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Disappointing ideas are built on an exciting insight. Most ideas don’t even have that.
Have you ever decided something, and just kept believing it years later, without bothering to remember why?
Mr. Black of The Razor’s Edge posted a reply to Why Chaos Magick Disappoints Me. And I realized, I’d been disappointed when I first read Phil Hine in the late 90s, and haven’t gone back since. So now seems like a good time to remember why, and see if it still holds.
Reading the first few chapters of Hine’s book (I forget which, but one of his well-known ones), I thought, “Here’s someone that gets it. Magick isn’t in the particular ritual. There’s something fundamental going on underneath the hood, driving all these interface-level mechanics.” Because that’s what I was (and still am) developing: The common mechanics that make all styles of magick work.
I kept reading. Not everything, but more than a few books from Hine and Peter Carroll. They never got to the mechanics. The closest I saw was “Belief is the key. Whatever you believe works, will.” Which isn’t mechanics, and isn’t even accurate based on what I (and most other mages) observed.
That’s the disappointment: The mismatch between where the idea could go, and where it does.
Something like Candle Magick starts off silly, ends up silly, and delivers exactly the level of depth you expect. It’s like a donut: Would you be disappointed that a donut isn’t a complex, engaging dining experience? Me neither. Even serious styles of magick, like Enochian or Thelema, don’t excite me enough to be disappointing later.
But Chaos Magick starts out deep and engaging. “All these different styles disagree, but they all work. There must be something universal going on under the hood.” That’s exactly where I live, and exactly the sort of guys I want to work with. My natural next question is “What are the moving pieces, how do they work, and how can we use that knowledge to produce better results?” Only, I don’t see any Chaos Magicians asking that, not in a rigorous way, not as an “is” rather than a “might-be.”
That’s what I really want to talk about: The moving pieces behind magick-as-a-phenomenon, regardless of the particular style. If that’s where you work, then no matter what type of magick you do, I’d love to talk with you. How does magick function? What are the moving pieces? What’s your model, and why is it useful? Or, if you don’t have a model yet, what are the questions you’re asking, the observations that are tickling your curiosity, or the start you’re making to exploring the inner-workings of magick?
You can find my most concise answer here, and more details in almost every post on this blog.
And hopefully in that conversation, I’ll learn something about a better sort of Chaos Magick than I found the first time.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.