Liber Null & Psychonaut: An introduction to Chaos Magic by Peter J. Carroll

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Liber Null is known as one of the defining works of the chaos magic movement. Carroll is one of the founders of the IOT (Illuminates of Thanateros), and an occultist at the forefront of the field. He is also a founder of the Arcanorium Occult College. The book is laid out in a straight-forward manner, with the occasional artwork thrown in. The artwork reflects the type of book it is, and the topics covered. The book itself is divided into two sections, that of Liber Null, which is comprised of Liber MMM, Liber LUX, Liber NOX, Millenium, and Liber AOM, and that of Psychonaut, which is a “Manual of the Theory and Practice of Magic.”

Liber Null begins with a very short introduction and goes rapidly into a section called “The order and the quest,” detailing some specifics of the IOT. Page 8 displays the first diagram, one that shows the survival of the magical tradition. Then begins “Liber MMM, the studentship syllabus of the 4º IOT.”

The introduction to Liber MMM states that a magical diary is a necessity, and that one should “record the time, duration and degree of success of any practice undertaken” (page 13). It then goes right into the coursework, beginning with the objective of Mind Control. Each sub-section builds upon the next in skill, beginning with motionlessness, then breathing, not-thinking, and the magical trance. I starred the section on magical trance, finding it to be an often forgotten thing. “Magic is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will” (page 15). I also underlined the point of choosing meaningless things to concentrate on. The next step is is object concentration, then sound concentration, and image concentration, which brings us to the final step of mind control: Metamorphosis. Here Carroll touches on the “Great Work,” a major focus of many alchemists and occultists. This is best explained in that “even a slight ability to change oneself is more valuable than any power over the external universe” (page 16). He also covers the duality of the universe and states of mind. The final exercise is to delete a minor habit from your behavior.

The next section is titled “magic,” and covers what ritual is, as well as sigils. The method of creating a banishing ritual is detailed, and the three parts to operate a sigil. A chart is included with a pictorial display of the 3 most common methods of creating a sigil or mantra. Dreaming is the next section, and discusses keeping a record of your dreams beside where you sleep, and how to take conscious control of your dream state. This is the end of the first liber.

“The Initiate Syllabuses 3º IOT Liber Lux, Lier Nox” begins with “White Magic leans more toward the acquisition of wisdom and a general feeling of faith in the universe. The Black form is concerned more with the acquisition of power and is reflective of a basic faith in oneself” (page 25). Once again Carroll covers the matter of duality in the universe, as well as the duality in humanity both emotionally and physically. Kia, Chaos, and Aether are also explained. The second section is Gnosis, a key component to chaos magic workings. Carroll divides the methods into inhibitory and excititory. These are then broken down further into specific methods, such as the Death Posture. A table displays these on page 33. While many would posit that the methods create a response different in each individual, Pete chooses to list his own.

The next section is titled “Evocation,” which is “The art of dealing with magical beings or entities by various acts which create or contact them and allow one to conjure and command them with pacts and exorcism” (page 36). He covers the process of creating entities, their uses, and the steps of evocation. Also covered is their limits, and the Theurgic Ritual, and traditional practices of evocation. Invocation is the next section, and is seen as “adding to the magician’s psyche any elements which are missing” (page 41). The aim is temporary possession by an entity, and Carroll covers common sources for these, as well as an example invocation. Liberation covers the idea that some beliefs are more liberating than others, and how one can “step outside of one’s own culture, society, relationships, family personality, beliefs, prejudices, opinions and ideas.” adding later that “Someone who can think, believe, or do any of a half dozen different things is more free and liberated than someone confined to only one activity” (page 45). The subsections are Sacrilege, Heresy, Iconoclasm, Bioaestheticism (the body), and Anathemism (self-destruction). These are all guides on how to break down the self and liberate oneself.

“Augoeides” covers how to contact one’s Holy Guardian Angel, and lists the steps for a ritual to do so. This is followed by “divination,” covering techniques of gnosis that work with it, as well as the idea of using the symbolism as a basis for lateral thinking, and a favoritism for shaman based methods. Next is “Enchantment” and he discusses the unity of desire in the act of manipulating events.

This brings us to Liber Nox, which is about the self as god. After all,

“What is a god but man wielding the force of Chaos? To him nothing is true; everything is permitted. There is no purpose in his existence; he is free to choose his own… Nothing is unchangeable except change itself. The only universal principle is the universal lack of principle” (page 59).

