A modern system of magic, with roots equally entrenched in Victorian mysticism and quantum physics. Most interesting for the "metabelief" that beliefs are tools to an end, which can be changed to suit the desired end.

According to Peter Carroll in the Principia Chaotica:
     In Chaos Magic, beliefs are not seen as ends in 
     themselves, but as tools for creating desired effects. 
     To fully realize this is to face a terrible freedom in 
     which Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted, 
     which is to say that everything is possible, there are
     no certainties, and the consequences can be ghastly. 
     Laughter seems to be the only defence against the 
     realisation that one does not even have a real   

Practicing Chaos Magic involves the temporary adoption of an obsessive belief system that allows for the possibility of magic to accomplish specific effects, and then the abandonment of that belief system upon the completion of the work. Subsequent, and even contradictory belief systems are adopted in turn as need or desire may dictate. To do this (and not go completely insane) it is of paramount importance that no one particular set of beliefs is ever accepted as being ultimately true.
"Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted."

Chaos Magic is traced by some as far back to Iamblichus, a founder of the Syrian school of Neo-Platonism. Iamblichus believed that the deities did not exist, but instead cosmic forces would come down representing them. In essence, this is equal to the modern idea of meta-belief.

Aleister Crowley, after the collapse of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, began to form his own religion named Thelema. The religion combined the neo-romanticism of the Golden Dawn with Yoga and other magic systems. Crowley's principle of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" is the most important principle that was later applied to Chaos Magic. Crowley's religion is often practiced in the Ordo Templi Orientis.

Austin Osman Spare, an artist and magician, was one of the greater contributers to Chaos Magic. He was a member of the order Argenteum Astrum for awhile, but was cast out by Aleister Crowley for being a black magician. He created the system of Sigil Magic, which was outlined in his book The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love): The Psychology of Ecstasy. Sigil Magic was grounded in bridging the unconscious and subconscious and were to be malleable to create new spells. It also had the benefit of not requiring any main belief system, only the creator needed to believe in the symbol.

Chaos Magic became more popular around 1978 when Peter J. Carroll and Ray Sherwin printed an article about a new order of magicians in their magazine The New Equinox. Instead of being based upon invitation, it was based on ability. They called themselves the Illuminates of Thanateros. The defining attributes of this new group are the basis for Chaos Magic. The group gathered a following, but Sherwin resigned due to their nature growing more like that of the orders that they were protesting against. Carroll redefined the group by creating The Pact of the IOT. The group began to split apart into different factions, and Carroll seperated himself from the group.

The main principle of Chaos Magic is that there is no main principle. Its strongest belief is in that through the combination of different belief systems, that the magician believes in at the time, one can create a spell. Some odd examples of this discipline is the mixing of drugs, deities, and pop culture together. In general, the ideas used in a spell by a Chaos magician are only as strong as the magician's belief in them. As such, if a magician does not fully believe in his conglomeration of ideas, it is less likely to work.

In The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, many of the characters are Chaos Magicians having discarded the old Hermetic beliefs. Characters like Jack Frost and King Mob are prime examples of Chaos Magicians. Grant Morrison himself is a declared Chaos Magician.

Another idea system to look into if you're interested in Chaos Magic is Discordianism.

The following is the Principia Chaotica, written by Peter Carroll, is an outline of the system:


Chaos Magic for the Pandaemeon

In Chaos Magic, beliefs are not seen as ends in themselves, but as tools for creating desired effects. To fully realize this is to face a terrible freedom in which Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted, which is to say that everything is possible, there are no certainties, and the consequences can be ghastly. Laughter seems to be the only defence against the realisation that one does not even have a real self.

The purpose of Chaos Rituals is to create beliefs by acting as though such beliefs were true. In Chaos Rituals you Fake it till you Make it, to obtain the power that a belief can provide. Afterwards, if you have any sense, you will laugh it off, and seek the requisite beliefs for whatever you want to do next, as Chaos moves you.

