Review: The Chaos Protocols

I'm overdue for a review of Gordon's other book. Since getting my preordered copy, I've read it twice through, revisited particular sections, and have tried several of the magical rituals and ideas. But I'm finding this is a much harder review to write than the one for Star.Ships. Because for me, The Chaos Protocols is very much preaching to the choir. It's not that I didn't learn anything new. Far from it. But because our worldviews are much in alignment, I have to avoid just gushing about the book and try instead to put myself in the shoes of a reader for whom this territory is not so familiar.

First of all, fair warning: this is not a coherent system of magic or religion. It is unashamedly a chaos magic book and doesn't purport to teach or instruct to much as inspire and share. That said, the working part of the book is a survey of useful techniques that are all informed by the same coherent philosophy. And it's this, covered in the first chapters, that will prove the most shocking or upsetting to many readers. It's an interesting book indeed where the economic perspective is potentially more controversial than the instructions for calling on the Devil at the crossroads.

While I haven't tried that particular rite (I have enough cross-road Deities in my life) I have tried several of the others. The rite getting the most attention seems to be the Headless Rite with the invocation of the four Kings. I tried the rite twice so far (once with a minor adjustment) and found that it was solid and path-agnostic. I also set up an altar to Fortuna (as part of our household altar), based on the book's recommendation and some great sync at the Archeology Museum in Frankfurt shortly after reading it.

Gordon plucks Gods, Saints, and Spirits from various locations and times, so you should be able to find something that resonates. More interesting is the sorts of classes of beings he recommends. His basic message is that you need a posse and that this posse should include certain skillsets. Still, he's definitely espousing a relationship-based model. Find the ones who resonate and see if the feeling is mutual.

In terms of spellcraft, Gordon is best known for his sigil work and this section of the book didn't disappoint (though the content will be familiar from the blog). I'm a long-time fan of sigils and very much appreciate Gordon's suggestions for improving their efficacy. I've had good experiences implementing his ideas and I like his suggestions for phrasing and activating sigils (which are based in research and his marketing/advertising experience).

Finally, as someone who's also a long-time fan of the tarot, I enjoyed his section on divination and found that the background research he quotes matches my own experience with the cards. He also has some great suggestions that I want to try using multiple decks (until recently I was a tarot monogamist -- one deck at a time).

Overall, this is a very readable and useful book with lots of great ideas for magical practice. However, in the end it's the first few chapters that will prove potentially the most useful for readers. I don't think of the book as difficult, however I've seen enough feedback that I interpret as misreading so recommend a slow and thorough first pass. It's not so much that it's hard to follow, but it may be hard for you to swallow. So chew on it and take a good look around you -- Gordon it right and his view of the world is pretty accurate. Fortunately you are a magician, so you have options. This book is a very, very good one.


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