Illuminates of Thanateros

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Illuminates of Thanateros
Abbreviation IOT
Formation 1978
Purpose/focus Chaos magic society
Region served Australia, Austria, Brazil, British Isles, Bulgaria, Germany, North America, South America, Switzerland[1]
Website Largest IOT website: the North America section
The chaosphere, a symbol of the Illuminates of Thanateros, and of chaos magic in general.

The Illuminates of Thanateros is a magic society, founded in 1978, that pursues chaos magic. This fraternal magical society has been an important influence on some forms of modern esotericism.


[edit] History

[edit] Early

In the late 1970s, Ray Sherwin and Peter Carroll, two young British occultists with a strong interest in ritual magic, began to publish a magazine called The New Equinox. Both were connected with a burgeoning occult scene developing around a metaphysical bookstore in London's East End called The Phoenix. According to themselves, both men quickly became dissatisfied with the state of the Magical Arts and the deficiencies they saw in the available occult groups. So in 1978 they published a small announcement in their magazine proclaiming the creation of a new kind of magical order, one based on a hierarchy of magical ability rather than invitation, a magical meritocracy. It was to incorporate elements of Thelema, Zos Kia Cultus, shamanism, tantra and Taoism. They called their creation the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT), referring to the dualism of the gods of Death (Thanatos) and Love (Eros).[2]

Carroll and Sherwin began to publish private monographs detailing their system of magical practice, some of which had been articles in The New Equinox, others intended as instruction to members of their order. The new style of magic they introduced, focusing on practical skills as opposed to metaphysical systems, became known as chaos magic. In the 1980s they began to attract a following in England, Germany and Austria, including influential occult writers and practitioners.

Before the Eighties were over, Sherwin resigned in protest that the IOT was beginning to resemble the hierarchical orders that were once anathema to the concept of the group.[3] Carroll carried on and made the IOT known to occultists around the world largely through his books Liber Null and Psychonaut.

[edit] Schism

In 1990 and 1991 the group experienced what was called the Ice Magick Wars around differences between other prominent members and Ralph Tegtmeier. This led to a schism.

In 1991, the IOT proper was drawn into an inner order, with the outer public manifestation becoming the Pact.

Shortly after the schism, Carroll published Liber Kaos and retired from active participation in the IOT. He explicitly stated this was not a consequence of disagreement with the state of the Pact but a matter of his personal development. He remains committed to the IOT and a new venture found at the Arcanorium website.[4]

[edit] Today

The Pact remains active as of 2009 as do other non-pact chaos magick groups like the Z(cluster), and the AutonomatriX[5].

Although temples do not generally advertise their existence, at least one each in Seattle,[6] Dallas,[7], Phoenix[8], New York[9], Baltimore[10] and Milwaukee[10] currently do. The IOT is also active in a number of other countries.

The Pact of the IOT has acquired a less outspoken leadership, out of a desire to creating the ideal zone of privacy and creativity. Although most of what has occurred within the IOT is a matter of confidentiality, numerous changes have been put in place, in an attempt to preclude the mistakes of the past. The Pact also replaced the former charter Liber Pactionis with The Book, which gives another viewpoint of the path that some consider more realistic.[11]

[edit] Structure

The Pact organizes itself along the somewhat "traditional" lines of a fraternal occult order, with initiations into progressive degrees denoting magickal skill, administrative responsibility and leadership within the group. It is notable that unlike other occult societies with a degree system, the Pact rewards progression in degree with hardly any privileges, but "punishes" it with added duties and responsibilities.

Degree structure of the IOT[11]
No. Title Description
/ Novice not considered a member, undergoes novitiate and prepares for initiation
Neophyte gets to know the group from inside, not given any instructions, may leave or be expelled without explanation
Initiate full member, offers magical abilities to the IOT, departure or expulsion requires explanation
Adept required to actively endeavor for the group, inspire others, organize and lead
Magus required to also coordinate the IOT internationally

There is a "side-degree" called Priest/Priestess of Chaos that involves social and magical service to others, including outside the IOT. It may be undertaken as an addition to the 3°; all holders of the 2° and 1° are expected to be able to fill the role. There are also two special degrees, 0°=5° and Elder for 2° and 1° members who retire from their duties, described as identical to the 3° and retirement respectively.

