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The Battle of Blythe Road (ブライスロードの戦い Buraisurōdo no Tatakai?) was an incident which occurred in April 1900, in which Aleister Crowley occupied the Golden Dawn's most important ceremonial ground and armory at 36 Blythe Road, Hammersmith, setting off a conflict within the cabal which he used to destroy it.[1][2]

BackgroundEdit

The Golden Dawn was founded in the latter half of the 19th century by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, William Wynn Westcott and William Robert Woodman. The organization's goal was to discover a unified theory to explain the truths of the world and to construct a magical work kit that brought endless possibilities for magicians. During the cabal's foundation, Westcott forged a letter supposedly from a higher being called Anna Sprengel, in order to give the organization more prestige.[3][2]

Eventually Woodman retired due to old age, leaving Mathers and Westcott in control of the cabal. The Golden Dawn flourished under their leadership, though its members still met in secret most of the time and often suffered from financial difficulties. Westcott in particular had to keep his involvement a secret due to his position as a Scotland Yard coroner. Mathers and Westcott had conflicting views on how the cabal and magic should proceed. Westcott advocated tradition and saw a need to compromise, while Mathers wished to see progress, even if it meant going into areas considered taboo and heretical at the time. Mathers in particular wanted his name to be the one associated with the products of the Golden Dawn's research. Eventually, the Golden Dawn eventually came to be divided between them, though neither faction had complete control over the organization as a whole.[4][5]

Aleister Crowley was scouted and brought into the cabal by Mathers, who intended to use the man's talents for his own purposes. Westcott was reluctant to have Aleister enter the cabal and others held similar sentiments.[4][5] Even among the Golden Dawn, many of Aleister's ideas were seen as extreme.[6][7] There was one man in the cabal however who approached Aleister without ulterior motives; Allan Bennett, a friend and teacher whom Aleister would call his one true mentor.[8]

Bennett would eventually foretell the death of Aleister's future daughter - the result of "sparks" produced by the colliding phases. He told Aleister that the Golden Dawn's activities played a large role in this and how they were aware of the phenomena but continued regardless, believing the treasure in Blythe Road would protect them from the effects. With Aleister resolving to take action against the cabal in order to save his daughter's life and out of revenge, Bennett warned Aleister about the measures and consequences that would be involved in destroying and cursing the Golden Dawn. Having passed his Spiritual Tripping and the Blasting Rod on to Aleister, Bennett told Aleister to kill him as he too was a member of the Golden Dawn and Aleister reluctantly complied.[8]

The BattleEdit

The conflict began with Aleister launching an attack on Mathers. A magical battle ensued with both sides being evenly matched. The battle ended when Mathers called in reinforcements, including Dion Fortune, Paul Foster Case, Arthur Edward Waite and Robert William Felkin, and Aleister retreated, having achieved his real objective; obtaining a sample of Mathers' blood.[2]

Following his confrontation with Mathers, Aleister used the sample of his blood to produce a forged document with his supposed orders. He then proceeded to 36 Blythe Road, Hammersmith, the Golden Dawn's most important ceremonial ground. Forcing his way into the building, he swept aside the magicians maintaining and inspecting the equipment, sealed the exits and holed up inside. Aleister also retrieved a number of tools from the armory, including the spiritual item referred to as Blythe Road's Treasure, an arrow made out of a right hand bearing Imagine Breaker. While in the office area, Aleister was contacted by Mathers via Automatic Writing and revealed his intentions in obtaining Mathers' blood to forge a document from him and make the Westcott faction believe that Mathers ordered Aleister to occupy Blythe Road.[2]

A furious Westcott and his faction subsequently confronted Mathers at his headquarters (nowhere near London). Mathers claimed that the document was forged and it was solely Aleister's doing, but couldn't say that the document was forged with the same method which Westcott used to forge a letter from Anna Sprengel, as Westcott was in front of his subordinates and wasn't in a position to openly accept it as doing so would compromise his own position.[2]

Subsequent EventsEdit

Aleister's actions triggered a war between the Mathers and Westcott factions within the Golden Dawn which raged in the darkness of London. Aleister didn't expect or intend for one faction to wipe the other out, taking advantage of the chaos to sneak in and attack members of both sides to fulfil his revenge. Whenever he killed a magician, he planted evidence pointing to the other side being responsible, resupplying from fallen enemies along the way. As the war escalated, further openings arose along with opportunities to secretly enter areas normally unreachable.[2]

Aleister (Golden Dawn)

Aleister moves to cut down Mathers

Eventually an opportunity arose for Aleister to take out the founders and he killed Westcott with the arrow bearing Imagine Breaker, before turning his attention to Mathers. Mathers managed to repel the arrow, at the cost of his arm and many of his symbolic weapons, and it was destroyed. However in focusing on protecting himself from the arrow, he made the fatal mistake of not paying attention to his real enemy, Aleister, who struck him down with a claymore manifested through Spiritual Tripping, and with it brought his curse upon him. Mathers managed to set off a few more explosions but ultimately Aleister was the one left standing.[2]

