Every so often I think its a good thing to go through old bathwater that you have thrown out and make sure that there are no babies in it. I am aware of how large movements do this, so I want to be extra aware of how I myself might do it, and I do.
After about three years of approaching magic through the lens of Chaos Magic (1992-1995 or there about) I found that by following its own logic about belief as tool, and also paying close attention to the results achieved by it, that it was a deeply flawed approach to magic. I wrote an article for Behutet called "Why Not Invoke Superman" which was my parting note to that particular point of view.
Lately however I started to note that I was reading the blogs of a few Chaos Magicians and loving what they had to say. More than that, several people had noted that my own work shares some similarity with Chaos Magic. Two were very surprised that I did not consider myself a Chaos Magician, as what they were reading in my books and course, seemed a lot like Chaos Magic to them.
I can understand this. I value experimentation, even wild or silly experimentation (I actually have converted two Dr Who Sonic Srewdriver replicas into psionic wands). I value the ability to deconstruct rituals down to their aggregate parts and use those subtle keys in different ways. I put a heavy emphasis on measurable results over astral attainment. I refuse to be tied down to ancient systems and draw upon the tools of multiple traditional systems in my magic. You can see my basic view in my essay the 9 Statements of Strategic Sorcery. I admit that my view is probably heavily influenced by my time as a Chaote.
Anyway, since I had been bumping up against the Chaos Magic Egregore so much lately, I issued a call out to modern Chaotes to bring me up to speed on whats the latest and greatest in the movement. I than shut my mouth for the most part and just listened. That post got 20 responses and generated several posts in other blogs.
I still hold by my criticisms of Chaos Magic, or at least what I and most others considered it to be at that time. I re-stated them in the post after my cal out to Chaos Mages. That post got exactly two comments. One from Gordon and another from Yuzuru, basically saying that he agrees.
What I learned from the responses to the first post, and the lack of responses to the second post, as well as several excellent posts on other blogs, is that for some at least Chaos Magic seems to have evolved away from the whole model-jumping, belief as tool, anti mystical, thing that it once was.
Pete J Carroll once wrote that: “…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.”
So, given my 6 points of criticism of Chaos Magic, especially numbers 1-4, and the seeming lack of disagreement with them, my question is: Is the above definition still a good one?
If not, than what is the new definition?
If so, than has a new post-chaos magic paradigm emerged?
What shall it be called?
At the book release party for P&RM back in 2006, I was asked the following question: "Chaos Magic was the latest real movement in magic, but seems largely dead now, what is the next stage?"
My answer was that in response to some of the excesses of Chaos Magic (invocations of Scroodge McDuck, etc), people were re-examining older traditions that existed before the industrial age. These included: new translations of Grimoires that were still only just emerging at that time; attempts by people like Aaron Leitch and Joseph Lisiewski to recover pre-French Occult Revival European magic; interest in Witchcraft traditions like the Cultus Sabbati, Via Nocturne, and Clan of Tubal Cain that claimed to draw on pre-wiccan sources; interest in traditional Hoodoo; as well as people taking initiations into living magic/religious traditions like Tibetan Buddhism/Bon, Santeria and other ATR's, Peruvian and other types of traditional Shamanism.
Now, four years later, these explorations into traditional magics are producing three kinds of adepts. The first are people who basically are the magical equivalent of the Amish. They believe that all magic should be done as it was at X time, and everything after that is a corruption. Liesiewski is the most extreme example of this I can think of but there are others. Having recovered the babies that Levi, Mathers, and Crowley threw out with the bathwater of older magic, they are now throwing out babies of newer magic.
The second type of adept is the mage who is still working primarily with that pre French Revival Renaisance and even Hermetic material, but is leaving room for new information to arise from it and for adaptation to the modern world. You won't see these folks obsessing about finding thread spun by virgins. Instead they will be taking Agrippa and Trsimegistus in new directions. Frater R.O. is a shining example of this kind of mage.
The third is the mage who is not trying to skip any stage at all. Thankful to these folks for recovering some of the concepts abandoned during the industrial age we are not attempting to recover what is old and stick to it nor trying to be deliberately new just for the sake of seeming cutting edge. That is where I like to think that I fall in. All I want to do is find what is most effective for both thaumaturgic and illuminative work, and make it even more effective.
Gordons blog RuneSoup is subtitled "Adventures beyond Chaos Magic" which begs the question: What is beyond Chaos Magic?
I am pretty sure we are there. Should we name it, or just leave it undefined?
If we name it as a new stage, and I am seriously suggesting to all who participated in the discussion that we do, there are a few things I would like to see:
I really hope is that we don't form magical Orders for it. I am all for work groups, and even have a very clearly defined type of group based on the structure of mastermind groups used by business professionals, that I will be offering up to people at the end of my Training Course, but I do hope that we don't need to found yet more magical orders with grand sounding titles and secret hand shakes. There are enough of them for those that love them and need them and love them. If we are going to move into a genuine new era with magic, it has to start with changing the matrix of how magic is conveyed.
Another thing I hope is that any new movement or paradigm is not tied to the idea of being young, such as the Psychik Youth and Chaos Kids and most recently in Disinfo's Generation Hex. There is nothing wrong with maturity, and a big part of why Chaos Magic seemed stuck in adolescence is its identity with youthfulness Everyone gets older, and if you are a good magician you get wiser, more powerful, and even more fluid in your thinking than when you were young.
I want to thank Gordon, Jack, and Psyche for posting their thoughts on their blogs. I want to thank ChandraNova, EKB Balthazar, and others for illuminating comments. If nothing else I got turned on to a couple books that I am going to order (such as Advanced Magic for Beginners) and to a new blog www.Plutonica.net