Aleister Crowley on the Aeon of the Horus as the Era of Childishness

Aleister Crowley taught that in 1904 the world entered the Aeon of Horus, also called the Aeon of the Child or the New Aeon. Most Thelemites, and even Crowley himself at times, view the current two-thousand year period as a time of liberation, freedom, and self-actualization—almost synonymous with the Age of Aquarius. 

But some of Crowley’s writings indicate a less favorable opinion of the Aeon of Horus. 

In the introduction to The Book of the Law, Crowley describes the New Aeon as a time of infantile people and infantile ideas. “We are all children,” he declares. 

The third chapter of Liber AL vel Legis describes the characteristics of the Aeon of Horus. “Superficially,” Crowley says, “they appear appalling.” Usually people are appalled at the violence and lack of compassion described in Chapter III. But in this essay, Crowley speaks of the utter childishness and depravity of the New Aeon. One could call it almost a Dark Age. 

The primary characteristic of the Aeon of Horus is “the recognition of the individual as the unit of society.” This has already occurred in the Europe, America, Canada, and Australia, where nearly all Westerners think of themselves as individuals first and have no strong allegiance to nation, tribe, ethnicity, family, or other community. As immigration continues, non-Westerners are starting to think of themselves as individuals rather than members of tribes. And as initiatives to topple traditional societies around the world continue, replacing them with democracy and capitalism, more and more people around the world are shedding their tribal and familial loyalties, instead recognizing the individual as the unit of society. (See my review of Kerry Bolton’s Revolution from Above for more on that topic.)

Everywhere today we see the reign of Horus taking root. Some examples Crowley gives in the essay call out the childish aspect of the New Aeon:

  • the growth of innocence and irresponsibility 
  • the “childlike confidence in progress”
  • infantile cults” like Communism, Fascism, Pacifism, Health Crazes, and Occultism
  • religions “sentimentalised to the point of practical extinction” 
  • the popularity of methods for “soothing fractious infants,” such as the cinema, football pools, and guessing competitions 
  • sport and “the babyish enthusiasms and rages which it excites, whole nations disturbed by disputes between boys
  • we are all treated as imbecile children—there is censorship and “they won’t trust us to cross the roads at will”

The Aeon of the Child is not an end, however. As Crowley says, “the Child will grow up.”

In the section “The Next Step,” Crowley describes the dangers of fascism, communism, and democracy—all which suppress the individual. The one who lives by the rule of Thelema and doesn’t follow the herd will have difficulties, but will not fail:

Evolution makes its changes by anti-Socialistic ways. The “abnormal” man who foresees the trend of the times and adapts circumstance intelligently, is laughed at, persecuted, often destroyed by the herd; but he and his heirs, when the crisis comes, are survivors.