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Liber Null and Psychonaut: An Introduction to Chaos Magic

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Two complete volumes in one. Liber Null contains a selection of extremely powerful rituals and exercises for committed occultists. Psychonaut is a manual comprising the theory and practice of magic aimed atthose seeking to perform group magic, or who work as shamanic priests to the community.

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 15, 1987

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About the author

Peter J. Carroll

30 books256 followers
He maintains a personal website at www.specularium.org

and acts as Chancellor to Arcanorium College:- www.arcanoriumcollege.com

Peter Carroll began his career in Magic at London University where the Chemistry proved so tedious that he settled on a pass degree in that and an unauthorized first in Magic, with Liber Null & Psychonaut emerging as his postgraduate thesis over the next several years whilst teaching high school science.

He then set off around the world wandering in the Himalayas, building boats in India and Australia and seeking out unusual people.

Then after a stay in Yorkshire, he headed back to the Himalayas for a while again before returning to settle in the west of England to found a family and a magical order. Appalled by the compromises made by so many magi to make a living out of their writing or teaching, Carroll decided to make his fortune with a natural products business so that he could write and teach only what had value and interest for him.

Past Grandmaster of the Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros

Chancellor of Arcanorium College

Acting Marshall, Knights of Chaos

A Bard of Dobunni Grove

*Whilst Carroll derides the very low predictive power of natal astrology he nevertheless looks forward to his Uranus return.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Michael.
916 reviews143 followers
June 2, 2009
I wasn't terribly impressed with this book at the time I read it, although it does contain some interesting material. Essentially it is the compiled handbooks (or "libers") of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT, worked out by Peter Carroll and others during the 1970s and early 1980s. The IOT prides itself on exploring occult traditions while breaking with much of the hierarchy and stick-up-the-ass seriousness of traditional magical study. Chaos Magic, as I used to say, is what happens to you when you start to take Discordianism seriously (if you stop taking it seriously, you're in the Church if the Subgenius).

"Liber Null," the first half of the text, is essentially a collection of working notes towards a syllabus in basic magic, it has many weaknesses. It is the sort of system that will work excellently for a certain type of student, and not at all for others, and which can only be adapted for different needs by an experienced Teacher. Indeed, this is the problem with most beginning books on magic; only very rare individuals can apply something directly from a book without interaction with others of varying levels of experience. While the book implies that the student may apply to the IOT, they are notoriously unresponsive (and may have published the book more to discourage inquiries rather than encourage them), and thus "study groups" of varying quality have spring up locally and on the internet.

The other problem with publishing a program like this in book form is that students will tend to rush through it, having no guide to appropriate levels of progress, and will attempt powerful and impressive-looking Workings before they have truly mastered the basics (the concept of "Mastery" is one our current society is largely uncomfortable with in the first place). The first 11 pages of the book, "Liber MMM," could readily be a program of two or more years for an average student, but it doesn't look very impressive, and there's all those other pages with cool stuff to try, so people will rush ahead and start invoking Goetic spirits and messing around with "aethers" before they've learned the mind control techniques they need. This is also a reason that traditional schools used to dole out their wisdom very slowly, and guard it so jealously from the newer Initiates, but those days have been exploded, for better or worse, by the end of Secrecy in our culture.

"Psychonaut," the second half of the text, is a more philosophical discussion of Chaos Magic, and is more interesting from an outside perspective. It is composed of 40 short essays on subjects ranging from "Shamanism" to "Levels of Consciousness" to "Chemognosis." This latter, which refers to the use of chemicals for mind-altering purposes as a method of self-transformation has unfortunately become the bulk of Chaos Magic's legacy, although it's position in "Psychonaut" is far from central. As with the techniques in "Liber Null," it seems, without guidance students will make what they want of a magical text and follow the path of least resistance. Many independent Chaos Magicians one meets are little more than druggies with a spiritual justification for their habits. More important is the final essay, which explains Carroll's "Catastrophe Theory of Magic," one of the more original contributions of Chaos Magic to the field of occult study. It is essentially based in a topological model in which forms or paradigms are distorted without altering their perceived basic features.

