All posts by Marik


By Marik | December 22, 2000 | Leave a comment

Subject: Re: [zee-list] Maathematics
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2000 10:22:51 EST
From: Marik[at]aol[dot]com
To: zee-list

In a message dated 12/21/00 9:51:09 PM, writes:

<< the cat is neither dead nor alive = the cat is either dead or alive = the cat is either dead nor alive = the cat is neither dead or alive >>

I think that’s right.

There are 4 quantum states in superposition, decohering into two when you decide to open the box, then one when the box is opened.

C=cat, A = alive, D = dead

In quantum superposition

1) C is not A and not D
2) C is A or D
3) C is A not D
4) C is D not A

On deciding to open the box, decoheres to

3)C is A not D
4)C is D not A

on opening the box, further decoherence presents either 3) or 4).

Interestingly enough decoherence starts to occur at the moment a choice is made to open the box suggesting that the second link in the nexus of Dependent Origination (volition) precedes action/manifestation (the fourth link), reinforcing the Buddhist view that karma is produced at the same time as intention, rather than as a consequence of action. The nexus of Conditioned (Dependent) Origination is only graphed as 12 sequential steps. Properly all links mutually arise,

Quantum computing (estimated desktop deployment 2025) is based on there being four logic gates. Quantum computing was experimentally proved in the last few months with a very very small piece of copper wire.. I don’t understand how they got around Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but I’ll take their word for it.


Sigils, Servitors and Godforms: Part II

By Marik | November 16, 2000 | 1 comment

Servitors, Psychodynamics and Models of Magick

Chaos Magick, at least if approached by through the Internet and conversation with chaos magicians, can appear a sprawling, contradictory mess of techniques to the newcomer. The relativistic stance of Chaos Magick, and it’s apparent lack of a unifying template can appear both morally disturbing and intellectually frustrating, especially to occultists coming to it from more traditional paths. Frater U.D., in a small essay published in 1991, provided a clearer approach to chaos magick by declaring it to be a meta-model, a fifth approach to magick. The other four he defined as the Spirit Model (used by shamans and traditional ceremonial magicians, in which autonomous entities exist in a dimension accessible to ours through altered states of consciousness); the Energy Model (where the world is viewed as being ‘vitalized’ by energy currents that the magician manipulates); the Psychological Model (in which the magician is seen as “a programmer of symbols and different states of consciousness,” manipulating the the individual and the deep psyche); and the information model (where information is the code that programs the essentially neutral energy of the life force). Frater U.D. points out that writers on chaos magick generally subscribe to a great extent to the Psychological Model, but, their approach utilizes a Meta-Model, which is really a set of instructions on how to use the other models. One of the most salient facts about chaos magick, and one of the most difficult for many newcomers to grasp, is that it is not really a magickal philosophy at all, it is really a technology, an approach, or stance towards magickal systems. The path to this was a result of chaos magicians developing and then transcending the Psychological Model. This essay on servitors while discussing many of the practical issues in the creation and deployment of servitors also elucidates the relationship between chaos magickal theory and modern psychology.

Modern magicians, chaos magicians, contemporary sorcerers, and the other magickal users of servitors appear to have adopted a modified psychodynamic view of personality, and the way in which we identify ourselves. This view, first expounded by Freud and the other founders of psychoanalysis (Jung, Adler, etc.), suggests that the way in which we view ourselves develops over time, and motivational syndromes (what we want and how we go about getting it) are critical to this development. This is quite a different view than type or trait personality theories which were in favor throughout most of Western history (man is composed of a compound of four or five elements, for example). Chaos magicians tend to display more of a situationist stance to personality, that is to say they tend to act as though the situation in which one finds oneself is the dominant factor in observable behaviours. Chaos magicians also tend to suggest that this is a good thing, since it means the personality can be used opportunistically, as a tool to achieve desires. This stance also reflects Buddhist and Eastern views of the Self, which either repudiate its existence as a permanent construction, or state that its essential nature can only be discovered through profoundly altered states of consciousness (samadhi).

Phil Hine, in his excellent pamphlet “Chaos Servitors, a User Guide” writes of the self:

“I prefer the analogy of the self as an organic city-entity, where some portions are more prominent than others, where there are hidden tunnels and sewers, and where the under levels carry vital energies to buildings. The city-self is continually changing and growing – tear down a building of belief, and another grows back in its place.”

Austin Osman Spare was clearly influenced by psychodynamic theories of the self, as well as Eastern ones, and the general magickal theory he passed on to us embody these ideas. Primarily concerned with motivation (desire), Spare wrote in “The Book of Pleasure”:

“The ‘self’ is the ‘Neither-Neither,’ nothing omitted, indissoluble, beyond prepossession; dissociation of conception by its own invincible love is the only true, safe, and free…This Self-Love is now declared by me the means of evolving millions of ideas for pleasure without love, or its synonyms-self-reproach, sickness, old age, and death. The Symposium of self and love. O! Wise Man, Please Thyself.”

Note the combination of psychoanalytic vocabulary and Vedic metaphysics combined with an insistence on motivation as fundamental.

Now a servitor is generally considered to be a part of the personality of the magician that has been severed from him. I would argue that this is a limited view of servitors, that they could be considered severed portions of the Deep Mind, and consequently not located in the psyche of any particular magician. In my view demons, angels, imaginary friends, poltergeists and perhaps even ghosts are servitors. Servitors can be called thought-forms (as opposed to godforms which may sometimes be servitors on steroids).

Since contemporary magickal stances to personality are psychodynamic and motivational servitors tend to be viewed as functional entities, and rather easily operated. Contrast this with the type and trait theories that inform Traditional Ceremonial Magick. Magicians up until this century (and still some today) spend what seems to me ridiculous amounts of time and effort evoking demons, using grimoires, and engaging in a paraphernalia of magick that makes a great deal of sense if you believe in type and trait theories of personalities, but very little if your approach is situational and pyschodynamic. If you believe that a demon you summon is a wholly independent entity with a personality type all of its own you may have to resort to extreme measures to force it to do your bidding. If you believe that a demon is a servitor summoned as a manifestation of your desire then a simple bargain will suffice (I’ll give you energy, you get what I want, I’ll give you a nice place to live).

What is a Servitor?

Motivational syndromes (desire) are fundamental to Spare’s form of magick, hence the name of his most popular book, “The Book of Pleasure.” Spare and magicians, Chaos or otherwise, have adopted the Jungian expansion of Freud’s theory of the Unconscious. Jung theorized the existence of a collective unconscious, shared by all. He considered it to be transpersonal and the residue of the evolution of humankind. I personally prefer Jan Fries’ term, the Deep Mind, but it comes to much the same thing. Spare, who called the collective unconscious the sub-consciousness characterized it as follows:

“Know the sub-consciousness to be an epitome of all experiences and wisdom, past incarnations as men, animals, birds, vegetable life, etc. , etc., everything that exists, has and ever will exist.”

Both Spare and Peter Carroll attempted to develop a technical vocabulary to describe the phenomena and techniques of the type of magick posited by Spare. Carroll, both FireClown and I believe, was trying to construct a vocabulary that could be used by magicians of any type. FireClown calls this a “discussional template”, or a way in which, for example, thelemites could talk to wiccans without misunderstanding each other. Unfortunately Carroll’s use of the hierarchical gambit resulted in this vocabulary becoming exclusionary.

A fine example of this is the term “servitor.” The time predates Chaos Magick and can be found to refer to bound spirits in the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith, who was writing for Weird Tales in the 1930s. Servitor is actually a word referring to entities that actualize through evocation, a magickal technique as old as magick itself. Carroll writes:

“These beings have a legion of names drawn from the demonology of many cultures: elementals, familiars, incubi, succubi, bud-wills, demons, atavisms, wraiths, spirits, and so on.”

Spare seems to indicate that these entities are bound to obsessions, that is to say the magician, experiencing an obsession (a way the psyche tells the magician that it desires something), forms part of the sub-consciousness into a semi-independent phenomenon that will do the work needed to actualize the magician’s desire. Carroll disagrees somewhat, although he allows that such beings have their origin in the human mind. Phil Hine whose interest in his User’s Guide to Servitors is the creation of such beings writes:

“By deliberately budding off portions of our psyche and identifying them by means of a name, trait, symbol, we can come to work with them (and understand how they affect us) at a conscious level.”

So at least in the type of magick developed by Spare, Carroll, and Phil Hine, a servitor is a part of the magician’s psyche, or a part of the Deep Mind that the magician evokes to perform a task. Do these entities have an existence prior to their evocation? Perhaps. Magick is trans-temporal, trans-spatial. If the Deep Mind contains all experience that has been or ever will be then the question is meaningless, or as Blake wrote:

“Everything that can be Believed is an Image of the Truth.”

I do think that the use of servitors is widespread among many people who would not dream of considering themselves magicians. People personalize their cars, have imaginary friends as children, or give personalities to their toys, carry objects they consider to be “lucky” with them or allow their obsessions to absorb their personalities so they turn into demons. Many movies deal with servitors, Natural Born Killers being an obvious example, Tetsudo, a fine Japanese flick being an even more obvious example. In NBK the demons are eventually reintegrated and the two killers stop killing. The fine film Seven is essentially a magickal ritual in which the murderer uses people as the material bases for servitors, in this case representing the demons of the Seven Deadly Sins.

To my mind these are all examples of the use of servitors because they follow Hine’s simple definition of servitors as budded off portions of the psyche or personality developed for a simple or complex purpose which gain a semi-independent existence. Of course in the case of demons absorbing the personality the act is hardly adaptive, although it may have started out that way.

I’ll tell you a story. I had a friend about 12 years ago, a charming, handsome young man, intelligent, athletic, and sober. He used to baby-sit another friend’s teenage daughter. It turned out that he was a serial rapist. He would stalk women, rape them, and beat them nearly to death. He got caught because he fell asleep in his car outside his last victim’s apartment and was found by the police covered with his victim’s blood. I have no doubt he would have ended up murdering his future victims. Fortunately he is unlikely to ever have that chance.

Now what I think had happened with this man was that, perhaps as a result of some inability to integrate his rage towards women, he budded off a part of his personality, the violent, woman hating part, which became a demon, a semi-independent servitor. When his obsession was triggered it activated the demon which then completely possessed him and he became an utterly different person. For all I know he wasn’t even conscious of the demon himself.

None of his friends ever saw this demon, didn’t even have a glimpse, but his victims surely did.

Creating Servitors

Modern magicians have expanded on Jungian ideas of the collective unconscious to assert that magick occurs within what Spare calls the sub-consciousness, and Fries the Deep Mind. Servitors are semi-autonomous beings that are summoned from the Deep Mind and charged with the performance of some magickal task. Stephen Mace, in his monograph Stealing the Fire from Heaven, calls this sorcery. He defines it:

“Sorcery is the art of capturing spirits and training them to work in harness, of sorting out the powers in our minds so we might manipulate them and make them cause changes both within our minds and beyond them.”

