We had Crowley to dinner several times. His conversation was fascinating. He gave me much useful information and several of his books, but never attempted to draw me into his occult activities. Later, when Driberg asked me what I thought of him, I replied:’I think intellectually he is quite wonderful, but I don’t believe he could harm a rabbit.’

‘Ah!’ said Tom. You are right about that now, but it has only been the case since that awful business in Paris.’ He then told me about it.

For a considerable time Crowley had ruled a community at the Abbey de Thelema in Northern Sicily. There is little doubt that cats were sacrificed there to the Satanic powers. Then rumours got round that certain small children who had disappeared had been used for the same purpose. In any case Crowley was expelled from Italy and went to Paris.

There, one of his disciples owned a small hotel on the Left Bank. Crowley greatly wished to raise Pan; so the hotel proprietor got rid of his staff for the weekend and Crowley’s coven of disciples assembled there. The furniture from a room under the roof was removed and it was swept clean. In the evening Crowley, in his magician’s robes, went into it accompanied by MacAleister (son of Aleister), one of his disciples. He then told the other eleven members of the coven that whatever noises they might hear in no circumstances were they to enter the room before morning.

The eleven went downstairs to a cold buffet, very nervous. A little after midnight they heard an appalling racket in the upper room, but obeyed the Master’s orders and did not go up. When in the morning they did go up, they knocked on the door but there was no reply, so they broke it in. Both MacAleister and Crowley had had their robes ripped from them and were naked. MacAleister was dead and Crowley a gibbering idiot crouching in a corner.

Perhaps Crowley did succeeed in raising Pan and the horned god strongly objected to being taken away from whatever he was doing. Anyhow, Crowley spent four months in a loony-bin outside Paris before he was allowed about again. But it may well be that he really was able to call down power before this bizarre event. The following report certainly suggests it.

When an undergraduate an Cambridge he was brilliant and already deeply versed in the occult. He wanted the Dramatic Society to perform a play by Aristophanes which, in those days, was regarded as immoral, so the Master of John’s refused to allow it. Greatly annoyed by this Crowley made a wax figure of the Mater and, with a coven he had formed, took it out to a field on a night of bright moonlight. Crowley’s companions formed a ring, while he stood in the centre, chanting a spell and with a large needle poised, intending to thrust it into the image in the place where its liver would have been. At the critical moment one of the undergraduates lost his nerve, broke the ring and grabbed Crowley’s arm. In consequence his aim was deflected and the needle pierced the image’s ankle. The following day the Master of John’s fell down some steps and broke his ankle.

Drink and Ink pp131-133.