Published in Wakins Mind Body Spirit
This article begins with a brief history of Chaos Magic and then describes a recent production from two of its leading exponents, Peter J Carroll & Matt Kaybryn - their epic full colour hardbound book and accompanying oversize card deck, together called EPOCH, The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos.
Chaos Magic developed during the second of the recent magical revivals in the mid nineteen seventies, (the first recent revival having begun in the eighteen eighties).
The first revival largely grew from the work of Macgregor Mathers who synthesised all the magical and esoteric knowledge available to a western mage at the time into a huge corpus generally known as the Golden Dawn system. This system went on to inspire Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Gerald Gardiner, Austin Spare (to some extent), and it supplied material that influenced Theosophy and Druidical Revival.
In the second revival a new generation looked at what the first revival had produced and extended it to create variants of Neo-Paganism, Neo-Hermetics, Neo-Goetia, Neo-Wicca, Neo-Druidry, and Neo-Thelema and all the various admixtures of these traditions as we know them today.
However, one loosely defined group did something rather different.
The Chaos Magicians decided to steal any magical technique that worked from any tradition, without too much concern for the belief system and the symbol system and the ‘tradition’ from which it apparently came. Indeed Chaos Magicians came to regard belief or faith as mere tools for achieving effects, and not as an ends in themselves.
To the mystically inclined this approach could look like the most appalling blasphemy and black (materialistic) magic. Yet Chaos Magicians tend to view magic as a form of weird science rather than as an alternative religion, and to regard the techniques of religion as means to ends which await discovery.
Chaos Magicians take the view that Austin Spare’s method of making sigils and spells out of mangled vernacular language works just as well as glyphs and formulae derived from ancient books of magic, and that synthetic or ‘imaginary’ spirits and gods work just as well for evocation and invocation as so called ‘real’ or historical ones, so long as you construct them properly.
The works of Austin Spare had a seminal influence on Chaos Magic, Spare largely rejected the complex procedures of ritual and ceremonial magic and developed simpler ad-hoc techniques to cast spells and to unleash the creativity of his subconscious. Some have quipped that CHAOS means the Continuing Hagiography of Austin Osman Spare. 2014 represents the 110th anniversary of the publication of his Earth Inferno. See the accompanying anniversary image by Matt Kaybryn.
Chaos Magicians also take an instrumentalist view of mystical experiences and altered states of consciousness. Instead of regarding these as desirable side effects of ritual activity that lends additional validation to it, they deliberately design in ecstatic procedures into their spells and rituals with the technology of ‘Gnosis’, a variety of excitatory and inhibitory techniques of inducing ecstasy drawn from many traditions and cultures.
These radical innovations led to an explosion of ritual and magical creativity. Some participants formed themselves into The Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros, (The IOT or The Pact for short), others pursued the Chaos paradigm in smaller groups or alone, and some of the creative freedoms of the Chaos perspective seeped into many of the new Neo- Traditions of the second revival.
Just what Chaoists mean by Chaos remains a lively topic of debate. Platonism and particularly Neo-Platonism had underpinned the whole of the western esoteric and occult paradigm from the early centuries AD and it reached its zenith in the first modern revival in the eighteen eighties. However it came under severe scrutiny in the second revival. Some of the new Neo-Traditions accepted it, but Chaos Magicians increasingly sought explanations and theoretical models of how magic worked in the realms of psychology, parapsychology, the chaos mathematics of the butterfly effect, and in quantum physics.
Now quantum physics suggests that the universe ultimately runs on randomness and chance, so Chaos Magic has tended to focus more on nudging or forcing the hand of chance rather than anticipating it, and enchantment generally takes precedence over divination.
The esoteric wisdom of Chaos Magic tends to focus more on the Hidden Meaninglessness rather than on the Hidden Meaning of events. If events have no meaning other than that which we choose to ascribe to them, then at least we regain the freedom to choose.
To this extent a strong new current of Existentialism rather than a traditional current of Essentialism informs Chaoist thought.
Chaoists have little truck with conspiracy theories. Conspiracies plainly exist at all fractal levels from within families, social groups, businesses, within religions and within nations, and between nations, and all because conspiracies exist between various impulses within our own heads. Yet history teaches us that screw-ups and unforeseen circumstances rather than conspiracy usually define what actually happens in this great game of chance.
The classical pagans recognised the conflicting impulses within our own heads as Gods and Goddesses. These deities arose from Chaos and then multiplied amongst themselves. This seems a much more realistic picture of our psychology than the monotheist idea that a single deity endowed us with a single self, free will, a purpose, and a set of commandments that we could disobey on pain of eternal guilt and punishment.
The Chaos from which our headfull of conflicting impulses arises lies in the random processes of evolution, all our impulses have evolved for some sort of use for personal or group survival, and Chaos Magicians like to explore their whole pantheon and to play at life with a full deck of cards.
The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos explores the Chaoist Neo-Pagan pantheon of the multi-self in far greater depth than previously attempted in any single traditional mythology.
The book consists of three separate Grimoires separated by supplementary chapters on the history of magic, the history of cartomancy and tarot, aeonic theory, and technical chapters on cosmology and quantum-magical theory.
The first Elemental Grimoire deals with the classical concepts of earth, air, fire, water, and aether, and how these relate to more modern concepts and to the basic magical procedures of evocation, invocation, enchantment, divination, and illumination. See the accompanying depiction of Earth.
The second Planetery Grimoire deals with the extended Neo-Pagan pantheon of the gods and goddesses of the human condition. Plainly a mere seven classical archetypes such as Luna, Mercury, Venus, Sol, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn cannot suffice to express the richness of the worlds within us today. Chaos magicians have taken to adding an eighth, the octarine deity form of Ouranos, the god-form of magic itself, and in this Grimoire thirty six deities classified by a planetary and a bi-planetary scheme appear. The authors have selected representative deities on an eclectic and cross-cultural basis.
Thus for example, Odin fills the Saturnine-Ouranian slot, Jehovah’s wife Asherah takes the Lunar-Solar position, the demon Choronzon appears as Martial-Saturnine, Eris appears as Venusian-Martial, and the modern goddess Apophenia fills the Venusian-Ouranian slot. Each of the deities in this extended magical pantheon comes with an historical description and a contemporary interpretation of its use to the modern magician. See the accompanying depiction of Eris.
The third Stellar Grimoire presents the latest manifestation of the Astral Grimoire of the Elder Gods; what we Earthlings call ‘The Necronomicon’, the strange and disturbing knowledge that diffuses across the far reaches of time and space, and hints at the potentially awesome and potentially terrible secrets of life and mind and space and time and chaos that await our discovery. This Necronomicon gives detailed instructions for evoking and invoking the sources of knowledge that we call the Elder Gods using techniques drawn from Chaos Magic that offer the magician a fair chance of surviving with sanity intact. See the accompanying depiction of Cthulhu.
The Esotericon book contains a full colour illustration of each of the five Elemental forms and also of Baphomet, full colour illustrations of each of the thirty six Planetary forms, and also twelve full colour illustrations of the evocation and invocation forms of six Elder Gods, plus full colour diagrams and illustrations for other parts of the text.
