book review: ouroboros; a grimoire by ray sherwin, father of chaos magick, reads like true detective

The announcement for Ouroboros; A Grimoire by Ray Sherwin showed up on r/occult and I went ahead and read the preview. I instantly took a liking to it, so I ordered it.
      Like a complete idiot I didn’t even notice the name matched an individual we had been talking about in a podcast last year on Chaos Magick linked here. When it arrived I unwrapped it to find a wide, slender shiny white floppy book, 110 pages long, emblazoned with a bright, turquoise ouroboros painting by his consort Lorraine Sherwin, and archaic mauve script. I flipped it over to find some handsome looking wizard from Florida or something (there are palm trees and he’s probably shirtless) staring at me with a beard I approved of. At this point, obviously I still had no idea who this was – the founder of Chaos Magick. I’m not sure why they have palm trees in England, but there they are. 
       I admit this is the first book about Chaos Magick that I have read that has held my interest, that probably isn’t saying much since I have never actually purchased a book on Chaos Magick, and they’re rare in libraries. But my standards are very high for what goes on certain shelves in my library, and this is going on the special shelf.  
      It reads as a proclamation of Zeus chastising his kids. The man is very funny, and I admit somewhat charming even as he’s cutting heads off of pedophiles and other perverts. It can’t be too easy tearing down one’s own seed, but, he does it. No one is ever going to look at Peter Carroll again the same way, I can tell you that.

“The order’s evident requirement for its members to take in less of macrocosm is a disgrace akin to a child hiding under the bedclothes in the belief that if the child can’t see the monster, the monster can’t see the child.”

– Ray Sherwin

The roasting of the Illuminates of Thanateros is completely satisfying, even though I barely knew who these people were, except that one of them was a snot-nosed idiot on the original (defunct) occultforums called Ralph Tegtmeier (Frater U∴D∴) aka Helmut. We all seriously regarded this guy as some kind of mentally ill teenage troll at the time. m1thr0s 729 was slamming the guy in some rather amusing ways as m1thr0s tended to do to idiots, and at the point in time it happened, it was akin to some kind of Klingon mating ritual for each other from the perspective of our Aquarian and Gemini sensibilities. We both quickly forgot about this moron. He was possibly the most idiotic troll to ever pass through that old occult haunting ground and I saw hundreds rise and fall there. and neither of us was aware that he was a high ranking mucky muck in an organization widely considered to be quite serious.  
      Peter Carroll – whom I have never read anything about either, except his date and place of birth, nor any of his publications, also comes off sounding like a complete piece of shit, which was fascinating. All in all a good and satisfying romp through the castle of occult intrigue and conspiracy. Sherwin isn’t the first to speak up. The blog of Nathaniel J. Harris which has been covering the case in detail, writes:

“There is a paedophile ring operating within the Pagan / occult community, with a particular concentration in the West Country where we have already seen 7 successful prosecutions, with many others remaining at large.[…]Most recently Peter J. Carroll has been spreading the vilest lies imaginable in a vain attempt to discredit Nathaniel. This is because Mr. Carroll knows full well that members of his fan club, the Illuminates of Thanateros, were involved in the sadistic abuse of my son.”

