Liber Lux: Kia: Addendum

Kia: The absolute freedom which being free is mighty enough to be “reality” and free at any time: therefore is not potential or manifest (except as it’s instant possibility) by ideas of freedom or “means,” but by the Ego being free to receive it, by being free of ideas about it and by not believing. The less said of it (Kia) the less obscure is it. Remember evolution teaches by terrible punishments-that conception is ultimate reality but not
ultimate freedom from evolution.

Spare, Austin Osman.  The Book of Pleasure.

For Mr. Jack Faust.  Very belated, with apologies.

Because Kia did not begin with Peter Carroll.

Liber Lux: Kia

One of the more interesting ideas contained in Peter Carroll’s Liber Null and Psychonaut is the idea of Kia[1]: that ineffable, unnamable thing which experiences consciousness.  While I’m a little (read: a lot) bothered by Carroll’s anthropocentricism–“Chaos … is the force which has caused life to evolve itself out of the dust, and it is currently most concentratedly manifest in the human life force, or Kia, where it is the source of consciousness.”[2]—the idea of mortal sensation, experience, and consciousness as a material manifestation of primordial Chaos … well, it’s almost poetic.

The “soul” (here “Kia”), as a manifest point of primordial, cosmic ur-substance (“Chaos”) provides us with the mechanic to which Carroll attributes the efficacy of magick: “…[A]s centers of Kia or Chaos, ourselves, we can sometimes call very unlikely coincidences or unexpected events into existence by manipulating the aether.”[3]  Aether, of course, being the astral sea of half-formed matter which corresponds to the entirety of the trans-lunar realms of Kabbalistic and Hermetic cosmology, and of which Carroll says, “Thought gives it shape and Kia gives it power.”[4]

Although basically a stripped-out version of the Hermetic Spheres or the Qabalistic Sephiroth, I find this cosmology much more emotionally satisfying.  Something about the impersonal nature of Chaos helps undermine the implicit anthropocentricism, where  the more traditional cosmologies double-down by attributing their personal ideals of masculine rulership (generally in monarchist frame) to the Source.  Despite protestations to the contrary—that the masculine language is purely metaphoric—this Source/Father/God King ends up looking suspiciously like the hegemonic, patriarchal masculine ideal against which I have been struggling for my entire life.[5]  This is not intended as a dig at those Hermeticists I know and respect, and I apologize if it reads that way: anthropomorphizing cosmic forces is our only way to relate to them, and I think y’all understand the problems inherent in naturalizing male dominance through your cosmology.[6]

Unfortunately, in between these points, there’s the part where Carroll dives  face-first into a steaming pile of Orientalist dualism/non-dualism claptrap.[7]  That pretty much breaks if for me.  Again, don’t get me wrong: I’m not hating on everyone who subscribes to or has an interest in Buddhist thought.  What I’m raving against is the way in which Carroll uncritically reproduces the colonialist racism of his Golden Dawn predecessors, whom he otherwise so loves to hate.  But I’ll leave the in-depth deconstruction of Carroll’s wannabe-zen-thing to someone more well versed in the actual details of the philosophies he’s pillaging.

So, despite the romantic appeal on the one hand, the critical flaws in Carroll’s Chaos-and-Kia cosmology make it impossible for me to actually adopt it.  The anthropocentricism of Kia undermines all the reasons for and advantages of conceptualizing the cosmic ur-substance as Chaos: it leaves the door open for a hierarchal evaluation of life-forms by the degree to which one credits them with Kia manifestation, and thereby within human kind by more subtle margins.  The Orientalist frame within which Carroll articulates his theories—and, even more, his of the fetishization of “Shamanism”, which will get a post of its own—basically takes these potential problems and runs with them to some of the worst possible places, where he—the enlightened white magician—can recreate the marvelous works of the noble savage, synthesize them with the ideas of the brown people his empire subjugated, and produce an ars magicae which is “superior” to either.

Fortunately, it’s not actually necessary to adopt Carroll’s cosmology in order to use the core techniques of Chaos Magick.

1 – Carroll almost certainly got the word from the grandfather of Chaos, Austin Osman Spare–Zos Kia Cultus was published in XXXX–I don’t know how much their ideas overlap.

2 – Carroll, Peter. Liber Null and Psychonaut.  San Francisco: Weiser (1987) . p.28

3 – Ibid. 29

4 – Ibid.

5 – Of course, there’s the whole problem where Carroll takes the feminine figure of Khaos, renders her first neuter, and then quasi-masculinizes her via the anthropomorphic figure of Baphomet … but that’s a post all its own. 

6 – If not, then this IS a dig at you, and you should answer the clue phone and own your fucking privilege. 

7  – Carroll, 29.  For the context to which I refer, cf. Orientalism, especially as conceptualized by Edward Said and those who follow him.

Opening Liber MMM

As I described in the launch post for my chaos magic experiment, I am beginning with Liber MMM: mind control, magic, and dreaming*.

Mind Control

Except for the emotional auditing, Peter Carroll’s “mind control” is basically meditation, and I’ve been starting simple with sitting motionless and breathing concentration.  The hardest thing about five minutes a day of meditation isn’t the meditation, itself: it’s sitting down to do it.  So far I’ve been managing about every other day.

I’ve experimented with three different positions to date.  Sitting cross-legged on my bed, with my arms extended and my elbows resting on my knees.  Laying flat on my back on the bed, arms limp at my sides.  And sitting in one of those mini-papasan chairs that they sell for dorm rooms, facing my altar, with my hands in my lap.  I’ve had mixed results with all three.  I have done my meditation in the morning, promptly upon waking, and at night, shortly before going to sleep.  Again, the results have been mixed.

Sitting still for five minutes was, in fact, physically painful the first time I did it as a part of this experiment.  And, for whatever reason, flatly impossible yesterday morning.  I’m not sure why: it’s not like I don’t sit motionless for a lot of my magical workings.  Maybe it’s because I’m not focused on anything in particular.  Ironically, I think this will get easier as I progress, not because of the practice, itself—though that will absolutely help a lot–because shape and object visualization are things I do more often as a part of my visionary practice.


Coming back to the Sunrise Temple has made it easy to get back into my practice of daily banishing.  For the last week I have begun my day with a banishing pentagram and a Qabalistic Cross.  Except for today, which got off to a fuckered start when I woke from some fairly disturbing nightmares that pretty much threw off my whole morning game.

I have also been working on designing a few sigils, and researching different methods of designing and launching them.  In addition to Liber Null, I have ploughed through most of Frater U.D.’s Practical Sigil Magic, and am delighted to finally have some grasp of AO Spare’s original Alphabet of Desire/Sacred Language.  As someone who has dabbled in conlang, and envies the utility of verbs in inflected languages such as Attic Greek and Classical Latin, I’m really, really, really excited to start developing my own personal magical grammar for complex sigils.  I have some really interesting ideas about how to combine this technique with Hellenistic curse tablets and my own theories of art as an act of magic that I can’t wait to try out.

I have finally designed, but not actually enchanted, a set of talismans to give to my friends and colleagues by which they may offer me magical aid, or call upon me for the same.  Look forward to further reports in that arena, too.


Like meditation, getting back into the habit of keeping a dream journal has been hit-and-miss.  I’m still at a point where, often, I literally cannot remember my dreams even moments after waking.  And then there’s shit like today, where the imagery is so disturbing that I just can’t bring myself to write it down in the first moments of my day.

Magical dreaming has always eluded me, in part because I am so violently dysfunctional upon first waking, and this is going to be a major area of struggle for me, personally.

* – Where’s that third M come from?  “Morpheus”?