Subject: Defining Chaos Introduction Chaos, according to the `Oxford English Dictionary' m
From: Mark Chao
Subject: Defining Chaos
Chaos, according to the `Oxford English Dictionary' means:
1. A gaping void, yawning gulf, chasm, or abyss.
2. The `formless void' of primordial matter, the `great deep' or 'abyss' out
of which the cosmos or order of the universe was evolved.
There are a couple of additional definitions, but they are irrelevant
to this discussion. When chaos is used in magic, there is no place for
confusion or disorder.
Chaos is the creative principle behind all magic. When a magical
ritual is performed, regardless of `tradition' or other variables in the
elements of perfomance, a magical energy is created and put into motion to
cause something to happen. In his book, `Sorcery as Virtual Mechanics',
Stephen Mace cites a scientific precedent for this creative principle.
"To keep it simple, let us confine our example to just two electrons,
the pointlike carriers of negative charge. Let us say they are a part of the
solar wind--beta particles, as it were--streaming out from the sun at
thousands of miles a second. Say that these two came close enough that their
negative charges interact, causing them to repel one another. How do they
accomplish this change in momentum?
"According to quantum electrodynamics, they do it by exchanging
a "virtual" photon. One electron spawns it, the other absorbs it, and so do
they repel each other. The photon is "virtual" because it cannot be seen by
an outside observer, being wholly contained in the interaction. But it is
real enough, and the emission and absorbtion of virtual photons is how the
electromagnetic interaction operates.
"The question which is relevant to our purpose here is where does
the photon come from. It does not come out of one electron and lodge in the
other, as if it were a bullet fired from one rock into another.
The electrons themselves are unchanged, except for their momenta.
Rather, the photon is created out of nothing by the strain of the
interaction. According to current theory, when the two electrons come close
their waveforms interact, either cancelling out or reinforcing one another.
Waveforms are intimately tied to characteristics like electric charge, and we
could thus expect the charges on the two electrons to change. But electron
charge does not vary; it is always 1.602 x (-19) coulombs. Instead the
virtual photons appear out of the vacuum and act to readjust the system. The
stress spawns them and by their creation is the stress resolved".
Austin Spare understood this principle in regard to magical phenomena
long before scientists discovered photons or began experiments in the area of
Austin Osman Spare-some history
Austin Spare was born at midnight, Dec. 31st, 1886 in a London
suburb called Snow Hill. His father was a London policeman, often on night
Spare showed a natural talent for drawing at an early age, and
in 1901-1904 left school to serve an apprenticeship in a stained-glass works,
but continued his education at Art College in Lambeth. In 1904 he won a
scholarship to the Royal College of Art. In that year he also exhibited a
picture in the Royal Academy for the first time.
In 1905 he published his first book, `Earth Inferno'. It was primarily
meant to be a book of drawings, but included commentaries that showed some of
his insight and spiritual leanings. John Singer Sargent hailed him as a
genius at age 17. At an unspecified time in his adolescence, Spare was
initiated into a witch cult by a sorceress named Mrs. Patterson, whom Spare
referred to as his "second mother". In 1908 he held an exhibition at Bruton
Gallery. In 1910 he spent a short time as a member of the Golden Dawn.
Becoming disenchanted with them, he later joined Crowley's Argentium Astrum.
The association did not last long. Crowley was said to have considered Spare
to be a Black Magician. In 1909 Spare began creation of the `Book of
In 1912 his reputation was growing rapidly in the art world. In 1913
he published the `Book of Pleasure'. It is considered to be his most
important magical work, and includes detailed instructions for his system of
sigilization and the "death postures" that he is well known for. 1914-1918 he
served as an official war artist. He was posted to Egypt which had a great
effect on him. In 1921, he published `Focus of Life', another book of
drawings with his unique and magical commentaries.
1921-1924 Spare was at the height of his artistic success, then, in 1924 he
published the `Anathema of Zos', in which he effectively excommunicated
himself from his false and trendy artistic "friends" and benefactors. He
returned to South London and obscurity to find the freedom to develop his
philosophy, art and magic.
In 1947 Spare met Kenneth Grant and became actively involved with
other well-known occultists of the period. In 1948-1956 he began work on a
definitive Grimoire of the Zos Kia Cultus, which is referred to in his various
writings. This is unfinished and being synthesized from Spare's papers by
Kenneth Grant, who inherited all of Spare's papers. Much of this information
was included in `Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare' by Kenneth Grant,
but there are some unpublished works which Grant plans to publish after
completion of his Typhonian series.
References for this section are mostly from Christopher Bray's
introduction to `The Collected Works of Austin Osman Spare' and from
`Excess Spare', which is a compilation by TOPY of photocopied articles
about Spare from various sources.
The Magic of Austin Osman Spare
Spare's art and magic were closely related. It is reputed that
there are messages in his drawings about his magical philosophy. One
particular picture of Mrs. Patterson has reportedly been seen to move; the
eyes opening and closing. Spare is best known for his system of using sigils.
