Tag: austin osman spare

Psyche’s list of chaos magick books

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Books, photo by az
This list of chaos magick books was first published in an information pamphlet created for the Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival in September 2007.

Read these for a taste of the philosophy surrounding chaos magick:

Chaos magick is first and foremost about achieving results, therefore, don’t merely read these, do them: Continue reading


Postmodern Magic, by Patrick Dunn

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Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age, by Patrick Dunn
Llewellyn Publishing, 0738706639, 251 pp., 2005

It’s been years since I spoke with Dunn via an online mailing list – indeed, I didn’t even realize he’d published a book! It was the book’s sensible tone, straightforward approach and material that lead me to connect the dots and finally recognize why it seemed so familiar. The list was a central focus for a chaos magick group which began in the mid to late 1990s that remains active today, in an sense, though most of the core members have moved on, as Patrick seems to have done, after a fashion, though echoes of its influence are still heard. Continue reading


Two Tracts on Cartomancy, by Austin Osman Spare

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Austin Osman SpareTwo Tracts on Cartomancy, by Austin Osman Spare Two Tracts on Cartomancy, by Austin Osman Spare, with an introductory essay by Gavin W. Semple
Fulgur Limited, 1558183442, 38 pp. (incl. list of illustrations), 1997

Gavin Semple’s introductory essay makes up the main portion of this booklet. It, rather helpfully, gives an account of Spare’s introduction to cartomancy, and subsequently, his understanding and use of forecasting cards, placing it in context.

Semple describes Spare’s fondness for gambling on the horse races, and how this lead to the creation of his own ‘Surrealist Racing Forecast Cards’ (among others); explaining that that “Spare was not about to swallow anyone else’s gnosis wholesale – the challenge for him was to formulate a symbolic arcanum which would elucidate the most abstract principles of magic in terms uniquely his own.” Continue reading


How to charge a sigil playing video games

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Video game controller, image by dgoomanyOne of the most fascinating aspects about pop culture magick is the adaptability it grants you. Case in point, recently I’d been reading Disinfo’s Book of Lies, particularly the essays on Austin Osman Spare. The ideal state to be in to charge a sigil is one where the mind is blank, vacuous, and thus open to the influences of the sigil. I began to think about that and how pop culture could be applied to charging and firing sigils.  Continue reading


Review: Rebels and Devils, edited by Christopher S. Hyatt

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Rebels & Devils: The Psychology of Liberation, edited by Christopher S. Hyatt
New Falcon, 1561841536, 428 pp., 1996, 2000

Rebels and Devils is a collection of works from some of the most rebellious and accomplished minds of our time; including such notorious authors as William Burroughs, Phil Hine, Peter Carroll, Austin Osman Spare, Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Osho, and naturally Christopher S. Hyatt, as well as various others. Not only a collection of essays, it also consists of various photographs, poetry, biographies, interviews and even a comic drawn by S. Jason Black and co-written by Hyatt. Comprised of more than works psychology and magick; anything that could be deemed rebellious or individualistic; also covered are such topics as yoga, meditation, sex, drugs, guns, death, and the difference between rebellion and revolution.

I’ve never read anything by Israel Regardie before, as his most famous works seem centred around the Golden Dawn, and I’ve never had much use for formal magickal orders, so I was somewhat surprised to discover while reading an interview between him and Hyatt (‘The Final Words of a Western Master’) that he was so funny, as I tend to see that sort of thing as being dry work. Both humourous and insightful, he made an excellent point regarding the misconceptions readers have about the authors they read, very one dimensionally, and this certainly helps expand that.

In ‘The Calling of the Holy Whore’, Diana Rose Hartman, the only female author in the entire compendium, offers an intelligently refreshing re-interpretation of the Judeo-Christian myths surrounding Satan/Lucifer in the rebel guise, noting how ‘devil’ and ‘divine’ grew out of the same Indo-European root word devi, and ‘demon’ came from the Greek for genius, daemon. Hart contributes an interesting feminist perspective to rebellion, in embracing the holy whore within ourselves.

