P2P Occultism

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The analysis below is from Remi Sussan, who prepared a special issue of P2P News (152) on the new 'p2p-oriented' occult movements.


Remi Sussan:

During the last two decades has appeared a new trend of occultism that, in many ways reverse common characteristics of the traditional esoteric doctrines. Occultism emphasizes secrecy, the new occultists will do everything in the open; occultism is based on hierarchical systems, grades; new occultists will laugh at hierarchy, prefer disorder to order; occultism claim to be a wisdom coming from an distant past, a theologia prisca; new occultists don’t hesitate to assume their modernity, and blur the frontier between religion and imagination by using images coming from the pop culture: Mr Spock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or even bugs Bunny.

Known under the various names of “chaos magick”, pop magic, postmodern magic, this current is in fact the deconstruction of traditional esoteric thought. It is also one of the first egalitarian, non-authoritarian spiritual movements. The emphasis put on “chaos” in this movement tends to prove that it is not only hierarchical spirituality that is questioned, but really the very notion of “order”.

From Chaos Magick (70s) to Ultraculture (90s)

Although this movement draws its influences back to Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare, two “dark” magicians of the beginning of the XX° century, the current known as “chaos magick” began its history in 70’s England, the time, it’s not a coincidence, of the sex pistols.

Phil Hinr writes: “The birth of Chaos’ magic came about in the late 70’s, at about the time that punk rock was spitting out at the music industry and Chaos Science was beginning to be taken seriously by mathematicians, economists, and physicists. The two ‘names’ most associated with the birth of Chaos magic are Pete Carroll and Ray Sherwin, though there were others lurking in the background, such as the Stoke Newington Sorcerors (SNS) who later became entwined with the first stirrings of the Punk movement. » (Source: Phil Hine, Oven ready chaos)

Contrary to many spiritual doctrines, based on a system or a “paradigm”, chaos magick tries to be “metaparadigmal”. The magician creates his own system of use unscrupulously older doctrines to fit his own point of view, as a “paradigmal pirate”(an expression coined by Josh Wetzel):

Peter Carroll writes: "...if you want a one-line definition with which most Chaoists would probably not disagree, then I offer the following. Chaoists usually accept the meta-belief that belief is a tool for achieving effects; it is not an end in itself."

Because on its emphasis on deconstruction of traditional beliefs, chaos magick also been frequently dubbed “postmodern magic”

Marik writes: “In more general terms Chaos Magick uses the deconstructionist theories of Jacques Derrida, the interest in random phenomena of John Cage and Minimalism, and the humor of Dada to create ritual spaces for magickal acts. To view Chaos Magick solely as a reformulation of traditional magick, however, would be inaccurate. Chaos Magick is something new, an attempt to deconstruct consensual belief structures, free the energy trapped by these beliefs, and radically alter the movement of the quantum flux. Chaos Magick is an assault on normative belief patterns, an attack on the mind’s status quo, guerrilla war on the careful considerations of consciousness.” (Source: Marik, chaos magick, magical terrorism)

If chaos magick was at first a tiny current inside the field of occultism, Internet gave it a new popularity. In the 90’s, chaos magick met memetics, media activism and pop culture, and became one of the favorite topic of the well known counter-cultural website disinfo.com. chaos magick became a source of inspiration for famous comics writers such as Grant Morrison (who names it “pop magic”) or Alan Moore (author of the famous, “From Hell”, “the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, or “V for vendetta”).

Recently, one of the youngest associates of the disinfo crew, Jason Louv, made of this new kind of magic the symbol of the coming counter-cultural generation, under the label “generation “hex”. He also coined the word “ultraculture” to describe this new movement:

“Ultraculture is a term coined by Jason Louv in 2004, and is a cultural movement based around the mass interest in magic and the concordent need to apply it to improving our thoroughly disturbed world.

Ultraculture specifically means two things:

1) It is the name of a social networking system. Specifically, the idea behind “Ultraculture” is to apply the Indymedia model to magic, and establish open city-based “scenes” based around mailing lists and web pages where people can link up with people in their area interested in magic, esotericism, consciousness evolution, etc., discuss it in terms of how it applies to both their own experiences and their communities, and then determine their level of activity and involvement within that growing network.