The fifty four images of the god-forms in the Esotericon appear on the fifty four outsize cards of the Portals deck which accompany the book. The authors intend these cards primarily for use as meditative or ritual ‘altarpieces’ for works of invocation and evocation, perhaps leading to enchantment or illumination. However, although they do not follow the traditional structure of tarot they also serve well for cartomancy and divination.
The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos developed during a four year collaboration between Pete Carroll on texts and Matt Kaybryn on graphics, with help and feedback from Professor Ronald Hutton and the Staff and Alumni of Arcanorium College.
The Epoch is available from Watkins Books
You will notice, as you read this article. We have developed and launched a new platform. Arcanorium College began in 2006. And since then, we have utilised the forum system to present courses and bring together people from around the world. Moving forward, we now present a new look colege with new features. Bringing together social networking features and more ways to communicate. Our new platform give our members the tools to share, blog, discuss and evolve their doings.
We hope you will all enjoy the new facilities!
Abandon your current perceptions, suspend your disbelief, and rejoice in a viable replacement for that absurd big bang theory: does an exploding singularity make a sound if no-one can hear it? I think not. If your present map of the universe does not get turned completely inside out, it will at least get redefined. But don't panic, because the very first magickal equation, the Spell of the Binding, reassuringly stops our worlds from literally falling apart. And neither will we imminently implode; cue the Spells of the Spinning which account for our ongoing dynamism.
But of course, if the shape of the universe seems so obvious after the first two chapters, why have we spent all this time getting it so wrong? The Spells of Illusion explain our civilisation's folly regarding our misperceptions to date. Then we find out that magick works in this universe because chaos exists. And the Spells of Subtle Magic explain why our whims don't materialize instantaneously.
The next two spells have the most familiarity to me as the core of Stokastikos' earlier published equation of magick: link * probability. Finally we have a practical magickal application for wave functions in the Spells of the Linking. The magickal link has probably suffered the most misunderstandings as one of building blocks in spelling, while the Spells of Impractical Magic show us just how much probability we need (and can do without) for our enchantments. Now that we have most of the theory, we can add the finishing components and put it all together with the Spell of Practical Magic.
The eighth and final spell brings us back to the map where we started. We can navigate any terrain more effectively the better our map. And the same applies to magick. The Spell of the Narration shows us the need to understand the boundaries and somewhat more esoteric equilibrium that ebbs and flows between entropy and negentropy. Only mere decades after Crowley lamented the lack of rigorous investigation into the properties of the aether, Frater Stokastikos articulates a delicious theory of how and why magick works. But this map leaves plenty of uncharted territory (finite but unbounded specifically) for the most adventurous explorers to venture into. Mind the beasties, especially ourselves. With the knowledge of the eighth spell, we can aim for a happy ending - no guarantees of course - but Stokastikos challenges us to ask ourselves what we use our magick for.
After the eight spells, the action doesn't stop. A call to arms no less to avert an apocalypse, or at least choose our preferred flavour. Do you have what it takes to transform into a Knight of Chaos? Add an invocation of Eris for chaotic inspiration, flex your strategic muscles in Sorcerer's Chess and we complete this whirlwind of rebel physics and rebel magick. I can't even begin to explain the maths and physics in the book, and happily I don't need to - Stokastikos does this expertly enough. If you think he has got it wrong, enjoy yourself trying to disprove it.
Of course, the very name of the book The Octavo comes from that parallel Pratchett universe the Discworld. Just as its namesake contains the eight spells which hold the Discworld together, so too does this Octavo hold us in Roundworld. But it also liberates us. What can one say about a book that redefines our understanding of our existence: original, essential, with far-reaching implications? All of the above and much more. Expect a journey through the aeons as well as around the universe, and a tantalising invitation to create our future. By the end of the book, phrases like "vorticitating hypersphere" and "immanentising the eschaton" will seem like your everyday vocabulary. But mind when and where you use them: don't forget what happened to those who first challenged the flat world theory.
Duncan's collection of essays begins gently enough with accounts of youthful experiences and experiments related to paranormal events. But quietly he introduces some fairly startling ideas about, for example, the links between psychotherapy and magick. While there are the obvious similarities such as their shared aim to help individuals gain control over and make sense of their experiences, Duncan points out that psychotherapy uses a technique of harnessing sexual energy for personal transformation by the very fact that sexual relationships between analyst and client are strictly prohibited. In magick, postponing climax maximizes sexual ecstasy. But in psychotherapy the climax is perpetually postponed and the sexual tension never released. One could argue that without the climax in the psychotherapist-client relationship, and the knowledge that no climax will take place, this could be the reason that some psychotherapy processes take so long. Duncan does not suggest we should all shag our therapists after a few sessions to immanentise illumination - perhaps the financial consequences of requiring further therapy to recover from such a possible treatment-requiring event may be prohibitive.
In the second essay the experience of Duncan's friend is an appropriate vehicle for his investigation of liminal spaces. The nice thing about liminal spaces in the physical plane is they allow us to visit them (and on more than one plane). Visiting them on the physical plane allows for opportunities to experience the paranormal. This exploration of liminal spaces takes us neatly to the third essay on space and time. Duncan discusses the complex perceptions of these two fundamental structures of our experience. He extends the idea of the psychogeographical technique of "drift-walking" to his contemporary urban context. Who knew that the near future of the then current economic collapse could be so accurately divined by a bit of "shamanic jogging"? By the time we reach the fourth chapter on "the absolute truth" be prepared to have Freud and Dawkins swiftly debunked and pretty quickly discover occultism's debt to some of the religions many occultists may love to ridicule. But this is no apology for religions - quite the opposite. Duncan's (brief) experience of enlightenment after his encounter with the mulletted and moustachioed guru is a stark reminder of how religions manage to recruit so many dedicated followers. One fleeting moment of non-ordinary experience and the unwary may misguidedly devote themselves to their new religion with the hope of recreating the experience by recreating the contextual characteristics around it - going back to the same church or the same religious leader or the same book that happened to be present at the time. Thankfully and luckily for his readers Duncan knew better than to return to the Guru and to the best of my knowledge neither has he grown a mullet nor matching moustache.
The fifth and final essay is a delightfully detailed discussion on the falsity (or not) of lucid dreaming, and the relationships between lucid dreaming, out of body experiences and astral projections. Having expertly dissected, analysed and categorised various states of consciousness, I would love to also read Duncan's thoughts on the purposes of these states, as I'm sure there's another book's worth of his experience. This was the most probing of the essays for this reader and, as all good books should, it raises many questions for me. Duncan's non-dogmatic and non-prescriptive approaches do what I think they intend to - encourage me to get on with creating experiences for myself and learning from them. Now that Duncan has introduced me to the concept that "the self is an experience that arises within consciousness, not the other way around" a new series of experiments begins for this magickian.
And so, on to The Paradigm Problem: -
Adapting our ideas and brain functions for the long and painful climb from hunter gathering lifestyles to exploiters of general relativity and quantum physics has not proved straightforward or easy. We still bear the scars and vestiges of our neurological and psychological adaptations.
Platonism rose to become the esoteric metaphysic of choice in the Hellenic west during the last few centuries B.C. because it provided a more effective mental tool than the animist and spiritist thinking that had informed pagan societies as they became progressively more urbanised.
