Post Chaos Magic: 1st in a series.

A POST CHAOS VIEW

About two years ago I did a few posts about Chaos Magic, one detailing my main criticisms of it, and another positing that something new was evolving – a Post Chaos Magic if you want to call it that. I don’t want to call it that by the way, so please somebody think of something better to call it fast :-)

This evolution is a pretty logical step. Chaos Magic arose in part as a response to overly barouche and hierarchal magical orders and religious based magic. By the end of the 1990′s however the wild experimentalism and excesses of Chaos Magic had caused its own counter response, and I think few would disagree that if there was a theme in magic over the last 10 or 12 years it would be Traditionalism. People involved in Chaos Magic and GD/OTO based magic started to initiate en masse into very old lineage traditions like Tibetan Buddhism or various ATR’s. Those with an eye to the Witchcraft started looking past Wicca and into “Traditional Craft” represented by folks like Robert Cochrane, Andrew Chumbley, and Robin Artisson. Those with a more High Magic focus dig into the literary tradition and started translating and re-translating the Grimoires and doing things as close to the book as possible.

But again, like everything else people get carried away by their own BS. Soon, rather than saying “hey there is all this cool stuff in the traditions and old texts that we have been ignoring”, people started crying that “none of the Chaos or GD/OTO stuff works at all! If you want to do magic you had better follow this book to the fucking letter”. OR you have the folks so high on the richness of whatever tradition they have initiated into that they cannot see value in anything outside of it. I know this because I went through a period of being exactly like this when I first got initiated into Tibetan Buddhism. It was so amazing (still is) that I considered everything else crap.

GETTING DESCRIBED AS A CHAOS AND POST-CHAOS MAGE

After I started to put my own ideas of magic together into what has become Strategic Sorcery, some people started referring to me as a Chaos Magician, and just a couple weeks ago someone referred to me as a post-chaos mage, which gave me pause yet after some thinking, seemed to fit. I did some googling and found that MR Black has been thinking about the post-chaos current so much that he has started the POST CHAOS MAGICK PROJECT.  In his list of online resources relating to Chaos Magic in the 21st century, I found my own posts on it from two years ago.

FROM CHAOS TO ?

I took this as a sign to join his project and articulate my own view of Post-Chaos Magic. Please note that by doing so I am not suggesting that Chaos Magic is invalid or over or anything like that. As long as people are doing it and getting something out of it, it is alive and well. I am also not suggesting that the work of the traditionalists is coming to a close – indeed there is a lot more to be done and I pay strict attention to new translations and exposition on traditional practices. I am simply saying that there has been a Post-Chaos View of magic emerging and I am sharing what my own take on that is.

SUPERMAN VS MARS

The first thing I want to deal with is probably the most controversial aspect of Chaos Magic. In the Introduction to the Octavo, Peter Carroll sums it up like this:

” It (chaos magic) liberated magic from its dependency on religious symbolism and theological theories about deities and spirits by demonstrating that imaginary gods and spirits have exactly the same effects as the supposedly real ones.”

While I am sure that he and some other peoples findings support this idea, but one of the primary reasons that Chaos Magic has been declining in recent years is precisely that when many people put this theory to the test imaginary gods and spirits or fictional characters DO NOT seem to have the same effect as traditional ones.  For instance, Andireh Vitimus author of Hands-On Chaos Magic, recently told me that Papa Legba has certainly done things that do not jive with the “all in your head” view that Chaos Magic tends to take.

I have seen examples of people who did not believe in spirits get overwhelmed by the experience of them.

  • A ceremonial magician nearly ruined his life by invoking Yemeja and Oya into the same circle because while in his paradigm they fit the elements of the west and north, in Santeria mythology they hate each other with passion.
  • A Buddhist starts suffering spiritual and psychological attacks at a Nyingma retreat only to discover that it is caused by Dorje Shugden, a sectarian anti-nyingma protector that the person did not even know she was bound to during an earlier empowerment with a different Lama.
  • A trekker begins suffering nervous problems after angering Nagas by bathing in and eating meat at a pool sacred to the Nagas. Despite not even believing in Nagas, it is only a supplication ritual that winds up alleviating his symptoms.