Most writers are unanimous in their opinion that the magician must develop a clear statement of intent before proceeding in acts of magick, which presupposes the magician understanding the nature of their original desire. In many cases there is simply no need to create a servitor. A simple spell might suffice, a desire sigilized and cast into the Deep Mind in a state of vacuity. Summoning servitors for the sake of psychic adventure might also be ill advised, although, judging from the grimoires of medieval literature in the absence of television it was a popular way to pass the tedium of an evening. Teenage satinists (so called in tribute to their innovative spelling) are also apparently fond of this sport. Chaos magicians, it is to be hoped, and the readers of this essay, would create servitors for more practical reasons.

If the magician does not believe the desire can be actualized by sigilizing, either because of lack of success in the past, the inability of the sorcerer to forget the desire, or because the task is repetitive, or complex then a servitor may be appropriate. Servitors can be used for finding rare books, for developing sales in business, for aiding in gaining employment, for irritating an enemy, for protecting a house, for, really, any number of jobs. Servitors can also be used to aid in the deconstruction and reconstruction of a magician’s personality. On the zee-list servitors have been described that compress and expand time, that attack spam mailers, that assist in speedy passage through rush hour and that are soldiers in magickal wars.

I suggested above that the use of servitors is widespread throughout humankind. Magicians and sorcerers, however, consciously create servitors, extruding them from their own psyches for specific magickal purposes. Most people create servitors unconsciously. Sometimes, as I recounted, this can have poisonous results both for the creator of the servitor and for society. Servitors that contain elements of personality that the sorcerer finds maladaptive are usually known as demons. Mace writes in regards to demons:

“Demons: reflexes that generate uncontrollable moods, fantasies, and even actions. Demons are often acquired as a response to a twisted environment that had to be endured during the weakness and dependence of childhood. The adult, empowered wizard will realize they are inappropriate to his current situation, and make every effort to bind them so they will no longer bother him.”

In fact bound demons can be quite useful.

Since many servitors are available for use by the magician through grimoires, or the use of elementals, sylphs,incubi, and the like, it might be reasonably inquired why the sorcerer should go to the trouble of creating one. Mace answers this:

“there’s a problem with using preexisting spirits. They invariably come equipped with enormous amounts of moral and theological baggage, bundles of belief and righteousness that you must carry with you as you make your way through the world.”

I suggest readers who question this use a grimoire to evoke a lesser demon like Belphegor (not an archdemon like Belial), visit a channeller, or a medium for a seance. Apart from entertainment value I doubt that the reader will experience significant or lasting change from these experiences. Belphegor, I should note, has been credited with assuring regular bowel movements, so perhaps he might have a lasting effect on constipated mages. Apart from this possible exception, creating a servitor and charging it with a magickal task can have a profound effect on a sorcerer’s life.

This is why a fairly rigorous intellectual analysis of the desire of the sorcerer should be undertaken before evocation. The magician can use any number of techniques to do this, but the discussion of the magickal intent with other sorcerers is probably the most helpful. This is especially true when the servitor to be created is to effect a change in the personality of the magician since it is very possible that excising an apparent vice may also remove an intertwined virtue leaving the sorcerer weaker and poorer than before.

Once the magickal intent has been determined and the magician is fairly sure that no unwitting damage to the psyche will ensue, then the actual process of creating a servitor can begin.

Servitors can be easily divided into two classes, those that come from identifiable areas of the magician’s psyche, and those that issue forth from the deeper levels of the subconsciousness ( and hence may not be recognizable to the magician as deriving from a property of the sorcerer’s psyche). If, for example I create a servitor to afflict an enemy this can be easily seen to originate in my own rage. On the other hand, if I summon an elemental because I want rain this spirit may have no apparent connection with my own psyche. Of course it does, but perhaps at such a deep level that it is held in common by many others. Ghosts are another example of beings that issue forth from deep levels of the subconsciousness and are often perceived in very similar ways by different people. Whether the sorcerer creates a servitor from scratch, as it were, or summons a preexistent spirit may depend on the task to which the servitor is put. Servitors may also be created which have components of both the individual magician’s psyche and of the Deep Mind.

I’m in business for myself and my business depends on the timely receipt of payments. I’m in the process of creating a servitor to facilitate payments made to me through the mail. The servitor I imagine to look like Zippy the U.S.P.S. mascot but carrying a large hand gun – Zippy the psychotic Postal Worker. He will be charged with the specific job of speeding up my mail, particularly checks to me. Of course, part of Psycho Zippy is budded off from my own personality and includes my frustration with the mail, my anxiety over money, my dislike of bureaucrats, and my own violent tendencies. Part of Psycho Zippy, though, comes from the good work of the USPS’s advertising staff who imbedded this image in the American consciousness and the American media that publicized the mass murders of numerous postal workers by their coworkers over the last few years. Psycho Zippy is a hybrid servitor in this sense, and so will derive its energy from both sources. Psycho Zippy may also be considered a bound demon, since he derives from obsessive (and maladaptive) elements of my own psychology which have been extruded and harnessed to perform a particular role. The development of this servitor is useful therapy since it frees me from these maladaptive elements.

So let’s review the process of creating a servitor like Psycho Zippy. First I become conscious of obsession, manifesting as a repeating pattern of anxious thoughts about payments which I know have been mailed but which for reasons quite beyond my ability to understand take a random number of days to reach me. This obsession clearly indicates a desire…I want my payments in a timely and consistent fashion. Now I could do a sigil to actualize this desire, but the problem is persistent and I doubt that a sigil done once will be enough to solve it. I could also use a godform, like Ganesh, or Hermes, or Legba or even Nyarlathotep, but I’ve tried this and the gods seem fairly fickle about it, and, in any case, I keep having to go back to them to bargain with them every time a payment gets lost. I have concluded that a servitor, charged by my own obsession, is the most appropriate magickal response.

Now in my case the USPS’s admen have come up with a sigil that I only have to modify by adding a large hand gun. For many servitors, however, it may be necessary to develop them from scratch by first forming your magickal intention into a sigil and then using your imagination to turn this sigil into the shape of servitor (which can be anything you consider appropriate to the task at hand). This process is greatly facilitated if you have developed a magickal alphabet that contains in sigil form the properties of your personalityand the powers of your mind. Automatic drawing, a common way to develop this type of alphabet, can also be used to develop the shape of the servitor. These alphabets are also known as alphabets of desire.

On Alphabets of Desire Mace writes:

“Each letter (actually an ideograph) represents a power…an unconscious structure or variety of energy that the sorcerer recognizes or wishes to recognize within his deep psyche.”

In essence the sorcerer sigilizes a desire and then uses automatic drawing until an ideograph is created that is, as Mace says, “perfectly apropos.” Letters from this alphabet can be combined to form the shape of a servitor, again using techniques of automatic drawing.

An alphabet of desire is a set of personal magickal symbols that describe or trigger certain powers of the mind or aspects of the sorcerer’s personality. Although the AoD is generally considered to be graphical there isn’t any reason it can’t be gestural, or a set of sounds, or a group of familiar emotional states or states of consciousness. The construction of an alphabet of desire also does not need to be nearly as formal as suggested by Spare, Carroll, Phil Hine, Jan Fries, Stephen Mace and others. It can develop organically as a result of, for example, repetitive gestures or sounds a sorcerer makes in rituals. Moreover, it is not necessary for the sorcerer to be able to define the elements of the AoD outside of the ritual space. The conscious mind does not have to know the meanings and attributions of the alphabet since the sorcerer uses it in an altered state of consciousness induced by ritual.

FireClown and I, who have similar varieties of magick, actually don’t have much of a conscious understanding of our personal alphabets of desire, which are linked more to repetitive gestures, sounds, and subtle states of consciousness rather than graphic symbols.

Although most sorcerers working in the tradition of A.O. Spare are indebted to the theoretical structure he developed, slavish adherence to Spare’s techniques would be quite contrary to what Spare himself would have wanted.

Of course, if you want to create servitors from graphical sigils then an iconic alphabet of desire will certainly help.

The impetus to begin writing this much postponed essay was prompted by a question from a member of the zee-list, a list for the use of the z(cluster), a loose international association of chaos magicians, ontological anarchists, and the like, primarily mediated through the internet.

A listmember posted the following question:

<< In my work with sigilizing desire, I have frequently come across strange beings which seem related to the sigils. Sometimes, these beings have names and its gematrias are relevant to the object of desire. What are these beings? Can I create servitors out of them? >>

As the reader will have probably gathered, the original question that precipitated this essay has now been answered. In sigilizing desires the magician inadvertently encountered servitors that were in some way born from these sigils. The magician now needs to discover what these servitors are, what their relationship is to the Deep Mind and how they can be used.

Other relevant questions relating to servitors concern servitor dependency and using a bound demon’s energy to reinforce personality elements that the magician wants to strengthen. I’ll deal with these questions as this essay continues.

In creating servitors, once the magickal intention has been formulated an appropriate container for it can be developed. This can be a sigilized figure, an amulet or talisman, a fetish, a computer program or script, or even, possibly, an electronic pet. I advise against using living creatures as containers for servitors, partly because of their complexity, and partly because it is done all too often by parents wih their children, owners with their pets and bosses with their employees, to mention just a few cases where human beings extrude parts of their own psyches and attempt to ram them into other human beings. Manchurian candidates notwithstanding most attempts to do this are qualified failures. Animal familiars, such as cats, are arguably not servitors at all, but rather, associates of the magician or witch, voluntarily participating in magickal work.

There is some argument that a material base for a servitor may not be necessary, but, as Phil Hine points out:

“It does help to further construct the Servitor’s personas an individual entity, and is also useful for focusing on when you are recalling the Servitor for reabsorption or reprogramming.”

Let’s return to my Psycho-Zippy servitor. Zippy-with-a-gun is designed to speed checks written to me through the U.S.Postal Service. I do not need to time limit the existence of this servitor since the problem is evidently continuous. I have decided that Zippy-with-a-gun should have a specific aetheric shape, which will be attached to a material link. This link will be an envelope with Psycho-Zippy’s icon in the place of a stamp. The envelope will be addressed to me and will contain a check payable to me for as much money as I want and signed by the Universe. This envelope talisman will live on my altar and will also be a resting place for Psycho-Zippy when he’s not out terrorizing postal and U.P.S. employees into sending me my checks. I’ve also developed a list of instructions for Psycho-Zippy constraining him to this one task, of facilitating payments through the mail. I don’t, obviously, want Psycho-Zippy infecting a postal worker with the notion that murdering as many of his coworkers as possible before blowing his own brains out would be a fine way to spend the day.

These are the preliminary tasks that need to be done before launching the servitor. Phil Hine suggests a servitor design checklist including deciding general and specific intents; sigilizing the initial desire; deciding whether time factor, material link, name, or a specific shape is needed; deciding what will happen when the task is completed; and, finally, making a list of instructions.

