Why Chaos Magick Disappoints Me

by Mike Sententia on October 24, 2011

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Chaos Magick is a solipsistic cul-de-sac.

Renaldo asks:

I always loved the ideas of making magick fun and a way that is truly unique to oneself. … You stated that beliefs do not affect reality. … Would you please answer if Chaos Magick would fall into the category of defined systems as it seems to be against what is stated. … I would really like to perform effective magick and so I was wondering on your thoughts about it as a system, whether it would be fine to work with or a ghastly end to a beginner in magick?

(Read his full question here).

Hi Renaldo, good questions.

I can see the appeal of Chaos Magick: Create your own magick style just by dreaming it up. Instant uniqueness, instant success, zero mechanics.

That’s why I find Chaos Magick so disappointing. It focuses on imagining things to believe, but never investigates how magick works. It’s like “belief” is a semantic stopsign: It lets you feel like you have an answer, so you never ask the next question.

Of course, if you ask a Chaos Mage, they’ll tell you that everything depends on what you believe, and that my style only works for me because I believe it does. But “whatever you believe, happens” just isn’t a compelling model. Really, it isn’t a model at all, because it doesn’t predict much of anything. I’ll refer to Patrick Dunn’s post on this, and get back to your question.

Is Chaos Magick a system? Well, in the normal English term “system,” Chaos Magick is a set of beliefs. In my technical sense, “system” = “a force you can channel,” and no, Chaos Magick doesn’t supply any systems. And that’s the problem. Let me explain.

Most traditional styles (Thelema, Enochian, Reiki etc) have particular systems-in-the-technical-sense associated with them, which turn your symbolic actions into instructions, then implement those instructions as magick. From what I’ve seen, Chaos Magick doesn’t have any channel-able forces backing it up, unless you also practice a standard style and bring those systems with you, channeling the same forces you do in normal rituals (and, at best, getting the same results as those rituals). That’s why a DIY ritual about the Flying Spaghetti Monster won’t get the same kind of results as a standard Thelemic ritual: Because there’s no system to implement all those requests you’re making.

Will Chaos Magick put a “ghastly end” to your magick? No. And frankly, I’ve never heard of anyone meeting a “ghastly end” from practicing magick. The worst that happens is Chaos Magick leads you into a solipsistic cul-de-sac, focusing on belief rather than the actual mechanics of magick. But it sounds like you’re already asking the right questions to get out of that trap.

So what does Chaos Magick do, then? “Belief as a tool” is a way to communicate your intent to your unconscious. It fills the same role as visualizations or rituals. Reality doesn’t care what you believe, but your unconscious definitely does. But without a system, and without actual mechanics to guide your mental muscles through magick that doesn’t need systems, I can’t see it producing very good results.

I love new, unique ideas. But the first step is understanding magick’s inner-workings. Otherwise, you’ll just wind up with a story that sounds cool but doesn’t produce results — a unique method of not quite doing magick. That’s why I focus on the mechanics: So you can make magick not only unique, but effective.

Does that answer your question?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

mrblack October 24, 2011 at 11:23 PM

i beg to differ with your view and i wish to explain my stance (see below link).

http://beyondchaosmagick.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/why-chaos-magick-excites-me/

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Mike Sententia October 27, 2011 at 6:34 PM
Chaos Magick February 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

In my opinion Chaos Magick has little to do with belief in general but might have to do with the temporary belief, of a temporary system.

There is also to much emphasis on deconstruction versus re synthesis.

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