Aleister Crowley & UFOs: Did Occultists Open an Interdimensional Portal?


Five years ago, in 2017, the New York Times broke the story on a black-budget Pentagon program tasked with investigating UFOs. Since then, a steady stream of photos and videos have been leaked by whistleblowers and politicians interested in opening the hitherto taboo subject of UFOs to the mainstream.

As recently as March of 2023, journalists Jeremy Corbell and George Knapp published photos showing “UFOs” over conflict zones including the “Baghdad Phantom” and the “Mosul Orb.” Though the evidence is intriguing, the search may be too linear. The assumption is that flying saucers are machines with physical properties.

There is another school of thought which claims that UFOs and aliens are interdimensional in nature. This theory is understandably harder to fathom due to our linear mode of thinking and three-dimensional conditioning. Yet, this would help explain some of the more perplexing questions related to the phenomenon, including why they are so hard to spot with the naked eye or by radar.

Over 100 years ago, in 1918, English writer and occultist Aleister Crowley, whilst holed up in a rented apartment on Central Park West in New York City, conducted a series of magickal experiments.

According to occult lore, those operations opened an interdimensional portal, a gateway if you will, allowing beings commonly referred to as ‘grey aliens’ entry into our world.

The Amalantrah Workings

Aleister Crowley in meditation. Sketch by Augustus John.

Aleister Crowley arrived in America shortly after the outbreak of World War 1, fleeing England on the ill-fated British ocean liner Lusitania. After several jaunts across the States, Crowley took up residence in New York and, in September 1917, shacked up with one Roddie Minor, a married woman whom Crowley describes as “big, muscular and sensual,” and in possession of a “well-developed clairvoyant faculty.”

Roddie would serve Crowley as his “scarlet woman,” and together the two embarked upon ceremonial sex magick rituals in an attempt to open a transdimensional doorway for the purpose of communion with discarnate intelligences.

Conducted from January to March 1918, the Amalantrah Workings bore fruit in a number of ways.

During the rituals, while under the heady influence of opium and hashish, Roddie would relate to Crowley a series of visions involving a king, a small boy, and a wizard who went by the name of Amalantrah. This wizard imparted to them a cryptic message: to “find the egg.”

In addition, Crowley himself claims to have made contact with an entity named Lam, from which he made a remarkable drawing. Crowley insists the artwork is a portrait drawn from real life, though a portrait of what? That is the matter in question and the subject of some dispute.

Crowley took his invocations seriously, never dismissing them as mere hallucinations, even when derived through hallucinogenic drugs. John Symonds, in The Beast 666: The Life of Aleister Crowley, writes that Crowley, “made no attempt to interpret this material in terms of unconsciousness. To him the characters and incidents of mescal visions were more real than anything reality or the ego could provide. He would not have been surprised to meet… Amalantrah strolling down 5th Avenue. The wizard would have descended onto the plane of illusion, that is all.”

Crowley’s portrait of Lam undoubtedly bears a striking resemblance to the ubiquitous ‘grey alien’ referenced in pop culture today and, to the best of our knowledge, represents the first depiction of such an entity in modern times.

The portrait went on public display for the first time at Crowley’s 1919 Dead Souls exhibit, held in Greenwich Village, New York. Later that year, the drawing was published in The Equinox III, No. I, at the front of a Crowley penned commentary on H.P. Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence.

Below the picture, an inscription reads: “LAM is the Tibetan word for the Way or Path, and LAMA is He who Goethe, the specific title of the Gods of Egypt, the Treader of the Path, in Buddhistic phraseology. Its numerical value is 71, the number of this book.”

In one of those serendipitous quirks of history, Crowley ended up giving the Lam portrait, in 1945, to his heir apparent and eventual British head of O.T.O. (Thelemite religion), Kenneth Grant, who would, in turn, take the football-shaped headed ‘extraterrestrial’ and run with it.

Aleister Crowley’s portrait of the entity he made contact with in 1918. Many suggest it bears remarkable similarity to the classic grey alien which made its appearance in the final decades of the 20th century. 

Kenneth Grant & Typhonian O.T.O.