Some chaos magicians have claimed that in the modern, largely secular world, a figure like Superman receives more collective belief than a pagan deity like Mars, thus making comic book or pop culture characters even more viable for magic than traditional gods and spirits. Even if we accept that it is belief, rather than the object of belief, that holds the power to magic, this thinking confuses attention with belief. Attention and belief are not the same thing, there is a different quality to the experience all around.

You can go back to my posts about criticisms of chaos magic from more arguments against the idea that spirits, gods, servitors, fictional characters, and made up twaddle are all equal. Those arguments however should not be taken as supporting a view that only traditional beings have a place in magic. Far from it – this brings us to post-chaos view.

For a traditionalist the idea of invoking a fictional character or creating an artificial spirit fit to design, is just silly. For many Chaos magicians, they all amount to the same thing. To the post chaos mage, they are all functional in magic – they just have different natures and roles to play.

Let’s take a look at the spectrum of possibilities here:

GODS, ANGELS, DEMONS, AND OTHER BIG NAME BEINGS: You know what I mean here. Beings who are known and supplicated the world over or at least widespread within a culture. The actual nature of such beings is highly subjective. For instance if RO was to bind a Goetic Demon into a Brass Vessel, I would still be able to evoke him. He would be removed from RO’s sphere but not mine. It might bleed over if we were then to interact using that spirit etc. I am fond of pointing out that these entities are usually not spacial, when present you can’t usually point to a place in the room and say “There he is” unless they choose or are directed to occupy that space. Though most of these beings are transcendent, they also manifest down as immanent beings which is why you can have seeming contradictions like Shiva being a being that gets jealous and petty in some stories, yet a Kashmir Shaivite might describe everything as Shiva including you, he, the question, and the world it occurs in. This is also hopw you get a YHVH that acts like a bloodthirsty fasciest war god, yet is also a god of love and transcendence.  Or, ya know, something like that. These tend to be beings that I call upon for big things only. Major macro-enchantments etc. Not to find my keys.

LOCAL BEINGS AND PERSONAL BEINGS: These are beings that you can usually point to and sense the space that they occupy. When a house is being haunted you can often feel the presence in one place and not another. Many (though not all) nature spirits fit this category. This also includes many (though not all ) of the dead as well as personal familiar spirits and tutilary spirits connected to you like the HGA. Being more local and immanent in nature, you have a chance to develop more of a personal relationship. These are spirits that, I would call upon to find my keys.

FICTIONAL BEINGS OR FORCES THAT ARISE OUT OF SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE: Not all fictional characters are simple inventions of their authors. Often there is a legitimate psyho-spiritual communication that occurs, but because of the inclinations of the receiver this does not manifest as overtly spiritual or magical literature. These are the stories that people almost cannot help but investing some reality to. The most obvious example is Lovecraft and the beings of the Chthulhu Mythos. Philip K Dicks Valis transmissions are another. Leaving literature out entirely, sometimes scientists make developments out of such communications. Tesla credited a spiritual “core” that he received visions from from inspiring some of his work. Swedenborg not only wrote spiritual works inspired by his visions, but scientific ones as well. Steiner is yet another example.

CHARACTERS OF PURE FICTION: Now we get to the stuff of pure fictional creation. Invoking Scrooge McDuck for money, Mr Spock for mercurial intellect, Superman for protection and so on. As I already said many people came into Chaos Magic expecting these beings to deliver the same results as the beings above, and left disappointed a few years later. Even if we are to accept that it is belief that powers the magic and that all the spirits are fictional surely collective belief outweighs attention and passionate lifelong personal devotion outweighs a day or two of convincing yourself to “believe” for the span of the ritual.