The work overall will be more or less useful to people who study it from differing backgrounds and perspectives. It has, no doubt, been a key text in the trainning of some very successful magicians. For me, it was a rather dry read with little new that tended to race through the more important subjects and leap to speculative areas. Your Mileage May Vary.
Profile Image for Garrett Cook.
Author 54 books224 followers
January 23, 2011
"When we are born, we are soft and supple, in death we are stiff and inflexible. To be inflexible is to be the servant of death"- the Tao Te Ching

Even if chaos magick is not a magical tradition you practice, even if you are not a practicing magician at all, there is much to learn from Liber Null. It is a guide to psychic flexibility, to seeing shades of meaning in your environment and to expressing intent. As such, this is a seminal work not just for the magician, but for the artist as well. Learn to be flexible, learn to be adaptable and learn that your world and the reality around you are every bit as flexible.
Profile Image for Lizbeth Gabriel.
Author 1 book33 followers
May 2, 2017
My head hurts. It really hurts. Also, my copy is missing a page of text and half its contents table. Damn to demise all marshmallows in existence and some theoretical ones.

How can someone actively choose to experiment on everything that makes them who they are AND work 9-5? The advice is pretty clear: change your personality, change your sexuality, do all the things that normally you would not do, try a different lifestyle, support a point of view you don't agree with and so on. Keep doing that that until you manage to disentangle your inner core from your present personality, because personality is essentially a completely arbitrary construction based on experience and chance. Once you stop identifying with your personality/ ego, magick can happen because you don't identify with any desire, and consequently don’t sabotage your own efforts by fear or need. Also, by deconstructing your personality you peel away all those superficial/ ego gratification needs that don’t originate from your inner core, but from your fears, complexes and so on. What remains is aligned with the portion of you that is transcendent, in other words, with the needs of your soul. Yep, do all that AND at the same time hold down a job, maintain your relationships, practice magick and try to see life for the cosmic joke it is. Excellent theory, but I am afraid that this can only be done by not having to work, not being in a relationship and not having a family of any kind. And probably having friends who don’t mind dealing with a person whose completely inconsistent and erratic behavior changes from day to day.

It's an interesting book with some excellent ideas but very little practical application for the practitioner who also wants to have a life outside the occult. It's also difficult to follow at parts. Still a good read for someone who wants to be introduced to Chaos Magick. One of the classics. As with all classics, pick and choose the elements that suit you and ignore the rest.
Profile Image for Nick Imrie.
296 reviews132 followers
January 25, 2020
This book made me think of Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book. Ingram is famous for popularising the dry and methodical vipasanna style of Buddhist meditation amongst materialist rationalist-types, and then claiming that achieving the higher levels of meditative practice will give magical powers. Completely antithetical to their worldview!

Carroll's book is an introduction to Choas Magic which begins with a few scant pages on the importance of meditation to acheive the single-pointed awareness necessary to work magic, and then gets into the real fun stuff of spells, sigils, demons, astral travel, and so on. It used to be the case that monks generally agreed that it took many lifetimes to gain enlightenment. The rationalists tend to agree that it's hard work, but can be done in about the amount of time it takes to get a PhD (my current path to enlightenment is following the traditional PhD route: guilt, procrastination, and despair).

Carroll gives no indication of how long he thinks one ought to take to achieve single-pointedness. This is in keeping with the radical individualism of chaos magic: what works for you is what works for you - but on the other hand, it makes me seriously doubt my ability to put the contents of this book in a proper context when I can't even tell if the first few pages are meant to be simple preliminaries or a seven year course of study.

Carroll also talks a lot about how we have to accept that we live in a reality of dualities. There is no light without dark, warmth without cold, joy without suffering. Any attempt by the ego to cling to oneside of the duality and deny the other will simply result in a great deal of fruitless internal struggle. The chaos magician must work with both sides. Fair enough, but many other paths that practice meditation (if I've understood them correctly) hold that meditation will allow one to experience non-duality in a way that seems impossibly paradoxical to the mudane mind. So maybe one doesn't need to be a skilled meditator to practice magic?

I don't know, I don't know. Something just seems slightly off - I'm not in anyway advanced enough in metaphysics or comparative religion to judge this book, and yet when I read other books on these sorts of topics I tend to get moments of: 'Huh, this is just like that from another angle!', but with Psychonaut I got the opposite - it doesn't seem to gel. This is probably a criticism of my limited reading, rather than this book.

Anyway - putting aside niggles that I can't quite put my finger on, this is interesting. Chaos magic was super edgy when it started in the 70s, blossoming out of the tie-dye peave, love, and strology of the hippies. Carroll's book has that radical, punk tone: aggressive and iconoclastic. Smash the ideology that confines your potential! Freedom! Create your own reality. I can totally imagine Carroll writing this while wearing mirror glasses and black leather. I can see that it was a necessary counter-revolution to the peace-and-love brigade, but I am a bit wary of any system which tells me that 'nothing is true; everything is permitted'. Especially when that's followed up with descriptions of how an advanced magician might get his girlfriend knocked up, kill himself, and project his soul into the foetus!

