Remember Chaos Magic? Whatever happened to it? Was it simply it’s time to die, or has it just gone underground waiting to be reborn? I’ll never forget when I first discovered Chaos Magic. It was in between the period when I became dis-enchanted with Wicca and Kemetic Othodoxy respectively, and I would not discover Satanism for another 2 years yet. It was 1998, and I had just graduated from college and was in my first year of grad school. I had stumbled upon some chaos site and I’ll never forget the sense of freedom and exhilaration I had reading about it. It held so much promise. Of course I actually misread the Hassan I. Sabbah quote. Instead of Nothing is true, everything is permitted, I read it as “Everything is true, everything is permitted”. That mis-interpretation colored my entire outlook on the movement for the duration of my involvement actually.
Is it the same I wonder? if nothing is true, is not everything true as well? Even after my great Satanic conversion (and subsequent dis-illusionment. what was i thinking?) in 2000, I continued to practice Chaos magic along side it for most of the early to mid 2000’s. After the last decade of trying to fit in a find a system, none of which worked for me, the open-endedness of Chaos magic really did it for me. It wasn’t just the freedom to believe what you want when you wanted, it was the freedom from systems, the exhilaration of working with the current of magic directly without all that dogma in the way. The sense of freedom was amazing, heady even. I think I did things magically then that I don’t think I could ever do now (like change my biochem final grade overnight), weighed down with my current fear of “doing it right”. The beginners mind?
It was a great time, a fun time. Remember that old forum hosted by Dead Jellyfish? Chaosmagic.com? It had awesome anime like Stuff that looked like this!
Graphics of mages and stuff, they would put out ritual books like the Chaos Magic cookbook (which I personally hated). It was a great place to connect with others and share ideas. Hehe, I still had art prints on my wall from this site when a girl came to my apartment for a date in 2006. She would eventually become my wife. I guess I’m lucky she didn’t run screaming, eh?
So what happened? When did it die? DID it die? There are still some great “torchbearers” out there. I love Andrieh Vitimus’s book Hands on Chaos Magic. Come’ on it has instruction for the Patronus charm in it! A lot of people used that fact to lampoon it, but I thought it made it awesome and I’m not even a Harry Potter fan! Gordon over at Rune Soup, is probably the truest epitome of a true mage I can think of. Lets not forget Faust over at Dionysian Atavism. One of my favorite all time podcasts is Pagan Chaos Magic, by Kia Dragon. I loved Postmodern Magic by Patrick Dunn too, even though it’s not marketed exactly as Chaos magic.
Beyond these excellent hangers on where did the rest go? Did everyone else find something to finally believe in too? Or did it just get old? For me it was ultimately “being a real chaos mage” that killed it for me. Maybe I never did it right. Because you see, eventually I believed in stuff. I never got into invoking Mr.Spock, or “slamming through the astral void in an X-wing fighter”. For me it was all about accessing ancient gods and spirits in an somewhat eclectic manner, gods and spirits that already existed (ie little different than I do now). I’m all for creativity in magic, but invoking batman just doesn’t do it for me when I can call an Angel. Eventually I realized… I was doing it wrong (see a pattern?). However a lot of the above mentioned individuals who are Doing it Right seem to be doing the same thing from my perspective.
Peter J. Carroll recently returned with The Octavo. It’s amazing! I don’t understand a damn word of it, and I still think it’s amazing! My wife bought it for me for my birthday last year by randomly selecting something off my Amazon list. She said she’s never seen me get so excited about any other gift she’s ever bought me before
As I’ve mentioned here I’ve been taking Jason Millers Strategic Sorcery class. Allow me to plug it and say how great it is. I think it’s helped me more than anything else I’ve involved myself with in the past few years. I honestly cannot say enough good things about it. Best money I’ve ever spent on magic, period. If you have the means to take it, DO SO! He takes a very similar approach sorcery as my own previous approach to chaos magic. Still there’s something very nostalgic about Chaos Magic that makes me miss it as a “system”. It finally hit me yesterday as I was thinking about it. It’s the same thing that made Satanism more appealing than “humanism” for me back in the day. The zing, the style, the panache, the attitude. Of course the panache of the past 3 decades gets a bit stale in modern times. What was edgy and cool then now looks aged and weathered.
I’m happy to see these individuals I’ve mentioned holding the torch. I’d love nothing more than to see a re-vitalized Chaos Magic current make a come back. If it ever did, I’m not sure I could resist honestly. Some times, when I’m struggling the most with whatever system I’m working in I secretly wonder if inside I’m just an old chaos mage who got so immersed in a particular paradigm that he simply forgot he was chaos mage. I wonder if that’s what happened to everyone else too?
So did I miss anyone? Any other good modern chaos magic blogs/books I should be checking out? Thoughts and comments?