That said, there IS a psychic quality to attention and when invoked you do get a response – just one that is largely psychic rather than magical. This is why the practice is useful. If for instance you are looking to find a lover, it can be very useful to invoke a fictional character that represents the type of lover you wish to be. I once focused on Dale Cooper from Twin peaks as someone who was professional to the extreme, meticulous with detail, dressed the way I needed to dress for my new job, yet maintained his mystical side in such a way that it supported all the rest. By regularly invoking him and modeling behavior for a few weeks I was able to undo a lot of programming that was holding me back. I would argue that this worked better than it would have invoking a planetary power or something like that. It was ingrained. Another good friend of mine used to do this with Obi Wan Kenobi in order to get

Though not fictional, one can work with historical figures as well. In this work I specifically avoid overt Necromancy. I am not looking to contact the spirit of that person, but rather the idea that they came to represent. As I wrote in The Sorcerers Secrets, Archibald Leitch makes an excellent psychopomp for this kind of work overall, as he carefully deconstructed his habits of speech and upbringing, and crafted himself into the uber charismatic Carey Grant.

ARTIFICIAL SPIRITS: Servitors, Thralls, Watchers, Egregores, Articficial Elementals, Bud-Wills, or as I have lately come to call them Designer Entities. These are beings that the magician consciously creates and programs, and released into the world to accomplish specific things. I will be devoting an entire post in this series to them, so I do not want to go into here, but suffice to say, they are not the same as any of the above, yet have their own nature and features that makes them more useful for certain work than any of the above.

That is it for now. Next post in this series is on Modeling: From Meta Models to Mega Models

 

About Inominandum

Author, Teacher, Sorceror. My published works include "The Sorcerer's Secrets, Strategies in Practical Magick" and "Protection and Reversal Magick". To buy books, take my course, or check out my schedule go to WWW.INOMINANDUM.COM
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28 Responses to Post Chaos Magic: 1st in a series.

  1. Lonnie says:

    I’m looking forward to more in this series. I’ve been part of the Chaos Magic current for years. I’m unhappy to report I subscribed to the fictional character strength idea. I tested it out. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like to admit it for a long time. Sometimes, those imaginary spirits just didn’t conform to the confines between my ears. Sometimes the nonbelievers got their world turned upside down. You live and learn.

    I have always struggled to find a way to explain where I part ways. You’ve just done a pretty good job of it.

  2. Yvonne says:

    This is an excellent post for contextualizing some of the recent currents in what we might call contemporary magickal thought (and to a lesser extent, practice). It is well-informed and shows a fine grasp of converging trends in some very broad traditions. I find it fascinating that it also charts an amazing parallel course with currents in twentieth century Protestant Christianity: from the rise of fundamentalism at the turn of the century, to revitalization with Pentecostalism in the first quarter, to an explosion of a messy gaggle of new and experimental forms of Christianity including the rise of a kind of magickal evangelism in the latter part of the 1900s. There seems to be a mapping of THE SAME PROCESSES in the world of magick, perhaps in a shorter period of time. It makes me wonder what that is about.

  3. Noah says:

    The idea that spirits are just “in your head” has always been a non-starter for me, there were too many experiences in my own family perceiving spirits despite the fact they had no particular belief/interest in them one way or the other. But I find it interesting to wonder why Yemeja and Oya caused the issue you describe above – unless we literally believe that they had an argument once upon a time about who owns the oceans/the grave (which I’m not sure I do), why did they provoke such trouble? Have they simply simply accepted the mythology humans created for them? If so, does this make them quasi-artificial/fictional? I wonder…

    • inominandum says:

      I personally think that whenever we are talking about traditional Gods and widely served spirits there is a large element of:

      1. An actual being that exists independently of the human race.
      2. That being accepting the mythology and protocols that get created by us – often to the extent of holding us to it even when we don’t know better. Sort of “we shall honor in heaven what you honor on earth type thing.”
      3. Something not easily defined that strattles these two truths.