Again this is a fairly formalistic approach to developing servitors, and I have to admit that most of the time I use servitors that are nameless, have no particular shape, no material link, and are created almost instantaneously for a specific purpose. Over a period of time these servitors have taken on personalities, or at least the shadows of such, if I use them repetitively. I have a few of them I send out to speed me through traffic jams. I have another that gets me tables in crowded restaurants before I walk through the door. I didn’t develop these beings, but as a result of repeating spells (through gesture and sound) to achieve these results the servitors just seemed to develop of their own accord. Since I don’t banish servitors but house them when their tasks are completed I think I have a pack of shiftless, and probably loutish servitors hanging around my aetheric environment who leap into action when I need them. My demons need work.

Launching Servitors

Banishing Rituals

Almost all modern authors strongly recommend the use of Banishing Rituals prior to engaging in any magickal ritual. The word “banishing” in this concept is something of a misnomer since the purpose of this technique is to center the magician within a sacred space, banishing negative influences being a secondary effect of a banishing ritual.

Uncle Al (Aleister Crowley) writes:

“The first task of the magician in every ceremony is therefore to render his circle absolutely impregnable…If you leave even a single spirit within the circle, the effect of the conjuration will be entirely absorbed by it.”

Now that’s certainly definite enough. And a wonderful declamatory statement it is!

Crowley’s banishing rituals include The Star Ruby (Liber XXV) and The Star Sapphire (Liber XXXVI), although he assumes that his readers have an understanding of the most famous banishing ritual, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). One of the clearest descriptions of this can be found in Donald Michael Kraig’s “Modern Magick.” The LBRP and its derivatives involve invoking godforms or angels at the corners of the compass as protective agents.

Chaos Magicians, such as Peter Carroll, Phil Hine and Stephen Mace, also strongly suggest the use of banishing rituals, although their centering techniques are somewhat simpler. Phil Hine suggests that banishing rituals are necessary because they allow entry into altered states of consciousness, they dispel psychic debris, and the act to order the universe symbolically, allowing the magician to stand at the axis mundi. Peter Carroll writes that a well cosntructed banishing ritual enables the magician to:

“resist obsession if problems are encountered with dream experiences or with sigils becoming conscious.”

By the latter Carroll clearly is referring to the inadvertent creation of servitors through sigil techniques. It also has the advantage of having a basis in Spare’s theory of magick and the transformation of obsessional energy into organic energy.

Carroll, Hine and Mace all suggest magicians develop a glowing magickal barrier around them when engaged in ritual. Carroll and the IOT used the Gnostic Pentagram Ritual(GPR), a deconstruction of the LBRP, in magickal work.

Curiously I have not been able to discover if Austin Osman Spareused banishing rituals. The omission of such from his “Book of Pleasure” may quite likely be deliberate since he was certainly aware of them. I would suggest that Spare may have considered banishing rituals contrary to the free flow of magickal symbolism from the Deep Mind to the magician’s psyche, that is to say an artifact that may not be useful. But Spare’s magick, to this day, remains more radical, more controversial, and more audacious than most practiced by modern magicians.

Is banishing actually necessary? I do it in an abbreviated form, singing the vowels (Eeh-Aye-Aah-Oh-Uuh-Uuh-Oh-Aah-Aye Eeh) in a scale down and up while following, generally, the chakras with hand movements. I do it because I feel better after I do. Other magicians I know don’t banish at all, while others won’t leave their house without doing an LBRP. My banishing ritual takes a few seconds, can be done with groups, and is a deconstruction of the GPR. I also tend to use drumming, incense, and the strange sound of a Nepali tiger thigh flute to set the scene and move myself into an altered, magickal state of consciousness. I also use the LBRP, but almost never for private ritual. In public rituals, especially before audiences who may never have seen Ceremonial Magick before, the LBRP has a comforting, a soothing effect. After all, it does contain the end of the Lord’s Prayer and it does call the Archangels. I don’t usually disturb such people with the fact that Demons are sometimes classified as Angels by another name.

But if the aim of banishing is to create a sacred space and center the magician then perhaps this can be done just with a hand gesture, with a slight shift in consciousness, or perhaps a declaration like Jean Luc Picard’s “Make It So”!

Modern magickal writers. to my mind, seem terribly concerned over the sanity and well being of new or neophyte magicians. I’m not sure if this is motivated by fear of litigation, higher primate hierarchical motives, or genuine concern that new magicians will actually go crazy.

My suggestion is..try it both ways. Do rituals without banishing and do rituals with banishing. Then do what you prefer. After all, if you get infected by some strange denizen of the Deep Mind because you didn’t bother to banish, you could always ask one of us to exorcise it. There’s always a hearty welcome at my house for demonic entities! I like them. I like to make them work for me, and I like to eat them. They always have a choice, and demon heart is a lot tastier than angel heart!

Free Belief and Vacuity

A technique explored by AO Spare and discussed at length by Stephen Mace but strangely absent from many other discussions of Chaos Magickal techniques is the state of mind called Free Belief by Mace, and generally referred to by Spare as the Neither-Neither principle.

Spare wrote:

“When the mind is nonplused capability to attempt the impossible becomes known.”

Spare’s magickal approach is reductionist. He wrote:

“Magic, the reduction of properties to simplicity, making them transmutable to utilize them afresh by direction, without capitalization, bearing fruit many times.”

Spare believed that acts of magick were most likely to succeed when the mind had attained a state in which duality had been extinguished through a process in which dualistic notions were systematically eliminated by counterpoising them against each other. He called this the Neither-Neither principle. Students of Yogic techniques will recognize this as the Neti-Neti meditation, a meditation in which the seeker questions his or her self-identity by discounting all that he or she is not. For example:

I am not my name.
I am not my body.
I am not my genetic structure.
I am not my mind
etc., etc.

Mace gives a simple method for applying Spare’s technique:

“To apply this principle to conjuring, wait until you are absolutely positive something is true, then search for its opposite. When you find it, oppose it to your ‘truth” and let them annihilate one another as well they may. Any residue you should oppose to its opposite until your truth has been dismembered and the passion behind it converted into undirected energy-free belief.”

FireClown explains this in another way. According to his theory on the formation of entities, obsession naturally creates thought forms which soon achieve a form of independence and turn into demons. Now demons, and semi-detached parts of the magician’s psyche in general, do not wish to be re-assimilated, or destroyed. Consequently they will seek energy from any source in the magician’s psyche, but primarily from long running maladaptive sub-programs such as resentment towards one’s parents, one’s spouse, or ex-spouse, feelings of inferiority, or whatever tape loops are recurrent in the magician’s psyche. The generation of free belief presents the magician with a source of psychic energy, originating in obsession, that allows the actualization of magickal intentions. Without generating free belief the energy the magician summons is eaten by demons and used by them for their own self-perpetuation. Consequently the magickal act fails.

Spare wrote:

“When by the wish to believe-it is of necessity incompatible with an existing belief and is not realized through the inhibition of the organic belief-the negation of the wish, faith moves no mountains, not till it has removed itself.”

Or, if wishes were horses beggars would ride. Mere wishing is rarely sufficient if obsessional energy is at play. Simple spells, such as those used to get a table at a crowded restaurant, can succeed because of their simplicity, and because obsessional energy has not created demonic entities.

The bar against success in magick is the contradictory opinions the magician holds of his or her capacity to succeed. Spare suggests that this very process can be used by the magician to create a state of mind in which magick will work. Correct use of the Neither-Neither principle brings about the state Spare calls Vacuity, which is, as T.S.Eliot suggests, is

“A state of complete simplicity Costing not less than everything.”

To return to servitors, then, once the servitor has been developed, and a banishing ritual performed, the magician must achieve a state of vacuity, a state in which free belief exists. One way to achieve this is the Neither-Neither. As Mace writes:

“By applying the Neither-Neither we can gut the meaningless convictions that obsess us every day and use the power released to cause the changes we desire.”

Peter Carroll calls this state of vacuity Gnosis. He wrote

“Methods of achieving gnosis can be divided into two types. In the inhibitory mode, the mind is progressively silenced until only a single object of concentration remains. In the excitatory mode, the mind is raised to a very high pitch of excitement while concentration on the objective is maintained. Strong stimulation eventually elicits a reflex inhibition and paralyzes all but the most central function-the object of concentration. Thus strong inhibition and strong excitation end up creating the same effect-the one-pointed consciousness, or gnosis.”

The Neither-Neither technique is primarily inhibitory, although, through the artificial manipulation of emotional states attached to obsessive energy there is no reason why the method could not produce an excitatory effect.

Achieving this state ensures that the servitor can be charged. Not achieving this state runs the risk that the care the magician has put into developing the servitor will come to nothing because the energy developed will end up feeding the magician’s unbound and perhaps unknown demons.

To continue with the example of the Psycho Zippy servitor I am creating to facilitate payments through U.P.S. and the Postal Service, I can create free belief by choosing a recurring tape from my own psyche. I know, for example, I still resent my father for sending me away to school in England. I believe he did it because he was jealous of my mother’s affection for me. I can counterpoint this belief by reminding myself that sending me to boarding school was not only very expensive for him but that he believed he was affording me an education that he had been denied due to the poverty of his parents. On the other hand I truly hated the institutionalized cruelty of English boarding school. I can counterpoint this with the fact that when I was old enough to enumerate the problems with the type of school to which he had sent me he removed me at once and placed in a school that was actually enlightened. I can continue in this way counterpoising one belief with a contrary argument until finally I am left with nothing to which the obsessive resentment can attach. At this point I am ready to charge the servitor. I have moved myself to a calm and one-pointed state of mind that is nevertheless suffused with psychic energy.

The Actual Launch

To recapitulate: I have created a sacred space by means of a banishing ritual. I have created the appropriate energy to charge the servitor by using the method of Free Belief. I am in a state of vacuity. At this point I can bring the image of Psycho Zippy to my mind and create it as a living form. I can visualize it racing, wraithlike, through the information systems of UPS and the US Postal Service. I can visualize it making the hands of postal workers touching my mail move just a bit faster, see it increasing their concentration and visual acuity, revving up their hand-eye-body coordination for the apparently arduous task of getting my checks back to me on time. I can then dispatch the servitor into the aether with a stern admonition to do my will or suffer the consequence of psychic dissolution.

In actual fact I did none of these things. Instead I hosted a ritual, an invocation of Baron Samedi, and before the invocation, but after the banishing, had the participants gaze at my rendering of Psycho Zippy. I then gave this rendering to a friend who was off to a Fire Performance Art that evening, but was unable to stay for the invocation. She had the rendering burned with a flame-thrower while a large group of onlookers chanted “Zippy, Zippy, Zippy.”

A few days later I turned my rendering of Zippy into labels which I have since placed in every package I ship. Zippy has, by and large, worked very well since then, and I would estimate that the speed of return payments has increased by about 30 per cent.