Just to be clear - there are not detailed instructions on how to do that! Much of the instruction here is barebones, which is as it should be. The fundamentals of what's absolutely necessary presented so that you can add whatever else makes it work for you. Since it was published in 1987, all of that information is available for free on the internet, anway. Just check tumblr.
The more theoretical stuff is really interesting. There's a lot of overlap with New Thought. Both systems are far more interested in using what has been empirically shown to work, and nevermind whether there's a coherent explanation behind it. Does magic really work? Is it just psychology? Who cares if it gets results? But yes, it really works, it is both inside you and outside you, as you are both yourself and more than yourself.

There's some very interesting reflections on the ego, and it's role in thwarting your magical ability. IIUC, the ego is, of course, not real, but an amalgamation of habits, emotions, memories, and opinions about yourself. All these things can all be changed. Carroll recommends deleting any habit, and installing a new one, just to prove this to yourself. Since any desire on your part is accompanied by the ego's ambivalences, fears, graspings, contradictions, if you try to accomplish any magical aim in a mundane frame of mind your ego is sure to counteract itself - hence the need for meditation to allow your will to exercise itself without the least bit of attachment to the consequences. This really echoes New Thoughts on the need to be absolutely committed to your goal.

Since our consciousness is ineffable, it has no form of its own yet it can only be expressed in some form, a magician can really trip himself up by confusing that form - whether it's his ego, his god, his fears, desires, and names - for the real thing. He's sure to end up either mad or a religious maniac. That false god, which is called Choronzon, should be banished whatever form it appears in, and we should refrain as much as possible from trying to define that infinite mystery.
This really threw some light about prohibitions on naming the divine in other traditions.

I was also intrigued by the concept of the 'psychic censor'. This is the part of ourselves that prevents us from remembering dreams or noticing sychronicities. This is a necessary part of real life - otherwise we'd all be living in the dream all the time, but unhelpful for the budding magician who will have to push past it. This reminds me a lot of people's descriptions of DMT trips, in which many people report the same feeling of having to cross a barrier, and of being in a place where they know they ought not be.

No modern book of magic or alternative religion would be complete without a small detour into physics, and Carroll provides the usual speculations about quantum entanglement. I used to be the sort of fedora-tipping atheist who sneered at this sort of thing. I'm a lot more humble now. I don't understand anything about physics or how it works, and I've read far too many physicists who cheerfully agree that nobody knows how the universe really works to ever sneer at someone trying to make sense for themselves. As the chaos magicians suggest: just do what works.
Profile Image for 沛德 包.
Author 2 books25 followers
May 28, 2022
Despite its notoriety, chaos magic isn't the blackest magic out there, but the postmodern twitch on the oldest of arts. It is only as notorious as the magician wills it. The 'chaotic' aspect of it has nothing to do with full blown anarchic and nihilistic appliance of magic to whatever means. It has to do with the understanding of the nature of reality as being (the son/daughter of) pure Chaos. Then again, this insight isn't the discovery of a single genius or a truth that has been transmitted from one generation to the next in whatever occult order or witch coven. The obsession with chaos is very postmodern and thus historic.
The postmodern core of chaos magic is key in understanding what is being presented here. Gone are the grand metaphysical narratives and bombastic arcane mythologies of before. What you get here is the skeletal essence of magic and you can flesh it as you desire. Hence why the book leaves upon so much space when the author touches upon the practise that follows the theoretical presentation of what Chaos is and how magic operates. Hardly any prefabricated ritual is offered here and it is up to the reader to find his own niche in the magical art.
In this book Carroll lays bare the very machinery with which magic works, or rather, a set of ideas on how it works. In this way Carroll is offering one of the most scientific presentations on magic. This is no Crowley who bombards you with an enrapturing and bewitching style of writing, but a more down-to-earth and rather sober attitude. The book gives you your toolbox and off you go.
The relativism which is inherent in chaos magic is where I don't fully agree with, although I do recognize this phase in thinking (and practising) is a necessary part of evolution. I might agree with Carroll's ( actually Hassan-I-Sabbah's ) postulate that "nothing is true, everything is permitted", but that does not make me doomed to be a "nihilist" or a "vitalist". I do still believe that "The road to excess is the path to wisdom". By devoting oneself to something, even if irrational, to make the Kierkegardian leap of faith, is what makes life worth living. Vitalism exhausts itself sooner or later. To be truly alive is to assume the impossible and live by it. The narrative, yes even mythology, is what needs to return to the occult to make the magician mobile and not a fancy empiricist and dilettante of the arts.