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  5. Ian C says:

    Good stuff. I never identified with Chaos magic as a current, but have always appreciated its analysis of magic, even when it went/goes too far. It certainly refreshed magical practice back in the late 80s.

    I’ve always thought of ethnic Pagan reconstructionism as a kind of extended experiment in Chaos principles. We start with the skeleton of lost practices, and the assortment of symbols and bits that survive, and we must invent the rest, to make a usable practice. Where the old ‘paradigm-jumping’ Chaotes might have tried to move from Hellenic to Khemetic to Norse at need, the very principles you talk about has led most of those who try it to make much longer experiments. It takes years to absorb and comprehend a system – maybe more when one is making much of it as one goes : ).

    Looking forward to the next part…

  6. Lance Foster says:

    Could some of the fictional entities start as thoughtforms, and then with increased popularity and attention/emotion given them by enthusiasts, become egregores?

    Have you read “The Celestial Omnibus” by E. M. Forster? It concerns itself with such questions of historical and fictional characters as having independent existence and the ability to act.
    http://www.horrormasters.com/Text/a1126.pdf

    • inominandum says:

      I havent read it. Yes there can be an evolution. You should define terms though. What you mean by thoughtform and egregore? These are terms that get used in a lot of different ways.

  7. I’m fairly new at magick, and I’ve come only recently (and somewhat reluctantly) to accept the existence of spirits. In fact, I think I’ve about come around to Frater R.O.’s notion that all magickal operations are the result of the action of spirits. But my ideas about spirits are purely functional; I still have no clear picture of what spirits are. In my personal cosmology, they could be anything from true, independent, non-corporeal sapient individual beings to collections of free-floating energy and natural laws that seem to us to be independent entities due to the human propensity to see patterns even where there are none.

    It occurs to me that your observations might be of some help to me. If the Chaotes are right about using fictional spirits as easily as real ones, that would argue for the latter view. The fact that this appears not to be the case, however, lends support to the idea of spirits as pre-existing independent beings.

  8. Nice. I especially appreciate your differentiation of belief and attention.

  9. inominandum says:

    Mr Li Liu,

    The problem with the spirit model is that when RO evokes an angel, very often the first thing they do is teach him energy magic!

    It is not an either/or thing. The spirits vs energy vs info vs meta BS is one of the most harmful things to happen to magic in a long time. Its like saying that you car operates on Gas but NOT water or Electricity. Anything that looks like electricity from a battery or water cooling the engine is secretly gas. Its just silly.

    Spirits are not all however independent. In fact BEING are not independent, but that is a post for another day…

  10. Pralixus says:

    The end of the Obi Wan story seems to be missing.

    More substantively, it occurs to me to wonder if there are elements in play in the case of fictional entities similar to the case of placebo efficacy and/or hypnotic suggestion.

    For example, some people are easily hypnotized, and a post-hypnotic suggestion to quit smoking works like a charm. For others, it wears off sooner or later. Still others are unable to be put under at all to begin with.

    Or again, the placebo effect is a real, measurable, often useful effect. Most people can’t pull it off consciously, though. They may be getting good results, but as soon as they know it’s just a sugar pill, -poof!- nothing. Others…well, I knew a girl, kind of a hippie type, wanted to avoid drugs. (Pot of course doesn’t count.) Anyway, aspirin is bad, m’kay, but what to do about a headache? Green Skittles. She knew it was a placebo, deliberately chose it to be such, but if she can be believed, it worked. Then again, maybe the headaches were only psychosomatic to begin with?

    Anyway, maybe you see where I’m going with this, and maybe the idea will be useful in later installments.

  11. Pingback: Why I don’t think ChM Imploded in the 90’s? « The Razors' Edge | musings on chaos magick, sorcery & beyond…..

  12. Mr Black says:

    Great article, can’t wait for the rest.

