Occultist Aleister Crowley's Loch Ness house will be restored

Notorious occultist Aleister Crowley’s fire-ravaged Loch Ness house will be restored and holiday homes built nearby after it was left in ruins by two blazes despite fears it could become a shrine for Satanists

  • The owners of Boleskine House have been given permission to renovate the property and build holiday homes
  • There will be 10 additional holiday lets near to the Georgian mansion on the shores of Scotland’s Loch Ness 
  • Notorious occultist and ‘ceremonial magician’ Aleister Crowley used to live there between 1899 and 1913
  • He called himself ‘The Beast 666’, had his teeth ‘filed into fangs’, drank blood and staged drug-fuelled orgies

The former home of notorious occultist Aleister Crowley – once dubbed ‘the wickedest man in the world’ – is set to be restored after its owners were given the green light to repair the fire-damaged building. 

Permission to build 10 holiday homes in the grounds of Boleskine House, which overlooks Loch Ness, has also been granted by the Highland Council.

The Georgian building was previously left in ruins by two different fires – one in December 2015 and another one in July last year. 

The B-listed heritage mansion, previously called ‘the most notorious home in the Highlands’, was once home to the infamous occultist, philosopher and ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947.  

Crowley, who called himself The Beast 666 and reportedly had his teeth filed into fangs, was known to drink blood and stage huge orgies fuelled by heroin and cocaine.

 The home was ravaged by a fire in 2015 and suffered a second blaze last year. The B-listed Georgian mansion, previously called ‘the most notorious home in the Highlands’, was once home to the infamous occultist, philosopher and ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947


Crowley styled himself as ‘the Great Beast 666’. He was an unabashed occultist who, prior to his death in 1947, revelled in his infamy as ‘the wickedest man in the world’. Right, Crowley is shown as Fo Hi, the Chinese God of laughter and money

He was said to have mutilated women by carving signs on their breasts with red-hot daggers, and was accused of eating babies in magic rituals. 

Crowley was said to have performed some of his occultist rituals at the property when he lived there between 1899 and 1913. 

The Boleskine House Foundation has been granted planning permission for the rebuilding work, along with the reinstatement of its category B listing. A separate plan was submitted to the council for the construction of 10 holiday lodges in the grounds of the estate. 

The timber clad, grass roof units would be a mix of one and two-bedroom accommodation, according to the planning application approved by the Higland Council.

Crowley was said to have performed some of his occultist rituals at the property when he lived there between 1899 and 1913

The Boleskine House Foundation has been granted planning permission for the rebuilding work, along with the reinstatement of its category B listing and for the construction of 10 holiday lodges in the grounds

The property needs extensive renovation after two fires caused huge damage to the Georgian building, including collapsing the roof

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is pictured visiting Boleskine House, which he purchased in the 1970s, the height of the band’s success

Satanist Crowley (right) lived in the house until his death in 1947. Two decades later the house was bought by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page (left)

Who was the ‘wickedest man in the world’ Aleister Crowley? 

Born in Royal Leamingston Spa, Warwickshire in 1875, Crowley was an occultist, writer and mountaineer who rejected Christian doctrine and established Thelema.

Calling himself a prophet, he said he would be the one to guide humanity into the so-called ‘Aeon of Horus’ – an age of spiritual interest and self-realisation. 

Crowley, who was born into an upper-class British family, styled himself as ‘the Great Beast 666’. 

He was an unabashed occultist who, prior to his death in 1947, revelled in his infamy as ‘the wickedest man in the world’.

His form of worship involved sadomasochistic sex rituals with men and women, spells which he claimed could raise malevolent gods and the use of hard drugs, including opium, cocaine, heroin and mescaline.

He was said to have mutilated women by carving signs on their breasts with red-hot daggers, and was accused of eating babies in magic rituals.

He was widely criticised for being ‘in revolt against the moral and religious values of his time’.

Crowley’s motto — perpetuated by OTO — was ‘do what thou wilt’. 

And it is this individualistic approach that has led to a lasting fascination among artists and celebrities. 

He died at the age of 72 in Hastings, East Sussex in 1947. 

Local councillor Margaret Davidson said there were ‘good quality’ plans for the future of the site and appealed to people with an interest in Crowley and the supernatural not to spoil them.

People fascinated by his beliefs have previously caused ‘difficulties’ for other owners of the home and the local community by gathering uninvited at the house.

Crowley styled himself as a prophet and also founded an occult religious movement named Thelema.

He was also one of the founding ‘prophets’ of the Ordo Templi Orientis, also known as OTO or ‘Order of the Temple of the East’, which has been linked to celebrities including Jay-Z and Led Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page.  

The guitarist bought the Highland home Boleskine House in the 1970s at the height of the band’s success reportedly because of its connection to Crowley, before later selling it. 

Cllr Davidson said: ‘Over the years it has been a place people have visited and become obsessed with the area.

‘That has caused its own difficulties for people in Foyers and Inverfarigaig, the nearest villages, and I would wish that to stop for them.’

Highland councillors were asked to disregard issues relating to previous owners as these were deemed immaterial to the current renovation plan.

This includes the reinstatement of the house and associated alterations, plus the siting of 10 holiday units, a car park and more by the Boleskine House Foundation.

