The Monastic Rule
Updated: 12 August 2005 (minor edits)
(This is the entire rule, formatted, as I wrote it. I will eventually break this up a bit and scatter it into the appropriate places on the website. But, for now, here's the whole thing, in one fell swoop. - Hxaosanto)
Table Of Contents
- Why Be A Chaos Monk?
- Personal Guidelines
- Conclusion, or "What Do I Do Now?"
I'd like to thank everyone who has ever lived who has taken a stand and gone against the mainstream, from the first person to mess around with fire to the most recent Iraqi war protestors. I'd also like to thank everyone who has believed that humanity can improve and who look continually forward.
This is actually only part of the book “Embrace the Chaos”. I haven’t written the rest of the book yet, although I have an outline and a few notes so far. This part of the book was immediately relevant to me, so it was created first.
I can hear people now: "What the hell is this? Why are you trying to impose order on chaos? Don't you know we're supposed to be free-form and do whatever we want?" Sure. I'm being free-form, too! See, watch me create a monastic rule! WHEE!!!
This isn't for everyone. Here in America, even monastics of mainstream religions such as Roman Catholic Christianity and Buddhism are considered a bit weird, maybe a little psychologically "off their rocker". That's OK, because mainstream American ideals and beliefs are not healthy and the fact that they look down upon those who decide to dedicate their lives to something besides money and possessions proves this fact.
I wrote this book out of a personal need. To make a long story short, my life has changed drastically in the past few years, more drastically than most others. Death, divorce, separation, confusion, depression, suicidal thoughts - these have all been present in my life and mind. I came to a turning point, a point where I could choose a path and a dream and follow it. Little did I know that path might be a self-initiated monasticism in the desert.
I have decided to reduce my life to its barest minimum. In the past, I've made conscious decisions to reduce consumption and live more sustainably, but this is a decision to reduce EVERYTHING. Yet, it is a decision to balance out my being. It is a decision to exercise my mind, body, and spirit equally. It is a decision to try to find out what this universe is all about.
Sounds crazy, huh? Yeah, you're right - it's nuts. Toss this book and go watch a sitcom.
(psst. Are they gone yet?)
Good. Not crazy, you say? Read on, and I hope that it proves useful for you and me both.
Why Be A Chaos Monk?
Why would anyone voluntarily regiment their life so as to exercise, grow, learn, and be amazed? "Why WOULDN'T they?” is the better question. In American society, we concentrate almost 100% of our efforts on physical needs and wants - we feed, fight, and fuck. A few people concentrate on intellectual needs and wants, which are a subset of the overall mental needs of a human being. Some people reduce both their physical and mental aspects and concentrate on their spiritual needs and wants (usually to their, and society's, detriment). But very, very few people try to balance all of these various requirements. That balance is part of this path.
What would you gain from being a more balanced human being? Plenty. Better physical fitness, increased mental acuity, improved memory, balanced emotions, respect for the universe, and a sense of calm. I know I sound like some New-Agey crystal worshipper, but I'm not. I'm just someone who's trying to strike a balance in all realms of my life.
"Well, how does livin' in the desert, freezin' and bakin', qualify as 'balanced'?" I'm glad you asked. It's a sustainable lifestyle. Sure, at first it will be extremely difficult, and at times dangerous. But at some point, I'll have a decent dwelling, a garden, and fresh drinking water, and I'll be living in an extremely healthy environment. And what did it take to get me to that point? Physical fitness. In the process of balancing, I've built myself a home on a patch of dirt, somewhere I can continue to be healthy.
"Fine, but chaos ain't 'balanced'." Yes it is. And no it isn't. At the same time.
Many religions preach such a balance in life, although they are mainly in the east. Taoism seems to have the strongest views on "balance", using it to form almost its entire belief-system. Buddhism emphasizes balance, renouncing extreme asceticism and other extreme acts. Western religions, on the other hand, are extremely unbalanced. Judaism proclaims a jealous God. Christianity and Islam follow that trend, with their own spins. None of the western religions (except Sufi Islam) have any sort of physical exercises built into them, instead considering physical existence "lower" and "dirty".
This balance isn't even the "goal", if there is such a thing. The balance I'm speaking of will allow you to further your understanding of the universe. In addition, more understanding allows more insight and control. I'm not a "Type A" control freak, but it's nice to be able to see things before they hit and nudge things when needed. This is where magick comes into the picture.
