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If you are new to the writings of Peter Carroll you should read this book first. It is the result of a tremendous effort to clarify the often confusing and unecessarily complicated writings of the past. In this day and age it is no longer necessary to withold this information or to write about it in "code". Carroll presents his information in a clear, rational and pragmatic way. Readers who have read his later books will notice that some of the theories presented here have become dated, which is only natural considering that the book was written over twenty years ago and that the development of magical theory and practice has progressed since then. In spite of this, it is important to familiarize oneself with the information presented here as it gives a solid foundation for understanding the basic priciples and techniques that his later, more advanced books only touch upon briefly. For example the book has the clearest system for attaining proper mind control which is absolutely necessary for more advanced work. It also explains the different methods of going into trance as well as the procedures for creating personalized sigils or encoded desires.The second part of the book entitled Psychonaut (great word by the way) consists of essays on a variety of topics related to the subject at hand: The use of psychoactive substances in ritual, different models for explaining magical phenomenon, etc.In a way, I tend to regard this book as a successful clarification of what Crowley and Spare tried to say in their confusing and long-winded fasion.
"Liber Null" presents some great ideas. If you are new in chaos magic I strongly suggest you get this book along with "Condensed Chaos" by Phil Hine. Read "Condensed Chaos" first then "Liber Null". As with any Peter Carrol book it contains dogmatism about his personal beliefs. However that is more than cancelled out by the wealth of ideas that is hidden throughout the book. If you see magic as being divided in black and white and different subdivisions within each one this book will prove trully valuable to read and try. If not (which was my case) it will prove as an interesting source of information that you can adapt or discard according to your liking and the belief system you are currently ingrained in.Assume nothing.
Peter Carroll has some interesting ideas, but they are mostly poorly-written regurgitations of what Crowley and A.O. Spare already said before he came to the table. I would recommend starting with source material if you want an understanding of those two. Israel Regardie and Lon Milo DuQuette both write some more accessible interpretations of Crowley if you don't want to wade through lengthy pontifications.
If you want a good introduction to Chaos Magick and to see some unique ideas, I highly recommend getting Phil Hine's "Condensed Chaos" (also available here on Amazon). His writing is excellent, and he does a much better job of clearly presenting the basics of Chaos Magick with a pragmatic attitude.
Carroll is interesting from a historical perspective since he was one of the early Chaos Magicians, so this is probably worth having for the completist.
Our life is an uncertain mess of chaos. We never know if tomorrow will come for us, or what it will bring. Nothing is true. If you've been jostled awake by the sirens of nihilism, this book will keep you awake long into the night, as you wonder at what may just be possible for someone with the inclination and the wonderment to actually jump, head first, into the world of the Chaote. Otherwise, you can just sit on the shore, enjoying the view.This book, more or less, is an instruction manual for initiates of the IOT, an order of anarchist-occultists founded by the scientist/punk/philosopher (my kind of guy!) Pete Carroll. It outlines the practices of Neophytes, Initiates, Adepts, and Priests of Chaos, as well as includes some basic practices (a combination of A.O. Spare's Zos Kia, non-religious Thelema, Wicca, Sorcery, Shamanism, Goetic Necromancy, and Vajrayana Buddhism)... in other words, total and complete wickedness. Check it out.
Take an amalgam of various Crowleyana, Austin Osman Spare's sigil practices, and an amoral viewpoint, and what do you get? Well, Chaos Magic.... apparently. Personally, I think that if all you're going to do is condense a Golden Dawn training manual for the early sections, rename a few concepts, and introduce sigils you'd be better off just admitting where these practices come from and be done with it. I came to this book expecting something new, and instead found regurgitated Hermeticism. Yes, I'm very disappointed.For folks out there that have never read much or been interested in magical techniques, this book may provide a suitable starting point. However, for claiming to be a book about chaos, it sure is filled with dogmatic statements, irritating Aeonics (Crowley, again... you'll be saying that all throughout this book if you're anything like me) and presumptuous prophecies about our future world.Personally, I've found very little of use inside this book. I don't -disagree- with anything in it, and in fact think it probably is an effective magical practice... but Chaos Magic? I think not.