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The Ice War

Maybe we saved western magick from a fate worse than the Fourth Reich or the Jim Jones Guyana Massacre, or maybe a few occult-sized egos merely created a tsunami in a teacup over money, sex and power, as per usual. Several Order historians have asked me for my version and I present it here. Synonyms disguise the identities of all the guilty except me.

I never met the Ice Lord, nor ever saw his image, during the whole conflict, and he declined a challenge to meet me in person at the siege of Castle L??..s, during one of the major battles of the campaign. I think I know his birth name, but he remains a shadowy figure, by all accounts intensely charismatic and dangerous. I cannot claim to have defeated him, for I merely fought his minions and thwarted his aims.

The Chancellor or "Kohl", as I shall call him for reasons of girth, first spoke to me about the Ice Lord on the eve of our best ever combined seminar and Order meeting at Castle R?s. According to Kohl, the Ice Lord’s theories and methods lay aeons ahead of anything our magical order got up to. As a reputed master of internal martial arts, the Ice Lord could apparently deliver lightning bolts with his fingertips and paralyse adversaries at a distance. He also apparently demanded and got total slavish obedience from his followers, and I later heard that he had seventy of them disappear completely from society to work in his factory and live in his dormitory. Kohl, who favoured a decidedly old-aeon authoritarian master-acolyte approach to magick, could hardly contain his excitement at the prospect of such power. I found all this highly alarming, as Kohl seemed likely to lose interest in what we had created together, in favour of what the Ice Lord apparently had to offer. Using mainly my ideas and his contacts and organizational skills, we had created a blossoming magical order doing much innovative work. The Order, by now just four years old, met annually in an Austrian castle for a fortnight of work, fun, sex and ideas exchange. Temples had sprung up all over the westernized world and the Order attracted a lot of heavyweight talent. We made the Golden Dawn look like a dull parochial garden party, and left the Caliphate OTO nursing a paradigm half a century past its sell-by-date.

I did not want to see our creation go down the drain, so I restrained my distaste and scepticism about what Kohl had to say, and we went ahead with the seminar and Order meeting. We both gave the performance of a lifetime. Everybody had a wild ecstatic time, and Kohl and I quite amicably had a scene with Soror Babs, a sorceress of his previous acquaintance. Then I went back to the UK to tend my own temple and to prepare for next year's bash. I also made a trip to America and authorised Babs to set up a Section of the Order there. Everything looked good until reports began to filter in that Kohl had started taking Order members to the Ice Lord. Much that some of them reported sounded alarming. Even now I know very little about "Ice Magick" (Kohl’s term for it, apparently, not the Ice Lord’s). Reports spoke of Aryan supremacism, survivalist paranoia, and cultic levels of obedience. My heart sank: the usual aeons old crap with a charismatic figure, this time with a few good tricks up his sleeve, pandering to cultural fears and desires, with probably enough intelligence to make it all end in tears bigtime if he got hold of a suitable communications infrastructure, i.e., my Order!

Shortly before the next annual seminar and Order meeting, scheduled for Castle L??..s in Austria, I sent a hailstorm of memos to all Sections and Temples alerting them to my suspicions. Kohl went utterly thermonuclear and spent an hour ranting at me on the phone. He then cancelled my appearance at the impending event. He could do this as he had made the Seminar and accommodation arrangements. However, the membership forced him to recant, and I eventually got on a plane with a rucksack full of heavy duty magical weaponry, including a huge oversize dagger acquired from a leading American occult swordsmith with a thirteen-inch drop-forged carbon steel blade, ironwood grip, phosphor bronze fittings which had had no expense spared, was bought without haggling, was aether-fixed and consecrated to Baphomet knows what—in short, the business. I also bore an alpha-helix beechwood staff, found for me in a forest by the love of my life; quite by chance, or so it seemed.

Thus equipped, I arrived in Vienna and lodged with the two Black Brothers, rather than in the apartments of the Head of the Austrian Section, as Kohl had taken up residence there. The Black Brothers had acquired a reputation as Gnostic extremists within the Order and, although I had always got on with them, a sub-plot partly involving a woman but mainly involving a lot of power, had developed between them and leaders of various Sections of the Order.

Eventually I confronted Kohl over a table in the apartments of the Section Head. Grim accusations of treachery, deceit, and megalomania flew back and forth for several hours with no ground given. You could not have cut the aether between us with an industrial grade exorcism. Perhaps only the presence of the aristocratic Section Head prevented the massively-built Kohl and my athletic self from seeking a resolution on the physical plane. In the end we left it at stalemate, and in ill humour, started to put together a seminar programme.

