Chaoism & Chaos Magic, A Personal View
by Pete Carroll
As there are as many Chaos Magicians as there are Chaoists
practising magic, I cannot speak for the subject in general but only
for my own Chaoism and Chaos Magic.
However, if you want a one-line definition with which most Chaoists
would probably not disagree, then I offer the following. Chaoists
usually accept the meta-belief that belief is a tool for achieving
effects; it is not an end in itself.
It is easy to see how other people and cultures are the victims of
their own beliefs. The horrors of Islam and the ghasty state of
politics in sub-Saharan Africa, are obvious examples, but we rarely
pause to consider the extent to which we are the victims of our own
beliefs, and the ability we have to modify them if we wish.
It is perhaps worth considering the recent history of belief in
Western cultures before mounting an attack on the very foundations
of the contemporary world view. For about a millenia and a half the
existence of "God" was an incontrovertible fact of life in
Christendom. It was never questioned or thought to be questionable.
Hideous wars and persecutions were conducted to support one
interpretation of deity against another. Learned men wrote thousands
of books of theoology debating points which seem utterly tedious and
idiotic to us now, but the central question of the existence of
"God" was never considered. Yet now, the belief in "God" as the
author of most of what goes on in the world has been almost
competely abandoned, and belief in even the existence of an absentee
"God" is in most places fading. Satanism as an anti-religious
gesture is now a waste of iconoclastic talent. The alchemists,
sorcerers and scientists of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance
won a stupendous posthumous victory. Their questioning of the
medieval world view started a rot that brought the whole edifice
We can laugh looking back on it now, but I assert that we now live
under a collective obsession which is even more powerful and will
appear equally limiting and ridiculous to future historians.
Since the eighteenth century European enlightment, a belief has grown
to the point where it is now so all-pervasive, and so fundamental a
part of the Western world view, that one is generally considered mad
if one questions it. This is a belief that has proved so powerful
and useful that virtually everyone in the Western world accept it
without question. Even those who try to maintain a belief in "God"
tend to place more actual faith in this new belief for most
I am about to reveal what this fundamental contemporary belief
is. Most of you will think it is so obvious a fact that it can,
hardly be called a belief. That, however, is a meassure of its extror-
dinary power over us. Most of you will think me a madman or a fool to
even question it. Few of you will be able to imagine what it would be
like not to believe it, or that it would be possible to replace it
with something else. Here it is: the dominant belief in all Western
Cultures is that this universe runs on material causality and is
thus comprehensible to reason. Virtually everyone also maintains a
secondary belief that contradicts this - the belief that they have
something called free will, although they are unable to specify what
this is - but I will deal with that later.
We spend billions every year indoctrinating our young with the
primary belief in material causality in our schools. Our language,
our logic, and most of our machines, are built largely upon this
belief. We regard it as more reliable than "God".
Now, it has been one of the functions of the Magician to try and
break through to something beyond the normal. My own magical quest
has always had a strongly antinomian and iconoclastic element, and I
long ago decided to go for broke and attack the primary beliefs of
our culture. Religion is too easy a target as it is already fatally
disabled by our ancestors, the Renaissance sorcerers and scientists.
Contemporary Satanists are waisting their efforts.
Ideology is thankfully beeing gradually replaced with economics. The
main thrust of my Chaoism is against the doctrine of material
causality and secondarily against most of the nonsense that passes
for modern psychology.
Anyway, now I have to firstly try and convince you that there is
something seriously wrong with material causality, and that there is
something that could supersede it as a belief. These are vitally
important questions for magicians, for since the demise of
essentially spiritual descriptions of magic, the belief in material
causality has been increasingly used in a haphazard fashion to form
various ill-conceived metaphors such as "magical energy" or "magical
force" which are tactily presumed to be something analogous to
static electricity or radio waves. This is, I think, complete
bullshit. Magic can sometimes be induced to behave a bit like this,
but it is not a very effective description.
