OK, so this came from Tumblr, but it started me thinking something interesting:

Peter Carroll outlines chaos magick theory in a precise (and pedantic) fashion in Liber Kaos, with several magical formulas. I like these formulas for their simplicity and the obvious absence of any extraneous forces, but then I’m an atheist magician. I’ve included them here so that the reader can get a taste of the underlying theory. A far better explanation of these formula comes from the author himself.

M = G x L(1-A)(1-R)


All factors are between 0 and 1.
M equals the force of your magic. Which is dependent upon your G (Gnosis) and L (magical Link) multiplied by two negative factors. (Things working against you). Your conscious awareness of the desired result (1-A) and your subconscious resistance to doing magic (1-R) -i.e. “Mommy told me magick doesn’t work.”

Chaos Magic Theory, Fra. Ratatosk

The esteemed @cole_tucker a.k.a swissshard on Tumblr chimed in with:

A recent hubbub got me thinking, a discussion about the magical link might be useful. A digression on blurring the lines between microcosmic and macrocosmic forces and concerns thereof may be in the cards as well.

And then that sort of let me off the leash:

“Can’t quite remember which book it is, but Ramsey Dukes posits that Western Culture and science currently reign as dominant paradigms because it’s composed of  seemingly’better magicians’ That’s to say, those have bound ambivalence into repeatability.

So, let’s entertain Caroll’s theory for a second – and I really find that his equations are the product of that same superiority-culture complex, but let’s ignore that for now

The most effective magicians, as the above notes, would be those with the lowest negative factors. Except that this presupposes that Awareness in this equation is in fact a negative. A lot of CMT is based on so-called slight of mind, in slipping past the resistances and censors to trick oneself into doing magick despite the fact that it’s completely impossible.

Let’s just consider things historically for a second – the West’s colonialism ultimately comes from expansionist tendencies. And who were the originators of those tendencies but the monarchs and the pontiffs?

Divine Right of Kings anyone? Pope as viceroy of God on Earth?

Go back far enough and we have the notion of Sovereignty-as-hieros-gamos, right? The Sovereign and the land are one, which even early might have been the land and the-leader-guide of the people are one.

Even earlier and we have The People and the Land are One. The sovereign is the People – this is why the touch of kings was held to be able to heal people. Look at Ancient Egypt all the way through to mediaeval monarchs.

So, on some level, the colonialism was backed by magical beings.

Think about that for a second.  The Crusaders were backed by papal bull, the Roman Catholic church was made the official religion of the Roman Emperor – part of a dynasty that, thanks to the magical technologies of the Imperial  cult rendered them as gods! Tie in a direct link to the God that had evangelised all the other deities and spirits into demons, the god who sent his son to earth, the man who told his disciples that they could do anything through his name

Newton, Hook, Fludd, the inumerable Islamic Scholars who gave us optics and built on the basis of the Greek philosophers, who, oh wait, seem to have indulged in katabasis and dream incubation. Think about them. Think about YHVH and You shall have no other gods before me.

Then think about the Age of Enlightenment – the surety of Western Superiority that ties in with European colonialism through the 15-20th century.

Think about the US mythology of Manifest Destiny, the Land of the Free. The New American Century. The New Thought Movement. The Secret. Spiritualism, the Nine,  Hitler, Himmler, the Anhernebe, Ariosophy, Project Paperclip. Think about the Project for a New American Century.

All of these things are expressions of awareness, but awareness without ambivalence, without doubt, because their throughline is absolute self belief.

In terms of Carroll’s equation, for the purposes of this thought experiment,  A is not a subtraction, it is constant and R is approximating zero.

In Chaos Magic, the best magician is the magician who has internalised their status as magician, but has forgotten it entirely. The basis of Western magic and reality, as Robert Anton Wilson puts it, is as follows:

The border between the Real and the Unreal is not fixed, but just marks the last place where rival gangs of shamans fought each other to a standstill.

When your entire culture is based on magic, but it’s been forgotten by most, what happens? Anything that goes against the dominant paradigm gets blocked, which is why CMT has zeroed in on sleight of mind,   because it’s about working the angles and dusty corners, the edges where ambivalence and polyvalence might exist.

Now, let’s consider an indigenous society, where there is no need for forgetting, because actually, the essence of magic is in fact Memory.

If we posit that magic is, by definition, something which takes place in a context where past, present, and future are in fact all one; where everything is entangled with everything else, and everything is alive – then we are presented with a bit of a mindfuck.

Because, if everything is alive and entangled, then the world is indeed polyvalent, and gnosis-in-CMT contexts becomes gnosis in a more traditional sense.

The magician-who-has-remembered-they-are-a-magician, remembered they are a child of Earth and Heaven, as the Orphic Tablets have it (amanesis ala Plato, & Know thyself ala Oracle at Delphi) does not in fact have to contend with notion of ‘finding a magical link; because to their restored perception, all things are a magical link including themselves as expression of perennial gnosis.

It simply then becomes a matter of selecting the right arrangement of consciousness by which they may achieve their goal, as dictated by the dreaming, polyvalent all-at-once, rather than the seeming phenomenal reality as itself.

“Millionaires don’t use Astrology, billionaires do.” ― J.P. Morgan

And this the deep and terrible trick pulled by those magicians who have forgotten they are magicians; some of them have remembered-their-forgetting.

That’s to say, they have forgotten the historical antecedents, inheriting only notions of birthright, but have recalled that the normal rules of reality as they have written it do not apply to them. Because they wrote it that way. Because it has always been that way. They accord to their own inner law, paassed own the centuries, a distorted version of true gnosis, yes, but nevertheless a lineage which stretches back to the beginning.

The rest of us? We scrabble in the dirt. But honestly we need not worry, because the gnosis erupts throughout history. There will always be magicians, because nothing is ever truly forgotten.

Traditional and indigenous societies are separated from their lands and culture, precisely because that is what gives them the strength to resist, to exist beyond the monocultural framework. Without their lands, their stories, their songs, their identity begins to pale – what once was nourished by contact with the world of the Soul at prescribed intervals begins to wither, leaving little choice but for the people to enter into a singular world which subsumes them.

Even notions of folk-identity have been poisoned by the amnesiac magicians. The phrase folk-soul mutates into a vile excuse for abuse, nationalism, genocide and murder of millions.

Because nationalism is never rooted in the land, not really; the people are rooted in the land – and what might be true of the world within a ten mile stretch might not be true two towns over.

This then, is the power of local wights and genus loci, as theheadlesshashasheen has written many times. This is the power of the local rites and highly specific arrangements of consciousness peculiar to individual areas. This is the power of Turangawaewae –the place where you stand tall, as gordonwhite points out.

But hey, this is just a thought experiment – isn’t it?”

So glad I’m not a Chaos Magician any more.