Zippy is a servitor with a material base, the laser printed image of him that sits on my alter and is reproduced on my labels. Although it is by no means necessary for servitors to have material bases, in this case, it seemed appropriate. Phil Hine in his User’s Guide gives as examples of material bases:

“rings, bottles, crystals, or a small metal figurine”

In a way Zippy can be termed a fetish servitor. I believe the image I have drawn of him to have magickal power, thus fulfilling the definition of fetish.

To give you another example of a fetish servitor, FireClown, who was having difficulty during job interviews, developed a bear servitor, which he created with a material base made out of wood. It looked something like a wood carved zuni bear. FireClown wore this amulet within his shirt during job interviews. He visualized the bear as a large, somewhat comical, somewhat threatening, form dancing behind him as he sat before his interviewers. He reported that his prospective employers became quite confused during the interviews, ceasing to pay attention to him, and frequently glancing behind him. His interviews were concluded rapidly and cordially and he shortly found himself employed.

Phil Hine also suggests that time is a factor to be considered in servitor design and creation, and suggests that the life cycle or periodicity of a servitor be included in its creation. I have not found this to be the case in my own work, but then this may just be because I tend to create servitors for perennial needs and use sigils or godforms for ad hoc situations where I must respond rapidly to a crisis or momentary desire.

Hine suggests a technique that my local Chaos group -the TAZ, New Orleans node of the Z(cluster)-has used successfully. He calls it “The Airburst Exercise.” In this technique for launching spells, including group sigils and servitors the participants in the ritual first develop an altered state of consciousness through whatever means they choose – chanting, breathing, group groping…whatever. They then visualize energy flowing to and from each other and finally crystallizing in a sphere within their circle. They visualize the sigil or servitor within the sphere. This sphere is then launched into the aether (perhaps after a countdown).

The TAZ, New Orleans group, in 1993, decided to celebrate Mardi Gras into perpetuity by launching a chaos satellite, which they named the Zerbat. This satellite was sent into geosynchronous orbit 30 miles above the spire of St. Louis Cathedral shortly before Mardi Gras of that year. The group visualized the satellite as a chaosphere with a top hat, smoking a cigar. On Mardi Gras Day since then members have distributed Reichian orgone collectors throughout the French Quarter, and, at 6 pm discharged these collectors to the Zerbat satellite through a group ritual performed in Jackson Square. The orgones are visualized as a stream of energy containing the revelry of Fat Tuesday in the Vieux Carre. The Zerbat send these streams of orgiastic energy to other satellites launched around the world by other groups. The energy is then received by magicians using satellite receivers (either images of such, old hubcaps, metal bowls or, for the brave, their computers) who use the orgones for their own magickal works. The Zerbat is, of course, a group servitor and was launched using a variation of Hine’s Airburst Exercise.

Other Methods to Launch Servitors

Stephen Mace, in his “Stealing the Fire from Heaven”, refers to another form of servitor, known as “The Magickal Child”. This is a technique described at length by Crowley (and forms the central theme of his turgid work of fiction “Moonchild”) in which a couple of magicians have intercourse to produce

“an astral being whose power is devoted to carrying out the purpose of the participants. It is empowered by the white heat of orgasm and embodied in the ‘elixer’ generated by intercourse. The participants must give this child a name in advance and also agree on its astral appearance, for it must fill their imaginations throughout the rite, until climax sets it in their mingled fluids.”

Mace continues with the usual thelemic caveat:

“Any loss of concentration upon it or independent thinking during copulation can be deadly, for then their child will be monster. The two participants must therefore agree on the symbolism they will use, making this formula much more relevant to traditional magick, where common imagery is easy to come by.”

I can’t help but ask what, in these days of protected sex, one must actually do to “mingle fluids”, but perhaps we shouldn’t go there. It does occur to me that this ritual is not too far removed from normal intercourse between would be parents anxious to conceive. Mace states that this is a heterosexual ritual, but I can see no reason why it would not be quite as effective, and, in the long run, probably a great deal less stressful to society as a whole, if it were not a same sex rite. After all, if the heterosexual couple does not use protection and a child is the issue of the ritual, the result might be an actual monstrous child, rather than a servitor. Oh, the puzzles entrenched in thelemic logic!

Possibly safer for all concerned by far is the ritual described by Mace that Austin Osman Spare used to create servitors, which he and Mace call, creating some confusion, “elementals”.

Mace describes a technique he asserts that Spare used called “The Earthenware Virgin.” This is a clay vessel with an opening that fits snugly around the sorcerer’s erect penis and into which the masturbates. At the bottom of the vessel is a sigil incorporating the attributes of the servitor. Needless to say this is a technique for male magicians, although I am certain that inventive female magicians could develop effective variations. On orgasm the magician charges the sigil and then buries it, doing the whole operation during the quarter moon (ask Mrs. Patterson why!)

Mace continues:

“When the moon passes full, the wizard digs up this clay womb, replenishes the sperm and -’while repeating suitable incantations’- pours it out as a libation on the ground. Then he reburies the urn.”

Sounds pretty raunchy to me, rather like a pornographic Clark Ashton Smith story. Does the sorcerer clean the vessel before ejaculating into it a second time, or does the grit add an ascetic tinge to the operation?

In any event Mace states:

“Spare cautions that though this technique never fails, it is dangerous, and so he leaves much to be guessed.”

Rather too much in my opinion. What if the sorcerer gets the dimensions a little wrong? What if the sorcerer has been using Viagra? Will he get stuck? Then what? Never mind. Back to Mace:

“…one may suppose that the urn acts as a clay womb in which the wizard breeds a familiar spirit. Such help can be as risky as it is effective, however, for if the wizard is in any way unable to control himself, he will have an even harder time managing a semi-independent power such as this. He must always keep the initiative over it, never allow it any scope for independent action, and always maintain a strict separation between its form and his own. He must never invite it into himself.”

Mace underlines “never.”

This curious tendency among magicians from all traditions to warn of the dangers of magickal operations may be no more than stagecraft (“Kids, don’t try this at home!”), or perhaps it is more of the strange conservatism that magicians sometimes manifest. Mace’s comments seem, from my perspective, to be quite contradictory. If the semi-independent power is not completely autonomous how may one maintain “a strict separation?” I’m afraid I’m puzzled.

The Care and Feeding of Servitors

Servitors feed from the obsessional energies of the magician that created them. In some cases, vampiric servitors, for example, the servitor may be charged with feeding from the energies of the individual or entity that is its target, but even here, the magician that created it both launches it and controls it with his or her own obsessional energies. A book-finding servitor, for example, can rest dormant until the magician’s desire for a certain book sends it on its way.

Servitors that do not perform according to the magician’s desire need discipline. This can consist merely of a warning. On the other hand a servitor that consistently fails in its duties obviously needs to be recalled. Chaos magick is, after all, results oriented magick. Servitors can be dissipated by destroying their material base, by visualizing their dissolution, or by any other means the magician finds effective.

Servitors may be domiciled on the magician’s alter. I tend to return mine to a number of crystals strewn about my alter, or to some other material base there residing. Since servitors are semi-independent most authors caution against allowing them to exist in an uncontrolled form, since, at least in theory, they will continue to subsist off the life energies of the magician, which may, over a period of time, debilitate the sorcerer. Jaq. D. Hawkins, in her book, “Spirits of the Earth” has the following, fairly typical admonition about thought-form elementals (her name for servitors):

“these artificial entities have survival instincts. Once a thought form is created, it will generally continue to take spiritual energy from its creator until it is dissipated or reabsorbed, which is something which should be kept in mind when deciding to do this in the first place. The energy to sustain a single thought form may go unnoticed, but sending streams of thought forms off to do one’s bidding could sap one’s energy to depletion and lead to illness. It is always prudent to have a plan in place to reabsorb the entity, and therefore one’s own energy, once the purpose is accomplished.”

Again, the validity of this admonition has more to do with the magickal model to which the magician subscribes rather than natural law. Certainly magicians using the Spirit Model, the Energy Model, and even the Psychological Model to an extent, might agree. Magicians using the Information Model, in which the servitor is essentially self-replicating code programming energy, might disagree, since this Model does not require the magician to use his or her own life force, except perhaps to launch the servitor. Readers of this essay are advised to determine which paradigm, or which combination of paradigms they are using in a particular operation, and act accordingly in determining whether to reabsorb or dissipate the servitor.

Binding Demons, Elementals, and Other Entities

As stated above, this essay is primarily concerned with creating semi-independent entities out of the mind of the magician. However, it is possible to use the vast variety of independent entities that populate the Spirit Model as servitors. As indicated earlier, these entities tend to be less manageable for a variety of reasons. They are products of the group consciousness of Planet Earth, tend to be more self-willed (and consequently require more energy to be controlled) and are often contaminated by conflicting instructions placed upon them by prior sorcerers. However they may be used, particularly if the magician has a personal bond with the entity, through memory, propinquity, or a recognition of psychological characteristics within the magician that the entity in question also possesses. Some of these entities, however, are really godforms, or extrusions of such, and need to be handled in a quite different manner, but that’s a topic for another essay. I would encourage magicians wishing to use these entities to use lesser demons, minor elementals.

I do not intend to go into detail on the methods the magician can use to evoke and control these entities. The annals of magick are already full of extremely detailed instructions.

However, the question posed earlier, whether one can use a bound demon’s energy to reinforce personality elements that the magician wants to strengthen, should be answered.

Traditional ceremonial magicians, of course, habitually do this, summoning, for example, a demon of lust and charging it with the task of causing an object of his or her amorous attentions to fall in love with the sorcerer. In this case, from the viewpoint of the theory of servitor dynamics outlined in this essay, the magician has bound the demon of his own lust and converted it into a type of glamour attractive to the object of his infatuation.

The question was asked, however, by someone who wanted to use a personality defect as the energy source for a personality asset. To give an example, resentment towards one’s parents, if fed frequently enough (and isn’t it usually) creates demonic energy that can crystallize into a thought form. Can this demon can be bound and its energy then used to charge a servitor whose function is to increase the personality asset of, say, self-confidence? The process this would occur would be whereby, every time the magician feels resentment towards his or her parents, the energy from this resentment is directed towards the servitor whose task is to increase the magician’s self-confidence. The answer is that the energy from the resentment must be clarified, or filtered, as it were, before it can be of use to the character enhancing servitor. An effective method for doing this would be the Free Belief technique outlined above. Thus the energy would not be contaminated by the emotional charge of resentment, but be pure psychic material, suitable for feeding a servitor.

A final word about the therapeutic techniques of psychodynamic theory would be useful here since the above technique would be more properly classified as the use of servitors as a form of magickal psychotherapy.

Magick and Psychotherapy

Modern magick and psychotherapy share a number of commonalties. Both attempt to empower the individual, both attempt to discern the relationship of the individual to the universe, both attempt to make that relationship as functional, in terms of the individual’s goals, as possible. Although many magicians might disagree, magick is also an attempt by the magician to integrate disparate elements of his or her personality into a unified whole, which is, of course, a primary goal in psychotherapy. This is not to say that magick is psychotherapy. Magick is clearly a quite different field of human endeavor. Psychotherapy generally has a sociological goal, that is the development of personality assets that allow the individual to function within society in an easy and comfortable manner. Magicians generally could care less about social approval, although they might well seek the approval of their magickal peers.

