Aleister Crowley is perhaps the world's most infamous occultist, and this now-overgrown stone ranch-style house with hallways full of dark pagan frescoes was once the world capital of his satanic orgies. Or so it was reported in the 1920s. Crowley is now known for his famous fans, including Jimmy Page and Marilyn Manson, and the fact that he appears on the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. He founded the Abbey of Thelema—named after a utopia described in Rabelais' Gargantua whose motto is "Do as thou wilt"—in 1920 in the beach town of Cefalù, Sicily. It became a free-love commune with a dark side: Newcomers were forced to spend the night in the "Chamber of Nightmares," where, high on hashish and opiates, they stared at frescoes of earth, heaven, and hell. After a British society dandy named Raoul Loveday died of a fever contracted at the Abbey, the press had a field day, leading an embarrassed Benito Mussolini to expel the commune in 1923. Notorious underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger unearthed the compound in 1945 and made a movie there, although mysteriously the film was subsequently lost. The Abbey is now a collapsed semi-ruin, overrun with vegetation, but inside there are some original hellish frescoes that Crowley used to scare his disciples into shape. Intrepid and esoterically minded visitors visiting Sicily can wander the grounds and get some vibes, though no official tours are available.
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