The Stratagem and Other Stories, a small book of short stories written by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), occult magician, poet and self-proclaimed prophet of a new AEON., Including "The Strategem", "The Testament of Magdalen Blair", "His Secret Sin". The Testament of Magdalen Blair paints a particularly gruesome picture of what happens to human beings after they die. Indeed it is so nasty that it has been described in the Penguin Encyclopaedia of Horror & Supernatural as "one of the most horrible stories ever written."
The book was originally published in 1929 and one of a series of Crowley's works to be published on the new Mandrake Press label after a difficult period in which Crowley found it difficult to publish due both to financing and notoriety. The works published by Mandrake Press in 1929 were The Confessions of Aleister Crowley volumes I and II, and Moonchild.
Crowley hardly ever published collections of short stories, but the title story received such a good review from British novelist Joseph Conrad when he published it in The English Review that he thought it was a possible calling to conventional fame. "The Testament to Magdalen Blair" is the longer of the three and was originally published in "The Equinox" volume I, no.9 in 1913. It tells the haunting story of a psychic woman who delves into the dying, subconscious psyche of her husband and bears resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe's "Mesmeric Revelation" and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar". The third short story, "His Secret Sin", was first published in "The Equinox" volume I, no.8 in 1912 and has a pervert absconding a photograph of the Venus de Milo.