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The atmospheric 9-minute film above, by Brian Butler, depicts a magical ritual on the grounds of Boleskine House at Loch Ness – a former residence of the infamous magician Aleister Crowley (and later, of rock guitar legend and occult enthusiast Jimmy Page). Most people know of the famous loch only through its alleged resident monster, but the Fortean roots of this Scottish location run deeper than that, as the film above suggests.

Situated in the north of Scotland, Loch Ness is nearly 24 miles in length, and at some points around 300 metres in depth – more than enough to conjure up all sorts of fears in human minds of what may lie beneath. And as paranormal researcher Nick Redfern pointed out in an article in Darklore Volume 2 (Amazon US or Amazon UK), there’s no shortage of weirdness to dip into in the history of the place, including “encounters with UFOs, Men in Black, shape-shifting water-horses known as kelpies, demons, spooks, specters, fairies, and much more.”

In his article, Nick notes the dark history of Crowley’s former residence and the central location it plays in many of the location’s legends:

Originally a hunting lodge for noblemen, Boleskine House was constructed more than two centuries ago on the southern side of the dark loch. During his time at Boleskine, Crowley was engaged in a magical sequence that was designed to create a “knowledge and conversation with the holy guardian angel.” The ritual was an elaborate one, consisting of several weeks of purification and ritual
work for Crowley.

Interestingly, at the site of what is arguably the world’s most famous monster, Crowley’s actions (which included black masses and wild orgies) led to some disturbing phenomena. In his autobiography, Crowley described how the spirits he summoned at Loch Ness got wildly out of hand, causing one housemaid to leave, and a workman to go mad. Crowley also insinuated that he was indirectly responsible for a local butcher accidentally severing an artery and bleeding to death. Crowley had allegedly written the names of demons on a bill from the butcher’s shop.

Across from Boleskine House is a graveyard with a reputation for strange activity, and which was established long before Crowley even set foot on the scene. One legend suggests a tunnel exists linking Boleskine and the graveyard, and that is said to be the haunt of a band of unholy witches.

Crowley’s summoning of strange entities, mixed with the strange legends and folklore surrounding Fortean occurrences at Loch Ness, have led some, including cryptozoologist Richard Freeman, to ask whether the famous occultist’s ritual “worked in a way that Crowley had not foreseen?”

Jimmy Page himself has noted the sulfurous stench that pervades Boleskine House. “A man was beheaded there and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down,” he said in a 1975 interview. “That sort of thing was there before Crowley got there. Of course, after Crowley there have been suicides, people carted off to mental hospitals.”

But in truth, Crowley was late to the party when it comes to trying to harness the demons of Loch Ness. A century previous, in 1833, the Inverness Courier newspaper reported that a local resident, one George MacGregor (alias “Willox the Warlock”) had passed away. As Nick Redfern notes, found among his possessions was a “piece of yellow metal resembling a horse’s bridle, which in the days of yore was sported by a mischievous water Kelpie, who haunts the banks of Loch Ness and Loch Spynie.”

In other words, spirits have been called from the vasty deep of Loch Ness for a long, long time now…

For Nick Redfern’s complete article about Loch Ness, “What Lies Beneath”, see Darklore Volume 2 (Amazon US or Amazon UK).