virus: Chaos magick by Ray Sherwin

Date: Tue Jul 30 2002 - 20:00:39 MDT

Chaos Magick
  by Ray Sherwin
   Chaos Magick has its roots in every occult tradition and in the
   work of many individuals. If any one person can be said to have
   been responsible, albeit unintentionally, for the present climate
   of opinion that person would be Austin Osman Spare, whose magical
   system was based entirely on his image of himself and upon an
   egocentric model of the universe. He did not intend that the
   system he devised for his own use should be used by others since
   it was clear to him that no two individuals could benefit from
   the same system. Nor did he fall into the trap of presuming that
   the information revealed to or by him was pertinent to all
   mankind as all the messiahs did. Aleister Crowley came to look
   upon him as a "black brother" purely because he refused to accept
   Crowley's Law of Thelema, preferring instead to work beyond
   dogmas and rules, relying on intuition and information uprooted
   from the depths of self.
   The most recent public expression of Chaos Magick has been
   through the work of the Illuminates of Thanateros, an order which
   Pete Carroll and I initiated in 1978. Our aim at that time was to
   inspire rather than lead magicians interested in the Chaos
   concept by publishing ideas of a practical nature. Our approach
   differed to Spare's only insamuch as we were interested in group
   as well as solo magick. The response to our writings was much
   greater than we anticipated and by 1982 there were groups working
   in England, Australia, America, Egypt and Germany as well as
   allied groups such as the "Circle of Chaos" and many individuals
   working alone.
   The difficulties of running such an order soon became apparent.
   What seemed simple to us, both in concept and technique, was not
   simple to people who had not suffered the bizarre and arbitary
   intricacies of what is now referred to as "traditional magick."
   This put us in an awkward position because it meant that a
   magical concept which, by our own definition, could not be taught
   now needed to be taught. Both Pete and I held guruship and
   hierarchy as anathema yet now we were being expected not only to
   teach but also to lead.
   It has been said that all systems of magick have the same end
   result. I doubt that this is true because so many systems
   restrict their practitioners within such narrow parameters of
   dogma and morality (even if there is no priesthood as such) that
   instinct and imagination are stifled by rules and doctrines. A
   path cannot be chosen sensibly until all paths have been examined
   for comparison and to restrict oneself to one path would, in any
   case, limit ones experience and modes of thinking.
   A solution was eventually to the problem of how to reach that
   which could not be taught. No rules or instructions were ever
   given, only suggestions. No mention was made of notions best left
   for the individual to decide such as reincarnation and the
   existence or nature of god. Ideas of that nature have little
   bearing on the performance of practical magick anyway, and
   individuals practising the techniques rapidly came to their own
   conclusions. We knew that we were on the right track when we came
   to collating the information sent to us by individuals and
   groups. Without exception everyone who sent results to us
   considered the techniques they had used to be extremely potent
   but - and this was the important thing - they had all come to
   different conclusions on matters of philosophy. That they had
   come such varying conclusions and still wanted to remain within
   the loose organisation structure we had set up was more
   encouraging than anything else.
   To detail the methods of Chaos Magick would be spurious since
   they are adequately dealt with in available publications. It
   would be useful however, to point out a popular misconception
   which has been unintentionally fostered by people writing in
   specialist magazines. There has been some confusion about the
   word 'chaos', some writers believing the word to have been used
   in this context to express the techniques themselves. Nothing
   could be further from the truth. Whilst it is correct that some
   modes of gnosis are effective because they confuse the
   ratio-cinative functions they ultimately lead to clarity and
   magicians involved in the Chaos current tend to be meticulous in
   the way they organise their programme of work. This is a legacy
   inherited from the "93 system". We formulated the term "Chaos
   Magick" to indicate the randomness of the universe and the
   individuals relationship with it. The antithesis of chaos,
   cosmos, is the universe suitably defined by the successful
   magician for his own purposes and that definition is under
   constant scrutiny and may be regularly changed. Chaos is
   expressive of this philosophy and reinforces the idea that there
   is no permanent model for the individual's relationship with
   everything that he is not. The word encompasses not only those
   things we know to be true but also what we suspect may be true as
   well as the world of impressions, paranoias and possibilities.
   If there were anything such as a Chaos Credo it would run on the
   following lines: I do not believe in anything. I know what I know
   (gnosis) and I postulate theories which may or may not enter my
   system of adopted beliefs when those theories have been tested.
   There are no gods or demons, except for those I have been
   conditioned into acknowledging and those I have created for
   myself. I create and destroy beliefs according to their
   usefulness. In the words of the wise "nothing is true, everything
   is permitted" - provided it interferes with no-one.
   At the group level obviously a consensus of some sort must be
   reached. I use the word consensus advisedly because other
   descriptions such as "shared reality" would be quite misleading
   since no notion beyond the concrete can be shared. It can, at
   best, be appreciated. Guidance in technique is always useful but
   reliance on books, even books on Chaos Magick, is best kept to a
   minimum in favour of working by instinct.
   Group workings usually fall into four categories - experimental,
   initiatory, repeated ritual and celebratory (for which several
   groups may come together) although by no means all groups include
   all four categories in their repertoire. More important for a
   group working any sort of magick is to build and maintain an
   atmosphere which excites and inspires the imagination. The groups
   already in existence have, to a large extent, moved away from the
   idea prevailing in the seventies that theatrical trappings are
   not necessary. They tend to use any device which will contribute
   to the magical atmosphere they wish to create. The traditional
   magical weapons are sometimes used but, more often than not,
   quite new weapons peculiar to each group are made. Masks and
   robes are effective and, therefore, widely used although nudity
   is not frowned upon (See the "Cardinal Rites of Chaos").
   As far as experimental magick is concerned, sigilisation has been
   the most widely researched subject, but telekinesis, ESP and
   telepathy as well as many methods of raising power have been
   looked into in varying degrees of detail.
   Chaos Magick is not looking for converts but anyone who is
   already inclined towards magical adventure and who is prepared to
   break new ground would be warmly accepted by the existing groups.
     * LIBER NULL - Pete Carroll
     * PSYCHONAUT - Pete Carroll
     * THE THEATRE OF MAGICK - Ray Sherwin
     * THE BOOK OF RESULTS - Ray Sherwin
     * CARDINAL RITES OF CHAOS - Paula Pagani

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