Anton Channing Kaosphere
|Pagan Teenage Voice |
(Magazine of Minor Arcana)
|Quest Magazine: |
|University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire|
|Pagan Dawn |
The Kaosphere and New Aeon Alchemy
The Kaosphere and New Aeon Alchemy
0 Introduction to the Cybermorphic Kaosphere
A new Chaos Magic subparadigm, known as the 'Cybermorphic Kaosphere System' has been gaining popularity lately. Initially this popularity came from readers of the Dead Chaosists Society discussion list and members Kaotic Illuminated Adepts (KIA), but has since spread and is in use within other groups and by individual magicians. I am the author of the system, and have received some criticism that it relies far too heavily on antiquated alchemy, and more that I have twisted that alchemy to fit my system. As a result I have decided to present an essay that explains the Kaosphere on its own terms.
However, it is apparent to me that all the various sources and systems, that came together to form the Kaosphere had their roots in Alchemical ideas. Carroll's eight colours, and his alphabet of desire, Brewsters concept of cybermorphic information, Duke's ideas on the transcendence of the Being/Doing duality. These all have their roots in Alchemical theories and symbols. Thus this essay will also attempt to explain those roots, and how they lead to the ideas in the Kaosphere.
1. Explanation of the Cybermorphic Kaosphere
Before delving into the ancient mysteries of alchemy, it would seem prudent to take a look at the Kaosphere model on its own terms. This is a skeleton system of concepts, pure and void of the enriching power of symbols, mythology or culture. Thus it is a very powerful concept indeed for the magician who is willing to apply their own best loved symbol system to it, in order to give it flesh. My own preference for alchemy will be explained in later sections. A brief mention of how and why it differs from Carroll's eight colours will also be made.
The basic form of the Kaosphere system is a tree. The roots of this tree are planted in the chaos unmanifest itself, the source of all creation. If we care to name the tree we may say it is the KaosYgg or more humourously Kaobala. More secretly it is known as Ugemaaph. This is not the place to explain why, since such an explanation would require an essay in itself. The first and bottom sphere of the tree, the root, is labelled '0 KAOS'. It represents the infinite sea of nothingness, or the nothing of infinite possibility. At this level all magical/cosmological systems are equally probable and non-existent. From here we may build whole new systems, some of them too bizarre for the human mind, many of them confusing, destructive or downright dangerous. Some of them are even useful. It has been called many things, Chaos, Void, Tiamat, Yahweh, the Creator and even 'God the Father' although this last concept is corrupted by dualism for the Chaos is simultaneously all sexes and genders and at the same time none of them.
There is a realm, which stands alone as the guardian between the dualistic realm we know and the realm of KAOS. This is labelled '1 MAGIC' and represents the infinitely thin fractal border between dualistic reality and chaotic non-existence. It is through this realm that the magician seeks to pull things from the ether. Ether or Aether has been one of its names, as has Mercury, Tao, Quintessence, Hermaphrodite, Baphomet, Nirvana, the Serpent, Jesus Christ, Octarine and Cybermorph. It is the level of pure Pantheistic Monotheism, untainted by religion or culture. Here everything exists only as a sea of seemingly random binary information. Ultimately we are all so much noise.
From this fractal sea of madness emerges the illusion of dualistic existence, which we self-importantly call reality. The first duality is between the spheres labelled '2 DOING' and '3 BEING'. I realise that the inclusion of the word 'being' in the system may upset followers of Carroll. I offer only in my defence at this stage that being exists only as an illusion of duality, and is a consequence of the information binary code that describes the universe in this model. It may even be that the wave forms used as proof that the universe is made entirely of doing, are themselves modelled by the universe as objects. These objects would not have solidity, mass or even volume as any of their properties, but to the information system this would matter little. It is the smallness of our human minds that expect real objects to be in some way solid, three-dimensional and have some mass.
Paradoxically, in an object-based structure, it is doing which is closest to the binary nature of the system, for it is through the methods or functions of an object that all processes occur. Concepts such as V-Prime can still be useful from this point of view. This level of duality has been called 'Sulphur and Salt', 'Yin and Yang', 'Fire and Ice', 'Good and Evil', 'God and Goddess', 'Lord and Lady', 'Light and Dark', 'Eristic and Aneristic' and many other pairs of names, each with their own flavour and implications.
