Just published here
Embrace The Chaos
By Kevin Groves
Chaos magic scares people. Is it because it’s dark? May be, but all paths have their dark corners. Is it because it embraces change? Again maybe. Change can be good, in fact without change how do we develop? How do we learn?
Those are small points. I think the reasons it scares people are, firstly, it recognises that any system imposes limits on what can be worked with in it. Its opposite to tradition, if there is such a thing, it says you can go against the rules that says bad things happen if you go outside them. Whether bad things actually happen or not is another thing, but there is nothing wrong with trying.
Although rules are good as they provide points of reference to aid in many things, however, as we know from life, rules can be broken and boundaries pushed. When they said if you sail far enough you will fall off the edge of the world; someone tried and found that in fact the world is round and you can’t fall off. When people said you can’t fly to the moon or more recently its mad to try and land a probe on a comet someone proves otherwise. Breaking the rules are a call to challenge with the acceptance that failure and success occurs in varying degrees. There is a saying in chaos magic that I fully adhere to: There is only one truth in that there are no truths, everything is permissible.
This is where I find joy in chaos magic. It appeals to the scientific curiosity driven mind that I have. My engineering OCD mind says why do I need all of these bits around my craft, what happens if I don’t create a circle, what if say different words or none at all. It is that freedom to experiment and make things up, and that I feel is what brings worry.
The second point I feel concerns the answer to the question how do I know if my magic works? Many say chaos magic is results driven, its all very clinical and again I think this scares some, it removes the ‘magic’, the mystery and the tradition and moves magic to a cold science where everything is measured, documented and evaluated in a systematic way. Yes I love ritual, yes I love the mystery and the joy of stumbling through, but on the other hand no, I need my magic to work reliably, and I want to know when I do something I can do it consistently with results as near identical as possible (event probabilities all being equal – which often they are not).
I can do that because I have deconstructed and striped away bits that proved to be of no use, at least to me, and in doing so my magic is more functional than art, there is no poetry, no elaborate actions, flourishes, chanting, dancing or a heap of items I need every time I do my magic. I just need my head (often attached) and finger (if its available). It will appear cold and lifeless, luckily I am solitary, so I don’t have to entertain a group of people while I practice it.
With such a simple approach to very simple methods, I feel that I can reproduce without doubt the effectiveness of my magic in a variety of situations. For example I know if I use weather magic (though always used with extreme caution), if its short term, close by and soon, it will be very very near perfect. Further away, longer duration and some time hence, it will be a disaster and so i avoid wasting my time.
I know if my sigil and symbolic work will likewise be spot on. All tried and tested like science – and like scientists I forever try and push the boundaries of what I can do.
Along with mind and finger, I make use of other tools, for example I love technology, and any use I can see of technology in magic I will use it – a washing machine, tuned out TV or radio, or a desk fan for scrying, my wifi signal for sending protective waves over the house, crafted email containing what looks like gibberish or typos but are in fact intent coded sigil style. And of course performing simple magic over the net via video/audio conferencing with those at the receiving end.
Yes I may confuse, amuse, or scare but do I care? No. I follow what I have always been taught – use the right tool for the job.
It has taken a long time to pick my way through my craft. A good grounding in physics, chemistry, metaphysics and a general love of science has certainly helped. Being in wonder of what the mind can do has helped too. Never being happy that although this works, there are always tweaks that can be made.
Another impact has been the mundane world, it has taught me some useful things such as how people and things work, more specifically as a business systems analyst I have applied a variety of corporate skills into my craft, the most marked which causes some light bulbs to come on when I mention it is using project management tools for spell craft. Sounds crazy, and it quite possibly is, though it doesn’t mean I’m way too organised for casting from the hip and will always dig out my project management software, or a large sheet of paper and start drawing gantt charts – ok maybe a little or even mind maps. What I will do however is consider the objective of the spell and instead of focus all the intent on that objective and let ‘nature’ take it’s course, I will instead identify – within reason the discrete steps or events that should bring about that objective. It will be those that I focus on, for a couple of reasons. The first is that allowing events to occur on their own is risky and so if I focus on those events then I can be sure I’m crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’. And secondly, smaller steps means I can measure and identify what is working or not as opposed to wondering why the final objective worked or not and if not what went wrong. Each step, one at a time, success or failure and if it all works then we should, or better still, will, arrive at our objective.
Its a dull method, its a cold one, but why leave things to ‘chance’? As PsyberMagick (Peter J Carroll, New Falcon Publications, 2000) says if a fifth of your spells have success then you have true power. To me that is a call to challenge.
By no means do I say this is the only way to practice as it does not suit everyone. What I can say though is embrace a small (or large) bit of chaos, stick your hand down the throat of your magic, rip bits out and see what works or not. You may be really surprised.