The merit of Carroll's work is that he (and other chaotes) have shown us how magic truly works, whatever the god or demon it is we are devoted to, or the myth we live by. This in itself is of tremendous importance if we wish our magic to work and not get stuck in orthodoxy for the sake of the belief system itself.
But we cannot stop there. The machinery needs to serve a purpose. Let that be magicians their new mission.
Profile Image for Al Baker.
34 reviews
September 4, 2015
One of the Seminal texts on postmodern magick. A true classic which definitely changed my view on magick dramatically, perhaps even my life. A liberating book that inspires creativity, and self-expression. If you're tired of overly-complex rituals based on some medieval mythos that seems like a joke to you, then this is the book for you. I mean, if you don't believe in the supernatural at all, then how could you take things like demons, angels, Gods, and Goddesses seriously? Yet you can still do magick just as effectively if not more so, than someone who buys into some religions philosophy as being True independent of the believer, or the group. Islam and Christianity are good examples of this herd mentality that Chaos magick can easily make use of or toss out the window. Even Thelema has in some circles a bit of Orthodoxy and dogma -- required beliefs to progress. But Chaos Magick has no such limitations. Creativity, boldness, and self awareness are required instead, not subjugation to the magickal authorities. More importantly though, this book teaches you how to use ANY belief to accmplish your will. Even beliefs completely anathema to Chaos Magick will work, because Chaos is not subject to non-contradictory identification unless you want it to be that way. You can will rationality just as easily as absurdity.
The most powerful teaching in this book, I think, is Sigil Magick -- which may have originated with another occultist named AO Spare. Incredibly simple, yet highly effective and based on fairly sound psychological principles of trance, self-hypnosis, self programming. Sigil Magick really works, and so do servitors, because what matters is what you put into it, and how you use these tools. On a psychological level, this book is far more entertaining, fun, and creatively inspiring than blabbing at some therapist for the rest of your life.
At the very least it is a useful book for learning about your True Self, or your whole self by experimenting with different personas, or adopting myths that help you get a handle on aspects of your psyche that you want to understand, control, or make use of. You learn alot about yourself by identifying your desires in life, but most people put limitations on their life by trying to be too 'realistic' all the time, too enslaved to strict rationality; thus unfulfilled, and complacent.
This book cuts through all the bullshit and gives you tools to do real magick meaning it teaches you how to do your will in the real world. Artists could benefit from this book as well because it allows you to learn the basic underlying structures of any ritual, giving you the template in which you can create any ritual you desire for any purpose.
Chaos Magick does have a few problems though. It is all too easy to try and pigeonhole it into just another belief system full of dogmas, strict rules, and the typical personality cult magick often leads to. It also could result in lazy lazy, self congratulatory, pointless magick since 'anything goes'. But as William Blake wrote, 'The fool who persists in his folly will become wise'.

Profile Image for Terra Bosart.
57 reviews2 followers
June 4, 2009
This was my first introduction to Chaos Magic, and it came across quite well. The writing and descriptions and concepts resonated with me so well that I began magical practice again. This book, along with Liber Kaos, challenged my perspectives and dropped me off where I started. Lovely.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
163 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2020

When I was thirty, I read these two volumes religiously and dedicated myself to IOT°4. After a decade of practice, I counted myself an adept, and put it all behind me. Twenty-five years later I have re-read these books and humbly offer my opinion on their efficacy.
This volume is split into two parts as the eponymous title indicates. Liber Null is a four volume set describing the theory and philosophy of IOT(Illuminates Of Thanateros). Psychonaut is more concerned with the practice of IOT.
As such, I found Liber Null to be more dramatic and useful. I had no desire to lash myself to IOT. The four books of Liber Null happily pointed me in the right direction. At least in part. Much of the theory of Chaos Magick, as envisioned by the author is tied to the care and feeding of the ego. It took many years to undo this. Only after greviously wounding the ego was I able to be liberated from the dance of Thanateros and truly appreciate the power and responsibility of an adept.
So, be warned. There are some gems scattered amongst the drek and dross, but some are toxic. And those gems can be found elsewhere in a more enduring form. Take care.
Profile Image for Wesley.
31 reviews
January 15, 2015
Ah... This book was interesting. Sure it's all in our heads - but how big are our heads? Hah. If your mind is stuck in familiar ruts, this book might be a good place to go "off road". Caveat emptor.
Profile Image for kit.
386 reviews13 followers
December 23, 2008
Very good--if often pompous and opaque--text from Pope Pete. Probably not a good introductory book on Chaos Magick, as the spiralling idea-play sometimes nears the Crowleyesque. Still, it can be an exciting read, even if the concepts aren't as easily appliccable as when outlined by Hine.
Profile Image for Dafna .
141 reviews10 followers
May 15, 2013
This book was amazing. I'm not quite sure how to go about writing a review for it, so I'll start by saying, that many magicians who turn to writing, have a very arrogant manner of introducing the subject matter. They stress secrecy, over complicate things for the reader, and the entire work serves as a way for them to feed their ego. Making it less about actually wanting to introduce the subject to new adepts. This is not the case with Carroll. His writing is straightforward and isn't bogged down with bs.
The wealth of information in these books is also very impressive, and I would recommend these books to anyone who was interested in a heartbeat. Excellent.
Profile Image for Tim.
52 reviews19 followers
January 16, 2009
I loved Liber Null, but Psychonaught was beyond me at this point. I will take it up again, but not until I have finished Prometheus Rising and Introduction to Chaos Magick (re-read).
Profile Image for Jessecooperlevy.
5 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2017
The neon bible. It's what every harry potter fan should read upon growing up and being discouraged.
Profile Image for Alexander.
50 reviews38 followers
June 2, 2021
A diverting miscellany of Pop Occult wank templates beloved to obese, ponytailed goth bros. (Imagine Deepak Chopra weaned on White Wolf and Chaosium tabletop RPGs and early Dead Can Dance records.)

