Chaos Magick

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RPG Magick 101

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Subject: Resend: RPG Magick–101 (long)
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 15:53:21 -0800 (PST)
From: “Xi O’Teaz” < xi_o_teaz[AT]yahoo[dot]com >
To: zee-list

What follows was originally sent in April of last year, both the original “RPG Magick–101 (long)” and the addendum (which immediately follows):

* * *
Okay, here is the best that I could recall of my experiences with role-playing (e.g., D&D; vs. a video game).

To begin with, I want to say that I tried to write this for “everymage”, not just for those familiar with rpg’s–hopefully I was successful. I should add that my role-playing experiences over the past 12+ years have been primarily in magick-rich worlds, such as in Dungeons & Dragons or Mage: The Ascension (cf. Battletech)–so many of these ideas may not be applicable to all rpg’s. I also think that many of the following Magickal exercises are equally applicable to Acting, and therefore also very important in Invoking.

As always happens, I will forget many things until after I send this post (especially since I haven’t played for almost a year), but this post should be a good sampling of ways I use role-playing games, tools, and related ideas for “Magickal” means:

As stated above, role-playing is basically a form of Acting or Invocation to me. The main differences between acting and role-playing are that role-playing doesn’t have a (physical) stage, and you get to Create the character’s Destiny as you go along.

Unless you are playing Live-Action-Role-Playing (LARP), you are generally seated around a table, with a bunch of dice, papers, and pens. So the entire Reality of the game is dependent upon group creation–similar to writing a novel, with the Storyteller (i.e., Game Master–GM) being the main writer, and the players all representing/writing differing primary characters (i.e, a Player Character–PC).

This is very similar to Path-Working, or what could be called the Active Imagination, with the GM performing the part of the Guide to this Imaginal Realm. Merely *playing* rpg’s is a great exercise for the Imagination and all relevant extra-sensory-perceptions (e.g., “astral sight”, etc.)

Playing rpg’s is also good for conditioning you to understand the comprehensive rules for a complete Paradigm/Reality (e.g., the rpg’s rules). Because the games are much more simplistic than real life, but still attempt to re-create it on a certain level (even if Fantastic), it is easier to see loopholes (i.e., “ways to cheat”) in the system and exploit them. Or to paraphrase Morpheous from the Matrix:

“In the Matrix, as in real life, there are rules that can be *bent*, and those that can be *broken*.”

Such critical thinking is great mental exercise, and improves problem-solving skills and Creativity. I think that understanding Reality’s rules (however you choose to see them) is required before being able to “sidestep” them, as chaos mages are wont to do.

In addition, when you’ve played enough of a certain game (paradigm), you find out that there are many things that the game in question didn’t cover, but should have (not really loopholes as much as *gaps* in the rules–i.e., a game “design flaw”). Seeing what parts of a paradigmatic Reality must be covered to properly feel “realistic” (to you) is also a great exercise in not only “knowing thy selves”, but useful in the development of comprehensive personal paradigms. This could include Magickal and/or Divinatory paradigms, a la Runes or Tarot.

I think my favourite part of playing rpg’s is actually *Creating my PC* (Evocation), which is obviously done before any true “playing” commences.

I usually have a few “character concepts” floating around my head, of different characters that I want to play. So, understanding the game’s rules, you have various ways that you can Create your character (Evoke a Self?), with different abilities, powers, character flaws, etc. These character statistics and role-playing notes basically become the genetic code for the character. I.e., the character sheet becomes both the Statement of Intent and Magickal Link to the PC. Miniatures can also be used as adjuncts for Contacting your character, although I personally prefer to use a small Stone (that resonates with the character) or Sigil to act as a Magickal Link to the PC.

The way you begin with a character concept, and then assign attributes/statistics to the PC is truly to “flesh out” your character–especially when you consider the time and mental Energy spent thinking about the character and all of hir details. Obviously, the more Energy you spend on the PC’s Creation, the more powerful and Real your Creation becomes.

I should note here that the steps used for Creation of a PC can also be used for Creation of Servitors. I.e., by taking a blank character sheet and filling in all of the stats of a serfie you desire to Create–assigning powers and traits, etc.–you can also Evoke any type of sentient entity you wish. Of course, the entity will have some of the resonance of the game system used, but this is true of any and all paradigms–not just game systems.

To get back to the actual playing of the game (post-character creation), playing different personalities than your normal one(s) also helps to better Know Thy Selves. Ask any Actor. This exercise alone can be very powerful and broad-ranging in effects upon one’s perceptions of one’s selves, and how we truly *do* have an infinite number of ways that we can perceive and react to life’s varied situations.

I often Create a character that has a particular personality trait (or many traits) that I am lacking. By playing/Invoking the character, I release the aforementioned suppressed parts of myself, proving to myself that I *can* Act in such a way, etc. This is pretty basic deprogramming via Invocation, and should be familiar to all chaos mages. This is not to diminish its impact, however, for it is a very Powerful tool for releasing repressed Selves.

I have also used this technique for refining/acting-out ideas that I wish to explore further. A great personal example is the character named “Why?” that I created about the same time I started experimenting with the chaos current (3 years ago). This was also the game that had another (real-life) mage playing as a fellow player (not GM, dammit). Why? was a member of the Cult of Ecstacy (kinda like a cross between chaos mages and hippies) in the game Mage: The Ascension, and one of the most Poweful and Fun characters I have ever Created:

other players: “Hey Why?!”

me: “Because it is in accordance with my prophecy.”

op: “No, I mean–hey, Why?, will you help us out?”

me: “Because you need it, but I didn’t say I would.” etc. (gotta love those verbal games–thanks Abbott and Costello)

His personality was such that he not only questioned everything (a previous sig line for me was “…or maybe not. Question Everything!!!”), but he Created Doubt in Sleepers’ minds as to the stability of their Realities (e.g., “Magick doesn’t really exist”) via Memes, Ericksonian Hypnosis, the Socratic Method, and other Tools. During the time I played/Invoked him, we both opened many many minds to a great many things (and we both learned a lot in the process, as well).

One of the most intriguing side-effects of playing Why? was that he had a “supernatural flaw” called “Echoes”. Echoes are basically ripples in Reality (glitches in the Matrix) caused by the Mage’s very Existence. In the case of Why?, he had an aura extending to his immediate surroundings (e.g., a room) that caused people to “mildly hallucinate” via various senses. E.g., people often thought they were walking through spiderwebs when there were none, they thought they saw something in the corner of their eye, they would more readily notice Synchronicities normally psychically censored, or some other similar odd occurrence (to them). When they acknowledged the Echoes, Why? would use the occurrence to go off about the subjective nature of reality (or something else to expand the Sleepers’ Realities/wake the Sleepers up).

After Invoking Why? a great many times (and not just while playing the rpg), I noticed that I, too, had developed Echoes. This had a very Powerful impact upon me for a variety of reasons that you can probably guess–I thought it was pretty cool, too ;-)

Another way that I use the actual playing of the game is to program myself with various NLP anchors (e.g., mantras, mudras, sigils, etc). To give an example, if I have a character that can become invisible by reciting a specific mantra, then by actually *repeating* the mantra over the course of game play, I have associated/anchored the mudra with invisibility. It is then a small mental step for *me* to use this mudra in real life to invoke invisibility.