Christopher Hyatt reflects on the methods of modern slavery in ‘Who Owns the Planet Earth':

“While most humans agree that slavery is evil – that the ownership of one human by another is immoral – few humans equate slavery with enforced education, welfare, health, and the idea of a perfect orderly universe. Slavery is usually associated with power over others and with the ability to enforce one’s will on another without the fear of retaliation. Within the “right” of ownership and debt there is a hidden mystery – a metaphysics – a knowledge only available to those with the power to create and enforce their metaphysics. Whenever a new group achieves power, they also inherit the metaphysics and magickally, the ability to use it.”

While Osho notes in ‘Rebellion is the Biggest “YES” Yet':

“Rebellion is an individual action; it has nothing to do with the crowd. Rebellion has nothing to do with politics, power, violence. Rebellion has something to do with changing your consciousness, your silence, your being. It is a spiritual metamorphosis.”

The myriad of discussions on rebellion and liberation in its various forms make this a book to be treasured for years to come. While not every essay is a shining jewel to be discovered, there is a sufficient number that makes Rebels and Devils defiantly worth reading. I recommend that they be read as they appear, even though one may not be interested in every subject discussed, they do follow a loose sequence.


Review: Condensed Chaos, by Phil Hine

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Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic, by Phil Hine
New Falcon, 156184117X, 191 pp., 1995, 2003

Condensed Chaos opens by describing magic as being about change, not merely the “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” Crowley spoke of, but a more refined version, describing it more in terms of liberation, saying “Through magic we may come to explore the possibilities of freedom”. Then moves into a brief history of chaos magick, from Austin Osman Spare to Crowley to Carroll to Eris and Discordianism, laying the groundwork for chaos magick as we’ve come to know it and how it got that way.

Six “Core Principles of Chaos Magic” are outlined, the first being “Avoidance of Dogmatism'” while somewhat ironic in a list of “core principles” is a common ideal, and indeed few chaotes would contest these points. The fourth principle especially, “Diverse Approaches”, is another reoccurring theme in chaos magick. As Hine sagely notes: “If you use only one magical model, sooner or later the Universe will present you with something that won’t fit your parameters.” Though he also recognizes that “Chaos Magick not about discarding all rules and restraints, but the process of discovering the most effective guidelines and disciplines which enable you to effect change in the world.”

While liberation and freedom are possible, it does not come without possible consequence, as described in the section on dangers and pitfalls. Hine covers many of the possible hazards of magickal practice, detailing what to look out for and what to avoid, adequately preparing the would-be practitioner as much as possible, or at the very least, letting hir know what might be expected, and how to recognize signs of idiocy. Sensibly, he does this before getting into discussion of techniques, and even advises taking breaks as needed.

Hine uses numerous cute acronyms, such as ‘C.H.A.O.S.’, ‘D.R.A.T.’, ‘S.P.L.I.F.F.’, ‘A. P.I.E.’, etc. to abbreviate formulae and concepts, effectively making them easy to remember.

Instructions are given for servitor creation, programming, launching via various methods as well as practical examples for servitors successfully launched in various workshops and lectures. It contains relatively few straight rituals, mostly suggestions and comments, taking information approach rather than an instruction manual which force feeds information. Hine stresses flexibility without seeming wishy-washy, or being overly ridged, effectively maintaining that fine balance between the two extremes.

One thing that did annoy me was the over-emphasis given on how one appears to others. Adapting yourself to suit others to give in to what they want to see in the hopes that they will perceive greatness in you, while the method may work, why anyone would want to do such a thing in the first place? Pleasing the outside world to please yourself doesn’t sit well with me, perhaps it’s the years of reading Objectivist literature or hanging out with Satanists, but it did made something in me twinge. Fortunately, it’s not a dominating feature in the book, and does stress self-evaluation and trying to maintain an honest view of oneself.

This is definitely a ‘should-have’ introductory text covering a wide variety of topics from the practical aspects of magick: dream recall, sigil, servitors, etc., to the more esoteric theories and suggestions as to why things work the way they do – and why not. An excellent introduction to chaos magick, and magick in general.


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