I was recently asked to Explain the practices of Chaos Magick.
I didn’t have a good answer to hand, at least not one that I was prepared to try and type on my phone’s keyboard into the Facebook comment box.
I realised that in all of my published writings on the subject, I had always assumed that if anyone was reading my work, they knew what I was talking about. They were a peer, or at the very least, somebody who already had their own answer for this.
The problem is, of all the occult ‘traditions’, Chaos Magick is arguably the most eclectic, and to pose that question to 100 Chaos Magickians, would yield at least 113 answers and none would match up exactly.
I shall take a stab at giving my offering to the 113, and hopefully by the end, the reader will see why this is the case.
For a start, some Chaos Magickians, but by no means all, will identify with the following statements on the subject, and those that do are not necessarily going to subscribe to the others. Indeed, some are more ‘true’ for _me_ than others, but if Chaos Magick can be said to have any kind of ‘Ryu’, then the following is likely to appear in it’s description.
To Chaos Magickians, belief is not considered to be fixed and absolute, but a tool, mutable and arbitrary, to be explored and employed by the Mage at Her whim. That is to say, that the model one has of the universe, the truths we hold to about reality, are not held to be sacrosanct and certain. The Mage is free to explore other possibilities, to discover what benefits this may bring to Her lived reality. The value of a given perspective, then, is shifted from what is true, to what is useful (or interesting).
A trite example would be to ask the question, in what way would your day to day reality be affected if you were to vault the fence on your position on God? If the atheist were to wake up tomorrow and choose to act as if he believed in god and all his angles, prophets, saints and hangers on, what glimpses of the mystical might he glean? In what way might his soul be illuminated and moved to worship? And if the pious were to awake to a material universe, devoid of divinity, and look with clear and curious eyes, what marvels of nature could fill his heart and mind with the beauty of it’s sheer magnitude? As for the agnostic, well, they are halfway there anyway. They have, hopefully, asked the question and have now merely to pick a side to play with.
The Chaos Mage has far more than these stories to play with, however. There are as many stories and pantheons as there have been civilisations, and more are being penned all the time. Besides, Chaos has Her own heroes, champions and Gods.
From fractal mathematics, chaos theory and quantum physics, to Eris, Discordianism, and more Popes than you can shake a hot dog at, the Chaos Mage has an nigh infinite set of ideas to play with, from the sane to the absurd, the sensible to the whacky, the orthodox to the plain bat-crap crazy.
“Nothing is True. Everything is permissible”.
The Chaos Mage views such paradigm shifts to be an act of Magick, in and of itself. To view the universe differently, and to act as such, very quickly alters the nature of reality as it is experienced by the observer.
Of course, many of the paradigms that are available contains other sources of Magick, and it would be simply negligent to not avail oneself of those shiny toys.
A Chaos Magickian will pick and choose to suit Her tastes and aesthetic. In this neck of the woods, Witch craft, Hermeticism, Thelema and Solomonic grimoires are heavily plundered, but Chaos Magick has a few staples for which it is known. Sigils and Servitors.
Sigil Magick is a spell casting device whereby the Mage creates a glyph to represent an intent, a desired change to be manifested in reality, onto which power and attention is directed until the spell is cast. The methods of achieving this are at the discretion of the practitioner and vary from scribbling it on a post-it note and staring at it really hard, to ritual bathing, donning magickal garments, lighting of candles and incense, anointing of oils and unguents, imbibing of intoxicants, invocation of deity, sexual frenzy and achieving gnosis. And everything in between.
Sometimes the sigil is cast in the creation of Servitors (though this is far from being the default way), or the resultant effects of a sigil are seen as being one. A Servitor is a thought form created by the Mage and given power, agency and a purpose. Frequently they are short lived, disappearing when their mission is complete, but many are created to last much longer and act as a long term companion to the Mage.
A Servitor is usually considered to be an extension of the Mage Herself, a facet of Her psyche, born from Her own energy. Her ownership and authority over it is equal to that which she exerts over Her own hand, yet it is given autonomy to fulfill it’s function and it is regarded as being as real and of the same stuff as the angels and demons and other greeblies that inhabit the astral realms.
As with all of Her practices, the question of “How” is left to the imagination of the practitioner. Indeed, that is the prerogative of any who give credence to, or employ a Magickal path. She will rarely convince a sceptic, nor does She try, for it is up to each of us to determine what we believe to be ‘True’. But as has already been said, it is not a question of what is True, but what is Useful?