A secret society founded by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) comprised of three orders: the Silver Star, the Rosy Cross, and the Golden Dawn. This society is also described as the Great White Brotherhood, although that is a term more properly applied by Theosophists. The initials A∴A∴ indicate Argenteum Astrum, and the triangle of dots signify a secret society connected with ancient mysteries.
During his period in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (GD), Crowley believed that he had reached the exalted stage of the Silver Star and was thus a Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn. After 1906 Crowley launched his own order of the Silver Star, or A∴A∴ , using rituals and teachings taken from the Golden Dawn.
In March 1909 he began publishing the magazine the Equinox, as the official organ of the A∴A∴ , including rituals of the Outer Order of the Society in the second number. This alarmed members of the Golden Dawn, who wished their rituals to remain secret, and S. L. MacGregor Mathers, one of the Golden Dawn chiefs, took legal action to restrain Crowley from continuing to publish the rituals. Although a temporary injunction was granted, Mathers did not have funds to contest an appeal setting this aside, and Crowley continued to publish his own version of GD secret rituals.
In addition to the publicity from this legal action, Crowley also gained additional notice through public performance of "the Rites of Eleusis" at Caxton Hall, University of London, in 1910. This ceremony comprised seven invocations of the gods, with dancing by Crowley's disciple Victor Neuburg, violin playing by Leila Waddel (named by Crowley as his "Scarlet Woman"), and recital of Crowley's poems. The performances were impressive, if bewildering to ordinary members of the public, who were charged a fee of five guineas a head. Not surprisingly, in the prudish atmosphere of the time, there were sharp criticisms of such a daring presentation.
A hostile review of the Rites appeared in the journal the Looking Glass, mocking the lyrics as "gibberish." In a further issue, the Looking Glass published sensational allegations about Crowley and his associates Allan Bennett and George Cecil Jones. In response, Jones sued the journal in 1911, and Crowley obtained considerable publicity through the court hearing. Although Crowley must have reveled in such public attention, he lost several friends through it, in particular his disciple J. F. C. Fuller, who had written the eulogy of Crowley titled The Star in the West (1907).
Meanwhile, Crowley had joined another secret order, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which strongly emphasized the power of sex magic. After Crowley departed to the United States toward the end of 1914, the A∴A∴ ceased working as a group in London.
King, Francis. Ritual Magic in England: 1887 to the Present Day. London: Neville Spearman, 1970.
Suster, Gerald. The Legacy of the Beast. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1989.
Symonds, John. The Great Beast: The Life and Magick of Aleister Crowley. London: Macdonald, 1971. Rev. ed. London: Mayflower, 1973.
——. The King of the Shadow Realm. London: Duckworth, 1989.
AA • abbr. ∎ Alcoholics Anonymous. ∎ antiaircraft. ∎ administrative assistant. ∎ Associate of Arts. ∎ a 1.5-volt dry cell battery size.
aa / ˈäˌä/ • n. Geol. basaltic lava forming very rough jagged masses with a light frothy texture. Often contrasted with pahoehoe.