That said, there are some pithy moments:

“Laughter is the only tenable attitude in a universe which is a joke played on itself…. The trick is to see that joke played out even in the neutral and ghastly events which surround one. It is not for us to question the universe’s apparent lack of taste.” (17)

“The advantages of hand forging one’s own instruments, or discovering them in some strange way, cannot be over-emphasized.” (19)

“White Magic leans more toward the acquisition of wisdom and a general feeling of faith in the universe. The Black is concerned more with the acquisition of power and is reflective of a basic faith in oneself. The end results are likely to be not dissimilar, for the paths meet in a way impossible to describe.” (25)

“Chaos is...the force which adds increasing complexity to the universe by spawning structures which were not inherent in its component parts.” (28)

“Metamorphosis may be pursued by seeking that which is not, and transcending both in mutual annihilation.” (41)

“The magician...programs himself into identity with the god by arranging all his experiences to coincide with its nature.” (43)

“The solution is to become omnivorous. Someone who can think, believe, or do any of a half dozen different things is more free and liberated than someone confined to only one activity…. For this reason Sufi mystics were required to master a handful of secular trades in addition to their occult studies.” (45)

“An idea cannot be said to be completely understood till you understand the conditions under which it is not true. Similarly you cannot possess a personality until you are able to manipulate and discard it at will…. Scheme against your most sacred principles in thought, word and deed…. The only clear view is from atop a mountain of your dead selves.” (48)

“[The] magician vows ‘to interpret every manifestation of existence as a direct message from the infinite Chaos to himself personally.’” (49)

“Those who self-righteously value their own contradictions are mighty on this earth…. Every moment the consortium of ‘I’ puts forward a new face.” (59)

“In the arena of Anon compete numerous selves, souls, familiar spirits, demons, obsessions, and an infinity of possible experiences. Each game is short, and then the pieces are hurled through death into unrecognizable new configurations.” (67)

“The pinnacle of excitation and the cave of absolute quiescence are the same place magically and physiologically.” (68)

“Reflecting on the meaninglessness of anything as he becomes conscious of it, he laughs aimlessly at everything. He may be granted the grace of being swept up onto the divine madness of ecstatic laughter.” (70)

“Raving blind rage is a magical state of mind. It is useful for casting one’s will upon the universe and may, for skilled practitioners, be a gateway to trance states.” (82)

“The ecstatic laughter of divine madness is the sweeping up of every perception into a vortex of surprise at its very existence.” (84)

“Lifestyle consultants will become the new priests of our civilizations.” (90)

“Magic is opposed to a psychiatry and medicine designed to patch up the damaged automaton and plug him back into the system.” (114)

“I usually advocate astrology persuasively to ordinary people but ridicule it to my magician friends. Humor and random belief allow the use of astrology to disorder what people think either way. Does this mean that I am: a) lying, b) mad, c) enlightened, d) aware of our ability to live almost any truth?” (115)

“Magical training is designed to open up the neglected dream level, to provoke an examination of the contents of the robotic level, and to add new programs to it. It should also teach the method of turning awareness on or off at will, and of entering the gnostic level and acting within it.” (123)

“No rites are given for the creation of Adepts or Masters, for each seeker must devise his own entrance into these grades and await the recognition of his peers.” (129)

