HR Giger's Crowley (The Beast 666)

leading from
Crowley (The Beast 666), 1975, work 274


a) Giger's interest in Aleister Crowley
His interest in Aleister Crowley was generally just there because of his interest in magic and the occult, but he did try to study his books and his system of magic, but he found it quite difficult to understand it. However Giger was interested in what kind of paintings the man made, but it was many years before he was actually able to see them. He managed to get a copy of the catalogue produced for the Crowley art exhibition that was held in London in 1998 and a catalogue for the Berlin exhibition in 1932. Most of the works he'd seen were portraits of Crowley's friends who he made look very evil. The paintings of the ladies were also very terrible looking, which was very different from the way that Giger did his, as beautiful goddess.

Source Quote
  1. ArtSync: How about Aleister Crowley
    GIGER: Well, everyone who is interested in magic and the occult is familiar with Aleister Crowley, though I must say that I tried to study his books and his system of magic and I found it quite difficult to understand him. I was always interested in what kind of paintings he made, but it took many years before I was actually able to see them. I have a copy somewhere of the catalogue that was produced for the Crowley art exhibition that was held in London back in 1998, and a catalogue for an exhibition in 1932, in Berlin. Most of the works I've seen are portraits of his friends. He made them look very evil! He also painted the ladies very terrible looking. In my painting women are beautiful goddesses — to me, anyway! (ArtSync Magazine, Fall 2009)
 

Aleister Crowley image as a Giger Skateboard design


b) Giger's Explanation
The main focus of this painting is Aleister Crowley whose portrait dominates the left part of the painting, based on an elderly photograph of him when he created a sensation with his exposition of paintings at the Gallery Pforzheim in Berlin. The pointed hat , Giger was able to state, represented Crowley's first ascent of the K2 mountain in the Himalayas, and in his hand is an ice cream cone which is an inverted version of his hat with a humanoid face on it, representing Crowley's dogma, such as "belows as above" or "Macro-Microcosmos".

Source Quote 
  1. HR Giger: Crowley (The Beast 666), 1975, Work no. 274,  (200 x 140), shows the portrait of A. Crowley, the best magician, who - with his pointed hat - occupies the left part of the painting. In keeping with the dogma, "below as above", or "Macro-Microcosmos", he holds the reversal of the hat in his hand, an ice-cream cone. The portrait originates from a photograph, which shows the magician in his elderly years, when he caused quite a sensation with his exposition of his paintings and drawings at the Gallery Pforzheim in Berlin. The pointed hat represents Crowley's first ascent of the K2 in the Himalayas. (http://www.hrgiger.com/boards.htm)

c) Shivalingam
Next to the Crowley figure is a humanoid facing down and upon the top of his head is a traditiona shivalinga, a representation of Shiva the hindu deity to be worshipped in temples. In traditional Indian society, the linga is rather seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of God, Shiva himself.  And this became an interest in Crowley's occult practices. The popular belief is that it represents a phallus and then obviously it looks as if there is a vaginal shape around it, but according to Swami Sivananda, this interpretation is a grave blunder and the shape is supposed to represent an egg form rather than the phallus that it has often be interpreted as. He made the visit to the Meenakshi temple, Madurai, to see the sacred Shivalingam there.
shivalingam head


One of many examples of a shiva lingam,


d) Seven balls spinning in the air
The seven balls spinning in the air perhaps originate from chapter 2 of Aleister Crowley's 1881 erotic  "Nameless Novel" from his collected book of writings "Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden": "But the Archbishop’s vanity was aroused; he saw that I was losing interest in himself; and this was no part of his plan. Dashing into the arena he frigged himself violently into the air, catching the gobs of sperm with great dexterity and tossing them up like a juggler, while moulding them little by little into a solid mass. He did not stop until (in one hundred and eighty two orgasms) he had collected seven balls of about four ounces each, which he kept gaily spinning in the air, and then hurling them with unerring accuracy at the exposed cabbage-patches of his numerous lady friends. “Come” he said, rising, with a sad sweet smile, “to our reminiscences! This is weary work.(http://hermetic.com/crowley/snowdrops-from-a-curates-garden/)


seven spinning balls


e) Additional thoughts
The other side to this painting is these humanoid mutants of various kinds and how the frame work with these character sticking out of the frame work reminds me of a certain photo from the American liberation of the German Nazi concentration camps at the end of the second world war

Former prisoners of the "little camp" in Buchenwald stare
out from the wooden bunks in which they slept three to a "bed."
when the camps were being liberated by the Americans
 (National Archives and Records Administration, College Park,
Md.; US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

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