Chaos Craft Reviewed

Reviewed by Charles Barrie

Before reading Chaos Craft, my general perception of contemporary Chaos Magic was as a highly creative and practical, often amusing, yet more or less shallow philosophy; largely lacking a living relationship with the evolving world, biological and spiritual.

Chaos Craft, however, through a collection of essays on life, spiritual practice and ritual craft, conveys a far different sense of the chaos approach to magic. The perspective offered – which is presented as a journey around the wheel of seasons and colours of magic (after Peter Carroll) – is rooted in traditional magic, practice and craft; and is both politically and ecologically aware.

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Wheel of Chaos

Key to the inclusiveness of this perspective is the eclectic magical and philosophical pedigree of its two authors, Julian Vayne and Steve Dee. Both are active practitioners and researchers, and have many years of experience in a number of initiatory traditions, including AMOOKOS, the IOT and Wicca. Together with Nikki Wyrd, the pair also run the excellent Blog of Baphomet. Furthermore, Dee, for whom Chaos Craft is his first book, brings the unique approach of being both a working psychotherapist and a former Anglican priest in training.

From this position of research, initiated practice, and hard won experience, Vayne and Dee discuss a wide range of vital magical topics through a broad range of disciplines: witchcraft, Lovecraft’s mythos, shamanism, Buddhist praxis, western mysticism, alchemy, tantra, Gnosticism, pop-magic (love the Nina Simone working), ecstatic practice and psychotherapy (Israel Regardie would be pleased). The content explores, among other things: meditation and mindfulness, cognitive liberty, initiation, ritual practice, group work, applied animism, sexuality, and the family life of a magician.

The essays draw from Blog of Baphomet highlights, with new pieces and contributions from the work of Vayne and Dee’s magical group ‘The Western Watchtower’. They are presented as a revolution around the axis of the neo-pagan Sabbat festivals, each interval of the year viewed through the lens of one of Peter Carroll’s eight colours of magic. I found this musing on how the quality of magic changes as the earth turns the book’s greatest gift, as it encouraged me to find my own magical calendar, lift my head from books and pay attention to the outside world again.

Rather than a listing of techniques and ‘how to’s’ (though it is certainly full of interesting tips), Chaos Craft instead elucidates a living magical worldview; traditional yet totally dynamic, reflective and on the edge of one’s own experience. Through the approach of this ‘mongrel’ (their term) Book of Shadows, the need to integrate one’s spiritual path into daily life is made clear, and the discussion on ‘Slow Chaos’ encourages us to relax into the spheres of the seasons and days and experience life more deeply.

Chaos Craft, through its presentation of the group work of The Western Watchtower and their egalitarian, anarchistic approach to leadership, also reinforces the importance of sangha, community and sharing on the magical path, even as an otherwise lone practitioner. Living a magical life in the modern world involves knowing how to follow your own directive, whilst also being able to interact, navigate, and collaborate with those around you. Further to this, in presenting the magic of Chaos Craft, the Authors feel no need to attack muggles, or overly focus on the distinction between their approach and that of any other, allowing the content a wide relevance.

The responsiveness and creativity of the Chaos Craft perspective on magic gave me a timely prompt to take the next step in my own practice, and begin to freely design rituals that worked for me within the context of the landscape and seasons, and my reactions to them. I view the book as a muse rather than a manual and it strengthened my confidence in the fact that I had the capacity to generate my own ritual, and draw from my experiences a personal symbolic reference palette, a language that I know the spirits hear and understand, due to the deep feeling that it just makes sense.

Crafty chaos star

Crafty chaos star

Chaos craft is a context, a worldview which allows us to be fully present to the world around us, gaze us into the future to manifest our chosen reality, while having the full force of our collective ancestry and the powers of all spheres of existence as our allies. It speaks of the rebirth of a natural magical culture.

Through taking a very personal approach, Vayne and Dee create an intimacy that seems a more apt vehicle for conveying magical knowledge than a dry tome full of tables and charts. Personal secrets are perhaps more valuable, more useful than increasingly abstracted secrets held in tradition.

In contrast to politics and posturing, Chaos Craft brings a sense of service back to magic, which is a key aspect of what inspired me to the path in the first place; service to the unfolding, living, deep Earth.

Demonstrating the living vibrant nature of chaos magic, witchcraft and tantra, the book rests in balance between a traditionalist approach, an honoring of initiation and empowerment and the postmodern chaos understanding of magical technology and the power of paradigms. Bringing a chaos approach to traditional crafts supports an understanding of their underlying tech, allowing for colloquialisms; individual and shared dialects of practice stemming from timeless roots.

The book invites us to create our own magical form, one that is contingent with our traditions (of which it is but the latest iteration), and with the living magical landscape. A form that is thus able to draw power from the deep evolutionary process that has brought it into being. Such living traditions are able to evolve with time, connecting past and future; distinct and independent, yet forming a continuity with the living powers from which they spring.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to find a more natural approach to magic, and those who are wishing to deepen their understanding of the connection between their practice and the greater cosmos of which they are a vital part.