The character I just made for our new Thursday night game uses singing and drumming to access his magickal “bard songs”. The effects of these spells can translate quite easily into real life Magick, so i Intend on Creating a mantra, rhythm, or similar anchor to access the spells/effects that I myself would like to use in the “really real world”.

As an aside, often when programming anchors (e.g., martial arts sparring), you must “pull the punch” when practicing. IME, this can create anchors that program you to *fail* at the Intended result. Programming an anchor via an rpg, however, often has the opposite problem–being “overly dramatic”. But being overly dramatic is *good* for NLP purposes, and the differences between effects rendered in the game environment and the real world work themselves out quite naturally, whilst still stimulating the Imagination in the same manner as when it was played out in the game.

Another way that I have used rpg’s in my Magick is by actually treating a particular game’s magickal paradigm as I would any other magickal paradigm. IME, the only rpg particularly useful in this regard is the magickal system of Mage: The Ascension, with it’s 9 spheres of magick and the subtlety necessary for avoiding Paradox. I.e., I used this system for Magickal Workings. Why? had good control over the magickal spheres of Time, Space/Correspondence, and Probability/Entropy, which I naturally found much easier to manipulate than the other 6 spheres (although we were also pretty good at the sphere of Mind, too).

I eventually integrated/permanently-Invoked Why? into my Selves, even adapting and modifying his Sigil into the Sigil for 3 Coyotes Dancing.

Finally, it should be noted that the standard rpg dice are all made of regular polyhedra, with the exception of the d10. Somewhere long ago I posted a Magickal Paradigm using these, but I find merely Gazing at them while enTranced with the rpg is very stimulating:

  • d4-tetrahedra (the element Fire to the ancient Greeks)
  • d6-cube (Earth)
  • d8-octahedron (Air)
  • d12-dodecahedron (Spirit)
  • d20-icosahedron (Water)

In addition, it is a good Magickal exercise to not only communicate with the dice themselves but to practice Probability Manipulation whilst rolling/Casting the dice, pushing the Probability patterns in your favor. Why? helped me a lot in this matter, as well.

I hope this post gives some insight as to how rpg’s can be used for personal evolution/Magickal purposes, and will be of use to at least a few of you.

I’d be interested to hear any other things you’d wish to add, or questions you have…

Play Well…
* * *

* * *
This was originally from Thee Shadowmage/Omega Psi Cult HQ, and was dated 02 May, 2001. We were talking specifically about the game Mage: The Ascension, and his post, unedited by me, was the following (after the post are some additional comments by me):


in my view, Mage is not good as a starting paradigm, because in essence it makes more sense to use as a META-paradigm (just like the chaos magick theory) By virtue of it’s metaphysical theories, you have to be one of the awakened to work magick, hence it stands to reason that you need to have had at least SOME “magickal” experiences (though not neccisarily PLANNED ones)

interestingly, one could use Mage as a meta-paradigm withing a chaos paradigm, and following suit, the chaos magick would again become the paradigm used by the mage in his “Mage the Ascension” persona…meaning that you can adopt YET ANOTHER paradigm withing that purview. confusing, no?

and THAT is EXACTLY what makes it work, (IMHO) you use SO MANY (meta) pardigma to filter reality through, that your psychic sensor (or whatever you like to call it) hasn’t A CHANCE to resist (insert evil cackle)

Also; the neccesity to work through coincidental pathways (a good idea ANYWAY) only helps to teach one to enchant smartly instead of tac-nukeing everything (which is notoriously unreliable anyway)

it is worth noting that PARADOX WILL OCCUR if you push to hard, far, or even work too much subtle magic (domino effectg) this can be an interesting experience, if somewhat painful/dangerous.

I’m also quite interested in what effects Resonance will have after I’ve done more work in this way…


I would have to agree with this post, and Why? did just what you were talking about in the second paragraph.

I think the 3d paragraph would also apply to me, at least while I was playing Why?.

If I haven’t already mentioned the “necessity to work through coIncidental pathways” (4th paragraph) as being an *excellent* Magickal exercise, then add it to the list of things I should have posted, but didn’t, in my first essay in this thread. Such an exercise not only helps to teach one to “Enchant smartly”, but also trains the conscious mind to be Aware of more subtle Paths to Manifesting one’s Intent:

A simple example would be a “teleport” spell. Instead of simply disappearing from one place and re-appearing in another (like in D&D), perhaps a taxi “just happened” to pull up, just as we needed to “disappear”.

Or instead of throwing lightning bolts at our opponents, a loose power line could come tumbling down upon our foes.

One of Why’s favorite offensive Effects was called “Christine”. He would manipulate Time, Correspondence, and Entropy/Probability to insure that a drunk/reckless driver went hurtling into his opponents. Obviously, this can only be done once or twice within a given area, or the “domino effect” would invoke Paradox. But imagine the damage done to the opponents that just got ran over by a sleeping driver behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler! Who needs a fireball when you’ve got this?