Magick is the process of understanding the universe well enough to see things that others don't see, and to do things that others can't do, and to fully live. Once balanced, you will have improved senses - not only the 5 physical ones, but other ones that we don't understand. You might see things that you couldn't see before. You'll also develop an intuitive feel for how to nudge things in certain directions. You'll be able to cause "Change to occur in conformity with Will", as old Uncle Al once said.
Do I seem a bit overzealous or serious about this whole matter? Yes, I probably do. And that is because I am serious about it. I am serious about growing. I am serious about learning. And I am serious about living. Some people think that makes me a bore; so be it.
This book is broken up into six sections, each of them dealing with a different facet of this sort of monasticism. "Ideals" lists the vague, abstract notions involved with the monasticism. "Personal Guidelines" describes how a monk should act and live. "Eremiticism" is a ten-dollar word for "the act of living alone, of being a hermit"; this section tells you how to act if you live by yourself or are the only monastic in your dwelling. "Cenobitism" is another ten-dollar word meaning "the act of living with others for the same purpose such as in a monastery"; these are used when you are in a community of monks, no matter how many live there (with a minimum of 2, of course). "Temple" explains various facets of temple-building and outfitting. And "Ritual" describes various standards for rituals. All of the six sections are considered as a whole; they affect each other and, except for the 2 exclusive ones ("Eremiticism" and "Cenobitism"), they have to be taken together.
OK, enough spewing. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact me. If you decide to become a monastic, tell me about it; I'd love to hear about your experiences and practices - monastics should stick together and support each other. If you want to bitch, go join the fellow who left during the Introduction.
IA! IA! GESUNDHEIT FTHAGN!
The "Ideals" section explains why someone might want to become a Chaos Monk and what they might expect to gain from such an effort. It also contains various viewpoints that should be shared by a monk during the time of the renunciation.
- Renounce society. Western society mostly sucks (my opinion). Capitalism, greed, and hoarding are rampant, and inflict uncountable amounts of damage on those less fortunate and even upon the wealthy. Renounce all this, not for "the general good", but for your own. The "general good" may benefit, but that's not necessarily the goal (although it can be, if you're altruistic like that).
- Renounce harmful practices and habits. We work best when we are healthy, well rested, and reasonably clean. Treat your body, mind, and spirit well, not neglecting any of them. Don't continue harmful practices that injure the environment, as you depend on it for your survival. Don't continue harmful practices towards others, unless needed, as you might depend on them for your survival.
- Within the monastic community, there is complete egalitarianism on all levels. Everyone is a teacher and a student. Male and female are equal. Everyone is an abbot and a simple monk. Only in certain cases, such as dealing with legal or economic authorities, should this rule be bent, and only as far as needed. Work towards 100% egalitarianism as much as possible. There are certain skills and positions which require experience, such as Abbot or teacher of a certain path, but they are on equal footing with their fellow monks as much as possible.
- Learn a bit, then do! The monastic community is for both contemplation and action, unlike some other monastic orders in the world that suggest almost complete inaction. Find a personal balance.
- Don't shun physical things. Eat well, sleep well, breathe fresh air, and be amazed at natural beauty. Only shun those things that would interfere with your practice.
- Everything and everyone is in flux. Nothing is permanent. Take this to heart, believe it, and act upon it. Even these guidelines are just that - guidelines.
- "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
- There is sincere mutual respect between all members of the monastic community. If you've been a monk for 3 years, doing daily 4 hour long magickal rituals and 3 hours of meditation, eating little, and living in a tent in the desert, when you meet a new monk who pigs out, lives in an apartment, and is just starting the renunciation, respect them; they have much to teach you. Help them. They must respect and teach you in return. Don't argue; discuss. Different paths are just that - different paths; that's all.
- Everything in this document (including all sections) are just guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Some can be bent; others can be broken. I think adhering closely to them would be better than bending or breaking them, but do what you can. Don’t look down upon those who keep the guidelines less strictly; ask them why and learn from them. And don’t consider yourself better if you keep them to the letter; you will benefit more, but that’s your own business.
The “Personal Guidelines” section contains basic rules for personal behaviour during the renunciation period - foods, patterns, schedules, actions, clothing, etc. These affect every monk, no matter what their situation. They are the basis of the rest of the sections. These guidelines are meant to cause changes to happen within you. Get ready, because they will.
- Renounce society, family, commerce, etc. - Basically, back out of your life for the time of the renunciation. Change as much as possible about yourself. Explore other avenues of thought and action. Change your mind, then change it again, and see how it makes you feel, act, and react. Re-mold yourself into a new, more enlightened person (eww, that sounds New-Agey, but I think it gets the idea across). You may have to pay off debts, close businesses, take a sabbatical from work or school, or make other major changes to do this. If you feel you want to burn bridges, be careful and realize that the consequences may be severe - don’t be an idiot, quit your $200,000/year job, abandon your wife and 3 kids, and run off to become a monk. Work towards renunciation slowly, if needed. It may take years, or it could take only a moment; every situation is different, of course.