The work is to go ahead subject to conditions to protect the character and qualities of the listed building.

The plans had raised fears it could become a Satanist pilgrimage site but objectors to the development claimed they were worried for children and vulnerable adults in the area.

But trustees of the Boleskine House Foundation vehemently denied the claims. 

Keith Readdy purchased Boleskine in July 2019 and placed the fire-damaged ancient mansion into the care of a charitable foundation.

The trust said the claims were explicitly against the charity’s constitution.

In a previous statement about the planned developments the foundation said: ‘The charity has been formed to safeguard the future of the Boleskine House Estate so that it is secured for the local, national and international communities that value it as a place of historical significance.

‘The Boleskine House Foundation’s ambition for Boleskine House is to conserve and to sympathetically rebuild the Category B Listed structure back to residential use, while also allowing limited guided tours of the impressive public rooms and external grounds. 

‘The purpose of the guided tours being to answer the present public interest in the fascinating history of the site as well as to promote the ethos of historic building conservation.

A portrait of the occultist Aleister Crowley in ceremonial clothing in 1912. Crowley, who called himself The Beast 666 and reportedly had his teeth filed into fangs, was known to drink blood and stage huge orgies fuelled by heroin and cocaine

The Beatles including Crowley (at the top left-hand corner in the back row, right next to Mae West) on their iconic album artwork for their eight studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band


Crowley’s form of worship involved sadomasochistic sex rituals with men and women, spells which he claimed could raise malevolent gods and the use of hard drugs, including opium, cocaine, heroin and mescaline

Born in Royal Leamingston Spa, Warwickshire in 1875, Aleister Crowley was an occultist, writer and mountaineer who rejected Christian doctrine and established Thelema

‘The house’s previous proprietors (most notably, parliamentary diplomat Archibald Campbell Fraser of Lovat, mountaineer and esoteric author Aleister Crowley and rock and roll musician Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame) are all a part of the story of the place but they do not directly influence its future use.

‘There is no intention for the house to become a place of pilgrimage or ritual, nefarious or otherwise.’ 

Boleskine was badly damaged by a blaze in 2015 before another fire ripped through the site in July last year. The fires stripped out the interior and collapsed the roof.

Crowley, who died in 1947, was notorious in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century for his promotion of the occult. During World War One, he also wrote anti-British propaganda.

He was also an experienced climber and was part of an ill-fated attempt to scale K2, in modern day Pakistan, in 1902.  

Boleskine was badly damaged by a blaze in 2015 before another fire ripped through the site in July last year. The fires stripped out the interior and collapsing the roof

The house has panoramic views over Scotland’s famous Loch Ness. Permission has been granted for the property owners to build 10 holiday homes in the grounds of the estate

What is the Order of Oriental Templars?

Ordo Templi Orientis, also known as O.T.O or ‘Order of the Temple of the East’ and ‘Order of Oriental Templars’, is an international fraternal and religious organisation that was founded in the early 20th century and loosely modelled on Freemasonry. 

It was founded by  Carl Kellner and Theodor Reuss as well as English author and occultist Aleister Crowley, who is the best-known and most influential member of the order and was widely believed to be a satanist in his lifetime.   

Crowley, who called himself The Beast 666 and reportedly had his teeth filed into fangs, was known to drink blood and stage huge orgies fuelled by heroin and cocaine.

Peaches Geldolf, pictured in 2013, reportedly has a tattoo on her arm with OTO and a heart shape

He was said to have mutilated women by carving signs on their breasts with red-hot daggers, and was accused of eating babies in magic rituals.

Crowley also founded the controversial Thelema religion in the early 20th century. Its key message is: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’

Despite Crowley’s death as an impoverished heroin addict at the age of 72 in 1947, he became an icon for anti-establishment figures in the 1960s.

Peaches Geldolf was believed to be a member of the society before her death in 2014, as she often tweeted about the group and its teachings and even had an OTO tattoo on her arm.

Both Jay-Z and Kanye West are among other famous faces that have been linked to the group. Kanye has worn jewellery of the Egyptian god Horus and pyramids, the symbol of Thelema, while Jay-Z sparked speculation he was a follower when he was seen wearing a T-shirt sporting Crowley’s motto ‘do what thou wilt’.

In 2013, the then head of OTO in Britain, John Bonner told the Mail that the cult was ‘misunderstood’.

He said: ‘We are used to being misunderstood. Many stories about Crowley, like people saying he filed his teeth down into fangs, are nonsense.

‘You could call us a sex cult in a way, because we recognise, accept and adore the whole process which goes towards making tangible the previously intangible.’

Devotees of OTO say it can take years of study to understand the religion – something Mr Bonner acknowledged.

He said: ‘You’re not supposed to just jump straight in to it. It takes time and study, but our rituals are not for public consumption. You need to join us and go through the initiation process before you can begin to understand.

‘But according to our beliefs we can’t turn anyone away. So if you are over 18, are passably sane and are free to attend initiations, then you have an undeniable right of membership.’ 

Peaches Geldolf was believed to be a member of the society before her death in 2014, as she often tweeted about the group and its teachings and even had an OTO tattoo on her arm. Pictured is an Instagram post she shared of her bookshelf with Crowley’s bokos

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