The Magic Of Chaos By Peter Carroll

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The Magic of ChaosPeter J. CarrollCrowley certainly helped put the boot in against monotheism but the process was already welladvanced. Science, which had basically evolved out of renaissance magic, had more or less finishedmonotheism as a serious parasite on advanced cultures. Crowley was enthusiastic about science andappropriately so for his era, but in the work of Austin Spare we begin to detect a certain foreboding. However it is Spare's work that appears more austere and scientific when compared to some of Crowley'smore baroque symbolic extravagances. Spare rejected the classical symbologies of forgotten ages andsought the magic of his own personal arcana.

Using the minimum of hypotheses he evolved a magicfrom his own racial memories and subconscious. Independently of complex systems he developedeffective techniques of enchantment and divination requiring only ordinary language and pictures. Spare's work forms the bridge between an older style of magic brought to fruition by Crowley (whichderived most of its appeal, power and liberating potential from its religious style of anti-religion) and thenew magic. The new approach is characterised by a kind of scientific anti-science. This is increasinglybecoming known as Chaos Magic. It would be no more useful to dub Chaos Magic as pseudo-sciencethan it would be to dub Crowley's ideas as pseudo-religion

It is astrology as it is normally practised thatis mere pseudo-science much as satanism and freemasonry are pseudo-religion. Chaos Magic attempts to show that not only does magic fit comfortably within the interstices of sciencebut that the higher reaches of scientific theory and empiricism actually demand that magic exists. This issomewhat analogous to the way in which many religious theories implied the possibility of theurgic ordemonic magic. The best magic has always had a strong antinomian flavour. The most remarkable magicians haveinvariably fought against prevailing cultural norms and obsessions. Their victories represent not only apersonal liberation but also an advance for humanity. History bequeaths us no records of the renegadeshamanist magicians who must have brought about the advent of paganism, but we know a little of theanti-pagan magicians who created monotheism: Akhenaton, Moshe, Gautam, and so on.

As monotheismbecame a steadily more repressive and obscene force, a new generation of magicians arose and fought it. Some fought too openly and were destroyed; others were more subtle and planted effective seeds ofdestruction on a purely philosophical level, and others hastened its destruction by taking theologicaland theurgical ideas to outrageous conclusions. The roll of honour is here much larger, including suchnotables as Gordiano Bruno, Cornelius Agrippa, John Dee, Cagliostro, Eliphas Levi, and recently, Aleister Crowley. Crowley's great achievement, apart from his mountaineering and futuristic morality was to unearth thepower techniques from Tantra, Yoga, Gnosticism, Taoism and Shamanism. He had the courage to applythem to the rather dessicated, intellectualised and effete occultism of his age and created something oflasting value and interest. In my opinion Crowley's mistake was to accept his own mystical visions atface value and become dogmatic about them. He discovered techniques of unleashing the awesomepowers and creativity of the right cerebral hemisphere and subconscious but was so surprised at theresult that he assumed it was of inhuman origin, and all this despite his dictum that.. there are no godsbut man. What Chaos Magicians are attempting to do is break the stranglehold of a very limited view of scienceand rationality exercise over our imaginations and to force science to mutate into something lessoppressive. To do this they select as weapons a number of very simple ideas.

Chaos Magic concentrates upontechnique. Underlying all systems from Witchcraft to Tibetan Sorcery, that the eclectically mindedmagician may use, there is a fundamental unity of practical technique depending on visualisation, thecreation of thought entities and altered states of consciousness achieved by either quiescent or ecstaticmeditations. The eclectic point of view implies that belief itself can be regarded as a technique forachieving one's aims. A further implication of the principle of relativity of belief is that all beliefs areconsidered to be arbitrary and contingent. Consequently all notions of absolute truth only exist if we choose to believe them at any time. Theobverse side of the principle that 'nothing is true' is that 'everything is permitted', and ChaosMagicians may often create unusual hyperscience and sorcery maps of reality as a theoretical frameworkfor their magic. Improved neurphysiological knowledge combined with the principle of relativity of belief should lead themodern magician to regard the revelation with fresh scepticism.

Verily the previously unsuspected partsof our brains can be even more creative than the conscious parts, and no message from the gods, nomatter how extraordinary and overwhelming, should be taken as proof of anything beyond our ownextraordinary powers, even if accompanied by miracles. The rejection of any absolute external reality, truth or meaning may seem a paradoxical or even horrificprinciple on which to base a spiritual quest. I personally do not think so. Absolute truth would beabsolute tyranny and historically it has always been. I would rather the freedom to forge my ownspiritual vision. The evidence of my senses suggests that the universe is basically random withinarbitrary limits which themselves arise capriciously. Reality is a hierarchy of accidents ruled by purechance.

Even so-called 'scientific laws' are only statistical approximations describing the mostpersistent types of accident. I am free, not because freedom was conferred upon me but as aconsequence of my being a purely accidental creation with random behaviour patterns. Chaos Magic necessarily implies a certain individualistic antipoliticism or even anarchy. It is plainly anillusion that people are ruled by politics. People are ruled by philosophies and fashions, and it is fromthis higher level that Chaos Magic launches its attack on reality. To practice magic implies that you areactively seeking to forge your own spiritual viewpoint often in contradiction to cultural norms. Magic arises to prominence when the boundary of self is either expanding or contracting.

For example, during times of innovation and discovery, or during times of repression. A profound magicalrenaissance is now in progress because the boundary of self is both expanding and contractingsimultaneously. Science, drugs, psychology, communications networks and all the paraphernalia of latetwentieth century life have expanded aspects of awareness to a degree inconceivable a century ago. Conversely, many aspects of industrial civilisation oppress us and hence encroach on the territory ofself. The childish allegories of religion have been rightfully jettisoned but the whole principle of the selfas a mystic entity has taken a body-blow in the process. The natural environment is being rubbished tofeed the industrial behemoth and our capacity to relate to it is diminishing.

As the pace of life becomesmore frantic the value of introspection becomes diminished except in art where it is encouraged tobecome grotesque. Consumerism and the prospect of thermonuclear armageddon (which it seems mustinevitably accompany it) could diminish us all. Thus with all these pressures on self, magic hasmushroomed and taken on a colouration distinct from its historical antecedents. At once there is anextraordinary necrophilia and eclecticism and at the same time a powerful feeling for anachronisticpractices. Quantum physics rubs shoulders with nature shamanism and Tantric practices are employedfor parapsychological purposes involving telepathy experiments arranged by satellite link between homemicroprocessors whilst ancient goetic incenses smoke away on the mantlepiece in homemade braziers. A renaissance is marked by the presence of renaissance people, and the contemporary magician is verymuch a renaissance figure in the sense that the term is usually taken to imply. Contemptuous of theconventions and paradigms of his age, he looks both backward and forward in time for techniques tocircumvent them.

Religion, and the neo-religious magic that fought it, are dead or dying. Arise the Sorceror Scientist!.

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