Psychodynamic approaches to psychotherapy (also known as psychoanalysis) seek to overcome defenses so that repressed materials can be uncovered, insight into personal motivation can be achieved, and unresolved childhood issues can be controlled. Psychoanalysis, probably because of its dismal success rate and enormous expense, has now pretty much given way to psychopharmacological interventions among psychiatrists. However, servitor creation and deployment certainly uses psychoanalytic techniques, to the extent that the magician attempts to discover obsessional thought patterns, tries to find out exactly what it is that he or she wants, and uses the material of his or her own psychological history as part of the material in the development of the servitor. The primary difference is that psychoanalysis seeks to bring repressed materials to the surface so that they can dissipate (if, in fact they do), while chaos magicians mine their own repressions and obsessions for energy to empower creations of their own imaginations, a goal that many psychiatrists might regard as being quite contrary to mental health.

Rather than looking at chaos magick in terms of its therapeutic uses as a psychodynamic form of therapy it may be more accurate to define it as a modality that looks remarkably similar to that adopted by situationalist or contextual psychologists. Situationalism, a view of personality championed by Walter Mischel argues that whatever consistency of behavior that is observable is largely determined by the characteristics of the situation rather than any internal personality types or traits. From this somewhat radical perspective it is arguable that personality does not actually exist, but is a construct placed by an observer on responses that an individual has to his or her environment. In other words, personality is contained in those behavior patterns the observer chooses to regard. Similarities in patterns of behavior result from similarities in the situation the individual encounters rather than any underlying traits or characteristics the individual might contain. This fluid conception of personality is integral to Chaos Magic which argues that it is not so much any internal validity (or consistency!) of belief structures that a magician may adopt that are important, but rather the tenacity with which the a magician can hold a belief during the period contained by the magical rite. Chaos magicians tend to be results oriented, more concerned, that is, with whether a magical rite works than with its consistency with any encompassing belief structures. Consequently the Chaos magician is quite content with adopting radically different personality characteristic than those with which he or she may find comfortable outside the space and period of the magical rite. Phil Hine, for example, cites a magician, who, wishing to pass a test in mathematics at college adopted the personality (to the best of his ability) of Mr. Spock from Star Trek for three days before the exam, and then passed the test with no problems. The magical practice of invocation, in which the practitioner adopts the personality characteristics of the deity or entity he or she invokes, also suggests that possession rituals are primarily situationist in underlying theory. The situation here is the expectation that the invoked God, demon, or entity will act in certain ways. Jan Fries, one of the clearest writers on magic derived from A.O.Spare, writes of the nearly epileptic seizures of contemporary Japanese spirit mediums:

“Dramatic healings have much to do with play acting and giving the audience the entertainment it desires. The medium or shaman pretends the eternal ‘as if’ which becomes the ‘as is’ in the act of doing.”

To summarize, then, Chaos Magick is distinguished by its empirical approach to magic (techniques that do not actualize the magician’s desires are discarded), by an assertion that personality is a construct comprised of belief structures the individual chooses to regard as containing consistent and constant elements, and by the idea that the primary obstacle to the actualization of a desire through a magical rite is the interference of the conscious mind. The underlying concept here is that there exists an unconscious, perhaps even a collective unconscious, termed by Jan Fries “the Deep Mind” and by A.O.Spare “Kia”, but an acceptance of this idea, because of the situationalist approach of Chaos magicians, not necessary to the successful fulfillment of desires through magical rituals. It is, rather, part of the argument, a method to persuade Chaos magicians that the techniques may actually work, but the primary function is rhetorical, not substantive. This is, of course, a radical approach to magic, not to mention psychology, but it can be substantiated as an effective approach among certain individuals. To be sure, chaos magicians routinely use chaos magickal techniques for personal psychotherapeutic goals.

Phil Hine recognized this in his User’s Guide:

“A purely psychodynamic model of Servitor operation would state that our psyche is made up of a very large cluster of forces which can be projected as intelligences, complexes, or subpersonalities (whether you’re into magick, NLP, Jungian Psychotherapy, etc). These mental forces enable us to do some things but prevent us from doing others. By consciously realigning and redirecting these energies we can create Servitors which will enable us to do things which we couldn’t do before, such as refrain from compulsive behaviors, thoughts, or emotions. In these terms, a Servitor is a conscious form of redirecting these largely unconscious entities so that they work for us.”

I believe that chaos magickal techniques would actually prove quite valuable to psychotherapists in the treatment of abnormal behaviour, but that, I’m afraid, is a topic for an entirely different essay.

New Orleans, 1998

Please direct comments, criticisms, rants, hurt feelings, or simple donations of love and cash to

Sigils, Servitors and Godforms: Part I

By Marik | November 11, 2000 | 6 comments

This is the first part of a three part essay written by Marik (Mark Defrates). Comments, suggestions, criticisms can be sent to

Sigils, servitors and god-forms are three magickal techniques that chaos magicians use to actualize magickal intentions. Sigils are magickal spells developed and activated to achieve a specific, fairly well defined and often limited end. Servitors are entities created by a magician and charged with certain functions. Godforms are complex belief structures, often held by a number of people, with which a magician interacts in order to actualize fairly broad magickal intentions. These three techniques are not quite as distinct as these definitions would suggest, they tend to blur into one another. The purpose of this essay is to explain these magickal tools, indicate their appropriateness for different types of magickal intentions, and show how these tools relate to the general theories of chaos magick and of Dzog Chen, a form of Tibetan Buddhism.

Part One: Sigils

1. A Universe neither of Man nor God

The use of the techniques of the chaos magician presupposes a certain stance, or attitude, towards magick that is relatively new in the history of the occult. This stance may, for lack of a better word, be described as postmodern, since it is neither traditional nor modern. The differences between these three approaches to magick – traditional, modern or postmodern can be elucidated as three conceptions of the nature of the universe. The traditional approach is based in Judeo-Christian metaphysics and views the universe as anthropomorphic, in the image of the Christian God, or less rarely, some other anthropomorphic form. The traditional magician believes that the universe is understandable by human consciousness because human beings are made in the image of God. The modern view is essentially a reaction to this and humanist in the extreme. Here the universe may be perceived as Newtonian, as a machine that is ultimately understandable by human consciousness, although humans may have to evolve into a more powerful form to be able to do this. The postmodern view of the chaoist denies that the universe can ever be understood by the human mind. Influenced by modern physics, particularly quantum mechanics and chaos theory, the chaos magician tends to accept the universe as a series of phenomena that have little to do with human beings. In other words traditional magick can be said to be God centred, modern magick to be human centred while postmodern magick eschews the very idea of a centre. A brief review of traditional and modern approaches to ceremonial magick may help to illuminate the postmodern stance of the freestyle chaoist.

Ceremonial magicians use ritual magick to create effects in themselves or in the universe that they do not feel they can as efficiently bring about through normal means. All magicians agree that magick can cause change, but few would argue that the change is inevitable, completely predictable, or fully knowable by the magician. All magicians, to a greater or lesser extent, are engaged in an ongoing dynamic in which the issues of personal desire, personal control and personal belief are thrust against the strictures of the universal consensual belief structure, the concept of will as a universal force, and the ideas of fate, predestination, and karma. At the core of this confrontation is the question of the nature of the universe. The question is: is the universe human centred, designed, created and maintained by a god force, or is it, as modern science seems to indicate, just there?

Until recently, magicians have tended to distinguish amongst themselves by hue, and the colours of the magician (white, grey or black) refer precisely to this dynamic, the confrontation between the personal wishes of the magician and a universal standard of morality or law. White, and to an extent, grey magicians, attempt to remove themselves from the debate by insisting that their magickal acts are inspired only by the highest motives of service and self-knowledge, that, indeed, they wish only to do the will of higher powers known as their Holy Guardian Angels. Perdition shall blast, so they say, those who use magick for self-centred or materialistic ends. Grey magicians may proclaim that the use of magickal powers for materialistic ends is valid sometimes, but rarely for selfish reasons, and in any event, is always problematical. Donald Michael Kraig, with the breezy superficiality of the traditional magus, in Modern Magick terms white magick the use of magick “for the purpose of obtaining the Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel”, grey magick as magick used “for the purpose of causing either physical or non-physical good to yourself or to others” and black magick as magick used “for the purpose of causing either physical or non-physical harm to yourself or others”. Kraig is influenced by Aleister Crowley and by modern Wicca, or Gardnerian witchcraft. Wiccans, ever concerned that their white magick might slide through some unconscious twitch of desire through grey into black, corrected Crowley’s axiom “Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law” with the enervating modifier “An it Harm None”. Kraig, worried that readers of his treatise might fall “into the pit of the black magician,” encourages neophyte mages to practice only white magick. Fortunately, before he is two thirds of the way through his book Kraig is happily discoursing on talismans, grimoires, and the correct methods for disposing of recalcitrant demons. Few magicians can resist the lure of dark magick, despite protestations of innocence. This is because even Wiccan influenced magicians are not, as Wiccans are, devotees of a religion. That is to say magicians are interested in the dynamic of personal will versus (in Crowley’s term) True Will, while Wiccans have resolved this issue. While the occasional conflict may remain, Wiccans, like Christians, Jews, and Moslems understand that they have agreed to submit their wills to that which they construe to be the Will of their deities. Magicians, on the other hand, are not so sure. This, more than any other factor, accounts for the intense suspicion those of a religious cast view those who practise magick.

The designation of black magician still tends to be a term that magicians use to vilify other magicians. Aleister Crowley, arguably the single greatest influence on the development of magick in this century, and, for the purposes of this essay, defined as a traditional magician, used the term in this way. In Magick, for example, he asserted “any will but that to give up the self to the Beloved is Black Magick”. That is to say, any use of magick unlike his use of magick is black magick. Elsewhere Crowley muttered darkly about the existence of “Black Lodges” and “Black Brothers,” magicians who chose to remain in the Abyss, the metaphysical gap between the first three sephiroth and the remainder of the Tree of Life. A magus of this hue, Crowley stated, secretes “his elements around his Ego as if isolated from the Universe”, and turns his back on the true aim of magick, which according to Aleister, is the “attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is the raising of the complete man in a vertical straight line. Any deviation from this line tends to become black magic. Any other operation is black magick”. As students of mysticism will recognize, this goal is identical with the mystics goal of the union of the self with God. Crowley, of course, wrote with his feet firmly planted in the Judeo-Christian paradigm, a paradigm in which the universe is visualized as Adam Kadmon, the Great Man, and is thus wholly anthropomorphized.

