In the Name of the Beast Volume One: 1918-1962, A Biography of Grady Louis McMurtry, a Disciple of Aleister Edward Crowley
Of all Aleister Crowley’s disciples, the single individual who has effectively shaped the destiny of the modern occult revival, especially in the name of the Beast himself, was Grady McMurtry. Yet his life has remained relatively unknown even amongst his own followers. Although there are many biographies written about the life of Aleister Crowley, there are none which have explained what took place in his Thelemic cult after his death. To understand the modern history of the occult revival in the late sixties in northern California we must examine the life of Grady Louis McMurtry. They are inseparable. However, Grady is unquestionably one of the most remarkable and controversial figures in the entire history of the OTO. Whether right or wrong, he infected the Order with his own foolish proclivities which would have rattled the likes of even Aleister Crowley were he alive today. Grady’s long hair, hippie lifestyle, poetry, sex, booze and drugs, equally bathed in unusual magickal rituals and philosophical thought, while living in San Francisco and Berkeley, has become so legendary that it has gained him lasting notoriety long after his death, similar to Aleister Crowley. Grady McMurtry died in Berkeley in the summer of 1985.
Dec. 2005, 229 pages
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This volume begins telling the story about Grady McMurtry’s Scottish ancestors. How they came to South Carolina, lived through the Civil War and then moved to Oklahoma. It mentions their pioneer days, his Grandfather fighting both the Indians and the Sheriff. Grady’s childhood is discussed, along with his own father’s criminal career as a bank robber in the thirties and its effect on Grady. The Great Depression forces Grady’s family to move to California.
Once in Pasadena, in 1939, Grady’s begins writing poetry. He attends the local Junior College. He joins Howard Scott’s Technocracy Inc. He becomes involved with the Los Angeles Science Fiction Fantasy Society. He meets such notables as Paul Friables, Forest J. Ackerman, Ray Bradbury, Jack Williamson and the famous rocket scientist Jack Parsons. The latter would become his best friend. Parsons introduces Grady to Crowley’s writings and the OTO. There are many memories of Grady’s early visits to the OTO’s Agape Lodge in Pasadena and meeting Wilfred T. Smith, the Lodge Master. Harry Hay, founder of The Radical Fairies, plays the organ at the Agape Lodge ceremonies. Karl Germer, the Grand Treasurer General of the OTO, is released by the Nazis from a concentration camp. In 1941 Grady drops out of College and joins the Army. Germer moves to New York and become Head of the OTO for the United States. Grady and his girlfriend Claire Palmer join the OTO. Grady’s meets Lou Goldstone the science-fiction illustrator and editor of the magazine Fantasia. Grady’s poetry is published in this magazine. Grady marries Claire. Pearl Harbor is attacked. Grady leaves Claire at the Agape Lodge and reports for duty. While he’s away, the OTO Lodge teaches Grady’s wife about free sex and “do what thou wilt” which inevitably ends Grady’s marriage. The OTO ‘lunacy’ in southern California is discussed. Grady marries his second wife Marjorie Fox or Foxie. Grady is sent to Officers Candidate School in Wyoming. Grady begins writing to Aleister Crowley. They share thoughts on poetry and Agape Lodge. There are numerous letter exchanges. The sexual antics at Agape Lodge are beginning to affect everyone. Crowley and Germer think the Lodge is corrupting the Thelemic teachings. Grady and Parsons have a major blow-up over Grady’s wife’s behavior after Pearl Harbor. Grady is upset that Jack and others have taught her about free sex. In the end, Jack and Grady settle their differences and remain friends.
Wilfred T. Smith steps down as Lodge Master in order to do The Hidden God ritual. Jack Parsons becomes the new Lodge Master. Grady is now a Lieutenant and a Company Commander. He is sent overseas to fight the Nazis. In route, while in New York, he visits Karl Germer. In England, in-between preparing for the invasion of Europe, he visits Aleister Crowley many times at 93 Jermyn Street. They become best of friends. His visits are discussed in-depth, what transpired and how AC gave him his name Frater Hymenaeus Alpha 777 and made him a IXth Degree initiate. Grady’s duties in the army, the bomber squadrons and his poetry regarding the war are all discussed. London is being bombed by the Nazis. Crowley’s apartment at 93 Jermyn Street is badly damaged and if he had been home he would have been killed. Crowley moves to the country to Bells Inn. Grady’s often visits him there. D-Day, Grady and his troops go ashore. He’s almost killed twice. Grady’s memories of this battle, his duties and the poems which he writes like Normandie in June and others.
Crowley, the Prophet of Thelema, looks for a ‘spiritual’ descent of authority for his Order similar to Mohammed. The infamous Thelemic Caliphate letters are written. In these and other letters Crowley discusses his vision of Grady as being the possible future Head of the Order. Grady is officially made ‘Caliph.’ With a lull after Normandie, St Lo and other battles, Grady flies back to England to visit Crowley. Then the Battle of the Bulge begins. Grady’s troops are stationed near Bastogne. However, he is stuck in England. He spends Christmas with Crowley. The fog lifts; Bastogne is relieved, Grady returns to the front.
