Of the many theories out there regarding the identity of Jack the Ripper, one of the more intriguing claims was by British occultist Alistair Crowley. In this article, we are going to answer the question: Who did Alistair Crowley say was Jack the Ripper?
Aleister Crowley claimed that the true identity of Jack the Ripper was Helena Blavatsky, in an unpublished article titled ‘Jack the Ripper’. He wrote that Blavatsky committed the murders as a necessary component of a magical ritual she was conducting, which would give her great powers.
Some of the more interesting lines from the article includes near the beginning, where he names his suspect:
“It is hardly one’s first, or even one’s hundredth guess, that the Victorian worthy in the case of Jack the Ripper was no less a person than Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.”
Later in the article, he goes on to say that the motives of the murders were to obtain occult powers:
“After the last of the murders, an article appeared in the newspaper of W. T. Stead, the Pall Mall Gazette, by Tau Tria Delta, who offered a solution for the motive of the murders. It stated that in one of the grimoires of the Middle Ages, an account was given of a process by which a sorcerer could attain “the supreme black magical power” by following out a course of action identical with that of Jack the Ripper.”
Crowley went on to say that the murders are necessary to obtain a certain type of magical power, and that the power is very real:
“The very least of the crimes necessary for him (or her) to commit to attain the power sought is actual murder, by which the human victim essential to the sacrifice is provided . . . Yet, though the price is awful, horrible, unutterable, the power is real.”
What We Know About Jack the Ripper
One of the most famous of all British unsolved mysteries, the person known as Jack the Ripper murdered at least 5 women, all prostitutes, in the east end of London in 1888. Dozens more murders around this time are also suspected to have been committed by the same perpetrator. Most of the cases occurred on the street, and the victim’s throat was cut. Further mutilation of the bodies indicated someone who had at least some education in anatomy. The police received taunting letters from a man calling himself Jack the Ripper. The police were not able to find the killer, causing a huge public uproar. Because it was one of the first cases of its kind to be widely known about by the public, the case has been featured in fictional retellings, and has shaped how popular culture thinks about serial killers.
Who Was Helena Blavatsky?
Blavatsky was a highly influential occultist from the 19th century. Originally from Russian aristocratic family, she inherited vast wealth. From a young age she was interested in spiritualism and travelled extensively while studying. She spent time in India as well as Germany, before living the final part of her life in London, England until her death in 1891. You can learn more about her travels to Tibet here. This means that she was living in London at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, and would have been fifty years old at the time. In 1875 she cofounded the Theosophical Society, which innovated an eclectic form of philosophical spirituality. She wrote several books, and stated that she possessed psychic abilities.
How Did Alistair Crowley Know Jack the Ripper was Helena Blavatsky?
There are many important details to this story that remain mysterious. While Blavatsky lived from 1831 to 1891, Crowley lived from 1875 to 1947. This means that he was sixteen years old when she passed away, and it was not until years later that he was initiated into the various secret societies he was part of.
However, both of them were highly prominent occultists in a golden era of occult studies. They both possessed the means to travel throughout the world in pursuit of greater magical knowledge and power. So, if Crowley really did discover the truth of Blavatsky and the murders that occurred in London in 1881, it would probably have been through both of their involvements in the magical orders of the time.
the Theosophist Society that Blavatsky cofounded was based largely in New York and India. After the death of Blavatsky, it experienced schisms, and splintered. By the time Crowley was an adult, the American part of the group and the part in India had both become their own groups. The German-Austrian division became the Anthroposophical Society under the leadership of Rudolf Steiner. To what extent was the knowledge possessed in these various groups made accessible to Crowley is unclear, though perhaps other members from within the group know Blavatsky’s secret of being the real killer publicly known as Jack the Ripper.
In 1912 Crowley was initiated into the Order Templi Orientis, a magical order that began in Germany shortly after Blavatsky’s death. The early members came from earlier occult lodges in aristocratic German society. Blavatsky being from a similar background in Russia undoubtedly would have had contact with this crowd. One can only speculate that certain individuals in German occult society had been privy to her advanced ritual. And perhaps through this network of people Crowley learn of this hidden fact.
Crowley was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, having been initiated into the magical order in 1898. The group was founded in 1888 with the opening of the Isis-Urania Temple in London. Unlike other secret societies, the Golden Dawn welcomed women as equal members. As Blavatsky was living in London at the time, she must have had at least some contact with the group, though she was never officially a member.
The Robert Donston Stephenson Suspicion
When the first of Jack the Ripper’s victims was found near the London Hospital, an early suspect was a man named Robert Donston Stephenson. He was a journalist who had been staying at the hospital the time of the murder, and was also interested in, and actively involved in occult studies. He was reported to Scotland Yard after expressing suspicious remarks to an acquaintance of his, who described him as the following:
“a travelled man of education and ability, a doctor of medicine upon diplomas of Paris and New York: a major from the Italian Army – he fought under Garibaldi: and a newspaper writer”.
Perhaps because of his sophisticated manner, after initially being in contact with the police as a suspect he became involved in the investigation as a sort of occult consultant. The clues of the murders suggested that the killer was using body parts in magical ceremonies. Many continued to suspect Stephenson, citing the disappearance of his wife years earlier as possible further evidence that he was a killer. Stephenson shared a common contact in Baroness Vittoria Cremers, who shared many details of the murder with Crowley. Though the Baroness personally suspected Stephenson, perhaps Crowley came to his own conclusions when presented with the occult details of the murder cases.
Both Blavatsky and Crowley Travelled to Many of the Same Places
Blavatsky and Crowley both being very well-travelled, they seem to have ended up in many of the same places, including Berlin, Paris, New York, India, Tibet, Germany. You can read more about Crowley’s travels here.
Blavatsky spent time in Paris in 1873, before going to New York city. She spent a lot of time in India throughout her life. Crowley on the other hand travelled a lot too, spending time in Paris and Berlin in the 1930s, and visiting India in the early years of the 20th century. One wonders if while in New York in 1906 Crowley had any contact with the Theosophist Society.
Why Did Crowley Write the Article?
So, if Blavatsky really was the killer, and Crowley learned this fact through their common involvement in occult circles, it still leaves many questions. Did he mean for it to be released, or was it intended for personal consumption only? If he wanted the public to know, what were his motives for this? IT could have been out of good conscience, or perhaps to ruin her reputation. It could have even been in order to coverup something else.
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