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John McMahon 1996


(Halloween, 1996 e.v.)

"Face the facts. Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."

>>>William S. Burroughs(1)<<<

"We are not contractually tied down to reality; there is no sanity clause. So if you feel your train of thought is going to the places where the screaming is too loud, remember there is always madness. Madness is the emergency exit." >>>The Joker, The Killing Joke<<<

"Bring the end of the world as you know it to a place near you, but hey at least it'll be a laugh!" >>>Anonymous(2)<<<

There are so many delightful varieties of madness that one can only conclude that the god(s) of this universe, if he/she/it/they exist(s), must have truly twisted sense(s) of humor. Let's explore some of the madness and then view it in the context of a metaphysical practice known as CHAOS MAGIC.

So Much Madness, So Little Time

Infectious Agents of Madness

One of the latest crazes to hit the media is "mad-cow disease", otherwise known as bovine spongioform encephalopathy.(3) It appears that this deadly neurological affliction of cattle may be linked to a similar fatal brain malady in humans (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease). Deadly living particles called prions are smaller than viruses and may be the infectious agent which links the two diseases. Infected "sheep offal" (intestines, etc.) used in cattle feed may be the ultimate source of the disease.(4) The recent scare has cut off British beef exports and ultimately may result in the slaughter of Britain's entire cattle industry. In simple terms, infected brains become laced with holes like Swiss cheese, and the unfortunate animal or human dies in agony.

Genetic Madness

Numerous genetic mutations produce mental malfunctions. One of the worst I remember seeing in medical school was Hunter-Hurler Syndrome.(5) Children born with this horrific curse are in a constant rage, and teeth are often pulled to keep the kiddies from biting off their own lips and tongue! Fortunately for tormented parents, it's uncommon for the cursed youngsters to live beyond their early teens.

Chemical Madness

We've probably all seen reports on the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome. Veterans of America's attack on Saddam Hussein's Iraq are believed to have suffered immune system damage and other long-term effects as a result of exposure to routine vaccines and smoke from oil well fires, as well as possible exposure to biochemical warfare agents. Even more frightening, a new book describes potential effects on all of us by synthetic chemicals that damage the endocrine system and may influence the health, intelligence and fertility of future generations.(6) By interfering with the body's signals that guide development before birth and during early life, these endocrine system disrupters prevent people (and other animals) from growing up according to their genetic blueprints. Nasty chemicals that have been banned in the U.S. still are produced by American and other companies overseas, and then reintroduced to the U.S. by smuggling, as contaminants in imported food and via the global atmosphere. (7)

Overpopulation Madness(8)

At the turn of the century only 5% of world's population lived in cities with populations greater than 100,000. Today 45% (more than 2.5 billion people) live in crowded urban centers. It's predicted that by 2025 more than 60% of humanity (more than 5 billion people) will be packed together in cities like sardines in cans. Most of this growth has been and will continue to be in the developing world, where installation of sanitation is lagging far behind growth, and resilient microbes are overrunning the stressed immune systems of the urban poor.

In general, more than 1 billion people live in households too poor to obtain enough food for normal work, and another 2 billion live in conditions described as "deplorable". Conditions are so bad that ordinary people in Beijing, China and elsewhere have been driven to riot by pollution ranging from incessant noise to choking clouds of dust. It becomes increasingly likely that masses of the desperate may overwhelm entire nations and regions. The future is extremely grim.

Violence & Economic Madness

Violence is certainly not uniquely American, although we have clearly influenced the rest of the world in remarkable ways.(9) The Nazis(10) and the Communists of China (11) and the Soviet Union(12) also have had their times of darkness. Most of us try to sublimate(13) our aggressive impulses through movies(14) and othermeans,but occasionally the festering social malaise bursts into rancid bloom, as in the recent random slaughter of Scottish schoolchildren by an angry loner.(15) We have become so fearful of one another that laws allowing concealed guns are becoming chic.(16) Even the standard office or car is no longer safe.(17) With vampires and other unusual characters roaming the streets, the average person must feel quite confused and insecure!(18)

In addition to rampant violence, there is economic anxiety -- "stagnant wages, income inequality, political scapegoating and corporate insensitivity" as millions are fired from their jobs with little or no
notice.(19) There seems to be no end to the downward spiral.

