Grand Lodge of Australia


On Sydney’s lower North Shore, a short stroll from the hallowed grounds of North Sydney Oval, home of foundation rugby league club the North Sydney Bears, sits an unassuming, single-storey duplex. In the early decades of the 20th Century, this (then) working-class area was much like any other, although the poet Henry Lawson drank at the local pub, and ‘Crowie’ was home to some thriving Chinese retailing and grocery stores – not at all common at the time.

Lawson lamented the area’s growing lack of community and character:

The Spirit of North Sydney,

The good old time and style,

It camped, maybe, at Crow’s Nest,

But only for a while.

It left about the season,

Or at the time, perhaps,

When old Inspector Cotter

Transferred his jokes and traps.

The good old friendly spirit

Its sorrows would unfold,

When householders were neighbours

And shop-keeping was old;

But now we’re busy strangers,

Our feelings we restrain

The Spirit of North Sydney

Shall never come again!

Lawson was wrong. For Aleister Crowley’s disciple and head of OTO, Frank Bennett, was living in that duplex. Or as Bennett preferred to call it, the Collegium ad Spiritum Sanctum! Plenty of Spirit there!

Bennett is well known in Crowley’s memoirs, literature, and biographies, plus the subject of his own biography by the Australian researcher, Keith Richmond. But what else can we say that is not widely known?

Bennett got around. He was close friends with the undisputed “Queen of Bohemia,” Dulcie Deamer, novelist, poet, journalist, actor, and celebrity. Known affectionately in Deamer’s circle as the “black magician,” she described him as “English, middle-aged, solid, with a dark walrus mustache and kindly, deep, and very steady green eyes, he was, by trade, a plumber… Anybody more simple and direct, more non-flamboyant, with no nonsense about him whatever, I never met…He took his own practice of magic with sober seriousness, quite matter of factly… I do know that the only “spells” he worked were intended to be helpful. He was very well liked by all of us…”