Note: Unless you're reading it on livejournal, this entry is being seperated into three parts with their own respective subjects. If anything I write fails to make sense, chalk it up to the cat refusing to cease harassing me. He always seems to know when I sit down to write anything I might actually enjoy writing.
Those Good Ol' Chaos Magicians
I don't get out like I used to. When I lived in Fresno, I was far more concerned with trying to be a part of a community. Getting to know people. Making friends. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and even loved attending the public rituals and events. Most of the community was fantastic, and I managed to meet a few people I will probably always love. I will also never be rid of a few of them, even if I wanted to be. Which is as it should be.
This is contrasted by my periodic attempts to interact with the Sacramento community. My visit to the Harvest Festival they had this year left me without a whole lot of desire to meet new people. Perhaps if I'd visited on Saturday, when people were lecturing on various subjects, I'd have felt better. I visited a Runic divination tent. I observed it for a bit and confirmed that those within were not, in fact, using any variant of the Futhark that I could identify. Then I watched a rather large Neo-Viking looking fellow perform a divination for a teenaged male client. He began discussing what he saw, such as insecurities, and all manner of uncertain feelings and proceeded to try and sell the kid on his “Becoming a Man” lessons for the young would-be Neo-Viking. The entire affair screamed con, but I just kept my mouth shut and watched with what was most likely a disapproving look on my face. When the Neo-Viking's wife began giving me looks, I wandered off to glance at other tents. Horrible art with fairies on it, even worse music blaring on the loudspeaker by what may have been a Neo-Viking Folksy Rock Ensemble.
None the less, I still visited the Open Samhain event hosted at a local's house. He's been doing it for about fifteen years or so he said. The ritual consisted of him saying certain God Names that he probably oughtn't be saying in public to open it, progressed to a “walk” through the “underworld.” This walk was a slow gait around the circle whole pressing one's hands against the person in front of them and visualizing a movement into the Underworld. As I recall, and I may be wrong, the Underworld wasn't really described at all. You could pretend you saw whatever you wanted. Following this was a dedication of cakes and wine. Finally some grounding, which consisted of most of the Eclectic Wiccans there falling to their knees and grasping the ground as if it might save them from whatever horrid things they might have seen... And then some food.
Afterward, I met an older fellow. His wife had loaned me her cloak for a bit because she was layered, and I'd left my trenchcoat at home. I'd shown up in black slacks and a black dress shirt, with a red tie. I stood out. I felt awkward. But chatting with the older fellow was quite interesting. He quietly asked if I'd met anyone I planned to work with locally. I responded by saying I was part of a group elsewhere. After a bit of discourse and with some surprise he told me: “We don't meet many folks your age interested in Traditional Witchcraft.”
Occasionally I ask: “Okay, so what are people my age interested in?”
I always regret asking that question, too. The answers used to astound me. But not so much anymore. Have you visited your local bookstores recently? The occult sections are filled with frivolous bullshit half the time. Its actually easy for me to get angry about this. We have occult shops with incompetent employees who could be better exchanged for trained monkeys. We have shop owners who made decisions about what to stock based on the ideas of guys like Isaac Bonewits. Why devote any attention to an idiot? Because that idiot happened to annoy the shit out of me for years. I've actually been asked for my ID card by one shop owner who was a bit dubious about selling me Phil Hine's Psuedonomicon.
Finally: let's not forget the Llewellyn Problem. You know the problem I'm talking about. But if you do not, then I shall explain: The Llewellyn Problem is that ninety percent of their books, of which they are some of the best at cranking out and selling, are full of bullshit. Even if you're out to find good information, you're going to have to learn to sort it and follow all manner of unsightly trails and back-checking just to get anywhere near to relevant information on any given subject. D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, and more than a few others have forever marred disparate subjects and we might as well consign all discourse on those subjects to the Abyss. It absolutely drives me apeshit insane. Certain authors intentionally deceive their audience about the credibility of the subject and the only thing that does is flood communities with ignorance and self-deception. If what one is saying is a personal creation, with “Celtic” or “Saxon” flavoring, then fucking say so. But Do Not tell your readers that what you've written are “genuine, ancient secrets.” I don't care if that person's name is Donald Tyson, Raymond Buckland, D.J. Conway, or Orion Foxwood. And when we catch people in the act of lying about such things we should simply stop buying what they produce.
They have made themselves irrelevant. Which, of course, leaves the question of what is relevant open. I've been told that Chaos Magick is irrelevant; this is news to me. I wouldn't be where I am today without it. Hell, I've subtitled my blogspot Part-time Chaos Magician; Full-time Asshat for a reason. My interests have changed a bit, but my desires are fundamentally the same as the day I decided I was going to make this crazy shit work. And I'm absolutely positive that the next few years will see a wave of younger magicians who are, whether they call themselves it or not, Chaos Magicians. You can't kill an egregore that easily. Information does not vanish. It just changes. Hopefully, if we're lucky and just keep hacking away at our attempts to investigate what's what then they will do what every generation of Chaos Magicians has done before them: amass a huge amount of pure and raw technique, with an acceptable range of capability when it comes to manifesting results... And then interface with the larger community and permeate it again.
Plenty of folks came before me. I've met some. Read the works of others. And it all follows the same pattern: get pretty fucking good at shit, and then head out to become even better at it. In this game, knowledge is power. And eventually you gotta go where the knowledge is. I've never stopped being amazed at how others can become just huge reservoirs of knowledge, living vessels of Secrets. These Secrets might not be ancient. In many cases, they are thoroughly modern. But they still work. And that, in the end, is all that matters.
Sometimes it just kills me to write that. It wasn't so long ago that at a friend's bachelor party, I argued drunkenly with my two mentors: “You've abandoned the ship! I mean, how could you give it up?!”
In the end it really is pretty easy. But you still get that fuck off attitude sometimes. The desire to tell someone to shut their trap, do the work, and then talk. Over the years I've learned to Belief Shift, which really is a useful tool if you can manage it, and make my mind work in very odd ways. I quite like it.
And I'm pretty sure those that tell me I'm some form of anomaly are quite wrong. There are more of us out there, sniffing the air at night and grinning under the moon. Quietly amassing libraries and digesting thoughts. Revising our theories on how things work, or occasionally just abandoning them altogether and taking the plunge. Even though I often seem to deride it, half the time that's exactly what I end up doing. Giving up on theory, trying something new, and then slowly returning and trying to puzzle things out. I rarely even know if I'm right. Only generating what I consider to be results is acceptable at such times. It also unfortunately means I go silent while I try to wrap my head around something.
There's no way I'm alone in this. Right? … Right?
One last aside before I go silent: actually integrating and working with systems means doing research that might allow you to properly plug into the headspace that will allow you to gain the results you want. Aesthetics matter. If that sounds horribly boring and dry to you, don't worry... You can always just buy one of the books I've been ranting and complaining about and ignore pretty much everything I have to say.