As I consider how I have made use of sigils, I have been trying to recall when I first came across chaos magic. It was probably sometime in the mid-1990s. I was living in Reno, coming out of high school and starting college, and had found a few magical bookstores to explore.
“Obiya is about your soul set aflame in spiritual congruence and in this way the Obeahman is the maker of his or her own ontology made possible by manipulation of the transmutative matter inherited in the cosmic matrix. In this way the Obeahman is reminiscent of the modern Chaos magician but instead of sensitivity with social paradigms he or she holds sensitivity with the shifting arches of creation.”—Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, Obeah (37)
I keep opening the book to this passage and it begins to dawn on me that the distinction Frisvold is making here sits atop a rich vein of wisdom. The distinction between Obeahman and Chaos magician sits well with my own distinction between witch and wizard (obeah and chaos magic each being instances of the patterns). That in turn sits atop the engine of signification, of metonymy (esp. synecdoche) and metaphor. All of which lies cradled in the human way of being in this world and of using the world to see into others.
Damn, can I rave about this little game for a moment? The way in which it inverts the tropes of a lot of magical literature gracefully, unargumentatively, with sincerity?
That the first spell is about purification and finding a sense of beauty. That the whole game is a delightful testament to Venus-Netzach, to Puella and Amissio.
Seriously, read it (linked at the top of the post). It is only 5 loosely formatted pages.
Notice the lack of hierarchy, beginning with the instruction to avoid the magic shop and its snooty ingredients. Even in teaching, the teacher enters the student’s space as a guest, the student is instructed to practice on their own so that the magic is theirs and not under a teacher’s command. Don’t show off as teacher, trust the student to find their way. The play of truth, trust, secrecy, play, and becoming delights.
The instruction to listen to the work itself, to the ingredients and the space, to find yourself, as a teenage witch girl, within the working. Consider, too, the way in which the apparatus can be changed to dramatic effect–be a teenage witch boy, be an old wizard. Compare this with the Picatrix/Gayat Al-Hakim and its games of dress-up.
Damn. How wonderful the way it throws light upon the force of Venus in so many spiritual operations. When you become that other thing, put on the clothes, you are on Venutian soil. Don’t underestimate that. At all. Venus will make a fool of you. Venus honored crowns foolishness with truth, though.
“That something is a fiction doesn’t make it any less real.”—Teen Witch
This may be the best bit of chaos magic I’ve seen in a bit. That it doesn’t call itself magic is even better.
This is a clever, clever little key.
Mercury’s patronage of doctors…may seem a little odd, but until recently most medicine consisted almost entirely of charlatanism, quackery, placebos, convoluted explanations and excuses, huge bills and rapid exits. A fair bit of it stil does, both in its conventional and alternative modes.
The connections between Mercury and opportunism of all sorts is real enough, but this way of connecting them to medicine over-emphasizes them. There is a lot more than opportunism and trickery to Mercury. Digging into the quote just a little, there are two points I want to address: one is a matter of tone, the other of substance.
All gods and all religions and all magical traditions get cobbled together out of bits and pieces of previous traditions. All theology and all revelation look suspiciously like syncretism, and scholarship confirms this. Chaos magic adopts it as a guiding principle without apology or evasion.
This sort of thing strikes me as somewhat banal these days, true in a breezy sort of way that doesn’t mean a lot. I can agree wholeheartedly with the statement without necessarily agreeing with Carroll or anyone else who affirms it. I’ll probably have to actually read this book at some point, but for the sake of a post, I’m just going to talk about how I would cash out the statement. Continue reading “Syncretism”
I have talked about this before, but it is worth saying in the open, away from the shelter of close reading. There is more than one (or three) way(s) to experience the intersection (and disjuntion) of heavenly and earthly forces, of spiritual and everyday life, but if I had to provide a seed phrase for my approach and my sense of things it would be:
The pact with the earth is made in the sky.
With the realization that:
The earth is a portion of the sky.
And the whole of it is in motion.
Link curator hat on:
Take a look at this article discussing some research done by Lawrence LeShan. I have fond feelings toward LeShan for a book he wrote ages ago, so it’s neat to get a peek at what he is up to presently. It is the sort of thing that should make more than a few chaos magicians smile as it talks about how some spirit guides may be pretty much the same thing as servitors.