In January 1945 Crowley moves again. He settles into Netherwood, Hastings. Numerous letters exchanges between OTO members are discussed. World War II ends. Grady visits Crowley at Hastings. Grady then returns to California as a Sovereign Grand Inspector General. He is now an International Grand Lodge officer of OTO. The only other two officers are Aleister Crowley and Karl Germer. He is ordered to investigate all the rumors about Agape Lodge. While at Agape Lodge Grady meets the new tenant, L. Ron Hubbard. Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard begin a business together called Allied Enterprises. It’s mostly Jack’s money which starts the company. Jack Parson’s begins the infamous magickal rituals known as the Babalon Working. This is where he and Hubbard try to incarnate a Fire Elemental or Familiar Spirit … a ‘Moonchild’ from another dimension into a mortal. Then, out of nowhere, appears a flaming red head, the ‘Elemental’, in the form of the famous artist named Marjoire Cameron. Jack and Marjorie become romantically involved. The antics of the OTO Lodge are discussed at length, along with the numerous letters of this period. Also mentioned is Grady’s poetry, his new job and getting re-established in San Francisco now that the war is over. He goes back to College. Due to his ‘magick’, Jack Parsons starts showing signs of going insane. He steps down as Lodge Master. Roy Leffingwell is made the new Agape Lodge Master.
Crowley is very concerned. He sends Grady a special authorization to take charge of the entire OTO in California if it doesn’t stabilize. Germer visits California to inspect the area for himself. L. Ron Hubbard embezzles most of Jack Parsons’ money from Allied Enterprises, then flees. Parsons pursues him all the way to Florida. Parsons performs a magick ritual to invoke another ‘Elemental’ in the form of a huge wind. This wind scuttles Hubbard’s boat, forcing him back to port where he’s arrested and both parties end up in Court. Hubbard then marries Parsons ex-wife. Also, a controversial incident regarding Crowley and Grady, often repeated, which supposedly occurred during the war is discussed at length. It’s proven wrong and finally put to rest. The incident in question dealt with the famous poet Michael Hamburger, not Grady. Grady and his wife give birth to a son. In December of 1947 Aleister Crowley dies in Hastings and is cremated. Its effect on everyone is discussed.
A new world leader of OTO is chosen. It’s Karl Germer. Crowley’s entire private archive and library is sent to Germer. Grady is still in College. His family from Oklahoma re-surface, there are many interactions between Grady, his father and others. Jack Parsons swears the magickal Oath of the Abyss. This is the most dangerous magickal ritual in Crowley’s entire arsenal, often resulting in totally insanity or death.
Throughout 1950 war in Korea loomed on the horizon. Due to his college courses, Grady sends a letter to Military Intelligence, G-2, Department of the Army at the Pentagon in Washington volunteering his services. He is re-activated and made a Captain. However, due to his connections with Crowley, he’s not assigned to G2 but sent to Maryland as an Ordnance Unit Instructor. Germer leaves NY, moves to NJ, where Grady is able to visit him. The whereabouts of Crowley’s ashes are finally revealed. He’s buried under a tree in New Jersey.
In April of 1952 Grady is sent to Korea as a Company Commander in the 8th Army Ordnance Corp. He becomes the Ammunition Supply Officer for the front lines with between 300 to 500 hundred men under his command. November of 1952, Roy Leffingwell dies and Jane Wolfe becomes the new Agape Lodge Master. She was a famous Hollywood actress in silent films and who had lived with Crowley at his infamous Abbey at Cefalu. While in Korea Grady reads a magazine and discovers that Jack Parsons is dead. While preparing explosives Parsons blew himself and his house to pieces in Pasadena. Grady and Jane Wolfe correspond regarding this tragedy.
The OTO in California is also melting down. Germer can’t control the OTO, plots are hatched, dissension is brewing and most Californian OTO members simply dislike him. Jane Wolfe’s health fails and she steps down as Lodge Master. No one is available to take over the Lodge so Germer officially closes the Lodge in September 1953.
Once the Korean war is over Grady is briefly sent to Japan before returning to SF. Grady distances himself from the OTO to deal with his personal life, his wife, child and college. Grady remains in the reserves and is promoted to Major. In September of 1955 Aleister Crowley’s only son, Aleister Ataturk leaves England to live with Germer in New Jersey. Germer’s second wife dies, he re-marries. His third wife is Sascha Germer. The Germers and Ataturk move to California. In 1956 a lot of Grady’s family, work and college is discussed. Treachery throughout the OTO is still brewing by members like Wilfred T. Smith, Louis Culling and Marcelo Motta. Both Germer and his new wife show signs of paranoia that everyone is plotting against them. They distrust everyone in the OTO and the Order treats them likewise. Germer forbids any new initiations to occur which in effect signs the death warrant for the OTO. In April 1957 Wilfred T. Smith dies. In 1958, Grady comes out of hiding and begins contacting OTO members throughout California. He and Germer almost immediately start fighting about letting the OTO die. Grady tries to unite all the Californian fractions of the OTO. At first he’s got Germer’s blessings. The early months of 1958 which is the most critical year in the OTO’s development. It shows how Grady tried to re-unite the OTO, quoting numerous letters and discussing AC’s Thelemic beliefs. It shows the effect which Grady’s actions had on Germer and especially his wife Sascha. In their paranoia, the Germer’s start believing that what Grady is doing is wrong. They conclude that the California OTO should not be re-united. In March Jane Wolfe dies. Germer and his wife are really showing signs of insanity. He’s threatening everybody with expulsion or censorship, mostly due to his wife’s instigation. Grady ignores Germer’s actions and he continues to try to unite all the scattered OTO initiates. Ataturk creates turmoil. The final OTO blow-up occurs at the Conference in 1959. This is where everyone, except Grady, backs down to Germer’s threats and they stop trying to unite. Grady & Germer continue fighting. Grady leaves Berkeley and moves his family to Sacramento to take a Government job. Grady and Germer have their last major fight. It is here that Grady writes some of the most important poetry of his life. Guided, he says, by his Holy Guardian Angel.
Grady, disgusted with Germer’s leadership, moves to Washington DC in 1962. He leaves the OTO behind and accepts a job offer at the Department of Treasury. He also teaches night courses in Political Science at George Washington University.
Dec. 2005, 229 pages