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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just to affirm that your humble narrator is a multi disciplinary geek, whose nerd credentials cross into multiple devotions and subjects, today’s post takes us to the Hudson River and specifically- Esopus Island. An unremarkable spit of rock sticking out of the water not far from Kingston, Esopus nevertheless is a touchstone for high weirdness.

If these shots were taken in 1918 rather than 2010- one would have seen a bizarre Englishman crawling along the shorelines painting “Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law” and “Every Man and Every Woman is a Star” on the stony outcrops in red.

from wikipedia

Crowley began another period of magical work on an island in the Hudson River after buying large amounts of red paint instead of food. Having painted “Do what thou wilt” on the cliffs at both sides of the island, he received gifts from curious visitors. Here at the island he had visions of seeming past lives, though he refused to endorse any theory of what they meant beyond linking them to his unconscious. Towards the end of his stay, he had a shocking experience he linked to “the Chinese wisdom” which made even Thelema appear insignificant.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The self proclaimed “Great Beast” himself, Aleister Crowley spent much of the First World War in New York City, and the wild speculations that he was acting as an agent of British Intelligence during this time just might hold some water. In 1918, that horrible man decided on a “great magical retirement” (he had run out of money and driven at least two women to alcoholism and madness), shaved his head, and borrowed a tent and canoe from one of the many friends whom he cuckolded.

Here’s an image from a postcard depicting Esopus Island in 1907. In his diaries, Crowley called it Oesopus.

from wikipedia

Aleister Crowley (/ˈkroʊli/ kroh-lee; 12 October 1875–1 December 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other fields, including mountaineering, chess and poetry. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early twentieth century.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Crowley arrived on the island with scant supplies, and was known to have made a trip back to New York at least once to secure needed items. Local farmers, concerned and curious about their new neighbor, brought comestibles to the odd fellow- a charming and neighborly Yankee tradition. Curiously, the hermit spent his time mediating and translating an ancient Chinese text for his own amusement.

Crowley reported that he experienced an epiphany here, something that would overshadow even his own mystical revelations. Which brings us back to H.P. Lovecraft. For two people who are never supposed to have met, Lovecraft and Crowley had a LOT of friends in common.


Atlantic sturgeon are the stuff of myth and legends. They are the largest fish to regularly inhabit the Hudson River, reaching 10-12′ in length and weighing in excess of 350 lb. They are a primitive-looking and wonderfully adapted estuarine creature belonging to an order of fishes whose evolutionary origins reaches back at least 100 million years. Sturgeon grow very slowly, taking as long or longer than humans to reach maturity, and rivaling us in longevity, surviving 50 years or more in the wild. The river channel around Esopus Island, up to 60 feet deep, is a known congregation area for adult Atlantic sturgeon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman


It would seem that one of the simple Yankee farmers who brought Crowley food and provisions was one Paul Rhodes, who would later become a correspondent and friend of Mr. Lovecraft. Rhodes created the only contemporaneous cinematic adaptation of one of Lovecraft’s tales- “The Other Gods” which was screened just once in 1924 for Mdm. Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society.

This should be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven’t been able to find independent confirmation of this timeline and it might be modern imposture. Regardless, witness the short film at the links below- if you dare.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Other Gods from Mike Boas on Vimeo.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 10, 2012 at 12:15 am

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