May 29 2012

In Defense of a Chaotic Approach

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A dear friend of mine mentioned to me today an argument she’d recently had involving Chaos Magick. It seems the person she was arguing with made the observation that people were only into Chaos Magick because “they thought it sounded evil and they weren’t serious magickians and they were only doing chaos magick because they were too stupid to understand Crowley.”

Now, in fairness to the person who made this assertion, I wasn’t actually there to hear his exact words, nor the spirit (no pun intended) that they were said in. But this sort of assertion is one I’ve encountered before, so I would like to take a moment to share my views on the subject.

Ah yes, the “because it sounds evil” argument.

(and nobody’s ever picked up Magick In Theory And Practice after listening to Ozzy?)

Actually, I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of these people out there, just as there are a lot of “Thelemites” who confuse “Do what thou wilt” with “Do whatever you like”. And well, there’s the Wiccans, but we won’t go there. Gardner has his own chaotic elements as well, I suppose, but I’ll leave that discussion for someone else. What? Don’t know who Gardner was? tut-tut. And you call yourself Wiccan. ;)

As much as I respect Uncle Al, Crowley is not the be all end all. Not by a long shot. Sure, he was a tremendously important person, but so were Hermes Trismegistus, Eliphas Levi, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, Dion Fortune, Jesus Christ (the historical one), Lao-Tzu, Krishna, H.P. Lovecraft, John Dee, Robert Anton Wilson, Seth, Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Phil Hine, Peter J. Carroll, David Bohm, Schroedinger, Einstein, Carlos Castaneda, Carl Jung, Austin Spare, etc.

(I’d even half consider adding Blavatsky into the mix, if her research methods weren’t such shite)

I’m not being argumentative (I hope you don’t think I am), I’m merely stating my position on it. Your mileage may vary.

I can guarantee you that most practitioners of Santeria or Voudoun have not heard of Crowley, yet I can also assure you that both are very VERY powerful systems of magick. Shamanism, before it got a bit watered down in the Llewelyn Books section of the “metaphysical studies” section of the book store is also a very important historical and current practice worth mentioning. Australian Aborigine dreamtime beliefs are also very powerful currents to work with.

I just can’t see how sticking to one direct interpretation helps. I look at magick as (forgive me) a multi-faceted crystal. Its all interlocked, and part of one very beautiful thing. But if you only look at it from one angle, you’re not seeing the whole picture. You’re not getting views that may help you to understand facets on other sides of the gem. There are so many parallels between Hinduism, Kaballah, Greek myth, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Taoism, Buddhism, Quantum physics, magick, etc. that I really have begun to believe that historically we’ve ended up trying to find new vocabularies to keep describing the same thing. Some vocabularies work better for some people than for others. Sometimes, the more dots you have, the easier it becomes to connect them. Not every set of dots creates a straight line, nor should it. How boring is that? Why not go for a beautifully complex interwoven pattern?

Even Crowley was more or less a chaote to a great degree, if you get right down to it. He worked together an entire mishmash of sources, -John Dee, Levi, Egyptian practices, yoga, Jewish mysticism, etc.- to create his “system”. The easy trap to fall in (and one that Uncle Al vehemently did not want people to fall in) was to blindly follow him and what he said. He was direly afraid of what he dubbed “Crowleyanity”. And with all due respect, that’s kind of what I see happening in certain things I hear.

Unfortunately, with the human nature of “to the victor go the spoils of war”, many have set about trying to set up the various types of hero-worship he didn’t want. But that happens with every “movement.” Christianity. Islam, Judaism, Church of Satan, O.T.O., Freemasonry, Hare Krishnas, you name it. Once the charismatic leader / founder has departed this existence, the power struggle begins. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the whole Motta / McMurtry thing in regards to the O.T.O. If the O.T.O. has something to teach me, then I will look into it. Cult of personality has no place in “the Work” (I loathe that phrase, sorry for using it).

I will happily admit that Chaos Magick draws a lot of flakes. But my god, if you want to see flakes, join a Thelemic mailing list sometime.

Here’s the high level of magickal discourse that tends to go on (at least the ones I’ve joined):

“You’re an asshole.”

“How do you know its not my WILL to be an asshole?”

repeat.

At least on the Chaos lists, everyone has a healthy (most of the time) sense of humour about things

(something that made me laugh to no end, was someone who signed of an e-mail with “Love: Its the fucking Law, bitch!”)

If I look to join an organization (O.T.O., A.•.A.•., G.•.D., CoS, IOT, TOPY, etc), its because I think there might be some information to learn there to help me in all areas of what I’m trying to discover. Not because I feel their dogma suits me best. I’ll even begrudgingly admit that the Scientologists have one or two (and believe me, that’s it, in my opinion) interesting bits to them. So did Heaven’s Gate.

I cannot rigidly define myself into one “school” at the exclusion of others. If I wanted that, I’d have stayed with Christianity.

I am a free agent.

Life is too short (okay, its not) to get emotionally encased in magickal politics.

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