A casual mention of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey’s interest in the sex magic diaries of Aleister Crowley sent me down an Internet rabbit hole.
Kinsey (1894–1956) was studied biology, particularly entomology, but while teaching at Indiana University in the 1930s turned to the study of human sexuality, attacking the “widespread ignorance of sexual structure and physiology” he saw around him.
In writing his monumental works on sexual behavior, Kinsey not only collected data with questionnaires, he created data (filming his research assistants having sex, for instance) and appropriated other people’s data, sometimes lying about his sources.
In the most notorious case (I think this was in the movie), he based his narrative on the sexual experiences of children on the precise and detailed records kept by one particular pedophile, which he took at face value. (But was that a scream of pain or an orgasm?)
A British Channel 4 documentary on this controversial research has never been aired in the United States (What’s up, PBS?), but you can see it on YouTube. It’s very good.
You can buy printed editions of some of Crowley’s magickal notebooks, including sex-magick workings, but they probably were not easily available sixty years ago.
Go much beyond this point, however, and you are wading into deep, dark, conspiratorial waters.
Right, a pro-Nazi Jewish conspiracy. It gets better, but you can find your own links.
A less conspiratorial anti-Kinsey movement is still alive and kicking. The Kinsey Institute is still “spinning” and defending itself against allegations of pedophila and underage sexual encounters in Kinsey’s research.
In retrospect Kinsey’s judgment in not anticipating such misinterpretations, and in placing so much emphasis on this one man’s evidence, can be questioned.
Note the use of the passive voice, favored by institutional spokesmen who do not really believe in their own message.
I don’t know if Kinsey ever read Crowley’s notebooks, but the very association is enough for some people to condemn him just for that.
For Kinsey, it was all data. “Kinsey worshiped data,” says one of the people in the documentary. Even Nazi pedophiles.
But I see no evidence that he ever used Crowley’s sex-magick diaries, despite looking for them.
UPDATE: Crowley scholar Marco Pasi tells me that Kenneth Anger did share some of Crowley’s diaries with Kinsey — but is there evidence that Kinsey used them in his writing?