* * *

Play Well

“Know Thy Selves”

~~~3 Coyotes Dancing~~~

New age or chaos magick

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Date: Sat, 6 Sep 1997 08:28:38 -0400 (EDT)
From: Abadon23[at]aol[dot]com
To: zee-list
Subject: New Age or Chaos Magick

In a message dated 97-09-05 08:44:06 EDT, Gentle writes:

<< Ooooh..just outta curiosity (and the overwhelming desire to start a heated debate on my favorite list), what is the difference between NewAgers and normal freaks like us?! I mean, where is the line that turns someone from a pagan (or whatever title) to a NewAger? >>

Oh, i’ve played the “lurking newbie” long enough. This is one i feel compelled to comment on.

I’m loath to try to offer any absolute definitions (no offense, but these arguments on “denotative issues” don’t really thrill me), but i would like to offer a few distinctions i’ve discovered between New Age-ism (NA) and Chaos Magick (CM).

For one, most NAers subscribe to an “absolute” theory of meta-reality, particularly in regards to reincarnation and past-lives. They tend to see this system of repeating lives as premiere, the centerpiece of all their other beliefs. Indeed, i once had a NAer tell me, after i indulged his wishes to do a numerology chart on me, that ALL numerology and astrology was founded on reincarnation… that without a foundation of the ‘absoluteness’ of reincarnation, numerology and astrology “made no sense at all.” As i’m still sceptical on the notion of reincarnation, i’ve foreverafter had a bad taste in my mouth about these two sister-systems (just as well, considering how they tend to degenerate into fatalism and determinism).

NAers tend to see their particular system as universal: “Everybody has seven chakras, whether they know it or not.” “Everyone is reincarnated, whether they know it or not.” “Everyone is subject to karma, whether they know it or not.” They’ve even tried to assimilate all the other “big name” prophets of all the major religions. “Oh, Jesus was a mystic proponent of reincarnation… Really! But it all got edited out of the Gospels by various unenlightened sods, after the fact.” This has actually been a strong selling point to NA dogma, that it can absorb other doctrines, keep what they can use, and dismiss what doesn’t fit as a ‘pollution’ to the original espoused belief, regardless of whether they have any historical evidence to back it up. But this also fosters a blithe arrogance towards “traditionalists,” who just aren’t ‘cool’ enough to ‘see the whole picture.’ To paraphrase Yabro’s “Messages From Micheal,” “A plant needn’t understand photosynthesis to turn green in the spring.” That pretty much sums up the NA attitude, in a nutshell. Which, if i’m not mistaken, elevates it to the level of “religion.”

CM, of course, doesn’t promote any kind of absolute theory of the afterlife, or any ‘cosmic’ code-of-conduct (karmic or otherwise). This alone draws a wide distinction between it and NA.

Secondly, most of the popular mockery that the NAers have been subject to is the caricature that they’re basically “pollyannish,” that they have a skewed, unrealistic perception of the gritty “real world.” But i find this image fairly accurate. They don’t really want to acknowledge the ugliness and brutality of the world they find themselves in. And their strategies, their pastel-gilded “everything is love” attitude towards every scenario, every situation, seems naive at best. In a world where rightist death squads kill school teachers in the middle of the night, where transnational corporations irradiate our water table for the sake of fiscal expediency, where one out of every five children are officially malnourished and one out of every three women have been raped at least once before their 18th birthday, the general attitude and strategies of the NA community seem woefully ineffectual and outright ludicrous. In fact, it doesn’t even LOOK like a strategy for change… its looks more like a complex system of denial.

This may be why so many NAers lapse into a state of paralysis and impotence, having to rely on their divinatory tools, their rune stones or their tarot cards, to make the simplest life decisions. Or perhaps they’ll wind up meditating for 5 or 6 hours a day, every day… searching for some revelation, some conceptual ‘grail,’ that will give their lives some purpose, to fill some vacuum that they can’t otherwise fill. (This doesn’t look like ‘results magick’ to me.) Rather than offering them useful techniques to “take charge” of their own lives, it often winds up offering them intoxicating avenues to help FLEE personal responsibility, to avoid having to make the tough decisions that everyday life demands. These are the fruits of the New Age, as i’ve seen them.

Murray Bookchin, an eco-anarchist out of Vermont, once wrote of the NAers, calling them ‘lotus eaters,’ comparing them to those characters that Odysseus bumped into in Homer’s “Odyssey;” an island of stagnant, apathetic addicts, chewing on flowers all day, largely unaware of their ‘outside’ world. Not an altogether inappropriate description.

The CMs are (or seem to be) far more open to the full range of human experience, good and bad. They can see the world both for what it IS, and what it COULD BE. They don’t rely on celestial determinism, and they don’t pretend things are prettier then they are. In this regard, i’d say that CM has a far more practical relationship to this “default reality” then NA, and many other paradigms. It offers a wider range of pragmatic options for dealing with the genuine problems of our world. It says, up front, that an individual has to have the strength of will, the resolve, to take command of their own lives, to steer the course of their own personal evolution, regardless of how acary that might seem. As opposed to the NAers, the Chaotes don’t shirk from the responsibility of commanding their own destinies. They welcome it, because they have the vision to recognize this dizzying spectrum of options. CM doesn’t make a very good ‘escapist’ paradigm… but NA seems pretty well suited to escapism.

The efficacy of NA as a magickal belief system is as potentially viable as any other belief system, i suppose. Why wouldn’t it be? And they use several techniques that many chaotes have found value in. (I, for one, can still carry on a conversation with a ‘lotus-eater,’ and walk away with some valuable insights.) But frankly, the ‘religious baggage’ that tends to come with a full-blown acceptence of the NA ideology seems no more liberating (to me) than a full-blown acceptence of orthodox christianity.

Or so i’ve seen. Just an opinion.

Amor Vincit Omnia
Rev Abaddon

Egregores: notes on the role of the historical egregore in modern magick

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It is quite easy to poke fun at the historical claims of most magical and mystical orders, especially when they purport to have derived from “very ancient”, possible even “Atlantean” or, to top it all, “pre-Atlantean” brotherhoods for whose existence even the most sypathetic historical scholar worth his name would be very hard pressed to find any significant proof. Actually, it is rather a cheap joke to cite, for example, AMORC`s claims that even good old Socrates or Ramses II (of all people!) were “Rosicrucians”. However, the trouble only starts when adepts mistake these contentions for literal truths. “Literal”, of course, derives from literacy and the letters of the alphabet. And, as Marshall MacLuhan has justly in his “Understanding Media” and perhaps even more so in “The Gutenberg Galaxy”, western civilisation has a very strong tendency towards linear thinking, very probably due to – at least in part – the linear or non-pictographic nature of our alphabet. The very structure of this alphabet informs us at quite a tender age to think in terms of linear logics such as cause and effect, or, more intersetingly in our context, PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE. This is not at all a “natural necessity” as most people are wont to think, for the ideographic or pictographic “alphabets” as used for example in ancient Egypt or even modern China and Japan tend to bias the correspondingly acculturalised mind towards what MacLuhan terms “iconic thinking” – a perception of holistic factors rather than the systematisation into seperate (preferably indivisible) single units. Western thought has formulated this problem as the dichtonomy of the analytic and the synthetic approach. But it is perhaps no coincidence that our contemporary culture tends to associate “synthetic” with “artificial” , vide modern chemistry.

Now magical and mystical thinking is quite different; in fact it is not half as interested in causality as is linear thought. Rather, it strives to give us an overalll, holistic view of processes within our perceived space-time continuum; an overall view which includes the psychology of the observer to a far stronger degree than even modern physics seems to have achieved in spite of Heisenberg`s uncertainity principle and Einstein`s earlier theory of relativity. In other words, mythological thinking is not so much about literal (“alphabetic”?) truth but rather about the “feel” of things. For example, a shaman may claim that the current rain is due to the rain goddess weeping because of some sad event. He might predict that her phase of mourning will be over in two days` time and that the deluge will then end. A Western meteorologist might possibly come to similar prognoses, but he will of course indignantly deny using any of “this mystic stuff” in the process. His rain godess takes the form of barometric pressure, wind velocity and direction, air humidity and the like – but who is to say which view is the “truer” one, as long as abstract and mystic predictions prove to be accurate? From an unbiased standpoint, the modern demons “barometric pressure”, “wind velocity” and factors of a similar like are just as abstract and mythic as the shaman`s hypothetical rain goddess – especially so for us laymen who religiously follow the daily indoctrination via the TV weather forecasts and satellite photograph divination: all we can do is believe in what the expert tells us is the truth. The non-shaman in a shamanic society shares a very similar fate when he has to believe simply that the rain goddess wants to be comforted say, by a substantial donation of meat or tobacco in the course of a fully fledged tribal ritual.