Before attempting a frontal assault on material causality I shall
backtrack a little to gather ammunition. Few people noticed that in
the 1930`s a serious crack was discovered in the fabric of material
causality which, on the grounds of faith alone, was supposed to
cover everything. This crack was called Quantum Physics, and it was
pre-eminently Niels Bohr who, with his Copenhagen Interpretation,
poked a finger into the crack and prised open a wrap to reveal a
Basically Bohr showed that this reality is better modelled by a
description of non-material causality operating probabilistically
not deterministically. This may sound tame at first, but the
implications for our everyday view of the world and for our theories
of magic are awesome. It brought to an end the era of the clockwork
universe paradigm which began over two hundred years ago and which
almost everyone still believes in their guts, even if they cannot
formulate it precisely. I urge magicians everywhere to give thanks
by drinking what is probably the best lager in the world, for it was
the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen that supported Bohr and his
colleagues while they did the physics.
The majority of straight scientists find quantum physics as
distasteful as a priest would find witch-craft. If they have to use
it they prefer not to think about the implications. Even Einstein,
who started quantum physics going but made his major contribution in
Relativity, felt repelled by its implications, on ground of
scientific faith and residual Judaic belief, and wasted much of his
later life campaining fruitlessly against it.
Quantum physics says to me that not only is magic possible in a
world that is infinitely Chaotic than we thought, but that magic is
central to the functioning of this universe. This is a magical
universe not a clockwork one. Causal materialist beliefs were a
liberating and refreshing breath of fresh air after a millenia and a
half of monotheism, but now, at their zenith, they have become
tyranny. Relativity and the fundamental physics associated with it
are probably close to a final refinement of the causal materialist
paradigm, and as such they now seem a terrible prison. For all
practical purposes they confine us to this planet forever and rule
out magic from our lives. Quantum physics, which I believe currently
to be basically an investigation of the magical phenomena underlying
the reality most people have perceived as non-magical for the last
two hundred years, shows us a way out.
It may be some time before any significant portion of humanity
learns to believe the new paradigm in their guts and live accordingly,
but eventually they will. Until then it is bound to sound like discom-
bobulating gobbledgegook or tarted-up intellectualism to most people.
I would like to mention my other favourite iconoclasm in passing
without explanation. I reject the conventional view of post-mono-
theistic Western psychology that we are individual unitary beings
possessing free will. I prefer the description that we are colonial
beings composed of multiple personalities; although generally unaf-
flicted with the selective amnesia which is the hallmark of this
otherwise omnipresent condition. And that secondly there is no such
thing as free will; although we have the capacity to act randomly, or
perhaps one should say more precisely stochastically, and the propen-
sity to identify with whatever we find ourselves doing as a result.
All the gods and goddesses are within us and non-materially about us
as well, in the form of non-local information.
I consider that all events occur basically by magic; the apparent
causality investigated by classical science is merely the more
statistically reliable end of a spectrum whose other end is complete
Chaos. However, I would like to end with a few words about how my
Chaoism affects my personal activity in what is ordinaryly called
There are for me two main aspects of magic; the parapsychological
and the psychological. In enchantment and divination I believe that
the magician is attempting to interact with nature via non-material
causality. He is basically exchanging information with his environment
without using his physical faculties. Austin Osman Spare precisely
identified the mental manoeuvres necessary to allow this to occur. The
manoeuvres are startlingly simple and once you have understood them
you can invent an unlimited number of spells and forms of divination.
The manoeuvres are sacred but the forms of their expression are
arbitrary; you can use anything at random. Bohr and Spare are for me
Saints of the Church of Chaos.
I consider that when a magician interacts with those apparently
sentient sources of knowledge, inspiration and parapsychological
ability that used to be called spirits, gods, demons and elementals,
he is tapping into the extraordinary resources that each of us
already contains. When activated they may also receive some input
via non-material causality from outside. Yet since we all contain
such a rich multitude within our own unconscious or subconscious and
can also receive congruent information from the collective
unconsciousness as it were, then the possibilities are practically
limitless. Given the correct technique one can invoke or evoke
anything, even things which did not exist before one thought of
calling them. This may sound like complete Chaos, and I have to
report that my own researches confirm that it is !
Chaos Magic for me means a handful of basic techniques which must
be adhered to strictly to get results, but beyond that it offers a
freedom of expression and intent undreamt of in all previous forms
Next: "Dark Night of the Soul"