HIGH MAGICK'S MOUNTAIN
A History of an Extraordinary Place
(c) 2000-2005 Mountain Temple Center / Petros Xristos
1. PREHISTORY OF THE MOUNTAIN
It has been suggested to several persons while visioning on the Astral Plane and higher Occult realms, and confirmed by archaeological findings, that the sacred space known to us today as "The Mountain" was utilized as an ancient Hohokam Indian sacred space. In this area of the Sonoran Desert that has now been swallowed up by the very recent growth of the city known to the white man as Phoenix (itself a Magickal term representing Resurrection and Continual Rebirth), just a few miles from The Mountain ancient Hohokam petroglyphs have been found dating to 1000 A.D. (See: Deer Valley Rock Art Center) We all know that many ancient cultures utilized the high places available to them both for their spiritual astronomical observations and for ritual uses.
The Mountain is the remains of what once was a much larger rising of volcanic rock surrounded on all sides by a gently rolling valley, rocky and lightly covered with various types of desert brush. It is bounded both on the East and on the West by two much higher desert ranges that seem to function as etheric "wall" of protection, making the Mountain itself a well-guarded hub of pyramidal energy. What is most interesting to Magickians, and what was discovered by Mr. Crowley himself during his long residence here, is that both of these ranges (the Eastern and the Western) are cut out in the rough silhouettes of the God and the Goddess. The range to the East of the Mountain forms several gently rolling curvatures that, to those properly guided, form the outline of the breasts and "mound of Venus" of the ancient fertility Goddess. The Western range likewise makes an outline against the horizon of the God. In between them The Mountain itself sits like a Magickal Child of both. No doubt, such features would not have been overlooked by the spiritually attuned Hohokam.
2. ESTABLISHMENT AND GROWTH OF THE CENTER
Mountain Temple Center is co-owned and co-operated by Michael J. Crowley and his wife Shari. Michael had been a student of the occult sciences for forty years and Shari for over twenty. The couple bought the property on the Mountain in July 1972. Originally the portion which is now the center itself consisted of a small single-story house, which was added to by the Crowley's in the 1980s to the point where today (2002) the Center is three stories with about 2,000 square feet of space.
The "discovery" of this sacred power site by Mr. Crowley is itself an intriguing magical tale and one only recently having come to light. It seems that in his early days as a motorcycle enthusiast and amateur afficianado of the occult, Crowley happened to ride into one of those "Psychic Consultation" shops that have always been ubiquitous in larger cities. This one happened to be in the rustic town of Guadalupe, Arizona, a small enclave of Yaqui Indians who had immigrated to the U.S. generations previously but who still maintained some aspects of their traditional life amidst the usual modern conveniences such as shops and gas stations. There, he was accosted by an old Mexican-Indian woman who immediately noticed his intense aura. Among other things that have not been publically revealed, she told him that it was his destiny to lead a "sacred place of magic on a hill." She prophesied that an owl would lead him to this place. Of course Mike, being a hard-headed biker at the time, was initially sceptical, as was his wife.
Weeks passed and Michael had all but forgotten about the old brujera's prophecy. And yet -- one hot summer evening while riding his Harley around northern Phoenix, he noticed a low-flying owl that seemed to keep a flight path almost parallel to his bike. Remembering the prediction, and more or less on a whim, he decided to follow the owl to see if it would actually lead him anywhere or if it would simply go out of sight. In fact, it shortly led him up a treacherous-looking incline on Lupine Avenue. Mike of course was an expert rider and had little difficulty riding up the slope, though the wheels kicked up a lot of dust and pebbles. The owl flew to the top of the hill and alighted on a power line, under which Mike finally brought his bike to a rest. From the top of the hill he could see a large swath of northern Phoenix and, in the setting sun, could detect the faintest of purple "auras" seeming to encircle the hill like a vortex. Somehow, he knew that this was the place the old witch predicted in the psychic reading. He made a note of the location and told his wife Shari about it that night; within a day or two the couple returned to the site and both agreed that it would be a perfect location for the new home they had been looking for. They were pleased to find that it was in fact for sale and at a very reasonable price.