Animist and spiritist thinking remains concrete, phenomenological, and immanent-ist. All phenomena exist ‘just as they are because they are’ and they have powers intrinsic to themselves. Yet these powers can remain subject to transfer by contagion, as for example when a shaman or priest dresses in a bear’s skin to borrow its ‘powers’. Such thinking still influences modern humans to some small extent.
Platonism supports abstract thinking. By positing the separate existence of the ‘essences’ of phenomena it allowed people to conceptualise such things as ‘the personal self’, and interesting abstract ideas like ‘justice’ and ‘mathematical principles’. It also supported the rise of monotheistic religion by positing the idea of a supreme essence, from which lesser essences devolve. Basically in Platonism ‘whatever you can think of’ acquires some sort of a transcendental reality as an ‘essence’, and sometimes as a ‘sentient essence’ as well.
However despite that it encourages abstract thinking, Platonism exhibits a serious flaw, most of its ideas remain untestable and unfalsifiable. The Platonists strove to create a corpus of ideas based merely on self-consistency, with insufficient reference to observed reality.
Neoplatonism, which arose in first few the centuries A.D, devolved from Platonism and it extended the basic idea of essences into all sorts of esoteric realms where it gave rise to Hermeticism, Kabballah, and Gnosticism. In these the essences multiply to create complicated schemes of emanations and archetypes based on pagan style deities, archons, demiurges, and a supreme transcendental monad or whatever.
Unfortunately Neoplatonism comes with few mechanisms for discerning between useful and useless abstractions, and it quite rapidly became fixated upon the supposed ‘essences’ of things like earth, air, fire, and water, or upon the supposed ‘essences’ of the classical ‘planets’ and the ‘essences’ of twelve zodiacal divisions of the ecliptic. Despite the very poor explanatory and predictive power of such schemes of ‘essences’ this style of thinking persisted for nearly two thousand years. It still persists as a rather sloppy form of common speech and thinking. We tend to attribute classes of attributes or ‘essences’ to phenomena as a kind of shortcut in our thinking. Phenomena remain mutable, not fixed by essence. People change continually throughout life, culture and circumstance determines behaviour far more profoundly than star-sign or race. We obviously don’t actually have fixed selves or souls or ‘essences’. Watch a child grow, or more disturbingly, watch dementia take an elderly person.
The attempt to discern the nature of the supposed ‘essence’ underlying the entire universe has involved a great deal of anthropomorphic projection and wishful thinking and it has left us with the chocolate screwdriver idea of a monotheistic God with a capital G. It may promise comfort and control, but what in heck does God actually DO apart from that? Huge natural disasters and small tawdry miracles?
Do gods and goddesses and spirits and demons actually exist as anything other than imaginary friends? As imaginary friends they can still serve to inspire and empower us as I repeatedly point out in The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos, and I have several of them myself, but where lies the extraordinary evidence required to go beyond that into the belief in their objective existence?
Astrology appeared as another chocolate screwdriver, or perhaps worse. The idea that each twelfth of humanity has certain characteristics dependent on conditions of birth now seems as indefensible as racism. It has no predictive power whatsoever beyond the obvious calendrical/seasonal associations.
Neoplatonism represents an improvement on crude animism & spritism but it now seems a debilitating and ineffective way of thinking.
Its corpus of ideas remains more or less untestable and unfalsifiable for whenever it appears to give poor results it tends to spawn ever more complex and evasive explanations, and as a general principle any unfalsifiable idea of this kind has very little predictive power at all.
The translation of the bible into vernacular languages provoked people to question the Neoplatonic assumptions that became incorporated into it during the first few centuries A.D. This led to Protestantism and the beginning of the end of the whole Neoplatonist paradigm which Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity had bought into. A British Protestant Parliament eventually required that any prospective member of its parliament would have to refute the doctrine of transubstantiation, the idea that a consecrated host actually embodied the actual ‘essence’ of the sacrificed body and blood of Christ, and instead compromise with the idea that it merely symbolised it.
This might seem an uncontentious and trivial theological point to many today, but the idea behind it led to the abandonment of Neoplatonism and Aristotelian theory (derived from pure thinking largely uninformed by objective observation), and this led to Empirical Science, the Royal Society, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, some Freedom of Conscience, and eventually to Democracy of a sort. Parallel developments took place over much of north-western Europe, despite ferocious Papal resistance initially.
The magical revival of the 1880s, initiated mainly by Macgregor Mathers of the Golden Dawn, represents the last high water mark of Neoplatonic thought, and from it most of the western esoteric traditions of the twentieth century descend. However the cracks in it already seemed visible at the time and a recession of the high tide seemed inevitable. Psychological insights into the mechanisms of esoterics began to arise upon the examination of oriental mystical practices and the Golden Dawn manuscripts and practices seem to imply in places that the adept can more or less manufacture gods and spirits to order, as many of them effectively went on to do so.
Plus of course most of the occultists of the late nineteenth century revival adopted Neoplatonism as a Romantic alternative to the Mechanistic thinking which came with the Industrial Revolution, Darwinism, Thermodynamics, and the emerging Social Sciences. They mostly came from such privileged backgrounds that ineffectual styles of thought did not immediately incur serious consequences, and some of their art came out rather well.
Yet the Neoplatonic theory of ‘essences’ or abstract ‘forms’ ceases to provide an competitive mental tool in a world increasingly dominated by evidence based Mechanistic thinking.
Only perhaps when we don’t understand a mechanism, or where mechanism seems absent and the phenomena seem random, does it seem worth trying the Neoplatonic paradigm, because it developed for precisely such purposes.
If you try and interact with people or machinery or institutions or natural phenomena on the basis that they operate on supposed intrinsic essences you will interact less effectually unless your theory of essences has an equal sophistication to theories of mechanism.
This has created a big problem for the alternative types who re-adopted Neoplatonism in the late twentieth century esoteric revival. They often didn’t have the same resources as the wealthy Victorian bohemian classes and the western world had become far more demanding of adherence to a Mechanistic outlook. You can barely survive and prosper in it now without decent arithmetic, endless form filling, and button pushing.
Of course some people order most of their daily lives with Mechanistic thinking and reserve the Neoplatonic style for their religious, mystical and artistic interests. However the more they let the Neoplatonic style influence their everyday activities the more of a mess they seem to get into by using a set of unfalsifiable ideas that have very low predictive power.
If you cannot really test the idea that a certain phenomenon somehow represents a manifestation of the metaphysical elemental essence of say ‘earth’ then the whole concept has very little predictive or decision making power.
The magnificent edifice of late nineteenth century esoterics that Mathers created left a dual legacy. Some accepted parts of it wholesale and continue to paper over the cracks in the Neoplatonism that it partly exposes. Others accepted its welcome eclecticism and have since gone on to struggle with its metaphysical framework and update it.
One of the great challenges for Magical theorists lies in developing a metaphysic that remains compatible with Science and Existentialism.
Existentialism, for all its association with association with verbose and miserable French left bank philosophers, comes down to basically the insight that phenomena don’t actually have essences. We don’t have souls or real selves and neither do things in general, phenomena consist just of what they actually do, they don’t also have a separate abstract form of ‘being’, except in our minds.
