Wilfred Talbot Smith

English Thelemite (1885–1957) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wilfred Talbot Smith (born Frank Wenham; 8 June 1885 – 27 April 1957) was an English occultist and ceremonial magician known as a prominent advocate of the religion of Thelema. Living most of his life in North America, he played a key role in propagating Thelema across the continent.

Quick facts: Wilfred Talbot Smith, Born, Died, Occupation,...
Wilfred Talbot Smith
Frank Wenham

(1885-06-09)9 June 1885
Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom
Died27 April 1957(1957-04-27) (aged 71)
Malibu, California, United States
SpouseHelen Parsons

Born the illegitimate son of a domestic servant and her employer in Tonbridge, Kent, Smith migrated to Canada in 1907, where he went through a variety of jobs and began reading about Western esotericism. Through Charles Stansfeld Jones he was introduced to the writings of Thelema's founder, Aleister Crowley. He subsequently joined Crowley's Thelemite order, the A∴A∴, and the Thelemite wing of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). In 1915, he joined the O.T.O.'s British Columbia Lodge No. 1, based in Vancouver, and rose to become one of its senior members.

In 1922 Smith moved to Los Angeles in the United States, where he, Jane Wolfe, and Regina Kahl tried to establish a new Thelemite community. They founded an incorporated Church of Thelema which gave weekly public performances of the Gnostic Mass from their home in Hollywood. Seeking to revive the inactive North American O.T.O., in 1935 Smith then founded the O.T.O. Agape Lodge, which subsequently relocated to Pasadena. He brought a number of prominent Thelemites into the O.T.O., including Jack Parsons and Grady Louis McMurtry, but he had a strained relationship with both Crowley and Crowley's North American deputy, Karl Germer, who eventually ousted him from his position as Agape Lodge leader, replacing him with Parsons. Smith retreated to Malibu, where he continued to practice Thelema until his death.