The next day the atmosphere lightened slightly as members arrived in Vienna from all over the westernized world, but by now the Order had a serious schism and would divide into two camps. The Head of the UK Section arrived with his other half and the UK contingent including Frater Hardman who would play a minor role. Soror Babs, on whom I mistakenly thought I could rely, arrived with Soror Sapphia, who took instant exception to the accommodation arrangements of Babs and I. The Swiss and Germans arrived, and a single representative came from Australia who was a mild and pleasant chap whom nobody had met and whose New Age background had ill prepared him for the battle zone he walked into.

Soon after we all arrived at the castle, an emergency Council of National Section Heads demanded the excommunication of one of the Black Brothers for having upset most of those present. I argued for suspension but finally reluctantly agreed, to keep the peace. Immediately afterwards a tense situation developed in the castle courtyard when we confronted the Brothers with the Council’s decision. After a certain amount of acrimonious debate it seemed that they would both leave with their followers, but then the excommunicant followed the Austrian No.2 into the toilets and attacked him. The mighty Kohl got to the scene first and drove him off. They left, but after the meeting the Austrian No.2 found what looked like the remains of a gruesome sacrifice on his home doorstep. (One suspects that the materials for the seeming sacrifice probably came from a local deerhunter.)

The Seminar did not go particularly well. Kohl led a few introductory Ice Magick exercises whose purpose remained impenetrable to those present. An individual hunting game I had devised for out-of-hours honing of parapsychological skills degenerated into a conflict between Ice or Kohl sympathetic participants against the rest. The Order meeting itself took place after a disgraceful series of initiations orchestrated by Kohl for seminar survivors who wished to apply to the Order and stay on for its meeting. At this event Kohl, as Magister Templi, seemed to betray a subconscious contempt for the Order by reducing the initiations to little more than the sort of hazing ceremonies typical of American collegiate life. Hell only knows why I did not intervene. The Order lost a member or two with interesting prospects that afternoon. I do not blame them. The meeting itself became mired down at many points with debates about procedures and precedents and rules, and with what seemed to many, attempts by Kohl to introduce authoritarian and centralist measures. The majority of the Germans present seemed to side with Kohl and they occupied the dungeon-like taverna each evening, whilst the Austrians and Brits tended to socialize on the terraces. The UK Section Head and his other half floated from camp to camp. Only later did I realize that they had far more interest in what the Ice Magick might have to offer them than I had suspected. Conspiracies, factions, and private briefings sprung up everywhere amongst the forty plus magicians present. In the generally bad-tempered atmosphere, Soror Babs changed her allegiances and her accommodation, although not directly in favour of Kohl. I sought amusement with Soror Sapphia who made for me an exception to her usual preferences. An element of revenge on both our parts probably coloured this interaction.

The crescendo came on the last night, Kohl having made it plain that he did not intend to allow me to participate in future events of the Order that he effectively organized. Some of the young bloods of the Order (mainly Austrian) had planned a ritual to inaugurate a temple of a decidedly non-Ice Magick persuasion, and they asked me to officiate at midnight. Here at last, at the eleventh hour, I saw a glimmer of hope. I stormed about the castle with the sword-dagger thrust ostentatiously in a belt, drumming up support. My last ritual as effective Head of the Order awaited me, I did not intend to go quietly.

Minutes before midnight I stood on the steps leading to the temple cavern (our Order gets venues that you would not believe) and, brandishing the mega-dagger with a mad, glassy stare, I yelled out to those who were with us to join us. A number of Kohl-Ice sympathetic members retreated from the confusion in the courtyard to the tavern. I then stormed into the temple and gave what I experienced as the most wild and electrifying Mass of Chaos of my career. I more or less hijacked the ritual into celebration of Chaos Magick over Ice Magick in the eyes of many of those present. "What the hell have you done?" asked a top Austrian magus. I could not answer. Flushed with the extreme gnosis of it all, I charged down to the taverna and announced to Kohl’s table that I would be the "last to leave". Of all the magical acts that I have performed in this life, this seemed to me amongst the most important. Kohl prided himself on his ability to have the last word in any session lasting into the small hours. So often in the past I had eventually, after copious sacraments, conceded at best a metaphysical armistice, pleaded exhaustion, deferred to his stamina, and gone to bed. But not on this night. I gathered to me Frater Hardman, (whom Kohl mistakenly thought he had bought with promises of lecture tours), and Soror Crazy, (an old flame who had turned up at the last moment "to save the Order" or maybe me, in her own inimitable style). Highly-strung women seem to make the best sorceresses, or perhaps the attitude develops with the job. At my insistence the three of us sat at a table with hands joined in a triangle whilst I shouted bizarre occasional comments at Kohl and his entourage. Most people present probably thought me mad. Madman strategy works, however, as I have discovered. If you appear prepared to do ANYTHING to beat the other bastard, you probably will. Reagan and Thatcher won the Cold War with such a tactic better dead than red—I respect their balls and ovaries. Eventually, at about three in the morning, Kohl led his followers out first. Soror Crazy and Frater Hardman seemed at the end of their respective tethers; I thank them for their fortitude, I was hallucinating.

