Scarlet Woman, Leila Waddell
Crowley’s mistress at the time was a violinist named Leila Waddell. She, Victor Neuberg, and a group of other dramatically skilled people, created a ritual centered around Leila’s violin-playing, Neuberg’s dancing, and other talents. The ritual aimed to invoke Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars. The group decided that enough talent existed for the thing to go public. The public performances were initially in Crowley’s flat at 123 Victoria Street. Later the group rented Caxton Hall. A young woman named Ione de Forest had been hired as a dancer. She was only in her teens, and this was her first experience with the occult. A scandal sheet, the “Looking Glass,” ran a sensational article on “The Rites of Eleusius.” There was suggestion that sexual irregularities had occurred in the semi-darkness.
Captain Fuller, a strong supporter of Crowley, urged suing the newspaper. Crowley thought he’d better not. But George Cecil Jones, a supposedly happily married man with several children, proceeded to do so: the newspaper article suggested that he and Aleister had engaged in some questionable activities. This set the state for one of those great British court trials, a trial that displayed some of the wit and cleverness of the Oscar Wilde trials in the 1890’s. Dr. Berridge remarked that he could not express a view too strongly “…as I see that there are ladies in the court.” Judge Scrutton remarked that any ladies who might be present in that court were surely well beyond such scruples! At one point, Crowley tried to help matters by observing that Judge Scrutton’s name was an anagram for “cunts rot.” The finding of the court was against George Cecil Jones. Captain Fuller bowed out of the association.
The young woman, Ione de Forest (aka Joan Hayes) who had performed in the Rites of Eleusius married a man named Wilfred Merton in December 1911.. Six months later she left the marriage and became the mistress of Victor Neuberg. For some reason, this made Crowley furious. Two months later, Ione de Forest shot herself to death. Neuberg blamed Crowley for putting a spell on her. Crowley seemed to be trying to take the credit, for he had written in “Magick in Theory and Practice” that he had once found it necessary to slay a Circe who was bewitching brethren.
By now, Crowley had battled Mathers in the courts a couple of times. He was beginning to get a following. As a result, he was admitted into many occult and pseudo-masonic groups, including the Order of Eastern Templars, the OTO. Mathers, in court, had declared himself to be the sole chief of the Rosicrucian order. This proclamation angered some occultists–including some cranks–who believed themselves to be the chief of the order.