Five of Swords Magazine is a passion project created by a small group of bleeding edge magickians, offered free in PDF format via drop box links posted on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Reddit. Designed to showcase some of the more advanced ideas within the modern occult diaspora, it was just the kind of publication that I was looking to write for when exploring the abstract concepts showcased below. Better still, this article is actually right at the front of the very first issue which went live early July 2019, an honour that made me doubly determined to support their ongoing work wherever it may lead. With issue two out now, and showcasing more of my writing, it seemed the perfect time to post this one here for everyone who missed it.
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A Current Meme
Advanced Concepts In Perceiving Information Transfer
By Gavin Fox
Current. A term as important to the chaos magick meta-paradigm as triple goddess is to modern witchcraft, and just as difficult to define for those who are not actively involved with the system that spawned it. A few who claim a basic idea tend to perceive it as an abstract form of magickal energy. They argue that it is a source of very specific and contextual power that comes from somewhere outside of the material realm and can be utilised in a certain way to get the job done. Thus the death current flows from the yawning gateways to the underworld, the infernal current from portals to the supposedly demonic realm, and the nature current from the very earth itself. There are many others of course, but those three will suffice for now as they are the ones that I am personally the most familiar with in my own magickal practice.
As a bare bones working model there is nothing wrong with such a simple idea. Yet to see the concept of a magickal current as nothing more than a metaphor for polarity is to drastically limit your options as a magickian. A current is far more than a power source. It is a whole world view, a sea of information that the occultist swims through, the air that he breathes and the icy resolve in his veins. It finds expression within every action and interaction, bonding itself to the very psyche of the seeker and calling on them to achieve greatness in its name. Some may call it possession, others empowerment. Both are right in their own way.
To become one with a current is similar in many ways to searching for a patron god or goddess. Just like ice cream, once the right flavour is found, the other fifty-six in the store become far less attractive, though perhaps never completely redundant. It is not a system of worship, however. At the source the energies you are trying to bond with are in no way sentient, though they may have birthed godform offspring that are. While these can be approached normally, the magickian should instead continue striving to create a relationship with the core bundle of weaponised ideas, not the entities that cluster around it like sharpened teeth in a bleeding maw. This is the only way to retain autonomy, the single most important consideration for the aspiring mage looking to attain personal godhood.
Some may draw parallels to the idea of the metagame, the reading, watching and engaging with content from outside of a particular entertainment franchise that helps to turn it into a true community experience. Let’s play videos, guides to secrets and unlockables, even bad reviews all work in harmony to allow the most staunchly single player of games to create the illusion of not voyaging into the darkness alone. It is the films, both big studio and fan made, which expand upon the history of a comic book character or universe. The creepypasta and fan theories about a particular television show now long off the air. All these and more create a vast memetic soup that can be drunk in and lived by those who see value in doing so. The magickian seeks to do exactly the same thing, and in a variety of diverse ways depending upon the flavour that they prefer.
While the gothic subculture tends to boast a healthy preoccupation with mortality, and can offer much in the way of media and philosophy to the metagame for those approaching the death current, true immersion comes easiest if the seeker has experienced the loss of a loved one. Without such a catalysing event it is difficult to gain intimate access to modern burial rituals, or an understanding of the pain inherent in placing someone you once cared deeply about beneath the soil. Such a direct knowledge is required to completely open yourself up to this most primal of energies, though a basic kinship can still be kindled through a familiarity with funerary customs and folklore. Some necromancers recommend breaking into tombs and lying with the dead, though a true necrmant knows that such actions are deeply disrespectful, and generally a waste of time.
The infernal current is one of the more difficult to approach authentically. Much of the metagame surrounding this idea has been contaminated with Judaeo-Christian concepts of good and evil. Hollywood has muddied the waters further, spewing forth cookie cutter images of hell fire and brimstone, horns and fangs. But the real flavour of this particular memetic soup lies in rebellion and personal empowerment, two concepts that are easy enough to embrace and work into your life through political activism and voracious learning. That is not to say that the more pseudo-demonic aspects are to be ignored, however. Familiarity with the Goetia can in fact help, as can embracing the fashion and music of the satanic underground. Ultimately, how deeply the seeker chooses to work with these more mainstream ideas depends greatly upon how comfortable they are with co-opting popular culture to get results.
The nature current is by far the easiest to embrace. Indeed, many accept it as a governing principle of their lives without giving its magickal associations a second thought. An interest in ecology and animal rights tend to accompany the dominance of this particular world view, as will an enduring fascination with forests and wild places. Even the governments of the world have recently started to embrace it, albeit in the form of draconian global laws on carbon emissions and enforced recycling programs. It is interesting to observe just how many pagans have already given themselves body and soul to this idea without ever dabbling in practical witchcraft or druidry, instead lapsing into an almost skeptical rationalism. While this dull majority have most certainly missed the point, they can still be of use from a metagaming perspective, sharing as they do much the same ideals as the green magickian himself.
Also, the concept of memetics can be of some value when attempting to understand why embracing a certain magickal current will inevitably turn the magickian into a host organism spreading those viral ideas to others. Memes, as loosely described by uber-skeptic Richard Dawkins, can be best understood as little packets of information that are transferred from one human being to another via personal or remote interaction. These ideas are taken on board as learned and observed behaviour, be it through imitation or education, with the resulting memories forming the backbone of what we will go on to teach others in turn. In many ways they are seen as analogous to genes, albeit existing in a purely mental space, and with a far less pleasurable method of transmission from host to host. Unless you are sapiosexual of course.
The parallels between this non-physical movement of ideas and the more material blending of traits seen in Darwinian evolution do not end there, however. The projected mobility of a given meme is only as good as the recall of its carrier and their willingness to undertake the social activities required to spread it to others. Thus the public profile, charisma and persuasiveness of a person will serve the replication of a particular world view in a similar way that being stronger, faster and healthier serves to secure the best breeding stock for an alpha male in the animal kingdom. It could be argued that the years of reclusive studding and experimentation that accompany a descent into the magickal lifestyle directly inhibit the spread of these very currents, limiting their impact upon the zeitgeist. It might also explain why the dawning of the internet age, allowing as it does a new form of remote but still artificially personal interaction, coincided with a blossoming of magickal ideas around the world.