” moment when I realized that I was, in fact, at the Abbey and that my partner and I had the whole place to ourselves.
“After taking a number of photos of each room, we took turns doing ritual. She opted for a variant of the Great Invocation, and I performed Samekh, which I later learned was written by Crowley for Frank Bennett at the Abbey. We both performed Resh as well. It was an absolutely incredible occasion for us, and we were relieved the Abbey was still intact, as some brethren had heard it had already been torn down. Rumor has it, it may be torn down within a year, and we knew going into it that this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Contrary to our expectations, we didn’t get the feeling that the Abbey was in such bad shape that it might collapse at any minute, but it was definitely in rough shape. It’s a shame that it can’t be renovated and preserved for future generations of Thelemites to experience. In any case, the time we spent there was extraordinary and we would recommend the trip to any Thelemites that may be thinking about traveling in the near future. Cefalu is a beautiful city and you may not have another chance. Visit while you can!”