- Length of renunciation period - This can technically be any length of time at all, from a minute to a lifetime, although I would think that something like 2 weeks would be the effective minimum to achieve any lasting results. If you can't fulfill your intended period of renunciation, that's OK; end it early. You may vow multiple times during your life, with no limits. If your vows are particularly life-changing, or for a period over two or three months, modify your body in some way, if possible; shaving of the head, extensive hair-cutting, tattoos, and piercings would be appropriate for this. This gives you a physical reminder and link of your renunciation, thoughts, and actions. Choose a monastic name (“Monk Hxaoso”, “Monk Wiggle”, “Monk Sissy”, or whatever you’d like). Those who can't renounce for an extended period but would like to express solidarity with other chaos monks can choose one day a month and renounce for that one day. This day should be chosen and set by all monks everywhere (the first day of each month? the first Saturday of each month? every full moon?)
- Who is allowed to renounce? - Everyone is allowed to renounce and everyone is treated exactly the same as everyone else. Gender makes no difference. The monk can modify guidelines if needed for personal or health reasons. Physical and/or mental handicaps are not bars to renunciation.
- No extremism, except when needed - Unless you have a specific purpose or ritual in mind, do not be extremist in any way. Don't mortify your body by a diet that is barely life-sustaining. Don't overload your senses with everything. Find a middle way. Extremism is often good for obtaining gnosis, but is wearing on the person who practices it continuously.
- Clothing - Wearing a certain sort of clothing distinguishes you from the norm and shows that you are following a different path. There is a standard "uniform" of sorts for a monk. It consists of three main garments: pants, vest, and robe. The pants, vest, and robe are all made of good cloth, using something heavier in the colder parts of the world and during cold seasons (if very cold, the items can be lined). The pants are ankle-length and loose with a drawstring at the waist. The vest has no sleeves, and has buttons of the same color down the center of the front; it has a mandarin-style collar. It may have pockets on it, and may have a chaostar embroidered on one breast or the other. The robe is a standard "tau robe" with loose sleeves to the wrists and draping to the ankles, with a hood. Sandals or simple shoes (like "kung fu slippers" or similar) of the same color (or also "natural", in the case of sandals) can be worn with the outfit. A cylindrical hat or a skullcap, possibly lined, can be made, if wanted. The color of the pieces of clothing can vary if the monk is working on a certain type of magick or work (use the colors of the Chaostar for guidance; yellow for ego, red for aggressive/war, blue for wealth, etc.). For example, the vest may be yellow, the pants orange, and the robe black; this may symbolize ego and thought being covered by change and death. Otherwise, the "general" outfit is white or light gray (a neutral color, not in the Chaostar). The Abbot of a monastery also wears a sash. This sash is of a different cloth than the three garments. It can be of any color or design, as long as it is distinguished from the three garments so as to allow identification of the wearer as Abbot. It can be worn in multiple ways: from the left shoulder down to the right side of the waist; like a Christian priest's stole, hanging from around the neck; wrapped around the waist like a belt or girdle; tied around an upper arm or leg; or in other manners. The robe can be removed during physical labor if the temperature is uncomfortably warm, as can the shoes, but the monk should try to wear the vest and pants at all times. The abbot, if the sash is not being worn, should then be marked in some other way such as with a symbol on his hat or vest.
- Food - Eat one full meal a day to satiety, but not to gluttony. Be pleasantly full but don't overload your digestive system. Eat lighter foods, organic if possible, and little meat or grease, as these tax the digestion. Eat a healthy and varied diet. Drink liquids (the majority being water, tea, or fruit juices) as often as you'd like throughout the day and night. If needed, have a light snack upon awakening or in the late evening (a single egg, a piece of fruit, a piece of toast, or a muffin, for example). For most people, once attuned to it, this diet is quite healthy. Modify the diet as need for specific health or dietary needs (gluten-free, diabetic, etc.). If you would like to use a pre-existing system, I would suggest an ayurvedic diet.
