Throughout the Aeons, human beings have tried to understand the laws that govern the way the universe works.
The universe itself doesn't make things any easier, since it's always in sight, showing us behaviors that at first seem inexplicable, and not showing us events that theory says should happen. In fact, most worldviews believe that we live in a theater, having access only to the images that pass through the veil, while behind the scenes, the “real” universe unfolds and happens.
From the universe, we only have access to what comes to us encoded through the senses. Instruments can help to broaden the scope, but only as far as our technological level allows. When we try to go the other way around and explain something we're thinking about, we also need some way to encode that content, through language—body, gesture, speech, writings, symbols.
Plato explains his theory using the allegory of the Cave. We humans would be in a cave, having access only to the shadows cast on the wall. Some, of course, try to get out of the cave and access the real things that are forming those shadows. However, when trying to explain what they saw to their fellows, these people are considered insane.
In Plato's general theory, there would be a world of ideas, where thoughts of things would be. In this world, everything is perfect, and each element has its ideal aspects. For example, a horse in the world of ideas would be an ideal horse, a perfect mold of what every horse should look like.
On the other hand, there would be a material world, the world we live in. When being manifested in the material world, an idea loses part of its perfection, and we have a normal horse. The real horse has imperfections, bruises, slight deformations, and however perfect it is, it will never be totally equal to an ideal horse.
Gnosticism, which is the collective name given to various thought currents, has a similar base to Platonism. It considers that the universe was initially dispersed in the form of a monad, a set of all the contents that would come into existence, but these were found to be unformed and latent. From the monad, a Demiurge or Architect would have created the material universe, trapping sparks of knowledge, or souls, within mineral, plant, animal and human physical forms.
There would then be a way to let go—temporarily or even permanently—from the physical form, to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the world, in the monad. This way of gaining knowledge about the laws of reality is called Gnosis, a state where a human being can unfold from the physical plane to gain access to knowledge about the core of things. Not just about the elements of the world itself, but about the very sparks that dwell in the elements.
In Jung's theory, the functioning of the mind follows general rules, which are brought to specific manifestations according to each person's experience. In the unconscious, there would be a set of symbols - some innate, coming from the collective unconscious, and some acquired, coming from the individual unconscious. In turn, the conscious would be the part of the psyche to which we have access, and this part has the power to search for contents in the unconscious, but accessing only a part of it at a time.
The highest level symbols contained in the unconscious would be the archetypes. These cannot be explained completely by language, but they can be classified and explained from one point of view at a time. Among the main archetypes, stand out the Mana (which can be a wise and elderly person), the Hero (which can be a person undergoing a journey to acquire maturity), the Trickster (which can be a person who achieves their goals by deceiving others), the Red Horn (which can be a brave and determined person), the Twins (which can be a balanced and complete person), among others.
With a slightly “lower” level - that is, with greater specificity - we would have the archetypal images. These would be ways in which archetypes could manifest in dreams or in a person's life. The Mana, for example, can manifest itself in the form of an ancient and wise wizard who gives knowledge, or else in the form of a hermit who meditates high up in the mountains.
At the “lowest” level, archetypal images manifest as entities, persons, characters, or manifestations, which are a specific garment acquired by the archetypal image in the world, or in a dream. In the case of the ancient and wise wizard, we can have Gandalf, Merlin, or Dumbledore, for example.
The Jungian framework allows multiple manifestations to share the same archetypal image, and multiple archetypal images to share the same archetype. The archetypes can, still, overlap and tangent, forming a web of meanings that must be understood to reach the core of the functioning of the Mind.
The principles of Chaoism are very similar to those of Platonism, Gnosticism, Jungian psychoanalysis, among other philosophies. Chaoism considers that there is — and always has been — a shapeless plane that contains everything in its latent form, called Chaos. This would be the “real” universe, from which one or more physical universes, these made of common matter and energy, are formed. However, in Chaos, information is stored in an extremely complex way, and ideas have connections among themselves, sharing some aspects and opposing themselves in others. When these ideas are manifested in the world, or need to be explained by someone who has had access to them, they decay into only one of the possible forms.