AftermathEdit

The conflict brought about the end of the Golden Dawn, though it wasn't a clear and decisive end. The members of the cabal who survived being struck down by Aleister bore a curse which doomed every choice they made from that point forward to failure, condemning them to a life which would spiral downward without ever rising again. The large organization broke apart into many smaller cabals claiming to be its successor, but they all declined and none of them reclaimed the Golden Dawn's former glory. Many people attempted to revive it but all of those attempts were doomed to failure. Despite this, Golden-style cabals continue to exist in the present day and the Golden-style magic which the cabal left behind would form part of the foundation of modern western magic.[2]

Meanwhile, the battle at Blythe Road itself would later become famous enough to be reported by newspapers such as the London Shocking Times.[1]

After destroying the cabal, Aleister would meet Rose Edith Kelly and marry her. She would help him in his magical research as an assistant, including during the summoning of Aiwass, where the entity conveyed to Aleister through her mouth what would become the Book of the Law. Eventually, Aleister's first daughter Lilith was born. Aleister stopped his magical research in order to assist with the birth and protect his unstable wife and child. Once they were stabilized, to make up for lost time, he set out to a great mountain to accomplish a certain goal in his efforts to overturn his daughter's fate. Despite Aleister's efforts, Lilith died a sudden death from illness - the result of the "sparks" from the clashing phases, just as foretold. Aleister learned of Lilith's death by letter just after accomplishing his goal at the mountain. Being unable to save Lilith despite his best efforts and denied being able to be by his daughter's side in the final moments of her short life, Aleister thoroughly gave up on the laws of God that he had already cursed since childhood, coming to hate and curse the destiny of the entire world. From there on, Aleister's life would continue downhill without ever rising again.[3] He was deported several times and was unable to maintain an environment for major magical research.[2]

Eventually, in accordance with the rules he had chosen to follow, Aleister turned his blade and the curse on himself. To the majority of the world, he died on British soil in 1947. However he actually survived with Heaven Canceller's help and the two would go on to found Academy City, where Aleister's plan would continue - a plan which was designed to continue in a single direction towards a single outcome, regardless of success or failure and regardless of how many setbacks occurred.[2][7]

With the arrow's destruction, Imagine Breaker moved on and eventually resurfaced in the right hand of Kamijou Touma. In order to draw in its bearer and draw out their potential, Aleister modelled Academy City following the conditions required for the purpose.[2][9]

Mathers' name would be eclipsed by that of Aleister Crowley in history, however at some point before his death, he had summoned the demon Coronzon and given it one command; to pretend to have been summoned by Aleister and guide him to ruin. After appearing to Aleister in Egypt and failing to possess him, Coronzon travelled to England, hidden in a mountain of papyrus, and would eventually possess Aleister's second daughter Lola. Assuming the last name Stuart, from Mathers' desire to restore the Stuart dynasty, Coronzon would secretly manipulate events from the shadows, in the role of Archbishop of Necessarius, in order to carry out the command binding it.[10]

TriviaEdit

As noted by Kamachi in the afterword of Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index Volume 18, the Toaru version of the Battle of Blythe Road differs from the real-life one in a number of ways, though both occurred in April 1900 and both were key incidents in the series of events leading the breakup of the Golden Dawn. Nature of magic aside, these are some of the differences between the real Battle of Blythe Road and the Toaru version:

  • Mathers was in Paris at the time of the events rather than London and Aleister was still affiliated with him, their fallout not occurring until several years after the breakup of the Golden Dawn. Mathers was the leader of the Golden Dawn, however there was growing dissatisfaction with Mathers' leadership among the London temple and his affiliation with Aleister played a part of this. Mathers' decision to promote Aleister against the decision of the London temple officials was the last straw and in a meeting on March 29th 1900, they voted to expel him from the order.
  • Not long afterwards, on April 19th 1900, W.B. Yeats and several other magicians were present in 36 Blythe Road, Hammersmith when they apparently came under astral siege from Aleister Crowley, wielding a ceremonial dagger and wearing a black Osiris mask and kilt. Aleister's goal was to claim the temple and the contents of its vault, ostensibly on Mathers' behalf. There are varying accounts of the events which followed and as Kamachi mentioned, things are a bit messy. Some accounts claim Aleister entered the premises and climbed some stairs to attack Yeats and others but was pushed back down by them. Others state that he was escorted out of the building by a bouncer or the police. Some have it that he was barred access to the premise and attempted unsuccessfully to get the help of a passing constable to get in.
  • Accounts from both sides claim they won the spiritual battle. Regardless because the police got involved, the matter went to court which ended in favor of the London temple (apparently because they paid the rent for the place). Some accounts claim that further astral attacks between the two sides occurred after the battle. The schisms resulting from the incident eventually led to the breakup of the Golden Dawn. A few years later, the relationship between Mathers and Crowley also began to break down.

ReferencesEdit

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