It didn’t take long for Grant to make some changes to Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). After he founded the London-based New Isis Lodge in 1954, Grant began to tinker with Crowley’s Thelemite teachings by mixing in some H.P. Lovecraft influences and a heavy dose of extraterrestrial themes.

Grant issued a manifesto declaring the discovery of an extraterrestrial “Sirius/Set” current emanating from Nuit, a newly discovered trans-Plutonian planet (also named by Crowley in The Book of the Law). Karl Germer, American head of the O.T.O., would have none of it and promptly expelled Grant from the O.T.O.

Grant evened the score when, upon Germer’s death in 1969, declared himself Outer Head of the O.T.O. This claim was disputed by the then-current American head, one Grady McMurtry, resulting in a schism, with Grant’s order renamed Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis.

In the Typhonian O.T.O., emphasis was placed upon “construction of a magical formula” for establishing communion and contact with “the Magical Entity known as Lam.” To this end, Grant penned The Lam Statement, with Crowley’s portrait of Lam being used as a “Yantra,” or the visual focus, wherein “entry may be effected by projecting consciousness through the eyes.” The name Lam, in turn, would be used as the “Mantra.” A magical procedure was then set forth for one to invoke Lam and “enter the egg.”

The most significant aspect of The Lam Statement, and in turn, Crowley’s Amalantrah Workings, is that contact with an extraterrestrial entity, rather than being a passive event, can be an act of will, initiated by a human. This is called, by ufologists, a Close Encounter of the 5th Kind (CE-5).

This method shares a lot in common with the practices of CSETI (Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Led by Dr Steven M. Greer, this group uses a set of protocols, one being “thought,” to make contact with aliens. Curiously, this technique, called Coherent Thought Sequencing, was discovered in 1973, approximately the same time (1972) that The Lam Statement was published. All these techniques represent alleged methods by which portals are opened onto other dimensions.

ABOVE:   (top row) Roddie Minor, a young Aleister Crowley, Karl Germer; (bottom row) Kenneth Grant, Grady McMurtry, Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons & the Babylon Workings

In 1946, rocket scientist Jack Parsons performed the Babylon Workings, a continuation of the Amalantrah Workings. This resulted, according to Thelemites, in yet another interdimensional portal opening or maybe even a widening of the gateway first discovered by Crowley.

In the Babylon Workings, Parsons wasn’t trying to contact Lam but rather the Whore of Babylon herself, which would help him summon a Moon Child. Apparently, someone forgot to close the door behind them.

According to Kenneth Grant, “The Babylon Workings began just prior to the wave of unexplained Ariel phenomenon now recalled as the Great Flying Saucer Flap. Parsons opened a door and something flew in.”

Kenneth Arnold points out one of the disc-like objects he saw flying over Mt. Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947. 

Certainly, 1947 saw, in UFO terms, all hell break loose, starting with the Kenneth Arnold UFO sightings over Mt. Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947. And then, of course, later that summer, the notorious Roswell, New Mexico, alleged UFO crash and retrieval of alien bodies. Since then, there has been a steady stream of UFO sightings worldwide with no let-up in sight.

Is there evidence extant, prior to modern times, supporting the claim that aliens existed? There is indeed a plethora of evidence, and it turns out such documents indicate that Crowley is not the first person to open a portal by means of the occult, after all.

Going back to the Middle Ages, we find in Britain a peculiar gentleman by the name of John Dee, who was an astronomer, mathematician and advisor to Queen Elizabeth 1. With the help of a scryer named Edward Kelley, Dee made contact, through a system of Enochian magic, with ‘Angelic’ beings whom he described as “little men” that moved about in a “fiery cloud.”

The terms ‘UFO’ and ‘aliens’ didn’t exist back then, of course, but it sure sounds like Dee and Kelley were talking about that very thing. What is even more interesting are descriptions, made in the Apocryphal Book of Enoch, which Dee references, of alien-like beings called ‘Watchers’, and what seem to be acts of alien abduction:

And I Enoch was blessing the Lord of majesty and the King of the ages, and lo! the Watchers called me – Enoch the scribe – and said to me: “Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers of the heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women, and have done as the children of earth do, and have taken unto themselves wives.” (1 Enoch 12.3–8)

Writer and researcher Erich von Daniken believes that ancient stargates abound, scattered across the face of the earth from Egypt to Peru, serving at one time or another as portals for the ‘gods’ to enter into our world. His hypothesis, referred to as the ‘ancient astronaut theory’, asserts that extraterrestrial intelligences have visited earth through stargates since the dawn of time, even having a hand in creating the human species.

