One of the most exciting early blurbs about Chaos Magic that Peter Carroll ever wrote was that Chaos Magic would use reality itself as the symbol set rather than rely upon a particular system. I have to say that Carroll himself did, and is still doing, a pretty damn good job of doing just that. Unfortunately not a lot of Chaotes followed his lead, and preferred instead to explore the ways that Chaos Magic could jump and combine established systems, or delve into fictional and non-traditionally-occult material like fiction etc. It is my hope that as Post-Chaos (or just Chaos I suppose) moves forward, we focus more on the exploration of magic that avoids anything other than reality as-such for its work.
It may seem strange to some to talk about abandoning the very system that is designed to train you and make you a magician or mystic, but coming as I do from a Tantric Buddhist background, nothing could be more natural. Indeed the Indian Mahasiddhas as well as more recent lamas like Drukpa Kunley, Do Khyentse, and Patrul Rinpoche were always falling afoul of monasteries and ecclesiastic types for pointing out that true realization lies beyond the recitation of specific texts, or certain special behaviors, and must be apprehended as reality itself. This is where the true mystical realization lies, and where truly great magical power comes from.
I know that everyone things of Liber Null and Psychonaut when they thing of Peter Carroll, and that book is certainly worthwhile, but my favorite book from him, and from the whole genre in fact, is Liber Kaos. I first read this book on a bus trip in 1996 and it was the first time that I really grasped the interplay of dimensions in magic – something that is still quite important to my work to today. It is also the book that contains Liber KKK (Kaos Keraunos Kybernetos) which lays out a very impressive program of 25 workings that pretty much anyone would benefit from performing. In fact if you are new to magic and reading this blog, I would highly recommend digging into Liber KKK right now. When you are done, you will have more experience than 90% of the magicians you will run accross for the rest of your life.
In almost the whole book, there is nothing about other systems of the combination thereof. It is a presentation of magic using reality itself as the symbol set, with very little else. This approach continues in the new books, weaving God figures from concepts that hit magicians hard like Apophenia (the emergence of patterns amidst chaos or randomness) and delving even further into the dimensional physics, not for confirmation or validation of magic by science as bad new agers do, but to develop the art further by expanding our thoughts about how magic works and what it can do. I am not saying I agree with all or even most of his conclusions, but I really respect the approach of using reality itself, rather than meshing cultures and symbols and gods together in an at best bland, and at worst dangerous and disrespectful blender.
Don’t get me wrong here. There is a lot of benefit in following a system and being initiated into a tradition. That benefit cannot be understated. I would not trade my initiations or traditional Nyingma practices for anything.
I also feel that it is vital to be able to think outside of those systems and apprehend reality as such. Otherwise the system, and even some attinments, can drag you down from reaching other plateau’s. One mentor of mine explained it this way: At the moment you are crossing a sea. You have built yourself a strong boat according to time honored methods, and it will indeed carry you accross the sea you are crossing. The problem is that the goal you are seeking is not only at the other side of the sea, but at the top of a mountain. If you are unable to leave your boat behind when you reach land, you will never reach your goal. If you attempt to carry it, you will get dragged down by its weight and fail.
A few years ago I tried an experiment in what I like to call Zero-Point Magic, which will eventually be the basis for a book next year. For those of you brave enough to do it though, you can try the experiment yourselves:
Forget that you were ever taught magic. Forget that ANYONE was ever taught magic. Ignore everything you know about symbols, spirits, gods, spells, etc. Imagine that you are possibly the first person to sense that there is more to reality than what the material world presents. You can feel that there are subtle forces and non-physical entities, but you should assume that they have no names, or at very least that the names that they have been given by humanity are all incorrect (which in a sense is true). Approach magic as if you were the first person to ever think of it, and go from there.
Rather than addressing gods or spirits that you know of already, start addressing “the powers that be” or spirits of the morning, etc. Spend time in silence and learn to listen not only to the trees and rivers, but to the traffic and hum of the city. Take an astral journey through the electirc grid. Get to know clarity from apprehanding the cloudless sky and bridging the difference. Get to know the heart power by watching the sun set over water and feeling it set within your own heart as well.
Many of the spirits and facets of the Strategic Sorcery course arose during these Zero Point Magic experiments. Whenever something does present itself in traditional form, gibe it permission to appear “as it is” or at least “as it likes”. More than anything though, simply relax past dualistic thinking and categories, so that you can see reality as it is, and not as you or another tradition thinks it is.