We had briefly covered some rumors within r/occult in a Abrahadabra Radio podcast in episode 006 about a disagreement between an individual shifting between a variety of throwaway accounts who had accused an IAO131 of defending a pedophile ring, which turned into a discussion about general possibilities of pedophilia within the occult community. While IAO131 is basically cat vomit who found himself on the heavy end of a ban hammer for being a stupid shitler about the origins of the word “magick” of all goddamned things on Abrahadabra Forums, I am not, and m1thr0s 729 was not the type to deviate from the sacred American axiom “Innocent until proven guilty.” (By the way, IAO131 was wrong about magick’s etymology, good old Oxford Dictionary vindicated us – he never fucking apologized for his hurfblurfing while m1 was alive, so he gets the hose. Again.)
      Sherwin goes further than we ever did in that podcast, indicating that the defensiveness of the Satanic organizations is extremely suspect, up to and including the OTO, apparently. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the OTO most of the time, but when it comes to ruining the occult for everyone else with borderline pedophilia accusations, there is a real reason to declare some kind of war within our own sub-society against anything that reeks of defending or participating in any kind of fascist sexuality such as child molestation.
       Some of the passages reminded me of my own time with the FBI in the Nuit House, which I won’t go into here due to the fact it might tip off any CP cells to their methodology. The embarrassments of Manson, Hubbard, and more recently, the Kabbalah Center in New Yok, never go away and the government is (rightly) dead set on never having to deal with these grotesque pockmarks on the face of Western Civilization. Anyone who has played a game of Civilization knows the power of protecting culture. Every occult organization past a certain point gets the big brother treatment these day…and people like the ones discussed in this book are why we all deserve it.
      Suffice it to say, the mere fact that I’m pretty much a 1950’s housewife disguised as an occultist, and m1thr0s was either glued to me or his laptop was enough to pretty much placate our spies, although we had more than a few creeps show up on our doorstep who were part of the other side of the “conspiracy”, although I could do nothing about it but call the police and let them decide. 
       I found myself completely fascinated by this man who seemed to be speaking from an asana of actual power throughout the book. Most occult authors just bore me to tears, and as an ENTJ I can be a cold heartless bitch not only on my brutal Reddit posts, but when it comes to dismissing occult authors, I’m not going to mince words. My bookshelf is full of texts from Oxford, Princeton and Chicago University – these are my occult tomes, a habit I inherited from my middle school years when I only read non-fiction science books.  
      I know with absolute confidence everyone in the occult is going to like this book – even the old school witches. A British author who was born in the legendary lands of Merlin and has the Druid look is like finding a leprechaun for these Wiccan shits.
      The text has the same feel as a few other rare occult texts, such as those of Masaaki Hatsumi, Aleister Crowly, the Corpus Hermetica, and the Kybalion. The author seems at times to be speaking right at us, or interacting with us on a personal level. I sometimes call these types of texts holographic texts, as they seem to shift with the reader as the mind positions itself around the data. 
       Sherwin attacks everything from democracy to priesthoods, to death and archaeology. We always love a good rant at Abrahadabra of course, and this continues for nearly fifty pages… 
      After this, we find a link to a YouTube video, which is the audio-visual version of a poem inserted in the book. It’s worth it to get through to the end. 

This is the individual who launched an entire generation of new thinking in magick, influencing some of the most famous individuals in pop culture.
      There are no dumbass sigils here, nor the same tired nihilistic or iconoclastic dogma of much Chaos thought. Sherwin, for all intents and purposes appears to be reasserting what his vision of Chaos Magick was all those years ago in London, before Carroll drove it into the hands of the worst kinds of thugs and evildoers, apparently.  
     The book is badass. You won’t be disappointed. It has everything that makes for an occult classic – a wizard war (more like the complete annihilation of a long-standing chaos magick guru) Defcon 5 level True Detective intrigue that will make the Temple of Set/Aquino rumors look like tidy Sunday gossip, and a way of teaching magick that is completely new. And, fucking finally, someone else talking about the goddamned environmental problems the world is facing.
     This first edition is limited to 500 copies, so you’d better act fast if you’re going to acquire a copy. The fallout from this is going to spread across the entire world of Chaos Magick and the occult itself. 

why chaos magick is so popular

Well ladies and gents, we’re at war; in a world so close to attaining perfection. The good news is we’re outnumbered one thousand to one. Since those odds are about the same as mediocrity to genius it is both a privilege and a tactical advantage to the elite few. At one time one might have been able to say Chaos Magick was merely a trend, but it’s held on too tightly in the only circles that matter in today’s occult world: the online ones. This is the alembic of ideas forming the world of Hermetics today and tomorrow, where the only accurate pulse of the occult can be taken.

The enemies of chaos magick are the enemies of the occult, and it’s all for the same reasons. They fear losing control. This is the very reason that Tantra seems to be dead or dying in most regions of the world, but it is actually on the upswing in practices such as Chaos Magick and to some extent American Buddhism and Taoism. Freedom and real Magick will never die, no matter how viciously it is attacked. It isn’t difficult to point to the attacks themselves, for our history as occultists is a litany of blame, isolation, betrayal and petty degradation.

