Many people foolishly think that chaos magick means you should just “do whatever works” or that “everyone is different”. Like any random thing will work for magickal practice…
This is a mistaken way of looking at this practice.
Chaos Magick = Many Approaches To Magick, Not Everything Works
Rather, the key is that there are many ways to approach magick, therefore, to be dogmatic is a mistake. There is no one way to do magick, but this does not mean that any way someone attempts magick will work. Think about it: if magick worked like this 1) it’d be mundane and be called life, 2) the law of attraction would be 100% accurate, and 3) very depressed people would die when they truly wanted to.
And yes, who you are will likely affect the styles of magick you most resonate with and how you practice, but this doesn’t mean that 1) others (who are successful) are wrong or that 2) everything you think will work will work.
Chaos Magick Is Meta-Magick
Rather, chaos magick is looking for the more basic, primordial elements of magick and learning to master them. In this way, it’s a form of meta-magick. [Meta-magick meaning that it’s an approach to looking at the basic building blocks of magick rather than focusing on the dogmatism of any one system. What makes magick work? Why does this practice work? Etc. are meta-magickal questions. They’re getting at the metaphysics of magick…]
It comes from Peter Carroll and the other founders of the system like Spare, Burrows, Hine, etc. having explored many forms of magick and finding that there are many overlaps in what each system is attempting to do to create magick and looking for those. This is why in Liber Null and Psychonaut, Carroll explains that there are 12 ways to enter the right states in which to do magick. These 12 are the ways that he’s found within functional systems of magick that help people to enter magickal states.
But he doesn’t say that you can do magick without entering those states. Rather, there are 12 ways to enter them and anything that creates those states can create magickal consciousness which if then directed with will (another cornerstone in all forms of magick) can then have magickal effects.
Sigil magick, magick focused on creating an intention and symbolizing it in order to help it come to fruition is another well-known part of chaos magick. For more on sigil magick, check out this article on the topic: sigil magick for the chaos mage.
Why Is It Called Chaos Magick
There are many reasons why it is called chaos magick, but a good place to look for understanding of this is the last chapter of Psychonaut where he discusses the concept of Catastrophe Theory and how it applies to magick. Carroll argues that a chaos mage is able to use the chaotic nature of the world (an energy he refers to as Kia) to combine elements together to create their will in the world. Kia, as he explains in Liber Null, is solid in the past, solidifying in the present, and only beginning to form in the future.
Magick can cause certain elements to solidify in different directions or to make certain possibilities more likely, but so does a plan fully actualized or making a decision in general. For instance, if someone drives drunk, they are more likely than normal to go to jail or get into a car accident that could kill people. Just like if someone creates a business plan and then diligently works on it, they’re more likely to have success than someone who just randomly starts a business and does little to get it off the ground.
Something to keep in mind is that magick is there to help create one’s will in the world, and in a certain sense can be thought of as indistinguishable from taking action itself. Making your will manifest is the point of magick, but it’s also the point of working on something in general.
What About Using Thoughtforms Or Imaginary Characters?
I know what you’re probably thinking now: this guy is ignoring the white elephant in the room. Chaos magickians think that you can just call on whatever and it doesn’t even have to be real to affect things!
It’s true, a chaos mage can call on Star Wars characters or even cartoon characters in order to work magick through.
This is a large topic, but let me simplify it: whatever humans truly believe to be real is real. This is why people can argue about superheroes. But what is real really?
What Is Really Real?
Does being real mean that something objectively exists as a physical thing? Not necessarily. Our thoughts are not physical and are very hard to quantify objectively, yet we know they’re real as we experience them.
And the reality of imaginary beings is the same as the reality of gods and goddesses. Is there objective proof of the existence of them? No. But have they had a major impact on the world because people believe(d) in them? You bet.
As a practitioner, thus, you must ask yourself if your will and intention is making something happen, if entities make something happen, if your imagination itself is the catalyst of magick, or if the processes (like rituals) themselves create the magick. This is an important question, the reality of which will be very important to how you approach magick, but will always be an open question on a meta-level. It could be all of the above.
Chaos Magick And The Occult
The one thing we can agree on is that there are many practices available to achieve the same results. These practices will lead you to a deeper understanding of magick and life in general. Just don’t get caught up in the dogmatism that there is only one way to do this. Look at what the practices do, not what they are at face value. This is the best way to really understand magick. Plus, there are many blinds and false information in the history of magick, and without the ability to think critically about these systems, you’ll likely fall prey to the blinds and false information without seeing the truth behind it all.
Remember, the etymology of the word occult comes from the Latin occultare, to secrete, and occulere, to conceal. So, in one sense, the occult is what’s hidden, but in another sense, it’s what’s secreted–which is either something produced and then released or again, something concealed (a person can secrete money into a safety deposit box or an offshore account).