Psychiatric Madness

Shrinks are as "nutso" as the people they claim to treat. When I was in med school, it was common wisdom that troubled students became psychiatrists in an effort to solve their own deep-seated problems. (20)
Further, scientific studies have shown that mental therapy is no more successful than simple self-help in curing mental problems.(21) Drugs merely control symptoms without correcting basic, underlying problems. A recent article summarizes the reasons for the disrespect that psychiatry has richly earned.(22) However, there is no shortage of mental illness, whether properly treated or not; it's been estimated "...that one in three senior management types exhibits a milder version of manic-depressive disorder." (23)

Apocalypse ‘R Us!

Religion is one of society's less successful attempts at curing cultural madness. The cure is generally worse than the disease, as evidenced in the poor quality of religious leaders(24) and in the tremendous havoc wrought by various religious "witch hunts".(25) Further, both the logic(26) and the promises(27) of religion are illusory. Even so, what a neat way to control the miserable masses by keeping alive hope for a better existence after death!

Apocalyptic cults and craziness abound as described in numerous books and articles.(28) Such things have been common in the past as fin de siecle (end of century) worries arise.(29) The year 1999 promises to be a real doozie as it also marks the end of a millennium when the second coming of Christ is expected by some.(30) Sadly, virtually all of these cults arise from the fear and sickness of xtian culture.

Actions & Consequences

To a chaos magician relaxed in the great flow of life, all this misery is no more than chaff in the wind.(31) There is neither evil nor good; at most these terms are mere subjective valuations of pain and pleasure by the affected person or group. However, actions do have consequences! Most of the following conclusions are drawn from examples discussed earlier.

Jump from a tall building, and you will probably die. Feed cattle in unnatural ways (e.g., on sheep offal), and unpleasant consequences such as "mad-cow disease" are likely. Poison the environment with poorly tested chemicals, radiation, etc., and genetic mutations and other massive effects become likely. Overpopulate the Earth, and we'll all go mad and eventually perish in the filth. Terrify innocent children and adults in an effort to steal their wealth and otherwise control them, and grotesque societal aberrations such as Nazism, Communism and Capitalism will result in the slaughter of millions of humans and the ruination of the Earth. Use violent religions to persecute all who disagree with you or simply want to be left alone, and serial/mass murderers and others poisoned by your pestilence will lay waste to the trust that holds a society together. There is no refuge anywhere -- not in medicine/psychiatry, cities, guns, money, religion, or even the grim isolation of locked fortresses.

The Approach to Chaos Magic

Aleister Crowley wrote, "Magic is the Science and Art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will.(32) " How does this work for a chaos magician? Bearing in mind that actions have consequences as exemplified above, I am an absolute moral relativist. This is not a contradiction in terms. It means that as a chaos magician, I choose what works for me, bearing in mind that as a matter of expediency I do not want to cause harm to others lest it disturb my own enjoyment of life. At times I am perfectly willing to use traditional beliefs and methods, but I avoid attaching any ultimate truth or meaning to them.(33) Further, I know that science has found both order in what appears to be chaos as well as ways to use apparent disorder.(34)

This is the underpinning of chaos magic in a nutshell. Too simple? The best things often are, and we Americans spend so much time and energy in the mistaken belief that life must be complicated (expensive, requiring extensive effort, etc.) in order to be pleasurable. It's so easy to miss the real, small ecstasies by focusing on perfection and large, long-term goals.(35)

Can't get into something simple and basic? Then draw waaaaaaaay back and grok the big picture. A recent article indicates that "[h]idden planets may be lurking around as many as half the Milky Way galaxy's 100 billion stars...(36)"Astronomers can't yet see the planets themselves, but they're able to detect wobble in the motion of stars which suggests they're being pulled around by planets. I see color pictures of "pillars" of gas 400 million miles long in the Crab Nebula and wonder why we get so wrapped up in trivia. We worry and battle with one another over petty matters and let the deeper things pass unnoticed.(37) The lesson? In the big picture, very little if anything is worth agony. "It don't matter no way, no how," is what some of my less sophisticated friends say.

