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?
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Chaos Magic is still alive and kicking in a sense… (not the batman, spock and all that mumbo jumbo.. but “de gustibus non disputandum”.. and yes..it comes down to esthetics…because god Thoth, for example, can “take” the “face” of Mr. Spock for you… but beyond that “avatar” (or look along the lines of a “username” on human internet’s web page).. there is the same consciousness with thousand faces in front of it… )
Eclecticism IS chaos magic in a sense,.. mixing traditions and flows of cultures, and inventing, utilizing new things that work “on the fly”.. as they are needed…
In my opinion “new” chaos magic for this particular times is “The Party of Xolotl” …
( google, first page that pops up can inspire you about it XD )
..In my own experience of last few years… hectic …insane at times.. and extremely energetic flowering with wild magic… I could only conclude that not that “chaos magic” is dead, but only “magical path” left standing.
Most of all other paths and practitioners on that paths sooner or later entrench themselves and harden and develop dogmas intentionally or even unintentionally, not even realizing that they have dogmas enshrined in their subconscious.
That dogmas stiffen and slow the “dance” of individual ..or a group.. or a “path” as a whole…
Development is slower… and some lose interest, some become armchair holders of their “path”.. not even realizing it.
Constant change is the trick..and never stopping…
(and off course having the audacity, will, wits and intelligence to keep up with that specific dance… but with a bit of specific rituals, specific mindset and a bit different outlook it is done 🙂 … but that’s another story)
Hi there! Thanks for the comment, and sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I fully agree with what you’ve written here! Chaos magic has not died, it’s merely gone on to mature a bit is how I think. The only path left standing… I like that and I there there is truth in it. Love live chaos!
I have had some interesting experiences with this meditation, since we are talking about chaos. Have a try 🙂
Hey Brett, this is awesome. I will give it a try, thanks!
Thank you for this post. I have been doing my own thing all along, and as a result I am a chaote by default. Except that some of the definitions seem to cut off the concept of mysticism, which I have experienced and therefore cannot deny.
The scene seems fairly dead when looking for current speakers on the topic that seem … normal? Believable? And regular pagan forums are a babble of …. Ok, I’m getting sarcastic. Sorry.
Mainly, I wish there were others in the field to talk to. I mean I stumble upon opening doors and such, and very scary things happened. Good things too… I just want to make sure I understand what went awry.
Thanks for the article! Yes, it’s still alive and kicking, a beast that wont die, “Stab it with their steely knifes but they just can’t kill the beast”. I think it’s changed and almost cooked but still raw at the center. Many practice alone, spanking the monkey in the dark with one eye closed stumbling in the darkness with their pants around their ankles ready to take a fall. When the epiphany comes and they realize chaos magick isn’t some supernatural magick that they thought it was, they scream mutiny and you’ll hear the shouts of MEN OVERBOARD. So the heat has been turn down to low and it’s cooking slowly until it’s all done and ready to be served.
Chaos magick incorporates mysticism, supernatural, dark fantasy etc. but it states that magick is 99% psychological. It’s also states that believe is a tool which means that even if you don’t agree that all magick is psychological (which I know that all magick is not just psychological), you still subscribe to the chaos magick paradigm that magick is psychological when you exercise your chaos magick rituals. So basically I don’t believe magick is psychological but when I practice chaos magick I believe that my rituals are psychological only because believe is used as a tool. Hope that brings some darkness to your light?
Hey there, and thanks for the comment. I couldn’t agree more. Like I said to Kiki in this thread, I think CM is just going through growing pains, and is now coming into it’s own. I personally love the CM current, and am always looking for other serious practitioners. Good to know there are others out there, doing their own thing.
Also, love the Hotel California lyric 🙂 Was always a favorite of mine.
I know this is old, but I think a lot of it has to do with the general thing of growing up. Lots of us are still practicing it, but we don’t really feel the need to brag about it anymore. Another thing is that it’s not really conducive for the structured lives that most of us fall into, whether we like it or not. A lot of the real die-hard chaotes are vagabonds, or live with their parents, and are all about the crazy experiences, drugs, and sex. Not exactly healthy, motivating, or useful for those of us who are more interested in applying the basic principles to beneficial things like generating wealth or furthering ourselves. I have been finding more and more often that the ones who have dropped out of sight are busy in private groups or solitary work focusing on these things. If you follow Andrieh Vitimus on facebook, you’ll see that he is very solidly working on the “great work” of improving the self, and I feel that’s one of the reasons he has become successful as a “chaos magician” where others have failed. The same can be said for Jaq Hawkins, who is currently writing more books and making films. After all, what kind of chaos magician can you be if you can’t even generate what you need to survive?
Oh I agree with you 100%. These are the Chaos Magicians whose footsteps I hope to follow. Indeed, I always laugh when people look down on CM, because I’m living a charmed life. I have everything I want and need, and I feel like it just gets better everyday. Results magic… gets results.
I also agree that as one matures as a CM, there is more than enough room for the great work. I think there are a lot of immature CM practitioners (one only has to look at the facebook forums, which I can only stand for a second), but there are flag bearers out there who have kept the current alive. Also, with PJC back in the game, I predict a second coming of CM coming into it’s own again. I see this recent period as just growing pains.
Little late commenting here, but if you’re really interested in bringing back the Chaos current, try googling the Ellis Project. I’m participating in that right now with several others. There are still a couple of kicking groups on FB, one of them I’m a part of, which is where I heard of the Ellis Project.
By default used chaos magic for years. I speak in tongues, easily and have managed to bend my fate around multiple times to have a good life without the grind of a boring samey job. I work it out as I go and have used it to help others at various times. I do have rules, but only a few and sometimes I worry a little about the shape the course of my life will need to bend to in order to enact the results of a spell. Nice to see others around who are independent mages!
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