There is an important difference however. If we accept the model (strongly propagated by A.O. Spare, who was, of course, in his very special manner, quite an orthodox Freudian) of magic primarily taking place within the subconscious (Freud) or, less ambiguous, the unconscious (Jung); and if we furthermore agree that said unconscious is not only the source of personal magical energy (mana, or, as I prefer to term it, magis) but tends to think and act in symbols and images, we might come to the conclusion that our shaman`s explanation may perhaps not be scientifical more satisfying in Western terms, but it is surely more in accord with the way our unconscious tends to perceive reality. In that sense it is not only more “natural” but, one suspects, even downright healthier for psychic hygiene. It is, so to speak, more “ecological and holistic” in terms of psychic structure.

As an aside I might mention that it is the better explanation for practical magical reasons as well. For at least rain goddesses can be cajoled into happiness by magical technique, ritual trance and the like until they stop weeping, a task a meteorologist will hardly be able to imitate. (Actually I have preferred the magic of rain prevention to the more classical example of rain making because it is far more relevant to our own geography and experience).

In recent years Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphogentic fields has raised quite a hue and cry, not only within the confines of the scientific community but strangely enough among occultists too. I find this latter reaction quite astonishing, because a lot of what Mr. Sheldrake basically claims is nothing more than the old, not to say ancient, tenet of philosophical idealism: namely that there is what in both German and English is called “Zeitgeist”, a form of unique time-cum-thought quality, leading to surprisingly similar albeit completely independent models of thought, technical inventions, political truths and so on. One would rather expect the people to be profoundly intrigued to be among materialist/positivist biologists or physicist rather that occultists who have traded in the Zeitgeist principle ever since occult thought proper as we understand it arose in the Renaissance.

From a pragmatic point of view Mr. Sheldrake is behaving very much like our meteorologist, replacing mythic explanations with crypto-mythic “scientific” factors. Unfortunately, most scientific scholars tend to fear a devaluation of scientific termini tecnici; once they are mentioned in the wrong “context” (almost invariably meaning: by “wrong” people) they are readily labelled as “non-” or “pseudo-” scientific – which is, after all, precisely what happened to poor Mr. Sheldrake amongst his peers in spite of all his academic qualifications. This example goes to show how very much estranged occultists can be from their own sources even when working with them daily.

Reality too is always the reality of its description: we are marking our pasts, presents and futures as we go along – and we are doing it all the time, whether we are conscious of the fact or not, whether we like it or not, we are constantly reinventing our personal and collective space-time continuum.

Space seems rather solid and unbudging; even magic can do very little it seems to overcome its buttresses of solidity and apparent inertia, occasional exceptions included. (May it be noted that I include matter in this space paradigm, because solid matter is usually defined by the very same factors as is space – namely width, length and height.) Time, on the other hand, is much more volatile and abstract, so much so in fact that it is widely considered to be basically an illusion, even among non-occultist laymen. And indeed in his famous novel “1984” George Orwell has beautifully, albeit perhaps unwillingly, illustrated that history is very little more than purely the description of history. (Which is why it has to be rewritten so often. It seems that mankind is not very happy with an “objective past” and prefers to dabble in “correcting” it over and again. This is quite an important point I shall refer to again later on.) History is, after all, the defining of our past own roots and our present position within our linear space-time continuum in relation to past and future. Very often, unfortunately, the description and interpretation of history seem little more pathetic endeavour to obtain at least a minimum of objectivity in a basically chaotic universe. The expression “ordo ab chao” is more or less a summary of Western thought and Weltanschauung, of the issues straining and stressing the Western mind since ancient Greece. Chaos is considered “evil”, order on the other hand is “good” – then the political philosophy, if you care to dignify it by this terms, of “law and order”, appeals to people`s deeply rooted fears of loss of stability and calculability. (“Anarchy” is another widely misunderstood case in point.) The ontological fact that everything is transitory has never been particular well-received in Western philosophy and theology.

Now before you get the impression that I am only trying to impose a typical exercise in heavyhanded Teutonic style philosophical rambling upon your overbusy reading mind, let me hasten to point out that if past, present and future are, at least in principle, totally subjective, we as magicians are locally perfectly free to do what we like with them. For the magician is a) the supreme creator of his own universe and b) the master of Illusion (ref. the Tarot card “The Magician/Juggler”). This freedom of historical choice, however, is seldom realised let alone actively applied by the average magician. Maybe one of the reasons for this has to do with the somewhat pathetic fact that most of us tend to live our lives in a more or less manner, being mild eccentrics at best, distinctly avoiding becoming too much over the top. There are a number of possible explanations for this, ranging from “every magician is just another guy/gal like me” to “prevention of insanity”. As we deal all the time with insanity – i.e. extremely unorthodox states of consciousness by bourgeois standarts, we magicians prefer some stability in our everyday lives and makeups, but this is not really our topic.

Rather than delve into social normality of the average magician I should like to investigate the many bogus claims to antiquity as put forward by a multiple of magical and mystical orders from this point of view. Such orders range from Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism and Theosophy to such venerable institutions as the O.T.O., the Golden Dawn and many others. Their historical claims are usually quite stereotyped: the spectrum covered includes Atlantis, Lemuria, Mu, Solomon, Moses, Dr. Faustus, St. Germain, the Gnostics, the Knight Templar,the Cathars, the Illuminati, the Holy Grail myth, prehistoric witchcraft, matriarchy, shamanism etc.

Now it is quite common for shamans, to cite one example, to claim that in the good old days (usually, of course, dating back to a non-calibrated, non-defined time immemorial) things used to be much, much better. One of the more profane reasons for this contention may be the fact that most of these shamans have already achieved quite a venerable age in their trade; and don`t we all know the typical attitude of old crones towards modernity ? It may not sound particular spiritual or holy but maybe all we are seeing here is the primitive`s parallel to the “Now when I was in Poona with Royal Indian Army, young lad…” reported occasionally to be heard in some of today`s pubs.

But there is more to it, I think. By calling up “bogus” ancestors from Moses via Solomon to Dr. Faustus and St. Germain, the magician not only reinvents his own history, he also is summoning up the egregore of these “entities” (along with all their powers and inhibitions of course) – or, to put into Mr. Sheldrake`s terminology, their morphic fields. By violating all the painstakeing endeavours of the meticulous historian, by simply ignoring a number of tedious and possibly contradictory facts and questions (such as whether Moses and Solomon have ever really been sorcerers of some standing in their own time) the magician becomes God in the fullest sense of the expression: not only does he choose his relatives in spirit quite arbitrarily, he even claims the right to do what not even the judaeo-christian god of the old testament is ever described as doing, namely changing “objective past” at will.

This type of creative historicism appeals, so it seems, very strongly to the unconscious mind, supplying it with a great deal of ideological back-up information, thus reducing its conscious-mind-imposed limits of “objectivity” to at least some modicum of superficial probability. It is only when the occultist mixes up the different planes of reference, when he purports to speak of “objective linear truth”, instead of mythic or symbological, decidedly non-linear truth, that serious problems arise.This should be avoided at all costs in order not to strain our psychic set-up by contradictory evidence, which can easily result in an unwilled-for neutralisation of all magic powers.

But this, of course, is the same problem as with occult scientism. “Rays” are quite a convincing hypothesis to base telepathic experiments on, as long as you don`t try to overdefine said rays by epitheta such as “electromagnetic” or the like. For if you do, you become the victim of scientists’ zealous inquisition boards. Or, as Oscar Wilde might have put it, it is not truth which liberates man`s mind but lying. (Which, again, is one of the reasons why Aleister Crowley entitled his magnum opus “The Book of Lies” in the first place…)

