WTF is Chaos Magick?
“Do you believe then that the sciences would have arisen and grown if the sorcerers, alchemists, astrologers and witches had not been their forerunners?” -Nietzsche
Chaos Magick was born during the late 1970s with the publication of Peter J. Carroll’s Liber Null, Ray Sherwin’s The Book of Results and Ramsay Duke’s ThunderSqueak. Chaos Magicians (sometimes referred to as “Chaoists” or “Chaotes”) operate from the assumption that our belief systems can be used pragmatically to alter probabilities, and to ultimately shape reality, to our will. This assumption is empirically verified thanks to the clever experimental designs and subsequently published research findings of groups like the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) group, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). In this same vein, quantum physicist John Hagelin, a Harvard Ph.D and a pioneering researcher at both the European Center for Particle Physics (CERN) and the Stanford Linear Accelerator, has demonstrated the existence of:
“long-range ‘field effects’ of consciousness generated through collective meditation, and has shown that large meditating groups can effectively defuse acute societal stress—thereby preventing violence and social conflict, and providing a practical foundation for permanent world peace.”
The observer effect in Quantum Physics (and other such “spooky” Quantum Information Theory concepts such as entanglement and quantum discord) have placed us on the precipice of yet another disruptive Scientific Revolution, one that seems poised to advocate for the claims of Chaos Magick.
Now to say science sprung from Magick isn’t all that controversial among historians of science of course. In this way, science might be considered to be some sort of ‘daemon‘ conjured forth from the works of legendary Alchemists like Isaac Newton, Elias Ashmole, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno. These last magicians were replaced by scientists largely due to the “open source” nature of the science method. This open approach allowed for sharing and collaboration whereas alchemy was closed and occulted. David Wootton summarizes it succinctly in The Invention of Science this way:
“What killed alchemy was the insistence that experiments must be openly reported in publications which presented a clear account of what had happened, and they must then be replicated, preferably before independent witnesses. The alchemists had pursued a secret learning, convinced that only a few were fit to have knowledge of divine secrets and that the social order would collapse if gold ceased to be in short supply… Esoteric knowledge was replaced by a new form of knowledge, which depended both on publication and on public or semi-public performance. A closed society was replaced by an open one.”
However, science is a human endeavor and is subject to human foibles, like all other human endeavors. As such, our proclivity to calcify science into a rigid, dogmatic belief-system instead of defending it as a belief-system smashing epistemological method often leads to us to the gates of “Scientism” (or pseudo-science). Scientism is the rhetorical attempt to extend the prestige of scientific methods to inherently unscientific subjects (this is usually rhetorically carried out via the use of ink-horn terms and prestige jargon). But now thanks to clever Quantum Physics experiments with Bell’s inequality it seems that “Magick” may very well be a real thing now that our common-sense notions of local realism don’t seem to hold up to scrutiny.
Chaos Magick Mind (aka Psikology)
“Magick has many aspects, but primarily it acts as a dramatized system of “psychology” (or neuro-linguistic meta-programming) to train us to break out of the cage of the socially conditioned ego and, by plunging directly into the Chaos and Void from which we emerged, experience a rebirth into a new sense of self, of world, and of chaos and void, knowing directly, by experience, that all these names hide the same hidden unity—the wonderful magician who makes the grass green, makes the sad man sad, makes the angry woman angry, and makes the loving heart overflow with further love endlessly.” –Robert Anton Wilson
Religions usually favor the following of a spiritual Guru archetype like Buddha, Moses, Christ, or Muhammad in lieu of, say, apprenticing in magick and developing your own system. Perhaps this is why religions tend to foster conformity while Magick has historically been punished as a form of insurrection or heresy. In a nutshell, religions worship their favorite Magician whereas Magicians don’t worship God(s) as much as they cavort with them.
The Abrahamic religions have killed on behalf of monotheism in the same way modern secular psychiatry has involuntarily committed those that seem to demonstrate fragmented identities. In the modern West the fight for one God has become the secular crusade for one single ego identity. Fortunately, Chaoists employ a multiconsciousnes psychological model. The Multiconscious is the sum of the assorted identities that integrate to make up your entire ego (this simply assumes that we are multi-faceted people; i.e., who you are when you’re with your kids is different than who you are with your boss, etc. What call your “identity” is really our greatest trance, and our most common mask).
Influential psychologist Carl Jung offers another psychological model often useful to Chaoists (as a bonus, Jung loved Alchemical metaphors). Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious is useful for the Chaoist. Think of it like a Cosmic Internet. Chaos Magicians use trance to log onto this Cosmic Internet (or tune into the orders that come from Julian Jayne’s “bicameral mind“, the Akashic blockchain, Superconscious, or whatever.)
“Austin Spare has influenced me greatly, more than Crowley. For me, Spare’s great triumph was in uncovering the basic sleight of mind trick which brings the sub or unconscious into play to effect magic. Once this is understood you have the key to the whole field of magic and the role of any particular symbolism becomes rather secondary. Obviously, most successful magicians must have understood the trick intuitively but Spare made it explicit with no bullshit and has thus allowed us to extend the technique in a planned and deliberate fashion rather by mere intuition or hit and miss procedures.” – Peter J. Carroll
Sleight of Mind in Chaos Magick is the act of sneaking Magickal operations passed one’s own subconscious resistance, skepticism and/or censorship to trick oneself into getting results. Sleight of Mind occurs when the Chaote adopts a useful belief-system (aka B.S.) and enters Gnosis so as to sneak their signals into the Superconscious. It involves quickly forgetting so that doubts may not destroy the intent of the original signal (it is also important that you forget so that you don’t lust after results. As the old saying goes, “the hungry are seldom fed”). Corporate logos and slogans do this to us all the time. Attention is the money of the Information Age where all can be won by focus (Gnosis) and lost by distraction (Golden Apples).
