Chaos Protocols

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been crying into my beer a little lately over the swiftly growing number of people I know or follow who have recently joined the ranks of published authors.  In particular, I’m weeping over the prodigious and prestigious one-two punch delivered by Gordon White of Rune Soup.  The second of two books he has published this year is The Chaos Protocols, via Llewellyn.

The Chaos Protocols, simply put, is the magic book I wish I’d had ten years ago.  Of course, ten years ago it couldn’t have been written: half the calamities and fewer than a third of the innovations (technological, cultural, and magical) that produced the world today had not yet happened.

Where Star.Ships is theoretical, meandering, and academic, The Chaos Protocols is pragmatic, to the point, and actionable.  Amusingly, it is the latter that has footnotes on almost every page.  The book begins with a brutal crash-course in economics and ends with a miniature grimoire.  In between, it provides magical theory, economic reality, and practical techniques by turn.

Economic highlights include a sober discussion of the probable medium-terms effects of crony capitalism; advocating for the return to multi-family and multi-generational housing; a realistic assessment of the value of formal education and property ownership; and a discussion of the meaning of value and the value of meaning.

Magical highlights include Gordon’s own variation on the Stele of Jeu; the print publication of his masterwork on sigils; necromancy and ancestor worship; a discussion of divination mechanics and strategies;  and magical strategies ranging from personal syncretisms to the Greek Magical Papyri to street-corner Hoodoo.

The most important parts of the book, though, can be summed up in three quotations:

One does not meet the devil at the crossroads to build a life that looks like everyone else’s.


Even if this is the apocalypse, that is no call to avoid making things interesting.

and, finally,

Become invincible and have adventures.  The rest is detail.

Let’s have at it, shall we?

Star.Ships Calling

As a yet-unpublished writer, the last eighteen months have been rough on me: the list of people I know and admire who have published before I have has grown immensely.  Rufus Opus, Lance Tuck, Luna Teague.  Most recently, now, Gordon White has blown onto the scene with not one but two books in the last fewmonths: the first with the most prestigious occult publisher of our age, and the second with the largest.  My hat off to you, sir, you fucking grand over-achiever.  Holy shit.

On the off chance that you don’t already know who Gordon White is, stop what you’re doing and check him out now.  Gordon runs the twin pulpits of his blog and podcast, Rune Soup, whence he pontificates on a wide variety of subjects, mostly culture and  the paranormal.  He speaks from a Chaos Magick and animist perspective, which is refreshingly off-center, and he is very, very clever.  Some day I hope to be cool enough to win an interview on the podcast.

for book page

The first and (arguably) more ambitious of his two books is more theoretical.  Star.Ships gathers up a wide swath of archaeological loose ends from the late paleolithic and demonstrates how they may lead to the earliest portions of history.  Gordon weaves his argument from the recently discovered paleolithic monuments of Gobekli Tepe to the infamous heads of Easter Island to the submerged ruins off the coast of India.  He draws on cutting-edge linguistics and genetics research to illustrate how the now-widely disseminated 1990s theories of human migration desperately miss the mark, and turns into the analysis of geologists and engineers regarding a variety of ancient “mysteries”.   In doing so, he attempts to fill in the “missing links” of western esoteric tradition, and argues that great swaths of human history have been influenced by a handful of stellar powers.  He also, almost incidentally, condemns the current state of scholarship in general and the field of Egyptology in particular.

I am, by training, a Classicist.  This is to say, on the one hand, that I know little or nothing of the paleolithic sites Gordon points to to illustrate a number of his arguments — particularly Gobekli Tepe, to which he points so often — and I look forward to spending a fair bit of my spare time over the next year looking up everything in the bibliography.  On the other hand, however, it also means that I know better than most how much a shambles academic knowledge is regarding the moments just before “history” (that is to say, the things we wrote down) begins.  I mean … there are Classicists who still believe there was a Dorian invasion, but no city of Troy, and that Pythagorus invented the math he clearly stole from Egyptian engineers.  It was a professional hairdresser who demonstrated how the women’s hairstyles of Roman statuary were physically possible and not sculptors’ flights of fancy; it was the engineers of a century ago who provided the first viable theories of how the Egyptian pyramids might have been constructed; and I have personally seen at least three drunk construction workers on YouTube demonstrating how single individuals might have erected the megaliths across the British Isles.  Finally, having given up my dreams of pursuing a Doctorate entirely because of my own experiences navigating the politics of the academy, I am entirely sympathetic to his condemnations of that institution.

This late to the game, however, there is almost no point in writing a full review of the book.  To that end, I have only three more things to say on the subject:

  1. Unlike so many, Gordon White does an excellent job of distinguishing between his data and his conclusions.  If you are uncomfortable with his conclusions, he cites his less mainstream sources very clearly and has an extensive bibliography at the end.
  2. The most important thing Gordon has to say in Star.Ships is not actually his core thesis, but the mantra he repeats as he makes each of his points: it is the task of science to accumulate data; it is the task of the magician to provide meaning.
  3. Go buy the damn book.  Gordon White’s Star.Ships from Scarlet Imprint

</fanboi squee>