Children are the ultimate chaos magicians. They tend to be healthy because they are so unmolded and unrehearsed.(38) Pain exists in their narrow worlds, of course, but not concepts of good and evil until force-fed by adults. Comedian Robin Williams had the right idea: he prepared for his role in his new movie "Jack" by spending several days dressed like a 10-year-old boy. Most of us can't afford that luxury, but it's an interesting concept. Study a child if you want to refresh your memories of how things were and could be if we really believed that actions had consequences, and if we were truly willing to live a life of pleasure while balancing it with a genuine effort not to harm other life forms, including the Earth!

The Practices of Chaos Magic

The history and specific practices of chaos magic (sigilization and many other things) are covered in great depth elsewhere.(39) If you've got the attitude, don't sweat the details. Nevertheless, I'll offer a brief overview of one basic chaos magical practice in order to give a tantalizing glimpse of chaos magic's potential.

SIGILIZATION is one of my favorite techniques.(40) It's well known that advertisers embed hidden messages (often pictures or short phrases) in their ads so that viewers, while not aware consciously of the messages, are unconsciously both receptive and responsive to them. The classic example is "Eat Popcorn" flashed for a fraction of a second during a movie, which then causes viewers to buy popcorn without knowing why.

A SIGIL is a tool used by a chaos magician to stimulate his or her own subconscious to assist in achieving one's true Will.(41) In a nutshell, the magician expresses a desire both carefully(42) and succinctly in a word or short phrase, strikes out redundant letters, and arranges them in a picture while disguising their original nature as letters. The sigil is "burned" into the mind by focusing on it until it can be visualized without effort, and then it is forgotten. One may in fact forget all about how and why the sigil was constructed. The idea is to subvert conscious memory, i.e., to make it impossible for the conscious mind to produce resistance to fulfillment of the magician's desire. The unconscious mind is therefore free to produce the currents that will cause the magician's desire as signified by the sigil to manifest eventually in the physical world. A rigid mindset must be avoided if sigilization is to be effective. (43)

Interested readers are invited to e-mail the author at:   

  Chas Nemo's Dark World

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References for Further Study of Chaos Magic

Internet Sites(44)

"Chaos via Internet - a Link Collection." Explore chaos science here -- lots of information on fractals and theory.

"Modern Magic - The Chaos Texts." Excellent site for basic texts on chaos magic! These are texts either directly or indirectly related to the work of A.O. Spare, Pete Carroll, Frater U:.D:. or the IOT (Illuminates of Thanateros). See especially Mark Chao's "Defining Chaos" at

"Tzimon Yliaster's Tools of Chaos." Tzimon's a cool guy. His site provides links to information on chaos magic and science, magic generally and other interesting items such as magic-related fonts for printing.

Printed Materials(45)

Bey, Hakim. Chaos (1985). Autonomedia, Box 568 Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY 11211. Pseudonymous spiritual and political writings that almost always provoke rethinking of the status quo.

Brewster, Charles. Liber Cyber (1991). BM DAZZLE, London WC1N 3XX, England. Limited edition of 333 copies. This one is best attempted by students with a background in math and physics.

Carroll, Peter J. Liber Kaos & The Psychonomicon (1987). Samuel Weiser, Inc., P.O. Box 612, York Beach, ME 03910. This classic, seminal work by a co-founder of the Illuminates of Thanateros has been reprinted many times. Often praised and attacked, it is recommended both from a historical viewpoint and to better understand
doctrinal disputes(46) among chaos magicians.