So if phenomena lack any form of ‘otherness’ what can you base occultism or esoterics or magical ideas on?
Fortunately Science itself now comes to the rescue in a way that it couldn’t have done a century ago.
Unfortunately this new paradigm can often sound as contra-intuitive to the non-scientist as Neoplatonism now does to someone trained in science.
Basically, all physical phenomena do have an ‘otherness’ as well, but it consists of a ‘wave-function’ that we cannot directly observe. This may not sound as exciting as the idea that every phenomenon has an associated ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’, but it has far more explanatory and predictive power and it actually leads to more effective Magic,( and to more effective Science as well incidentally).
The wave function of any phenomenon carries information about the possible pasts, parallel superposed presents, and possible futures of that phenomenon. Moreover the wave function can have non-local effects in space and time and interact with other wave functions.
Mysteries come in three varieties:
Plato was discoursing on his theory of ideas and, pointing to the cups on the table before him, explained that while there are many cups in the world, there is only one `idea' of a cup, and this cup-ness precedes the existence of all particular cups.
"I can see the cup on the table," interrupted Diogenes, "but I can't see the `cup-ness'".
"That's because you have the eyes to see the cup," said Plato, "but", tapping his head with his forefinger, "you don't have the intellect with which to comprehend `cup-ness'."
Diogenes walked up to the table, examined a cup and, looking inside, asked, "Is it empty?"
"Where is the `emptiness' which precedes this empty cup?" asked Diogenes.
Plato allowed himself a few moments to collect his thoughts, but Diogenes reached over and, tapping Plato's head with his finger, said "I think you will find here is the `emptiness'."
With Organs of the Body of God, it felt like The Occult Conference had both come of age and come home.
In a spirit of Renewal befitting the Vernal Equinox, this last weekend’s Occult Conference 2014 – held in the Assembly Rooms in the heart of Glastonbury, clearly a setting it was always meant to find its way to – was a new beginning, and showed the promise of taking things to the next level.
Effectively ‘under new management’ after passing on from previous organisers, The Occult Consultancy, TOC2014 was put together by Sef Salem, described on the website as a “local occultist and leader of the OTO group in Glastonbury.” Although it is certainly true that he was ably assisted by Brothers and Sisters from Calix Sanctus OTO Camp, this was by no means an ‘official OTO show’ or restricted to any one group or tradition. With the range of stalls (including Scarlet Imprint, Midian Books, and The Atlantis Bookshop) and volunteers, and the line-up of presentations, speakers, and workshops, a number of different currents were represented. The coming together of such a wide range of seekers, students & practitioners – whether calling themselves esotericists, hermeticists, magicians, mystics, occultists, pagans, shamans, or witches – gave a real sense of both the rich diversity and yet at the same time the common ground to be found in the broader Occult Community. Hats off to All for a sterling effort!
Proceedings were opened by our genial host, OTO Body Master and Gentleman of Jupiter, Sef Salem, welcoming everybody, clarifying some necessary points for the day concerning running order, lunch-break, and fire-safety, before saying a few words about the general vision behind the Conference: that despite belonging to different groups, coming from different traditions, or following different paths, in effect we are all cells that can come together to form Organs of the Body of God.
The first Talk was by Damh the Bard, an accomplished singer, storyteller and magician, who clearly draws on his experience as an entertainer and performer. Lively and engaging, he was a good choice to get things underway. A longstanding initiate of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, Damh spoke with obvious passion and conviction, mixing history, humour, mythology, and poetry, as he told us of his journey from teenage Black Sabbath fan encountering Pan via Hammer Horror, to a study of Hermetic and Ceremonial magic – plus a chance encounter with a harpist along the way – to eventually exploring and embracing what he sees as the native religious heritage of Albion, “the Island of the Mighty.”
For more information on OBOD, see: http://www.druidry.org/
Next up was Andy Cooper, speaking as the founder of Helios School of Esoteric Science. He also began with a personal account of how he “came to the Mysteries” – firstly learning about Shamanism in Hawaii, later studying with and being initiated by Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki. Andy describes Helios as “a school and order in the Dion Fortune British Magical Tradition … combining Qabalah, the wisdom of Egypt and the ancient Arthurian Traditions” – but it has to be said, we got little sense of what that might actually entail from his presentation.
For more information on Helios School, see: http://www.helios-school.com/
After lunch, proceedings resumed with Nikki Wyrd, speaking on behalf of the Illuminates Of Thanateros, of which she is currently British Isles Section Head. Being able to renew yourself has always been a secret of longevity, and as the foremost representatives of Chaos Magic the IOT perhaps know this better than most. A sample observation of Nikki’s that certainly seemed resonant with the notion of ‘Organs of the Body of God’ (if only virtually-speaking) was her remark to the effect that “the IOT only really exists physically when we come together for our meetings and to perform rituals.” Of the five currents displaying their wares on the day, theirs seems the most adaptable, flexible [but more on this later.]
For more information on IOT, see: http://www.iotbritishisles.org/
Next up was Adrian Dobbie, who was keen to stress that although he is a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis (indeed, the promotional material informs us that he is “President of the Electoral College within OTO, which governs all affairs of its local bodies”), this was by no means an “official” presentation, and that he was very much speaking as a private individual – a seeker and student like the rest of us. While going into a little of the OTO’s history, the possible meanings of Thelema, and taking the time to dispel one-or-two misconceptions that perhaps linger from its association with Aleister Crowley in the popular imagination – the Ghost of “Uncle Al” as he was affectionately termed by more than one Speaker certainly loomed large at times throughout the day! – we were most struck by Adrian’s emphasis on OTO not as a “magickal order” but more as a community of men and women dedicated to a path of self-improvement and spiritual development in a mutually supportive fellowship.
For more information on OTO, see: http://oto-uk.org/
Regrettably, we were unable to attend the final Talk of the day – Nigel Bourne, speaking as a longstanding practitioner of Alexandrian Wicca (which we heard later only lasted 20 minutes!) – because we had chosen instead to attend the final Workshop, on at the same time.
Arriving at the Assembly Rooms in the morning to check in we quickly discovered that most of the various Workshops throughout the day had already Sold Out, but that there were just two spaces still left for the IOT Workshop at the end of the afternoon, so we took that as a sign and put our money down…
Nikki Wyrd was joined by partner Julian Vayne to give a demonstration on behalf of the IOT, the Chaos Magic group in which they are both active and longstanding members (originally co-founded by Ray Sherwin and the Conference’s “Special Guest” Peter J. Carroll.) As the name suggests, Chaos Magic can be eclectic and sometimes unpredictable, and it is probably better to see it in action or try it out than grapple with too many definitions. Nikki and Julian’s Workshop was well attended, and managed to be both serious and playful at the same time. Possibly the most inventive aspect was showing how certain fundamentals, respectfully borrowed or adapted from other traditions, can be brought to bear on giving a wish, a prayer, maximum efficacy and chance of success in the wider world. Going round the room, an ad hoc Group Working was created by combining elements from the varying practices of those present: Sef and a group of OTO members were asked to perform a Thelemic Banishing, Wiccans followed with a recital of the Witches Rune, and then we all joined in with a Druidic chant to “raise the power” – along with Shamanic techniques of circling, dancing, drumming, over-breathing and shaking – all combined in dedication to a common end, the projection of belief out into the culture-at-large. “Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” Or at least it made the participants believe so at the time. After we’d metaphorically thrown our sigils (AOS lives on!) into the “sacred waters of Glastonbury” we banished any spectres of doubt or self-importance with laughter, the Chaos Magic way, and then handed round the blessed daffodils to share a keepsake. (Also the apples, after all “eating is good earthing!”)
