23 June 2011

Chaotic Neutral

'Nothing is true, everything is permitted.'
In this article I'll attempt to describe my attitude towards spiritual matters in basic terms. This is not an easy task.

Not too long ago I was looking at my Facebook profile, and saw again the field 'Religious Views', which has always posed a problem to me, because this is not a topic that can be easily condensed into one statement. But, being a geek and a gamer, it struck me that I could do worse than write down 'Chaotic Neutral'. (If you know nothing about D&D, the significance of this will probably escape you.)

(I ought to perhaps emphasise that this is about my views on religion and magick, and does not necessarily apply to other areas of life. I'm not advocating breaking any laws, for instance, unless of course they make no sense, which sadly is too often the case.)

Chaos

Chaos as a D&D alignment denotes a disregard for rules and conventions.

We live in an age where knowledge is freely available and the individual's role has greatly increased in society. We live in a world where we have choice. The way I see it, there are simply too many spiritual systems, paths, schools of thought, or whatever you wish to call them, to pick just one. With all the myriad systems out there, I cannot believe that one is somehow better or more true than another. Yet all spiritual symbols have at some time or another played a large role in the lives of people. They all are meaningful in some way.

After trying to actively pursue some spiritual paths (like Wicca), and reading a fair amount of material about others, I have slowly reached the conclusion that fixating on one restrictive system of spiritual symbolism just isn't going to work for me. Quite the contrary, I feel this is almost harmful for me. I spend much too much time and energy thinking about theories, trying to find the perfect pantheon, banishing ritual, magical weapon, or whatever. Yet I do not wish to completely abandon spirituality either. This is quite the dilemma.

Approaching spirituality without relying on a specific tradition or symbolic system is not exactly easy. Writings in the loosely defined occult philosophy known as Chaos Magick have proved to be an inspiration at this point. Chaos Magick is not a system, as such, but has been described as a metasystem. It advocates freely borrowing elements from any system that seems convenient or appealing.

Discordianism has also been an influence for me. It is a great reminder for us not to take everything too seriously, something that is all too often the case in the field of occultism.

Neutrality

The second part of the D&D alignment is the question of Good vs. Evil.

I don't put much stock in the concepts of 'white' and 'black' magick. There is no clear cut way of determining right or wrong. It always depends on circumstances. I'm not a 'bad person', I think, when it comes down to it, but as far as spiritual matters are concerned, I don't wish to restrict myself to pure altruism, either.

'Selfish' acts aren't always a bad thing. You need to focus on yourself sometimes. If you are not happy, how can you be expected to make others happy either? Doing harm to others, on the other hand, is rarely productive or beneficial, even for the one doing the harming, and should only ever be a last resort, in, say, acts of self defence. And you don't need to believe in karma or anything for this to make sense.

Also, I do not wish to limit my options when it comes to actual magick. There is a lot of power in so-called taboos. And I also believe spiritual endeavours should be fun. Being too goody two-shoes about it would just be boring. Why be a magician if you can't command demons or call on Great Cthulhu? I should perhaps mention that I cannot bring myself to believe any otherworldly entity will actually materialise in front of me as a result of my actions. I see the value of ritual primarily as psychological.

C∴N∴

While I might occasionally wield this term in a similar way some occultists use the name of the tradition or organisation they represent, Chaotic Neutrality isn't a spiritual path, magickal system, occult organisation or school of thought. It is merely a vague description of the way I choose to view spirituality in general. It is nothing new, either. You'll find similar opinions in many books on magick (and perhaps particularly in those classified as Chaos Magick).

There is an element of parody here too, due to the considerable role many organisations have played in the development of magick. This abbreviation I've used, for instance, is obviously based on Aleister Crowley's A∴A∴.

The bottom line is, I'm trying my best to break free of the need to fixate on some system or tradition, but still feel the need to somehow define myself. So, Chaotic Neutral I am, then, for lack of a better term.

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