“The priest arouses within himself a resurgence of the Chi, or Kundalini, or Sacred Firesnake, as it is variously known. Other participants may assist by delivering such incantations as the incomparable ‘Hymn to Pan,’ by projecting a visualization of the averse pentagram into the priest, and if need be, by administering the Osculum Infame. (This so-called obscene kiss to the devil’s hindquarters has been much misunderstood. All that is required is that one breathes onto the peritoneum, the space between the genitals and the anus – inside of which the kundalini awaits to be aroused.)” (131)

“Belief in a god or belief in one’s ego are the same thing. Every man is already his own diseased vision of God.” (166)

“We cannot perceive Chaos directly, for it simultaneously contains the opposite of anything we might think it is.” (192)

“Humanity has proved itself totally incapable of handling even a moderately dangerous substance like plutonium with responsibility. Imagine what it would do with machine-enhanced sorcery, or even simple, reliable telepathy. It is in the interests of the survival of the species that occultists continue to ridicule and discredit their own arts in the eyes of orthodox science.” (199)

Profile Image for sardonic.
35 reviews
October 6, 2022
Lately, I have been very interested in the ways that Western Occultism (and in particular the campy, ritualistic, high magick which characterizes post-Enlightenment occultism) informs fascism (and vice versa) and is largely just a racist white washing of Eastern traditions. I'm not going to go into that here besides to point towards the first diagram in this book which is one of the most ludicrous depictions of a lineage of "magical traditions" that I have ever seen. This leads to me to my main issue which is that this book is not an intellectually rigorous foray into its subject matter by any standard. While I appreciate that the concepts the author is attempting to tackle are not easy to articulate and the author has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about them, he makes too many generalizations and claims about history and society to be presented without any kind of research or bibliography. Actually, most of the "philosophical" theories presented pretty much read like some guy making stuff up. There is a made up alphabet/symbolic language, made up words, made up demons and deities, etc. Mind you, this is while the author makes clear he believes the project of modern occultism to be trying to re-explore some "ancient" and universally human shamanic tradition and rediscover knowledge lost since that time. I was endlessly amused by the final essay of the book in which this guy presents some "mathematical" postulates which he calls catastrophe theory that amount to demonstrating geometric manipulation of a sheet of paper and a fancy analogy about its four corners.

The practical information I did find interesting. The initiatory exercises, rites, and practices provided a window into the mindset of the 20th century European occultist. I think despite all of the fluff and postulating about Life and Death and Hate and Love there are some core concepts which he is able to put forward very plainly and comprehensibly. In particular here I am referring to the discussion in Liber Null about taking control of your mental and emotional states and a more general thread through the book of understanding the force of perception. Particularly considering psychiatry's place in our current society I found some of what was discussed to be quite prescient. I want to quote something here:

Any state of mind may arbitrarily be chosen as an objective for transmutation, but there is a specific virtue to the ones given. The first is an antidote to the imbalance and possible madness of the magical trance. The second is a specific against obsession with the magical practices in the third section. They are:

1) Laughter/Laughter
2) Non-attachment/Non-disinterest

[..]Laughter is the only tenable attitude in a universe which is a joke played upon itself.
The trick is to see that joke played out even in the neutral and ghastly events which surround one. It is not for us to question the universe's apparent lack of taste. Seek the emotion of laughter at what delights and amuses, seek it in whatever is neutral or meaningless, seek it even in what is horrific and revolting. Though it may be forced at first, one can learn to smile inwardly at all things.

The concept taken up here should be very familiar to anyone who is even mildly in proximity to meme humor and internet culture in general.

Anyway, not sure if I would necessarily recommend this to anyone although I did genuinely enjoy reading parts of it but much of it made me feel like I was trapped at a bar with some guy poorly mansplaining philosophy to me and I indulge him because I don't want to deal with his feelings or, God forbid, a debate. It was pretty taxing to get through the whole thing, but I succeeded in transmuting my boredom into motivation! Or something
Profile Image for Heidi’s Zee.
12 reviews
July 27, 2023
Zware stof, wat dit boek zowel moeilijk maakt als erg verdiept en informatief zonder bijpraat. Ik hou ervan hoe rauw de materie gepresenteerd wordt, en hoe rauw de materie zelf is (tot gruwelijk aan toe, maar ook dat leert je wat).
Ik kan niet wachten om aan de slag te gaan met technieken uit dir boek, wat waarschijnlijk een levenslange oefening zal worden.
Profile Image for Claudio Yáñez.
357 reviews
June 6, 2023
¡Estupendo clásico de la literatura del Caos! Cierto es que lo tenía como lectura atrasada -no sé bien porqué- pero oye, qué gusto ponerme serio y leer a Libertad Null, fue un placer.
Profile Image for dr_set.
225 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2019
The book is a bundle of two smaller books, The Liber Null and the Psychonaut.
The first one is nothing but a bunch of gibberish. Lots of unfunded affirmations pepper with made up words to make it sound deep and important. It’s no different than any other made up system of tough such as Scientology with is Thetans and its Lord Xenu.