Belief as a Tool
“In Chaos Magic, beliefs are not seen as ends in themselves, but as tools for creating desired effects. To fully realize this is to face a terrible freedom in which nothing is true and everything is permitted, which is to say that everything is possible, there are no certainties, and the consequences can be ghastly.” (Liber Kaos, p. 75, 1992)
Think of it like psychic Method Acting, you take on a certain role to create a certain effect. This principle also acts as a guard against dogmatic, closed thinking. Beliefs are powerful and the Placebo Effect is proof.
The term “Gnosis” is used in Chaos Magick in a different manner than in Gnosticism. In Chaos Magick, gnosis is also known as ‘one-pointed focus’, aka ‘trance’ or ‘The Zone’. It can be inhibitory (meditation, yoga) or excitatory (dancing, drumming, sex, exercise, etc.) Contemplating goals and desires in this Alpha/Theta wave state is akin to the experience of receiving suggestions while listening to a hypnosis CD. Note, this lucid state is where military trained Remote Viewers operate as well. Some Shamans enter altered states through the use of entheogens. Chaos Magicians call this “chemognosis” and plants with high concentrations of DMT such as the acacia and ayahuasca are particularly popular (e.g., Israeli psychologist Benny Shanon attributes DMT for granting prophet Moses the hallucination that yielded the 10 Commandments).
The Operations of Chaos
Chaos is not disorder. Chaos is the void. It is the universe untouched. Mathematical Chaos Theory posits that there is a sensitive dependence upon initial conditions (sometimes all it only takes a pebble to move a boulder):
“On a larger scale the chaos magician is able to work vast changes unattainable through ordinary, orderly means. Where chaotic systems exist, it is now well known that in the right place, a small flutter can transform the entire system. This is known in chaos science as the butterfly effect. In these fast changing times, at this crossroads of history, in this time of crisis and opportunity, our entire society is a chaotic system. By observing society keenly, and choosing the appropriate moment for the golden apple to be launched, the chaos magician can work great changes in society through the social butterfly effect.” http://hyperdiscordia.crywalt.com/neopagan_discordia.html
There are many techniques used by Chaosists to complete the following five operations; some include the use of sigils, talismans, Sex Magick, amulets, etc. (these are not uncommon but are by no means necessary). Sigiling is a common method that Chaotes use to take charge of such things. The basic operations of the Chaoist are five:
- Enchantment – This allows us to nudge events toward happening the way we wish, aka psychokinesis.
- Divination – This is the receipt of information via psychic means. This can be information from the present, future or past. However, it seems to be similar to statistical forecasting insofar as the further away from the now, the less accurate the information (just be careful your divination doesn’t become enchantment by creating that which you imagine you are perceiving. Fortunately, divined future events can be affected, like averting a disaster, by enchantment).
- Evocation – summon a servitor to act on your behalf, like a form of dissociative psychokinesis. These homunculi are to the Chaoist as apps are to your smart phone and evocation is the act of installing them (and banishing is deleting unwanted apps from your phone).
- Invocation – The Latin term vocare means to call forth. Evocation is the process of activating thought-forms or other “supernatural” agents to follow your commands (enchantment) or for divination (if you need a quasi-intelligent entity to retrieve information for you). Invocation is the process of mediumship or supplication; possession or prayer. For example, Enochian magic evokes entities into a mirror or seer stone that a human operator (a ‘seer’) sees and hears.
- Illuminatin – The is the process of learning to enjoy wisdom and peace and is akin to the aims of meditation. Illumination is a lasting change in the Chaoist, an enchantment we cast upon ourselves. According to PJC, Illumination: “may include spells of Enchantment cast at oneself to repair weaknesses or increase strengths, and Divination and Invocation performed for inspiration and direction”.
So, he risk of sounding like just another metaphysical schmuck, Chaos Magick is the practice of bridging the Quantum weirdness both inside and outside of your mind:
“Synchronicity phenomena are characterized by a significant coincidence which appears between a (subjective) mental state and an event occurring in the (objective) external world” – from Synchronicity, Quantum Information and the Psyche by Francois Martin, Ph.D. (Laboratory of Theoretical Physics at the University of Paris) and Federico Carminati, Ph.D. (Physicist at CERN).
Modern magick has become bifurcated; experimentation is now predominantly managed by the Scientist while belief systems are managed by spiritual/psychological Gurus. You see, our experience of life largely consists of a battle of beliefs, between those that help and those that harm. Sometimes our placebos and nocebos get mixed up, and the beliefs that we believe are helping us can actually cause harm (primum non nocebo). Magicians, in particular Chaos Magicians, seek to re-unify the study of experimentation and the study of belief-systems.
“Coincidences control the universe so why not then control coincidences?”, says the Sorcerer-Scientist.