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June 10th, 2009


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02:45 pm - 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.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: "The Great Filling Station Holdup", -JB

(20 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:chronarchy
Date:June 10th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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Yep. I think that the narrow "dual path" that's presented is full of potholes that can swallow a whale (and not just a little one: we're talking humpbacks or blues here, not belugas).

Still, I find the essay to be very interesting on the whole, and the notion not unromantic and unattractive.

Edited at 2009-06-10 07:44 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
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From:chronarchy
Date:June 10th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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A great question, but one I'm not qualified to answer, since I've not actively been in on any discussion.

For which I suspect I am very grateful. :)
(Deleted comment)
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From:chronarchy
Date:June 10th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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Yay! Because I am under the impression that there is drama, but I just don't know anything about it. And it did seem very odd that you'd ask on my journal, of all places :)

I think I need a better description of "crazy things," as the CLG'er's seem to run the gamut of "crazy good" and "crazy-crazy" and "crazy bad". . . And as with any Grove (including ours), many fit several categories :)
(Deleted comment)
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From:chironcentaur
Date:June 11th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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You know, there might be people there willing to do so. I'm not certain, but I suppose its worth contacting the grove and asking.

As for the drama, don't ask. Its quiet now, don't want to give it ideas. ;-)
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From:angelofastheny
Date:June 11th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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I'm from CLG and I'm sure you could find someone willing either to help you out or point you in the right direction, but I wouldn't call it or them crazy. Just hop on the website and e-mail our senior druid or ask on the message board. We're a pretty eclectic group of people. Hell, our SD may find this post. :D
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From:romandruid
Date:June 11th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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Mmmm... man, I want me somma dem Immense Cosmic PowersTM. Where do I get them?!
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From:dragynphyre
Date:June 11th, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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Are you willing to settle for the Itty Bitty Living Space that goes along with those?

(watch Disney's Alladin if you didn't catch the reference)
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From:smithing_chick
Date:June 11th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)

Re: This is just my opinion, but it happens to be an opinion I'm vehement about.

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Sidenote- *THAT* is a really great icon. :-D
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From:tosk
Date:June 10th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
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Sounds like someone has fallen to the Eristic Delusion... Both Order and Disorder are necessary, Freedom and Structure...

One cannot walk, unless one has two feet. ;-)
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From:chronarchy
Date:June 10th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Hodge and podge, man. Hodge and podge.
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From:frater_treinta
Date:June 10th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Joel grew up to be web designer. http://www.biroco.com/design/index.htm

Yes, that's on his actual esoteric website.

The movement grew, and it changed, and that's what it was designed to do. And will continue to do.

Use a good tool, look for a better one, use it next. :)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 30th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
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I noticed that he'd grown up to become a designer. I found that interesting, but not surprising :)
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From:chironcentaur
Date:June 11th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
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If the 9-5 corporate world brings you contentment, then you're on the right path. I haven't exited society's rules because I want to be powerful or different, this is where I find happiness as much as some don't understand that. I can't believe that you'd be efficient at much of anything, much less something like magic, if you're miserable all the time. There isn't just one way to be a successful magician, no more than there is only one way to be successful at life.
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From:chronarchy
Date:June 30th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
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Indeed, I've often thought that there are many ways to get life "right," if, indeed, there is any "right" at all. Of course, here's hoping that there is, because I'd like to think I have it "right", at least for myself :)
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From:romandruid
Date:June 11th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
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I've been tending toward some downright heretical leanings; Eliade would be having fits: I'm beginning to define Piety as a narrowing of the boundaries between sacred and profane. Not in the sense that I'm pouring profanity into the sacred, but vice versa. In that sense, I guess I should use the word "mundane" instead of "profane," though. This all started with the altars spread all over the house, and has led me through classroom blessings, prayers at the beginning of the school day (private, of course), and lots of prayers and mini-rituals incorporated throughout my daily routine. And the heretical idea? Keeping the "gates" open at all times -- particularly in my home.

This whole mundane-persona vs. pagan-persona stuff has just gotten too tedious for me. Why not both simultaneously?
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From:chronarchy
Date:June 30th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
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The notion of "pouring profanity into the sacred" is a rather stunning visual effect. :)

I do think that one can maintain the sacrality of the world more-or-less indefinitely, though not actually indefinitely: there are times when the profane breaks the sacred, no matter how good we are at maintaining it. There is no way to keep it out entirely, I don't think.

Still, I don't believe that Eliade would have fits over the movement toward a more sacred life: what you are doing is de-profaning the profane, I think, in his arguments. You are taking that which is profane and making it sacred, something he would argue we long to do with all things. The fact that you are finding success I think would fill him with joy at the prospect.
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From:smithing_chick
Date:June 11th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
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This sounds a lot like the romantic notions of being a "starving artist"-- spending all your time Making Art(tm) & not "selling out" or "giving in to the Man(tm)". It does have a certain appeal- living free, no rules, do what you want, don't have to answer to anybody. And some people can live that way- most can't, though. They usually figure that out right about dinnertime.

On the flip-side is that fun Psych 101 pyramid- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which shows how it's easier for folks to focus on intellectual pursuits once their basic needs are being met. Which is to say that I suspect most people fall into the category you're in-- having a good job frees you up to do the things you want to do outside of work without having to worry about how you're going to pay rent, buy groceries, etc. Where people get into trouble with that is finding themselves in a job they hate that's stressing them out or not really covering the bills so they don't have that support to do other things.

Amusingly, we were discussing this concept at the Craft Time Continuum meeting Monday night- about how it makes life a lot easier to have a job to pay bills while building yourself up as an artist/craftsperson & how that can allow us to be more creative. Unless we have a job where we're too tired to do any artwork when we get home.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 30th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
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Indeed, I think that there's a "man, artists are cool: chaotes should be like artists, man. . . like, free and unfettered by society, dude. They should be like, respected for themselves and not for what society says. Totally. Those artists are rockin'" sort of vibe here.

This may also be why I don't really find deep agreement with it :)

Edited at 2009-06-30 02:29 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 11th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
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Remember Graf's source for that statement about the goes. . . I don't know if he's as clear about this in the book as he was in lectures, but the source is Plato, who didn't like magicians and priests much in general, much less the ones who would wander about selling paths to the pool of memory and telling them that they should drink deeply of these waters, while Plato himself is telling people that they should really abstain from drinking the waters in the Underworld because then they can't be reincarnated.

Hippocrates also didn't like them, because they'd cure stuff through magic, rather than through science. How dare they?

Was thinking this morning, we should get pizza sometime soon. I'm having a hankerin' for the Dog.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 17th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
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"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."

Every act is a magickal act. Even a mundane act such as the creation of a resume is a ritual in its own right. Elementary Chaos.

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