Servitors, Psychodynamics and Models of Magick
Chaos Magick, at least if approached by through the internet and conversation with chaos magicians, can appear a sprawling, contradictory mess of techniques to the newcomer. The relativistic stance of Chaos Magick, and it’s apparent lack of a unifying template can appear both morally disturbing and intellectually frustrating, especially to occultists coming to it from more traditional paths. Frater U.D., in a small essay published in 1991, provided a clearer approach to chaos magick by declaring it to be a meta-model, a fifth approach to magick. The other four he defined as the Spirit Model (used by shamans and traditional ceremonial magicians, in which autonomous entities exist in a dimension accessible to ours through altered states of consciousness); the Energy Model (where the world is viewed as being ‘vitalized’ by energy currents that the magician manipulates); the Psychological Model (in which the magician is seen as “a programmer of symbols and different states of consciousness,” manipulating the the individual and the deep psyche); and the information model (where information is the code that programs the essentially neutral energy of the life force). Frater U.D. points out that writers on chaos magick generally subscribe to a great extent to the Psychological Model, but, their approach utilizes a Meta-Model, which is really a set of instructions on how to use the other models. One of the most salient facts about chaos magick, and one of the most difficult for many newcomers to grasp, is that it is not really a magickal philosophy at all, it is really a technology, an approach, or stance towards magickal systems. The path to this was a result of chaos magicians developing and then transcending the Psychological Model. This essay on servitors while discussing many of the practical issues in the creation and deployment of servitors also elucidates the relationship between chaos magickal theory and modern psychology.
Modern magicians, chaos magicians, contemporary sorcerers, and the other magickal users of servitors appear to have adopted a modified psychodynamic view of personality, and the way in which we identify ourselves. This view, first expounded by Freud and the other founders of psychoanalysis (Jung, Adler, etc.), suggests that the way in which we view ourselves develops over time, and motivational syndromes (what we want and how we go about getting it) are critical to this development. This is quite a different view than type or trait personality theories which were in favor throughout most of Western history (man is composed of a compound of four or five elements, for example). Chaos magicians tend to display more of a situationist stance to personality, that is to say they tend to act as though the situation in which one finds oneself is the dominant factor in observable behaviors. Chaos magicians also tend to suggest that this is a good thing, since it means the personality can be used opportunistically, as a tool to achieve desires. This stance also reflects Buddhist and Eastern views of the Self, which either repudiate its existence as a permanent construction, or state that its essential nature can only be discovered through profoundly altered states of consciousness (samadhi).
Phil Hine, in his excellent pamphlet “Chaos Servitors, a User Guide” writes of the self:
“I prefer the analogy of the self as an organic city-entity, where some portions are more prominent than others, where there are hidden tunnels and sewers, and where the under levels carry vital energies to buildings. The city-self is continually changing and growing – tear down a building of belief, and another grows back in its place.”
Austin Osman Spare was clearly influenced by psychodynamic theories of the self, as well as Eastern ones, and the general magickal theory he passed on to us embody these ideas. Primarily concerned with motivation (desire), Spare wrote in “The Book of Pleasure”:
“The ‘self’ is the ‘Neither-Neither,’ nothing omitted, indissoluble, beyond prepossession; dissociation of conception by its own invincible love is the only true, safe, and free…This Self-Love is now declared by me the means of evolving millions of ideas for pleasure without love, or its synonyms-self-reproach, sickness, old age, and death. The Symposium of self and love. O! Wise Man, Please Thyself.”
Note the combination of psychoanalytic vocabulary and Vedic metaphysics combined with an insistence on motivation as fundamental.
Now a servitor is generally considered to be a part of the personality of the magician that has been severed from him. I would argue that this is a limited view of servitors, that they could be considered severed portions of the Deep Mind, and consequently not located in the psyche of any particular magician. In my view demons, angels, imaginary friends, poltergeists and perhaps even ghosts are servitors. Servitors can be called thought-forms (as opposed to godforms which may sometimes be servitors on steroids).
Since contemporary magickal stances to personality are psychodynamic and motivational servitors tend to be viewed as functional entities, and rather easily operated. Contrast this with the type and trait theories that inform Traditional Ceremonial Magick. Magicians up until this century (and still some today) spend what seems to me ridiculous amounts of time and effort evoking demons, using grimoires, and engaging in a paraphernalia of magick that makes a great deal of sense if you believe in type and trait theories of personalities, but very little if your approach is situational and pyschodynamic. If you believe that a demon you summon is a wholly independent entity with a personality type all of its own you may have to resort to extreme measures to force it to do your bidding. If you believe that a demon is a servitor summoned as a manifestation of your desire then a simple bargain will suffice (I’ll give you energy, you get what I want, I’ll give you a nice place to live).
