Crowley Identified as Model for Michael Brenner Sculpture

Last week, Richard Kaczynski posted on his FB feed:

Aleister Crowley has been identified as the previously-unknown sitter for a Michael Brenner bronze sculpture from 1908.
Michael Brenner (1885–1969) was born in Lithuania, and moved to New York in 1894, where he apprenticed under his older brother, a medal sculptor. Around 1900 he moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Academie Julian, where he was immersed in the local art scene. Around 1909 he established a studio in the Latin Quarter, which he would maintain for much of his life. Brenner frequently did drawings of his subjects, upon which he based his sculptures. He was uninterested in publicity, rarely exhibited his works, and believed art should be done for art’s sake, not money. His friend Gertrude Stein called him “a sculptor who never finished anything.”
Crowley’s “John St. John” (aka Liber 860) details his six sittings with Brenner from October 7–12, 1908. Crowley describes posing while meditating in Siddhasana (or, in another entry, the 7°=4° grade sign, i.e., Vir/Pan). One wonders if the appeal for “art for art’s sake” Brenner was to capture a modern mystic in the act of mysticing.
Here’s a summary of Crowley’s relevant diary entries:
October 7, 1908: “I spent the morning posing for Michael Brenner, a sculptor who will one day be heard of. Very young yet, but I think the best man of his generation—of those whose work I have seen.”
October 8: “I have spent the morning in modelling Siddhasana—a more difficult task than appeared. Rather like THE task! But I went on with the mantra, and made some Reflections upon Kamma.”
October 9: “He does not wish to wake too thoroughly, either, lest afterward he oversleep himself, and miss his appointment with Michael Brenner to continue moulding Siddhasana.”
October 9: “Having walked over to the studio reciting the Ritual (9.25–9.55 approximately), John St. John got into his pose, and began going for the gloves. The Interior Trembling began, and the room filled with the Subtle Light. He was within an ace of Concentration; the Violet Lotus of Ajna appeared, flashing like some marvellous comet; the Dawn began to break, as he slew with the Lightning-Flash every thought that arose in him, especially this Vision of Ajna; but fear—dread fear!—gripped his heart. Annihilation stood before him, annihilation of John St. John that he had so long striven to obtain: yet he dared not. He had the loaded pistol to his head; he could not pull the trigger. This must have gone on for some time; his agony of failure was awful; for he knew that he was failing; but though he cried a thousand times unto Adonai with the Voice of Death, he could not—he could not. Again and again he stood at the gate, and could not enter. And the Violet Flames of Ajna triumphed over him.
Then Brenner said: “Let us take a little rest!”—oh irony!— and he came down from his throne, staggering with fatigue.
11:30 After five minutes rest (to the body, that is), John St. John was too exhausted on resuming his pose, which, by the way, happens to be the Sign of the Grade 7°=4°, to strive consciously.”
October 10: “Arrived at Brenner’s studio.”
October 11: “Arrived at Brenner’s studio, and went on with the ‘moulage’ of my Asana.”
October 12: “At 10.0 arrived at Brenner’s studio, and took the pose. At once, automatically, the interior trembling began again, and again the subtle brilliance flowed through me.
The consciousness again died and was reborn as the divine, always without shock or stress.
How easy is magic, once the way is found!
How still is the soul! The turbid spate of emotion has ceased; the heavy particles of thought have sunk to the bottom; how limpid, how lucid is its glimmer Only from above, from the overshadowing Tree of Life, whose leaves glisten and quiver in the shining wind of the Spirit, drops ever and anon, self-luminous, the Dew of Immortality.
Many and wonderful also were the Visions and powers offered unto me in this hour; but I refused them all; for being in my Lord and He in me, there is no need of these toys.
12.0. The pose over. On this second sitting, practically no thoughts arose at all to cloud the Sun; but a curious feeling that there was something more to come.

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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