Betty & Barney Hill And Crowley

On the evening of September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were driving south on Route 3 through the White Mountains of New Hampshire in their 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air when Betty spotted a bright object in the sky, which she initially took to be a falling star, though it was falling upward. Noticing that the object was moving erratically, Betty and Barney pulled the car over to take a closer look, as well as to walk their dog Delsey.

The Hills continued to drive and at about one mile south of Indian Head, the flying object descended rapidly toward their vehicle, causing the Hills to stop their car in the middle of the road. The object, shaped like a flying cigar and 80–100 feet long, filled the entire field of view in their windshield. Barney jumped out of the car and, using his binoculars, claimed to have seen 8–11 humanoid figures, described as “somehow not human.”

Betty & Barney Hill with an illustration of the flying object and the aliens that abducted them in 1961. 

Barney returned to the vehicle and, fearing capture, quickly drove away. Betty and Barney then experienced amnesia, or memory loss, and the next thing they knew was that they were 35 miles farther along on their journey, with two hours missing and unaccounted for.

Three years later, the Hills underwent regression hypnosis in an attempt to retrieve their lost memory. After subsequent sessions, the Hills were able to recall an experience of abduction by aliens who claimed to be from the Zeta Reticuli system. After a physical examination by the aliens, the Hills had their memories erased and were returned to their car. Thus began the era of the alien abduction scenario.

How does Aleister Crowley fit into this? Well, as you may recall, Crowley was living in New York in 1918, but before he moved there, Crowley lived in, you guessed it – New Hampshire, near a town called New Bristol, located less than an hour away from where the Hills experienced their alien abduction. In New Hampshire, Crowley had his own paranormal visitation, with a type of glowing orb. The experience affected Crowley enough for him to write and submit a letter for publication in The New York Times. The letter reads:

To the Editor of The New York Times:

I do not know whether globular lightning is a sufficiently rare phenomenon in this country to merit remark. Yesterday a globe of fire with an apparent diameter of about a foot burst on the floor of the middle room of a cottage here and within a few inches of my right foot. Curiously enough, no damage of any kind was done.

New Bristol, N.H.,
July 13, 1916

During his stay in New Bristol, Crowley conducted some peculiar occult rituals. It was 1916 (the inverse of 1961), and according to Richard Cavendish in A History of Magic, Crowley promoted himself to the rank of Magus. This was done by way of a ceremony involving the baptism of a toad as Jesus of Nazareth, then crucifying the poor creature.

Writer/researcher Christopher Knowles notes, on his website, that the highway which links Crowley’s home in New Hampshire to the Hill’s abduction spot is Interstate 93. Knowles points out that the number 93 is “the holiest of holies in Thelemite gematria.” The number itself is derived, numerologically, from combining two central words in the philosophy of Thelema – which are Thelema (Will) and Agape (Love), taken from the phrases “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and “Love is the law, love under will.”

Furthermore, Knowles claims that the aliens which abducted the Hills deposited them in the town in which Crowley was living in 1916. Knowles writes: “35 miles down the road would have ensured that the Hills would have woken up in the very same town in which Crowley was actually living in 1916 (Hebron/Bristol)… Let me repeat that: the Hills woke up from their missing time episode in the very same town that Aleister Crowley had lived just months before his own contact experience (in the Amalantrah Working).”

Regarding Hebron, we find a reference to it in Numbers 13:22: “And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)”

In Numbers 13:33 we learn that the “children of the Anak,” or the Anunnaki, are descended from the Nephilim, sky gods who “from Heaven to Earth came.”

Quest for the Holy Grail

What were Crowley’s own thoughts on the alien agenda, and do we even know if the Great Beast gave any credence to the field of ufology? This may be hard to establish for, tellingly, Crowley passed away at the very dawn of the UFO flap, in the year 1947, the same year which ushered in the modern wave of UFO sightings. Terminology like “flying saucer” and “UFO” didn’t even exist during his time. To discern his thinking, we need to look for clues, of which he left a few.

