Prime Chaos, Phil Hine

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Foreword by Grant Morrison
Adventures In Magic
The Dynamics of Sorcery
Experiments in Belief
Core Elements of Ritual
The Components of Ritual
Example Types of Ritual
Astral Magics
What is a Group ?
Stages of Group Development
Issues Specific to Magical Groups
Running Groups
Liber Nice
Liber Nasty
Further Reading
by Grant Morrison
The initiate in the Tibetan Chöd ritual is required to undergo a visionary experience in which
the physical body is dismembered and devoured by demons while the "higher self" watches,
unmoved by the gruesome destruction of its flesh. This type of experience, common to the
shamanic tradition, demonstrates the sometimes violent and uncompromising nature of
"spiritual" or "paradigm" change.
Emerging from the eerie lunar zones between the polar fires of punk rock and the Thatcher
rave years, Chaos Magic has grown and multiplied and diversified, evolving out through the
minds of its practitioners; it has no shape, it breeds like a fractal and mutates as it goes. "It"
currently embraces aspects of the Crowley cult, shamanism, NLP, Reichian bodywork,
Eastern thought, voodoo, Situationist theory, H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Walt Disney and
anything else you might care to add to that list. Shattering and binding simultaneously, always
up for a laugh, Chaos provides one useful model for the next stage in the collective upgrading
of human consciousness.
Early signs may indicate that human society is entering a time in which the creative synthesis
of apparently contradictory positions will become fundamental to our thinking. In the current
magical subculture, no one sythesizes with the encyclopaedic range and creativity of Phil
Phil is, in my opinion, the foremost interpreter of the chaos paradigm. His researches, in
territories fraught with confusion and glamour, are not only innovative and imaginative, not
only free from self-aggrandizement and dogma, but are also immensely lucid and readable.
Phil offers practical, detailed information on how magic operates and suggests experiments
which can (and should) be duplicated and verified. He never obscures or overelaborates but
still manages to astound with the depth of his experience and the scope of his speculations.
Prime Chaos pulls back the moth-eaten curtains to expose and dismiss much of the pseudo-
goth theatricality which still hampers the understanding of magic, but at the same time, never
loses sight of the wonder, the terror and the awe of true gnosis.
Phil brings humanity, sanity, insanity and wit to a subject which will, I believe, penetrate more
deeply into the fabric of our lives, as science adapts its boundaries to accommodate some of
the conclusions magicians have already reached, and as magic lets go of the "occult" aspects
which once protected its practitioners from the power of a totalitarian church but which serve
now only to obscure.
Direct confrontation with Chaos is unmistakable and available to anyone who is prepared to
simply do the work and open the doors. This book represents the cutting edge of magic
theory and practice; it will provide as many keys as you need but, as ever, the theory may fire
the imagination but cannot in the end substitute for personal experience. Read then DO.
The penis of the President of the USA is the subject of media debate; a British football star
announces to newspapers that five separate demons are occupying his body; a fairytale
princess is killed by cameras. If ever the time was ripe for the wider emergence of the Chaos
current, that time is surely now.
Charles Fort made the gnomic observation that it steam engines when it's steam engine time.
Well ... it's steam engine time and the chöd ritual has already begun for global culture. The
world that was, is now in the process of watching its own disintegration with horror and
exhilaration. What possible transformations lie ahead when, finally, we let the old corpse go?
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
As the roller-coaster ride into the future gathers speed, Prime Chaos is a survival manual for
the 21 st century.
Grant Morrison
July 1998
I strayed onto the path direct.- Austin Osman Spare
A friend said to me recently, "I'm just not doing enough magical work at the moment." I
nodded, thinking, "Yeah, I've been there." There is a kind of creeping Protestant Work Ethic
implicit in modern magic, a view that you have to work at magic before you get anywhere,
doing your regular practice-visualisation, meditation, daily banishing, muttering your chosen
mantra on the train, controlling your dreams etc.-until it becomes 'hard work' accompanied by
a guilt trip if you slacken off or take a break. Some time ago I was reading a basic magical
training programme in some book or other and I thought, "Yeah, I bet this guy went to a public
school"-the kind of place where you get up at dawn for a cold bath, run round the playing
fields and get beaten senseless at every opportunity. The way the guy was going on, I
wouldn't have been surprised if some Archangel had appeared, thundering, "HINE! You didn't
do your daily banishing this morning! Stand in the corner boy until you can recite all the god-
names in Assiah!" That sort of thing.
I hate doing other people's magical training courses, as my natural inclination is to jump
around from one area of interest to another. In the middle of a Tantric phase of magical work, I
might suddenly get a 'flash' insight into some aspect of western Qabalah, and go off at a
tangent. Most magical training programmes don't account for this sort of thing. So I have
found that for me, the best way to stick to a programme is to run away to foreign parts.
