The Paranormal World of Arthur Conan Doyle Pt 4: The spirit of the evil Aleister Crowley threatens the Circle

In the penultimate part of a series based on Ann Treherne’s book Arthur and Me, the Circle find themselves facing an unwanted visitor from the dark side.
Aleister CrowleyAleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley

ON 15 February, 2007, our group convened and sat in silence. After a few minutes I became aware of a presence in the room. This was not unusual, after all that was what we did, but this time the presence felt uncomfortable, as if someone was watching us but with ill intent. You know how you feel if someone looks at you with hatred in their eyes? That is how it felt, although I still had my eyes closed as we sat in silence.

‘The feeling grew stronger and stronger as if someone was staring into my face at close quarters, willing me to open my eyes to see their anger. When I could stand it no longer, I slowly opened my eyes... I was sitting opposite Gill and when our eyes met, hers were wide with shock. She beckoned me to look towards the corner of the room, and that’s when I saw him, a man partly materialised with evil oozing from his very being.

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‘He was a big man with a big nose and he was leering or even sneering. I really didn’t like him. I felt he belonged to the house (the Theosophical Society building) and may have been into magic, black magic, and liked tricks, nasty tricks. I felt that in his day he would have been interested in what we were doing and would have liked to experiment, that he would also have liked to play tricks on us.

‘He wore a strange looking pill-box hat and a fancy jacket like a smoking jacket. Facially, he reminded me of the comedian Tommy Cooper, even down to the black version of Tommy’s red fez that he wore. But this was an evil man. He was aware that Gill and I were looking at him but he seemed in no hurry to go.

'He appeared to revel in our distaste for him and liked the idea all our instincts were telling us to shout out a warning to our Group but that we were torn by the need to be careful and respectful to the others who were sitting in silence. Gill took the initiative and asked quietly if the others would bring themselves back from their meditation. As she said this, the man in the corner slowly disappeared like a wispy mist.

‘As soon as the others returned to their normal consciousness Gill said, “Well what was that?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “but he was pure evil’.

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We were both so shaken by the incident we closed our Circle, glad to get out of that room that night.

Read More
'You should know me...' The words were felt, not heard

Crowley was a notorious demonologist and occultist who died in 1947. Known as the Great Beast 666, the Master of Darkness and the wickedest man in the world, Crowley was infamous. It turned out Lawrie too had experienced his chilling ability to manifest himself in the Theosophical Society.

Those occasions are documented in his book, The Psychic Investigators Casebook: Volume Three.

Lawrie sent Ann the relevant chapter, which revealed:

‘Crowley had lived in Edinburgh for a period of his life. It did not strike me then that this devil-worshipping man had actually lived in the Theosophical Hall. I only discovered that after I got home and made a few phone calls.

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‘Only then was I was told that this man had lived in and operated his occult circle from a room on the top floor of the building. And, that until comparatively recently, that room had remained locked because of its previous use. Armed with the knowledge that Crowley had lived in the property I had no doubt at all that it was his spirit-self who had appeared... The evil feeling that overcame this medium said it all. The fact that his image was seen moving out of a mirrored surface on the floor below where he was supposed to have lived makes me think he may have owned or rented the entire building.’

Ann takes up the narrative, ‘Archie finished his chapter by saying he was looking forward to his next encounter with Crowley, I certainly was not looking forward to meeting him again. This was not a man to be tackled either when he was alive or now that he was in the Spirit World, and here we were, sitting in his room, the one the Theosophical Society had kept locked for the last number of years - until they rented it to us.

‘Do I think Aleister Crowley was continually haunting the Theosophical Society since he died in 1947? No. Apart from anything else, he travelled extensively throughout the world and he did not die in the Theosophical Society building. Throughout his life he experimented with the occult. He was sexually promiscuous, bisexual and sadomasochistic. He experimented with recreational drugs and used these and other hallucinogenic substances to push the boundaries of the esoteric world to frightening new heights, or in his case, depths.

‘But I do think there are triggers which can help initiate Spirit contact, indeed Crowley experimented with the darker side of this phenomenon through Voodoo, ritualistic magic and alchemy. I believe that if we send out a thought, it can be picked up. That being the case, if we, the Thursday Group, had started experimenting with the Ouija board whilst sitting in, of all places, his room, this would have been an irresistible invitation to Crowley to experiment and have fun with us from the other side.’

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TOMORROW: The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre becomes a reality

Arthur and Me, by Ann Treherne, is available from

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