Anton Channing Uncertainty
|Pagan Teenage Voice |
(Magazine of Minor Arcana)
|Quest Magazine: |
Uncertainty, Chaos and the Atheist Pantheon
|University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire|
|Pagan Dawn |
Uncertainty, Chaos and the Atheist Pantheon
The Agnostics appeared during a time of intense rivalry between Atheism and Christianity and really upset the establishment. What was this strange power the Agnostics had discovered that made them such a subversive threat? It was simply that they were able to admit that they didn't know the ultimate truth! In effect they had liberated themselves from the belief that you should only believe in what you know to be true. Some Agnostics were Christians, even Bishops, who believed in God, but were able to admit that they weren't really sure. Others were scientists who essentially believed in Atheism, but were able to admit that there could be a God. Others just weren't sure either way. Under a motto of "We're not sure!" the uncertainty principle was born, decades before the discovery of quantum physics. In addition to this the Agnostics believed in free education and so held public lectures on anything and everything, for free.
So what happened to these Agnostics? Where are they these days? The truth is that they successfully took over the country. Thanks to the Agnostics, the tensions between the Atheists and Christians went off the boil and we now live in relatively tolerant society that allows us to openly practice magic. Well relatively openly anyway. This is the amazing power of Uncertainty, that it has effected the most amazing revolution in British society without anyone noticing! Certainly it never gets mentioned in History lessons in schools, and no one seems to talk about it elsewhere.
Judging by the tolerance and liberalism that agnosticism has successfully managed to breed in this country, it is incredible that it hasn't been tried elsewhere, such as in Northern Ireland or in the United States of America. It could have prevented the Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo crisis.
What does this have to do with Chaos as a magical tradition? Chaos Magicians are the magickal heirs to this powerful tradition of Uncertainty. Chaos Magic has enshrined Uncertainty into the very centre of its ethos. "Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted" is a popular saying amongst Chaos Magicians, probably having been influenced by the Discordian movement. The Principia Discordia contains the quote "Nothing is True, Everything is Permissible" attributed to Hassan I Sabbah, founder of Ismaelian Islam, also known as the Assassins. To Chaos Magicians this statement is itself not taken as some ultimate truth, but as a statement of liberation and freedom. If there is an objective truth in the universe, how are we ever meant to comprehend it when we only have subjective minds? Free from the idea of needing to serve some higher truth, Chaos Magicians, like the Agnostics, are free to try and find what actually seems to work.
So what have Chaos Magicians found works? Most magical systems seem to work, even wacky humorous systems like Discordianism. Even Atheism seems to work. Paradoxically, Atheism seems to be a tradition with a massive pantheon of gods and goddesses, its own brands of mysticism and its own style of magic.
Atheist magic seems to either draw on science, medicine and technology, or to be invocation or evocation of any of its deities. Chaos Magicians are particularly fond of drawing on Chaos Science, Fractals and Quantum Physics. However, ideas about evolution, memetics, virology, cancer, computer programs, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering have also been used.
Atheist mysticism has been given the special name psychology. It has been pointed out before that the psychological view of the conscious mind and subconscious mind are merely new names for spirit and soul respectively. Psychology merely reclothed these useful ideas with names more acceptable to the scientific establishment. It is true that it also gave the ideas a different feel, which was at once liberating and restricting. It was restricting because people thought they had to interpret these ideas in terms of the transcendental idea of atheist materialism. The mistake of Atheist material fundamentalism is to ascribe ultimate truth to the smallest level of reality yet defined. Thus the transcendental atomic level had been ascribed more truth than our own human level of experience. This is clearly just as ridiculous an idea as the religious mistake of ascribing ultimate truth to a higher plane, such as heaven, nirvana or the "spiritual" plane. Jung was an Atheist mystic who didn't make this mistake, and it is common knowledge amongst occultists that he borrowed heavily from Hermetic alchemy.
