Comments to the Kenneth Grant document

Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis
posted in March 1998

Joyce Martin, 4 July 1998

"I have a diploma in graphology from the British Institute of Graphologists, and am a member in a good standing of that body. The diploma takes three years to achieve, with annual examinations. Comparison of questioned documents is part of the syllabus. My papers are used by the B.I.G. as model answers for other advanced students. I have been qualified since late 1995 and have given testimony in court. Prior to this, I worked for 21 years as an architectural technician, which also involved scrutiny of visual detail having gained a BA in Architectural Studies with highest honours.

... I could draw your attention to the matter of the baselines. In all Crowley's writing, the baselines fall, often very markedly. Not only this, but the ends of the words fall as well. This may have several meanings, but does tend to indicate low spirits, pessimism, even depression, along with tiredness, and perhaps illness. The fact that the end words within the line fall as well, shows that the underlying attitude is the same, not different. However, the baselines of the questiond document have ends of words that rise, and the baselines have a tortuous quality that reveals a real struggle to maintain a falling baseline. It would indicate an underlying optimism, enthusiasm, energy, and buyoant health, which is not what one would expect in someone close to death.
Regarding the point that Crowley was not used to writing at the end of his life, and that he was usually in a drugged state, the questioned document has confidence of line, and a look of energy, strength, and vigour which is not present in the writing done while under the influence of drugs, which appears weak and uncertain, with many amendments and goings-over. ...

... I conclude that it is unlikely that the questioned document was written by Aleister Crowley.
The known writing of Aleister Crowley displays very few similarities to that of the questioned document. Enclosed are working notes showing the detailed comparisons made, with varying weights given to each trait according to its significance. In the writing done under the influence of drugs, there appears to be a 23% similarity in all traits compared, but more significantly, 29% similarity in the traits which are difficult to change. This is a very low degree of similarity, and it is not enough to indicate that the two writers are the same person.
In the rather calligraphic writings of 1900-14, there is 37% similarity in all traits compared, and 48% in the traits which are difficult to change. While more similar, this is not enough to conclude that the writer was Aleister Crowley.

Comments ... The writing done under the influence of narcotics shows some differences from other samples of known writings, but these differences are not traits seen in the questioned document. Under narcotics, Crowley's writings displays:
  1. Much more irregularity of pressure and variation in thickness of line
  2. Much more uncertainty of line, including amendments, crossing out, touching up, and writing over. Tremor is not present.
Traits which are difficult to change remain unchanged and fundamentally different from the questioned document. These are:
  1. Fairly straight falling baseline, with ends of words falling, rather than rising
  2. Lean lower zone, mostly sticks, rather than loops
  3. Full upper zone loops, rather than retracings or lean loops
  4. Proportion of zones to each other, middle zone being much the smallest
  5. Roundness of forms and connections, rather than angularity
  6. The spacing between the letters, which is medium and regular, rather than irregular
The writing of the questioned document displays great certainty of line, with no amendments, crossing out, writing over, or touching up. There is the occasionaly jerky involuntary tremor, which is not present in the known samples. The variations in thickness of line are not so marked as in the known samples, and are fairly evenly distributed throughout the writing, with the upstrokes being thinner than the downstrokes (an indication of good physical co-ordination), rather than wide strokes being concentrated in all strokes of some whole words, as in the writing done while under narcotics. The roundness of all forms, even in the drugged state, is in marked contrast to the angularity of forms in the questioned document.

.... The similarity between these samples and the questioned document is 37% in all traits compared, and 48% in traits which are difficult to change, which is not enough to conclude common authorship. The fact that this is more controlled, well co-ordinated, self conscious, and rather affected writing, done more than three decades before Crowley's death, when he must have been in better health, is more similar to the questioned document than either the later samples or the writing done whole under influence of drugs, as he is said often to have been toward the end of his life, points towards the questioned document being an artifice." ...

