Aleister Crowley has been greatly misunderstood, though perhaps he did invite this. Infamy didn’t bother him, nor did being called “The Wickedest Man in the World.” He could behave like a jerk, and was a cruel Practical Joker.
Crowley was a victim (as many celebrities of today are) of the tabloids of his day. These so-called journalists wrote the most scandalous lies about him, and he basically ignored what they printed—until it was far too late and the damage had been done.
It has now been over sixty years since his death; and the time has come to look at Crowley as an author and as an occultist of note, and to let his reprehensible personal quirks die the death they should have years ago.
There are magical classics that he has penned that are a must for the library of any serious magician: Magick, Magick Without Tears, The Book of Thoth and 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings; and his books on occult philosophy, The Book of Wisdom or Folly and Little Essays Toward Truth, contain innumerable pearls of wisdom.
So before you accuse him of being a Satanist (his allusions to Satan/Set/Saturn are outside of Judeo-Christian religious thought), or of murdering children (his infamous sacrifice-a-child-daily quote is a reference to the jargon of sex magick), read the classics of the occult that are his real legacy to the Twentieth Century and decide for yourself; basing your opinion on his own work and not the sensationalistic biographies others have written about him. My prediction is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
All Thelemic groups bear the burden of Crowley’s infamy. Today these groups are magical fraternities concerned with the spiritual advancement of their members. They are internationally-recognized religious organizations, but their religious activities are ancient Egyptian in nature, not Satanic.
In 1904 Crowley “received” an interesting communication that resulted in the writing down of The Book of the Law. It is from this thin volume that the phrase “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” is derived. That command does not mean “Do as you please,” rather it means “In every situation, you should determine what your True Will is, and do it!”
This philosophy/religion/whatever is called Thelema, as Thelema is the Greek word for Will.
“Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.” So says the Egyptian goddess, Nuit (Nut/Naught), in the first chapter of The Book of the Law.
So there you have it: Crowley, Crowley-based Thelemic organizations, and Thelema —not based on the Judeo-Christian tradition, but not Satanic either. Call it Egyptian if you must, or call it simply Thelema.