- Procurement of food and supplies - It is highly preferable to grow your own food or have it donated to you from those who support your renunciation. Every monastery should have a vegetable garden and possibly some small livestock. In Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Burma, Buddhist monks make an “almsround” in the mornings to collect their day’s meal, going to the nearest town and handing out their bowl for people to fill with food; this is expected and encouraged by the society and the Buddhist belief system and the donors expect to gain good karma from their acts. In general, begging is looked down upon in western society and may reflect badly upon the monastic community; beg only if needed or if you know for sure that the general populace will not be too badly offended. Be as self-sufficient as possible in all ways. Working at an outside job may be necessary; self-employment would be better. If someone offers to support you or donate to you, make sure they are doing it of their own volition by asking, “Are you sure?” If they reply in the affirmative, accept it with gratitude. Some people may donate to a certain aspect of the monasticism - to building the temple, stocking the library, or to the foodstuffs. Some people just like to know what their donation was used for. These are all welcome donations. Offering to respond in some way (magickal acts or devotional services, for example) is acceptable.
- Living Situations - A monk may live alone (a hermit) or with others in a monastery (a cenobite), or may shift between the two, as preferred by the monk. In either case, the monk should take into account the appropriate section below in addition to this one.
- Symbol - Wear a symbol containing the Chaostar. This can be a pendant on a necklace, a ring, a bracelet, embroidery on the vest, etc. Feel free to wear other personally relevant symbols and jewelry as you see fit.
- Respect and equality - This has been talked about in the “Ideals”, but it bears repeating here. Respect your fellow monks and treat them as your equals. Even if you are a hermit, you are a member of a community bound by belief and action.
Eremiticism is the act of living as a hermit. It also covers situations where the monk lives among other people but is the only monk in said situation. If you don’t live in a monastery or with other chaos monks, this section applies to you.
- Clothing - Wear the monastic clothing as much as possible. If you have a job, you might not be able to do so full-time, and this is acceptable; wear the monastic clothes whenever you can.
- Personal Living Quarters - The monk should have his own private room, if possible. Decorate this room as you wish with whatever items you find personally relevant. Have an altar in the room. This can be a table, a windowsill, a shelf, or whatever is convenient. Decorate it with chaos-related items and other items which are personally relevant. (See the “Temple” section for more information about personal altars.) This room becomes your “personal monastery” and retreat. If you must share space with others, such as in a roommate situation, use your bedroom as the “monastery”. If you share a bedroom with others, at least decorate your part of the room appropriately. If you can afford it, you can rent a small room somewhere and use it as your “monastery” and temple, although you should still have chaos-related items at your home.
- Daily Schedule - Your daily schedule may vary widely from other monastics. You may have a job, school, or other responsibilities. In any case, do one hour of physical exercise every day (Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Yoga, etc.), and one hour of meditation or ritual every day. Try to do a longer ritual at least once or twice a week. Do a divination of some sort at least once or twice a week, also. Or use the daily schedule for a monastery and modify as needed.
- Procurement of Food and Supplies - A hermit may have a job or may be self-employed. If so, try to choose a profession that reinforces your ideals and your practice. If nothing directly applies, at least try to have a job where you can learn more about the universe and have chances to practice what you’ve learned. You may also accept continuing or sporadic donations, just like a monastery.
- Conduct of a Monk - Be respectful to everyone, as much as is possible. Yet, insist on being respected. You are not surrounded by those who agree with your beliefs, ideals, or practices, so this may be exceptionally difficult. Carry yourself with an air of calm and relaxation. Do not be publicly intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of other substances. Follow all applicable laws in your locale.
- Monastery Pilgrimage - When possible, go to a chaos monastery to stay for a time. You may go over a weekend, or during a vacation. Do this as often as you’d like, or don’t do it at all - it’s not required. Call ahead at least a few days in advance to make sure that your visit is convenient for the monastery. Present yourself to the Abbot as a monk. Tell them when you took vows and let them know of any differences between their vows and yours. Explain your monastic practices and schedule. Answer any questions that the Abbot may have. It is the Abbot’s decision whether or not to allow you to stay, unless overruled by 3/4ths of the monastery’s residents. If you are admitted, follow the monastery’s guidelines and live as one of the monks as much as is possible. Discuss any personal deviations from the monastery’s practices with the Abbot.
- Hermit Meetings - If there are other chaos monks within your area, especially other hermits, it might be helpful to meet and exchange information, do group rituals, etc. You may do this sporadically or at regular intervals such as monthly. You could go also on pilgrimage together. Contacting others is not required - some hermits don’t want the interaction. If you contact a hermit and they are not interested, respect them and leave them alone.
Cenobitism is the act of living with other monks in a group setting. This could be a formal monastery, a “roommate” situation with other monks, or any relationship in which monks are interacting with one another.