What is a Servitor?
Motivational syndromes (desire) are fundamental to Spare’s form of magick, hence the name of his most popular book, “The Book of Pleasure.” Spare and magicians, Chaos or otherwise, have adopted the Jungian expansion of Freud’s theory of the Unconscious. Jung theorized the existence of a collective unconscious, shared by all. He considered it to be transpersonal and the residue of the evolution of humankind. I personally prefer Jan Fries’ term, the Deep Mind, but it comes to much the same thing. Spare, who called the collective unconscious the sub-consciousness characterized it as follows:
“Know the sub-consciousness to be an epitome of all experiences and wisdom, past incarnations as men, animals, birds, vegetable life, etc. , etc., everything that exists, has and ever will exist.”
Both Spare and Peter Carroll attempted to develop a technical vocabulary to describe the phenomena and techniques of the type of magick posited by Spare. Carroll, both FireClown and I believe, was trying to construct a vocabulary that could be used by magicians of any type. FireClown calls this a “discussional template”, or a way in which, for example, thelemites could talk to wiccans without misunderstanding each other. Unfortunately Carroll’s use of the hierarchical gambit resulted in this vocabulary becoming exclusionary.
A fine example of this is the term “servitor.” The time predates Chaos Magick and can be found to refer to bound spirits in the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith, who was writing for Weird Tales in the 1930s. Servitor is actually a word referring to entities that actualize through evocation, a magickal technique as old as magick itself. Carroll writes
“These beings have a legion of names drawn from the demonology of many cultures: elementals, familiars, incubi, succubi, bud-wills, demons, atavisms, wraiths, spirits, and so on.”
Spare seems to indicate that these entities are bound to obsessions, that is to say the magician, experiencing an obsession (a way the psyche tells the magician that it desires something), forms part of the sub-consciousness into a semi-independent phenomenon that will do the work needed to actualize the magician’s desire. Carroll disagrees somewhat, although he allows that such beings have their origin in the human mind. Phil Hine whose interest in his User’s Guide to Servitors is the creation of such beings writes:
“By deliberately budding off portions of our psyche and identifying them by means of a name, trait, symbol, we can come to work with them (and understand how they affect us) at a conscious level.”
So at least in the type of magick developed by Spare, Carroll, and Phil Hine, a servitor is a part of the magician’s psyche, or a part of the Deep Mind that the magician evokes to perform a task. Do these entities have an existence prior to their evocation? Perhaps. Magick is trans-temporal, trans-spatial. If the Deep Mind contains all experience that has been or ever will be then the question is meaningless, or as Blake wrote:
“Everything that can be Believed is an Image of the Truth.”
I do think that the use of servitors is widespread among many people who would not dream of considering themselves magicians. People personalize their cars, have imaginary friends as children, or give personalities to their toys, carry objects they consider to be “lucky” with them or allow their obsessions to absorb their personalities so they turn into demons. Many movies deal with servitors, Natural Born Killers being an obvious example, Tetsudo, a fine Japanese flick being an even more obvious example. In NBK the demons are eventually reintegrated and the two killers stop killing. The fine film Seven is essentially a magickal ritual in which the murderer uses people as the material bases for servitors, in this case representing the demons of the Seven Deadly Sins.
To my mind these are all examples of the use of servitors because they follow Hine’s simple definition of servitors as budded off portions of the psyche or personality developed for a simple or complex purpose which gain a semi-independent existence. Of course in the case of demons absorbing the personality the act is hardly adaptive, although it may have started out that way.
I’ll tell you a story. I had a friend about 12 years ago, a charming, handsome young man, intelligent, athletic, and sober. He used to baby-sit another friend’s teenage daughter. It turned out that he was a serial rapist. He would stalk women, rape them, and beat them nearly to death. He got caught because he fell asleep in his car outside his last victim’s apartment and was found by the police covered with his victim’s blood. I have no doubt he would have ended up murdering his future victims. Fortunately he is unlikely to ever have that chance.
Now what I think had happened with this man was that, perhaps as a result of some inability to integrate his rage towards women, he budded off a part of his personality, the violent, woman hating part, which became a demon, a semi-independent servitor. When his obsession was triggered it activated the demon which then completely possessed him and he became an utterly different person. For all I know he wasn’t even conscious of the demon himself.
None of his friends ever saw this demon, didn’t even have a glimpse, but his victims surely did.
Authors Details: By Marik (MarkDeFrates, marik[at]aol.com) Unknown Web Site