Nikki Wyrd & Julian Vayne can be found online here: http://theblogofbaphomet.com/
At the end of the afternoon there should have been a Launch Event for EPOCH: The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos – the eagerly awaited new work from Peter J. Carroll, in collaboration with digital artist Matt Kaybryn. Unfortunately, actual copies of the book had not arrived from the printers in time for this to be a proper launch, but the co-creators had attended nonetheless. The former Grandmaster of the IOT sat to one side in full “Born to be Wild” disguise, obviously nursing a dreadful cold, along with his collaborator – there were a couple of sample copies of the finished book, and portfolios of Matt’s truly spectacular artwork, that could be perused throughout the day. We only managed a cursory glance and a quick chat, but the text looks as intriguing as ever and the images are breathtaking. Matt explained how he works in all manner of different media, but the final images are built up through digital sculpting. Among other exciting things, we caught a glimpse of an invocation of none other than Nyarlathotep (H. P. Lovecraft and his eerie imagination continuing to have such a fruitful Afterlife, now more than ever it seems!) We even recognised one-or-two of the models, including Julian Vayne as aJoker Trickster figure!
To round things off, Sef introduced Professor Ronald Hutton – who had collaborated and advised on the book – who then introduced Peter J. Carroll as “the most significant magical and occult theorist since Aleister Crowley” – high praise indeed! Pete then apologised that he was “sorry for coming to a book-launch with a stinking cold and no book” and explained a little of the idea behind the project – creating images of the gods and goddesses from all the world’s religions and mythic past in an attempt to recapture something about ourselves, and at the same time perhaps remind us of our future potential? – before then in turn introducing Matt, who spoke briefly about his part in the creation of the book, and played a short clip of some of the images.
For more information, see: http://www.esotericon.org/
And then, after the Talks and Workshops, the Special Guest spot, and before the Jupiter Ball, a special celebration of The Gnostic Mass, by Ordained Officers of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, under the auspices of OTO. “All will be welcome to celebrate the Divine in Humanity, and the Generative and Creative forces of Nature.” Considering the large number attending, constraints of space, and that the Mass is a fairly active performance on the part of those officiating, all went fairly smoothly. There was a sense of a window on the Past, of looking through back to the time of Crowley and the Golden Dawn, and perhaps beyond, but also a sense of how new models of genuinely spiritual communion are developing. The invocations and hymns were moving, the incense evocative, but at the same time the drums helped sustain a suitable earthly tone – like the base-note in a subtly mixed perfume. “There is no part of me that is not of the gods” we all pronounced, after partaking in the communion of a small cake of light and a draught of wine (with vegan, gluten-intolerant, and non-alcoholic options for a few, where necessary.)
A great way to celebrate a sense of community in diversity, and round off what will hopefully be a new beginning…
“Não está morto o que eternamente jaz inanimado, e em estranhas realidades até a morte pode morrer”H.P. Lovecraft
Epoch: The Esotericon & Portals of Chaos é o mais recente livro de Peter J Carroll, lançado em março do ano passado. Só tive a oportunidade de lê-lo recentemente e gostaria de compartilhar algumas ideias realmente ousadas levantadas na obra, assim como minhas reflexões sobre elas. Fruto de mais de quatro anos de experimentos mágicos e pesquisas, Epoch já se tornou um dos livros mais importantes da Magia do Caos. Dentre alguns dos novos sistemas apresentados estão a Caobala (a Cabala Caoísta), uma nova Magia Planetária (astrologia para caoístas) e Magia Estelar (uma nova e ambiciosa versão do Necronomicon).
Quase 30 anos atrás, quando Carroll escreveu o Livro Zero da Magia do Caos, chamado Liber Null, o primeiro feitiço que aparecia no livro era “Eu Desejo Obter o Necronomicon”, um exemplo para ilustrar o método de Austin Osman Spare para a construção de sigilos. Segundo o autor, após tantos magistas terem contato com as cinquenta mil cópias desse feitiço circulando por aí, subconscientemente realizaram uma “conjuração longa”, conforme recomenda a teoria da magia do caos (CMT) até que o Necronomicon Caótico finalmente se manifestou no Epoch. Embora o autor tenha mencionado esse ponto em tom de piada (é bastante desafiador perceber quando Peter Carroll está tentando ser sério ou brincando em cada frase que escreve), não deixa de ser uma referência intrigante e poderosa.
A intenção do Liber Kaos, segundo livro do autor, era propor uma
substituição “definitiva” (ou, conforme o autor, definitiva até que
surjam outras no futuro) para o sistema da Magia Sagrada de Abramelin
(sistematizada no Liber KKK). Seguindo essa tendência, o Epoch apresenta
muitas novas versões para modelos de magia já consagrados, tais como
cabala, astrologia, tarot, alquimia, magia elemental, magia divina,
geomancia, dentre outros. O objetivo não foi apresentar uma nova versão
completa e detalhada para todas essas áreas complexas, mas anunciar o
início de algumas transformações significativas em sistemas clássicos.
Ele seleciona alguns desses temas para abordar em maior profundidade.
O livro começa com um relato sobre a história da magia desde a Antiguidade Clássica. Ele percorre a biografia de alguns magistas influentes, como Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (que ele sugere ser o “Marx do ocultismo”, já que Mathers vivia em museus e bibliotecas para pesquisar e ler tudo o que já havia sido escrito sobre magia até então e reunir tudo num novo modelo, que culminou nas práticas da Golden Dawn), Aleister Crowley (que teria basicamente adicionado sexo e drogas ao sistema de Mathers) e Kenneth Grant (que divulgou os trabalhos de Austin Osman Spare e apontou a relevância mágica dos escritos de Howard Phillips Lovecraft).
Após sua extensa análise da história da magia, que começou com reflexões de alguns conceitos de filósofos pré-socráticos como Pitágoras, e pós-socráticos como Platão e Aristóteles, passando pelo Império Romano, hebreus e ascensão do cristianismo, Carroll conclui que a magia tradicional (particularmente o hermetismo, a cabala e o gnosticismo) possui fortes influências neoplatônicas e que uma parte considerável do que conhecemos por magia hoje tem raízes num paganismo misturado com monoteísmo, o que foi o resultado de um processo histórico.
Portanto, os ocultistas do século XXI poderiam estar estudando qualquer outra coisa se o curso da história tivesse sido um pouco diferente. Em vez do tarot que conhecemos hoje poderíamos ter cartas com simbolismos variados. Dependendo de qual povo venceu determinada guerra, o Deus, a religião ou a filosofia do vencedor conquistaria seu direito de figurar numa das cartas. Essas coisas vão passando adiante conforme o costume, mas não é tão simples, pois envolve também questões políticas complexas e lutas de poder: o que pode ser ou não magia acaba sendo definido por uma pequena elite de pensadores que ganharam as graças dos senhores da guerra; os senhores do poder do céu ou do poder da terra (dinheiro), conforme o Deus valorizado em cada época.
