Why Chaos Magicians Are Such Assholes
An essay by the Little Sister of the Order
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 05:39:14 -0700
From: Max K
Newsgroups: alt.magick.chaos, alt.magick.serious, alt.magick
Subject: [zee-list] Why Chaos Magicians Are Such Assholes
This essay has caused a bit of controversy, and it's meant to point out
why most other magicians think
that Chaos Magicians (tm) are assholes. In my experience many of them
are, and often for the reasons
discussed below. I, of course, am not an asshole, nor do I always wear
black, have tattoos, or bait
Christians. I get along quite well with my family, often wear my hair in
a bun, and am as likely to read
about molecular biology as Maat. Make of this what you will. It was
re-edited in September of 1999.
Walking with the FireDemon, the Boy, and the Piranha Kitten through the
South End of Boston, the Demon and I pick up the
conversation we've had ongoing for years. It started back when he gave
me my first real practical lesson in magick -- do the
Middle Pillar while walking on the railroad tracks, using only the
'weight' of the pillars in your mind to affect your balance. The
Demon was also the person who gave me Peter Carroll's Liber Kaos, where
I discovered a name for what I already was. He
matters to me.
We are discussing magick as always, and he is telling me he's reached a
point where ritual magick has no place in his life. "All
the mucking about on the Astral just doesn't do it for me any more. I'm
only interested in Doing, in reaching goals on the
physical. Chaos magick only looks to me like you've given all the usual
ceremonial stuff funny names. The only difference that I
can see in Chaos Magicians is in the attitude."
I agree, thinking of my own attitude, that the core of Chaos Magick is
deconstruction of ritual to essence, of personalizing what
works for me. "Yes," I say, "the attitude is different."
"Yep," he answers. "All the Chaotes I've met are assholes."
I am surprised.
He goes on, "What's the point? I mean, I can kind of get behind having a
goal of enlightening all mankind, but what's Chaos
"It isn't for anything. It comes with no belief system. It's just a set
of techniques and tools --"
"Which aren't any different from Ceremonial, when you get down to it,"
he insists, interrupting.
"-- and of approaches to techniques and tools," I finish. Then
addressing his interruption: "It's entirely about manifestation on the
physical. Look, what makes magick work is pretty much the same, whether
you take the psychological model or the
bastardized physics model. But it's Black Magick because it doesn't
require you to not do magick for your own material
"But what's the point?" he asks again. "It's all juvenile 'me, me, me'
I remind him of our discussion about painting, and Dali's point that if
you have the skill to paint like a Master, you can paint
anything you want. "Pollock could actually paint a figure or scene if he
chose, yet after him there were imitators who only knew
the abstract, had not the skills, and brought only juvenile
sensibilities to the canvas. The result was also crap.
"Similarly," I continue, "there are aspects of the deconstructing done
from the Chaos stance that are no different from a 'school'
of art. There will always be hack followers who don't understand what
they're supposedly deconstructing. Doesn't mean we're
all selfish jerks."
"Maybe," he grudgingly admits.
"You sound like you're getting old."
"I am not!" Then he cackles, "I don't need glasses; I only see better
with them on. But seriously, it's just ridiculous to me."
I recall the night before when he argued in another context that if
someone believing they were Cleopatra reincarnate helped
them to get through the day, "Then alright." I drop it. He's an asshole,
But he's got a point.
Why are Chaos Magicians such assholes?
"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."
That's a quote from Peter Carroll, Pope Pete in Chaos Magick circles. It
is the single most intellegent thing I've ever read from
Most Chaotes, particularly young ones, are convinced they see through
the game, but they don't necessarily know the rules they
claim to be breaking. Still they're convinced of their own superiority.
When you're convinced of your own superiority, yet still
young and/or insecure, it's easy to show defensiveness by mockery and
derision. Such mocking can bolster your internal sense
of status, putting yourself above others.
My analogy for magical systems is that writers can tell many stories
about the same aspect of the Human Condition, regardless
of where the story is set. The details of plot and character make each
version of the tale unique, but if the theme is the same, if
the message conveyed is the same, then why get hung up on the details?
To some people the details are very important, even sacred. The first
flush of understanding the details for what they are
(window dressing) often engenders an arrogance that comes out in the
form of ridicule. "What?! You actually *believe* that
stuff?" It's a rude attitude, and thus Chaos Magicians are, rightly,
known as assholes.
But there is another meaning for the word mock, as in making a mock-up,
a model that is not the real thing. That definition also
applies, because often in using their ecclectic techniques, people who
call themselves Chaotes have no idea what they're really
doing. It is like the facades of a town built for a movie -- there is
sometimes nothing behind it. Arrogance without substance is
also a trait that will earn the name "asshole."
I'd like to think I've outgrown this tendancy, but there are things I
still struggle with.
During Mass, whether Episcopalian or Gnostic Catholic, I don't say the
creed because I try not to lie, ever. In some views, I
am mocking the rite by refusing to participate whole-heartedly. In my
view, I would be mocking the rite by saying words I don't
believe. Yet it could be said that I would be a better Chaos Magician
(tm) if I could subsume my critical mind and fervently
*believe* for the duration of the Mass, such that the Creed would be
TRUE when I said it.
Every time I'm conviced I know something, or start spouting a belief
system, especially in such a way that I might be able to
state a creed, I start looking for its foundation in my psyche. When I
find it, I break out the jackhammers.