Illuminating the history of Chaos Magic

There have been various attempts to provide a history of chaos magic; to describe the genesis and development of Current 23.

Chaos magic (CM) emerges initially in the British Isles, also the birthplace of Wicca, Neo-Druidry and Thelema. A nice description of the origins of CM can be found in Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate’s The Book of English Magic and of course there is various material available online (ranging from the broadly accurate, through to the ranty and occasionally bonkers end of the market). More useful background history can be found in The History of British Magic After Crowley by Dave Evans which also contextualises the rise of CM at a time when Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth was at its most active. However the most up-to-date reflections on CM, and in particular the origins and work of The Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT), can to be found in a recent lecture by Dave Lee. This presentation was made to a packed house at the wonderful Treadwell’s bookshop in London (where, incidentally, I’m running a workshop in September).

Bill & Dave's excellent adventure

Bill & Dave’s excellent adventure

In common with many other esoteric organisations the initiatory oath of the IOT requires members to be circumspect when discussing the group with non-members. This oath of secrecy aims to ensure that individuals do not have their membership revealed, without their express consent, to non-members. (While the situation in Britain is much better than it was in years past there are still contexts in which ‘coming out’ as an occultist may cause difficulties for people.) The other reason for ‘keeping silent’ is to ensure that the inter-personal processes arising within a group magical context are contained in a safe, supportive and respectful space.

With all that in mind Dave provides a very candid personal account. He manages to respect confidences, maintain a generous spirit towards those who were there at the inception of the current, and to describe in detail some IOT workings that have been ‘declassified’. This interview is both a fascinating tale of an individual practitioner’s journey into magic, and an important overview of the story of CM thus far.