Initiates of Thanateros

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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 self.

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, 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.