From this level of two emerges the level of four. Being divides into self, '7 IDENTITY' and other '4 Resources'. Other is a concept that allows interaction between different objects. For an object to invoke the 'methods' of another object it needs a reference to that object. A 'name' provides a direct link to the object, hence the importance of names in magic, although if an object already has a link to an object that has direct link to the target object, this can also be used. For example, suppose a magician wanted to curse someone who stole his wallet. He may not know who stole it. But he had the wallet for three years and still has a strong mental picture of it that can act as an identifying reference. To do the curse he would link to the wallet object, from here linking to the thief object, planting in the thief object the instruction to have a heart attack or get caught by the police.
Self is simply an easy way for an object to invoke its own methods. For a magician object this might include self healing, self transformation and habit changing. It is also useful for changing states of consciousness, either in ritual or in reaction to a change in environment.
Doing on the other hand becomes '6 DIVIDING' and '5 UNITING', solve et coagula.
Any process can be explained as objects coming together or objects separating. The level of four is usually refered to as the four elements, Earth, Fire, Air and Water. Carroll's version of Mass, Energy, Space and Time shouldn't be overlooked. Indeed the wise magician tries to learn as many variations as possible so as not to be restricted in the way he thinks. For too long Western magicians have exclusively used Earth, Water, Air and Fire as the only symbols for the level of four such that they have come to think of these as absolutes. They are not, however, the only way to see things...
The level of four divides into the level of eight. Identity polarises into '9 PSYCHE' and '15 EGO', which is to say the inner secret self that the object hides from other objects, and the outer or projected self that the object uses to interact with other objects.
Resource becomes '12 WORK' and '10 PLAY'. This is the accumulation of links to other objects which will help ensure the continued existence of the object on the one hand, and the spending, using or otherwise making use of these resources on the other. In an object of advanced complexity, such as a human being or a cat, play can be entirely decadent and used only for leisure, pleasure and stimulation.
Dividing becomes at one extreme reproduction, a copy of the object being created by the object, and entropy, a complex object breaking up into the less complex objects that it is made from. These are labelled '13 DEATH' and '14 SEX'. Art may be seen as a 'vision object' residing in the imagination of an artist, reproducing itself through the ability of the artist, and thus is a kind of sex. When I say 'vision' I don't mean to limit this to only visual arts, but arts of all the senses.
Uniting branches into the extremes of consuming union, where one object takes over another object to use for its own ends, often breaking it down and using its component parts for itself. At the other extreme two objects come together in an alliance which provides mutual benefits. This usually involves the creation of a new object that encompasses the two old ones. For simplicity these have been labelled '8 WAR' and '11 LOVE'.
That is the various branching points of the Kaosphere tree. It may seem hierarchical, although in fact it is not intended that any sphere should be seen as more important than any other. The structure has non-existence (the creator) at the bottom, and the increasingly complex levels of illusion at the top. The level of eight differs from Carroll in that pure magic has been moved to the level of one, and the opposite of Ego has been replaced with Psyche, which fits more snugly. The Thinking-Wealth polarity, which always seemed the oddest of the polarities has been replaced with the Work-Play polarity. Different aspects of intelligence are now divided across the spheres.
I like to think that after the level of eight the bifurcations enter a state of fractal turbulence, and becomes what we may care to call the 'Chaos of the Normal'. This realm is the entirely illusionary realm of our senses. What we see, hear, smell, touch and taste is not reality, but only the simplified map of reality our minds use to try and make understanding reality easier.
2. Planets, Elements and the Monas Hieroglyph of John Dee.
Moving on from this description, before applying alchemical symbolism to it, some background history of alchemy is required. To begin with, Dr John Dee's famous symbol, the Monas Hieroglyph is a good starting point. This symbol is an egg, or seed from which all later ideas that form the Kaosphere tree have grown.
