The practice of magick is generally agreed to be the attempt to
create change in conformity with the will of the magician. This
change can range from a simple acquisition, such as creating
circumstances favorable to getting a job, to the highly
metaphysical, such as conversing with the angelic entities of the
Elizabethan magus John Dee.
Chaos magick, the most recent development in the Ceremonial
Magickal Tradition, is an innovative, modern, and disturbing
approach to the realization of the Magickal Intention.
Chaos Magick derives primarily from the work of Austin Osman Spare
and Peter Carroll in the first and third quarters of the 20th
Century respectively. Both magicians aggressively argued against
the exclusion of sorcerous techniques from magickal practice and
both developed systems of magick that were inclusive, eclectic and
innovative. Both generally spurned traditional magick as
needlessly complicated, discriminatory, and impotent.
Spare, being an artist, was clearly influenced by other magickal
artists such as William Blake, and was also influenced by the
relatively new field of psychiatry, particularly by the work of
Jung and Freud on the subconscious. Spare stressed the integration
of magick into all areas of his life, and so it is not possible,
in examining SpareŐs drawings, for example, to distinguish between
them and magickal work. Spare's drawings are spells. Spare's work
is mostly out of print. Some of his writings are available online.
Carroll, writing soon after the development of Chaos Scientific
Theory, was equally influenced by the possibilities of using the
language and tools of magick as a means to discover and influence
the subatomic interactions of the quantum universe. Carroll also
founded the Illuminati of Thanateros (the IOT), an Order of Chaos
Magicians. The Order is somewhat controversial in the greater
community of Chaos magicians since it is a secretive degreed
hierarchy. Secrets, degrees, and hierarchies are often considered
to run counter to the Chaos current.
work Liber Null and Psychonaut is the most widely available work
on Chaos Magick. It remains in print.
More recently the ideas of Chaos Magick have been extended further
into art by Jan Fries, whose brilliant and friendly excursion into
drawing, Visual Magick, is, unfortunately, only available in
England and, in the german language, in Germany.
Stephen Mace has privately printed fascinating analyses of the
interface between demonology and Chaos Magick, Stealing the Fire
from Heaven being the most widely read.
Phil Hine has published pamphlets on Chaos Magick and the
Finally seminal forays into the application of Chaos Magick to
social dynamics and communications theory by Hakim Bey have
recently extended the theories of Chaos Magick into music,
performance art and the Internet.
In more general terms Chaos Magick uses the deconstructionist
theories of Jacques Derrida, the interest in random phenomena of
John Cage and Minimalism, and the humor of Dada to create ritual
spaces for magickal acts. To view Chaos Magick solely as a
reformulation of traditional magick, however, would be inaccurate.
Chaos Magick is something new, an attempt to deconstruct
consensual belief structures, free the energy trapped by these
beliefs, and radically alter the movement of the quantum flux.
Chaos Magick is an assault on normative belief patterns, an attack
on the minds status quo, guerrilla war on the careful
considerations of consciousness.
Chaos Magick focuses on the mechanism of belief, and suggests that
the process of belief rather than the object of belief is the
critical element in magick. Chaos Magicians will adopt or refute
positions of belief as needed for the successful resolution of
magickal acts. This orientation, which stresses adaptability as a
prime asset and greets change as an accurate reflection of the
true nature of reality can be extremely destabilizing for
individuals whose sense of personal identity requires that the
universe be perceived as an ordered and meaningful place.
Chaos Magick specifically refutes the possibility of eternal rest,
of eternal order. It views the universe as a phenomena of
complexity at an order of magnitude too great for normal human
psychology to understand. In fact, Chaos Magicians would argue
that the universe is in such a state of flux and apparently random
movement that only devious techniques such as those of Chaos
Magick, which deliberately subvert the conscious, rational mind
have any chance of creating change in conformity with the will of
Chaos Magick is self-annihilating, bearing commonality with the
crazy wisdom of the fringe elements of the nyingmapa school of
Tibetan Buddhism, with the mad monks of Zen Buddhism, and with the
theoretical structures of Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka schools of
One of the two central Sutras (Buddhist teachings) of Madhyamaka
is the Prajna Paramita, a Sutra whose title is loosely translated
as Beyond the beyond, there lies awakening, and whose structure,
in which form and emptiness (Chaos and Order) are identified with
one another, resembles that of contemporary chaos ritual.
The founder of the nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism was the
sorcerer-buddha Padmasambhava, and some of the rituals, such as
the graveyard rituals of Chod practice, are hardly distinguishable
from the Chaos magicianŐs use of the Eldar Gods of the
The koans of Zen Buddhism are designed to short circuit the
discursive mind and bring about a state of mind similar to that
sought by the Chaos magician.
Chaos Magick can be considered to be a psychological approach to
magickal ritual. Bearing many similarities to the Stanislavsky
system of Method Acting, the ritual systems of Chaos Magick aim at
blocking the conscious mind and generating a state of
consciousness known as gnosis, a state of mind in which the
defenses of the discursive mind are overthrown and the magickal
intention of the magician can be driven deep into the Absolute,
that is to say into the quantum flux of the universe.
Like Method Actors, Chaos Magicians seek to forget their identity
in order to achieve their will, the change in the universe that is
the goal of the magickal act. To do this Chaos Magicians use
gesture, ritual, sound, visualization, the cues of their senses,
meditation,and generated emotional states such as anger, fear,
disgust, boredom or despair.
Any method that can create the momentary state of gnosis is
considered acceptable. Favorite techniques frequently involve sex,
pain, and confusion.
Chaos Magicians use sigils (magickal intentions that have been
transformed into symbolic structures), rituals from any source,
the artefacts of esoteric or popular culture to form a magickal
space that might bring about gnosis.
Chaos Magick is non-discriminatory and refutes dualism. Rooted in
the realization of the quantum flux and recognizing that ideas are
not reality (although they may influence the perception of
reality) Chaos Magick does not discriminate between White, Grey
and Black Magick, between evil and good, between right and wrong.
Consequently Chaos Magick is probably not for those who have not
internalized a personal moral or ethical code. In fact, most Chaos
Magicians would probably define themselves, if pressed, as Black
Magicians but may, in this self-definition, be referring to Magick
that has to do with that which is hidden, or in darkness, and so
Chaos Magick is neither for the squeamish, nor for those who wish
to argue points of ethics, nor for those obsessed with
establishing varieties of social order.
Ceremonial Magick and Wicca provide ample opportunities for those
who wish to do the latter. Chaos Magick is concerned with
developing magick that works, rituals that have specific effects,
that create change in conformity with the will of the chaos
magician, that are testable and can be replicated, that affect the
Chaos Magician's deep self in sometimes catastrophic ways, that
are non-judgmental, non- hierarchical and devious.
Those who are interested in the practice of Chaos Magick are
warned that Chaos Magick can be destabilizing. Since it is
designed to deconstruct belief, dearly held opinions, the stories
we tell ourselves to lull ourselves into a sense of security will
tend to fray and unravel.
Unless the magician is willing to forsake these old ideas, to
allow the boundaries of personal identity to be disrupted the
result of magickal action may be chaotic indeed. Dramatic life
changes, sometimes perceived as being for the worse, are a
commonly reported result of Chaos Magickal Rites.
Fundamentally, Chaos Magick is not about discovering one's True
Will, nor communing with the Mother Goddess, nor even associating
with demons, but with the direct, startling apprehension of the
Chaos current, the quantum flux of an unhuman universe. Chaos
Magick is magickal terrorism.