Note: I wrote this essay on Chaos magic testing exactly four years ago this month and had it up on this blog for a while but then took it down. I’m posting it again in case it is of interest to anyone.
Chaos magic (I prefer this standard spelling to the oft-used ‘magick’) sometimes gets regarded as a kind of slacker magic — if so, then I stand as a slacker among slackers. But Chaos can act kindly to folks like me. I like rituals, but only when I can make them up. I also like some guidelines, but only where I can pick and choose what to keep and toss. For the most part, chaos magic smiles on non-rigidity, and sometimes vomits on it (depending on how much it’s had to drink), but the main goal consists of getting results.
A few weeks ago, I mulled over ways in which to do some free-form magic based on an activity that I enjoy and spend a lot of time on: video games. Specifically, the game Dark Souls, that already acts a sort of alternate life for me when I immerse myself in it. As it so happens, it has a Chaos covenant, with a devotional element to the Fair Lady, who is half-woman, half-spider. The covenant is most useful as the means to a helpful shortcut, and to save an NPC so that he can help with the final boss, but the member also can offer humanities to the Fair Lady to relieve her suffering and to get rank in the covenant.
At the time, I thought, since I’m already doing this for several hours a week, why not do it as a magic act and make the taking of humanities and subsequent offering a ritual act with a clear goal? Then I thought about what goals to aim for as tests. I wanted something simple and non-life changing, but that also would be an obvious success if it happened. On a Sunday night, I decided on two possible scenarios: Someone at my job would say something unusually nice to me, or the UPS driver who brought our packages would be a substitute driver whom I’d never seen before (mostly because I didn’t like our regular driver, and the substitutes were always the same three or four people). Neither of these scenarios were things over which I could control the outcome, nor would really matter to me, so they seemed like simple tests to try out this form of magic.
I never actually did the gaming ritual, I just made the plan to do so in my head.
The next day at work, my boss was walking through, stopped, and said, ‘You’re probably going to think that this is a really odd thing for me to say to you, but you look especially good today.’ Now, I get along very well with my boss and he’s a lot more cheerful and friendly than I am, but neither he, nor anyone else that I’ve ever worked with, has said that to me, and it was a very unusual thing. I kind of laughed it off, but I thought about the ritual that I had planned. Soon after, the UPS truck drove up. Not our regular loud-mouthed driver, but someone completely new that I’d never seen before. But again, I never actually did the ritual.
That night, I thought about what had happened and wanted to make another plan for a future ritual. Since both of the former outcomes were pleasant things for me, one positive and one kind of neutral, I wondered if it would be good to try something that would be more negative. To have someone criticize me unfairly, for instance. This was a pretty vague plan, and I didn’t think about it too much, or even want to do so. I certainly didn’t have a great desire to be criticized.
Two days later, I went to a department store to return an item. There was one person at the return counter, so I walked up and stood behind her. Then I heard a voice from somewhere behind me say to someone else, kind of low and petulant but just loud enough for me to hear, ‘The line starts back here.’ I turned around and saw that a woman and her friend had corralled themselves in the roped-off area rather far back from the counter, and kind of in low light. Except for them (and only one was actually returning anything), there was no queue at all. I had never seen someone do that before, as there was a good twelve feet of floor space between the counter and those ropes, plenty of room for several people to stand, and it is not a busy area. So I walked around a large block of shopping carts and made my way through the small maze of ropes to come up behind them. The woman’s friend murmured something to which the other said, again furtively but just loud enough, ‘I’m not scared of him.’ I was annoyed because I not only would not intentionally jump someone in line, but have often let people ahead of me. I wanted to say something to the women along the lines of, Why are you making yourselves into cattle, move on up close, be free! But I just stood there and waited. Criticism passive-aggressive and sort of unfair (at least from my viewpoint). Yay! More chaos magic success (urgh).
So how could I get success from rituals that I never even carried out? Partly, I think it has to do with the nature of Chaos magic. From what I’ve read of others’ experiences and from my own haphazard experiments, it can work that way. The important element seemed to be making a clear plan and having clear goals, so the results came with little to no further effort on my part. They were all things that were out of my conscious control and normally don’t happen but all had good probability of happening under the right circumstances (good probability is always an important component of successful magic). Giving it some thought since then, I also have wondered if it was a magic result at all; perhaps it was a case of divination, and I simply was plugging into events that already would happen. Or maybe a combination of the two, resulting in a perfect marriage of precognition and magical results. Maybe all the time that I already had spent on the working part of the ritual (gathering humanities and offering them through regular game play) had fulfilled the workings as I plotted them (kind of like long devotion to a god paying off when you finally make a request of that god). Or maybe they were just big coincidences — but coincidences, if they even exist, have their own peculiar sort of magical vibe.