Oscar Johannes Ludwig Eckenstein (1859-1921 EV) was a mentor to Aleister Crowley in Eastern philosophy and meditation and an established mountain climber ("the greatest climber of his age," according to Crowley). He studied chemistry while in college and went on to become a railway engineer. Eckenstein and Crowley are partially known for their 1902 attempt at Chogo Ri (or K2), the second tallest peak in the world. On that climb, the expedition achieved a record: "the greatest number of days spent on a glacier—65 days on the Baltoro" (Equinox of the Gods Ch.1). Eckenstein is also known for his development of crampons—claw-like protrusions on mountaineering boots—designed to allow for climbing ice and for walking on frozen surfaces.
Although he left little evidence of his interests in mysticism, Crowley considered him to be a great adept. Crowley mentioned that Eckenstein had a total contempt for his magical work, and that he would openly admonish him for wasting his time on such "rubbish," which he thought of as "romantic fascinations and deceitful delights." Eckenstein then trained Crowley in the techniques of concentration.
Crowley describes the training he received during his time in Mexico in 1901:
- I was to practise visualizing simple objects; and when I had succeeded in keeping these fairly steady, to try moving objects, such as a pendulum. ... There were also practices in which I had to imagine certain sounds, scents, tastes and tactile sensations. Having covered this ground-work to his satisfaction, he allowed me to begin to visualize human figures. ... I practised these things with great assiduity; in fact, Eckenstein put the brake on. One must not overstrain the mind. Under his careful tuition, I obtained great success. There is no doubt that these months of steady scientific work, unspoiled by my romantic fancies, laid the basis of a sound magical and mystic technique. Eckenstein evidently understood what I was later to learn from The Book of the Law: "For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect" —Confessions, p.212-213.
- Hymenaeus Beta. (1997). In the "Editor's Introduction" of Crowley's Magick: Book 4. 2nd ed. York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.
- Crowley, Aleister. (1979). The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. London;Boston : Routledge & Kegan Paul.