Let us then resort to creative historicism whenever we find it useful. Let us not have “historical objectivity” dictated to us by the powers that be. Let us accept our fuzziness of expression which is, after all, little more than a honest acknowledgement of the fact that symbols and images are always more than just a little ambiguous, as our dreams well prove every night. As in divination, it does not pay to become overprecise in magic: the more you try to define a spell, the higher probability of failure. It is quite easy to charge a working talisman quite generally “for wealth”; it is quite another to charge it to “obtain the sum of $347.67 on March 13th at 4.06 p.m. in 93, Jermyn Street, 3rd floor” and still expect success. While the latter may strangely enough succeed occasionally, this is usually only the freak exception of the rule. However, by systematically rewriting our past in fuzzy terms, possibly eventing past lives and biographies for ourselves consciously or arbitrarily, we are fulfilling the final demand of Granddaddy Lucifer`s “non serviam”. Let nobody impose his or her time and history parameters on you!

And for practical exercise, allow your clock occasionally to be well in advance of your contemporaries`; let it sometimes lay behind for a few hours and minutes (do not just change the hour hand as this would make it easy to recalculate into demiurge’s “real” space-time continuum, making you yet again its slave!) Do this to learn about your former ill-advised humility towards the current time paradigm – and about the illusory character of time and its measurement in general. Rewrite your personal and family history daily, invent your own kin and ancestors. “Problems with Mom and Dad? Pick a new couple!” Experiment with retroactive spells, try to heal your friend`s flu before he even contracted it. But do this in a playful spirit lest your censor should whack you for your constant violations of the rules of this game by again confusing the frames of reference. Jump from one parallel universe to the next one, never permit yourself to stand still and become enmeshed by Maya`s veil (you are supposed to be the Master of illusion, remember?). And don`t panic: for nothing is true, everything is permitted.

* Origin: ChaosBox: Nothing is true -> all is allowed… (2:243/2)

Something I Eight?

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…to name but a few. Eight is the number of my true love’s name in the morning (7), when I rise (4). This is naturally a sexist riddle, the answer being ERECTION (8), and may or may not be perceived to have much to do with the matter that follows! Yet hard facts persist, even through anarchy, and some of them are pertinent to the discussion which follows.

That the number EIGHT and Chaos are inextricably entwined is, by any standards, irrefutable. Yet eight goes back so much further, into the very roots of occultism, and is a number worthy of at least a passing glance.

Eight. The Ogdoad. Westcott has this as the first cube of energy (2*2*2) and adds that it is “the only evenly even number within the decad”. In Greek times it was an omnipotent number, referred to the proverb: “All things are eight.” The Greek connection is at least valid in a passing context, with Hesiod being the first known writer to name Chaos and the Mass of Eris in CI 8 (KALLISTI!) could hardly have existed without his significant (if minimal) input.

It was also called the Universal Harmony because of its relationship to the musical scale (DOH, a deer, a female…), which both Mozart and Sol Invictus in their separate ways relied upon. There were eight Cabiri. St Matthew (cap. V) has eight Christian beatitudes, for those who don’t object to a B-attitude. One of the oldest companies of Egyptian Gods, that of Thoth of Hermopolis, consisted of four gods and four goddesses, with the gods being batrachiocephalic and the goddesses being serpent-headed.

The Pentateuch laid down that a male child should be circumcised (i.e. circumscribed for life) when it was eight days old. Stones of eight cubits were to be used for the foundations of Solomon’s temple. Eight tables were provided for the Hebrew slaughter of sacrificial animals. Eight was sacred to Dionysus, who was born in the eighth month. Eight prophet-persons were descended from Rahab the harlot: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Hannemeel, Shallum, Neraiah, Massaiah, Hilkaiah and the prophetess Huldah. The irreverent might be tempted to remark that all these end in a very satisfying AH! Eight souls were saved in Noah’s Ark, and Noah was the eighth in descent. Kabbalistically his name adds to eight times eight.

Theories about numbers can be taken to any lengths, depending upon who’s doing the taking and the bluntness of the axe they intend to grind. The eightfold path of Buddhism is ennobling and uplifting, and it’s only another of the many sets of eight the dedicated occultist will have already discovered.

In the Northern Tradition (my own particular and under-ground axe) Thor’s hall, Bilskirnir, is a prototype skyscraper with 640 (80*8) floors. Valhalla has 640 doors and 960 (8*12) warriors can emerge from each door at once. In the poem Grimnismal Odin doesn’t move for eight nights. When Thor’s hammer is stolen it is hidden eight miles down. To get it back Thor disguises himself as Freya. At the ‘wedding-feast’ which follows, Loki claims Thor hasn’t eaten for eight nights, as Odin’s largest son polishes off eight salmon at a sitting. Eight furnishings and servants are noted in Hel’s palace in the underworld. Odin’s grey mount, Sleipnir, has eight legs. In Lokasenna it is claimed that Loki lived under the earth for eight winters. The three gods which made the first men and woman bestowed eight abilities and faculties upon them.

There are eight runes to an aett in the Common Germanic Futhard, giving eight the strength implied by a full set of anything. In Norse tradition eight is a potent invocatory number, especially for Odin, representing a massive increase of potency over the lesser invocatory number of three.

Another correspondence which must be examined, if we are to do justice to the eight points of the Chaosphere, is the eightfold wheel of Wicca. Now, Wicca is a one of those subjects which immediately raises hands, eyebrows and other parts’ of the anatomy whenever it is mentioned, and a brief examination won’t go entirely amiss.

Witchcraft, unlike Chaos but very like Norse paganism, is a religion which has been principally recorded by christian commentators with their own bias and ideology to impose. Because off this a great deal of the historical material must be regarded as iffy by anyone seeking to establish the actual truth behind it. One factor which immediately links the topics is the respect offered woman. Woman in the north, as far back as Tacitus writing in the first century AD, was venerated and regarded as having a special gift of wisdom and prophecy. The same is true of the witch cult if we read between the lines. But Christianity, with its attitude that man comes into the world between urine and faeces, took every opportunity to deny and denigrate the role of woman, even within its own ranks. This practice continues today, with the nonconformist sects showing a much greater readiness to contemplate woman’s ordination than the established CofE and RC diehards. Thus any cult which acknowledged woman as an equal and legitimate creature was automatically doomed to censure, if not to rabid shrieks of ‘Heresy!’.

The most telling evidence for associating witchcraft with the Northern Tradition comes from the trials and legislation which led to the persecution. Transvection (flying through the air) for witches goes at least as far back as the Norse poem Havamal in around 950. Use of herbs and salves, not to mention inscribed charms, takes us back into runic times. The archetypal familiar, the cat, is sacred to Freya. A dozen or more similarities could be established with ease, possibly boring you rigid and over-killing the point. Much of the so-called witch knowledge was already established and accepted in Anglo-Saxon times, showing up in manuscripts of the period such as the Lacnunga.

The Alexandrian and Gardnerian movements represent the bulk of more obvious witchcraft activity, and are twentieth century offshoots of an ancient tradition going back much further and represented by heredity and traditional schools, both of which are realities in England today. Unlike the latter two they are visible and (heresy coming up) virtually interchangeable, the main differences being:

  1. Alex Sanders was photographed wearing a gold lame posing pouch and Gerald Gardner wasn’t (at least, the piccie hasn’t surfaced yet).
  2. The Alexandrian version of The Law doesn’t prohibit man teaching man, despite the fact that this may cause a fondness between aspirants, and better if it be so. They can, after all, if they want to, make it clear from the outset that they will behave like father and son, or two brothers.

Which hasn’t taken us too far from the point. Both the Allies and the Gardies have been keen in recent years to establish their respectability/credentials, even permitting a degree of cooperation and interpenetration in order to do so, and a variety of eight-spoked wheel diagrams are to be found in the plethora of works about either or both. They typically contain:

FESTIVALS                METHODOLOGY              WEAPONRY
~~~~~~~~~                ~~~~~~~~~~~              ~~~~~~~~
Candlemas                Drugs & Wine             Bread
Vern. Equinox            Dance                    Wand/Staff
Beltane                  Great Rite               Incense
Sum. Solstice            Spells & Rites           Athame/Knife
Lammas                   Scourge                  Wine
Aut. Equinox             Cords                    Chalice/Cup
Samhain                  Meditation               Oil
Win. Solstice            Trance                   Pentacle/Plate