This is the opinion of an expert in manuscripts who has examined the original document in March 1998

The expert was provided with additional original documents for comparison purposes.
The expert is totally impartial. (S)he is not a member of any occult organisation nor does (s)he have any interest, or derive any benefit from, either the content of the document or the document itself.
The content of the document was not considered by the expert. The opinion is based solely on the physical characteristics.

For personal reasons, this expert wants to remain anonymous.

"It is impossible exactly replicating paper, the effects of age and quality, and also the duplication of conditions of wax seals.
The age, style and size of the notepaper appears consistent with other documents written by Crowley. The handwriting and signature appear to be genuine (any slight inconsistencies can be attributed to the fact that Crowley was dying and taking copious amounts of drugs). The wax seal is identical to other examples.
In addition, the wax seal is clearly of an age consistent with the purported age of the document: with the passage of time, portions of the edge of the seal have cracked and fallen off. Underneath is some staining of the paper by the red wax, which does not occur when the wax is fresh. The wax seal is also over the signature, so if the seal is the right age, then the writing must also be the right age.
In the unlikely event that it is a forgery, then it is an extremely good 50 year old forgery, done on Crowley's on notepaper, in Crowley's handwriting, and sealed with Crowley's own ring. Who would have bothered, or had any reason, or had the means, to forge such a document at that time?"

This is the opinion of above expert in manuscripts after having read the comments by Joyce Martin

13 July 1998:
"I am not a graphologist, so I cannot argue with the lady's findings, except to remind you that graphology is not an exact science, and any number of factors may affect an individuals handwriting, on even a daily basis. In particular, drugs may give one an extra spurt of energy, or may make one lethargic. Even a signature on two documents written consecutively can be inconsistent. Do also bear in mind that the graphologist has not worked from originals.

However, I wish to affirm that the information I gave to you previously is absolutely true. The fact remains that the writing is on Crowley's original notepaper, and is sealed with Crowley's ring, both of which could not possibly have been faked.
Again, the age of the paper is consistent with it being a 50 year old document.

Let us consider the implications of any claim that the document is a forgery.
Firstly, what if it is a recent forgery, executed on an original blank sheet of Crowley's old notepaper, and sealed with Crowley's ring? In which case, we must ask "who possesses these items today?" The answer to that is obvious; it is the so-called "Caliphate" OTO. But why on earth would they forge a document that destroys their claim to the leadership? Unless it is a deliberate attempt to make it appear that the "Typhonian" OTO is resorting to forgery to prove Grant's claim to leadership! Which, if you ask me, is a highly complicated and unlikely scenario.
The other alternative is that it was forged by someone in the "Typhonian" OTO. This seems at first sight a likely explanation as they would be the main beneficiaries of the document. But they do not have access to Crowley's ring or paper, so would be physically unable to do it, even if they were so inclined. And why should they? Grant's claim to the leadership is stronger than the "Caliph's", so the Typhonians would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by producing a forged document.

It is interesting to note that neither OTO has yet publicly offered any comment on the document. I suspect therefore, that the existence of the document came as a complete surprise to both OTO's.

If it is not Crowley's own notepaper or seal, then someone has managed to fake Crowley's notepaper, duplicating EXACTLY the Order seal, the type, size and weight of paper, and the slight foxing to the paper due to age, and has somehow managed to obtain a cast or copy of Crowley's seal ring, from which they have constructed an exact copy of a wax seal, including the chemical staining of the paper. If someone were to go to all this effort and undoubted expense, why would they then do such a poor job of forging the handwriting? Surely, to such an accomplished forger, the handwriting would be the easiest part? And then, there is the matter of its discovery; If someone had really gone to all this trouble, then why not also concoct a perfect story, with no flaws or room for doubt? And the obvious question then, of course, is "Why"? If someone is such an accomplished forger, then why waste time and effort forging worthless documents, when they could be forging Beethoven's manuscripts or Hitler's diaries? This theory makes absolutely no sense!