Quando estudamos história, mitologia e magia tradicional, aprendemos de onde veio aquilo que sabemos e vivemos hoje. Na verdade, há várias “histórias” ocorrendo paralelamente, que variam tanto conforme o foco que desejamos dar quanto conforme a opinião do historiador, que nunca conseguirá ser completamente imparcial, por mais que se esforce. Na prática, algumas partes da história acabam sendo esquecidas, assim como boa parte da magia (ou do que poderia ter adquirido o status de magia se Platão e Aristóteles não tivessem influenciado tão fortemente o cristianismo pela hermenêutica de Santo Agostinho e São Tomás de Aquino, respectivamente).
Como resultado, a magia tradicional de hoje possui fundamentos judaico-cristãos muito fortes. Misturado a essa supremacia monoteísta existem elementos de paganismo embaraçosamente infiltrados. Não que seja melhor ou pior haver mais ou menos paganismo em determinados sistemas. A questão é que muitos magistas atuais não aceitam diversos sistemas contemporâneos de magia (especialmente os da Magia do Caos) como válidos porque não se encaixam em suas tabelas de cores e planetas (que poderiam conter quaisquer outras cores ou planetas se o resultado de determinada guerra tivesse sido diferente, se Giordano Bruno não tivesse ido para a fogueira, se a Biblioteca de Alexandria não tivesse livros queimados, etc).
“Na verdade, Deus quis que todas as coisas fossem boas e que, no que estivesse à medida do seu poder, não existisse nada imperfeito” disse Platão, em seu livro Timeu, no qual também fala dos cinco elementos relacionados aos sólidos platônicos (e o dodecaedro, segundo Plutarco, com seus 12 lados representaria os signos do zodíaco) e descreve uma história da criação do mundo muito semelhante à encontrada no Gênesis bíblico.
Na magia clássica costuma-se encontrar semelhanças entre as religiões, filosofias e sistemas de magia dos mais diferentes povos de diversos lugares e épocas. Isso poderia significar que existe uma verdade objetiva a qual todos os seres humanos chegariam, somente interpretando-a de forma diferente conforme sua cultura. Ou também pode significar que não há uma verdade objetiva, mas que o cérebro humano geralmente segue um padrão, precisa de coisas parecidas e acaba inventando as mesmas coisas para apaziguar o temor que sentem da vida e da morte e preencher suas necessidades diárias (criando assim Deuses e conceitos que sirvam ao propósito de transformar as emoções e obter conquistas materiais). Se existe uma verdade objetiva (a “coisa em si” de Kant) ou se todo o mundo material é uma ilusão (conforme defendido por Berkeley ou mesmo pelo budismo) permanece uma questão metafísica sem solução.
No caoísmo costuma-se adotar um enfoque pragmático: não interessa se existem mesmo deuses, verdades, a Grande Obra, a “Pequena Obra” ou a “Obra Minúscula Ligeiramente Grande”. A magia envolve metas como autoconhecimento, transformações mentais e materiais, dentre muitas outras que se possa desejar. Caso o magista deseje obtê-las por um meio que funcione para si (não importando se esse método se encaixa ou não nas leis herméticas ou mapas astrológicos da magia tradicional) e consiga obtê-las pelo método que inventou, por que ele não seria válido? Por que um servidor teria um poder menor que um Deus se possuir uma egrégora igualmente poderosa para alimentá-lo?
Para alguns magistas é um escândalo existir uma operação para evocar os Grandes Antigos de Lovecraft, que estariam contidos “apenas” num livro de literatura. Possivelmente foi este um dos parâmetros que Peter Carroll usou para fazer questão de incluir exatamente essa operação em sua “Árvore da Vida Caoísta” incluindo o contato e conversação com o Deus Cego, Louco e Idiota (Azathoth) como a operação máxima da magia. Afinal, no panteão de Epoch, o Deus cristão (JHVH) é apenas mais um de vários deuses megalomaníacos (com todo o respeito) encontrados no panteão de várias culturas (em suas cartas também há Éris, Babalon, Baphomet, Bob Legba, dentre outras simpáticas personalidades).
Epoch consiste num novo olhar sobre a magia: cartas incluindo divindades de diversos povos, ou mesmo da cultura popular; um sistema de astrologia incluindo planetas ou astros não convencionais; uma cosmologia incluindo elementos da teoria quântica. O novo e o antigo se misturam, até porque a magia popular de hoje será a magia tradicional de amanhã.
Esta é considerada a magnum opus de Peter J Carroll e deveria ser leitura obrigatória para qualquer magista que deseja estar a par das grandes revoluções ocorrendo no cenário do ocultismo. Até agora, considero “Understanding Chaos Magic” de Jaq D Hawkins o melhor livro para iniciantes na Magia do Caos. Mas Epoch é o melhor livro para o magista que deseja compreender profundamente a MC. É um livro múltiplo, com abordagens diferentes e originais. Inclui um deck de cartas: um universo extremamente rico em simbolismos.
Para uma excelente resenha da obra, confira o que Ramsey Dukes tem a dizer.
A tradução em português do livro está sendo encaminhada (assim como traduções para muitas outras línguas), ainda sem previsão de lançamento.
Andrieh Vitimus and Jason M. Colwell will interview Peter J. Carroll. That’s Right. Peter J. Carroll. Peter will come on the show to discuss his new book, Epoch, the knights of Chaos, the Arcanorium and Chaos Magic.
Peter Carroll wrote the seminal classic Liber Null and Psychonaut and spawned an entire movement which had tremendous influence ( whether directly admitted or not) on all of the occult circles in the modern era.
Review. Imaginal Reality, Voidcraft, volumes 1 and 2. Aaron B. Daniels. Aeon Books.
Over 400 pages of tight print, plus illustrations by Laura M. Daniels.
When this curious bundle of surprises arrived I felt thricely intrigued to note that I had apparently already written a back cover pump for it, as had an IOT Pact Magus who pronounced it ‘the finest book on contemporary existential magic he had ever read’.
I do recall that Professor Daniels had sometime ago emailed me a draft of it and that I had opined that it looked like ‘a full cerebral download’ and that as such, it probably needed to appear as two books, which it now does. However he does seem to have extensively re-written it as well.
Nevertheless my comment of ‘Full Cerebral Download’ still stands. Here we have in these two volumes, a huge rambling tome that seemingly touches on just about everything remotely connected to the Professor’s thoughts on philosophy, psychology, biography, magic, imagination, and occulture. Expect an uneven and challenging read, as this opus lurches wildly across a whole spectrum of disciplines, you may also need a dictionary to hand.
After a bit of a struggle with volume one, I found a reading method that suited. I treated these books as a ‘Late Night Philosophy Rant with a Friend’. I think you need to read a bit, stop, marshal your objections, and argue back for a while, and then read some more, rather than just plough through it doggedly.
Except where they have the temerity to assert and defend some sort of positive position on ethics, ontology, or metaphysics, most philosophers have become the askers of awkward questions and the keepers of useful sarcasms. They tend to wield the razor of destructive analysis more than they use the trowel of construction. Daniels comes pretty close to cutting himself with the razor of existentialism and he has some pretty cutting things to say about the pretensions, evasions, and delusions of magic and spirituality and the whole occult, esoteric, and new-age scene.
