House of Evil
Malcolm's chilling nights of terror in Beast's lair
As the setting sun slips behind the hills of Loch Ness, lights from crofts and the village of Foyers are a warming sight.
But there's one house locals shun during the dark hours and few will pass on foot.
It's the manor of Boleskine, the former home of Satanist Aleister Crowley - a house said to be full of spirits, that's been a centre for the occult and black magic. Few know the secrets of the "house of evil" and what Crowley did there. Now it's being sold and its custodian for the past 20 years, Malcolm Dent, has agreed to share its mysteries.
Malcolm, a 6ft 3in Londoner, was entrusted with its care by the present owner, pop millionaire Jimmy Page, his great friend from boyhood. When Malcolm arrived, he discovered that the couple who were supposed to be looking after the house were into black magic and had let the place become run down.
Sitting in his study, he said: "I found a magic circle, a pentagram and an altar in the dining room. "It wasn't until later I learned be dining room had been used by Crowley as his temple.
"The last straw came when it became clear the couple had carried out a black magic baptism on their child.
"They left - and Boleskine has been my home ever since."
Malcolm, a former hard-nosed salesman, doesn't give the impression of being afraid of anything. He wasn't - until he went there.
As we looked down the impressive 70ft hall, Malcolm said: "I'd only been here a few weeks and one night, when I was sitting in the lounge, I heard something rumbling along the hallway.
"It was one of these things that makes your hair stand up on the back of your neck!
"When I opened the door and looked, the noise stopped. There was nothing. I shut the door and it started again. It was pretty hairy.
"That's when I decided to find our what I could about the house and Crowley. "The 'thing' in the hall was easy. I was told it's been rolling around the house since shortly after the Battle of Culloden - IT"S LORD LOVAT'S HEAD!"
Malcolm's research showed Lord Lovat was beheaded in the Tower of London.
At that very moment, so it's said, his thoughts were in the Highlands. So how did his head end up in the house, which wasn't even built?
Said Malcolm: "Above Boleskine there's a place called Errogie, which is supposed to be the geographic centre of the Highlands. Boleskine was then the nearest consecrated ground to Errogie and it's thought his soul, or part of it, ended up here.
"Boleskine was built on glebe land in exchange for a new church.
"Crowley mentions it in his autobiography, He says when he put a billiard table in one of the rooms the head took to rolling about on it!"
AS we walked down the hall, Malcolm stopped at an old oak door and added: "That's the bedroom where I had the most TERRIFYING night of my life.
"I was awakened in the early hours and knew something was wrong. I was petrified.
"Whatever was outside was SNORTING, SNUFFLING and BANGING. I thought it was something huge.
"I had a knife on the bedside table and I opened the blade and sat there. The blade was small and wouldn't have done any good but I was so frightened I had to have something to hang on to.
"The noise went on for some time but even when it stopped I couldn't move. I sat on the bed for hours and, even when daylight came, it took lots of courage to open that door.
"WHATEVER WAS THERE WAS PURE EVIL."
He added: "There's something bad about that room. Seemingly, a man committed suicide in it after the war.
"We once had a friend who spent the night there. She awoke in a hell of a state claiming she'd been attacked by some kind of devil."
Then we were off again, down the long hall to " look at the chairs that switch places!"
The seven chairs came from the Cafe Royal, in London, and "belonged" to a famous person with a name-plate on both back and front.
The collection consists of the chairs Crowley, Marie Lloyd, Rudoplph Valentino, art critic James Agate, Sir Billy Butlin, artist William Orpen and sculptor Jacob Epstein.
Malcolm said: "Crowley's chair always sat at top of the table with three others down each side. When we had the chairs repaired and upholstered they were put back in the same places.
"That's when the switching about started. Every so often we'd find Marie Lloyd's at the top of the table.
"WE'D PUT THEM BACK AND IT WOULD HAPPEN AGAIN.
"The chairs are almost identical, apart from the name-plates, and we found that the upholsterer had innocently switched the Lloyd and Crowley ones. Now we let the Lloyd one sit at the top - because we know it's Crowley's."
Malcolm then took me to see the cellar. As we walked down steep stone stairs, the chilling air attacked our faces.
He said: "When my daughter was about three, we kept finding her down in this cellar. She said she went to see the sad lady who was wet with crying.
"This happened SEVERAL times and she always described the lady in the same way - and that she wore a long dress."
"This was another piece of history we had to research and the answer appears to be a lady of some standing who was drowned while crossing the loch to meet her betrothed who owned Boleskine at that time."
Back in the kitchen, Malcolm added: "Any time there's construction work or major redecoration going on, the house doesn't like it.
"Carpets and rugs roll up and heavy doors bang night and day all over the place.
"We've found the answer is to get on with the work quickly. Once the job is finished, the house settles down."
Then Malcolm grinned as he said: "If you're lucky, you might see the house's party piece. The back door, inside double doors and kitchen door suddenly whoosh open.
It's as if someone was racing through them - only it all happens in seconds. When it happens you should see the visitors' faces!"
As much as local folk avoid Boleskine, the place is like a magnet for others worldwide.
We made a short detour to look at Boleskine burial ground, below the house and across the single-track road.
Malcolm said: "In the old days, this was a pretty lawless place.
