When many people think of “sex magic” the first name that comes to mind is the legendary, but sinister Aleister Crowley. However, the principles of sex magic were first introduced to North America by an Black-American man named Pachal Beverly Randolph, and according to occultist Author Edward Waite, he established the earliest known Rosicrucian order in the United States. Paschal Beverly Randolph, an early leader of American Rosicrucianism, was born on October 8, 1825, in New York City, the son of William Beverly Randolph and Flora Beverly, a black woman who claimed descent from Madagascan royalty. He was a noted Spokesman for the abolition of slavery in America.
Randolph left home at an early age, due to his mother’s death, leaving him in the arms of poverty. He took to the sea as a means of supporting himself. Due to his work as a seaman, Randolph was able to travel into Europe and the Far East, where he was able to study various forms of religious beliefs, as well as, magic and mysticism. He even claimed to have met and studied with the famous magician Eliphas Levi. Randolph trained as a doctor of medicine and wrote and published both fictional and instructive books based on his theories of health, sexuality, Spiritualism and occultism. He authored more than fifty works on magic and medicine, established an independent publishing company, and was an avid promoter of birth control during a time when it was largely against the law to mention this topic.
Having long used the pseudonym “The Rosicrucian” for his Spiritualist and occult writings, Randolph eventually founded the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, the oldest Rosicrucian organization in the United States, which dates back to the era of the American Civil War. This group, still in existence, today avoids mention of Randolph’s interest in sex magic, but his magico-sexual theories and techniques formed the basis of much of the teachings of another occult fraternity, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, although it is not clear that Randolph himself was ever personally associated with the Brotherhood. Two twentieth century occultists and practitioners of sex magic, Theodor Reuss of Germany and Aleister Crowley of Great Britain, were heavily influenced by Randolph in both organizing Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) and in their rituals.
In 1851, Randolph made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln. Their friendship was close enough that, when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Randolph accompanied Lincoln’s funeral procession in a train to Springfield, Illinois. However, Randolph was asked to leave the train when some passengers objected to the presence of an African-American in their midst.
It is unfortunate that Randolph’s efforts, though heavily influential to occultists that came after his time, like Crowley and Lavey, is not mentioned much around the magical world today, or by the so-called LHP, but we know where the source of many of its teachings are and today we would like to remember one of her true soldiers.