Adventures in Chaos Magic
By Phil Hine, New Falcon Publications, 1999
Phil Hine’s new book, Prime Chaos, is an updated version of a book originally released in 1993. It serves as a companion volume to Condensed Chaos, also published by New Falcon. While Condensed Chaos served as a broad introduction to techniques and ideas informing the Chaos current, Prime Chaos takes these ideas a step further, as it were, and explores its wider ramifications.
One thing I like about Chaos Magick is that it embraces the modern world in all its strangeness. This is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book. In the first section Phil is attempting to take a serious look at how individuality is constructed in these peculiar times, and places our magickal paradigms and sense of self in a historical context, rather than presenting magickal notions as something separate, exalted above our mundane lives. There’s much useful information on the way our identities arise, some strategies for change, how we might ride the empheral nature of these times for our own satisfaction..
Alongside this there’s some very healthy questioning of magickal "received wisdom" such as the work ethic (i.e. "I will make no progress till I can concentrate so hard my nose bleeds".) so often found in magickal texts, and an attempt to inject a sense of adventure and fun into magick. I feel that Phil might put some noses out of joint with, for instance, his suggestion that magick can be done while doing the washing up but, why not? As one explores and evolves one’s own magickal practice, you "write your own qabalah"; all and any elements one chooses to incorporate are a matter of choice, and finding out what’s best for you. And these ideas may be fished from anywhere/when out of the information soup we’re currently living in, whether the correspond to the pomp and circumstance of "high magick" or not.. Phil’s writing constantly pushes the point that in magick (or any other area of life for that matter) it’s what you personally find relevant and powerful that’s important. Thus this book doesn’t tell you what to do, or believe, but gives you a wealth of pointers and information to help forge your own path..
The next section is a thorough stripping down of ritual magick to it’s core elements, examining every aspect from possession, to the use of lighting and incense. Many of the ideas herein can and should be used to enrich one’s own practice, but beyond this, such considerations may give us a deeper understanding of what’s going on the processes of ritual, and what we intend. Some example rituals are also given. The same thorough breakdown can be found in the next section, which deals with magick in groups. Most magickal groups seem to go through periods of instability (to put it mildly) at some time or another, perhaps this is to be expected when working closely with one another. There is some really excellent information here which hopefully will help those involved in groupwork understand the internal process at work within groups, and ride the turbulent times with a little more grace. Funnily enough, on first reading I found this section not to have the "thrill and spills", and glamour I enjoy when reading magickal texts, but, on further consideration, this was the first part of the book I could really relate to my own experience.
The book closes with sections on two "paradigms" : Discordanism and the magick of the Cthulhu Mythos, two very different sets of ideas, with original speculation arising from both. I think this shows what can arise from Chaos magick, or for that matter, any area of modern magickal speculation. To take up ideas, and run with them, and create one’s own system, something with personal power and relevance.
In conclusion: Chaos magick texts often mention the Pandemonaeon. This nebulous term is not so much a time to come, a new aeon, that will arise one glorious day. If anything it’s now, the strange times we live in infused with our own visions. This book, and the ideas and tools contained within it, will, I hope, help others to the realisation and creation of the PandemonAeon for themselves. - Varunanath