Sane and Magically Sound Advice for Turbulent Economic Times: A Book Review of The Chaos Protocols by Gordon White (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2016)
By Anna Applegate (c) 2017
It would be my earnest guess that most magical practitioners looking to add a book on success/prosperity magic to their occult libraries probably aren’t interested in learning about macroeconomic trends in the process. That’s a shame. Fortunately, Gordon White’s unique tome, The Chaos Protocols: Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality, bridges the realms of this-world economics and otherworldly magical skill-building techniques (cultivating relationships with spirits of the dead, for example, or forming alliances with morally ambivalent trickster deities to effect changes in personal wealth-building) with some wildly practical advice in beating the system to develop one’s career as well as further one’s spiritual evolution. Chaos magic furnishes the toolkit for working in either scenario.
The book pulls no punches in detailing a painfully accurate portrait of the dismal economic realities of the Western world—the United States in the wake of the Recession of 2008-2010 in particular—with a clarion call to expect things to get much worse. From examinations of predatory banking practices (e.g., subprime mortgage scandals) to skyrocketing higher education costs (in the U.S., the average annual tuition at a state university exceeds $35,000) to the rise of AI-driven automatons in displacing workers across a large swath of industries, The Chaos Protocols illuminates the ongoing assault on the middle class from a variety of angles. It’s an ugly thing to behold, this wider milieu and the forces culpable for creating it, and, while none of it comes as a surprise for anyone who even follows the news at a cursory level, it makes for some severely disquieting reading.
Mercifully, the manner in which Mr. White relays this bleak news is delightful, often uproariously funny. Grab a glass of chardonnay and giggle and wince as you read. With a palpable sense of warmth and no small amount of sarcasm/postmodern irony from his insider’s perspective—Mr. White is no stranger to personal wealth earned at the tables of some of the world’s biggest corporations—you know that you are getting exclusive information from a credible source.
And like the trickster gods he encourages magicians, occultists, and witches to form alliances with, Mr. White nimbly traverses liminal spaces from workplace trends to executing spells from the Greek Magical Papyri in as little time as it takes to snap my fingers. Remarkably, none of these transitions in subject matter ever feels disjointed. That’s because the worlds of global macroeconomic trends (brilliantly likened to astrological configurations of the slower-moving outer planets of our solar system) should be seen as impacting our own microeconomic / personal financial, and thus our personal magical/occult interpretations of success and wealth magic, situations. Because they are. As above, so below. To believe otherwise is to be the proverbial ostrich with one’s head in the sand.
And yet so few occultists or other magical people want to even bother to claim mastery over their own personal finances, let alone take the time to understand broader economic forces at work in the world. Speaking from experience in my Chicago Pagan and magical communities, I know too many people who still haven’t displaced their former Judeo-Christian worldviews in seeing “money as the root of all evil” or somehow antithetical to the development of their spiritual selves. And then they wonder why their prosperity or job spells aren’t working?
If you’re one of those people, Mr. White offers remedies that serve as the magical equivalents of Cher’s character, Loretta Castorini, in the 1987 film Moonstruck when she famously shouts (slapping a clueless Nicholas Cage in the process), “Snap out of it!” After all, the subtitle of the book begins with the phrase “Magical Techniques.” The Chaos Protocols is therefore a prescriptive tome—not just a descriptive one of economic woes. Detailed exercises and ritual activities span from classic Ceremonial Magic (the Headless Rite) to Greco-Egyptian (evocation of Hermanubis) to shamanic workings (with the dead, chiefly your own ancestors, as well as lucid dream work) and beyond. The appeal of this book therefore extends to a wide audience of people already familiar with magical theory and ritual practice. The Appendix alone is a treasure trove of rituals and worth the price of the book.
“Properly enacted, chaos magic allows you to iterate through various magical forms until you land on ones that actually work” (White 76).
The tone of the book, despite the bleak economic realities presented in the content, is wholly optimistic. Mr. White reminds us that “wizards have always thrived in periods of acute cultural and economic change” (185). So zero in on your definition of “success” and go for it, bearing the lamp of wisdom found in your own “creative, imaginal capacity,” which “knows when to change the changeable and when to find another way around the unchangeable” (186).
This isn’t your typical book on prosperity magic, thank the Gods. Start the new year on a good note with the consciousness-raising, witty, empathic, and brave words from a wise and good-humored man, words that open worlds in The Chaos Protocols.
Your daimon will thank you for it!