The whole meaningless-meaningful duality seems to vex him mightily. Existentialism can wield the razor of over-mighty intellect with enough sullen violence to nihilisticaly extirpate the meaning from anything, and he presents us with visions of void-ness and emptiness. He quips that his students call him Dr. Downer.
However he offers his own antidote; in the absence of given meanings we need to become the meaning makers ourselves. We also need to experience the moment of the here and now, (presumably, temporarily without the encumbrance of the mighty analytical intellect or the second-hand meaning structures that our commercialised cultures offer). The ideas and symbols and glamour of magic provide a language in which we can construct our own meanings and identities, (except where commercially provided of course).
All this comes pretty close to the Chaos Magic perspective of treating belief as a tool rather than as an end in itself, and indeed the whole corpus of Voidcraft makes numerous references to Chaos Magic.
If philosophers have become the keepers of useful sarcasms then perhaps we can liken psychologists to people trying to map a very cluttered and complicated building in pitch darkness by daubing faintly luminous coloured paints around. It all looks superficially convincing but that merely shows that the impossibly complex mind will tend to reflect any structure or model you care to impose on it.
The Imaginal Psychology that Daniels advocates, teaches and practices clinically seems to incorporate this perspective; it appears to have grown out of the Jungian approach towards a more sort of ‘multimind’ position or polycentric view of the self(s). That all sounds like good Chaoism to me.
I got two thirds of the way through the second volume to find that the last third of it consisted of a vast glossary. Despite that I’d found it hard going I had a feeling of aw, shucks, its finished, just as I’d felt myself(s) getting engrossed in the process of argument and agreement with it. However even the glossary, (itself larger than some books of mine), provided a great deal to chew on.
The one and only Peter J Carroll tells his magical origin story and discusses the occult, the internet and his forthcoming -much anticipated- book; 'Epoch'.
by Peter Carroll.
In Chaos Magic, beliefs are not seen as ends in themselves, but as tools for creating desired effects. To fully realize this is to face a terrible freedom in which Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted, which is to say that everything is possible, there are no certainties, and the consequences can be ghastly. Laughter seems to be the only defence against the realisation that one does not even have a real self.
The purpose of Chaos Rituals is to create beliefs by acting as though such beliefs were true. In Chaos Rituals you Fake it till you Make it, to obtain the power that a belief can provide. Afterwards, if you have any sense, you will laugh it off, and seek the requisite beliefs for whatever you want to do next, as Chaos moves you.
Thus Chaoism proclaims the Death and Rebirth of the Gods. Our subconscious creativity and parapsychological powers are more than adequate to create or destroy any god or self or demon or other "spritual" entity that we may choose to invest or disinvest belief in, at least for ourselves and sometimes others as well. The frequently awesome results attaining by creating gods by act of ritually behaving as though they exist should not lead the Chaos magician into the abyss of attributing ultimate reality to anything. That is the transcendentalist mistake,, which leads to the narrowing of the spectrum of the self. The real awesomeness lies in the range of things we can discover ourselves capable of, even if we may temporarily have to believe the effects are due to something else, in order to be able to create them. The gods are dead. Long live the gods.
Magic appeals to those with a great deal of hubris and a fertile imagination coupled with a strong suspicion that both reality and human condition have a game like quality. The game is open ended, and plays itself for amusement. Players can make up their own rules to some extent, and cheat by using parapsychology if desired.
A magician is one who has sold his soul for the chance of participating more fully in reality. Only when nothing is true, and the idea of a true self is abandoned, does everything become permitted. There is some accuracy in the Faust myth, but he failed to take it to its logical conclusion.
It takes only the acceptance of a single belief to make someone a magician. It is the meta-belief that belief is a tool for achieving effects. This effect is often far easier to observe in others than in oneself. It is usually quite easy to see how other people, and indeed entire cultures, are both enabled and disabled by the beliefs they hold. Beliefs tend to lead to activities which tend to reconfirm belief in a circle they call virtuous rather than vicious, even if the results are not amusing. The first stage of seeing through the game can be a shocking enlightenment that leads either to a weary cynicism or Buddhism. The second stage of actually applying the insight to oneself can destroy the illusion of the soul and create a magician. The realisation that belief is a tool rather than an end in itself has immense consequences if fully accepted. Within the limits set by physical possibility, and these limits are wider and more malleable than most people believe, one can make real any beliefs one chooses, including contradictionary beliefs. The Magician is not striving for any particular limited identity goal, rather he wants the meta-identity of being able to be anything.
So welcome to the Kali Yuga of the Pandaemonaeon wherein nothing is true and everything is permissable. For in these post-absolutist days it is better to build upon the shifting sands than the rock which will confound you on the day it shatters. Philosophers have become no more than the keepers of useful sarcasms, for the secret is out that there is no secret of the universe. All is Chaos and evolution is going nowhere in particular. It is pure chance which rules the universe and thus, and only thus, is life good. We are born accidentally into a random world where only seeming causes lead to apparent effects, and very little is predetermined, thank Chaos. As everything is arbitrary and accidental then perhaps these words are too small and pejorative, rather we should perhaps say that life, the universe and everything is spontaneously creative and magical.
Relishing stochastic reality we can revel exclusively in magical definitions of existence. The roads of excess may yet lead to the place of wisdom, and many indeterminate things can happen on the way to thermodynamic equilibrium. It is vain to seek solid ground on which to stand. Solidity is an illusion, as is the foot which stands on it, and the self which thinks it owns either is the most transparent illusion of all.
The heavy vessels of faith are holed and sinking along with all lifeboats and ingenious rafts. So will you shop at the supermarket of sensation and let your consumer preferences define your true self? Or will you in a bold and lighthearted fashion, thieve from both for the fun of it? For belief is a tool for achieving whatever one chooses to consider important or pleasurable, and sensation has no other purpose than sensation. Thus help yourself to them without paying the price. Sacrifice Truth for Freedom at every opportunity. The greatest fun, freedom and achievement lies not being yourself. There is little merit in simply being whomsoever you were destined to be by accident of birth and circumstance. Hell is the condition of having no alternatives.
Reject then the obscenities of contrived uniformity, order and purpose. Turn and face the tidal wave of Chaos from which philosophers have been fleeing in terror for millennia. Leap in and come out surfing its crest, sporting amidst the limitless weirdness and mystery in all things, for those who reject false certainties. Thank Chaos we shall never exhaust it. Create, destroy, enjoy, IO CHAOS!
by Pete Carroll.
As there are as many Chaos Magicians as there are Chaoists practising magic, I cannot speak for the subject in general but only for my own Chaoism and Chaos Magic.
However, if you want a one-line definition with which most Chaoists would probably not disagree, then I offer the following. Chaoists usually accept the meta-belief that belief is a tool for achieving effects; it is not an end in itself.
It is easy to see how other people and cultures are the victims of their own beliefs. The horrors of Islam and the ghasty state of politics in sub-Saharan Africa, are obvious examples, but we rarely pause to consider the extent to which we are the victims of our own beliefs, and the ability we have to modify them if we wish.
