A former Satanic temple set up by a British occultist in the 1920s for bloody rituals is still believed to be haunted by a curse, and locals will not go near it.
Aleister Crowley, who went by the name “the Beast 666” was notorious in his lifetime as a supposed devil worshiper, and scandalised Edwardian Britain with his open drugtaking, bisexuality, and mockery of religion.
He started a commune in a villa in Italy called the Abbey of Thelema.
Everyone who lived there was encouraged to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to do it.
Despite its hippy-sounding message, this was still nearly five decades before the Summer of Love.
They took drugs , had orgies together, and let their children run around the grounds naked.
One of the rooms in the villa was called The Chamber of Nightmares.
Crowley painted terrifying images on the walls and encouraged his followers to take hallucinogenic drugs such as mescaline and stare at the frightening images as they hallucinated.
He claimed if they did this, they would lose the fear of anything.
Locals in the quiet town of Cefalù, Sicily were scandalised by the behaviour at the abbey, and to this day, many claim it is haunted by a curse.
The rituals were rumoured to get more and extreme until some claimed Crowley and his followers even took part in bestiality and animal sacrifice.
One follower, Leah Hirsig, who was also one of Crowley’s lovers, had a nervous breakdown while staying at the Abbey.
Writing in her diary in 1921, she said: “I dedicate myself wholly to the great work. I will work for wickedness. I will kill my heart. I will be shameless before all men. I will freely prostitute my body to all creatures.”
She later went to the British press and told them that one of Crowley’s followers died after drinking the blood of a cat they had sacrificed.
The 23-year-old Raoul Loveday died at the abbey in 1923.
However, later, some argued that the man had, in fact, died after drinking dirty water from a nearby stream.
Italian authorities of the country’s fascist dictator Mussolini forced the followers out of the villa and banned them from ever returning in April 1923.
The building has been abandoned ever since, with many still claiming that it’s haunted.
Pictures of the temple show that many of Crowley’s satanic murals were whitewashed over, but much of the building has been left untouched for 89 years.
In one room, devotees to Crowley have created a bizarre shrine with the remains of the murals.
The old Chamber of Nightmares can still be seen, with the remains of a Satanic altar where Crowley’s disciples carried out their rituals.
Along the wall are painted lines from a poem Crowley wrote for Leah Hirsig.
It reads: “Stab your demoniac smile to my brain! Soak me in cognac, c**t and cocaine.”
Crowley died in 1947 of chronic bronchitis aged 72, after decades of drug and alcohol addiction.
His extraordinary life went on to inspire many people in popular culture.
Science fiction author L Ron Hubbard new Crowley and is believed to have been partly inspired by him to create his religion of Scientology.
Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osborne wrote his 1980 hit Mr Crowley about the occultist.
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page bought Boleskine, Crowley’s former Scottish manor house near Loch Ness in 1971, and filmed part of the band’s The Song Remains the Same movie in the grounds.
Crowley’s motto “Do What Thou Wilt” was also inscribed on the vinyl of Led Zeppelin’s 1970 album Led Zeppelin III.
He was included as one of the figures on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover in 1967 — he can be seen second from the left on the back row.