Atheists commonly also make another mistake they usually accuse the religious of making. This is the enslavement of the self to a god. Before I can talk about who the Atheist gods are, I must first define exactly what it is I mean by god in this context. A god is a powerful entity which has power to effect the behaviour of humans in some way. An entity is an organic living intelligence, which has an independent will and which may or may not have a physical body. Thus it can be seen that there are many things that Atheistic belief allows for the existence of, which can be reasonably defined as gods. What is more, when the identities of these gods is revealed, it can be seen that many have their own cults and respected positions within Atheist society. The chief god varies from Atheist society to Atheist society, but the general pantheon is more or less universal, even if some of the gods and goddesses assume demonic clothes in some regions. From the cult of Capitalism we notice the god Capital, a money deity who commands a massive following, many of whom are quite fanatical. In the Capitalist cult, Capital is locked in an eternal battle with the evil devil Commune, sometimes referred to as the Red Devil. Commune is the chief god in the cult of Communism, where it is Capital's turn to be demonised.
Other Atheist gods manage to get worshipped in a more stealthy fashion. Millions of people are loyal followers of the young god TV, A recent form of Press, the messenger deity in the Atheist pantheon. Watch out however for the young god Net, the latest adaptation of Press. In the form of Net, Press seeks to free itself from the service of the other Atheist gods, so that it can say what it really always wanted to say itself. Press currently has a loyal priesthood, with specialist divisions, but too much editorial control is being exerted from followers of other gods. The Net seeks a new way of spreading messages, one that allows Press to say anything he likes. I say he, but I think Press is more a hermaphrodite deity, an amalgamation of Iris and Mercury. The price Press will have to pay for this is the loss of her priesthood, but since this will allow him to work through his followers more directly, with greater speed, efficiency and freedom of speech, she will hardly mind paying this price.
Femine is another dualistic Atheist deity with a cult. Strangly the demon of the Feminist cult, namely Patriarch, doesn't seem to exist, or is perhaps the Atheist name for the old Monotheist God. In any case, noone seems to claim to follow Patriarch at all, making him one of the biggest demons of the Atheist age. At some point I expect some iconoclast will begin a cult around him. In his place, Feminists seem to demonise men in general, often to the dismay of men who would like to help the cause of sexual liberation, and the dismay of women who don't really want what Femine tells them they should want. It would seem that the most sexually liberated men and women are those who occasionally work with Femine, when she has something worthwhile to offer them.
There are other, more sinister, gods in the Atheist world. Perhaps the worst is the vile god Tobacco. Tobacco is a parasitic deity that not only demands that his followers, known as smokers, follow a strict routine of ritual prayer at various times of the day, he also does so whilst damaging their health. Tobacco also has the psychic power to cause his victims stress, headaches, coughing and nervousness if they fail to keep to the strict routine. What is more, Tobacco only seems to offer a few minutes of mild pleasure in return for this obsessive devotion. I know this because I have personal experience of his rituals.
Not all the major gods are non-human, many humans have attained godhood in the Atheist age, some after they died, others whilst still alive. Elvis is an excellent example, not least because there is now a Church of Elvis, with its priesthood of Elvis impersonators. Whether it is intended seriously or humorously is hardly relevant, as the Discordians have shown us. I won't mention she who shall remain nameless, although she is another example.
Still living is Thatcher, who gained a significant number of followers in her cult of Thatcherism. Her cult otherwise differed little from the cult of Capital. It seems she made herself a demi-god in the service of the greater god of Capital. She took some, but not all, of the attributes of Femine in addition, which was part of her success. Feminists saw her as opposed to the devil Patriarch, whilst Capitalists saw her as opposed to the devil Commune. In the end Capital realised that her deification was a distraction from His worship and replaced her with a high priest which had no personality of his own. Of course this meant that the Cult of Capitalism lost its appeal, not to mention the fact that the great devil Commune seemed to have vanished and become a minor deity. Capital must sense that without his opposite number his days as a major god are numbered, like God without the Devil. Perhaps that is why He is behaving so badly lately (re: The Banana War, Serbia, MAI, GM food etc.).
The examples are endless, I have discussed some of the major types, including the dualistic God-Devil pairs, Cult based deities, the Addictive deities, the Parasitic deities and the human Hero-deities. In short, Atheism seems to have a very complete pantheon and tradition. What is also certain is that without the taming influence of the agnostic movement, Atheism becomes just as authoritarian, fundamentalist and intolerant as any other belief system. You only have to look at old Nazi Germany, old Soviet Russia or modern day China to see that.
Let us then thank the greatest Atheist god of all, Uncertainty, for providing us with the calm tolerance of Agnosticism and Chaos Magic and shout with great passion and joy "I am not sure! There may be no ultimate truth! I'm just not sure!" for without Uncertainty, nothing would ever have changed.
