June 10th, 2009


Musings on Chaos Magic

Many years ago, I read a certain article about chaos magic, one that struck me as rather poignant. It's called "GO UNDERGROUND and be a CHAOS MAGICIAN" and is form Joel Biroco's The Exorcist of Revolution. While it's generally an aimless meandering through Biroco's brain (though not at all uninteresting), the thrust of it is that Chaotes cannot be a part of the corporate world and really practice their craft to its greatest depths and heights.

It was from this essay that I first got an image of the peddling magician, creating amulets out of discarded aluminum cans and bits of string and held together with old chewed gum, a sort of modern day begging priest, or goes for you Hellenes out there. I have always liked this model, always thought that it was something that we need in this society, and always thought that there might be a place for me to do such a thing. Well, perhaps not the discarded gum part.

Re-reading the essay, though, brought me to think on it a bit more than I had in the past. I would fall into the "nine-to-five magician" category that Biroco holds up: I live in a corporate world, and the thought of quitting right now does, indeed, scare the hell out of me. I'm pleased with my job, where I am, and where I am going. Contentment, which I'm sure would be frowned upon by Biroco, is something I know in this place right now, even if it is sometimes a bit stressful and often a very hard job.

On the other hand, I purposefully did not arrive here through magical means, nor through ritual, nor even through prayer. I did no work other than the work of my own hands to make it here, put on no ceremonial clothes outside of the suit I interviewed in and the clothes I chose to wear daily, spoke no incantations beyond the statements made in my interview, and manipulated the selection process only by submitting a resumé. Biroco's "nine-to-five magicians" ignore their impulses for a more romantic life, and direct their mystical work toward their own career direction.

Suddenly, I fit the one-tracked, stunted "nine-to-five magician" mold a bit less.

In many ways, I find that the focus I have now (and have always had, though sometimes to greater extent than others) on being careful about what I practice magic for and who I practice it for/on has mitigated some of the limitations of the corporate world that could trap a guy like me: I practice neither on nor for myself. I've developed some interesting amulets over the years (the Cthulhu amulet being one of my favourites), done some amazing sigil work, involved myself in healing rituals that went better than I could have imagined, and given offerings for all sorts of people in amazingly sacred spaces (high on Mt. Olympus and beneath the Temple of Apollo at Delphi being the best of them). All this work was done for others, or at the request of others, and there's very little direct benefit to myself. Certainly, none of it is directed at my choice of career path.

Do I agree with Biroco's thesis, that I am not the magician I could be were I free of the shackles of oppression that the 9-5 world has clasped me in? I think that he might be right on that point. The other half of his thesis, though, that exiting society's rules is the only way to go, that it somehow naturally creates the Chaote and brings him/her to a state of deep magics with great heights, is flawed.

Chaotes are self-made: there Biroco and I appear to agree fully. What I don't agree with, though, is that environments themselves are enough to set our fates and overcome the self-making process.

We are who we are because we wish to be ourselves: no more, no less.