Dragwyla, Yael. The Spare Sigil: Its Construction, Use Care and Feeding. Privately printed. This 20-page chapbook is the best I've seen on the subject. Highly recommended!

Gleick, James. Chaos -- Making a New Science (1987). Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010. Until this seminal work bridged the gap, it could generally be said that where chaos began, science stopped. Recommended for those interested in the science of chaos.

Hall, Nicholas. Chaos & Sorcery (1992). Privately printed edition of 300 copies. A relatively sophisticated approach to the subject with underpinnings of voodoo.

Hawkins, Jaq D. Understanding Chaos Magic (1996). Capall Bann Publishing, Freshfields, Chieveley, Berks, RG20 8TF, United Kingdom. Available in the U.S. from J.D. Holmes Bookseller, P.O. Box 623, Edmonds, WA 98020, or from New Leaf Publications (770/948-7845). This is my personal favorite, with a nice balance of history, science and practical magic, plus it's not yet out-of-print! Certain to become a classic. Highly recommended!

Hine, Phil. Chaos Servitors -- A User Guide (1991). Chaos International, BM Sorcery, London WC1 3XX. Limited edition of 300 copies. Small (36 pages) but useful overview, especially in conjunction with the following two guides.

Hine, Phil. Condensed Chaos (1992). Chaos International, BM Sorcery, London, WC1N 3XX, England.. Limited edition of 300 copies. A concise (36 pages) overview of the subject.

Hine, Phil. Prime Chaos (1993). Phil's first book on the subject and quite readable, like all his other materials. Chaos International, BM Sorcery, London WC1 3XX, England.

Hine, Phil. The Pseudonomicon (1994), Chaos International, BM Sorcery, London WC1N 3XX, England.. Limited edition of 300 copies. Order it in the U.S. from Illuminates of Thanateros, 7349 Via Paseo Del Sur, Suite 515-205, Scottsdale, AZ 85258. Explore "darkside" magic from a Lovecraftian point of view in this small (40 pages) but pithy primer, with strong elements of chaos such as "purposive disintegration". $8.00.

Houston, Siobhan. "Chaos Magic", Gnosis (Summer, 1995), p. 55. A highly readable overview which emphasizes the great individualism of chaos magicians.

Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Loompanics Unlimited, P.O. Box 1197, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Discordianism, the Church of the Subgenius and the Goddess Eris are not strictly chaos magic, but the zany irreverence puts one in the mood and also portends deeper meanings! $5.00.

Mace, Stephen. Stealing the Fire from Heaven (1984). Privately printed in New Haven, CT. One of my favorites, with strong emphasis on A.O. Spare and quantum mechanics. Highly recommended!

Mace, Stephen. Sorcery as Virtual Mechanics (1988). Privately printed in New Haven, CT. Another excellent discussion of the science of magic. Highly recommended!

Pagani, Paula. The Cardinal Rites of Chaos (1984). Limited edition of 500 copies. Sut Anubis, 73 Kettering Road, Northampton NN1 4AW, England. More witchcraft than chaos magic.

Read, Ian (ed.), Chaos International. BM SORCERY, London WC1N 3XX, England. This is the longest-surviving journal dedicated to chaos magick. Highly recommended!

Sherwin, Ray. The Book of Results (1992). I began with the 1978 first edition. A very nice overview by a co-founder of the Illuminates of Thanateros. Wisely suspicious of the "guru system and of magical hierarchies", Sherwin has come a long way!

U:.D:., Frater. Practical Sigil Magic (1990). Llewellyn Publications, P.O. Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383. Readily available and with plenty of material for both the beginning and intermediate student. Highly recommended!

“All mystical experience is coincidence; and vice versa, of course.” >>>Tom Stoppard, Jumpers<<<

“Satan is the lies and the evil hiding behind those plastic smiles of your Christian world.” >>>oDdbAll 42 (the nomadic lounge clown)(47) <<<

“Been there. Done that. Shit happened.” >>>Anonymous Bumper Sticker<<<


1. Quoted in the “Darkpaths-L” Internet discussion group.

2. Quoted in the “Z Cluster” of Internet chaos magicians.

3. “British link cow disease to humans”, The Plain Dealer (March 21, 1996).