Thus Chaoism proclaims the Death and Rebirth of the Gods. Our subconscious creativity and parapsychological powers are more than adequate to create or destroy any god or self or demon or other "spritual" entity that we may choose to invest or disinvest belief in, at least for ourselves and sometimes others as well. The frequently awesome results attaining by creating gods by act of ritually behaving as though they exist should not lead the Chaos magician into the abyss of attributing ultimate reality to anything. That is the transcendentalist mistake, which leads to the narrowing of the spectrum of the self. The real awesomeness lies in the range of things we can discover ourselves capable of, even if we may temporarily have to believe the effects are due to something else, in order to be able to create them. The gods are dead. Long live the gods.

Magic appeals to those with a great deal of hubris and a fertile imagination coupled with a strong suspicion that both reality and human condition have a game like quality. The game is open ended, and plays itself for amusement. Players can make up their own rules to some extent, and cheat by using parapsychology if desired.

A magician is one who has sold his soul for the chance of participating more fully in reality. Only when nothing is true, and the idea of a true self is abandoned, does everything become permitted. There is some accuracy in the Faust myth, but he failed to take it to its logical conclusion.

It takes only the acceptance of a single belief to make someone a magician. It is the meta-belief that belief is a tool for achieving effects. This effect is often far easier to observe in others than in oneself. It is usually quite easy to see how other people, and indeed entire cultures, are both enabled and disabled by the beliefs they hold. Beliefs tend to lead to activities which tend to reconfirm belief in a circle they call virtuous rather than vicious, even if the results are not amusing. The first stage of seeing through the game can be a shocking enlightenment that leads either to a weary cynicism or Buddhism. The second stage of actually applying the insight to oneself can destroy the illusion of the soul and create a magician. The realisation that belief is a tool rather than an end in itself has immense consequences if fully accepted. Within the limits set by physical possibility, and these limits are wider and more malleable than most people believe, one can make real any beliefs one chooses, including contradictionary beliefs. The Magician is not striving for any particular limited identity goal, rather he wants the meta-identity of being able to be anything.

So welcome to the Kali Yuga of the Pandaemonaeon wherein nothing is true and everything is permissable. For in these post-absolutist days it is better to build upon the shifting sands than the rock which will confound you on the day it shatters. Philosophers have become no more than the keepers of useful sarcasms, for the secret is out that there is no secret of the universe. All is Chaos and evolution is going nowhere in particular. It is pure chance which rules the universe and thus, and only thus, is life good. We are born accidentally into a random world where only seeming causes lead to apparent effects, and very little is predetermined, thank Chaos. As everything is arbitrary and accidental then perhaps these words are too small and pejorative, rather we should perhaps say that life, the universe and everything is spontaneously creative and magical.

Relishing stochastic reality we can revel exclusively in magical definitions of existence. The roads of excess may yet lead to the place of wisdom, and many indeterminate things can happen on the way to thermodynamic equilibrium. It is vain to seek solid ground on which to stand. Solidity is an illusion, as is the foot which stands on it, and the self which thinks it owns either is the most transparent illusion of all.

The heavy vessels of faith are holed and sinking along with all lifeboats and ingenious rafts. So will you shop at the supermarket of sensation and let your consumer preferences define your true self? Or will you in a bold and lighthearted fashion, thieve from both for the fun of it? For belief is a tool for achieving whatever one chooses to consider important or pleasurable, and sensation has no other purpose than sensation. Thus help yourself to them without paying the price. Sacrifice Truth for Freedom at every opportunity. The greatest fun, freedom and achievement lies not being yourself. There is little merit in simply being whomsoever you were destined to be by accident of birth and circumstance. Hell is the condition of having no alternatives.

Reject then the obscenities of contrived uniformity, order and purpose. Turn and face the tidal wave of Chaos from which philosophers have been fleeing in terror for millennia. Leap in and come out surfing its crest, sporting amidst the limitless weirdness and mystery in all things, for those who reject false certainties. Thank Chaos we shall never exhaust it. Create, destroy, enjoy, IO CHAOS!

--- * Origin: ChaosBox: Nothing is true -> all is permitted... (2:243/2)

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Writings on the Topic:
Barbelith: Chaos Magick in a Nutshell - http://www.barbelith.com/cgi-bin/articles/00000004.shtml.
Techniques of Chaos Magic - http://www.boudicca.de/max1-e.htm.

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