This consideration has important consequences. One of them (already verified by quantum physics!) is that particles can have more than one nature, but when measured or observed, they can only present themselves in one form. This is the case of Schrödinger's cat, which is alive AND dead until the box is opened, at which point it can only be alive OR dead. It is also the case of the electron, which is found in an overlap of particle and wave natures, but which presents itself as a particle or wave depending on the situation.
Another consequence would be that different pantheons of gods ultimately want to express the same ideas, just adopting different subdivisions, names and iconographies. The various storm gods do have common characteristics, and this is intrinsic to storm-related aspects. Likewise, there is not much functional difference, although there is some formal difference, in saying you believe in multiple gods, or in a god with multiple facets.
In this way, Chaoism focuses on the functions, objectives, and primordial ideas behind each element, not being tied to the form the concepts present themselves, or to the names and formal mechanisms established. Any language would be valid to explain what is behind the scenes, being this language ancient and already created by some milenar culture, or a totally new language created by a contemporary person. What matters is that this language meets the desired goals.
Chaos Magic descends directly from Chaoism, and is its application in the magical field. In this magical aspect, the general structures and global classifications of magical elements are studied, often using terms from existing magical systems, or creating new terms to avoid confusion with already established elements.
The focus is the result, and it doesn't matter what methodology is used in magical practice, what symbol set is used, or what mechanism explains the method's operation.
Chaos Magick was formulated mainly by Peter J. Carroll based on works by Austin O. Spare and the Golden Dawn, and its main reference works are Liber Null and the Psychonaut. There is also the Book of Results, by Ray Sherwin, which presents a more practical approach to the concepts, and the books PsyberMagick, by Peter J. Carroll, and Chaotopia, by David Lee, which derive more advanced considerations from the principles of Chaos Magick.
Several other magical strands draw from the same sources as Chaos Magic, as is the case of Discordianism and Thelema. These sources, in turn, were grouped, consolidated and studied by each of the different members of the Golden Dawn, who published treatises on the use of each magical system, retrieved valuable information long lost in the sands of time, and drew correlations that allowed the joint use of more than one system.
Some of the important elements in Chaos Magic practices are:
Gnosis is the practice of reaching the stage of temporary liberation in relation to the physical body, and which allows us to get a glimpse of the core energies that lie behind the scenes. It is similar to astral projections, or the liberation of the etheric plane, and can be achieved in different ways, such as inhibition or hyper-excitation of the senses.
A sigil (seal, from the Latin sigilum) is the codification of an intention in the form of a drawing, symbol or figure. It may still be a phrase, but it usually applies to pictorial elements. In the case of hyper-sigils, it can still be something more complex, constructed and nurtured for a longer time compared to simple sigils, such as music, a book, an architecture project or a pseudonym.
Servers or Servants are, in general, animate entities that acquire existence based on a sigil, an intention, an idea or an element. They can be humanoid in shape, or not, and can be created by the magician to carry out his intentions.
Technically, Chaos Magic is not just a magical system, it’s rather a meta-system. Just as Chaoism allows us to reconcile the universe's working systems, considering that they are all different ways of explaining the same thing, Chaos Magick reconciles Magical Systems, considering that they are all valid from the moment they present results.
In addition to using any existing system, Chaoism and Chaos Magic allow any magician to create their own set of symbols, their own paradigm, their own theory of how the Cosmos works, and their own magical method, using also existing elements from different cultures. The focus, as already mentioned, is the end result.
Whether magic occurs only psychologically, or whether it occurs through streams of energies so subtle that we are not yet able to measure, doesn't matter. For, if behind the scenes everything is Chaos, any practice is valid as long as there are results and it doesn’t (directly) interfere with other people’s true will.
Original text in portuguese.