I was first introduced to the subject by some English bloke on IRC in a random Wiccan chatroom who later, through a series of unlikely circumstances, became my partner. He introduced names I’d never heard of before: Austin Osman Spare, Peter J Carroll, Robert Anton Wilson – people with three names writing weird and wonderful things. Continue reading
There are some books that are required reading for the dedicated student, and this list represents my top five books dedicated to chaos magick – books that defined chaos magick as a distinct field of study and practice.
1. Liber Null & Psychonaut: An Introduction to Chaos Magic, by Peter Carroll
Liber Null, first published in the late 1970s by Ray Sherwin, is the handbook for the Illuminates of Thanteros, the first group dedicated to chaos magick. The IOT was conceived of as a new kind of order based on meritocracy, and Liber Null serves as an introductory text to what was then a new approach to magickal practice.
New Falcon published Liber Null and Psychonaut together in 1987. Psychonaut expands upon themes raised in Liber Null, and contains the much maligned pseudo-scientific approach to catastrophe theory, but it does have its moments, defining and reframing magickal theories for a new generation of occultists. Continue reading
[T]here [is] a type of occultist who believes that it doesn’t matter what you do in magic that “intention is everything”. I am a strong believer in the phrase “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” and think these types of occultists are more dangerous to the experimental magician because everyone thinks that they hold similar, sloppy views.
These occultists often call themselves chaos magicians or repeat Aleister Crowley’s much misunderstood phrase “Do what you will be the whole of the Law,” [sic] as if it gives them a wholesale license to bunk off from doing any work.
— Nick Farrell, “Experimentation as Magical Path”
I’m reading Magick on the Edge, ambitiously subtitled “An Anthology of Experimental Occultism.” The above quote appears in the first essay, which is otherwise quite good at making a decent case for “experimental” magick. (Though isn’t all magick experimental? Isn’t that the point of doing the Work?)
In the context of the essay, Farrell is snidely suggesting that chaos magickians (or magicians, if you prefer) practice magick with no understanding or interest in the theory behind it, cheerily believing that as long as you want “it”, “it” will happen. I hear this expressed online on occasion, but I’m surprised to read such a misguided sentiment expressed so blatantly in print.
“Intent” forms a central part of any magickal working – chaote and otherwise – for without purpose, what’s the point? And I’ll fess up, in chaos magick, the intentions aren’t always “good” in the Wiccan (or even Golden Dawn) sense of the term, but with the experienced practitioner they are never sloppy. Continue reading
Kaostar! Modern Chaos Cunning Craft, by Frances Breakspear
Hidden Publishing, 97809555523717, 118 pp., 2007
The early and mid-nineties saw a number of fresh and innovative books on chaos magick by the likes of Phil Hine, Jaq Hawkins, Jan Fries and, of course, Peter Carroll, but this seems to have petered out by the nills. More recently the rise in print-on-demand publishing companies like Lulu.com and CafePress.com have facilitated a revival in the classic texts, making titles such The Book of Results and The Theatre of Magick by Ray Sherwin available once more.
Chaos magick has never been an especially popular area of occultism; it places itself on the fringe of the fringe, occulted even amongst the occultists – it’s a glamour that suits it well, but there have never been chaos magick books published in the numbers seen by those relating to Golden Dawn style magick, for example. The chaos current has been proclaimed dead numerous times, but there’s life in ‘er yet. Continue reading
This list of chaos magick books was first published in an information pamphlet created for the Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival in September 2007.
The bolded items are still in print as of this date.
Read these for a taste of the philosophy surrounding chaos magick:
- S.S.O.T.B.M.E., by Lionel Snell
- The Focus of Life, by Austin Osman Spare
- The Book of Resultss, by Ray Sherwin
- T.A.Z., Hakim Bey
Chaos magick is first and foremost about achieving results, therefore, don’t merely read these, do them: Continue reading