In chaos magic, beginning as early as Austin Osman Spare, magic is not performed using outside forces, but instead comes from the casters will. Various techniques to harness ones own will via psychological techniques are employed. Sigils, choosing to believe in random things. Peter Carroll even has you roll a dice to decide if you will be Buddhist or Catholic or whatever this week. Chaos magic flies in the face of most every other form of magic theory and is often taken as an offense, because in a way it is—it completely disregards the enchanted nature of and power of beings and forces outside the magician themselves. Traditionally witches, alchemists and magicians have harnessed the powers of spiritual creatures, the virtues of plants and gems, and the powerful forces of the weather, the land and sea, of the gods. I don’t take offense, though I see it as an offensive move—its a philosophical war on where magic comes from—if chaos magicians are correct, then the rest of us by their measure are just playing around with our imaginations and don’t know it. This has led to the post modern idea that everyone is right for themselves. But that is still just chaos magic saying its right. If everyone is right for themselves then chaos magic is the ultimate right, because to them the belief itself is all that is real about the magic, controlled by the will of the sorcerer.
And why should their consumerist individualist view be more right than centuries of spiritual experience? Why do people all over just accept it rather than really deeply value interaction with spiritual forces as truly real and existing beyond themselves? Because for some reason, people conflate truly knowing their spiritual experience with proselytizing. The greatest proselytizers have been missionary Christians and colonists of various kinds. And Gardnarian Wicca specifically, so wise to take advantage of the revoking of the anti-witchcraft laws, abhorrent of the millenniums of little real religious freedom, and looking to insert a more magnetic rather than lawnmower form of religious conversion, declared witches don’t proselytize. But not proselytizing doesn’t translate directly into saying belief is the power versus other things being the power of magic. There could be other explanations for the occasions where chaos magic works. For example, if someone has an attendant spirit(s) that are especially chameleon and put up just fine with changing what form they take each week. Or that the caster is drawing on energies and virtues of plants, animals and gems around them and just doesn’t do it purposefully but by natural ability. Or even that some people aren’t magical, they don’t reveal when their magic fails and when it succeeds its because they attempted something that they at some level knew as in the works for them already. Often beneath the difference between chaos magic types (often they would never realize their philosophy is chaos magic because its currently the status quo for internet magic discussion) and other magical sorts, is that the chaos magicians only work magic on themselves, which translates into psychology and sociology and not magic at all. If someone is a magician and their job magic is to motivate themselves to get a job by psyching themselves up with a ritual—that isn’t the same theory of magic as a weather witch calling up a storm. One of my dear friends retells a story often of where he and his wife built a magical entity to help his wife get a job, and they were very specific about it—how much she would make etc. But the clincher is, the entity was fed by networking. Does it matter how it worked? Did it just psych his wife up to be more confident, network more and present herself as worth a higher salary? does it matter? because it worked.
Well inter-personally it doesn’t matter. I hang around with these friends just the same and honor that damn their magic works well. In my view there was more to it than just the power of their belief, my friend’s wife (she is my friend too, doh, well its hard to write about these things, my friend is Teriel/Taylor Ellwood), has powerful spiritual contacts. She has a powerful life mission that I think the spirits want to support. I think its more than the entity she created that is taking her into the positions where she can influence the heroic changes she leads.
But on a larger scale, I think it matters. I find it rare to meet people who get things to work as well as Terial does. I see people apply similar ideas and get almost nowhere with them, what does he add? And I have seen as Teriel goes on and becomes an incredible teacher his magical advice being increasingly more practical. He actually teaches budgeting in his wealth book. He is pairing stuff that will mostly mundanely just work on its own with some interesting magical techniques to match it. I see Teriel being incredible at what he does, beyond the practical he includes to bolster his method (which alone his method is very good and you should get his book and if you got it magically you have that much more to drive it). As is his wife. And at times I don’t do so bad myself. But I want to know what it really is, because if it were just belief, well, there’d be a lot more Cthulu in this world.