- Legality of the Monastery - If possible and feasible, the monastery should be created as a legal non-profit entity which would then own the land, buildings, and other items. Corporations need to have static “officers”, so either choose randomly from monks who will live there long-term, or find others who are willing to “be an officer” for legal purposes. The monastery, once incorporated, can get a bank account and other trappings of modern society, as needed. Don’t go overboard; only do what legal and economic things are necessary for the survival and growth of the monastery. Don’t do something just to do it.
- Types of Monastery Residents - Monastery residents are usually monks who have vowed renunciation. Other types of people who may be found at the monastery are:
- "Monks" are those who have taken vows and have agreed to the Guidelines within reason.
- "Abbots" are monks who have been randomly or democratically chosen to mediate in certain disputes and business. They may serve for whatever term has been decided by the community. They are marked so as to be easily found, usually by an Abbot’s sash or other appropriate logo on their clothing. There is only one Abbot in a small community, and more than one in larger monasteries (I think that 1 abbot per 20 monks would be reasonable, depending on the situation and workload). See below for more information on abbots.
- "Retreatants" may come for retreats, depending on the monastery's facilities. These non-monks do not take vows. They are allowed to stay at the monastery for up to 7 days every month. They must convince the current Abbot that they are seriously pursuing learning and doing chaotic things for them to be classified as such. They may take part in rituals if agreed upon by 3/4ths of the monks. Retreatants usually pay a small amount for their room and board during their retreat, plus possibly an extra donation for the monastery; the Abbot in appropriate circumstances can waive this fee.
- "Supporters" may work at the monastery business, donate towards the upkeep of the monastery, or otherwise assist the monastery with mundane tasks. They may or may not be "retreatants". They live off-site in their own dwelling. They are obviously in agreement with the aims and actions of the monastery, and are probably occultists of some sort, although that isn’t always the case.
- "Visiting Monks" are monks who come to the monastery. They have already taken vows, either as a hermit or a cenobite in another monastery. They are proven by the Abbot (by an honest discussion of their history, path, and possible future) and allowed to stay as long as they would like, providing the community agrees (if a vote is needed, 3/4ths is sufficient in either direction). A visiting monk, while visiting, is effectively "just another monk" in the community and has all the rights and responsibilities that entails. They will follow the rules of the monastery in which they reside, even if those differ from their personal vows or from other monasteries in which they have lived (exceptions are allowable by the Abbot).
- "Visitors" are people who just come to the monastery for a tour, discussion, or visit. Some of them may be travelers passing through who know about the monastery. They can be given a place to sleep and food to eat for up to 3 consecutive days during a 14 day period (this prevents deadbeats from moving in; legitimate travelers will move on voluntarily). An Abbot can extend this time up to one week, or reclassify them as a "Retreatant", if needed and the community agrees. For day visits, there may be a very small “visitor’s fee” (less than US$5.00; the Abbot can waive this fee) or they may be asked for donations during their visit. Visitors staying overnight should pay for their room and board according to rates set by the community (again, the Abbot can waive this in appropriate circumstances).
- A “Temple Master” is the person in charge of a temple, its accoutrements, its cleanliness, and its security. This person may be selected by the Abbot, by a vote of 3/4ths of the community, or otherwise selected similarly to an Abbot.
- A “Ritual Master” is the person who leads various group rituals. This person may be selected by the Abbot, by a vote of 3/4ths of the community, or otherwise selected similarly to an Abbot. They may be chosen to handle all rituals at the monastery or they may be chosen for a specific ritual. Also, certain rituals may have certain Ritual Masters (e.g. Monk Googleplex runs the weekly “End the Iraq War” ritual).
- Egalitarianism - All monks are equal. Gender makes no difference. All are called "monk", e.g. “Monk Blah”, “Monk Fred”, “Monk Jenny”, etc. Only in specific, limited cases can some people have "extra power" (see “Abbots” below). For example, say a person builds a small monastery on their own land. Others come to reside there. The landowner would have control of the land due to legal and economic reasons. He could help the monastery create a non-profit corporation or something similar for the transferal of the land, if needed. But even in this case, the landowner shouldn't force their ideas and will onto the monks (except, again, for legal or economic reasons). This becomes much simpler when a non-profit corporation is formed; the officers have legal control - remember that, and pick the officers carefully. All monks have access to the financial and other records of the monastery at any time.
