by Mark Chao


   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
   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 con- fusion 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 performance,  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.

   I quote:

   "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.  Accord- ing 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 chaos science.

                        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 duty.

   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

   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 Pleasure'.

   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 sigili- zation 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
introduc- tion to `The Collected Works of Austin Osman Spare' and from
`Excess Spare', which is a compilation  by  The  Temple  Ov  Psychic
Youth  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
   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

   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' or

   Christopher  Bray  has  this  to say about Spare's methods in his
intro- duction 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 depart- ure of consciousness' in order to enter the
infinite.  What pitch  of  con- sciousness 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 number 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

   "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.

                              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
the late 1970's, Ray Sherwin  was  editor  and  publisher  of  a
magazine  called  `The New Equinox.'  Pete  Carroll  was  a  regular
contributor to the magazine, and together, due to dissatisfaction with
the magical  scene  in Britain at the time, they formed the
`Illuminatos Of Thanateros.' They advertised in  `New Equinox' and a
group formed. Part of the intention of the group was to have an Order
where degrees  expressed  attainment  rather  than  authority, and
hierarchy beyond just organizational requirements was non-existent.

   At some point, about 1986, Ray Sherwin "excommunicated himself"
because he felt that the Order was slipping into the  power  structure
that he had intended to avoid with this group,  and  Pete  Carroll
became known as the leader of `The Pact.'  The IOT continues to thrive
and is identified as the only international Chaos organization to
date.  The  IOT has also spread to America, and has headquarters in
Encino, California and Atlanta, Georgia.

   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...

                                 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 equa- tions fed into a computer could model patterns
every 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
explana- tion,  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.

                             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 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 limits...

   For Further Reading:

   `The Book Of Pleasure' by Austin Osman Spare
   `Anathema Of Zos' by Austin Osman Spare
   `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.'
   `Excess Spare'
   `Stations In Time'

   These three are collections available through TOPY.

   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.