At least in two different occasion it makes claims that are easily verifiable to be false. For example:

Lévitation (which includes the ability to walk on water and fire, as well as in the air, or at fantastic rates across the earth) is accomplished by supporting the body's weight with these aetheric force lines. In the case of firewalking, the force is used to repel the heat and flames.

This affirmation by the author is pure nonsense. Firewalking is very well understood by basic science and you can test the principle at home and educate your small children at the same time by simple taking two plastic cups, one empty and one filled with water. If you put a burning match or the flame of a lighter to the bottom of the empty one, it will burn immediately creating a hole on the cup, but if you do the same with the one that has water on it, nothing will happen because a large part of the heat will be transferred to the water so the bottom of the cup will not burn unless the water grows hot enough. This happens because water is a much better conductor of heat than air, so it can absorb a larger amount of it, that is why it is used as a refrigeration means in things like cars (radiator) or computers (liquid cooling).

In the feet, blood accomplished the exact same thing, allowing you to briefly walk on hot coals. Now, if you stand in the coals for a couple of seconds without moving, you will burn because the blood will no be able to absorb enough heat.

The second book has some interesting insight on biology and psychology and some general good advice. For example:

Developing an ego is like building a castle against reality. It provides some defense and a sense of purpose, but the larger it is, the more it invites attack, and, ultimately, it must crumble. There is a further problem. All fortresses are also prisons. Because our beliefs imply a rejection of their opposites they severely restrict our freedom.

The author it is surprisingly reasonable and down to earth about what he expects to get from his “magical” pursuits:

MAGICAL, MYSTICAL, AND religious enterprises seek to fulfill five basic human needs, which can be identified as follows:
To provide techniques of Emotional Engineering.
To give life a sense of Meaning.
To provide some means of Intercession or Intervention.
To supply an explanation of Death.
To formulate a Social Structure or Cult.

He also explains and denounces the more common technics used to manipulate people by governments, cults, religions, etc. advising the reader to be on the look out for them and to denounce them and ridicule them.

People are not persuaded into belief intellectually. They are persuaded to perform religious acts in childhood or while under stress. Afterward they develop or accept the rationalizations and opinions that go with it. To convert a man to anarchism, persuade him to throw a bomb for various romantic emotional reasons. He will subsequently have to adjust his beliefs to justify what he has done. .... At first only the smallest and most inconsequential obediences will be demanded. These force the rationalization that one is in fact loyal to whatever one is giving one's obedience to. This loyalty is but a stepping stone to greater acts of submission, usually of one's intelligence, wallet, and sexual favors…
The activities of cults would seem to presuppose a high degree of cynicism among their leaders. This is rarely so. Most have swallowed their own lies and deceptions totally, or else rationalized them in terms of an even higher cause. As a result, their burning obsession equips them with a certain charisma which puts fire in their eyes and inflames their speech. And what is the end result of all this cultish activity? Commercialism or a Police Raid.

Attempts to use the various tricks of the teacher enumerated in this section will be immediately spotted and ridiculed.