    The idea of this “Post Chaos Magick” flow has been bouncing around my head and has just initially started writing about it. I’m glad that without coordination or prompt from each other, you and Gordon started writing about your thoughts about this flow – this just reinforces that this idea is in the proper flow of things.

    P.S: I don’t have anything “cool” to title this project/flow, stuck with the post “label” for now.

    • Rick says:

      P.S: I don’t have anything “cool” to title this project/flow, stuck with the post “label” for now.

      My vote would be to continue to call it Chaos Magic and just consider it a natural evolution or next stage. Lessons learned of what works and what doesn’t so lets move on with the image and philosophy shined up and polished to meet the needs of magicians in the current era while still giving a nod and respect to it’s past and current practitioners and roots.

      Or does the name just have too much baggage now?

      Whatever it’s called I’m just happy people are talking about this personally. I’m looking forward to seeing where this all leads.

      • inominandum says:

        The term has a lot of baggage. Also, for me at least, the elements that I speak about jettisoning or evolving make it significantly different from Chaos Magic as it is traditionally thought of.

        Also, I am not expecting Chaos Magic to go anywhere. There are people who do it and love it and get results with it.

  13. M.G. says:

    Inominandum – how big a role do you think collective belief plays in magic? In my own life I really have found no correlation at all between how much belief is directed towards an entity and what results I have gotten working with them. I think the key factor is genuine revelation and not belief – in my experience, spirits not widely known can deliver the cosmic goods when they have established genuine protocols for working with humans. What do you think?

    • inominandum says:

      I actually don’t think that active belief plays any role in magic. Or a minimal one at most.

      Of course if I did think it played a role, I would still tell people that it doesn’t because that will actually cause more effective belief… :-)

      But no, I am not a believer in belief.

  14. My own experience with pop culture spirits runs counter to what you’ve described. I’ve had some very powerful experiences with them and even had other people who attested to the same. I’ve also had some powerful experiences with more traditional spirits, but I think there’s one key difference between my experiences and the experiences of other people who’ve worked with spirits based off pop culture. I don’t label any of the spirits I work with as fictional. I believe in the existence of all of them. Perhaps that in and of itself is enough.

    • inominandum says:

      You may not label them one thing or another, but you cannot help but consider that Kurukulla has an active cult throughout asia across two religions, and is widely acknowledged as a spiritual power, whereas Holly-go-lightly is a character from a Truman Capote book. Whatever you want to build up in your head about them, that is always going to be there.

      So the questions that I have for you would be what results have pop culture evocations gotten you? Have they been primarily psychological or have you used them to alter external probabilities and influence others?

      That is not to say that such beings cannot do that BTW. I am not denying your experience. Just saying that there is a large group of people who experienced it differently.

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  16. KL says:

    When it comes to magic I mostly just dabble, but I read a lot. Partly because I write fantasy, and since I believe there is something real to this ‘magic’ stuff I prefer to get my inspiration for my fictional magical systems from what is being, or has been, actually used.

    But I also practice some myself, and I believe because the spells seem to have consequences a bit too often than they should if it was all just coincidences.

    The interesting angle for me with this post is this: sometimes the characters seem to come from somewhere outside of my mind. Especially I have had one, a male, with me for most of my life. And another, two decades ago I seemed to hear the name ‘Dia Mater’ and after that there has been this feeling of female presence too. They have morphed into fictional individuals related to each other, twins, for whom I haven’t written any stories yet, but I still have this feeling I have always had that someday I have to. Maybe the only way to get rid of them. This seems to be somewhat usual for writers, characters who push themselves at you and then keep pestering you until you give them a story, or stories, and maybe a way into the minds of other people.

    I’m not saying I believe they might be some sort of real beings, but I have to admit that the thought has crossed my mind. The whole thing can feel pretty weird.