Naturally this is a synthesis and includes (!) omissions. But it serves to give the ignorant and prurient some idea, as well as serving as a mnemonic for the cognoscenti. It’s fascinating to see that some of the entries are currently being played down by the let’s-be-respectable element (Drugs & Wine, Great Rite, Scourge) in contrast to the SExual and Chemognosis of Chaos, almost as if when the torch begins to dim in one set of hands it gets passed along to the people with the bottle of lighter fluid (yum yum).

All this is by way of a preamble to the main reason for this turgid discourse, which is an examination of the number Eight as it pertains to Chaos Magic. Apart from making a pretty natty design to wear on our rings and robes does it have any actual validity or relevance?

Let’s turn our attention to the most important Chaos Magic text to date, Liber Kaos, the Psychonomicon by Peter J. Carroll. We are unable to doubt the authority of the author or his massive contribution to both the foundation of The Pact and the formulation and elucidation of our chosen path of working. Yet on page 38, as a part of the Appendix (I) to Principia Magica, we discover a diagram of the eight-rayed star of Chaos which is actually a representation of five dimensions (I quote “(3 of space)(1 of Ordinary Psuedo Time)(1 of Shadow Time)”.

Now, let’s hold it there for a minute, pard’ner. Is we a-sayin’ that there eight-pointy star’s jus’ some ol’ Pentygram requantumated?

The Urban Cowboy goes off to eat his beans unanswered for the time being enabling us to progress a little further. To page 85, to be precise, where we discover Rituals and Spell Objectives and Designs in Eight Magics, with a Chaos star firmly planted in the centre of the page. This comes (as admitted on page 86) from Terry Pratchett, caught-jester of the Occult fiction world.

Y’see? Y’jus’ can’t take it seriously, pard.

Rather like most Americans, wouldn’t you say? So was it accident that Eight came to be the primary (though not the prime) number of Chaos Magic? Mere whim? After all, the Pentagram (the Witch’s Foot, Goblin’s Cross et al)has, on the surface, a much greater precedent for power than an eight-rayed star, doesn’t it?

Yew bet yore cute li’l pink ass it do.

That’s why it was utilised in the seminal Liber Null in Liber Lux, Liber Nox and Liber AOM, wasn’t it? So what exactly is the rationale behind the Chaos star and the Chaosphere, if the Pentagram would have done just as well? Is it simply an overstated Pentagram, or is there something more?

The question naturally, is rhetorical. Back to Liber AOM for another look at the Chaosphere: “it may be said to variously represent a perspective sculpture of the 4 axes of the geometrically impossible hypercube or the two interpenetrant tetrahedra of the light and dark forces. Such twists of illogic…”

Hit ’em up, moove ’em…

Shut up, Rowdy. go back to the gas pump or on into superstardom.


You’re quite right. It was usually Eric Fleming, playing trail-boss Gil Favor, who uttered that line to usher in the closing credits.

Which isn’t quite where we came in, but will serve to introduce a person reminiscence. When it comes to Chaos I am something of a March Violet. (Ah, the Strangemess of juxtaposed metaphors…) For those who don’t know it the majority of those who actually joined the National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (Nazis for short, for which we’re all grateful) did so after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany early in 1933. They were known as March Violets because they’d waited to see which way the wind of politics was blowing before committing themselves. My first involvement with Chaos cam in the mid-1980’s, once the movement has begun to become established. I read Liber Null, The Book of Results, The Cardinal Rites of Chaos and various other texts, including Julian Wilde’s Grimoires of Chaos Magic. All of these were new, alien, foreign to me, and served to reinforce a concept that I’d discovered for myself some years before, that of STRANGENESS.

Strangeness is what, for the vast majority, gives the occult its initial appeal. It has the potency of a thousand pentagrams and an insidious draw for the individual. Many drug habits have grown out of the desire to explore Strangeness, and the call of the Otherness is what opened up the west for Rowdy and his chums, and the Raj for Major Callaghan, don’t y’know. True, in the last two examples there were also political and financial considerations, but it was the Strangeness which won through for the pioneers and the thin red line.

Today we are bombarded by Strangeness. Those who have yet to enter the electronic age (doubtless reading this by the light of a paraffin lamp) find computers unutterably alien, and discover Strangeness in the way the new technology (sorry, rather passe phrase, that) is chipping away at their privacy. We see strange icons in the street, be they ads and posters or Gothic individuals (OK Justin – Byronic Romanticks!) walking by.

Let’s face it, to a newcomer Chaos Magic is strange. It is as strange as the first time you open a book by Terry Pratchett. It is as strange as that first discovery of the clap one grey and dismal, even if bright and sunny, morning. It is as strange as the pacing of a Stanley Kubrick file or a normal performance by the late Klaus Kindky. But strangeness, which I discovered in my youth, can contain a latent trap which middle age reveals. Once the strange, which is potent, becomes familiar (and familiarity, we are told, breeds contempt) its potency evaporates like surplus fluid in a can of Carnation, leaving you with a sticky, stodgy, unappealing goo.

This again, is a personally-proven discovery. When first strangeness came to me I worked out a full system of magic based on information culled from the works of Clark Ashton Smith. By the time I’d finished I had something workable, but its strangeness and appeal were gone, rendering it not so much useless as indigestible, like certain fungi found on this planet and possibly on Yuggoth as well.

Maybe it was something I ate.

