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Category: Ethics

Chaos Magic – A Brief Look

Chaos magic is something you may or may not have heard about. Although not directly related to witchcraft, it is something that many witches are starting to look into and dabble with.

Chaos Star

It is a difficult beast to describe, as it is more of an idea than an established set of rules and directions. Other practices like the religion of Wicca have a set framework where you are expected to do X and Y to attain Z. Chaos magic at its core is individual and allows the practitioner to choose what works best for them.

Therefore, a chaos practitioner may use aspects of Wicca, Thelemic rituals and a sprinkling of voodoo practices to achieve what they want to. This blending of traditions may seem ‘inappropriate’ to those not practising chaos magic, but it is really common to do so. Blending influences gives more of a power to what you are doing – and the majority of belief systems at their core, do things the same way.

As there is no framework, no guidebook, no ‘bible’ if you will, many who do not understand chaos magic have dubbed it left-hand path and moved on. If you wish to carry on being just a Wiccan, just a High Magician, just into witchcraft, then that is fair enough. But shouting about chaos magic being a left-hand path is nonsense, just because it doesn’t come with rules or ethics.

As a personal dabbler into chaos theory myself, I have zero belief in the ‘threefold law’ or other limiting aspects of the various spiritualities out there. If I wanted my practice limited, I would go to church and do what the priest tells me. My introduction to all this was through witchcraft, however, the pomp and circumstance of the traditional ceremonies and rituals just really put me off. The drawing of the circle, the calling of the quarters, etc etc. The whole setup would, at times, take longer than the ritual I wanted to perform. That’s when I started looking at different methods of thinking and doing.

Chaos magic gives you the freedom to explore. There are so many rules set into the majority of the religions and beliefs in the world that it can be very worrying to start doing something with no rules, no limits and no ethics. Of course, people will have their own set of ethics (which is why the majority of us are not in prison for murder, etc) and as long as you follow those ethics, you should be ok. If something feels wrong, generally for you it is wrong. Chaos magic is more about taking a view or an idea that you want to be manifest and believing in it until it happens.

It also means that you can use any tools you like to achieve your goals. Who says you need to use a specific athame to open and close a circle – if you have a circle that is? Why not use a wooden kitchen spoon? Or even the bone from the chicken leg you just ate? Sure, you may feel like you want or need a specific, sacred set of tools. When it comes down to it, you really don’t.

The witches of old, before Sephora wanted to stock starter-witch kits, would use all kinds of home stuff for rituals. Cauldron? Check, cast iron cooking pot used for everything. Wand? Check, you have fingers, right? These things have been over complicated by the elitists in the established systems we have today.
Just because you have the most expensive athame, Karen, it doesn’t mean your spell will work better.

So how do I even begin?

So, you are either a newbie in the world of magic, or you want to try something a little different. Personally, I started with the Psychonaut Field Manual by bluefluke. This helped me to get a visual understanding of how chaos magic could work. I learn best with visual representation, so this worked for me compared to reading a book filled with just words and zero images.

Image of the Psychonaut Field Manual
© bluefluke

Others may prefer the word-heavy version of learning, so another good source for getting your teeth into it is Liber Null & Psychonaut by Peter J. Carroll. Many places now you can get those two as a single volume, other places you may need to get them separately.

Of course, in a world of self-publishing, there are endless volumes of chaos theory and practice manuals. I would personally find a review before obtaining, in case you waste hours of your life on something that doesn’t work for you. This is the beauty of chaos magic. No one can look down on what you do and call it ‘wrong’, because what works for you may not work for someone else.

Sigils

The basics of chaos magic tend to include working with sigils. Usually, the practitioner will get into a mental state in which they are controlling their subconscious to do their bidding. Anyone who has achieved this state will know how it feels. For some, this state is reached whilst writing, drawing, making or playing music…many endeavours can kick you into that state.