    What do you thing might happen if I used them in a spell (never have, so far)? And what sort of spell might they be right for? Maybe one for the commercial success of my stories? There seems to be this drive to get out of just my mind with them, as with most of these ‘feels as if they came from outside of me’ characters.

  17. Since, I was mentioned in the post, I thought I might mention a few things.

    First, I certainly have gotten results from fictional characters, however like Taylor, I have shifted to a sort of belief that they must exist somewhere in the meme-sphere that we often refer to as the Astral. The post does tend to “dismiss” fictional characters too easily and while I might say, Legba gets mad results, The very notion that the fictional characters don’t get results is contradicted by Hands on Chaos Magic where I give examples of the results we got from invoking Spock that happened at weird times and happened across the board. I can give you a list of people who got real results from Pokemon too, when they worked the system with the same kind of furor that people work with the dead. Understand, I can not also discount the notion, that some of the pre-made egregores have more strength, but you’d have an equally hard time convincing me that people don’t work with the egregores in a more serious methodical fashion, because they are older or have the seal of “ancient”. Aka people will start working with those entities differently, and thus have a way different outcome. To overcome this limitation of mind, and cultural conditioning really would be the first step.

    The reduction-ism kinda continues with “largely psychic rather than magical”, really, well that to me seems a convenient semantic distinction. What I would argue, is that it is far more complicated on both sides. Some people with enough devotion are able to achieve great results using fiction. BTW, I mostly agree with Taylor, gasp, that the word and linguistic baggage of the word “fiction” is part of the problem. As soon as you drop the word, and assume they are interpretations of some unknown quantum or astral realm, for the most part, personally I have seen people get far better results.

    For the most part, Chaos magic still seems to be the white elephant in the room that everyone likes to bash. Just yesterday, I had a situation where two people of the same religion could NOT agree on a major component. Think about it. Laughably stupid one-time fictional invocations was not what chaos magic was about….. it developed over the inability for TRUTH to be a reasonable measure of anything other then Dogma. Rest assured, the people who proposed those fictional entities work, like Phil Hine, and Peter Carroll, not the crop of now Chaos Magic 3.0, Id be in the 2.0 catergory, and GASP those two are in the 1.0 category…. Rest assured…. they had a TON of evidence to support the theory, and they did work with a devotion on with some of those fictional characters that matched the hard core believers of a religion. That all got lost somewhere along the way as the internet and the magical community “twisted” the work into some sort of mockery. Its honestly safer that way to established beliefs.

    Before people get me wrong, I find Jason Miller to be an excellent guy. Just a joy to talk to and enjoyable to work with. I find that more important than any discussion of magic mind you.

    Alot of this criticism is Reductio ad absurdum…. I mean sure some people would argue over the top McScrooge McDuck is the same as Jupiter, but most people couldn’t and keep a straight face. Meaning, they could’t work with it with a straight face either. That said, where chaos magic is going to “Post Chaos Magic” has little to do with the foundations Peter Carroll laid and everything to do with a “chaos magic” culture that has disintegrated into bullshit and no longer focuses really on magical testing, results driven magic, and backing up experiments with dedicated results. Its also why you wont see me write a Hands on Chaos Magic II or anything with Chaos magic…. since I see myself only as a Magician now.

  18. Michael Polacco says:

    Interesting post, Andrieh. P.S. the free ritual with the mp3 on http://www.deeper-down-the-rabbit-hole.com was frigen cool, and helpful. Thanks

  19. pope desorden says:

    Chaos is dead…..long live Chaos.
    Nowdays theres a lot of gringos initiated on to santeria…they dont speak yoruba a lot of them gringos on Palo Mayombe…dont speak kikongo..but they work ..manda y va…the same for vodoo a lot of non natives having results with the fictional Orishas and Mpungos…created by people who were slaves..and were desperated and . traditionalist sell…Chaos dont…hahahaaa… theres a lot of people desperatd for money writing booksthey need labels to sell.. Chaos is dead long live Chao…….

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