At the funeral of the infamous, Lord Lester Rowley, a young newspaper reporter is told about Rowley’s life story from Rowley’s old friend, Lord Greyhall. Lord Greyhall recounts Rowley’s mischievous childhood, colored by regular beatings from his Priest-father, and an insatiable interest in magic and the occult as a young man.
Rowley rises through the ranks of magicians at the ‘Order of the Golden Dawn’, an occultist order attracting many of the celebrities and creative talents of the period, including Arthur Conan Doyle and William Butler Yeats. At one point in the Golden Dawn, Rowley and his associate, Macgregor Dathers attempt to take over the Order, trying to direct it toward a new and darker levels. However, when the Order’s leaders pressure Rowley and Dathers to leave their cult. So Dathers and Rowley decide to move to Paris to form their own new Order.
During his travels through Europe in the1920s, Rowley encounters many young artists and writers of the times, such a Somerset Maugham, Alfred Stieglitz, and Ernest Hemmingway. Some are fascinated by Rowley’s knowledge of the occult, others are frightened by it.
While staying at Dathers’ mansion in Paris, he and Rowley invoke a spirit’s guidance on how to proceed with forming their new Order. Then Dathers is visited by a beautiful young man called, ‘Horus’ who claims to be a reincarnation of occultist legend ‘Eliphas Levi’. Rowley is sceptical of ‘Horus’ and his claims, but Dathers takes his arrival as a sign sent from the spirit world, and invites ‘Horus’ and his wife to move into his mansion with him. Rowley and Dathers have a heated argument about the couple, which results in Rowley leaving Paris. He would eventually return to Paris, but he and Dathers would have a bitter argument which ends with Dathers and Rowley unleashing curses and demonic attacks upon one another, until Dathers’ death.
Over the years Rowley would grow more eccentric and daring in his pursuits of the occult, as he dabbles in drugs to help him conjure up spirits. There would be a marriage and divorce, destitution and help of from and old friend that gets him back on his feet again. He uses the funds to set up own new cult in an old abandoned church abbey in Italy, where he proceeds to instruct students in the arts of spirit invocation involving the use of drugs and sexual freedoms. The abbey draws the attention of U.S. movies starlets, famous writers, aristocrats, and celebrities from all over the world. However, things go awry when rumors of sexual orgies and live sacrifices make front pages news in the Italian and American newspapers. Rowley is ordered to leave Italy by order from Mussolini himself after Rowley has been labeled a “Satan Worshipper”. Rowley goes to New York to write his memoirs, but publishers there denounce him as a sexual deviant, and he is once again destitute and broke, and now ravaged by the effects of drug addiction…..
Lords of Magic
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