A wonderful set of photographs from the life of the ‘Great Beast’, via LIFE:
Born the son of a wealthy and devout British family in 1875, Edward Alexander Crowley became a rebel after his father’s death when he was 11. He became increasingly skeptical of Christianity and was expelled from school for “corrupting” another boy. Crowley’s own mother, alarmed by his affinity for what she saw as morbid and morally questionable pursuits (i.e., black magic), referred to him as “the Beast.” In time, as Crowley’s notoriety as an occultist and very public celebrant of unrestrained hedonism grew, the press dubbed him “the wickedest man in the world.”
View more photos at LIFE.