The Order meeting ended rather sombrely the following afternoon with many uncertainties about the future. I handed the Great Ring of the Order to Frater Hardman to represent me by proxy at future Order meetings. Kohl looked smug as he exchanged phone numbers with prospective lecturers for next year’s seminar. I shouldered my spiral staff and prepared to return to the UK, having apparently blown it. I had seemingly lost some friends, a lucrative seminar programme and my leadership of the Order, yet I had an odd feeling that I had somehow achieved something.

A couple of months later Kohl led a number of German members plus the UK Section Head and his other half to the Ice Bunker. Actually he led them to a sort of mini-bunker near to the main one. As I had suspected, Kohl had done a deal with the Ice Lord to bring him more people in return for sharing some of the absolute authority over them and for receiving a priority line to Ice Magick teachings.

I then gathered my temple about me which at the time included a notable psycho who proved quite useful in the battle. Protecting myself with semi-sentient combat servitors against attacks Kohl had reputedly launched, I struck with dissaffinity wedge enchantments between Kohl, the Ice, and the UK Section Head. One can never tell what effects such conjurations have, except perhaps statistically but, fairly soon after, the UK No.1 and his other half made an escape from the bunker and returned to the UK with grim tales confirming all suspicions about Ice Magick in detail, much of which I published in memos to all Sections. Additionally, the UK No.1 made a trip to Austria and briefed the Section Leaders personally. Events then moved rapidly through crisis and farce. The Austrian No.1, and No.2 who had personally made the booking for the castle next year, cancelled Kohl’s appearance and invited me, and proclaimed their own seminar and Order meeting.

Soror Babs, the Swiss No.1 and two others then proclaimed themselves in charge of the Order, almost certainly on Kohl’s command. I reclaimed the Great Ring of the Order from Frater Hardman and then bulldozed through an agreement between the remaining loyal Section Heads for an excommunication of Kohl. I also excommunicated the gang of four who now claimed to lead the Order. They held a brief meeting which came to nothing. I have to applaud the courage of the Austrian leadership and membership who broke so decisively with Kohl, their long-term mentor. I heard that Kohl’s position at the head of another rather older and more secretive magical order had also created huge problems in that order too.

Everything now depended on who would turn up at the castle in late summer. When we finally assembled there, no hardcore Ice magicians attended, although a few Germans with ambiguous feelings and loyalties came to argue for a while. The Order had lost perhaps 30% of its membership in the fray, including most of the Swiss and Germans. Considering that Kohl’s contacts had originally constituted almost the entire membership, this did not seem unacceptable. The seminar and meeting went well, with everyone determined to preserve and develop the traditions of Chaos Magick. I celebrated with Soror Hysteria and with friends from the Austrian and UK Sections. Few Americans came that year, but their new No. I worked hard to build a vibrant and creative Section there. Gradually a new German Section evolved from the ruins.

I went home and retired soon after. It was a sort of bargain I had made with myselves. I had not enjoyed using my position to oust the totalitarian tendency which Kohl and the Ice Lord represented, and I wished to devote more time to my family and business, both of which deserved more attention than I had given them during my five years as Head of the Order. Chaos Magick had, by now, plenty of rising stars who needed room to grow. The Order would now flourish.

I later heard that Kohl had broken with the Ice Lord and that the mini-bunker had collapsed. Apparently he wrote a book about Ice Magick, described to me as "unreadable and uninformative". He seems to have retired from his preeminent position at the pinnacle of magick in the German speaking world. Reportedly, he now tries to sell unorthodox financial advice on the Internet. I do not know what happened to the Ice Lord and his minions. Perhaps he still attempts to create a secret paranoid army of Aryan supermen with occult powers, somewhere in the frozen north according to rumour. Soror Babs sought gentler magics and we still exchange infrequent postcards. I still play a rather distant consultative role to the Order, and pursue my researches in magick and physics. The Order has grown to the point where it makes the Golden Dawn look like a vicarage tea party, and the OTO like a bunch of geriatric ultra-conservatives stuck in an antique mindset.

If things had gone badly, Kohl and the Ice Lord would have ended up at the head of the cream of the western world’s magicians with the Order’s communications infrastructure in their hands. However, just how many of them would have submitted to their intimidation and insane theories, remains an open question. Metaphysical paradigms often set the themes for entire cultural changes. A handful of Freemasons created the European Enlightenment and a few Theosophists supplied the theory for Fascism, by mistake, apparently. One hears nothing of Ice Magick now, whilst the Internet carries a vast resource of material on Chaos Magick. Its paradigm has influenced virtually the whole of western magick with a current of eclecticism and a rejection of the principles of absolutism, guruship and totalitarianism

The Austrians (rather than the Prussians) threw their weight in just in time, but I like to think, as Wellington said of Waterloo, it might have gone otherwise if I had not been there.

This article originally appeared in Chaos International No. 23