The Rites of Eleusis in the News – Part I

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

A few friends have recently commented that they would like to see some of the articles which were published regarding the Rites of Eleusis performed in Caxton Hall in 1910.  So, I dug through the archives to see what articles I could locate between August and November of that year, with the hopes of including some of the early articles and promotions that appeared prior to the Rites.

This is what I found…

We start with the Rite of Artemis, which occurred sometime between late July and the 23rd of August 1910.  This ritual served as the inspiration for what would become the Rites of Eleusis.  It featured Crowley passionately reading poetry accompanied by Waddell on violin in an effort to invoke a sense of euphoria or ecstasy upon the participants.  Crowley was so pleased with Artemis’s success that he jumped at G.M. Marston suggestion that he should expand the Rite of Artemis into some form of full-blown public spectacle.  Marston was a Probationer of the A.’.A.’. at the time and an official of Admiralty for the British Navy to whom Crowley dedicated the poem “Ave Adonai”.  He was a key player in many of the order’s activities during this period and because of his suggestion, Crowley dedicated the Rites of Eleusis to him, writing, “To my friend Commander G.M. Marston, R.N. to whose suggestion these rites are due they are gratefully dedicated.”

The Goddess from the Sketch circa 1910 e.v.

The Rite of Artemis also inspired Crowley’s poem “The Interpreter” – which likely served as the invocation for Artemis during the Rite. This ritual also resulted in two well-known photos of Waddell with her violin: The Goddess & The Interpreter (see The Equinox, Vol. I No. 4).  These now iconic images are often associated with the Rites of Eleusis, as Crowley would later utilize them in a small pamphlet promoting the rites. However, these photos show Waddell, who was likely a Neophyte at the time, in her role as Venus-Artemis and were published before the Rites of Eleusis took place.

One of those present at the Rite of Artemis was Raymond Radclyffe who published an article entitled, “A New Religion” describing his experience in the August 24th edition of The Sketch.  This highly favorable article featured “The Goddess” photo of Leila Waddell under the caption, “Ceremonial Magic as the Gateway to Ecstasy”.  (see image below to read this article).

Radclyffe’s article circa 1910 e.v.

Crowley would use excerpts from Radclyffe article, along with a few additions of his own, in a booklet he later printed to promote the Rites of Eleusis and it included the photos from the Rite of Artemis that led to the above-mentioned confusion.

This was followed by the October and November issues of the Occult Review, both of which contained articles that were a near identical reprint of the Rites of Eleusis booklet.  This would lead to a series of articles that borrowed material from Crowley’s booklet, and consequently Radclyffe’s article, and are therefore all remarkably similar.

We will take a closer look at many of these over several articles.

The Rites of Eleusis promotional booklet circa 1910 e.v.

Love is the law, love under will


Frater Orpheus

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