That owl, or perhaps a descendant of it, can still be seen to this day (2003) in the vicinity of the Mountain, and has been known to occasionally alight on the rooftop or a nearby telephone pole, as if watching over the progress of Mr. Crowley and his magical endeavors. (The old Mexican seer, sadly, is long gone.)
When it was decided to open the Mountain for public events and ceremonies, the first tradition to be established was that of Gardnerian Wicca. Michael was an avid student of Gerald Gardner's pioneering work in 20th-century Witchcraft, and credits Gardner's classic High Magick's Aid with being one of his earliest introductions to the ancient Craft of Wicca. Michael was and remains, also, a student of the works of Janet and Stewart Farrar, with their emphasis on sex magick. In 1986 the Mountain hosted its first public Wiccan ceremony, in league with another local Coven.
The Gods must have smiled upon the fledgling efforts of Mike and Shari, for in January of 1987 Shari won a substantial amount of money in the Arizona Lottery. This gift from "on high" was used the best way possible, to finish the expansion of the Temple, so that the community could immediately benefit from this karmic largesse.
The Temple, in Phoenix, Arizona, sits atop a small mountain in the middle of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, in the north-central part of the city. Like most of the hills in this desert city, it is rocky and nearly treeless save for a few small mesquite and sage bushes around the perimeter. The only animal life that can survive in the harsh climate tends to reflect the intensity of the Magick here -- scorpions, wild jackrabbits, and birds of prey (such as the owl that is occasionally seen perched on a nearby telephone pole and seems to return seasonally.) The Mountain is also surrounded by other mountains on top of which can be seen to those with a bit of subtle vision, see a goddess form on one side (the East) and a god form on the other (to the West.)
The Center opened itself more widely to the public in 1992 when it began to be publicized as a learning and study center, with a sizable non-lending research library. Today the library at the Temple is one of its most popular and talked-about features, as it seems to be one of the first things that visitors see upon walking through the sliding glass doors. Painstakingly assembled over a period of twenty years or more, the Library now consists of thousands of volumes of books, never yet counted, filling ceiling-high shelves all around the room. The collection covers all aspects of the occult arts and sciences, including astrology, numerology, mythology of various cultures and historical periods, Wicca, Masonic lore, Meditation and Spiritualism, New Age teachings and Healing, Rosicrucianism, and of course, the Golden Dawn. Mr. Crowley also has (as one would expect) a sizable collection of rare Crowley works (Aleister Crowley, that is). The library itself contains numerous out-of-print and hard to find editions of other works.
The center has a look of spontaneity and organic growth in its design; it has been converted from a private residence into a mixed public/private structure. The center is intimite in size, with an area on the first floor reserved for the permanent residents. The second floor has an office/computer room, conference room, and the excellent library already described. On the top floor two flights up, veiled for restricted access, is the most sacred ritual space in the Temple, used for higher-level Golden Dawn and other ceremonies. This sacred space has a porch which overlooks the outdoor space. This outdoor area consists of a magical working area in a thirty-nine foot round circle, marked off by standing stones constructed to look like a miniature Stonehenge. It is large enough to accomodate upwards of fifty or more persons, and on at least one occasion there have been closer to a hundred present, during one of the major annual Pagan festivals.
The Center has other facilities which function both for entertainment or relaxation and also possess a spiritual purpose. For instance, it has a large hot tub which has become rather famous (or infamous!) in the community. While the hot tub can be a fun place for relaxing after a ritual, it is also used regularly for the purification of participants prior to certain ceremonies. Mike Crowley also uses it for practicing the technique of "rebirthing" on students who may be interested in this, where he guides the individual, floating in the water, into psychic or astral perceptions.
A small (three- to six-person) sweat lodge was recently completed (2002), handbuilt from cinder blocks on site by officials and students of the Temple. This new addition to the center will enable further exploration of higher states of spiritual consciousness and permit those who are interested in this method of self-development to go deeper into their psyches (with suitable guidance from trained mentors here.)
