The Rose

Rose Edith Kelly (1874 – 1932)

Rose Edith KellyRose Edith kelly was born at 78 Cambridge Terrace, Paddington, England, to parents Frederic Festus Kelly and Blanche Bradford Kelly. She was the oldest of three children, her siblings being Eleanor Constance Mary and Gerald Festus.

In 1880, the family moved to Camberwell Vicarage, where her father served as the curate for the Parish of St. Giles for the next 35 years.

In 1895, Rose escorted her brother Gerald to Cape Town, South Africa, where he convalesced from a liver ailment during the winter of 1895-96. On 31 August 1897 she married Major Frederick Thomas Skerrett at St Giles’ Church, Camberwell. He was a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps and about fifteen years older than her. He died on 19 Aug 1899. In 1901 she joined her brother Gerald in Paris, France, where she stayed for six months.

Aleister Crowley went to Edinburgh on July 13, 1903 to replenish his extensive stock of expensive wines, to engage the services of a companion-housekeeper, and to pass the time of day with Gerald, who was to spend the summer at Strathpeffer in the Scottish highlands. In August, Gerald wrote to Crowley inviting him to join his party at Strathpeffer. This is where Crowley met Gerald’s sister, Rose. Under pressure by her family to re-marry, she was engaged to a friend of Gerald’s by the name of Howell. Crowley offered to help her out of her dilemma by marry her with no strings attached, in other words, marry and then go their separate ways. She gratefully accepted. Crowley and Rose were married on August 12, 1903 in Dingwall, Scotland in a civil ceremony. As it turned out, they fell in love and their union was passionate. Crowley named her Ouarda, Arabic for “Rose,” the role would become Ouarda the Seer.

Rose Edith KellyOn 16 March 1904, “in an avowedly frivolous attempt to impress his wife”, Crowley tried to “shew the Sylphs” to her using the “Bornless Ritual”. Although she could see nothing, she did seem to enter into a light trance and repeatedly said, “They’re waiting for you!” After asking the god Thoth to clarify the matter and getting Rose to identify the source of the message as Horus, Crowley took her to the Boulaq Museum and asked her to point out Horus to him. She passed several common images of the god and led him to a painted wooden funerary stele, the Stele of Revealing, from the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt, depicting Horus receiving a sacrifice from the deceased, a priest named Ankh-af-na-khonsu. Crowley was impressed by the fact that the museum had numbered this piece 666, the number that he had identified with since childhood.

This synchronicity and others caused him to pay closer attention to what Rose told him. At her direction, on three successive days beginning 8 April 1904, he entered his room and starting at noon, and for exactly one hour, wrote down what he claimed he heard dictated from a shadowy presence behind him who identified himself as Aiwass. The results over the three days were the three chapters of verse known as “Liber AL vel Legis”, “The Book of the Law”. At one point Crowley failed to hear a sentence, which Rose later amended to page 19 of the original manuscript ‘The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red .

Rose Edith Kelly - Aleister CrowleyRose had two children with Crowley: Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith (born in July 1904, died in Spring 1906) and Lola Zaza (born in 1906). Rose and Aleister divorced in 1909.

In 1911 Crowley had Rose committed to an asylum for alcohol dementia. After her release she married Dr. Joseph Andrew Gormley in October 1912, a Roman Catholic, but her alcoholism returned. Dr. Gormley died 1 March 1925 at age 75. Kelly died on 11 February 1932 in Middlesex.

As an adult, Lola Zaza disowned her father. She married Frank Hill in Paddington on Saturday June 9, 1934. They had a child named Elizabeth Hill born in Paddington in 1935.

Lola Zaza Hill died on Friday March 9, 1990 at Battle Hospital, Reading, Berkshire.

The German synth-pop group Alphaville dedicated a song to Rose Edith, entitled “Red Rose” (1986), citing Crowley’s rule of “Do What Thou Wilt”.

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2 Comments

  1. Actually, “Quarda” is wrong. The Arabic word is “Ouarda.”

    Rose seems a tragic figure, and the story of the couple’s children is tragic, as well.

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