"The kirk inside the grounds was supposed to have been burned down with the congregation still inside and there's still the little stone watch-house where relatives of the newly buried spent weeks in case the dearly departed was dug up by grave robbers.
"Nowadays, the burial ground is used for occult rituals. People dance about at night with candles and that sort of thing.
Every year scores of unwelcome callers make their way along the road on the south side of Loch Ness to Boleskine, midway between Inverness and Fort Augustus.
Most make a "pilgrimage" for sinister reasons.
They come in small groups, mainly at the times of the solstice and the full moon; Their "hero" is Crowley, self-styled "The Beast 666."
Perhaps the most famous black magician of modern times, Crowley has become a cult figure since his death in Hastings in 1947. The small groups sneak past the massive iron gates that guard the driveway.
There they find geese and peacocks have the run of the grounds ... And, in a field beside the gardens, a herd of GOATS graze!
The conversation in the lounge of Boleskine House had been long and heated.
The subject was the previous owner, Aleister Crowley, The Beast, Black Magician, and a man whose occult powers had enabled him to call up DEMONS and SPIRITS in that very house.
The argument, some time ago, was between Malcolm Dent, Boleskine's custodian for the past 20 years, and a visitor who believed in the occult in general, and Crowley in particular.
The spectacular ending to this debate is best told by Malcolm. "I was pouring cold water on certain things that Crowley was supposed to have done and my companion was taking the opposite view. "Eventually, the conversation died a death. Suddenly there were seconds of silence - neither of us could think of another thing to say.
"THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED.
"In those seconds, a small porcelain figure of the DEVIL sitting on the mantlepiece rose up to the roof and then, at a tremendous speed, smashed itself to smithereens on the fireplace.
"We just stared at one another - and then I began to laugh. There was no doubt in my mind who was responsible. It was Aleister Crowley letting us, and me in particular, know that he's still a force in this house.
It was at Boleskine, Crowley worked on The Book of the Goetia (Howling), which gives instructions on summoning spirits and demons. And it was thought to be so dangerous no one would publish it for years.
Aleister Crowley bought Boleskine in 1899, owning it until the 1920s. He died in Hastings in 1947, aged 72.
Born Edward Alexander Crowley on October 12, 1875, in Warwickshire, he was called Alick, which he hated and he later changed his name to Aleister, the Gaelic for Alexander, which he found romantic.
Malcolm said: "There is a claim that at birth Crowley was found to have four hairs directly over the centre of his heart curling from left to right in the exact form of a swastika which is an ancient mystic symbol."
It was his mother Emily who first called him The Beast, for even as a child she believed he was the Devil incarnate. Crowley later called himself The Beast 666, the description given to the Antichrist in the Book of Revelations.
After leaving Cambridge University Crowley set himself up in a flat in Chancery Lane, London, where he started to practise the black arts and joined a society called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and soon realised he had a talent for magic.
His first task was to establish contact with Aiwass, his Holy Guardian Angel (his true self), for here was the key to the sacred magic of Abra-Melin, an Egyptian magician of ancient times whose teachings Crowley had chosen to follow.
Vital to the operation was the construction of an oratory, or temple, in a secluded place.
The London flat was no good and, after a search, Crowley at last, in August 1899, found Boleskine House, in the hills above Loch Ness, midway between Inverness and Fort Augustus.
Malcolm said: "One of the first things he did was to consecrate the south-west parts of the house. That included the dining room.
"It became his temple - and to him it was the most important room.
"Crowley put a north-facing door into this room, which led on to a terrace of river sand - it's a flower bed today.
"And the spirits and demons Crowley was calling up had to enter from the north over river sand."
To work the Abra-Melin magic was no simple task. The rituals of preparation take six months, starting in Easter and several hundred spirits, many extremely dangerous, have to be evoked to vitalise a talisman to be used as an instrument of power.
As laid down, Crowley built the door and laid out the terrace of river sand which ended with a lodge outside the door where the spirits congregated.
This gave him some protection as the spirits, if thought too dangerous and uncontrollable could be banished before entering the oratory or temple.
Inside the temple room, Crowley built a wooden structure lined with the mirrors he brought from London.
Malcolm said: "During Crowley's preparations hosts of demons were attracted, some of which materialised.
"Throughout the district a great deal of damage was done and local people made detours of several miles through Stratherrick to avoid the house."
One day, Crowley returned to the main house to find a priest in his study. He had come to tell Crowley that his lodge keeper, an abstainer for twenty years, had been raving drunk for THREE DAYS, and had tried to KILL his wife and children.
Despite these local difficulties Crowley carried on. But he was only partially successful. He was to succeed fully a few years later while abroad.
As I prepared to leave Boleskine I asked Malcolm: "What was the last unusual thing you've seen or heard?"
He said: "It was a couple of months ago and I was outside late on filling coal buckets.
"There had been an upheaval getting the house ready for viewing and I had started moving some of my stuff.
"Without warning, and in what I can only describe as a great booming voice, came 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?'
"When I got back inside I was as white as a sheet. That scared me."
So whose voice was it!
Closing the door, Malcolm said: "I think we both know the answer to that!"
Source: Sunday Mail 24/03/1991 and 31/03/1991
Article written by Nick Hunter