In 1969, Anton LaVey posited the argument of the modern black magician when in The Satanic Bible he asserted “No one on earth ever pursued occult studies, metaphysics, yoga, or any other “white light” concept without ego gratification or personal power as a goal”. Moreover, LaVey claimed “There is no difference between ‘White’ and ‘Black’ magic except in the smug hypocrisy, guilt ridden righteousness, and self-deceit of the ‘White’ magician himself”. Thus the term black magician began to be associated with a style of magick that did not distinguish between self-interest and self-knowledge. LaVey in his organization, The Church of Satan, and later Michael Aquino in his schismatic order, The Temple of Set, argued that the will of the individual magician was paramount. Both denied even the existence of a universal Will. LaVey stated “The Satanist realizes that man, and the action and reaction of the universe, is responsible for everything and doesn’t mislead himself into thinking that someone cares”. Michael Aquino asserted “The Black Magician, on the other hand, rejects both the desirability of union with the Universe and any self-deceptive tactics designed to create such an illusion.

Unfortunately the refusal of modern black magicians to deal with the possibility that man may not be at the centre of the universe, or may just be one in a large series of interdependent phenomena leads to an error. Reluctant, it seems, even to adopt completely a materialistic or mechanistic view of the universe, LaVey and Aquino embrace the ghost in the machine and assert that the individual ego can continue after death. Thus LaVey stated “If a person has been vital throughout his life and has fought to the end for his earthly existence, it is this ego which will refuse to die, even after the expiration of the flesh that housed it”.

There is, of course, not a shred of evidence to prove that this has ever happened nor that it can happen, but magicians of all hues, together with the adherents of most of the world’s religions, continue to assert blandly the existence of a transpersonal, individuated spark that somehow is exempt from the normal process of birth, life, death, and corruption, a kind of eternal homunculus. Apparently the notion that the universe may not actually be human centered is too frightening for Satanists and modern black magicians to bear, and the old chestnut of the soul is dredged out of the Judeo-Christian quagmire, brushed off, and presented as the “fully gratified” ego of the modern immortal Satanist.

Teetering on the edge of postmodern magick, Peter Carroll, the first contemporary popularizer of chaos magick, in Liber Null and Psychonaut, accepted the idea that the universal force may not be a force that bears much relationship to humanity. He stated: “The force which initiates and moves the universe, and the force which lies at the center of consciousness, is whimsical and arbitrary, creating and destroying for no purpose beyond amusing Itself. There is nothing spiritual or moralistic about Chaos and Kia. We live in a universe where nothing is true…”.

Carroll was aware of the true nature of the ego, and stated “developing an ego is like building a castle against reality”. Moreover, he recognized that “the real Holy Guardian Angel is just the force of consciousness, magic, and genius itself, nothing more. This cannot manifest in a vacuum: it is always expressed in some form, but its expressions are not the thing itself”. In this statement Carroll aligned himself with the quantum mechanical view of the universe, a view that refuses to discriminate phenomena on the basis of dualistic concepts, but stresses the wave like nature of energy. This is also the viewpoint of sophisticated Buddhism. The key phrase of the “Prajna Paramita”, a critical sutra in the development of Buddhist metaphysics, states “form is only emptiness and emptiness is only form.”

Ultimately Carroll, however, was as reluctant as a Satanist to let go of the comforting paradigm of the soul or spirit and despite paying lip service to a universe in quantum flux stated “The adept magician however will have so strengthened his spirit by magick that it is possible to carry it over whole into a new body”. This turns out to be a crippling flaw in Carroll’s approach to magick and one that reinforces his belief in the efficacy of hierarchical magick, a contradiction of the fundamental principle of chaos magick, that it replicates the non-ordered flow of phenomena in the universe. The ego, after all, is an ordered construct that tolerates nothing so little as the inevitability of change. Perhaps the problem lay in Carroll’s assertion that “physical processes alone will never completely explain the existence of the universe”, a statement that eventuates from the dualistic, epistemological mindset of Newtonian physics and Aristotelian western philosophy. Perhaps it comes from a fear of death.

Yet concurrent with this discriminatory, black/white, dualistic approach of western occultism, there has always been another strain, the shamanistic, orgiastic approach that deliberately blurrs these definitions and seeks to confront the universe as a dynamic, and non human process. This approach, however, has usually been the domain of art and artists rather than occultists. Modern English poetry since Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” has been obsessed with reconciling the poetic imagination with a stark and inhuman universe. Arnold recognized the universe in 1867 as a place that:

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night

By the time T.S. Eliot wrote “The Wasteland” in 1922, he saw the universe as “a heap of broken mirrors,” an metaphor that aptly describes the shattering of the familiar concept of the universe as reflecting a human face. The year before, W.B. Yeats in “The Second Coming” concurred:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

This dawning consciousness infuses all the arts, from the movement of modern art, from Dada and Cubism, through Abstract Expressionism, to modern music, from the dissonance of Ravel’s “La Valse” to John Cage to minimalism to industrial. Artists for one hundred and fifty years have struggled to depict the face of a chaotic universe, and man’s far from central place within it. In fact, the occult has been one of the last are as of human intellectual endeavour to avail itself of this perception of the universe. Not until the development of chaos magick can it truly be said that magick has finally started to deal with the insights of modern art and modern science.

Chaos magick derives from a series of magical positions articulated by Austin Osman Spare, a contemporary of Aleister Crowley. Spare’s vision, itself influenced by the work of William Blake, is contained succinctly in The Book of Pleasure. Spare’s approach to magick and the universe has been validated by the discoveries of the new physics, by quantum science, and by chaos mathematics. The metaphysical basis for Spare’s magick is similar to that of Dzog Chen, a form of Tibetan Buddhism, and, in fact, the reference and counter reference between Buddhism, art, science, and chaos magick is striking and continuous. Spare wrote The Book of Pleasure between 1909 and 1913, but most of Spare’s work was ignored until Carroll began writing about it. There are a number of reasons for this. Spare’s work was printed in small runs and he did not seek fame. His style is elliptical and obscure. His work is difficult to understand in the absence of his lush illustrations, and since the illustrations are spells, or more precisely, sigils, they affect a deep level of the mind and tend to distract one from the content of his writing. His style is declaratory, arrogant, and uses a special vocabulary, the definitions for which have to be teased out of the text. But perhaps of most importance, Spare’s view of the universe is non-human, and consequently the usual god centred or human centred context of magick is absent. Not until contemporary metaphysical thought had changed to allow a non anthropomorphic universe did Spare become accessible. Even now he, together with Kenneth Grant, is one of the least read and least understood among modern magickal writers.

Spare begins with the idea of Kia, of which he says, in an echo of the Tao Te Ching, “The Kia that can be expressed by conceivable ideas is not the eternal Kia, which burns up all belief”. Thus he does not designate by name that which later chaos magicians would call Chaos, but concentrates on the immediate manifestation of the formless which he describes as “the idea of sel”. This is precisely the viewpoint of Dzog Chen. Dzog Chen, a sorcerous form of Buddhism developed by Padmasambhava in the eighth century a.c.e., posits the creation of the manifest universe as occurring at the instant that the conception of self develops. Spare said of Kia “Anterior to Heaven and Earth, in its aspect that transcends these, but not intelligence, it may be regarded as the primordial sexual principle, the idea of pleasure in self-love”. In Dzog Chen the initial impulse splits emptiness from form, nirvana from samsara and develops dualistic thinking. The multiplicity of the universe streams out of this split.

One of the central symbols of Dzog Chen is the dorje. A form of magick wand, the dorje is composed of two stylized phalluses joined by a small central ball. The dorje is, according to Dzog Chen, a terma, or hidden teaching. This teaching is a treasure hidden by Padmasambhava. The whole of the dorje refers to the unlimited potentiality of the universe, and thus, in modern terms, is an image of chaos, or the quantum flux of the universe that is before and beyond discriminatory thinking, inseparable, indissoluble. The two ends of the dorje refer, respectively, to form and emptiness, or samsara and sunyata. The small central bead that joins the two ends of this bilaterally symmetrical object is hollow to show the unknowable potentiality at the intersection between form and emptiness, and also to refer back to the chaos current. Thus the dorje is a three dimensional symbol for the way the universe manifests itself from unity through duality into its full, lush complexity. As Spare says “As unity conceived duality, it begot trinity, begot tetragrammaton”. In a statement that presages the modern understanding of the fractal universe as an event that is essentially a complex repetition and multiplication of a series of simple forms, Spare wrote:

The dual principle is the quintessence of all experience, no ramification has enlarged its early simplicity, but is only its repetition, modification or complexity, never is its evolution complete. It cannot go further than the experience of self-so returns and unites again and again, ever an anti-climax. For ever retrogressing to its original simplicity by infinite complication is its evolution. No man shall understand “Why” by its workings. Know it as the illusion that embraces the learning of all existence.

Recognizing the recursive movement of the movement of energy, or consciousness, through the universe, that is to say, of Kia, is essential to the understanding of the form of magick that Spare developed because it indicates the structure of the spells, sigils, and magickal techniques of chaos magick. Refuting absolutely the notion that this flow of energy is ever understandable by dualistic minds, Spare stated unequivocally that the magickal energy of the universe, the force that interpenetrates all phenomena is non-human. Moreover Spare required the magician, in order to avail himself of this force, to renounce his human belief systems, his dualistic mind, to achieve a state of consciousness that, as much as possible, mimicked the primordial. How to do this is the subject of the next section of this essay.

2. Spare, Self-Love and Sigil Magick

Spare recognized that the greatest bar to the successful actualization of the magickal intention was self-consciousness, the normal, dualistic state of mind that carries the baggage of our cultural context, our upbringing, our human or god centered belief system. Throughout The Book of Pleasure he inveighed against the idea of God. He stated “The idea of God is the primordial sin, all religions are evil”. He warned of the toxic effects of self-judgement, of self-analysis while in the performance of the magickal act. He wrote “He who trusts to his natural fund of genius, has no knowledge of its extent and accomplishes with ease, but directly he doubts, ignorance obsesses him”.

Spare asserted that the primordial consciousness, or Kia, was indistinguishable from the sexual impulse. This is partly because of the dynamics of the manifestation of the universe from chaos. From chaos comes Kia, which immediately becomes duality. Duality, according to Spare, forms a trinity. This is essentially a procreative act, which Spare rightly identified as sexual. Moreover Spare associated the intense experience of sexual orgasm with the experience of Kia. He wrote:

Self-love only is the eternal all pleasing, by meditation on this effulgent self which is mystic joyousness. At that time of bliss, he is punctual to his imagination, in that day what happiness is his! A lusty innocent, beyond sin, without hurt!

Access to magickal power, according to Spare, is encouraged by the state of consciousness we enter when in orgasm, while the activation of spells is facilitated by the sensation of vacuity. This, he wrote “is obtained by exhausting the mind and body by some means or another”. Sexual release was a frequent path to this for Spare, and a common motif in his drawings is a hand with fingers curled and thumb outstretched, an image of both painting and masturbation. Variants of this image include a hand with eyes, a hand with face, and a hand with wings. Spare continuously sought the integration of magickal concept with magickal gesture (mudra), with magickal drawing, with magickal act.