But this is all highly unlikely, because on the original document the wax seal has stained the paper underneath, a chemical reaction that only occurs over a long period of time. We must therefore, I believe, discount the idea that this is a recent forgery.

If we assume then, that it is a 50 year old forgery, and that persons unknown, immediately after Crowley's death, forged this document using a blank piece of Crowley's notepaper, and sealed it with Crowley's ring, the questions that must be asked are:
Who, at the time of Crowley's death, had access to his belongings? Would this person or persons have been capable of forging such a document? If so, would they have been the same persons likely to benefit from such a document?

The obvious beneficiary is Kenneth Grant. But Grant had left Crowley's employ 3 years prior to Crowley's death, so he could not have forged it, as he would not have had access to Crowley's belongings.

Perhaps John Symonds could have forged it, but why should he make the beneficiary a man (Grant) he did not even know at that time?

Gerald Yorke, or Louis Wilkinson, or Lady Harris may be the culprits, but again, why should they? What benefit would they personally gain from such an act?

Remember also, that at the time of Crowley's death, the position of OHO was not in dispute. Even according to Crowley's Will, witnessed by some of the above, Crowley had named Germer as his successor.
If Grant, or anyone friendly with him, had forged or been aware of this document at the time of Crowley's death, surely Grant would have contested Crowley's Will? Yet, Grant was acknowledging Germer as his superior well into the 1950s, despite Germer's own protestations that he was not the OHO. Grant did not claim the position of OHO until after Germer's death.
Furthermore, if Grant had even known of the existence of this document prior to its recent discovery, he would surely have used it to support his own claim to the leadership when that claim was disputed by McMurtry/Breeze and Motta.

To get at the truth, I think that one must view this document in its historical context. It seems obvious to me that, while it could be argued that some members of Crowley's circle perhaps had the means to forge this document, and some perhaps had a motive (although what that motive may have been considering the leadership was not in dispute until the mid 1970s, is anybody's guess), none had BOTH. To me, this argues for its authenticity. From the actions of the principal people concerned subsequent to Crowley's death, I believe it can be ascertained that none of them knew of the existence of this document, otherwise at least one of them would have made some mention of it, whether they knew or thought it was a forgery or not.

Finally, there remains also the possibility that Crowley dictated the document to another person, and merely signed and sealed it. However, I do not personally believe this, as the handwriting (whatever doubts there may be about it) is still too similar to Crowley's. The chances of someone else's handwriting being naturally so similar are unlikely. Nevertheless, the possibility cannot be completely discounted.

Everything considered, there is no doubt in my mind that the document is genuine, regardless of what anyone may think about bad handwriting.

P.S. It may be possible to have another independent expert examine the original. If this happens, I will keep you informed."

In April 1998, Joyce Martin was asked to compare the Grant-document with the handwriting of Kenneth Grant

This is her comment, 27 April 1998:

"The highly affected forms of capitals A, F, G, H, K, and L are the obvious and easy items for a forger to imitate, so may be disregarded. There is evidence, that in Kenneth Grant's writing of his own correspondence, he often imitated Crowley's capitals, including the T connected to h, and the highly idiosyncratic A. On the other hand, the elaborately looped capital O of the questioned document is nowhere to be seen in the available writing of Crowley or Kenneth Grant:

The writing of Kenneth Grant displays a 39% similarity to that of the questioned document, but more significantly, 45% similarity in the traits which are difficult to change. This is unusually high for two different writers, yet not quite high enough to conclude that the two writers are the same person. If it had been Kenneth Grant trying to imitate the writing of Crowley, he would not have introduced traits which occur neither in Crowley's or Kenneth Grant's writing, such as the full lower loops. The questioned document bears very little resemblance to Crowley's writing, and more nearly appears to be an imitation of Kenneth Grant's handwriting than that of Crowley."

About the alleged provenance of this document
back to the document in question

Starfire - Magazine of the Typhonian Order - Apology - Issue 2-3 Michael Staley's Apology

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