The Cosmic Egg, in Dee's period of history, was thought to be the perfect shape of the solar system. All planets were thought to revolve about the egg. Seven planets were known in those days. The alchemists also had another egg, which they called the Philosopher's egg, which represented the result of the union between Salt (The Lunar Hen) and Sulphur (The Solar Cock). The egg therefore represented Mercury. In terms of the five elements it represented the Quintessence, in that it was said the shell represented Earth, the white was Water, the membrane between the shell and the white Air and the yolk was Fire.
Thus it can be seen that the egg was considered to be a symbol of completion. The seven planets were united in it, as were the four elements and also duality itself. Quintessence and Mercury were equivalent or perhaps just different names for the same thing. Note that the alchemist's Mercury was not considered the same thing as planetary Mercury. In planetary terms, alchemists Mercury is more equivalent to the more recently (re)discovered eighth planet of Uranus, which is considered a higher octave of Mercury. Thus as chaos magicians we may equate Octarine with Mercury and Quintessence.
Inside the egg of Dee's glyph can be seen a stylised form of alchemist's Mercury. It is shown as a union of Salt and Sulphur by the linked Lunar and Solar symbols at the top. Underneath this is a cross, implying a union of the four elements. The arrow allows it to also be seen as a completion of the seven planets.
The alchemical symbols for the seven planets can be seen to be constructed from four basic symbols, a crescent, a circle, a cross and an arrow. These can be seen to mirror the four elemental weapons of the cup, disk, sword and wand respectively. None of the planets are made from all four of those symbols. Only alchemist's Mercury is made from all four, and the stylised arrow of Dee's figure allows all seven planets to be seen in a compelete form in his glyph if one is to look hard enough. The hieroglyph represents the alchemist in a state of gnosis as a microcosm of the cosmic egg, with which they are in harmony. (I have pointed out elsewhere that the egg must hatch back into duality since any attempt to try and preserve its purity only leads to the stagnation and 'rotten egg' that is religion.)
The common symbol for ether, the circle enclosing a six rayed star, can also be seen as representing the seven planets. The sun is usually arranged in the centre with the other six planets arranged around the circle where it meets the various rays of the star.
The main points that I'm trying to get across here are that: i Ether, Quintessence, Mercury, Uranus and Octarine can be seen to be representations (or aspects) of the same thing, namely gnosis, magic and holistic unity. ii Duality, represented by Sulphur and Salt, emanate from this unity. iii The level of four also goes back to the same unity. iv The seven planets also unite to reach the same place/state.
3. Alchemy, Planets and Polarity.
The alchemists have arranged the planets into poles for some time. My researches have so far been unable to unearth the origin of these polarities, but the earliest reference I have so far come across is in a book known as the Paradoxa Emblemata of D A Freher. This is an 18th Century manuscript that never appeared in print, although a number of hand written copies circulated in English bohemian circles, including the Philadelphia society. The manuscript consisted of series of occult diagrams, one per page, with a line or two of explanation in the form of mystical verse.
In this manuscript, namely on page 100, (which is shown on page 666 of "The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy and Mysticism" by Alexander Roob), the seven planets are arranged about an eye in a triangle. Directly underneath the triangle is the sun, with no planet opposite. Immediately to each side of the sun in the symbols for Mars and Venus. Inside Mars is a small symbol of Venus, whilst inside Venus is a small Mars. Above these are Jupiter and Mercury, again with smaller versions of each other inside. Finally the Moon and Saturn are also depicted, with smaller versions of each other. (NB This description differs from the one I gave in Chaos International. This is because I remembered the diagram wrong when I first wrote this article. I wrote this description whilst actually looking at it.)
Later in the same book a picture shows the symbols of all seven planets interlaced, which bares the caption 'It is finished when Seven are One'.
4. Crowley, Carroll and the Eight Colours.
Crowley made a correspondence between the seven planets and sephiroth that surround Tiphareth. Tiphareth itself is represented by the Sun. Saturn appears in place of Daath which is opposite the Moon occupying the place of Yesod. Jupiter is the place of Chesed, opposite Mercury in the place of Hod. Mars is in the position of Geburah, opposite to Venus in Netzach.
This arrangement can be seen in both the 6 of Disks in Crowley's Thoth Tarot and also in the diagram 'The Numbers of the Planets' in The Book of Thoth. Since Carroll does not quote his sources in Liber Null, one can only speculate whether Crowley was his source for this arrangement, but considering how much influence Crowley has had on the rest of Carroll's work it does seem likely.