This book was not what I was expecting at all. I was looking for a set of practical experiments and a compilation of insight on things like synchronicity. There is very little of it on the book and a whole bunch of general gibberish.
Profile Image for Levanah G..
12 reviews3 followers
August 13, 2020
This book is very near and dear to my heart. It was one of the first books about Occultism that I've read 11+ years ago, and re-reading it again so many years later was just as enjoyable as before.
It's incredibly informative, but none of the information contained is ground-breaking. What makes all the difference is the way Carroll approaches subjects. I don't think that any modern Occultist can be as inspiring as Carroll is, and it's clear that he's not even really trying to do so.
Everything is thoroughly explained, there's a why to everything he says, and it's evenly distributed between theoretical and practical lessons.
It's one of the easiest books about Occultism, it doesn't try to be pretentious or needlessly complicated in order to seem mysterious. Carroll makes you want to seek the Occult for yourself without needing to use vague terms or romanticise the entire process.
Hands down, my favourite part is the Liberation in Liber Lux, seeing as it really shaped my entire outlook ever since I've read it over a decade ago.
I'm incredibly picky and cynical about what I read, especially when the subject is Occultism, but Liber Null & Psychonaut just somehow gets everything right in the simplest of ways.
5/5, I recommend it to anyone who asks me about good beginner books (or just books in general.)
Profile Image for Gustavo.
22 reviews
March 7, 2021
Cuiado não, agora vo meter o harry potter em vocês
Profile Image for Vladimir.
111 reviews30 followers
March 20, 2021
This book is an incoherent piece of trash full of badly elaborated ideas. I can't speak for the practical magical side of things although he doesn't seem to be capable od providing concrete instructions for anything. My interest in this book was more academic than anything else, but if the theoretical foundations are so rotten I can't imagine that it has any practical value for potential believers. The author either intentionally misuses both Western, Hindu and Buddhist references or he doesn't understand them at all. I'm talking about the basic concepts, nothing particularly advanced or nuanced. It reads like a compilation of disjointed Reddit posts by someone trained at the University of Wikipedia and mentored by hellraiser666 on an obscure occult message board. The title of the book sounds cool, so that gets it the one star.
Profile Image for Shea Mastison.
189 reviews25 followers
December 29, 2014
"Nothing is true, everything is permitted" essentially sums up the overall arch of the book. Postulating the subjective existence of each individual's ego, Peter J. Carroll offers up an interesting look at the rituals of the Initiates of Thanateros--a postmodern occult group that traces their lineage back to prehistoric shamans and the Western esoteric tradition as a whole.

This is one of the better primers on chaos magic; and the ways in which one can use it to develop as a person in our society.

In my opinion, there are a few definite benefits to studying Carroll; you just have to be quick-witted enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. If bizarre and intentionally challenging literature is your thing, you'd probably like this.
Profile Image for Kelly.
9 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2023
There's a lot that I like about this work, but it's definitely got an underlying message of "make your mind do what you want it to do", which is a little naive and somewhat ineffective. I think this is a failed interpretation of Eastern traditions which work WITH the mind, but take a more integrated approach; for example, in Zen meditation, one is instructed to observe the mind, and not force it or it's thoughts, and later the mind opens and will allow deeper work without a struggle. I would love to see this book revised with this more effective methodology. Otherwise, there's some good stuff here and it's a pretty quick read.
Profile Image for Rjyan.
101 reviews7 followers
August 11, 2015
Carroll has some ideas that are definitely worth pinching, but there was more than a few times when the Order dude is describing/creating here sounds like fat camp, if there was a fat camp for becoming a total sociopath instead of losing weight. or whatever. His ability to cut huge mystical concepts down into clean, manageable pieces is sometimes impressive and practical, and sometimes conspicuously void of any of kind of awe or wonder-- which may not be a problem for you, and even if it is, it could very easily make you feel good about yourself, excited about being excited.
Profile Image for Kyle R.
11 reviews5 followers
January 6, 2019
I thought this was a great book. I read a lot of reviews on here from people who probably know more about this kind of stuff than I do - saying that it's more geared towards beginners and that it doesn't explain certain things in-depth enough. I was absorbed in every page and this entire book seemed to be what I had always been searching for - ideas that I had always been flirting with. It validated a lot of things for me. But this is coming from someone pretty new to occult studies in the first place.
Profile Image for Lilith Sussy.
31 reviews
September 18, 2019
This book was very interesting at first. It quickly devolves into what I can only call conjecture and poorly supported personal theory. The writing often borrows from sources that go unreferenced, and the author does not explain his reasoning for many of his claims. A number of misrepresented physics, astronomical, and mathematical theories are mentioned as supporting points for the core tenets of psychonautical development. They seem more the square peg in the round hole of a person's need to prove his private theories to others.
Profile Image for Jojo Scoble.
Author 1 book5 followers
November 30, 2022
Absolutely brilliant. What a wild read. Very dated but fascinating. Utterly fascinating. Psychonaught was a great tail to Liber Null. I listened to it on Audible and printed the PDF and followed the diagrams on there.
If you’re into the occult ‘geek-style’ you will love it. Great background of general practices, history and structures as well as applications and cautionary tales.
Well worth a read if you like things detailed and ‘text-book’
Profile Image for Harry Allard.
107 reviews6 followers
December 5, 2022
I was really into a lot of stuff that fell under the "Chaos Magick" umbrella as a teenager but never bothered reading this key text. It's a pretty standard mish-mash of Western occultism, drawing heavily from Crowley and Spare, and synthesising it all in an atheistic system. Didn't do much for me but it would probably serve as a decent introduction to certain core concepts.
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