There also are several offices which may be taken, most notably including the Insubordinate, a low-ranking (4° or 3°) member who ideally is to be informed about all work of a high-ranking member he or she is assigned to, and charged to criticize and ridicule it, channel feedback from others concerning it, and will veto it if necessary. Every Adept, Magus, and Magister Templi (leader of a Temple) has an Insubordinate.[11]

The IOT does not charge membership or initiation fees. This is a difference from all other international magical orders, and indeed from most fraternal organizations. Unlike such groups as the OTO or various offshoots of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the IOT is a non-incorporated society, rather than a legal entity or non-profit corporation.

Members are obliged to keep silent on internal affairs and the identities of their fellows. The latter rule does not seem to apply to deceased persons[citation needed], as it is not a secret William S. Burroughs[12], Timothy Leary[13] , and Robert Anton Wilson[14] have been members.

The Pact consists mostly of largely-autonomous Temples[15] arranged into autonomous geographical Sections, i.e. Austria, United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Brazil etc.

[edit] Relation to the occult subculture

Magic will not be free from occultism until we have strangled the last astrologer with the entrails of the last spiritual master.

—Pete Carroll, Psybermagick

Chaos magicians have frequently reacted to more traditional, religious or occult approaches to magic with scorn or derision and have consequently been met with hostility. [16] This applies in particular to the IOT, which has been described by Phil Hine as "the Order for 'serious' Chaos Magicians in the same way that the OTO exists for 'serious' Thelemites."[17] The view that occultism is rife with superstitions and needs to be reformed or replaced by a bolder and more critical approach to magic has been prominent in programmatic texts from early on.[18] The IOT has issued statements that profess a degree of elitism.[19][20] Still the IOT is commonly understood by outsiders to be an occult[21] or neoshamanic[22] organization.

The Pact claims to be involved in continuous magical research[11] but appears hesitant to let others participate in the process. The group has a comparatively difficult application procedure and appears to reject a great majority of applicants. However, chaos magic has long spread beyond the IOT as evidenced by the large community of practitioners throughout the world. IOT members such as Ramsey Dukes, Dave Lee, Julian Vayne and many others continue to produce a large part of the literature available as regards chaos magic. Other sources of chaos magic literature include Kenneth Grant and Jaq D. Hawkins.

The presence of hierarchy in the IOT has been the cause of a lot of dispute around it in the chaos magic scene. Opposers think the concept is un-chaotic and limiting to individual members, while defenders believe the tradeoff in chaoism allows for much more effective group work, especially on an international scale. Many chaos magical practitioners prefer to work in unique settings devoid of any structure at all.[23]

While little activity of the IOT is visible to the outside public, the order has held annual open seminars for nearly two decades.[24] Many notable chaos magicians have been speakers there. Some local groups offer classes to non-members.[25]

[edit] References

  1. ^ IOT World
  2. ^ Pete Carroll, Ray Sherwin. The New Equinox. Morton Press, Yorkshire.
  3. ^ Ray Sherwin: Crisis Magicians, Orders, Disorders, Lnyx and Lone Wolves
  4. ^ Arcanorium College
  5. ^ Web Portal of the AutonomatriX
  6. ^ Temple Galateh
  7. ^ Temple Sona-Nyl
  8. ^ Temple X-Fod
  9. ^ Temple A-Go-Go
  10. ^ a b c d The Book: The Secrets of the Illuminates of Thanateros
  11. ^ Grant, Douglas. [ Magick and Photography, Douglas Grant, Ashé Journal 2(3 Magick and Photography] in Ashé: Journal of Experimental Spirituality, vol. 2, no. 3
  12. ^ Fäustchen, Frater. "Für und wider Magie und Liber MMM"] in Shekinah no. 1. ISBN 978-3-939459-11-8.
  13. ^ Fäustchen, Frater. "Für und wider Magie und Liber MMM"] in Shekinah no. 1. ISBN 978-3-939459-11-8.
  14. ^ IOT British Isles: Chaos Magic and the IOT
  15. ^ Why Chaos Magicians Are Such Assholes
  16. ^ Hine, Phil. Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic. New Falcon Publications. ISBN 1-56184-117-X
  17. ^ Peter J. Carroll: The Magic of Chaos
  18. ^ IOT British Isles: Liber MMM and the Novice
  19. ^ IOT North America: Initiation
  20. ^ Greer, John Michael (2003). The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 1-56718-336-0
  21. ^ Gallagher, Eugene V, Ashcraft, W Michael (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-27598-712-4
  22. ^ Maat Magick & Chaos Magick
  23. ^ EKSTASIS!
  24. ^ Kaosgate.Org: Chaos Magick on Wheels

[edit] Sources

[edit] Third party

[edit] Primary

[edit] External links

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