Shoal of Chaos sigils by
Rune370

A sigil is then created from the intent of what you wish to do. You may use the word for what you want, or alter an image a certain way to show or get what you want to happen.

Again, this is completely personal to you as to how you do this. You may feel more comfortable using technology, or drawing things out the traditional pen and paper way. You may not even create anything physically – some people work best in their heads.

To get a greater effect, you may use a so-called Linking Sigil or LS. This takes two aspects and combines them to achieve a greater effect or to empower something more effectively or quicker. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using sigils or seals which are historical – this belief is open-minded and allows you to experiment with whatever you wish to. If you want to use some good old high magic seals and sigils, go for it. If you want to create your own, there is nothing wrong with that either. The key part of all this is belief. If you believe in something, you can use that to shape your view of reality.

Servitors

This is something which is used a lot in many forms of magic, perhaps in the form of an external being or item which is imbued with power or thought to carry out some task. However, in Chaos magic, servitors are an extension of the practitioner themselves as part of their consciousness. Essentially, you are engaging part of your own mind to carry out and influence events and tasks. Sometimes the servitor will be given a physical form, which the practitioner will carry with them. However, it is always connected to the practitioner with a kind of mind link.


Buer seal, THE BOOK OF THE GOETIA OF SOLOMON THE KING (1904)

These servitors have many names in many beliefs, including elementals, familiars, incubi, succubi, bud-wills, demons, atavisms, wraiths, spirits, and so on. Usually, they are seen as demons – perhaps because they have a free will – but they are the servitors or denizens of the one who is controlling them. Again, the key part of this is in the belief. The belief that these exist, and that these will do your bidding. Within Chaos magic, it is very important to keep this belief active, otherwise, the whole thing is lost. As soon as the belief is gone, the magic is gone. A lot like Father Christmas or the tooth fairy.

Of course, there is a lot more than just sigils and servitors when it comes to Chaos magic, but it would be an entire book’s worth to explain the rest! Unlike many other systems of belief and magic, in the case of Chaos theory the internet is – mostly – your friend. You will find a lot of interesting subjects and talking points which will then enable you to build upon your own beliefs and the directions you want to take it. There are communities of like-minded people on places like Facebook and Reddit, and I’m sure there are specific Chaos magic forums out there somewhere.

The main thing to remember is to have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously. You are not the next messiah, you are likely just a very naughty boy.

– Lotte

Living Sustainably

Recycling. Climate change. Global warming. Deforestation.
These are all words used extensively by many people in the media or who are trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle. In the UK, statistics from the UK Government in 2013 show that only 44.2% of all household waste was recycled- it’s up from the previous year’s statistic of 44.1% but is it really enough? The EU’s target for the UK’s recycling programme is to hit at least 50% by 2020- just 5 year away. If the percentages keep rising by just point one percent each year, the target won’t be realistic. Though this figure may be low, compared to another EU country, Sweden, the UK’s recycling is actually quite high. Sweden’s total household recycling percentage was just 33% compared to the UK’s 44.2% in 2013.

So how can an individual help out with this waste management? Surely it’s not enough for one person to stop using carrier bags and change to using re-useable bags like bags for life or canvas bags for their shopping?
If you take a look at what you would usually buy from the supermarket and how much of it is packaged, then you can think about how to change your way of shopping. If carrots, for example, are only available in non-recyclable plastic packaging, try asking the supermarket about changing the way their stock is packaged. If they know you are a regular customer, they are more likely to consider your questions. If there is no alternative to buying things in packaging, you can always vote with your money- you choose where you spend that money, and although it may not seem much for a company to lose out on £1 for a bag of carrots, when you think about how often you buy them over the course of the year, being able to stop paying into a company which does not recognise your views and instead paying into a business that may be local who does listen to and respect your views is empowering.

