Mary Desti Sturges (1871 – 1931)
Mary Desti Sturges was born on October 10th, 1871 in Quebec, Canada. She owned a cosmetics firm called Desti Beauty Products and she also owned a New York City studio that sold art, perfume and clothing. She was a close friend of the dancer, Isadora Duncan, and authored her biography, entitled “The Untold Story: the Life of Isadora Duncan.”
Mary Sturges was a passionate, worldly woman, and her personality and magnetism attracted Aleister Crowley. She felt the same profound emotion toward him. He spent the evening sitting cross-legged on the floor, “exchanging electricity with her.” Mary was married four times before meeting Crowley. She was Crowley’s lover from October 1911 through the winter of 1912.
Sturges, or Soror Virakam, was Aleister Crowley´s second of eleven Scarlet Women. Virakam assisted Crowley in establishing the magical link with the praeterhuman minds that inspired him with one of his greatest works, Book 4, or Liber ABA. In November 1911, Crowley carried out a ritual during which he reports being commanded to write Book 4 by an entity named Abuldiz. Abuldiz appeared in Marys visions as an old man with a long white beard, wearing a ring which contained a white feather. Abuldiz communicated that there was a book to be given to Fra. P. (Frater Perduabo = Crowley). The name of the book was Aba, and its number 4. Marys ability as a seer was great, and a record of her oracular talent can be found in The Abuldiz Working.
Mary was also the mother of Preston Sturges — to whom Aleister Crowley referred as “The Brat” or “The Rogue” — who went on to become a famous Hollywood director. As a child, Preston disliked Crowley for his bizarre appearance and unusual activities. Later in life he was quoted as saying: “I realize my mother and I were lucky to escape with our lives. If I had been a little older, he might not have escaped with his.” Which only demonstrates his complete ignorance of the man he loathed.
“My mother was in no sense a liar, nor even intentionally unacquainted with the truth…as she knew it. She was, however, endowed with such a rich and powerful imagination that anything she had said three times, she believed ferverently. Often, twice was enough.” (Preston Sturges)
After being seriously ill for two months, Mary Desti Sturges died of leukemia at her residence in New York City on April 12th, 1931.