In the words of Lou Reed: it is not a dog tied to a parked car.
There is no one way to define chaos magic because the chaos that can be described is not the true chaos. Chaos magic is a highly individualized approach to magic and every player tends to add hir own personal touch.
I see chaos magic as a post-modern approach to magic. One of the main tenants of post-modern philosophy is that progress is a myth. The only kind of progress that is possible is the progress of the individual rather than the whole of humanity. Another aspect of post-modern theory is its acceptance of the irrational. Belief and the imagination are powerful tools that can literally create miracles. Finally, postmodernism rejects the modernist idea that only the newest is best. Chaoties feel free to pick and choose from both ancient and new ideas. The only criteria: does it work and is it meaningful for the individual? A chaotie might believe in the Sandman comic universe one week ... DragonBall Z or the Tooth fairy the next week ... and then practice ancient and historically accurate Sumerian rituals the next.
When playing with a mythos a chaotie is paying close attention to symbols and patterns in order to use them as strange attractors to help hir achieve hir personal goals. Here's an analogy to literacy and semiotics: a person learns to read through actively transforming symbols into meaning. Magic involves a similar process. Magic is the art of transforming a life into something meaningful. Magic is like a technology for the good life or learning how to read and manipulate the text of experience to create one's own universe of fulfilled desire.
Chaos magic is also a stance or style of magic. Many chaoties are amoral creatures who exist outside the established codes of morality. Though chaoties may be amoral they do tend to embrace the darker aspects of the multiverse because many believe that exploration of the outer limits is a primary task. This kind of orientation reflects itself in fashion choices. Many chaoties wear black, have unusual piercings and multiple tattoos. Many also affect a bad-ass stance. Why? Well, it is probably more fun than dressing like a businessman but hey ... there are chaoties who do that too.
Many people in the chaos current believe in the need to face one's deepest fears and greatest joys. To reach those spaces often requires taking huge risks and making what others might call big mistakes. But errors are great teachers. In magic the safe path will probably take you nowhere. Safety is an inertia trap. To really go somewhere you have to purposely attempt to get lost. At least that's what Winnie the Pooh whispered to me one day ... and if you can't trust a bear of little brain well then who CAN you trust?
As far as techniques go ... well ... anything goes ... but there are some signature practices. Many chaoties have been influenced by the writings of A.O. Spare and so tend to seek out altered states of consciousness where magic can occur. Spare called this state of mind 'gnosis.' Both inhibitory and excitatory methods can be used to attain gnosis. Inhibitory gnosis comes from getting really quiet and going deep within using practices like meditation, path working and astral travel. Excitatory gnosis can be achieved through dancing, drugs, sex, drumming and other active pursuits.
Another practice that is commonly used and may have been invented by Spare is the use of sigils. The best description of sigil use that I have found is:
Fireclown's Sigilization Basics for the Confused
OK, so you haven't read Liber Null, Practical Sigil Magick, the Grey Book, Visual Magick, or anything else on Sigil Magick, and don't have any money and/or hate books anyway. May this brief bit of fluff aid you in some way.
Sigilization, or Sigil Magick is generally attributed to Austin Osman Spare. I feel he got the idea from drawing up monograms as a child, or perhaps from looking at watermarks on paper.
END OF HISTORY SECTION.
The general idea is that Magick functions on a subconcious/deep mind level, and that the logical/discursive mind only hinders the manifestation of results. It does this by
1) Lust of Result,
2) constantly denying the possibility of manifestation. i.e., I can't get laid 'cos I'm a bastard!, or I'm stupid and clumsy, and have no social graces, therefore I can't be a waiter, even though I really really want to be one.
There are other reasons, but I'm not going to go into them here.
Therefore Sigil Magick seeks to implant and embed directions and/or desires into the deep mind in a way that goes un-noticed/un-opposed by the rational/discursive mind.
Take a statement of Desire, containing no negative words, and write it out.
I WANT TO F**K BOOTSY COLLINS (used as an example only)
But no, that's not quite right ... too vague ...
I WILL F**K BOOTSY COLLINS
Yes, that's better. Forceful is good.
Eliminate repeat letters.
Now make the letters into a monogram of sorts.
\ /|\ / \ / | \ / \/ | \/ diagram simplified for ASCII (|)
Anyway, you use all the letters left over and make a little picture. This is your seed, if you will.
Now, forget all about Bootsy for awhile, and take your little picture and PLANT IT!
There are a variety of ways to do this, and we'll look at some.
Obviously, there are many ways to do this particular Magick Trick, just as there are as many rabbits as there are hats to pull them from. The most important bits to keep in mind are: make your Sigil nonrepresentative of your desire, try to forget what the sigil is for, and I recommend destroying your Sigil as soon as you plant it. I will also be heretical here, and say one should not record their experiments with Sigil magick, and if they do, keep the records extremely vague. One good way to do this is to seal the paper used to work up your Sigil (perhaps the finished and charged sigil as well) in an envelope marked only with the date performed. Don't open the envelopes for at least six months. Still, I think that fast create/embed/destroy cycles work best.
And now back to the regularly scheduled broadcast ...
Another very important practice is the paradigm shift. Chaoties as a rule practice frequent paradigm shifts. A paradigm shift occurs when one fully immerses oneself into an alien way of perceiving reality. So a wallflower becomes a social butterfly; a hippy-type will become a skinhead and a femi-nazi will immerse herself in the world of pornography.
Possibly the most important idea of chaos magic and what might separate it from all other magical styles is the practice of 'banishing with laughter.' As Joseph Maxx once noted, chaos magic is not Satanism lite. It could be argued (and trust me it has) that the absolute worse thing a chaotie might do is take hirself and what he/she does too seriously. Not that that happens too often. Chaoties as a rule tend to have a great sense of irony and love to laugh.
Some famous people who have helped to further the meme of chaos magic are: A.O. Spare, Peter Carroll, Phil Hine, William Burroughs and Hakim Bey. There are international organized chaos orders such as the I.O.T. (Illuminates Of Thanateros) as well as some groups that are more anarchistic in structure and philosophy such as the Z(cluster) and the AutonomatriX.
One of the common icons of chaos magic is an eight rayed star reflecting a love of freedom and possibility. It shoots out in every direction like a super compass holding four extra directions or maybe even dimensions. If you are interested in learning more about the chaos multiverse and would like to boldly go where other maniacs have gone before then please check out the following links. And may the dark side be with you.
The Z(Cluster)/Marik's Home page
Tools of Chaos
Public Netbase/Hakim Bey
Phil Hine's Home page
Disinformation's Dossier on Chaos