Ultraculture is NOT another magical order, group or hierarchy, nor is it just another discussion forum; in this capacity it is only a social connecting system on both a local and global scale. Occultism has traditionally been the pursuit of the “Outsider” figure; Ultraculture then aims to situate magic more firmly as an activity of communities. [...]

2) If Ultraculture can be stated as a simple ideology, it is “The creating of solutions through (but not limited to) magic.” We are not interested in opposing culture, simply creating our own—and hopefully funnier, more intelligent and more erotic—versions of culture through DIY reality solutions. (Hence the “Ultra.”)

That which identifies itself as “counterculture” is doomed to fail by definition and can only find “pure” expression in acts of violence (in which case it acts only to further validate reactionary forms of government) or in “selling out”; its internal contradictions are far greater than any detectable within late capitalism, if a “counterculture” can even be said to truly exist at all. Following its utter collapse into self-contradiction at the end of the 1990s, the counterculture in the West is re-emerging as a magical power battery, now acting as a full replacement and upgrade for culture instead of a critical voice within that culture. Everything culture can do, Ultraculture can do better. Applies specifically to anybody using magic to improve the world. The full form is Global Alchemical Ultraculture.

Ultraculture is a TURQUOISE-vMEME approach to cultural stimulation and growth, for those familiar with Spiral Dynamics or Integral theory. It aims to consolidate, utilize and respect all previous expressions of the human endeavor within a progression towards the living mystery of “life worth living” and a global culture worthy of being called such.

Ultraculture aims simply to be a space in which individuals and groups can be free to dream on the social and global level, in the company of supportive others, and find the tools necessary for manifestation of those dreams.

Imagine a sentient coral reef of mystery growing on the surface of our boring-ass planet. Ultraculture is for ultraterrestrials. (http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/Ultraculture)

Discussion: but is it Spirituality

Remi Sussan:

Some may object to the “superstitious” content of chaos magick, the naive belief in supernatural powers that is pervading their writings. This for sure is a limit to this movement, buit one has to understand that the such a search for “powers” in in fact a logical consequence of the fall of the “hierarchical spirituality” itself. If there is no more “enlightenment”, and therefore no more “enlighted” persons, gurus, Masters, sages able to help people on their (vertical) way, the easiest way to re-enchant the world is to infuse the most common activities (getting a job; desiring a sexual partner; fighting with enemies, etc.) with a fantastic component: here, the belief in the “supernatural powers” plays certainly a role. But one should sometimes read between the lines and discover that what attract young people in this new magic is less the taste for hypothetical powers than the desire to enhance their own life with meaning; they want to become magicians as Rimbaud wanted to become a seer. For instance, in Phil Hine’s list of the benefits of magic, there is no mention of supernatural powers:

“1.A means to disentangle yourself from the attitudes and restrictions you were brought up with and which define the limits of what you may become.

2.Ways to examine your life to look for, understand and modify behaviour, emotional and thought patterns which hinder learning and growth.

3.Increase of confidence and personal charisma.

4.A widening of your perception of just what is possible, once you set heart and mind on it.

5.To develop personal abilities, skills and perceptions – the more we see the world, the more we appreciate that it is alive.

6.To have fun. Magick should be enjoyed.

7.To bring about change - in accordance with will. » (http://www.philhine.org.uk/writings/pdfs/orchaos.pdf)

And Jason Louv, discussing his book “Generation Hex” :

“The book’s certainly about “magick” in the sense of the set of psychic techniques and occult meaning systems that have traditionally fallen under that blanket term; it’s also about “magic” in the sense of trying to re-open and re-enchant the fairly insane world we’re currently living in. Personally, it’s my attempt to make something meaningful and livable out of a lot of the fairly disjointed occult and countercultural ideas that have been floating around for the last century and a half. It’s a manual and a toolkit for constructing a more meaningful and creative version of yourself, and exploring “other places,” the first of many to be conducted across multiple mediums and timescales.” (http://www.key23.net/content/post/557)