Chaos Craft is now available on Amazon as well as direct from us.

Charles Barrie has explored his own magical context through a number of Western magic, masonic and yogic traditions. He currently works in conservation, community development and environmental education, and tries to live his magic in daily life through an active relationship with the Pandaemonic All and service to both earth and community. He also plays bass guitar for New Zealand band Bella Cajon, who can be found at www.bellacajon.com

Golden magick

Chaos gold

(Meanwhile more shameless self promotion proudly presents…)

Nikki Wyrd will be leading a workshop entitled Baphomet 101 at The Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness Salon‘s event Neuro-Magica: Weaving Ecology, Cosmos & Consciousness: A three-day retreat exploring the liminal space bridging science and magic, from Thursday (evening) 8th – Sunday (evening) 11th September. This retreat has sold out! Keep an eye open for future exciting events on the ECC facebook page HERE.

On the 5th of November Julian Vayne will be leading a workshop at Treadwells, London on Altered States of Magic, details HERE and then a few days later on November 8th will be addressing the University of Kent Psychedelic Society on Psychedelics and Magic see Facebook and HERE.

It’s All About Me

As heavy showers and hot bursts of sun turn the green into the gold of high summer here’s a little round up of some of the things the theblogofbaphomet team and our friends are up to at the moment…

In blog news we’re really pleased to have exceeded a quarter of a million page views of the blog itself, and over 3,000 likes on our Facebook page. We’re really pleased that, without using clickbait headlines or click farm antics, we’ve become one of the most popular chaos magic blogs on teh internetz, part of the ‘fourth wave’ of chaos magic (for more of which see below…).

In his professional life, Julian has been doing loads of work with big historical country houses (and hobnobbing with the landed gentry) helping them to develop new ways of engaging their visitors. Perhaps more significantly, Julian has also been the artistic muse of Nicola Claire-Lydon in her painting of Pan. Julian writes: “It’s always a delight and indeed an honour to inspire others. I’ve been fortune to be a model for Victoria Gugenheim, Matt Kaybryn (as Mercury in The Portals of Chaos) and more recently Nicola. Being painted in oils is a really powerful process, especially as Nicola is a close friend and we developed some ideas about the image (notably the way Pan’s horns are represented) together. I’m also especially pleased that Pan is available as a limited edition Giclée print, art card and, most wonderfully, emblazoned on a tea towel. My new mantra is ‘Lint Free, Scratch Free, Absorbent, Hygienic’.  😉 ”

Io Sauce Pan!

Io Sauce Pan!

Copies of Pan in all his many manifestations are available in the Another Green World gallery, Tintagel, Cornwall, contact details HERE.

Steve Dee continues his spiritual quest following the publication of his first solo work A Gnostic’s Progress – Magic and the Path of Awakening. Following the release of Steve’s heady fusion of Left-hand path queer-witchcraft sorcery, chaos magic and post-Christian (but not post-Christic) Gnosticism Steve was invited for a follow up interview (the first one is HERE) with Miguel Conner. Steve will also appear in a forthcoming interview with Morgana Sythove; check out Wiccan Rede (There’s a review of Chaos Craft there too).

 

Meanwhile Nikki has been diligently working on various publishing ventures. A Gnostic’s Progress was the second book from Ms Wyrd’s imprint The Universe Machine. As well as being sub-editor for Psypress UK Journal she has also been honoured to assist with assembling the references, proofing and copyediting the magnum opus of Infinity Foods founder and Chinese medicine man Peter Deadman. The book Live Well, Live Long looks set to become a seminal text on Chinese Traditional Medicine.

 

Up country (as we say in Devon) various festive fnords have been manifesting at Festival 23. None of the Blog of Baphomet crew were able to attend this year, alas, but Dave Lee and others were there representin’ for Current 23 in what turned out to be a sell-out and, from early reports, a deliciously Discordian event, which will hopefully manifest once again in 2018. Dave has also penned an important essay about the history of chaos magic (we’re currently enjoying the fourth wave of this esoteric approach). We’re hoping to include this in a forthcoming publication written (and illustrated) by current members of The Illuminates of Thanateros. Stay tuned to this channel for updates.

May you be free of The Curse of Greyface. May the Goddess put twinkles in your eyes. May you have the knowledge of a sage, and the wisdom of a child.

May you be free of The Curse of Greyface.
May the Goddess put twinkles in your eyes.
May you have the knowledge of a sage,
and the wisdom of a child.

There’s more excitement to come this autumn, with several other publications, and plans to develop some public workshops and even a chaos retreat for 2017, plus of course next year will see another Breaking Convention Conference. (And thinking about the power of psychedelics, readers of this blog may enjoy this presentation by Breaking Convention founding member and all round wonderful chap Ben Sessa, entitled Is MDMA psychiatry’s antibiotic?)

Thanks again for engaging with our work and for all the lovely feedback.

Blessed Be, 93 and Choyofaque!

NW, SD, JV