Mountain temple center has had its ups and downs, and has experienced a certain amount of gossip and backbiting from others in the Pagan community of Phoenix. This sort of thing is widespread among pagans and magickal groups all over, but the Center has attracted more than its share due to the controversial nature of Mike Crowley, not to mention Aleister Crowley. Mike has never claimed to be a "white lighter," and anyone who is familiar with the work of Aleister Crowley knows that Aleister was not exactly a "goody-two-shoe" character either. Oftentimes, Mike's upfront, free expression of sexuality (such as tantric magick and Gardnerian wicca) have caused some "puritanical pagans" to whine a little, and occasionally one may read a vague letter to the editor in some local pagan newspaper complaining about Mike or the Mountain, but without actually mentioning his name. Of course, those who are truly serious about magickal work and spiritual growth know better than to take this sort of stuff at face value. If anything, Mike has often said, it only increases his reputation in the community, and helps scare away the "wannabees" and undesirables.
3. THE FARRARS
In May of 1993 the Mountain welcomed the Farrars and Gavin Bone, who were visiting Phoenix on a lecture tour. While in Phoenix they all visited the Mountain, along with a number of other people from the local magical and pagan community. While at the Mountain the Farrars and Gavin enjoyed the hot tub along with a great number of the other guests all at the same time. The Farrars and Gavin blessed the circle and told Mike Crowley to be careful in utilizing the energies of sex or tantric magick.
4. Brief Interlude with the O.T.O.
Also in 1993 the Crowleys met with members of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) and became initiates in October of that year. On April 23, 1994 an official O.T.O. Camp named Mountain Camp was established. A "Camp" in O.T.O. terminology refers to an officially approved meeting place. Initially successful and popular, seeing a number of new initiates come through the doors, in July of 1996 the Camp was terminated by mutual agreement between Mr. Crowley and the O.T.O. At the time, the house was being used by other family members for non-O.T.O. gatherings and activities, and it was felt that the needed privacy could not be guaranteed. Also, Michael Crowley wished to focus his energies on what he felt was the more spiritually fruitful and legitimate order, namely the Golden Dawn, and felt the O.T.O. to be a distraction from this end. Time has shown this to be a wise decision, as seven years later, the Golden Dawn temple continues to thrive here at Mountain Center.
The Mountain Center has always, thanks to Mike's insistence, been a place of study and learning, as the library can prove. In May 1994, Mr. Crowley (in league with Fra. Xristos) founded A.T.U.M., the Arizona Thelemic University of Magick, to teach willing students the basics of Aleister Crowley's philosophy. It's scope soon broadened to cover all forms of magick, spirituality and myth, and it's now known simply as the Arizona University of Magick (A.U.M.).
A.U.M. promotes talks and classes on all aspects of magickal theory and practice, including workshops and "hands-on" demonstrations of techniques and rituals. In the nine years since its founding, A.U.M. has welcomed many local (and a few visiting) lecturers and has provided dozens of classes and worshops on such topics as Astrology, Wicca, Norse Magick, Spiritualism, Herbs and Plants, and so on. Classes have been held in several local bookshops and halls, and are now primarily held in the Mountain's own library/conference room, or in the outdoor circle. A.U.M. offers non-accredited basic and advanced Certificates in Esoteric Studies and Certificates in Magickal Studies, as well as a Ministerial credential.
6. GOLDEN DAWN
On December 4, 1994 there was established at Mountain Center a Golden Dawn Temple, chartered through The Hermetic Temple and Order of the Golden Dawn in association with a national foundation, though as of 2001 Mountain Temple became independent. This Temple has proven to be very successful and has initiated scores of candidates over the past nine years. The Temple maintains a website and, with the help of Petros (an independent spiritual teacher who works with the Temple) serves initiates around the world thorugh e-mail correspondence lessons and guidance. Mountain Temple G.D. currently has "long-distance" initiates in Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Germany, and elsewhere, as well as locally based.
The Golden Dawn organization, based out of MTC, has (almost miraculously) continued after the death of Magus Michael Crowley in 2008, and as of 2017 still works with an active core group of initiates, several of whom -- Neophytes at the time of Michael's death -- are now Adepts themselves.
