Having read this book, I can say that I find Aleister Crowley absolutely repugnant on every level. I believe he was a sociopath, in the textbook sense. I won't go into any details of his life to support this because, frankly, the thought wearies me. (Do check out the link. Crowley's life provides dozens of examples for each and every point listed in the definition of sociopath.)
A few impressions:
1) I found out where the pervading Bible imagery comes from -- his parents were involved in an extreme Protestant group called Plymouth Brethren, and as a child he was allowed to read only the Bible, thus his young imagination was peopled only by images from this source. He was never able to shake them. This also explains his strange obsession with rebelling against Christianity. (Had he been born in the modern era when no one cared what you believed, he could have ended up taking an entirely different path indeed. It wouldn't have been normal, but...)
2) His mother had some serious issues herself, and took to calling him 'Beast' (yes, after the anti-Christ) when he was naughty. That helped!
3) He was introduced to buggery (as they called it) at boarding school at a very young age -- his first roommate was a rent boy to the other students! He also thought at least for a time that he was a hermaphrodite, because of his homosexual feelings and his podgy breasts, which were caused ofcourse by baby fat.
4) He came into a fortune at 21 and never held down a job in his entire life. He did manage to squander the fortune by 1914 and then lived on the money he could convince his followers to contribute.
5) He had an outrageous ego, completely narcissistic, with a tremendously overdeveloped sense of entitlement. I could provide some jaw-dropping quotations, but I won't.
6) He was intelligent, fluent in several languages, and extremely well-read in occult and magical subjects.
7) He seems to have been irresistably attractive to psychologically fragile and vulnerable people. They attached themselves to his life continuously, and he used them accordingly.
8) His magical practices revolved around his own personal sexual tastes and perversities, which were legion, and invariably involved drug use. Nothing that can be imagined was out of bounds to him. He took no personal responsibility about the consequences of his actions. In fact, he seemed to want to push himself to do things that are against human nature (and the gag reflex).
In essence, it's my opinion that he was, as I said before I even read the book, a pompous twat. I can now amend that to 'pompous twat on an epic scale defying all reason'.
Funnily enough, as I said in a previous post, the more I have learned about his life, his 'magic', etc, the less sinister and dangerous I find the Thoth Tarot. Yes, I believe Crowley was a very nasty man. But he has been demystified, and so his deck does not feel dangerous to me anymore.
At least that's how I'm feeling today. :)
[Try this. Freaked me out and everyone I've shown it to. Look at the photo of the cover of the book above. Use your hand to cover over the right side of Crowley's face (the one that's on the left side of the photo). Study the uncovered half of his face. It seems amiable enough, even rather handsome, like an aged Robert Redford, dimple and everythig. Then switch, cover over the left side of Crowley's face and look at the right (the side you had covered first). Good lord! Psycho eye! Cue the scary music! Entertain and startle your friends with this, 'Nice guy, crazy guy' trick. I know, no one's face is symmetrical, but wow.]