Nowadays, there are lifestyles package holidays where you can jet out to South America, tour
the local sacred sites in the company of some New Age 'shamanic' teacher, visit a Bruja and
have some kind of psychedelic concoction poured down your throat. Or you can book onto
'magical' tours of Egypt, and discover your past life as a High Priest of Isis at Giza. This is
simply paying to have your fantasies confirmed, and it leads to situations where New Agers
and reformed druids come over to the UK and start burying crystals at sacred sites to 'correct'
their alignments. If you really want to have a magical time in foreign parts, avoid this sort of
thing like the plague. Go somewhere that isn't heavily media-saturated. Detached from the
cushion of friends, language, and television, it's much easier to get into magical practice in a
big way, partially 'cos it's much easier to find the time. And the whole thing becomes more
interesting as you're not merely doing pranayama three times a day, you're having an
adventure! And magicians are larger-than-life characters. Having adventures is almost
mandatory ! I mean, which sounds better, boasting that you've invoked the great god Pan
from a bedsit in Basingstoke, or coolly mentioning that you did three hours of no-mind
meditation stuck in a bunker whilst the PLO launched rockets at the Kibbutz you were staying
If you can't just drop everything and run off to Ibiza, then make doing magic an adventure at
home. And again, this for me is something near to the core of what magic is about -leaming to
experience your world in different ways, if only so that you can start tweaking it gently at the
edges. Doing magic is about being responsive to the challenges of your environment-often a
response borne out of necessity. When you find yourself dumped in Cairo at 4 a.m. with your
luggage at the other end of the city you can begin to appreciate the strengths of a freestyle
approach to practical magic which enables you to shape ideas and approaches and pulling
together an ad hoc enchantment to sort out the situation. The mistake that newcomers to
practical magic often make is that, having identified a problem, they go looking for a 'ritual' or
spell which they believe will remove it. Now I've never seen a spell to 'discover where the hell
your luggage has got to' and it's impossible to come up with a spell/ritual for everything which
life might throw at you. So it's more effective, in my view, to be able to pull 'something'
together out of a hat.
Some years ago I was approached by a friend who evinced an interest in practising magic.
But, she said ' she didn't want to bother with the (quote) "boring" preliminary exercises in the
books. Now the generally-accepted received wisdom regarding magical training is that before
you can get to the exciting stuffchatting up gods or summoning things with tentacles-you have
to have gained some proficiency with the basic magical skills of concentration, visualization,
mantra, breath control, etc. Indeed, it's often implied that those foolhardy souls who do leap
in, wands blazing, come to grief later on. So I asked this friend what she particularly enjoyed
doing-which for her was going to raves and grabbing the occasional toy-boy, watching Star
Trek and playing Role-Playing Games. Together we discussed a way of doing magical
exercises which she could use whilst having fun. So she could develop magical skills for
getting served quickly at the bar, finding an empty seat in a crowded room, or sussing out
whether someone was offering her an E or a Vitamin C capsule. Okay, not very spiritual, but
she wasn't looking for spirituality as mysticism but some way of relating magic to her everyday
Sidling Towards Magical Practice
Books are often the bête noire of the magician. There's a common misconception that before
you can practise magic properly, you have to have read loads of books. Whilst there's nothing
wrong with reading widely about magic, it can lead to problems. One is that you spend so
much time reading that you never actually get around to trying anything out for yourself.
Another is that you can unconsciously acquire all kinds of opinions-limitations about what you
can or can't do, for example-from them. Timothy Leary once remarked that "dangerous, habit-
forming books" should be locked away. Books are no substitute for practical experience or
conversations with other people. So treat them with respect, but don't worship them. When I
was first getting into magic, I would often read a book, then make notes on what I considered
were the key points and practical bits. I then worked from my notes and not the book. This, I
found, was an excellent way of building up a 'personal grimoire' of techniques and
observations. And don't restrict yourself to books on the occult, either. Most of the key ideas
which have influenced my views about magic haven't come from books on magic.
Keeping a Magical Diary
It's generally accepted that keeping a strict magical diary is a prerequisite for successful
practice. But let's not be too strict about this. There's no point in keeping a strict diary if not
keeping up your entries is going to become a guilt trip for you. Personally, I go through
phases when I keep a record of activities and insights, and at other times, I can't be bothered.
It can be useful to train yourself to remember things-creating association chains using
pictures, photos, scents, objects-whatever you like.
Explore !
It's very easy for magicians to lock themselves into a limited space, retreating from the world
at large into the world of words (be it in books or the internet) and the safety of their own
headspace. If you feel you're slipping into this state, put aside your books and go out and
explore! Go for a stroll in the park, or a walk on your local 'wild side.' Magic is (in my opinion)
a process of engagement with the world at large, not a retreat from it. Seek wonder in what is
around you, rather than in dusty tomes or the astral world-which tends to lack those little
things like ants in your sandwiches or dog-turds on the pavement. Go places where you
wouldn't ordinarily go. Crowley said something to the effect that if a dog disturbs your
meditation-shoot it. Why not go and make friends with it instead?
Daily Practice
Again, there are many books on magic which recommend that the student works through a
daily practice routine of meditations, banishing rituals, visualization exercises, etc. The
general view seems to be that doing daily exercises at fixed times builds character and self-
discipline. This is fine if you have a lifestyle which can be easily structured in this way, but
many people (particularly those with children, families or unsympathetic partners) often don't.
Fit magic into your lifestyle. For example, you can easily meditate whilst doing a household
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