Yet there are systems around which maintain their strangeness, even when it becomes familiar. The dear old runes are one, and Chaos is another, as anyone who’s ever set foot in a Chaos temple and worked a Mass of Chaos A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,Iy ay ay will attest. The paradox of Strangeness is that in order to be effective it must be both overcome and perpetuated. The sexy schoolgirl remains a potent male fantasy because it can only stand still as a generality, passing down through new generations of young flesh. If applied to an actual individual it cannot persist, because they grow up into ex-wives demanding alimony payments.

Take the work of A.O.Spare, without which Liber Null and The Book of Results might have been much longer in the writing. The sigil techniques, and the entire and manifestly personal corpus of Spare’s extant work, rely upon Strangeness, whatever it is actually designated within his own or his commentators’ pages.

And this is where I begin to come to the culmination of my ramblings, with a series of statements that will remain open to discussion (I hope):

  1. Chaos is strange.
  2. This strangeness is an important part of its appeal.
  3. Strangeness normally yields and becomes familiar.
  4. Chaos doesn’t.
  5. Pete Carroll borrowing from Terry Pratchett is as valid as me borrowing from Clark Ashton Smith.
  6. He did it better.
  7. What’s strange about a five-pointed octagram?
  8. Just try constructing an eight-pointed octagram!

Funny, there seem to be eight statements there. It’s never been my favourite number, but it seems to keep obtrucing, no matter how much I dislike it.

In fact, it’s something I hate.

However, we all have to come to terms with things we hate.

Don’t we?

Defining Chaos

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Chaos, according to the `Oxford English Dictionary’ means:

  1. A gaping void, yawning gulf, chasm, or abyss.
  2. The ‘formless void’ of primordial matter, the `great deep’ or ‘abyss’ out of which the cosmos or order of the universe was evolved.

There are a couple of additional definitions, but they are irrelevant to this discussion. When chaos is used in magic, there is no place for confusion or disorder.

Chaos is the creative principle behind all magic. When a magical ritual is performed, regardless of “tradition” or other variables in the elements of the performance, a magical energy is created and put into motion to cause something to happen. In his book, Sorcery as Virtual Mechanics, Stephen Mace cites a scientific precedent for this creative principle:

I quote:

‘To keep it simple, let us confine our example to just two electrons, the point like carriers of negative charge. Let us say they are a part of the solar wind – beta particles, as it were – streaming out from the sun at thousands of miles a second. Say that these two came close enough that their negative charges interact, causing them to repel one another. How do they accomplish this change in momentum?

‘According to quantum electrodynamics, they do it by exchanging a “virtual” photon. One electron spawns it, the other absorbs it, and so do they repel each other. The photon is “virtual” because it cannot be seen by an outside observer, being wholly contained in the interaction. But it is real enough, and the emission and absorption of virtual photons is how the electromagnetic interaction operates.

‘The question which is relevant to our purpose here is where does the photon come from. It does not come out of one electron and lodge in the other, as if it were a bullet fired from one rock into another. The electrons themselves are unchanged, except for their momenta. Rather, the photon is created out of nothing by the strain of the interaction. According to current theory, when the two electrons come close, their waveforms interact, either cancelling out or reinforcing one another. Waveforms are intimately tied to characteristics like electric charge, and we could thus expect the charges on the two electrons to change. But electron charge does not vary; it is always 1.602 x 10(-19) coulombs. Instead, the virtual photons appear out of the vacuum and act to readjust the system. The stress spawns them and by their creation is the stress resolved.’

Austin Spare understood this principle in regard to magical phenomena long before scientists discovered photons or began experiments in the area of chaos science.

Austin Osman Spare – Some History

Austin Spare was born at midnight, Dec. 31st, 1886 in a London suburb called Snow Hill. His father was a London policeman, often on night duty.

Spare showed a natural talent for drawing at an early age, and in 1901 – 1904 left school to serve an apprenticeship in a stained glass works, but continued his education at Art College in Lambeth. In 1904 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. In that year he also exhibited a picture in the Royal Academy for the first time.

In 1905 he published his first book, Earth Inferno. It was primarily meant to be a book of drawings, but included commentaries that showed some of his insights and spiritual leanings. John Singer Sargent hailed him as a genius at age 17. At an unspecified time in his adolescence, Spare was initiated into a witch cult by a sorceress named Mrs. Paterson, whom Spare referred to as his “second mother”. In 1908 he held an exhibition at Bruton Gallery. In 1910 he spent a short time as a member of Crowley’s Argentium Astrum. The association did not last long. Crowley was said to have considered Spare to be a Black Magician. In 1909 Spare began creation of The Book of Pleasure.

In 1912 his reputation was growing rapidly in the art world. In 1913 he published The Book of Pleasure. It is considered to be his most important magical work, and includes detailed instructions for his system of sigilisation and the “death postures” that he is well-known for. In 1914 – 1918 he served as an official war artist. He was posted to Egypt which had a great effect on him. In 1921, he published Focus of Life, another book of drawings with his unique and magical commentaries. In 1921 – 1924 Spare was at the height of his artistic success, then, in 1924 he published the Anathema of Zos, in which he effectively excommunicated himself from his false and trendy artistic “friends” and benefactors. He returned to South London and obscurity to find the freedom to develop his philosophy, art and magic.

In 1947 Spare met Kenneth Grant and became actively involved with other well-known occultists of the period. In 1948 – 1956 he began work on a definitive Grimoire of the Zos Kia Cultus, which is referred to in his various writings. This is unfinished and is being synthesized from Spare’s papers by Kenneth Grant, who inherited all of Spare’s papers. Much of this information was included in Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare by Kenneth Grant, but there are some unpublished works which Grant plans to publish after completion of his Typhonian series.

References for this section are mostly from Christopher Bray’s introduction to The Collected Works of Austin Osman Spare (Sorcerer’s Apprentice) and from Excess Spare, which is a compilation by the Temple ov Psychic Youth of photocopied articles about Spare from various sources.

The Magic of Austin Osman Spare

Spare’s art and magic were closely related. It is reputed that there are messages in his drawings about his magical philosophy. One particular picture of Mrs. Paterson has reportedly been seen to move; the eyes opening and closing. Spare is best known for his system of using sigils. Being an artist, he was very visually oriented.

The system basically consists of writing down the desire, preferably in your own magical alphabet, eliminating all repeated letters, then forming a design of the remaining single letters. The sigil must then be charged. There is a variety of specific ways to do this, but the key element is to achieve a state of “vacuity” which can be done through exhaustion, sexual release or several other methods.

This creates a vacuum or “void” much like the condition described in the introduction to this discussion, and it is filled with the energy of the magician. The sigil, being now charged, must be forgotten so that the sub-conscious mind may work on it without the distractions and dissipation of energy that the conscious mind is subject to. Spare recognised that magic comes from the sub-conscious mind of the magician, not some outside “spirits” or “gods”.

Christopher Bray has this to say about Spare’s methods in his introduction to The Collected Works of Austin Osman Spare;

‘So in his art and writing, Spare is putting us in the mood; or showing by example what attitude we need to adopt to approach the “angle of departure of consciousness” in order to enter the infinite. What pitch of consciousness we need to gain success.

‘One must beware making dogma, for Spare went to great pains to exclude it as much as possible to achieve success in his magic; however a number of basic assumptions underpin chaos magic.