The frivolity with which Chaotes treat Magick is the subject of some distress in those more interested in less modern paradigms, but this is a minor complaint considering that the true roots of Chaos Magick are ancient and legitimate. It is an advantage to Tantra that it is framed in the modern, as it stands to lose nothing and finds an audience it would have otherwise lost in the detritus Tantra has acquired, despite its gem-like core. This stands as a virtue in a time when belief systems which are rotten to the core but have acquired some gems, are held up as paragons of virtue by some misguided persons. Catholicism comes to mind, a Church which killed Giordano Bruno, a paragon of Hermeticism (Occult Science) less than five centuries ago. The Italian infestation still has not apologized for that, and even if it did, should any initiate ever believe these lying monstrous worms? Their doctrine of self-sacrifice and exalted misery stands in stark contrast to the axiom “There is no God but Man” and every line of the Book of the Law. 

Religious nicety worships at the altar of group-think, where Chaos Magick does not. Individuality is the ideal in Chaos, not social harmony in and of itself – though freedom is proclaimed as a guiding force towards natural social harmony just as promised to us by Crowley with Thelema. Individuality and anarchistic freedom are the religious virtue of the Chaote, if there is one at all. Diversity is fun – that’s the whole point. This is a good reason for Chaos to be popular with anyone, even if few people really understand or appreciate what freedom is.

This freedom extends to several sore points in the occult where it has been slow to evolve: the secrecy and subsequent stagnation within the orders, and the inessential trappings that have piled up in the traditions outside of the larger orders. The orders have become tombs of old knowledge, stagnating and unimpressive – easily revealed by any serious investigation. The great silence of the orders on current events and the larger discussion of the occult outside of their pet grimoires is strange. This tells us that they all hope if they just leave the Chaotes alone we’ll somehow go away. Chaos is in for the same ride – except it is far more wild and uncontrollable. If you criticize Chaos you cannot help but paint yourself as either irrelevant or afraid, if not merely ignorant on what it is.

Chaos is like Jeet Kun Do is to the martial arts. It’s a modifier, a hack, and it wasn’t quite possible before the founding of America and all that came with it. Freedom of speech – real freedom of speech, including the ability to criticize the most powerful man in the country without fear of penalty, and the complete security of freedom of religion which has been improving year after year with a steady victorious march. 

 

Kaos Star 002 by m1thr0s. The four-fold tree and hidden diamond makes for a Chaos Star one can sink their teeth into.
Kaos Star 002 by m1thr0s. The four-fold tree and hidden diamond makes for a Chaos Star one can sink their teeth into.

The action, dynamism and brilliance of Tantra pairs very well with Western culture, which also values individuality, freedom and innovation. Tantra failed in the East due in part to a betrayal on its own soil – the aversion to the world in India – the world which Godhead created, and in China, the fear of analytical study in Taoism which “made the great miss” and failed to apprehend Science because of its pet preferences.

It remains to be seen if Tantra’s second wind in this millennium will hold – Chaos magicians make all kinds of mistakes in their thinking today, so much so that one often hears of someone “being attracted to” “considering themselves akin to” or “reading about” Chaos Magick rather than going all in and stating that they are definitely a Chaote. 

The weakness in Chaos Magick is this illusion that it is something entirely new – that it is not in fact founded on the shoulders of giants and a rockbed of steel as far as practice goes. In this it is dangerous because newcomers can flounder without much needed guidance. The ordeals that we know are consistent enough that we can consider them to be real and unavoidable in the human condition. Crossing the abyss is one such ordeal, but there are others, less formally marked.

When push comes to shove you want more than a cool looking chaos star in your pocket, and for some there is little else they take away from Chaos Magick except for the freedom. In that sense its usefulness is limited. It remains to be seen if the movement will progress or stagnate. 

Beyond that the threats to Chaos Magick and Tantra are as real as they ever were 500 years ago in Europe and Asia, within those regions. In America it enjoys immense security with the US Constitution and prevailing attitudes bearing the hallmarks of The American Enlightenment. It holds the key to unlocking the basic inhibitions that tear at the axiom “There is No God but Man”.