The supermarket is great for people who are busy, have children they have to take shopping and many other reasons- the fact that most are open late or even 24 hours for most of the week is a bonus too. But the small local businesses rely on your custom as a local shopper- if they can sell loose carrots and apples, why can’t the local supermarket? Why is there not a packaging-free option for people who don’t want the extra products?

If there really is no other way to get around the dilemma of extra packaging, try and think of things you can do with the waste product instead of putting it into the bin. A four pack toilet roll bag could be used as a small bag for in the bathroom bin- this could be an easier way of switching from using the rolls of plastic bags found in shops. Ultimately it still goes to landfill- but if you use a sturdy bag, you can simply empty the rubbish out rather than also throwing away the bag. Many women also have their monthly cycles to worry about. For centuries, women had to make their own cloth pads for menstruating and also the days in-between. You can find many people who are selling their own home-made liners, as well as instructions for making your own if you can get hold of the material and the means to wash and dry them in your home. Students and HMOs may not have this luxury because of a shared washing machine. The thought of washing such intimate items in the same machine as ‘so and so’ washes their trainers in? Not so appealing.

As for the monthly flow, you can get a variety of plastic and packaging free options. There is the choice of something which is rising in popularity in recent years- the Mooncup. This is a menstrual cup which is sanitised and then used again the next time. There is also the option of a sponge which works in the same way, yet some people may not be as interested in this idea because of where sponges are traditionally from- the sea.

Toothbrushes don’t have to be the hideously coloured plastic ones found in supermarkets- there is the option of a compostable bamboo version. These are usually sold in packs of more than one, and though they may be more expensive, they are much friendlier to not just the environment but also the user. Rubbing plastic into the gum is not a very happy thought on introspection.

It’s not just the food’s packaging that is the problem either. Many foods, cosmetics and fuels contain palm oil in one form or another now, and that’s a really big problem as it’s contributing to the loss of rainforest and the deaths of beautiful creatures like the Orang-utan who rely on their natural habitat to survive. There have been many petitions on various sites spreading awareness of the problems involved with the palm oil industry, and some even report that the RSPO for sustainable palm oil is nothing more than a cover to make something more purchasable than something without the label.

Do remember that just because an ingredient list doesn’t contain the term ‘Palm oil’, it may still contain palm oil as an ingredient. There are over 200 alternative names for palm oil products and derivatives so it can seem like a minefield to avoid them.

You can find a handy wallet-size cut-out-and-print guide to which products do contain palm oil and what it may be called.
You can find that through this site.

There seems to be a lot of confusion related to avoiding certain ingredients and making the choices to steer clear of things we don’t want to buy or consume. With the different chemical or scientific names for products, it can make something as simple as knowing if a certain plastic is recyclable a problem. Thankfully there is now a system in place where a symbol is applied to packaging if it is recyclable.
You can see all of these symbols and what they mean on this site.

Bear in mind that not all of these symbols will be available in your country.
Small changes to your lifestyle can really help out. Even if you are not able or ready to embark on the adventure of a completely waste-free lifestyle, small changes can help both your pocket and the environment. Switching to re-usable bags will help with shopping, as will making more decisions about the type of packaging you want to buy your products in. Bags for life are great, but if they are plastic, they will still be contributing to the problems we are already facing with rubbish going into the wrong places. Canvas bags are a better option if you are able to get these, and they are also a much better material to store food like fruits and vegetables as they are able to breathe. In plastic packaging, you may have noticed how vegetables, etc can really start to ‘sweat’ and produce moisture which will then shorten the life of the products through mould and condensation.

With many stores switching to charging for carrier bags and a lot of different companies changing to alternative methods of producing their packaging, it should become easier to make more economically-friendly choices about the packaging your food and products come in and the way you carry it all home.

References:
Names for Palm oil
Recycling information and symbols
Palm oil impact
Swedish waste management statistics
UK Gov waste management statistics
Palm oil choices
WWF information about palm oil’s impact
Nutella faces palm oil backlash
Girl who lives without waste
Family who live without waste

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