‘Chaos is the universal potential of creative force, which is constantly engaged in trying to seep through the cracks of our personal and collective realities. It is the power of Evolution/Devolution.

‘Shamanism is innate within every one of us and can be tapped if we qualify by adjusting, our perception/attitude and making our being ready to accept the spontaneous. Achieving Gnosis, or hitting the “angle of departure of consciousness and time”, is a knack rather than a skill.’

There are other methods to utilise the same concept that Spare explains for us. Magicians since Spare have written about their own methods and expansions of his method quite frequently in occult magazines, mostly in Great Britain. Spare is certainly not the first person in history to practise this sort of magic, but he is credited with the first associations to magic, of the word chaos.

Chaos since A.O.S.

Austin Spare died May 15, 1956, but his magic did not die with him. There have been select groups of magicians practising versions of Chaos ever since, especially in Northern England and Germany. In the late l970’s, Ray Sherwin was editor and publisher of a magazine called The New Equinox. Pete Carroll was a regular contributor to the magazine, and together, due to dissatisfaction with the magical scene in Britain at the time, they formed the “Illuminates of Thanateros”. They advertised in New Equinox and a group formed. Part of the intention of the group was to have an Order where degrees expressed attainment rather than authority, and hierarchy beyond just organisational requirements was non-existent.

At some point, about 1986, Ray Sherwin “excommunicated himself” because he felt that the Order was slipping into the power structure that he had intended to avoid with this group, and Pete Carroll became known as the leader of “The Pact”. The IOT continues to survive and was identified as the only international Chaos organisation until early 90’s.

There are smaller groups of Chaos practitioners, as well as individuals practising alone. Chaos since Spare has taken on a life of its own. It will always continue to grow, that is its nature. It was only natural that eventually the world of science would begin to discover the physical principles underlying magic, although the scientists who are making these discoveries still do not realise that this is what they are doing. It is interesting that they have had the wisdom to call it chaos science…

Chaos Science

Modern chaos science began in the 1960’s when a handful of open-minded scientists with an eye for pattern realised that simple mathematical equations fed into a computer could model patterns every bit as irregular and “chaotic” as a waterfall. They were able to apply this to weather patterns, coastlines, and all sorts of natural phenomena. Particular equations would result in pictures resembling specific types of leaves, the possibilities were incredible. Centres and institutes were founded to specialise in “non-linear dynamics” and “complex systems”. Natural phenomena, like the red spot of Jupiter, could now be explained. The common catch-terms that most people have heard by now – strange attractors, fractals, etc, are related to the study of turbulence in nature. There is not room to go into these subjects in depth here, and I recommend that those who are interested in this subject read Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick.

What we are concerned with here is how all this relates to magic. Many magicians, especially Chaos Magicians, have begun using the terms, “fractal” and “strange attractor”, in their everyday conversations. Most of those who do this have some understanding of the relationship between magic and this area of science. To put it very simply, a successful magical act causes an apparently acausal result. In studying turbulence, chaos scientists have realised that apparently acausal phenomena in nature are not only the norm, but are measurable by simple mathematical equations. Irregularity is the stuff life is made of. For example, in the study of heartbeat rhythms and brainwave patterns, irregular patterns are measured from normally functioning organs, while steady, regular patterns are a direct symptom of a heart attack about to occur, or an epileptic fit. Referring back again to “virtual” photons, a properly executed magical release of energy creates a “wave form” (visible by Kirlian photography) around the magician causing turbulence in the aetheric space. This turbulence will likely cause a result, preferably as the magician has intended. Once the energy is released, control over the phenomena is out of the magician’s hands, just as once the equation has been fed into the computer, the design follows the path set for it.

The scientists who are working in this area would scoff at this explanation, they have no idea that they are in the process of discovering the physics behind magic. But then, many common place sciences of today, chemistry for example, were once considered to be magic. Understanding this subject requires, besides some reading, a shift in thinking. We are trained from an early age to think in linear terms, but nature and the chaos within it are non-linear, and therefore require non-linear thinking to be understood. This sounds simple, yet it reminds me of a logic class I had in college. We were doing simple Aristotelian syllogisms. All we had to do was to put everyday language into equation form. It sounds simple, and it is. However, it requires non-linear thought process. During that lesson over the space of a week, the class size dropped from 48 to 9 students. The computer programmers were the first to drop out. Those of us who survived that section went on to earn high grades in the class, but more importantly, found that we had achieved a permanent change in our thinking processes. Our lives were changed by that one simple shift of perspective.

Chaos science is still in the process of discovery, yet magicians have been applying its principles for at least as long as they have been writing about magic. Once the principles of this science began to take hold on the thinking process, the magician begins to notice everything from the fractal patterns in smoke rising from a cigarette to the patterns of success and failure in magical workings, which leads to an understanding of why it had succeeded or failed.

Defining Chaos Magic

Chaos is not in itself, a system or philosophy. It is rather an attitude that one applies to one’s magic and philosophy. It is the basis for all magic, as it is the primal creative force. A Chaos Magician learns a variety of techniques, usually as many as s/he can gain access to, but sees beyond the systems and dogmas to the physics behind the magical force and uses whatever methods are appealing to him/herself. Chaos does not come with a specific Grimoire or even a prescribed set of ethics. For this reason, it has been dubbed “left hand path” by some who choose not to understand that which is beyond their own chosen path. There is no set of specific spells that are considered to be “Chaos Magic Spells”. A Chaos Magician will use the same spells as those of other paths, or those of his/her own making. Any and all methods and information are valid, the only requirement is that it works. Mastering the role of the sub-conscious mind in magical operations is the crux of it, and the state called “vacuity” by Austin Osman Spare is the road to that end. Anyone who has participated in a successful ritual has experienced the “high” that this state induces.

An understanding of the scientific principles behind magic does not necessarily require a college degree in physics (although it wouldn’t hurt much, if the linear attitude drilled into the student could be by-passed). Experience in magical results will bring the necessary understanding.

This essay is directed toward the increasing numbers of people who have been asking, “What is Chaos Magic?” It is very basic and by no means intended to be a complete explanation of any of the elements discussed. Many of the principles of magic must be self-discovered. My only intent here is to try to define and pull together the various elements associated with Chaos Magic into an intelligible whole. For those of you who wish to learn more about this subject, I have prepared a suggested reading list, however, I must emphasise that there are always more sources than any one person knows about, so do not limit yourself to this list. Chaos has no limits…

  • The Book of Pleasure, by Austin Osman Spare
  • Anathema of Zos, by Austin Osman Spare
  • A Book of Satyrs, by Austin Osman Spare
  • Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare, by Kenneth Grant
  • The Early Works of A.O.S., Excess Spare and Stations in Time are three collections which are available from TOPY.
  • Chaos: Making a New Science, by James Gleick
  • Turbulent Mirror, by John Briggs & F. David Peat
  • Liber Null & Psychonaut, by Peter J. Carroll
  • Practical Sigil Magick, by Frater U.D.
  • Condensed Chaos, by Phil Hine

For an expansion of the overview expressed in this essay:

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