Let us turn our attention to The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley, a divinatory tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to guidelines and instructions set by Crowley himself. Take a look at the seventh Trump card – the Chariot – for there is something curious about this card.

The seventh Trump card – the Chariot – of Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Thoth, a divinatory tarot deck. Note the spinning saucer like object held by the charioteer clothed in armour.

The card depicts a Charioteer clothed in armour, sitting cross-legged inside a chariot drawn by four Cherubs – the Bull, Lion, Eagle and Man. There is a blue canopy on the Chariot which, according to Crowley, represents Binah, the feminine principle, and scarlet wheels, representing Geburah, the principal of energy. Everything is, in fact, quite standard to the symbolism found in a traditional version of this card, except for one anomaly – the Charioteer is holding in his hands what appears to be a rotating flying saucer.

What can we discern about this saucer-like image? In The Book of Thoth, Crowley gives a brief interpretation of this symbol, saying:

The central and most important feature of the card is its centre – the Holy Grail. It is of pure amethyst, of the colour of Jupiter, but its shape suggests the full moon and the Great Sea of Binah.

In the centre is radiant blood; the spiritual life is inferred; light in the darkness. These rays, moreover, revolve, emphasising the Jupiterian element.
(The Book of Thoth, p. 86–87)

Crowley doesn’t speak much on the subject, and yet, what he does say is revealing. He acknowledges that this symbol is the most important feature on the card, but he refers to it as the “Holy Grail.” There is a bit of a discrepancy here, as the Holy Grail is, traditionally, a vessel that serves as a motif in the Arthurian literature and is often depicted as a cup, sometimes as a dish. It has also been (rarely) depicted as a stone, though this would be the first time it’s shown as a spinning flying saucer, if that is what we are seeing.

Crowley says his version of the card is “much influenced by the Trump portrayed by Eliphas Levi,” and indeed many of the same motifs are present in both cards, sans the saucer. If Crowley’s “Holy Grail” is not literally a cup, then he must be using the term metaphorically, to denote a goal of great significance, as in the Arthurian “Quest,” which set the Knights of the Round Table on a mission, searching for their elusive Grail.

Aleister Crowley (1875–1947)

Can this “Quest” be the search for extraterrestrial life? Consider Crowley’s description again, in a different light. The wording could just as easily be used to describe a UFO, like “light in the darkness,” “rays, moreover revolve,” and “Jupiterean element.”

If Crowley is dropping hints here that he is talking about a UFO, then the seventh Trump is the perfect place to drop it, for the term “chariot” was often used by the ancients to denote the modes of transport used by flying “gods” or aliens, as discussed in greater detail by Erich von Daniken in the book Chariots of the Gods.

In this light, Fox Mulder of the television series The X-Files could be viewed as a modern iteration of the medieval archetype of a Knight of the Round Table, searching for truth in the holy saucer. As they say, the truth is out there.


John Symonds (1997). The Beast 666: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Pindar Press. ISBN 978-1-899828-21-0. OCLC 60232203.
Kenneth Grant (1980). Outside the Circles of Time. Frederick Muller Ltd. ISBN-10: 0584104685
John Carter (2004). Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (new ed.). Feral House. ISBN 978-0-922915-97-2.
Richard Cavendish (1991). A History of Magic. Penguin Books. ISBN-13: 978-0140192797
Aleister Crowley (1974). The Book of Thoth. Samuel Weiser, Inc.; 1st edition. ISBN-13: 978-0877282686.
Erich von Däniken (1984). Chariot of the Gods. Berkley; Reprint edition. ISBN-13: 978-0425074817

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About the Author

Andrew Kim Arnett is a writer and producer. His work covers the paranormal, crime and unexplained mysteries. He has been published in Paranoia Magazine, New Dawn, Nexus, Konbini and Alien Buddha Press. Andrew Kim Arnett appears on Travel Channel’s World's Most Unexplained (currently streaming on Discovery +) discussing the Cecil Hotel, alien abduction and much more. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and hunts ghosts with the Brooklyn Paranormal Society. Find him on Twitter @AndrewArnett

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