Aleister Crowley’s silk robes and Middle Eastern dagger from the well-known Your Interest in Magick photo session (shown above) are part of Bloomsbury House’s December 11 auction. Drewatt’s & Bloomsbury Auctions describes the dagger as:
A Middle Eastern dagger (Jambiya) as owned and used by Aleister Crowley, most famously in the celebrated 1934 Associated Press photograph of the great occultist in magical robes (see following lot) and with arms outstretched. The magical dagger is housed in the original scabbard and dates from the late 19th / early 20th century. Waisted wooden grip with chased metal mount and curved double-edged steel blade with a slightly pronounced ridge. Length of blade approx. 22cm. The scabbard is of brass and silver, pierced and chased with intricate floral motifs and culminating with a dome-shaped edge. Some occasional wear (please see our website for numerous images) but overall a most enchanting item. A red rope passes through two metal rings at the sides of the scabbard, thus allowing Crowley to wear this weapon as part of his ritualistic outfit.
Meanwhile, it describes the robe as:
An original silk magical outfit with embroidered decoration, as owned and worn by Aleister Crowley, most famously in the celebrated 1934 Associated Press photograph of the great occultist with ceremonial dagger (see previous lot) and arms outstretched. This original set of robes consists of a black and white striped waistcoat with white buttons, with matching jacket and knickerbockers, all with embroidered decoration and tailored to comfortably accomodate a larger gentleman. A few stains to waistcoat and jacket and some tears to waistcoast and knickerbocker but without doubt a truly mesmerising item for any keen student of magickal lore.
A PDF of the full auction catalog is available here. Both items are pictured below.
Both items come from the family of Deirdre Patricia Maureen Doherty (later MacAlpine). Doherty met Crowley while observing the court case Crowley v. Constable & Co., in which Crowley sued Constable for defamation for publishing a book suggesting that he practiced black magic, a charge that he vehemently denied. Although the court did not find the passage in question to be libelous, Crowley’s meeting and subsequent relationship with Doherty resulted in the birth of his son, Aleister Ataturk, aka Randall Gair Crowley (1937-2002). According to family tradition, Crowley gave these items to Doherty to provide for her and their son should the need ever arise.
Shouldn’t the/we O.T.O. be buying items like this? There must be someone in the order with enough $ to spare.
O.T.O. Archives does pick up what it can at auction or from antiquarian catalogs, but bear in mind that this set sold for $33,000, a substantial sum of money for most people. Especially rare Crowley books and manuscripts easily sell in this same ballpark. If you search for auctions on Zero Equals Two, you’ll find some interesting things that have come up for sale over the years, a number of which O.T.O. has acquired.