- Private Living Quarters - Each monk will have their own private room. It should contain a bed, a small bedside table, an altar, a chair, and a floor pillow for sitting meditation. It can be very small (like 6’ x 8’ / 1.0m x 1.6m) or somewhat larger (maybe 10’ x 12’ / 3.3m x 4.0m). It should have shelving and storage for the monk’s personal effects. The room can be decorated to the monk’s personal tastes.
- Common Quarters and Facilities - There will be a kitchen of sufficient size to feed the monks. There will be an appropriate number of toilets and showers sufficient for the monks. There will be an indoor exercise area sufficient for the monks to use during inclement weather. There will be a community library accessible to all the monks and possibly others. Monks will have full access to all common facilities, including the temple. Scheduling of facilities, if needed, should be done by consensus with the Abbot mediating any disputes.
- Abbots And Their Responsibilities and Rights - Abbots can be chosen by sufficiently random means (for example, pulling a name out of a container), consensus, a popular vote of three-quarters of the community, or by periodic rotation (e.g. Monk A is Abbot for a month, then Monk B, then Monk C, then Monk A, then Monk B, etc.). An Abbot can be demoted by a three-quarters vote, as well. An Abbot can be chosen on a case-by-case basis as needed, or at intervals such as every morning, once a week, or “until the next Abbot” which means that the Abbot serves in that position until replaced. Abbots are responsible for greeting visitors, mediation of disputes, financial and supply records and inventory, approving work schedules and projects, and other decision-making which affects the entire community. They may carry a ring of keys to various areas that may be locked for security purposes (a Temple Master will also have a key, if needed, for the Temple for which they are responsible). The Abbot cannot unilaterally make changes to the written rules of a monastery - that is reserved for a consensus of the resident monks. If there is a significant disagreement, an Abbot will mediate. The Abbot will hear all sides of the dispute, judge impartially, and their decision is binding on those who disagreed. If the decision is unacceptable to three-quarters of the entire community, the decision can be overturned, a new Abbot randomly selected, and the process repeated. In any decision, a democratic vote of 3/4ths of the monastery’s resident monks can decide the result. An Abbot wears the Abbot’s sash or other indicator of his position. This includes a marker on their private quarters’ door. There must be at least one Abbot in a monastery at all times. See the “Clothing” subsection of the “Personal Guidelines” section for more information about the Abbot’s sash and other clothing markers.
- Daily Schedule - These are only guidelines. Much personal time has been included because the path of chaos is very individualized. The individual communities can modify this as needed, although the same sorts of activities should be included in amounts somewhat similar to this idea:
- 7:00 AM - Wake up
- 7:00 AM to 7:30 AM - Personal time for cleaning oneself and dressing
- 7:30 AM to 8:00 AM - Personal time for meditation and private rituals, and maybe a little food (see above).
- 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM - Exercise. Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Yoga, or other combinations of challenging, slow and fast exercise methods can be used. This can be done as a group, in small groups, or individually.
- 9:00 AM to 9:30 AM - Morning discussion. All monks get together and chatter, talk about events for the day, events of the previous day, plan work and rituals, etc.
- 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM - Physical work. Gardening, building, begging for alms, collecting donations, running a monastery business, preparing for the daily meal, cleaning, etc.
- 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM - Daily meal. Taken together as a group.
- 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM - Personal time. Rest after meal. "Siesta". Can be used to relax, digest, and maybe chat with fellow monks or visitors.
- 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM - Up to four hours for group ritual or teachings. Can be shortened or extended, as needed.
- 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM - Personal free time for any purpose (reading, private rituals, discussion, work, having a small snack, sleep, etc.).
- No loud noises or bright lights are permitted before 7:00 AM or after 10:00 PM, except for certain circumstances decided by the abbot or the community, group rituals, etc.
- Livelihood - It would be best if the monastery has a small business to bring in whatever money is needed. Supporters can donate to the monastery for its upkeep; in return, rituals can be performed for them ("I'm donating $100. Please perform a healing ritual for my Aunt Fanny who just had hip surgery.") and retreats can be taken. The monastery should also have a garden and possibly small animals for food. Hunting is allowed, but isn't the best way to procure food. See the Ideals for more information on providing supplies.
