Initiates of Thanateros
The Initiates of Thanateros (IOT) is the primary organization
perpetuating the practice of chaos magick, a new magical
teaching that emerged in the 1960s out of the world of Austin
Osman Spare (1886–1956). Chaos magick developed out of the
earlier ceremonial magic. It adopted an essentially Eastern
view of reality that begins with the universe understood as a
transcendent everchanging whole. It is beyond intellectual
grasp, but can be mystically encountered and perceived. Chaos
is the name given that whole universe. Chaos is not the opposite
of order, but the order that is beyond what can be conceived.

Chaos magick places a considerable emphasis on the individual
subconscious as the focus of magical activity. As in Eastern
thought, the essential self is seen as identical with the
whole. The self is also seen as the source of magical power,
hence there is no attempt in magical training to attune the individual
with either deities or power outside of or apart from the
Chaos magick emerged in the 1960s, and an informal ‘‘Circle
of Chaos’’ developed in England around Ray Sherwin and
Julian Wilde, who wrote the initial works on chaos theory and
practice. During the 1970s, Peter J. Carroll emerged as the primary
theoretician of chaos magick, and he took the lead in the
formation of the Initiates of Thanateros as a new magical order
that would serve as a vehicle for chaos magick. By this time,
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Initiates of Thanateros
chaos magick had spread across Europe and the formal organization
of the Pact of the IOT occurred in Austria in 1977.
The pact is loosely organized as a network of magicians and
certain people designated to perform various functions. Local
temples, the basic organization units, are encouraged to experiment
with rituals and disciplines and to share results with the
larger order. It is understood that those that are most successful
will be widely used and become the basis for further change.
Less successful ideas will fall by the wayside.
The pact exists solely to provide space for its members to
pursue the Great Work, i.e., magick, and to provide gathering
and programs for the spread of magick in what is considered
the New Aeon. The writings of Peter J. Carroll have been widely
accepted and used within the IOT. Chaos magick has spread
around the world and IOT temples now exist in more than a
dozen countries. IOT in the United Kingdom may be contacted
at BM Sorcery, London WC1N 3XX. IOT in the United States
is headquartered at P.O. Box 92012, Milwaukee, WI 53202. A
complete list of contacts internationally can be found on its
website at
Carroll, Peter J. Liber Null & Psychinaut. York Beach, Maine
Samuel Weiser, 1987.
Savage, Adrian. An Introduction to Chaos Magick. New York
Magickal Childe, 1988

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