Post Chaos Magic 3: Reality as Symbol Set.

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.

BUT

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.

 

 

 

About Inominandum

Author. Sorcerer. Consultant. I have 30 plus years of experience making magic a reality for myself, my clients, and my students. For a complete background go to www.strategicsorcery.net
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17 Responses to Post Chaos Magic 3: Reality as Symbol Set.

  1. Andrew B. says:

    Now that is pretty awesome. Thanks.

  2. Gwydion Raventhorn says:

    Kinda been doing something similar to this might post it to my blog.

  3. Joao says:

    Approach magic as if you were the first person to ever think of it, and go from there.
    Very, very good.

  4. Zorku says:

    I don’t really see what the criteria are for judging the different systems. Just how often you get stuck and when it doesn’t feel right?

    Also: is this zero point magic supposed to refer to zero point energy or was it just a phrase that kind of sounded like a description for no frame of reference?

    • inominandum says:

      A bit about getting stuck. A bit about things going wrong, A bit about simple cultural respect etc. There are a lot of factors.

      As for Zero Point: No. At least not beyond the idea of using the term to refer to the ground state of a thing.

  5. Psyche says:

    I’m a little confused here. You seem to be suggesting that people should move beyond chaos magick, yet what you’re describing in your “new” system seems to be well…chaos magick. Adding new terms doesn’t change the fundamental core of the systemless system?

    • inominandum says:

      Psyche,

      A couple things:

      1. I am not suggesting people do anything. I am noting that people are doing something, and having some fun predicting where people are going, or at least sharing where I am going. This whole project actually started as an idea on Mr Blacks blog. It is not a call for people to move from Chaos Magic into something else. It is noticing that something else is evolving out of Chaos Magic. That does not mean that Chaos Magic goes away.

      2. Though I was explicit in the first post of the series that this was not an attack on Chaos magic, or a reason to bitch about it, some people have taken it that way anyway. If it is a reaction against anything, it is a reaction against the uber-literal (there is an angel his name is Michael, he is the Angel of X Planet. I know it is true because I have a book that tells me so) uber-traditional (if it is not contained in a Renaissance Grimoire, it must be crap) type of magic that is itself is in part a reaction to Chaos Magic.

      3. I am not creating a new system. Outside of specific training programs that can be called systems, I actually hate the concept of systems as most people use them now-a-days. There are no systems. Its pretty much all just magic.

      4. Chaos Magic is not a systemless system, a modelless model, or a any of the other sort of zen-sounding platitudes that people apply to it. It came to be defined in certain ways over time, and when you take those definitions away, there ceases to be anything “chaos” about it. Its just magic.

      This series of posts is not about trashing things that are Chaos Magic, so much as it is about seeing where those elements have brought us good or bad and sharing my own conclusions about them.

      As I note in the post Carroll ery much stuck with the idea of Reality as Symbol Set – but not many others followed suit. The idea here is to revisit that idea, but perhaps not with some of the other Chaos Assumptions such as:
      Belief being the power behind magic rather than the thing believed in.
      A lack of difference between created entities like servitors and actual spirits.
      Altered Mind states being the key to magic (oodles of magic is not at all dependent on it)
      Slight of Mind forgetting being necessary for magic.
      Etc.

      Pen Gillette once had a criticism of religion that was quite pithy. It went something like: “If all human knowledge was wiped out for thousands of years and a new intelligent species arose they would re-discover science in more or less the same way that we did because it is a real thing. No religion would look the same.

      My contention is that magic would look significantly different, but that there would be a lot that would remain the same. Certain qualities like triangles being used for manifestation and spirit prisons, iron being apotropaic, nadis and winds, qualities of certain contemplative and mystic states. Even the elements. These things tended to pop up in the same way in ancient cultures that had almost no contact with one another.

      You can SAY that magic using reality as the only symbol set IS Chaos Magic, but we both know that there is a lot more to it than that in the way of assumptions, and techniques, and how it evolved. I say its all just magic.

      • Rose Weaver says:

        On numbers 3 and 4 above, we completely agree. In fact, I feel we agree more often than not on this subject.

        I do feel you are correct about Chaos Magick not being a “systemless” system. Whether one prefers to rely on “reality” or fiction, or a combination of both, as the source of their inspiration makes no difference.

        I suppose the point I was attempting to make is that, as you point out, it is all magic regardless of techniques used, how it evolves, inspiration, etc.

        Which now prompts me to bring up something I’ve been wondering since I first began reading these series of posts on your blog and Mr. Black’s, and quite possibly makes your point:

        Since this all qualifies as magic, what, exactly, qualifies it as “Chaos”? It seems to me many (including myself) who practice what we now call Chaos are simply more eclectic in the nature of their practice.

      • Stan Nats says:

        …there would be a lot that would remain the same. Certain qualities like triangles being used for manifestation and spirit prisons, iron being apotropaic, nadis and winds, qualities of certain contemplative and mystic states. Even the elements.

        Inominandum, why the elements? Although from what I understand the hermetic/greek and indian elements are the same, aren’t the chinese ones quite different?

        • Stan Nats says:

          Asking again, if the elements are universal why are the chinese elements different?

          • Inominandum says:

            Well first of all by saying that things would remain the same, or more accurately re-occur or be re-discovered does not mean that every aspect of a thing woul dbe the same.

            Lets see what we have:

            All phenomena boil down to five basic forces
            Among these are patterns that are recognized as being analagous to earth, fire, water.
            From these combinations various more complex combinations arise.

            This is all kind of amazing in and of itself. It is actually amazing that the elements are not MORE different.

            That said, when you look even closer you see that they really match up quite well if you take the Chinese earth as spirit/space, Wood as earth, and metal as air.

            In Tibet, where the Indian and Chinese systems combined, this is not much of an issue.

  6. Brian says:

    I like the last bit as it resonates with my personal feelings; I sort of think that all the various interactions and mechanisms that make magic possible are like Gravity, just natural laws. Gods spirits, angels etc are what our minds like to lay over these natural laws, to the point of them gaining thier own oomph!

  7. Rose Weaver says:

    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.

    I confess that I agree with Psyche completely. What you describe above is Chaos Magick… at least how I understand it. What you state is the best advice I’ve seen in a long time, and the best description of what a good Chaote should do. If this advice is followed, a natural progressive evolution will continue throughout the Practitioner’s magickal lifetime; show in their work and results.

    • inominandum says:

      See my reply to Psyche.

      I would just add that if one simple follows the advice of using reality as symbol set, that is hardly Chaos Magic any more than it is Shammanism, or Witchcraft.

  8. Pingback: This Week, in Awesomeness | The Crossroads Companion

  9. Heather says:

    This is exactly the 2nd blog, of urs I read through.
    But I actually like this specific 1, “Post Chaos Magic 3:
    Reality as Symbol Set. | Strategic Sorcery Blog” the very best.

    Thanks ,Hildegard

  10. Hi! This can be my Initial comment the following so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really appreciate reading your articles. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the exact same subjects? Appreciate it!

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