- Conduct of Monks - Monks will show respect to other monks in all circumstances. We're all here to learn and grow. Help each other with those goals. No monk will be under the influence of alcohol for any purpose besides ritual, and then only under the supervision of the ritual director (a single beer, a glass of wine, or a small alcoholic drink is allowed with the main meal). No illegal drugs will be allowed whatsoever; prescription drugs will have to be cleared with an Abbot and have physician-provided paperwork to prove it. No sexual advances will be made towards another monk; we in western society have a pretty warped view of sexuality, and at this point in time it's better to just not get into it. If you are concentrating on a certain color of magick, don't overwhelm your fellow monks; for example, if you are concentrating on red, don't go around being angry and picking fights with everyone - most of the time your concentration only shows in private rituals and the color of your clothing, unless you're asked to act that part in a group ritual. No illegal activities of any kind will be permitted. No firearms are allowed unless used by the monastery for the purpose of hunting for food, in which case they will be locked up and only distributed and used with an Abbot's permission. Any warping, bending, or breaking of this rule, or any other rules of decency and good conduct, can result in immediate expulsion. Comments and complaints should be directed to an Abbot. Expulsion is by the Abbot's decision alone, although it can be overturned by a 3/4ths vote of the other monks. Law enforcement officers can be called to the property to remove someone who has been expelled, but only if needed.
This section deals with temples, altars, ritual spaces, and the Temple Master. A monastery should have a dedicated temple room, or preferably a separate temple building. A hermit should have a temple space or personal altar. These areas are used for meditation and rituals.
- Monastery Temple - A monastery should have at least one temple. This can be a room in an existing building that has been outfitted as a temple, or it can be a separate building. An ideal design is a separate, octagonal building large enough for monastic group rituals. It should have a main entrance, an anteroom (for storing ritual items, clothing, banners, etc.), and the main temple room. A secondary exit in the rear of the building can be included for safety reasons. The temple should be kept very clean, neat, and secure by the Temple Master, who should report any problems or questions to the Abbot.
- Anteroom - The anteroom, or foyer, is a place which separates the temple from the outside. In it can be stored ritual items, clothing, banners, staves for processions, flags, candles, and other items needed inside the temple. It also gives people a place to prepare while out of the weather. The anteroom may be quite large; for an octagonal temple, I see it wrapping around the 3 “front” sides, with the main entrance in the center, and being 8 to 10 feet (2.6 to 3.1 meters) from front door to temple entrance.
- The Temple - The temple room should be decorated in the eight colors. The altar, also octagonal in shape, should be in the center of the room. The entrance to the temple room should be on the yellow wall; when you walk into the temple, the “octarine” wall is straight across from you, blue to your right, orange to your left, etc. The walls can either be painted the various colors or cloths of the appropriate colors can be hung from the ceiling to the floor. Near the ceiling of each wall should hang a lamp. This lamp may be of almost any type - electric lights, oil burning lamps, candles, etc. There may be a dim ambient light at the apex of the roof, if required. The lights may be colored or be soft white. Each wall may also have a small shelf mounted either permanently or temporarily (via hooks, magnets, etc.); upon these shelves various ritual items and associated paraphernalia can be placed. The floor should be a hard material, not carpet; hardwood or bamboo flooring would be preferable.
- The altar - The altar is an octagonal table in the middle of the temple. It is painted to match the walls, in the eight colors. An altar cloth can be used, if desired. Protruding from the center of the altar is the vertical staff upon which rests the Chaosphere. On the altar may rest candles in simple candleholders, one for each color. Items such as sigils or ritual tools may be placed upon the altar to be charged and/or fired. Because it is basically an octagonal “tube”, the altar is hollow. A door can be fitted and shelves built inside. The altar can then hold items that are considered charged, fired, consecrated, or otherwise important; these can be considered to lend their energy to workings done in the temple. Ritual tools should be stored in the anteroom, not inside the altar (unless they are being left there as an “energy source” permanently).
- The Chaosphere - The Chaosphere sits at about 7 or 8 feet in height off the floor, suspended by the staff that runs through the altar. The Chaosphere and its staff should be metallic, if possible, or painted a metallic color.
- The Ritual Master’s Table - The Ritual Master may have a small table or bookstand to use, if needed. This may be placed wherever convenient as long as it doesn’t interfere with the ritual.
- Personal Altars - A monk should have a personal altar in his room. Upon this altar should be symbols of chaos (a chaostar, a chaosphere, candles in the eight colors, etc.) and any other symbols or idols personally relevant to the monk. This altar should be used as a focal point for personal meditation and personal rituals. It can be on its own table (preferably octagonal), or on a windowsill, shelf, or other surface.
This section deals with rituals, ritual performances, ritual tools, and the Ritual Master. It covers both group and personal rituals and applies as needed to the monk.
