Saturday, June 12, 2010

Using simple english, what is the definition of gnosis for chaos magicians?

“Darken your room, shut the door, empty your mind. You are still in great company. The numen and your genius, with all their media, and a host of elementals and ghosts of your dead loves—ARE THERE! They need no light by which to see, no words by which to speak, and no motive for communication except your own purely formed desire.”

- Austin Spare

In Liber Null and Psychonaut, Peter J. Carroll writes: “Altered states of consciousness are the key to magical powers.”

There are two major roads toward what other Chaos Magicians refer to as “Gnosis:” Inhibitory and Excitatory modes of trance.

Inhibitory: Consciousness is closed to a finite point (using a word or image) until full “magical trance” blisters into the mind.

Methods of Activation:


  • Narcotics: Almost Always Addictive. Highly disadvantageous to most magicians. However, narcotics are known to induce trance quite easily, and there are a few non-addictive substances you can try out if you want. Dig about and you will surely find them.

  • Marijuana: Non-addictive (physically anyway). If you have a valid medical complaint (due to pain or disease typically) you can get your hands on this substance legally. It's also up for legalization in November. I would suggest that if you have any desire what-so-ever to use this substance, then you very much should vote to legalize it on the Federal (rather than just State) level. However: the Obama administration has sworn not to mess with California and other states allowing for medical marijuana, and to instead focus their attention on more dangerous substances (and criminals) working their way into the United States. It can be used, very easily, in conjunction with meditative practices to allow one to enter “vision trances” - and is thus useful for scrying, not to mention a number of operations. Not that I'd ever use drugs for ritual or magickal purposes. I'm told that's the mark of a Black Magician...

  • Etc.


  • Power word” meditation: select a single word (preferably with two syllables) and, in conjunction with in and out breathes, use it to close off all other thoughts. This can take up to thirty minutes or an hour the first time you do it, but gets much, much easier as time goes on.

  • Imaginary Glossalia:” Focus on nothing but a sigil or one of your personal letters from the Alphabet of Desire, and use that focused gaze to initiate trance. It takes about four minutes (and only four minutes!) to drop into trance if you can maintain a gaze, that is don't blink, upon a given item. Use your watch the first time. Do not strain your eyes. You don't want to damage them. Go easy and build up to it if you have to.

Other Roads:

  • Austin Spare's Death Posture.

  • Sensory deprivation. (I have a little teaching tool for learning how to boost visualization using this road; if desired, and asked for, I'd be more-than-happy to write a blog entry on it.)

Excitatory: The body or movement is employed until the mind drifts into an indulgent haze, trance brimming from the combination of patterns, movement, and possibly even a bit of chemical employment. The Witches Sabbath is perhaps the most evocative pattern or idea behind this road; the crazed dancing, drinking; orgies frequently are believed to occur afterward (and sex is a great excitatory method)...


  • That which excites, pleases, or allows the senses to be enhanced in such a manner is useful to magicians and witches. Highly useful. I'm sure anyone clever enough will figure out how to use sex (with a consenting and informed partner, of course!) for magick.


  • Hallucinogens: Get ready to “see.” In real-time. Salvia Divinorum (legal in some places; make sure to check if it's legal where you live or not before you try and acquire any. Ignorance is not bliss.), LSD-25 (not legal; ), and a few others. I'd mention a couple more, but those are toxic and not to be dicked with if you don't know how.


  • Drum circles: Great for atavistic resurgence. Make sure to warn the neo-Pagans about what you plan to do, and that you're a Chaos Magician. They'll probably ask you not to dredge up any atavisms when you reveal that, however. But ecstatic drumming and dancing? A lot of fun. And a good time for half-mad sigil work.

  • Libidinal music time: The joy of a good rock show; the madness of an amazing metal concert, the stomping about with Rivets. Once upon a time, a friend planned to play a joke on me at a Nine Inch Nails concert and rather than giving me advil, I was handed a heavy-duty stimulant. I then proceeded to have a beer or two and fell into trance half-way through the show. I found myself mentally transported to what felt like a new version of the old Roman Orgy. It was a weirdly “sabbatic” experience, and I'm pretty sure I oozed weirdness that night. But in all: it was a good time. I wouldn't do it again, though. Oh: blues and jazz, not to mention swing, can also work. Remember that many Christians have feared the emergence of “new music” for good reason... It opens you up to something else.

Other Roads:

  • Spare's Neither-Neither: Once done correctly, the ecstasy it produces is akin to being manic and less stupid. Endless creativity and a feeling of “power” flowers in the wake of a good use of Neither-Neither. One lives in darkness; and one lives in bliss. You're one step closer to becoming a shark in an ocean of desire...

Now. All of that covered? Peter Carroll is discussing trance induction and nothing more; he's conflated “trance” with the actual, historical, use of the term “Gnosis” which meant knowledge (specifically spiritual knowledge) in Greek. This tends to blind a lot of young Chaos Magicians, because it's a strictly materialist take on a term that was used in some very interesting spiritual ways 2000 years ago. It actually should indicate something much deeper than “just trance,” and so when I use the term it is only in that sense. I don't use the term except in the historical sense for a few reasons (which I'll discuss if asked), and really do urge other Chaos Magicians to do the same. There is much, much more hiding beneath that name and a mere “psychological reduction” does not do those who used it before any justice what-so-ever. I also once met spirits that didn't give me a key piece of advice that would have been very useful... Largely because they asked me: “do you know?”

It was 2005, and I was flabbergasted to be speaking with swine-things. So I said nothing. They mocked me and left. Had I said: “yes, I know I've finally uncovered the key to Gnosis,” I'd have been given a tidbit of information that took me three years to figure out instead.

Learn from my mistakes, if you so desire.

Ask me anything


V.V.F. said...


V.V.F. said...

And speaking of atavisms:

Lady Scylla said...

"Gnosis is the moment where you can access everything that's ever been known or will be known, but are too elated by actually attaining it to make anything of value out of the experience"

Psyche said...

I like Wetzel's grouping, he places chemognosis in its own category. This makes sense as it's less self-directed, and there are drugs which feature both inhibitory and excitatory effects.

When I refer to these three methods, I always call it "chaote gnosis". It needs the modifier, and when teaching classes I bring up the reservations I have with the term, and its downsides.

For better or worse though, chaos magick is stuck with it.

Gordon said...

I've shied away from the term but I'm loving Psyche's modifier.

Exactly what I was looking for.

Eldritch said...

James Nestor's Get High Now (Without Drugs) is a splendid collection of trance methods.