Practical Liberation Exercise
I often feel that Chaos Magic is about actually finding out what magic actually works and then putting it into practise and using it, when it is useful to do so. Therefore I feel it is almost more than useless to explain a magical theory to a fellow magician, without then explaining how they could actually make use of what I was saying. So I will give an example of how one might actually do some Atheist magic.
Fractals are infinite patterns that repeat self-similar patterns within the lower levels of the pattern. Chaos Magicians are fond of observing fractalisation throughout all levels of reality. This even applies to ourselves. This has lead to the idea that on one level we are one individual, on a higher fractal level we are a part of a societal or group organism, whilst on a lower level our mind sub divides into minor sub-personalities, each with their own ideas, personality traits and behaviour patterns, all of which compete for dominance and/or influence of the whole self. It is then easy to see how some small part of your mind may become both self-preserving and destructive towards the over all whole. A smoking demon is an example of such a sub-personality. Interestingly, a smoking demon is a Fractal sub-part of both the smoker and the Atheist god Tobacco, giving it split loyalties. A quick examination of any such demon quickly shows you that its real loyalties are with the parasitic god, rather than with the smoker. This means that when a smoker has a cigarette, they are acting out of demonic possession from an outside entity.
If you are a smoking magician, and there are many, and you wish you could give up, try the following exercise. On the other hand, if you don't want to give up, there is little point! Part of the reason you may have failed to give up before is because you never actually saw yourself as a non-smoker, you were a smoker who was trying to give up. The following exercise allows you to see yourself as someone who was always a non-smoker, but who have been possessed by a smoking demon.
- Step 1. Identify your smoking habit as an external demon. Recognise that you have been under possession from this demon and that it will attack you if you try to give up. Be confident that externalised its power will be considerably weakened. The main way it tricked you before was by pretending it was you and subverting your actions from within.
- Step 2. Name the demon. Be creative. One way is to use an appropriate word and then reverse it to make it sound demonic. Fagash becomes Fagashsagaf, Smog becomes Smogoms, Dogend becomes Dogendnegod etc.
- Step 3. Create an image or effigy of the demon. Draw a picture of it or make a sculpture. If you're not a confident artist just draw a cigarette with an evil face on it. Write its name underneath. You could even draw the face on a real cigarette if you have one left!
- Step 4. Prepare a ritual, include the image inside. Perform an evocation of the smoking demon. Calling it foul titles whilst saying its name three times out loud, ought to be sufficiently dramatic to work. Banish it back to the foul and evil devil Tobacco. Burn or otherwise destroy the effigy as you do so. Before finishing the ritual in your usual manner, you could read out a liturgy of all the bad health effects of making a pact with the evil Tobacco devil, and all the environmental damage he causes.
- Step 5. Being a smoker may have been a large or significant part of your persona. Having externalised and banished what you have now recognised as an external demon may leave you feeling a little empty or incomplete. This can be remedied by starting a new habit/behaviour pattern, this time a more healthy, environmentally friendly one. You can even finish the ritual in step four with a dedication to begin this new habit.
This technique is called the Five Step Plan.
The example above used smoking as a common example, in truth the same procedure can be used to rid oneself of any bad habit, inhibition or behaviour pattern which has ceased to be useful. It may seem a little dramatic way of stopping picking one's nose, or stopping biting ones nails but then most magicians are aware that the more dramatic the better when it comes to successful magic! Even if that's not true it is certainly more fun, although if it is an Atheist paradigm you are working in, then there are sound Psychological reasons why more dramatic magic will work better.
One last point, I am not trying to lay down a moral about not smoking, or saying smoking is bad or evil. I am merely saying that it is behaving evil towards you when you want to give up but can't. If you actually like smoking then that is your personal choice. I personally do not smoke because of the environmental damage and bad health effects it causes, but as a Chaos Magician I choose not to impose this belief, as some kind of ultimate truth, on anyone else. All Hail Uncertainty! I am not sure!
1. The above essay first appeared in its original form in Quest Magazine No.119 September 1999, written under the name Frater M (One of the many names of Anton Channing, aka 'Count Anton'). That version of the essay contained many grammatical and spelling errors which have been corrected above, and a few things have been modified for the web.
2. All of the above, including note 1, is the version that was published to chaosmagic.com