Spare believed that it was essential to base magickal acts in a state of consciousness he terms Neither-Neither, a state of simplicity and pure self. This is a state where, however briefly, the mind has ceased its chattering, its continual discourse, and is in a state that can most easily be achieved by exhaustion, but may also be a result of sex, alcohol, or today, even watching television until the mind has become numb and mute. The state of vacuity can also be reached by the neti neti technique of yoga, a technique in which emotional states and mental concepts are annihilated by being opposed against each other. Doubtless Spare was aware of this technique when he devised the Neither-Neither formulation of vacuity. This technique results in so called free energy, psychic energy that can be used to charge a sigil or infuse a magickal act. Spare wrote that magick was “the reduction of properties to simplicity”. Moreover, he believed that the conscious mind prevented the fulfilment of the magickal intention. He wrote that conscious desire raises self-doubt and “lust for result,” that it was “non-attractive”, creating “anxiety” which “defeats the purpose because it retains and exposes the desire”.

Spare asserted that the ground for magickal action was the “sub-consciousness”, what we would normally call today the subconscious or the unconscious mind. He argued that the place where the magickal spell could be seeded was deep within the mind of the magician. He defined the subconsciousness as “the epitome of all experience and wisdom, past incarnations as men, animals, birds, vegetable life, etc., etc., everything that exists, has and ever will exist”. Spare believed that it was possible to reach this “storehouse of memory” through sigils and other magickal acts, but he consistently cautioned against using the rational or discriminative mind to reach the sub-consciousness. He wrote “in striving for knowledge we repel it, the mind works best on a simple diet.”

This stress on simplicity, efficiency and non-rational technique is a major characteristic differentiating Spare from most other magicians of the Twentieth Century. Spare wrote “By Sigils and the acquirement of vacuity, any past incarnation, experience, etc., can be summoned to consciousness”. He placed himself firmly against the elaborate rituals, dogma, and unending learning of the tradition of ceremonial magick by stating “Know all ritual, ceremony, conditions, as arbitrary (you have yourself to please), a hindrance and confusion; their origin was for amusement, later for the purpose of deceiving others from knowing the truth and inducing ignorance”.

Spare developed a method of sigilising quite unique in the history of magick. He maintained that “Belief is the fall from the Absolute”. In other words, belief as usually practised, was self-defeating because “we are not free to believe…however much we so desire, having conflicting ideas from first exhaust”. The mind, conditioned by its cultural context, the universal consensual belief structure, voices from childhood, and many environmental factors, cannot allow pure belief, but always muddies the intention of the magician. Spare’s genius was to develop a technique that took this into account and subverted the discursive mind. He said “sigils are the art of believing; my invention for making belief organic, ergo, true belief”. He maintained that “belief, to be true, must be organic and sub-conscious,” that in order for the magickal desire to be effective, it must become organic, and “can only become organic at a time of vacuity, and by giving it (Sigil) form”.

Spare stressed not only that the sigil must be implanted in the sub-consciousness at the moment of vacuity, but that afterwards the magician must strive to forget the sigil and the desire from which the sigil was crafted. He wrote:

When conscious of the Sigil form (any time but the Magical) it should be repressed, a deliberate striving to forget it, by this it is active and dominates at the unconscious period, its form nourishes and allows it to become attached to the sub-consciousness and become organic, that accomplished, is its reality and realization.

The assertion that Sigils need to be forgotten after they have been charged means that sigils are not appropriate for certain magickal intentions. For example, a sigil to accomplish a goal which is long term and daily obsession may not work if the magician is unable to release the obsession into the magickal act. That is to say, if the magician develops a sigil to gain a promotion at work, to get good grades at school, or to attract a sexual partner, if the day after charging of the sigil the magician continues to obsess about his lousy job, his worsening grades or his complete inability to get laid, it is unlikely that the sigil will work.

To give a personal example, it is my wish to actualize a much more powerful computer system. I have sigilized this intention. Unfortunately, every time a computer catalogue comes in the mail (almost daily), I see the computer system I want and I wonder when my sigil will work. I wonder if it is going to work. I chastise myself because I am thinking about it working. My mind then proceeds to create all manner of confliucting thoughts circling around this topic. Does magick really work? Do I deserve a better computer system? Was my father right when he thought I would be a failure? Perhaps if I just mentally shove at the obstacle preventing the actualizing of the sigil it will work. Perhaps I should do the sigil again? Perhaps I should charge it harder? Clearly, this is “lust for result”, not to mention fear of success and the multiple dysfunctions of personal psychology. In this event, another magickal technique, such as the creation of a servitor or a sacrifice to a godform may be more appropriate. Sigilizing is unlikely to work while I am obsessed with a new computer system.

The technique for developing sigils that Spare outlines in The Book of Pleasure is simplicity itself. Giving as his magickal intention “This my wish to obtain the strength of a tiger”, Spare analyses the structure of the letters of the phrases that make up the sentence containing the magickal intention, removes repeating letters, then combines them, and finally simplifies them into an iconic symbol. This symbol will be sufficiently remote from the original sentence that it cannot be identified. Thus the only meaning it contains resides in the memory of the magician. Spare wrote: “Now by virtue of this Sigil you are able to send your desire into the subconsciousness (which contains all strength)”.

Carroll suggested two other methods for developing sigils. In one, a picture of the magickal intention is drawn, in another, the sentence containing the magickal intention is transformed into a mantra by, for example, removing repeating letters and transposing other letters until a euphonious phrase results. Carroll stated “It is not necessary to use complex symbol systems”. Spare went further and wrote “you do not have to dress up as a traditional magician, wizard or priest, build expensive temples, obtain virgin parchment, black goats blood, etc., etc., in fact no theatricals or humbug”. Readers interested in these methods for constructing sigils are directed to Frater U.D.’s comprehensive treatise Practical Sigil Magick. As Frater U.D. indicates “In Spare’s system there are no ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ sigils; neither is there a list of ready-made symbols. It is of no import whether a sigil is the ‘correct’ one or not, but it is crucial that it has been created by the magician and is therefore meaningful to him/her”.

Spare’s system of creating sigils is, as Frater U.D. points out, an individual-anarchist approach to magick. It does not require learning complex systems, strange incantations, or any of the usual bric-a-brac of traditional magick or religion. It is simple and efficient. However, anarchical as Spare was, he was also a man of his culture and time and his system is influenced by ideas that while far from accepted in his day, were current. The idea of the subconscious is clearly influenced by psychoanalytic theory, particularly Jung, and Spare’s insistence on the primacy of the sexual impulse owes not a little to Freud. Of course Spare’s system works if one believes in psychoanalysis or not, not so much because the existence of a deep unconscious, collective or otherwise, is any more provable than the existence of a soul, but because it subverts the conscious mind and the failure tapes of normal consciousness. Culturally defined consensual belief structures work tirelessly against the actualization of magickal intentions, requiring, at the least, refuge in plausible explanations for apparently abnormal events or at least some kind of explanation. Thus unusual events such as the actualization of a spell for success in one’s job, for example, are justified by the collective consciousness as something that was bound to happen anyway, or less plausibly, the inevitable result of increased self-confidence that the magick spell brought about in the magician. If these explanations are insufficient then perhaps the grace of God, angelic intervention, demonic agency, or just good luck can be proffered. It is the stance of modern chaos magick, however, that none of these explanations are necessary, except perhaps in that they increase the ability of the magician to engineer belief structures. But the engineering of belief structures is a poor substitute for their suspension. If quantum mechanics is correct, human beings live in a universe of mind numbing complexity, at an order of magnitude far greater than the ability of the human mind to comprehend. If this is the case, and we live in a quantum flux of unlimited potentiality then all things are equally possible, all beliefs equally true, or, as Hassan Ibn Al Sabah, Le Vieux de Montagne, is alleged to have said, “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.” If this is the case the need of human psychology to explain events is merely another aspect of the totalitarian dictates of society’s consensual belief structures.

The vacuity that characterizes the charging of a sigil in Spare’s system takes on a different colour when viewed in the light of modern chaos magick. It is the No-Mind of unlimited potential, a relaxation into the quantum flux, a suspension of both belief and disbelief, of all the paraphernalia of the rational, discursive mind, and of the seething, bubbling unconscious mind or, as Buddhists would say, ‘Not Two, Not One.’ From this viewpoint, it is the discursive mind that is delusionary, the rational mind that presents phantasms of being and becoming. The truth is that there is no Absolute, no becoming, no being, or as the Prajna Paramita states:

Dharmas here are empty
all are the primal void.
None are born or die.
Nor are they stained or pure
Nor do they wax or wane.

The “Prajna Paramita”, or Heart Sutra, is at the basis of the reformulation of Buddhism by Nagarjuna in the third century a.c.e. Nagarjuna founded the Madhyamika school of Buddhism, of which Dzog Chen is an offshoot. Ingrid Fischer-Schrieber wrote of Nagarjuna:

Nagarjuna attempts to show the emptiness of the world through the relativity of opposites. Opposites are mutually dependent; one member of a pair of opposites can only arise through the other. From this he draws the conclusion that such entities cannot really exist, since the existence of one pre-supposes the existence of the other.

The reader is cautioned that emptiness, or sunyata, in Buddhist terminology means limitlessness, or unlimited potentiality, which Madhyamika Buddhism asserts is the true ground of being.

Spare’s technique of Neither-Neither is kin to Nagarjuna’s mutual dependency of opposites. Stephen Mace, in his brilliant analysis of Spare and Sorcery, Stealing the Fire from Heaven, described this technique:

The Neither-Neither principle asserts that there is no truth anywhere that is not balanced by an equally true opposite somewhere, and there is only perspective and circumstance to determine which seems more true at any given time. To apply this principle to conjuring, wait until you are absolutely positive something is true, then search for its opposite. When you find it, oppose it to your ‘truth’ and let them annihilate one another as well as they may.Any residue should oppose to its opposite, and so on until your truth has been dismembered and the passion converted into undirected energy – free belief. By applying the Neither-Neither we can gut the meaningless convictions that obsess us every day and use the power released to cause the changes we desire.

It is this “undirected energy-free belief” that is used to charge the sigil. For in this state of mind the magician brings the sigil to consciousness, concentrates on it, and allows it to sink past consciousness into the pool of undirected energy. In Buddhism this state is called sunyata, or emptiness.

In my personal experiences of sunyata, it is a state of consciousness characterized not so much by silence, but by a great calm. The mind, for me at least, continues to chatter, but it is now recognizable as just another function of the body. The mind chatters just as the lungs breathe, just as the heart pumps. Thoughts arise and fall, but the universe hums with energy, with limitless potentiality. Space seems to expand and my vision becomes extremely clear. Fairly rapidly, of course, I become distracted by the novelty of the experience and fall back into normal consciousness, or samsara.

