The first magical secret society to embrace the late twentieth-century paradigm of chaos magic, the Illuminates of Thanateros was founded in Germany by two chaos magicians in 1978, drawing on materials from the Thelemic magic of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis and the Zos Kia Cultus of the English autoerotic mystic Austin Osman Spare. The word “Thanateros” is a fusion of the Greek words thanatos, “death,” and eros, “love,” and reflects the central themes of its system. See magic; Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO); Zos Kia Cultus.
Chaos magic is based on the belief that the only valid parts of traditional magical teaching are its techniques for transforming consciousness and causing change, while its philosophy, cosmology, and ethical teachings should be discarded. In place of these latter, the IOT urges the rejection of all fixed patterns of belief and the use of improvised rituals centering on altered states of consciousness. The antinomian outlook of the IOT has predictably prevented it from becoming particularly large or well organized, but a recently updated Internet site lists 16 IOT temples scattered around the world.
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006