Being an artist, he was very visually oriented.
The system basically consists of writing down the desire, preferably
in your own magical alphabet, eliminating all repeated letters, then forming a
design of the remaining single letters. The sigil must then be charged.
There is a variety of specific ways to do this, but the key element is to
achieve a state of "vacuity" which can be done through exhaustion, sexual
release or several other methods.
This creates a `vacuum' or `void' much like the condition described
in the introduction to this discussion, and it is filled with the energy of
the magician. The sigil, being now charged, must be forgotten so that the
sub-conscious mind may work on it without the distractons and dissipation of
energy that the conscious mind is subject to. Spare recognized that magic
comes from the sub-conscious mind of the magician, not some outside `spirits'
Christopher Bray has this to say about Spare's methods in his
introduction to `The Collected Works of Austin Osman Spare':
"So in his art and writing, Spare is putting us in the mood; or
showing by example what attitude we need to adopt to approach the
`angle of departure of consciousness' in order to enter the infinite.
What pitch of consciousness we need to gain success.
"One must beware making dogma, for Spare went to great pains to
exclude it as much as possible to achieve success in his magic; however a
ber of basic assumptions underpin chaos magic.
"Chaos is the universal potential of creative force, which is
constantly engaged in trying to seep through the cracks of our personal and
collective realities. It is the power of Evolution/Devolution.
"Shamanism is innate within every one of us and can be tapped if
we qualify by adjusting our perception/attitude and making our being ready to
accept the spontaneous. Achieving Gnosis, or hitting the
`angle of departure of consciousness and time', is a knack rather
than a skill."
There are other methods to utilize the same concept that Spare
explains for us. Magicians since Spare have written about their own methods
and expantions of his method quite frequently in occult magazines, mostly in
Great Britain. Spare is certainly not the first person in history to practice
this sort of magic, but he is the one who has dubbed it (appropriately),
Chaos since A.O.S.
Austin Spare died May 15, 1956, but his magic did not die with
him. There have been select groups of magicians practicing versions of Chaos
ever since, especially in Northern England and Germany. In 1976, a couple of
dozen Chaos Magicians, including Peter J. Carroll and Ray Sherwin, announced
the formation of a new magical Order, the Illuminates Of Thanateros. The
intention of the group was to have an Order where degrees expressed attainment
rather than authority, and hierarchy beyond just organizational requirements
There are those who say that this lofty ambition has failed and that
the Order has since slipped into a hierarchical power structure; Ray Sherwin
"excommunicated" himself for this reason, but the Order continues and is
identified as the only international Chaos organization to date.
The IOT has since spread to America. There are smaller groups
of Chaos practitioners, as well as individuals practicing alone. Chaos since
Spare has taken on a life of its own. It will always continue to grow, that
is its nature. It was only natural that eventually the world of science would
begin to discover the physical principles underlying magic, although the
scientists who are making these discoveries still do not realize that this is
what they are doing. It is interesting that they have had the wisdom to call
it chaos science...
Modern chaos science began in the 1960's when a handful of open-
minded scientists with an eye for pattern realized that simple mathematical
equations fed into a computer could model patternsevery bit as irregular and
"chaotic" as a waterfall. They were able to apply this to weather patterns,
coastlines, all sorts of natural phenomena. Particular equations would result
in pictures resembling specific types of leaves, the possibilities were
incredible. Centers and institutes were founded to specialize in "non-linear
dynamics" and "complex systems." Natural phenomena, like the red spot of
Jupiter, could now be understood. The common catch-terms that most people
have heard by now; strange attractors, fractals, etc., are related to the
study of turbulence in nature. There is not room to go into these subjects in
depth here, and I recommend that those who are interested in this subject read
`Chaos: making a new science' by James Gleick and `Turbulent Mirror' by John
Briggs & F. David Peat.
What we are concerned with here is how all this relates to magic.
Many magicians, especially Chaos Magicians, have begun using these
terms, "fractal" and "strange attractor", in their everyday conversations.
Most of those who do this have some understanding of the relationship between
magic and this area of science. To put it very simply, a successful magical
act causes an apparantly acausal result. In studying turbulence, chaos
scientists have realized that apparantly acausal phenomena in nature are not
only the norm, but are measurable by simple mathematical equations.
Irregularity is the stuff life is made of. For example, in the study of
heartbeat rhythms and brain-wave patterns, irregular patterns are measured
from normally functioning organs, while steady, regular patterns are a direct
symptom of a heart attack about to occur, or an epileptic fit.
Referring back again to "virtual" photons, a properly executed magical
release of energy creates a "wave form" (visible by Kirlian photography)
around the magician causing turbulence in the aetheric space. This turbulence
will likely cause a result, preferably as the magician has intended. Once the
energy is released, control over the phenomena is out of the magician's hands,
just as once the equation has been fed into the computer, the design follows
the path set for it.