So Spare’s technique is one designed to reveal this state of mind, the one Buddhists term sunyata or emptiness and Mace’s “undirected energy” may be thought of as synonymous with sunyata. It is part of the annihilistic tendency in chaos magick that even Spare’s Neither-Neither technique can be considered an unneeded elaboration, for if this state of mind is the actual ground of being, then all that is needed is for the magician to look in another direction, an instant of work. Thus, the whole edifice of ritual is viewed by chaos magicians as a kind of massage for the mind, a way to lull it into a state of Neither-Neither. But actually, none of it is necessary, and perfectly valid results can be obtained just by creating a sigil and leaving it uncharged. Some chaos magicians assert that sigils never need to be charged, that, in fact, the act of their creation slips thesigil behind the discursive rational mind.

There are other methods for creating sigils, also, and some of these collapse the charging into the creation. For example I once did a sigil in a group workshop to produce a laser printer of a certain configuration, one that was unavailable at the time of the creation of the sigil. My sigil, which was a paper sculpture composed of white paper that I had coloured, rolled into a tube, cut, and shredded open, looked nothing like my magickal intention, and, as far as I could see had no initial reference to it either. When I finished it I threw it under the couch of a friend. I guessed that the couch would not be moved for some time, and that when it was the paper would not be recognized and would be thrown away. The act of creating the sigil charged it for I thought in a non-attached way, of the printer I wanted while I created the sculpture. I recall that we did charge the sigil by holding our breath until near to fainting while staring at the sigil we had created. This gave me a headache. Perhaps when my friend moved, as he did at around the time the printer I wanted manifested itself, he charged it when he threw it away. Either way, the sigil worked, and I do not trouble myself with explaining to myself why it worked.

Jan Fries, in Visual Magick, has a few other suggestions for the creation of sigils. After discussing the traditional forms of pen, ink, and parchment, or wood engraving, or metalsmithing, Fries states:

If you desire matters of dream magick you could draw your sigil on paper, fold it into a paper boat, and send it off on a river, stream, or pond. The water destroys the body and receives the idea. You might draw the sigil in earth colours on your skin and dance until you’ve sweated it off, or form the shape in berries, food for the birds. You could draw it in the earth with a stick and leave it for the rains, or give it, drawn on paper, to the fire. You might even feed on it. Ink can be washed off and drunk with water (use a non-toxic sort), and some signs can be drawn or baked into cakes or bread.

Chaos magicians on the Internet have developed other techniques. After transforming the sigil into a mantra it is sent to a usenet newsgroup picked at random as a garbage post (or perhaps not so random, e.g. One innovative method discussed on alt.magick.chaos involved developing a database of the numbers of frequently used public phones around the country. Chaos magicians wishing to charge a sigil would choose a number, dial it, and, if the phone is picked up, shout the sigil at the baffled recipient.

By now it should be clear that the technique of sigilising is not as important as the creation of the mental state which accompanies it, for it is in this ground state that magick works. The Temple of Psychic Youth, founded fifteen years ago by Genesis P-Orridge and highly influenced by the sigil techniques of A.O.Spare is an international association of chaos magicians. Genesis has since disavowed the project, but other members continue the association. Historically members of the Temple of Psychic Youth would create sigils with three different bodily fluids and two different portions of hair and then send them to a central depository of sigils at one of the headquarters of the organization. Despite the respect with which these sigils were regarded by TOPY members, it was widely recognized that the act was magickal because of the states of consciousness developed, the interplay that these states allowed between the conscious mind and the deep mind (or that part of the mind that is not conscious), and that actually, the sigils could have been incinerated in a fire or confiscated by law enforcement authorities without harm being done to the magickal intention. Indeed, rumors abound to this day, perhaps deliberately spread by TOPY members, that the sigil depository has been compromised by some such action. The usefulness of rumours such as these lies in its ability to allow the ego of the chaos magician to confront the process of magick. Should a TOPY member be concerned that a British bobby has his sigil, or that it was burnt, or that some nefarious black magician is now using it in dark magick? Certainly, if these concerns allow the TOPY member to ask hirself what magick really is. Genesis said, in an interview in Gnosis magazine, about this issue:

I wanted to contradict the tradition that those things were innately dangerous for other people to have possession of. Because I thought that was something people had hypnotized themselves into being vulnerable to.

P-Orridge’s approach to chaos magick is typical in its insistence on the importance of belief structures and the general faith in access to a fundamental stream of energy and power that cannot really be termed human. He said:

Things do get manifested when you focus on them and truly desire and need them to manifest. That happens. And I don’t really care why. My suspicion is that itÕs an innate gift that comes from so far ago and is so primal that it’s pointless putting names on it and trying to humanize it. I think it is always an error to humanize phenomena.

For magick is not a variant of the role playing game of Dungeons and Dragons , nor is it the Satanic cultism of the tabloid, although it may appear from a social perspective look like that way. Magick is the dynamic synergy of the magician’s desires with the quantum flow of the energy matrices of the universe.

Fries discusses in some detail the process of spell-making , and the common delusionary knots with which magicians engaged in this confrontation bind themselves. Most of these result from the mechanism Spare termed “lust for result”, and are solved through deliberately forgetting the sigil, the magickal intention, and, ultimately, the precipitating desire.

As Fries states:

Sigils are used where conscious will finds its aim frustrated. We use sigils to bypass adverse conditions, to avoid the censorship of identity, to achieve our will through avenues we do not even know about. If you think about results while transmitting, you effectively bind your mind to find a solution along the desired channels, and this is frequently a hindrance, as “the desired channels” are usually the very approach that does not function. Our conscious selves are often the greatest obstacle to the sigil’s manifestation.

Unfortunately, as Fries points out, many magicians seem to miss the point, and, influenced by the power stratagems of traditional magick, charge and recharge their sigils,doubtless berating themselves for their magickal flaccidity as they do so. In this way, they assume, the sheer force of their conscious will shall drive the sigil into the deep ground of being and hence to fruition. In fact their actions raise ever stronger barriers against this occurring, as the conscious mind, whose habit it is to deny the unity of the universe and the interdependence of all phenomena, builds walls of steel against itself. Fries counsels patience and compassion. He suggests dealing with the non conscious mind as one would deal with an old, wise, dear friend. He suggests:

Magick can be worked quite easily once one learns to re-believe in innocence, simplicity and direct inspiration. Why use a memorized invocation, including “divine names” and “words of power” when one can get better and livelier results by “speaking from the heart” plus a dose of freestyle chaos language and chanting?

Why indeed? Partly the answer lies in the personality and conditioning of the magician, partly in the depth of his experience of magick. Magicians with very strong traditional belief structures, magicians conditioned by membership in a magickal order such as the Ordo Templi Orientis, or even the Illuminates of Thanateros, may need elaborate ritual in order to break down this conditioning until a state of simplicity can be reached. Magicians who are relatively new to magick may need ritual in order to increase self confidence and decrease the effect of the anti-magickal consensual belief structures. Magicians, young or old, who have for some reason opened the door to their own simplicity can successfully cast a spell with a brief hand movement, with a howl at the moon, or with, as I do from time to time, curse with the crushing of a fortune cookie at a Chinese Restaurant. No chaos magician writing today suggests discarding Spare’s techniques. The hold of traditional magick is far too strong to neglect such an efficient system for deprogramming. But at least among the community of chaos magicians discussing sigils on the Internet, suggestions are routinely made that magick is far simpler than even sigilising.

According to the visions of many mystics the world itself is suffused with magick. Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote in 1918:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

from “God’s Grandeur”

Although Hopkins writes within the paradigm of Christian mysticism, his insight of a world filled with supernal power is hardly different from the approach of a modern chaos magician, or a Dzog Chen master. In the middle of the 17th Century Thomas Traherne wrote , describing the way in which he saw the world when he was a child:

Rich diamond and pearl and gold
In every place was seen;
Rare splendors, yellow, blue, red, white and green,
Mine eyes did everywhere behold.

From “Wonder”

The experience of the universe as a place filled with unlimited potentiality, and gorgeous beyond description to boot, is typical of many altered states of mystical perception. Dzog Chen maintains that this is the actual nature of the universe, a place of limitless light and potentiality. Tibetan Buddhism is called the Vajrayana after this assertion, for Vajra means diamond, and the universe is a diamond web of dynamic interconnections. Diamonds, in tantric tradition, are the crystallized sperm of the gods.

The task of the magician who accepts the mystic’s description of the universe, or if not that of the mystic, the model of the universe proposed by quantum mechanics, for there is little to differentiate either model from one another, is to deprogram himself, to annihilate the discriminatory mind sets of rational thinking, the primary intellectual artifact of civilization. For once this level of consciousness is reached, once the conscious and the non conscious mind are working together, then there is no difference between the will of the magician and the movement of the stream of energy that is the universe.

John Cage’s statement about art is as applicable to magick. He wrote:

The history of art is simply a history of getting rid of the ugly by entering into it and using it. After all, the notion of something outside of us being ugly is not outside of us but inside of us. And that’s why I keep reiterating that we’re working with our minds. What we’re trying to do is to get them open so we don’t see things as being ugly or beautiful but we see them just as they are.

Substitute art with magick, ugly with unattainable and beautiful with attainable, and Cage’s statement presents the formula for chaos magick. Sigils are just one means to bring about this transformation, to internalize a desire that the magician considers to be unachievable so that the discriminatory definitions of achievable and out of reach no longer have any validity.

Yet if there is so little difference between the mystic and the magician why are they traditionally viewed as two separate paths? Few magicians would term themselves mystics (fearing relegation to the New Age) and even fewer mystics would term themselves magicians. Sai Baba and a few other Indian gurus are exceptions. In Liber Kaos, Peter Carroll postulated a psychohistorical theory that asserted that magickal shamanism, a simple and fluid form of magick based upon a mystical awareness of the interdependence of all phenomena, degrades into paganism, and with the growth of religious forms magick is relegated to a priestly caste, who, over a period of time lose access to the magickal current and degrade into formalism. The argument is plausible, particularly when placed alongside the rise of civilization, an event that required the development of hierarchical society. Social hierarchy, of course, is a template that is internalized at an early age, and defines access to power as being confined to channels devised by other than oneself. This notion is anathema to magick in general, and chaos magick in particular. Thus in tribal societies there would appear to be little difference between the mystic and the magician, both roles often being held in the personage of the tribal shaman, and all members of the tribe, in some degree or another, having access to the universal magickal power. By the time one thousand years of Christian conditioning had afflicted the minds of the peoples of the West, magickal acts were either heretical, quaint and secretive folk practices, or, if approved by the Church, miraculous and the marks of sainthood. Another thousand years of the slow deterioration of this conditioning, and, finally, the beginnings of breakdown in the toxic structures of civilization, and magick has begun to be seen as a power available to all, as a means of directly communicating with the universe as it is, and as a particularly appropriate series of techniques to live in a universe in which human beings are both as incidental and as important as all other phenomena.

This is a work in progress, but may be freely disseminated on the Internet. The author requests email notifying him of such acts. His address is