- Ritual Master - The Ritual Master is the leader of a group ritual. They may be only leading one specific ritual or they may lead a regular cycle of rituals; it depends on the situation and the preferences of the community. A monastery can decide to appoint a Ritual Master to organize the schedule and types of rituals, if desired; this can also be done in a more freeform manner. The Ritual Master may lead others in a ritual or may have an equal part along with everyone else. They are responsible for making sure that the other participants are prepared, that the ritual tools are available, and that the Temple is decorated appropriately for the ritual; they work with the Temple Master to make sure of the latter two items. The Ritual Master cleans the temple or ritual area after the completion of the ritual, or delegates this responsibility to others; the Temple Master may assist if a Temple was used. The Ritual Master wears no special clothing. A hermit is his or her own Ritual Master.
- Group Rituals - Group rituals can take place in a monastery's temple, in a natural setting, or anywhere that at least 2 monks meet. They can be regularly scheduled or completely spontaneous. They may or may not have a magickal component. They can be divinatory, worshipping, magickal, or any combination of any desired foci. They may have a point; they may not. Sometimes the ritual will be a well-known, publicly available ritual. Sometimes it will be created by an individual for group performance. And sometimes the group will create it themselves. They may be short, lasting only a few minutes, or they may be very long, encompassing many days. The may be private, only allowing monks to participate, or they may be public, allowing all to participate or view (depending on the ritual). The ritual should be described to the performers beforehand, and any monks who decide not to be involved can be excused with no repercussions. It is strongly suggested that sexual rituals are not done as a group; western society's attitudes towards sexuality are warped, and that affects us all. Only do a group sexual ritual if all of the performers agree completely beforehand. As you can see, rituals can vary widely, so there are few guidelines.
- Individual Rituals - Individual rituals are those performed by a single monk. This may take place in a monastery temple, at a personal altar, or any other suitable place. These are like any other ritual, but can be intensely personal to the monk. Again, they may take many forms and span any amount of time. They may be public or private. This entry is included mainly for completeness; no specific guidelines are given for individual rituals.
- Personal Ritual Tools - Every monk should have various tools that they use for their rituals and magickal practices. This should always include some sort of representation of Chaos in the form of a chaostar or chaosphere. There should be at least one ritual tool for each type or color of magick, if possible:
Other items may include masks, special clothing, idols or pictures of deities, sigils, religious artifacts, incense and incense burners, candles, lamps, or other items that are personally
relevant. If you have very little, at least have some sort of representation of Chaos, and it ispreferable to have something embodying the eight colors, such as eight appropriately colored candles. A disc with a colored chaostar painted on it would meet this need.
- "Octarine" - A symbol of Chaos, magick, and illumination; possibly the chaostar or chaosphere itself
- Red - A bladed weapon, such as a dagger or a sword
- Orange - A book, possibly a "grimoire"
- Purple - A phallic or vaginal symbol, something representing reproduction and a passionate nature
- Yellow - A mask, symbolizing the mask of the ego and the self. This can be decorated with personally relevant symbolism.
- Green - Something symbolizing love, friendships, and interpersonal relationships
- Blue - Something symbolizing wealth and supply, such as a cornucopia, a wad of money, a handful of coins, etc.
- Black - A symbol of death, change, and impermanence. A human bone would be preferable, but animal bones, dead plants, or rotten food would also work.
- Group Ritual Tools - Group rituals can use tools similar to the personal tools. Specific group ritual tools may include banners, flags, staves, larger versions of the personal tools, torches, suits of armor, masks, special clothing, etc. Some group rituals may need little to nothing in the way of tools.
- Initiation and Vows - A monk may develop their own self-initiation rituals to celebrate the fact that they are embarking on a path of illumination and magick. These personal rituals can be very intense and private (although an Abbot may ask to know them during the proving of a monk who is joining the monastery). The vows of the renunciation of a monk, though, have a basis in this document so that all monks that take them will share a common bond. Additional vows may be added by the monastery or, in the case of the hermit, the monk taking the vows. The monastic vows are binding, and they aren't binding, at the same time. The monk should strive to keep them to the best of their abilities (and more, always trying to grow), yet they can cast them aside and renounce monasticism at any time, if they wish. The vows can be modified somewhat due to personal circumstances, but should remain as close "in spirit" as possible. In a monastery, an Abbot can modify the vows in this way for a monk; hermits can do it for themselves. The vows can be taken anytime, for any period, as often as the monk wishes.
Conclusion, or "What Do I Do Now?"
How the hell am I supposed to know?
That's the point: I don't know what you should do. Only you know that. Only you know what is best for you. If it's to follow some or all of this rule, so be it. If it's to parade around with oranges on your head, so be that. Maybe some sort of combination is in order. Or neither. Chaos reigns.
Embrace the Chaos!