“Sorcery” comes next, and is “the art of using material bases to effect magical transformations” (page 61). There are 4 main material bases, which are all covered in depth. Instruments are also covered in this section, as are magical weapons. “The double” is next, and occurs when one almost dies or dreams. Here Carroll chooses to cover dreaming again and controlling the dream self. This is followed by “Transmogrification,” a reminder that one should live in extremes, and that stagnation is bad for the mind. “Ecstacy” lists a number of techniques one can use known as the Quadria Sexualis. “Random Belief” is the next section, and has 6 subsections of belief for one to try for a period of time ranging from a week to a year. The options are paganism, monotheism, atheism, nihilism, chaoism, and superstition.alphabetdesire

Now we come to “The Alphabet of Desire,” another important concept in chaos magic. The alphabet of desire is a magician’s personal key to the emotions that control oneself. These are all in the form of opposite pairs, as can be seen in the chart on page 78. He lists his own glyphs, but it is a common practice that one creates one’s own. The goal is the process of transmutation of course, so that “whatever it is that we were emotional about should be forgotten, and another desire, magical or mundane, should be substituted for it” (page 87). This is followed by “the millenium,” which covers the various aeons that have taken place. This is the final portion of Liber Nox.

“Liber Aom the work of the adept 2º IOT” covers the two prime forces that arise out of chaos, light and dark. “Aetherics” are the means by which magic is preformed, and the process to refine it over years of work. Then comes “transubstantiation,” a work of poetry. Next is the “Chaosphere,” another cornerstone of chaos magic. It is “a purposely created crack in the fabric of reality through which the stuff of chaos enters our dimension” (page 100), and the process of creating one is detailed. “Aeonics” discusses the current aeon we are coming into. “Reincarnation” details a number of rituals of sex and death for one to master, including the red rite, the black rite, and the white rite. Thus ends the first book.

“Psychonaut” begins with an introduction that explains the book is a collection of 40 essays randomly pulled together. Each essay is two to three pages long. The first essay is “New Aeon Magic,” which theorizes that the universe is becoming more ordered as it ages. Next is “Group Magical Experiments,” which discusses activities that fit better in a group setting, such as ritual, telepathy, and trance experiments. Thirdly is “levels of consciousness” detailing the 5 states of consciousness. “Magical Combat” is next, and he writes that there are two forms of attack, telepathic information, and energy draining. Various methods are explained, including what purposes they work best for.

Next is “The Rites of Chaos,” which is a bit longer, and covers five different rites using Gnostic New Aeon Shamanism. These are: The Mass of Chaos, Initiation, Ordination, Exorcism, and Extreme Unction (page 129). Each has their own purpose, such as general use, psychic infestations, and the dead. Each rite is laid out with instructions that include the preparation and instruments needed. Likewise, there is translation for anything that needs to be said in any other tongue. The mass of Chaos includes an invocation of Baphomet, which is laid out clearly. The Initiation includes the elements of an ordeal, an empowerment, an induction into the order, and the unexpected. The exorcism is unlike the two rites prior to it, instead the techniques best employed are covered. The rites following it are likewise just covered to give one ideas; the Extreme Unction discusses what occurs at death, and some ideas on words to be said. The Ordination covers things that a priest of Chaos should be able to do.

The next essay is “Magical Time,” which discusses the the effect of planetary objects and yearly rhythms on magical workings. Chemognosis follows, with a note that drugs are a form of poison, as well as the four major factors that affect experimenting with them. The essay covers types of drugs and their uses in workings as well as flying ointments. “Magical Perspectives: covers consciousness and the different views of reality that are held across the board, particularly in scientific and religious views. “Chaos: The Secret of the Universe” reminds us that “any act of will is magic” (page 153), and includes some lyric poetry. Baphomet has its own section as well, with some information on its history and relation to other symbols, such as the Horned God, and invoking. Carroll calls Baphomet a “psychic field,” then sandwiches a short essay on “The Psychic Censor” (a material thing that protects the mind) between it and “The Demon Choronzon,” or the ego and the obsession of the self and it’s ideas.

“Shamanism” is hailed as the ancient knowledge and power that occultists search to regain, and its parallels to chaos magic are discussed. Likewise, the “Gnosticism” of the past is touched on, and its followers hailed as the true “anarchists of the spirit” (page 176). “Occult Priestcraft” discusses the five basic human needs and the techniques used to fulfill them, such as emotional engineering, meaning, intercession, death, and social structure, a valid essay for anyone who is interested in the relationship between cults and religion and why they occur or are formed. “Magical Weapons” is a short essay on the uses of instruments in magical warfare, such as the sword, pentacle, wand, cup, and lamp, and closes with a reminder that imagination is the most powerful instrument of all. This is followed by an essay on “Magical Paradigms,” and their uses, including the chaoetheric paradigm, probability manipulation, morphic field theory, as well as a number of others. It also reminds us that most paradigms encompass a universe that is made up of three realities. There is then a short section called “Anecdotes,” which are a series of stories from the author’s experience that he felt were worth including. These are interesting to read. The book then closes with an essay on “Catastrophe Theory and Magic,” which includes a series of diagrams.

Overall I feel that Liber Null is the better half of the book, although Psychonaut is a worthy component to any library on Chaos Magic as a source for reference.

 

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