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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT)

DEFINITIONS

Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT): International magical order, founded in Germany in 1976 by two Chaos magicians, one English and one German. Its formal name is “The Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros;” the word Thanateros is a fusion of the Greek thanatos (death) and eros (sexual love). The IOT’s central focus is Chaos magic; its teaching methods and practical work emphasize the use of altered states of consciousness, on the one hand, and the rejection of fixed patterns of belief, on the other.

The emblem of the pact is a black circle from which eight black arrows radiate. This is based on the “Banner of Chaos” from the fantasy novels of English author Michael Moorcock, and is one of several common Chaos magic borrowings from fiction.

The pact offers four grades of initiation—Neophyte 4°, Initiate 3°, Adept 2°, and Magus 1°. The honorary grade of Supreme Magus 0° is held by the head of the pact as a whole. Ordination as a Priest or Priestess of Chaos is available to members at the 3° or 2° levels.

IOT’s most important spokesman is Peter Carroll, one of the two founders and the author of several influential books on Chaos magic. According to Carroll, the IOT came into being out of a fusion of Thelemic magic, Tantra, Taoism, and the work of English occultists Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956), whose Zos Kia Cultus was ancestral to most current Chaos magic systems.
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