The Aleister Crowley Tree

The Germers’ home circa late 1940’s


Today’s article answers the question, what happened to Aleister Crowley’s ashes?  According to Crowley’s last will and testament they should have been preserved by the O.T.O.  As many now know, they were dumped by Sascha Germer at the base of a tree on the Germer’s residence near Hampton, New Jersey sometime around the year 1950. Only the Germers were present when Crowley’s ashes were carelessly scattered.  All we know of the event is what they shared with Grady McMurtry who heard this story first hand from Karl when he visited the Germers in the early 1950’s.  Grady shared his recollection of that day in an article published in the O.T.O. Newsletter – Volume I, No. 2 in September 1977 e.v.  Rather than try to reconstruct the events of that day myself, I have decided to republish this article in full just as Grady wrote it.  The photo is of the Germer residence circa late 1940’s and the sad-looking tree, front and center, is likely the tree in question. The address to this location has not been disclosed as to protect the privacy of its present residents.

*What happened to Aleister Crowley’s ashes?*

We know from Crowley’s Last Will and Testament that he instructed his executors to preserve his ashes and give them to Karl Germer (Frater Saturnus), Grand Treasurer General of the Order.  Frater Saturnus was to preserve them for posterity (and certain operations suggested in Crowley’s comment to my poem, NADIR).  A.C. also placed considerable emphasis in his Will upon the fact that his Seal Ring should be preserved.  His Seal Ring was preserved –  though under the most unlikely of circumstances – it was found by the Coroner of Calaveras County in Sascha Germer’s purse.  Apparently, it never occurred to the “Solar Lodge” outlaw gang while they were gutting Crowley’s library at West Point and walking all over her in the process, to ask about the only thing of real value in the library – namely Crowley’s Seal Ring.  Probably they didn’t even know that it existed ••• Anyway, we know from several sources that Crowley’s body was cremated in Brighton, England, in 1947.  So, what happened to the ashes? Why have they not also survived? The answer is rather simple and completely stupid.

In 1951 I was called back to active duty as a Captain in the American Army during the Korean “crisis”… we did not call it a war in those days, although it obviously was … at least those of us who got to Korea quickly discovered that it was a real live shooting war.  My particular piece of the action was that of Ammunition Supply Officer for the Central Front–that would be from Chunchon north to Whacon, Kumwa and the Iron Triangle – the Main line of Resistance being held by 9 Corps American on the left, 2nd ROK in the center, and 10 Corps American on the right, which we damn near lost when the Chinese hit the Khumwa Ridges with a human wave offensive that went on for a solid week in October of 1952… we never thought about North Koreans then… we were fighting the Chinese as far as we knew…

Anyway, in 1951 I was assigned as Training Officer for a bunch of Reserve Units in Baltimore, Maryland, which is not far from Hampton, New Jersey.  So, I found occasion to visit Karl at his Hampton address.  Now, as I have said in my rap about “Continuity in the Order,” Karl’s place outside Hampton was a house with grounds.  That means that it was a good-sized residence, not a mansion, but still a good-sized house, sitting on several acres of grounds. Anyhow I remember on one of the visits, Karl and I taking a walk down the driveway and into the front yard.  I remember it had rained – one of those sudden New Jersey thunder squalls that are heralded by hot, muggy winds and high white cumulus, and followed by heavy downpour.  I was walking on the right. Naturally I was in uniform.  It seemed like I always was in those days.  While we were walking along – as usual I had lighted my pipe – Karl suddenly pointed to a scroungy tree and said; “And that is the Aleister Crowley tree!”  Being a little slow on the uptake, I said: “What?” and he repeated with somewhat more emphasis: “That is the Aleister Crowley tree!”  I still didn’t get it and said something like: “What do you mean,” and he said (obviously I am paraphrasing as I have no tape recording of the conversation): “Well one day Sascha and I were discussing what to do with Crowley’s ashes (which completely blew my mind, because what was there to do with them other than to comply with his Last Will and Testament and keep them) and suddenly she took the urn in which they were kept and dashed them at the foot of this tree and said, “This is the Aleister Crowley tree!”  So, I looked at the stupid tree and I looked at the muddy ground at the base of it.  Obviously, there was no sign of the ashes and obviously there was no way they could be recovered, and I was sick in the stomach. But what the hell could I do about it? Nothing was possible but to remember the incident.  Years later I would write to Gerald Yorke, and he would write back saying that I must be mistaken, because Karl had written to him saying that the reason Crowley’s ashes could not he recovered when he left the Hampton address was that he had buried them in a wooden box at the base of a pine tree – when he went to dig them up the box had disintegrated and the ashes were unrecoverable.  Personally, I consider this story to be a crock of horse-shit. Apparently, it had occurred to Karl sometime after he told me the true story that letting Sascha strew Aleister Crowley’s ashes in the mud at the base of any tree was not the brightest of all possible things to do; so, he invented a story to cover his actions.  In any case, to the best of my knowledge, that is the true story of what happened to Aleister Crowley’s ashes; and why they have not been preserved today as it was specified in his Last Will and Testament they should be.

Hymenaeus Alpha 777

Frater Orpheus


  1. Thank you for preserving this. On the surface, it appears to be a tale of horrifying dimensions of human foolishness.

    On the other hand, it certainly does not lack the characteristic touch of applied Zen Buddhism. One cannot resist to think that maybe it was a quite fitting turn of events, in a way.

    Still, out of respect for historic events and people, and for the purpose of pilgrimage, I personally would have appreciated the ashes to be preserved.

    Truly, the only pilgrimages left now are the one to the depths of our very own consciousness, and the one that ends with us becoming ashes ourselves.

  2. In effect of the tree,I am bound to protect Crowley’s grand children. Marilyn Manson killed Anton LaVey because he thought he was Crowley’. A wicked sinner is closer to the devil than god? Or do the sins of man put you in God’s reach. I admire the mystery of confusion as a weapon. Place those who decend from you admiration before self. Then those may do the same for you. God bless the children of the beast.

  3. Don’t be a clown with the “cloak and dagger” crap. The house is at 6 Bridle Path Lane in Lebanon New Jersey. It’s been vastly remodeled.

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