4. The Plain Dealer (March 27, 1996).

5. “Gulf War veterans, specialists tell federal panel of postwar ills”, The Boston Globe, March 27, 1996, p. 30.

6. Theo Colburn et al, Our Stolen Future (1996).

7. Remember thalidomide, the tranquilizer that caused babies to be born in the 1960’s with grotesque deformities such as flippers instead of arms and legs? It’s now being used to treat AIDS in Brazil and being smuggled elsewhere, and “thalidomide babies” are being born in the 1990’s. “Thalidomide returns with new hope, old fear”, Chicago Tribune, March 11, 1996, p. 1.

8. “Growing pains and strain”, The Plain Dealer, March 31, 1996, p. C1, condensed from a longer article in Foreign Affairs.

9. See my articles in EsoTerra 5 (“Serial Murders & the Satanic/Ritualistic Crimes Myth”) and EsoTerra 6 (“Violence -- the Sour Cherry in America’s Pie”).

10. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (1996). See also David Pryce-Jones’ review of this book: “The Universality of Evil”, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 1996, p. A16.

11. John King Fairbank, China: A New History (1992).

12. Richard Freeborn, A Short History of Modern Russia (1966).

13. “Sublimate” means “to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its primitive form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable.” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1981).

14. Examples: the four-movie “Hellraiser” series, and more recently SAE Video’s “Death: The Ultimate Horror”. The latter 90-minute extravaganza will delight most all “gore whores”; call 1-800-666-9061 for more information, or visit SAE Video’s web site at

15. “Gunman turns wrath on children”, The Plain Dealer (March 14, 1996). Almost 30 5- and 6-year-olds and three teachers were killed or wounded in gym class. The gunman “...had been turned down for a job at the school and had become hostile because he felt isolated in the community” following accusations of improper behavior involving children.

16. “Concealed-Gun Laws Give Businesses the Jitters”, The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1996, p. B1.

17. “Working Scared”, Legal Assistant Today, November/December, 1995, p. 24.

18 “Vampirism, including sampling blood, is the latest youth rage in the South”, The Plain Dealer, February, 1996.

19. “Economic Anxiety”, Business Week cover story, March 11, 1996, p. 50.

20. No, I am not a shrink, nor have I ever been treated by one, although reasonable minds might disagree as to whether I should seek treatment! };-)

21. J. Moussaieff Masson, Against Therapy: Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing (1988).

22. ”High Anxiety -- In the Name of Freud, Why Are Psychiatrists Complaining So Much?”, The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 1995, p. 1.

23. “The Latest Management Craze: Crazy Management”, The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 1996, p. A23. With so many mentally-disturbed key executives throughout American life, is it any wonder that business, religious, political and military matters are so totally fucked up??? Mental illness, coupled with rampant crookedness among our leaders, is the reason why I can say that after more than a quarter of century working with key people in the business world, I have never met a decent human being at or above the level of vice-president in any organization.

24. The Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Bakker and Oral Roberts scandals are too well known to require further discussion here. For sordid yet insightful analysis of the peccadilloes of a variety of American religious leaders, check out Lawrence Wright’s Saints and Sinners (1993).

25. See the FMS Foundation Newsletter (subscription $30/year) for further information on so-called “False Memory Syndrome”. People suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder and other mental illnesses have been persuaded by unscrupulous ministers, psychologists and police that they have repressed memories of sexual, Satanic and other abuses. The FMS Foundation publicizes scientific research showing that memories are easily influenced by hypnosis and other techniques. Therefore, memories cannot be trusted without external corroboration. For more information, write to the FMS Foundation, 3401 Market Street - Suite 130, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3318, or call them at 215/387-1865.

