Magick In The New Age

With Some Reflections On The Magical Legacy

Of The Great Beast 666 – Aleister Crowley

Speaking in this context of a new age, I refer to the proximal event horizon, the iterative dance in the maelstrom, the fascination and fateful embrace – of the near singularity, the psychic vortex wherein all things unite, culminate and originate. I suggest that the postmodern era is that ghostly temporal space of time beyond time, within orbit of the said attractor – like a black hole, an incandescent star, its brightness blinding to mortal eyes, its presence subversive of all mensuration and reason. Things are different in this age – radically, drastically – despite the persistent appearance of business as usual, with implications for the art and science of Magick, which I here aim to explore.
I firstly hold that the Master Therion (Aleister Crowley), the magical logos of the aeon, failed to realise these implications, although they are explicitly stated in Liber Al vel Legis and cognate writings of the A\A\ prophetic canon. He conforms thereby to the archetype of the lawgiver who points the way, but does not himself enter the Promised Land. Like Einstein he may be regarded as the last of the old, rather than the first of the new. In the upshot, magick, as practiced in the ostensible Crowleyan tradition, has neither attained to prominence nor seen significant development since the Herculean labours of the Beast himself. This is not to imply that the seed of Thelema, the Word of the new magical aeon, proved sterile – rather that, in its fruition, it appears other than might have been imagined, indeed as, apriori, ‘the tree’ can hardly be deduced from ‘the seed’. Savants everywhere, these days, practice with a quasi Thelemic ethos without so much as having heard of Crowley.
Yet even toward the end of his career, as documented in Magick Without Tears, Crowley prescribes essentially traditional methods
methods involving classical scholarship, elaborate formalisms, and arcane mystic attainments which require patience, fanatical determination, along with nigh inexhaustible leisure. Methods, in other words, which may be considered infinitely retrograde and regressive from the standpoint of an exponentially accelerating evolution of consciousness. If there is one aspect of modern development which Crowley did not foresee, and perhaps could not have foreseen, it is this temporal compression wherein more and more change occurs in less and less time. No wonder that the hapless disciple, a child of modern America no less, became increasingly bewildered and estranged, while the Master relentlessly indulged his baroque flights of fancy. The disjunction of means and desired ends verges on the grotesque.
How then are things different in this age? How do we proceed?
One aspect of the terrain is that there is no definite
front or frontier, as exemplified by the wonderful war of terror, the quintessential war without end, without specific enemy or outcome, but potential antagonists everywhere. Another, as per quantum superposition of subatomic particles, is that we have no certain identity, no definite location in time or space, no absolute past, present or future. We could be anyone, anywhere, doing anything, at any time. The system is in a state of turbulence, the notion of ordered progression, abrogate. Catastrophic or discontinuous development is the incumbent order. Which, in turn, makes for ambivalence in the matter of magical interface, the handle one has on anything. To illustrate this point, doing magick along the old lines could be likened to studying neurophysiology with the intention of raising one’s hand. While many are thus engaged in study, hands everywhere are being raised by the illiterate and the uncouth, simply by doing it. One might say it’s this just-do-it attitude, which characterises magical efficacy in the new aeon. In this situation, with all bets off, all hierarchies overturned, the beatific / dreadful spectre in plain view, and humanity cast head over heels into the abyss, it’s difficult indeed to forge a path. No grand synthesis can be expected, and hardly a viable notion proposed.

So-called Chaos Magick arguably represents the one significant
new current and theoretical contribution of note in this entire field over more than half a century. Its philosophic orientation is adapted to the conditions of the post-modern void. The ethos is pragmatic, rather than absolutist, the emphasis on spontaneous creative response in the present moment, on working with the situation as one finds it.
It is written that in the abyss no effort is anywise possible (Liber ThIShARB Viae Memoriae, sub figura CMXIII). For there is neither lever nor fulcrum, and any magical gesture immediately goes to seed. One might say that the eye of the dharmata has been opened, revealing the dreamlike magical hypersphere, the persistent illusion of aeonic human dreaming. It is implicitly understood and accepted that the status quo has no foundation, no substance or consistency, that the court jester might presently proceed to lay down the law, or the workmen appear to take down the props. Yet while the illusion lasts, all things have an even chance
the sublime with the ridiculous, the visionary with the quaint persistence of business as usual. Behind the façade the attractor beckons, the reifying vortex, the magus being cognizant of its gravitational pull as the sum of all forces. And within the orbit of this attractor, beyond the event horizon of causality and convention, to paraphrase the dictum of chaos magick, all things are possible – whether by virtue of a radical grace, of an inexorable determinism, or the spontaneous dance of Maya.
Besides a magical pragmatism, the turbulent vortex calls for a fusion or integral approach, allowing for a ready synthesis of spells and potions to be drawn ad lib from the universal repository of magical lore, and perhaps – as is increasingly the case among the savant – directly from the akasha. Indeed a consummate magical syncretism is assumed in Liber Al, the foundation document of the new magical aeon. Then there is the matter of means and ends, the recognition of traditional thaumaturgy as cumbersome and counterproductive. Magick in this vein has long been acknowledged as a desperate venture – something of a long shot – and even Crowley observed with diffidence that his magical objective was often obtained seemingly in spite of, rather than due to, the ritual.
Thought might thus be devoted to the question of magical interface, a matter entirely revolutionised by Chaos Magick after Peter Carroll (vide his Liber Null & Psychonaut). Interface – the angle, the point of view, the handle one has on anything – this is primary in magick. Personal computing furnishes the analogy – a good interface allows for greater control over data with fewer clicks, as myriad lower-level tasks are subsumed under a few relatively simple high-level commands. Speaking broadly, this is the function of technology as such. If progressive means are thus available to materialistic science, how much more should the subtle art and science of Magick be susceptible to a similar curve, whereby more and more might be accomplished with less and less. Indeed with the magically savant this would seem intuitive. Like a chess master they do not compute innumerable possibilities; they ‘see’ only the best moves in any situation. In an evolving universe, moreover, in a universe of unknown complexity and extent, the question of magical interface remains an open one. What the essential givens are in any situation would seem to depend entirely on point of view, and I would commend in this connection the Dynamic Paradoxicalism of Jonathan Zap as a tool for magical orientation in just such a universe. There are numerous formulations of this philosophy, one of which is that meaning is contextual rather than absolute. As creative magicians then we choose our context, our interface, seeking the higher level synthesis, the more efficacious lever, the quintessential cosmic trigger.
Yet a further and final analogy derives from the varied schools of mysticism. The Buddha is said to have effected three successive turnings of the wheel of dharma, for instruction of individuals of differing capacity. There are the gradual Hinayana paths, wherein after a hundred thousand incarnations one has the great good fortune of meeting a qualified master, and there is the precipitous path of the Vajrayana, promising enlightenment within a single lifetime. Perhaps the most subtle of Vajrayana
schools is that of Dzogchen (Tibetan: great perfection), wherein the result is taken as the path. It is the implied dispensing with means, with the duality of means and ends, which illustrates how magical efficacy may evolve in the embrace of the singularity. In this domain – that of the individual confronting the universe – it is appropriate to be optimistic and utopian in one’s conception. No one yet has overestimated its creative depth and potential.

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