The scientists who are working in this area would scoff at this
explanation, they have no idea that they are in the process of discovering the
physics behind magic. But then, many common place sciences of today,
chemistry for example, were once considered to be magic. Understanding this
subject requires, besides some reading, a shift in thinking. We are trained
from an early age to think in linear terms, but nature and the chaos within it
are non-linear, and therefore require non-linear thinking to be understood.
This sounds simple, yet it reminds me of a logic class I had in college. We
were doing simple Aristotelian syllogisms. All we had to do was to put
everyday language into equation form. It sounds simple,and it is.
However, it requires a non-linear thought process. During that lesson
over the space of a week, the class size dropped from 48 to 9 students.
The computer programmers were the first to drop out. Those of us
who survived that section went on to earn high grades in the class, but more
importantly, found that we had achieved a permanent change in our thinking
processes. Our lives were changed by that one simple shift of perspective.
Chaos science is still in the process of discovery, yet magicians
have been applying its principles for at least as long as they have been
writing about magic. Once the principles of this science begin to take hold
on the thinking process, the magician begins to notice everything from the
fractal patterns in smoke rising from a cigarette to the patterns of success
and failure in magical workings, which leads to an understanding of why it has
succeeded or failed. There is a diagram of a fractal design on the cover of
`Kaos' magazine #11
(now out of print) that would be a wonderful example of magic at work
and the many paths that the energy may follow...
Defining Chaos Magic
Chaos is not in itself, a system or philosophy. It is rather an
attitude that one applies to one's magic and philosophy. It is the basis for
all magic, as it is the primal creative force. A Chaos Magician learns a
variety of magical techniques, usually as many ass/
Magician learns a variety of magical techniques, usually as many as s/he can
gain access to, but sees beyond the systems and dogmas to the physics behind
the magical force and uses whatever methods are appealing to him/herself.
Chaos does not come with a specific Grimoire or even a prescribed set of
ethics. For this reason, it has been dubbed "left hand path" by some who
choose not to understand that which is beyond their own chosen path. There is
no set of specific spells that are considered to be `Chaos Magic spells'. A
Chaos Magician will use the same spells as those of other paths, or those of
his/ her own making. Any and all methods and information are valid, the only
requirement is that it works. Mastering the role of the sub- conscious mind
in magical operations is the crux of it, and the state called "vacuity" by
Austin Osman Spare is the road to that end. Anyone who has participated in a
successful ritual has experienced some degree of the `high' that this state
An understanding of the scientific principles behind magic does
not necessarily require a college degree in physics (although it wouldn't hurt
much, if the linear attitude drilled into the student could be by-passed),
experience in magical results will bring the necessary understanding.
This series is directed toward the increasing numbers of people
who have been asking, "What is Chaos Magic?" It is very basic and by no means
intended to be a complete explanation of any of the elements discussed. Many
of the principles of magic must be self-discovered, my only intent here is to
try to define and pull together the various elements associated with Chaos
Magic into an intelligible whole. For those who wish to learn more about this
subject, I have prepared a suggested reading list for the last section,
however, I must emphasize that there are always more sources than any one
person knows about, so do not limit yourself to this list. Chaos has no
For Further Reading:
`The Book Of Pleasure' by Austin Osman Spare
`Anathema Of Zos' by Austin Osman Spare
34 Cottage St. Box 69
Easthampton, MA. 01027
catalog on request
`A Book Of Satyrs' by Austin Osman Spare
`Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare' by Kenneth Grant
`The Early Work of A.O.S.'
`Stations In Time'
P.O. Box 18223
Denver, CO. 80218
write for information
available from most bookstores (at least by special order):
`Chaos: making a new science' by James Gleick
`Turbulent Mirror' by John Briggs & F. David Peat
`Liber Null & Psychonaut' by Peter J. Carroll
`Practical Sigil Magick' by Frater U.D.
Magazines dealing with Chaos Magic(k):
London WC1N 3XX
P.O. Box 89143
Atlanta, GA. 30312
P.O. Box 19566
Cincinnati, OH. 45219
Mezlim deals with a wide range of magical traditions, but the editor has
expressed an interest in articles dealing with Chaos. Articles about Chaos
can be found in other Ceremonial Magick magazines as well, as the editors see
From: Mark Chao
Subject: Correction, part 4
In part 4 of my series on Chaos, I've made scant reference to the IOT due to
lack of information, however, in typical Murphy's Law fashion, a letter just
arrived filling in some blank spots and pointing out to me that I made one
mistake in cronology. The story goes;
In 1977/78 Ray Sherwin was editor and publisher of a magazine called
`The New Equinox', which Pete Carroll was a regular contributor to.
Unsatisfied with the choices of available magical groups in England
at the time, they formed the IOT. They advertised in `New Equinox' and the
group formed and progreessed as previously explained. Ray Sherwin dropped out
before Pete Carroll went on to form `The Pact'.
They are still friends, and Pete has graciously consented to write
an introduction to Ray's newest edition of `The Book of Results' which will be
available through TOPY soon.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank