Two book reviews.
The older generation of Chaos Magicians now begin to write their memoirs and histories and their magnum opuses. Heck hasn’t time flown since 1977 when Chaos Magic began to kick off.
I have recently received two such books, one rather good and the other abysmal; The Chaonomicon by Jaq D Hawkins, and Ouroboros by Ray Sherwin respectively.
Review. The Chaonomicon – Quintessential Chaos for the Serious Magician.
190 pages. £13.99.
By Pete Carroll.
Jaq D Hawkins’ Chaonomicon gives a fair sketch of the general history of Chaos Magic without going into excessive detail about the personalities and the inevitable personal squabbles involved. She shows the history and genesis of many of the ideas that came together to create a new way of thinking about magic and new ways of doing it.
The book contains a particularly good analysis of the historic and current functions of the Gods and Goddesses of Chaos, and the relationship between the Chaoism that began in the UK and the Discordianism that began in the USA.
Jaq also includes a chapter on the Chaos Sciences that developed at the same time as Chaos Magic and a fair bit on the life of Austin Osman Spare, artist and freestyle magician, and his techniques.
The Chaonomicon also describes many of the basic techniques of Chaos Magic in simple terms free from occult obscurantism, so readers new to the subject can find much to try out experimentally. Experienced modern magicians and esotericists working in non-dogmatic traditions may well think – yes, I already think and practise in such a paradigm. That perhaps stands as the real tribute to the Chaos Magic. What began as a revolutionary break with ancient, pre-modern, and 1880s received magical wisdom, has for many, become The New Chaos of the Normal.
An Order, The Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros formed to create and disseminate the ideas of Chaos Magic. The creative phase lasted for about five years. The dissemination phase continues and has resulted in the production of hundreds of books and manuscripts that have rendered the original Order irrelevant and now largely defunct.
The advent of Chaos Magic has had about the same effect on magical thinking as relativity and quantum physics has had upon classical science. Not everyone understands such things yet, it but those who do have a better model of reality and Jaq’s book makes Chaos Magic much more accessible.
Review. Ouroboros – A Grimoire – Ray Sherwin
By Pete Carroll.
About 100 pages of very large type and largely irrelevant pictures, overall content equivalent to a single small magazine. £25 (!!!)
The cover of Ouroboros by Ray Sherwin shows a worm eating his own tail and that very aptly describes what Ray has done in this sad, thin, and overpriced book.
If you thought Ray’s previous rant VITRIOL ill-advised and ill-informed you will find this latest offering even worse.
It hardly constitutes a Grimoire for it does not really say much about how to do magic or what sort of magic to do. It has a bit about sigils that fails to clarify his personal approach to them, and rather a lot of ‘mystical poetry’ steeped in paradoxical statements and personal idiosyncrasy. Overall, Ray has seemingly fallen into the lazy trap of declaring his every act an act of magic and of not actually doing any magic at all.
I shared with Ray (previously a scientologist, then a dogmatic thelemite), a set of ideas for a new approach to magic. He later shared with me an idea for a natural products business that he picked up in Cairo. In his typically lazy style, he did not bother to run very far with either of these ideas himself. He declined to contribute to the Chaos current when it adopted a bit of necessary structure as it went international. He did not bother to upgrade his business model when market conditions changed, and he fell out with all his former business and esoteric associates.
Ray never quite understood the full implications of the paradigm shift from the Platonic Pagan-Monotheist model to the new Quantum Neo-Pagan metaphysic, nor the compromises with culture we would have to adopt to disseminate the new paradigm. As Lionel Snell points out so well in MYOMT, magic usually follows on from changes in the scientific paradigm, and Chaos Magic represents the esoteric response to the quantum and relativistic revolution of the 20th century. Unfortunately, Ray never bothered to appraise himself of any scientific knowledge at all.
Now retired, he languishes in a small villa in the sun in the middle of nowhere, with too much time on his hands and too much time spent on the internet whilst he chews the sour grapes of regret and envy. Having nothing much to say about magic he has descended to scandal mongering, conspiracy theory, and spitting bile about old friends and associates that he lost.
In the absence of any genuine scandal to report, he has sunk to the new low of using material from the paranoid internet rants of a former occultist who has formed a cult of two persons (just himself and his girlfriend) who believe themselves heroic and persecuted campaigners against an imaginary tsunami of satanic ritual abuse. Yes that hoary old discredited chestnut, SRA.
Ray uncritically repeats nonsense from this former occultist; I had to laugh about the dog rape anecdote. This comes from a potty-mouthed fantasist who makes such a strained effort to appear weird and sinister that he just ends up looking foolish and seedy. Sure, frisky dogs will hump anything from people’s legs to the furniture, but according to veterinarians, a dog could not possibly rape a human unless several people restrained and positioned the victim and assisted the dog. Ray you have had your leg pulled.
Ray also adopts this former occultist’s technique of saying that he has knowledge of heinous crimes without actually providing any evidence, references, names, dates, or places. He just tries innuendo and recycled rumour. This technique derives from the worst traditions of lazy Lunchtime O’Booze gutter ‘journalism’. If you have evidence Ray take it to the police, do not hide behind innuendo to protect yourself from derision, or perhaps you fear libel?
Positive thinking works pretty well but negative thinking unfortunately works even better. Start nurturing regret and envy into paranoia and hatred and they manifest like, well, err, bad magic, and this fill-space offering from Ray does not even rise to the level of lousy magic.