It is perhaps worth considering the recent history of belief in Western cultures before mounting an attack on the very foundations of the contemporary world view. For about a millenia and a half the existence of "God" was an incontrovertible fact of life in Christendom. It was never questioned or thought to be questionable. Hideous wars and persecutions were conducted to support one interpretation of deity against another. Learned men wrote thousands of books of theoology debating points which seem utterly tedious and idiotic to us now, but the central question of the existence of "God" was never considered. Yet now, the belief in "God" as the author of most of what goes on in the world has been almost competely abandoned, and belief in even the existence of an absentee "God" is in most places fading. Satanism as an anti-religious gesture is now a waste of iconoclastic talent. The alchemists, sorcerers and scientists of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance won a stupendous posthumous victory. Their questioning of the medieval world view started a rot that brought the whole edifice down eventually.
We can laugh looking back on it now, but I assert that we now live under a collective obsession which is even more powerful and will appear equally limiting and ridiculous to future historians.
Since the eighteenth century European enlightment, a belief has grown to the point where it is now so all-pervasive, and so fundamental a part of the Western world view, that one is generally considered mad if one questions it. This is a belief that has proved so powerful and useful that virtually everyone in the Western world accept it without question. Even those who try to maintain a belief in "God" tend to place more actual faith in this new belief for most practical purposes.
I am about to reveal what this fundamental contemporary belief is. Most of you will think it is so obvious a fact that it can, hardly be called a belief. That, however, is a meassure of its extrordinary power over us. Most of you will think me a madman or a fool to even question it. Few of you will be able to imagine what it would be like not to believe it, or that it would be possible to replace it with something else. Here it is: the dominant belief in all Western Cultures is that this universe runs on material causality and is thus comprehensible to reason. Virtually everyone also maintains a secondary belief that contradicts this - the belief that they have something called free will, although they are unable to specify what this is - but I will deal with that later.
We spend billions every year indoctrinating our young with the primary belief in material causality in our schools. Our language, our logic, and most of our machines, are built largely upon this belief. We regard it as more reliable than "God".
Now, it has been one of the functions of the Magician to try and break through to something beyond the normal. My own magical quest has always had a strongly antinomian and iconoclastic element, and I long ago decided to go for broke and attack the primary beliefs of our culture. Religion is too easy a target as it is already fatally disabled by our ancestors, the Renaissance sorcerers and scientists. Contemporary Satanists are wasting their efforts.
Ideology is thankfully being gradually replaced with economics. The main thrust of my Chaoism is against the doctrine of material causality and secondarily against most of the nonsense that passes for modern psychology.
Anyway, now I have to firstly try and convince you that there is something seriously wrong with material causality, and that there is something that could supersede it as a belief. These are vitally important questions for magicians, for since the demise of essentially spiritual descriptions of magic, the belief in material causality has been increasingly used in a haphazard fashion to form various ill-conceived metaphors such as "magical energy" or "magical force" which are tactily presumed to be something analogous to static electricity or radio waves. This is, I think, complete bullshit. Magic can sometimes be induced to behave a bit like this, but it is not a very effective description.
Before attempting a frontal assault on material causality I shall backtrack a little to gather ammunition. Few people noticed that in the 1930`s a serious crack was discovered in the fabric of material causality which, on the grounds of faith alone, was supposed to cover everything. This crack was called Quantum Physics, and it was pre-eminently Niels Bohr who, with his Copenhagen Interpretation, poked a finger into the crack and prised open a wrap to reveal a different reality.
Basically Bohr showed that this reality is better modelled by a description of non-material causality operating probabilistically not deterministically. This may sound tame at first, but the implications for our everyday view of the world and for our theories of magic are awesome. It brought to an end the era of the clockwork universe paradigm which began over two hundred years ago and which almost everyone still believes in their guts, even if they cannot formulate it precisely. I urge magicians everywhere to give thanks by drinking what is probably the best lager in the world, for it was the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen that supported Bohr and his colleagues while they did the physics.
The majority of straight scientists find quantum physics as distasteful as a priest would find witch-craft. If they have to use it they prefer not to think about the implications. Even Einstein, who started quantum physics going but made his major contribution in Relativity, felt repelled by its implications, on ground of scientific faith and residual Judaic belief, and wasted much of his later life campaining fruitlessly against it.
Quantum physics says to me that not only is magic possible in a world that is infinitely Chaotic than we thought, but that magic is central to the functioning of this universe. This is a magical universe not a clockwork one. Causal materialist beliefs were a liberating and refreshing breath of fresh air after a millenia and a half of monotheism, but now, at their zenith, they have become tyranny. Relativity and the fundamental physics associated with it are probably close to a final refinement of the causal materialist paradigm, and as such they now seem a terrible prison. For all practical purposes they confine us to this planet forever and rule out magic from our lives. Quantum physics, which I believe currently to be basically an investigation of the magical phenomena underlying the reality most people have perceived as non-magical for the last two hundred years, shows us a way out.
It may be some time before any significant portion of humanity learns to believe the new paradigm in their guts and live accordingly, but eventually they will. Until then it is bound to sound like discombobulating gobbledgegook or tarted-up intellectualism to most people.
I would like to mention my other favourite iconoclasm in passing without explanation. I reject the conventional view of post-monotheistic Western psychology that we are individual unitary beings possessing free will. I prefer the description that we are colonial beings composed of multiple personalities; although generally unafflicted with the selective amnesia which is the hallmark of this otherwise omnipresent condition. And that secondly there is no such thing as free will; although we have the capacity to act randomly, or perhaps one should say more precisely stochastically, and the propensity to identify with whatever we find ourselves doing as a result.
All the gods and goddesses are within us and non-materially about us as well, in the form of non-local information.
I consider that all events occur basically by magic; the apparent causality investigated by classical science is merely the more statistically reliable end of a spectrum whose other end is complete Chaos. However, I would like to end with a few words about how my Chaoism affects my personal activity in what is ordinaryly called magic.
There are for me two main aspects of magic; the parapsychological and the psychological. In enchantment and divination I believe that the magician is attempting to interact with nature via non-material causality. He is basically exchanging information with his environment without using his physical faculties. Austin Osman Spare precisely identified the mental manoeuvres necessary to allow this to occur. The manoeuvres are startlingly simple and once you have understood them you can invent an unlimited number of spells and forms of divination. The manoeuvres are sacred but the forms of their expression are arbitrary; you can use anything at random.
Bohr and Spare are for me Saints of the Church of Chaos.
I consider that when a magician interacts with those apparently sentient sources of knowledge, inspiration and parapsychological ability that used to be called spirits, gods, demons and elementals, he is tapping into the extraordinary resources that each of us already contains. When activated they may also receive some input via non-material causality from outside. Yet since we all contain such a rich multitude within our own unconscious or subconscious and can also receive congruent information from the collective unconsciousness as it were, then the possibilities are practically limitless. Given the correct technique one can invoke or evoke anything, even things which did not exist before one thought of calling them. This may sound like complete Chaos, and I have to report that my own researches confirm that it is!
Chaos Magic for me means a handful of basic techniques which must be adhered to strictly to get results, but beyond that it offers a freedom of expression and intent undreamt of in all previous forms of magic.