26. Underlying xtianity is the concept of a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful god. How to explain the existence of evil? Either god chooses to allow evil, in which case he/she/it is not loving; or god cannot prevent evil, in which case he/she/it is not all-powerful and probably not all-knowing. The concept of “free will” seems to be a cop-out at best (what kind of god would create imperfect, suffering animals?) and not to correlate with reality at worst (so-called “oncogenes” pre-determine that one will develop cancer; that certainly is not free will!).

27. I have yet to see anyone comforted by religion in the final hour of death.

28. Adam Parfrey, Apocalypse Culture (1990). Feral House, P.O. Box 861893, Los Angeles, CA 90086-1893. See also Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern America (1992). Harvard University Press, 79 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

29. ”Once more with feeling; postmodernism and millenialism”, Society, November 1995, p. 32.

30. Technically speaking, the end of the millennium won’t happen until December 31, 2000, as xtian fear-mongers undoubtedly will hasten to note when 1999 passes without incident!

31. I want to emphasize that I have had as much misery in my life as most and more than many, and being human I have fallen short of my ideal balance on many occasions, but I “keep on truckin’”! I’ve come to believe that adversity and persistence make pleasure much more delightful when finally achieved!

32. Quoted in E.E. Rehmus’ The Magician’s Dictionary (1990), p. 139.

33. I do not do rituals within a circle (contrary to the practice of ceremonial magicians who want to keep “good energies” in and “bad energies” out). I also refuse to follow any particular ritual format (also contrary to ceremonial practices), since I tend to believe that excessive focus on procedures diverts energy from achievement of results. Even my daily life becomes an ongoing “ritual” of sorts!

34. James Gleick, Chaos -- the Making of a New Science (1987).

35. Ram Dass, Now be Here, Now Here Be (1978).

36. The Plain Dealer, September 12, 1996, p. 9-A.

37. I recall a physics teacher my telling us right before a major exam that it was foolish to worry about such a small matter in the long journey of life. “In ten years you won’t even remember what this exam was about,” he said. He was right!

38. My son, now a Dean’s List engineering student, came up with this slogan around the age of 10: “It’s a sick world, and I’m a happy guy!” Neither overly attached nor detached, caring and cynical at the same time, he flows contentedly through life.

39. My personal favorite is Jaq D. Hawkins’ new Understanding Chaos Magic, In her previous incarnation as Mark Chao, Ms. Hawkins wrote a classic essay titled “Defining Chaos”, now on the Internet at

40. This technique is described in much greater detail in excellent resources such as Hawkins’ Understanding Chaos Magic and Dragwyla’s The Spare Sigil: Its Construction, Use, Care and Feeding. My short description is a gross oversimplification.

41. The recognition and achievement of one’s “true Will” is a subject fraught with peril (e.g., self-deception) and is dealt with in great detail in the writings of Aleister Crowley and many others.

42. If one wants to visit Paris, for example, don’t use “I want to” as part of your succinct phrase, lest you achieve a lifetime of wanting without ever doing it. Just use “visit Paris”.

43. Rigidity can be destructive whether it is general (as described above in the attitude one has to the madness of the modern world) or specific to the desired result of sigilization. Yet one must always believe (without rigid expectations) that actions have consequences somehow, even if they are not immediately apparent.

44. Since printed works on chaos magic often are issued only in small editions and become rare very quickly, the Internet is a readily accessible and inexpensive way to begin study quickly. However, web sites come and go quickly, so check a search engine such as Lycos ( for the latest information.

45. Atlantis Books (49a Museum Street, London WC1A 1LY, England; phone 011-44-1-71-405-2120) is a sophisticated occult bookstore which may stock or be able to locate both new and rare publications dealing with chaos magic. Highly recommended!

46. Yes, Virginia, there are doctrinal disputes among chaos magicians, who are the last people on Earth that one might expect to argue over such matters. Indeed, the granddaddy of all chaos groups, the Illuminates of Thanateros, even has degrees!

47. Quoted in the “Darkpaths-L” Internet discussion group.