7. OTHER VISITORS AND TIRTHA MAHARAJ
In addition to Janet and Stewart Farrar, Mountain Center has hosted other bright lights of occultism and esoteric spirituality. These include Lon Milo DuQuette and, in 1999, a Hindu holy man by the name of Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj.
Maharaj (as he is known by his disciples) appeared at Mountain Center on August 16 of 1999. When told that he was to speak at the home of a magician, he quipped, "Ah ho!" and reminded his listeners of boyhood encounters he had had with similar magicians in his own homeland. Maharaj's visit was not without an unusual, perhaps supernatural element, as so often happens during events up here. As he got into his lecture, shortly after sunset, a seasonal monsoon storm began to brew. Common at this time of the year in Phoenix, these storms can be violent and electrifying. With the thunder cracking and lightning flashing all around, some of Maharaj's devotees began to get a little worried about the Master's safety. Maharaj called the lightning and thunder "Krishna's magic!" and compared its potency and beauty to the illusions of man-made "magic" such as technology. Maharaj made it clear that "So long as we remember Krishna, maya [illusion] cannot come. The moment we forget Krishna, maya comes."
As Maharaj was leaving later with his devotees, those with him noticed that the bottom of the Mountain was muddy and drenched with rain from the wild storm. Only the top of the Mountain, in the sacred circle where Maharaj held his satsang, had been spared the deluge. No doubt he would attribute it to the grace of Krishna, and this is only fitting for such a sacred space.
8. THE BEASTS
No description of the mystical, magickal Mountain would be complete without mention of its two occult "mascots," symbols of its weird energy: Harley, a fullblooded gray wolf with a friendly disposition (except towards Mr. Crowley's pit-bulls) and high intelligence; and Dragon Monster, a twenty-one foot, one-hundred pound reticulated python who used to lurk in a small closet under the stairs, meditating on its heated rock. No one was ever able to figure out if Dragon Monster was a male or female, and no one was brave enough to investigate it so closely.
Sadly and weirdly, both of these magnificent beasts made their individual transition to the higher realms in February of 1999. Both died within a week of each other, Harley a week prior to and Dragon on the night of Mike Crowley's 50th birthday celebration. Mike interpreted the loss of both beasts as a necessary sacrifice to the Gods, to enable further growth here. (Another serpent, somewhat smaller than the first, now calls Mountain Temple home.)
One of the Mountain's three pit-bull terriers, Max (an Adeptus Minor in the G.D., perhaps the only canine ever so recognized) passed away peacefully at the foot of his mistress' bed in December of 2002, at a respectably advanced age. As of 2005, the other two terriers were living elsewhere, and the Mountain is now home to two white wolf hybrids.
The wolf hybrids survived the death of their master and died of old age, separately, between 2013 and 2015. They were since replaced by two new dogs, one of whom died of smoke inhalation in the disastrous Beltane Fire of 2017 which destroyed MTC.
Let's let Mike Crowley speak for the Center:
Let's let Mike Crowley speak for the Center:
"Mountain Center practices freedom, acceptance, and tolerance of all religious or spiritual aspects of life, and all beliefs. Over time the Center has evolved as we all do, as time goes on. We continue to promote freedom. We now focus on Golden Dawn work; however, we continue to allow other groups rent the [outside] area and certain (non-consecrated) ritual tools in order to do their own thing. Groups who have enjoyed our facilities include ceremonial Magickians, several Wiccan covens, the Discordians, Chaos Magickians, Strega (Italian wicca), Voodoo, Spiritualists, American Indian, Hindu, and Buddhist practitioners. People come to the Mountain for research and for intelligent conversations. Or just a good old bullshit session on any subject or anything. Everyone has the right to say what ever they want without being afraid of being told to shut up or they're wrong. That's not to say you will not get an argument or a heated discussion on that particular subject. The Mountain has had some wild parties just to have a party and it can be very fun exciting, erotic, and strange. Plain old fun with out the worry of being politically correct!"