In any case, the same arrangement can be found in Carroll's 'Alphabet of Desire' which can be found in Liber Null. The ideas expressed by Carroll on the alphabet can be seen as a precursor to his 'Eight Colours'. The main problem with Kabalistic arrangements is that they are ego-centred (i.e. centred on the solar energy) which meant that kabalist magicians often suffered from over-inflated egos. Carroll sought to redress this in the 'Eight Colours' system of Liber Kaos. In this system he put Chaos at the centre, moving the Sun (in the form of Yellow or Ego magic) into a polarity with Uranus (in the form of Octarine or Pure magic).
5. Alchemical Symbolism in the Kaosphere
In the Kaosphere system I made some changes that allowed for the incorporation of the two remaining recently discovered outer planets, Neptune and Pluto. Neptune, as a representative of the inner psyche, the deep oceanic depths of the subconscious, was considered a more appropriate choice for an opposite to the Solar Ego magic. Uranus was moved to the centre as the guardian or fractal border between duality and chaos unmanifest. Its sphere, alchemically speaking, was made to correspond also with the concepts of Ether, Quintessence and Alchemist's Mercury.
Pluto was added as the invisible realm of Chaos Unmanifest behind the level of Octarine. Although the positions of Mercury and Jupiter were unaltered in the new system, I did change the names of what they represented, from 'Thinking' and 'Wealth' into 'Work' and 'Play' respectively.
With these alterations in place I was able to comfortably arrange the four elements in the four axis. 'Work' and 'Play' were extremes of Earth or Resources magic. 'Ego' and 'Psyche' were the extremes of Fire or Identity magic. 'Sex' and 'Death' were extremes of Air or Seperation magic. 'Love' and 'War' were extremes of Water or Union magic.
The four elements, reworded as 'Resources', 'Identity', 'Seperation' and 'Union' also seemed to lend themselves to further pairing off to reach a level of just two. Resources and Identity seemed to combine to form the concept of 'being', since they are the inevitable division that arises from such a concept. A being in a universe of beings will inevitably fall into the trap of 'self' and 'other'. If it seems as if such a division is unbalanced, on the basis that there is far more 'other' in the universe than 'self', then one must realise that the relative importance of 'other' to any 'self' is usually considerably less. Also, every 'other' is also its own 'self'. This balances things more evenly than the simple consideration of size, mass and/or volume alone. Being corresponds to the idea of 'Salt'.
Separation and Union, solve et coagula, are both descriptions of processes, or 'doings' rather than 'beings'. In fact any process can be seen as things moving apart or coming together. Such is the nature of all change. 'Doing' corresponds to the idea of 'Sulphur'.
6. New Aeon Alchemy.
The Kaosphere also reveals a major shift in thinking from Old Aeon Alchemy into New Aeon Alchemy. In the previous aeon, alchemy had been largely centred on the idea of perfection, exemplified by the rigidity of Salt. Thus it was Salt and not Mercury that Paracelsus equated with the ether or Quintessence. His reasoning being more physical, he also had Air and Water emanate from Mercury, whilst Earth and Fire came from Sulphur. My own reasoning had been based on the more abstract qualities of what the three principles stand for, rather than the more practical matter of their chemical properties.
Therefore I have chosen information as the transcendent state, and last stop before we enter Chaos Unmanifest itself. I am not the first to have done this. Dukes, in his classic work Words made Flesh also argued for hermaphroditic information to be transcendent of being and doing. It is also possible to see the arguement in Brewsters' Liber Cyber, where he discussed data, processes and cybermorphic information. It is from Brewster that the 'Cybermorphic' Kaosphere gets its name. This work is, I think, a more complete and more balanced model to work with than Carroll's eight colours, and one that offers considerable more depth.
Not that Carroll shouldn't be recognised as as essential inspiration in the creation of this system, or that his version of the eight colours should no longer be used. After all, depth is not always necessary, and in Chaos all systems are valid. It is up to each of us to work out what works best for ourselves...
|Red magic||White magic||Black magic|
|Orange magic||Octarine magic||Blue magic|
|Purple magic||Yellow magic||Green magic|