Crowley and Skeat

Walter W Skeat in 1888 issued what was then considered the pinnacle of philogical research in four volumes called An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language.  Later in 1910 it was revised, enlarged, and reset into one book. It remained unsurpassed until Oxford in 1966 issued their Dictionary of English Etymology. Our Prophet, the Saint Sir Aleister Crowley referred to it as his dear old Skeat.

Etymology is from the Greek and meaning true sense of speech, account reason. And who wouldn’t want to know this? Our Prophet, the Saint Sir Aleister Crowley tell us:

“The fact is that very few of us know what words mean; fewer still take the trouble to enquire.  We calmly, we carelessly assume that our minds are identical with that of the writer, at least on that point; and then we wonder that there should be misunderstandings!”

Crowley refers to Skeat frequently in his writings and tell his students:

“Indeed, I want you to go even further; make sure of what is meant by even the simplest words. Trace the history of the word with the help of Skeat’s Etymological Dictionary.  ..  This will soon give you the power of discerning instantly when words are being used to hide meaning or lack of it.”

Crowley is well known for carefully choosing his words. If we want to understand the true sense of what he wrote, shouldn’t we use the same tool he so heartily recommended?

Whether you agree with him and want to implement his program, or even disagree with him, don’t you have to understand what he meant before you can do so?

Right now there are about several copies of the same edition Crowley likely used in glorious hardcover available on ABEBOOKS. Make one yours today!

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