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In any case, Crowley decided to spend some time, which he called a “magickal retirement,” in the local wilderness meditating and working on his translation and commentary for the Tao Te Ching.He had come to America in 1914, and by 1918 was low on funds.
John Burroughs was still alive at the time, and while we have no record of their having met, it’s amusing to speculate what a conversation between these two sages might have been like.
As it turned out, Crowley’s gamble that he would be “fed by ravens” while in his self-imposed isolation paid off.
Curious locals spotted the graffiti and stopped by to chat with the odd man who was sitting on the shore in the lotus position for hours at a time.
When it was all over, Crowley claimed to have experienced some profound mystical revelations on Esopus Island, and went on to further adventures in Sicily, Leipzig, Lisbon and back to England, where he died in 1947 — of either a respiratory infection or a heroin overdose, depending on which biography you believe.
Since those times, the memory of the famed magician’s visit has mostly faded from accounts of local history, but students of his career have come back to comb the island for traces of Crowley’s sojourn.