'Boleskine House' Set on Fire as 'Criminal Act of Vandalism'

Authorities believe arson is to blame for the fire that engulfed the Boleskine House.  (The Boleskine House Foundation)

Authorities believe arson is to blame for the fire that engulfed the Boleskine House. (The Boleskine House Foundation)

Verified reports from Scotland yesterday revealed that the infamous ‘Boleskine House’ had been set ablaze, likely as “a criminal act of vandalism.”

“We have received a report and have verified that the remainder of Boleskine House is on fire, as a criminal act of vandalism,” posted the Boleskine House Foundation to social media on July 31st.

Fires were reportedly set in both the Boleskine House and the nearby Coach House. While the Coach House was saved, the remaining roof structure of the Boleskine House collapsed.

Although fire fighters with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service battled the blaze throughout the night, the remainder of the Boleskine House’s interior was also destroyed.

No injuries were reported.

According to a statement by the foundation:

It is with great sadness that we report that the remainder of the building’s interior has now been destroyed, and along with it important historical clues to the features of this important piece of Scottish heritage. We would like to thank the fire fighters who put their lives at risk to save what is left of the building. We can also confirm that this is suspected arson and investigations by the police will be ongoing.

“Our inquiries are at an early stage, although our initial assessment is that this fire was started deliberately,” Detective Inspector Eddie Ross confirmed. “We would encourage anybody who may have seen any activity around Boleskine House or nearby to come forward as soon as they can. It should go without saying that deliberately setting fires is incredibly dangerous as you have limited control over how they may develop.”

Prior to the fire, plans for the property’s development had been moving forward following its purchase by trustees of the Boleskine House Foundation.

The Boleskine House, once owned by infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, rests on the shore of Scotland’s Loch Ness—famed for its monster sightings—and Crowley was said to have purchased the house in order to perform an elaborate ritual invoking his guardian angel. The ritual, which involved abstinence from sex and alcohol, also required Crowley to summon the 12 Kings and Dukes of Hell, in order to bind them and remove their influence from the magician’s life.

Crowley owned the house from 1899 to 1913. Following his ownership it changed hands several times, each time being marked by tragedy—including one owner who used a shotgun to commit suicide in Crowley’s former bedroom—before being bought by musician Jimmy Page in 1970. Page himself was an avid occultist and follower of Crowley.

Page sold the house in 1992, and the house changed hands twice more before being mostly consumed by fire in 2015.

The property was purchased in 2019 by Kyra Readdy, who bought Lots 1 and 3, and William Clifford-Banks, who bought Lot 2.

Readdy and Clifford-Banks are members of a board of trustees belonging to the Boleskine House Foundation, a “not-for-profit group aimed at restoring and maintaining the Boleskine House estate."

“When it comes to heritage property I feel that we are guardians for future generations," Readdy said in a statement on the Boleskine House Foundation website. "It is my privilege and honor to work on this project and to be able to secure the future of the house.”

In a similar statement, Clifford-Banks said “I would like to dispel the negative rumours about Aleister Crowley and restore the estate as a space to host well-being and mindfulness events such as yoga and meditation retreats, and provide a place for lectures, conferences, and even ceremonies.”

The foundation has reportedly been in talks with occult organization Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) regarding the restoration project and the property's use following its completion.

The O.T.O. is an initiatory secret society known to include sexual elements in their magickal practices; founded at the beginning of the 20th century and still active today, Aleister Crowley was perhaps its best known member.

Members of the O.T.O. practice a religion known as Thelema, based on Crowley’s teachings.

Many Thelemites, as followers of Thelema are often known, are claiming religious persecution following the act of arson.

“Our kind have suffered persecution/misunderstanding/harassment and slander over the years often by fundamentalists who fear what they do not understand,” one person commented to the Boleskine House Foundation Facebook page. “However we still rise up after the ashes like a phoenix. We could build on the old site a new Bolskine House, so the history and preservation of the place stays alive, brighter than ever.”

Others quoted a passage from Crowley’s work Liber AL vel Legis, III:34.

But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down & shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place. Another prophet shall arise, and bring fresh fever from the skies; another woman shall awakethe lust & worship of the Snake; another soul of God and beast shall mingle in the globed priest; another sacrifice shall stain the tomb; another king shall reign; and blessing no longer be poured To the Hawk-headed mystical Lord!

The Boleskine House Foundation was quick to remind those with similar concerns that, as of yet, there is no conclusive evidence to point to any specific motivation behind the arson.

“There is no determination of who set the fire,” the foundation responded. “[Certain people are] assuming something but we don’t make any comment on that. We have always been clear that our approach will be secular, people from all religions can visit the house.”

The damage is still being evaluated, but plans to rebuild are moving forward, according to the Boleskine House Foundation.

"The cleanup will still go ahead as planned but we have to survey the damage as well," they said in a statement. "Expect more work for the cleanup."

Security will also likely be a priority for the site moving forward.

The building was uninsured due to previous fire damage, so no insurance funds are forthcoming to recoup any losses caused by this most recent fire. Those who wish to help fund the Boleskine House’s reconstruction may donate at the Gofundme page set up by the Boleskine House Foundation.

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