Illuminates of Thanateros

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Illuminates of Thanateros
The Sigil of Chaos the symbol of the Illuminates of Thanateros
PurposeChaos magic society
Region served
Australia, Austria, Brazil, British Isles, Bulgaria, Germany, North America, South America, Switzerland
Key people
Peter J. Carroll
Ray Sherwin

The Illuminates of Thanateros (/ɪˈljmɪˌnɪts ɒv ˌθænəˈtɛrs/) is an international magical organization that focuses on practical group work in chaos magic. The idea was first announced in 1978, while the order proper was formed in 1987. This fraternal magical society has been an important influence on some forms of modern occultism.


The name "Thanateros" is a combination of the names "Thanatos" and "Eros"— the Greek gods of death and sex, respectively. The idea is that sex and death represent the positive and negative methods of attaining "magical consciousness". The word "Illuminates" is used in accordance with the claimed tradition of calling such societies — in which those who have mastered the secrets of magic help bring others to mastership — "the Illuminati".

Its formal name is The Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros,[1] which is usually shortened to "the Pact".



In the late 1970s, Ray Sherwin and Peter Carroll, two young British occultists interested in ritual magic, began to publish a magazine called The New Equinox. Both men were connected with a burgeoning occult scene developing around The Phoenix, a metaphysical bookshop in London's East End. Having grown dissatisfied with the state of the magical arts and the deficiencies they saw in the available occult groups, they published a small announcement in a 1978 issue of their magazine, announcing the creation of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT).[2] They described this order as a new kind of magical order, one based on a hierarchy of magical ability rather than invitation and a magical meritocracy. They described the IOT as a "spiritual heir" to the Zos Kia Cultus and a "fusion of Thelemic Magick, Tantra, The Sorceries of Zos and Tao".[3]

Ice magick controversy[edit]

In the early 1990s the order experienced a schism as a result of conflicts about the doctrine of 'ice magick',[4] a major proponent of which was Ralph Tegtmeier.[5]

Peter Carroll learned more about the doctrines that Ralph was teaching, and criticized him for it. That led to an untenable conflict between Peter and Ralph, which culminated in Ralph and all of his followers seceding from the IoT. The vast majority of German and Swiss members left the order, which constituted about 30% of the order's total membership.[6] Ralph Tegtmeier and a few others were subsequently excommunicated.[5]

After publishing Liber Kaos, Carroll retired from active participation in the order, though he remains on good terms with many of the longstanding members.[7]


The IOT was described by Phil Hine as "the Order for 'serious' Chaos Magicians in the same way that the OTO exists for 'serious' Thelemites."[8] The judgment that occultism is rife with superstitions and needs to be reformed or replaced by a bolder and more critical approach to magic has been prominent in programmatic texts from early on. The IOT is commonly understood by outsiders to be an occult[9] or neoshamanic[10] organization.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greer, John Michael (2003). The New Encyclopedia of The Occult. Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 240. ISBN 1-56718-336-0.
  2. ^ "A Chaos Magician - VICE". Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  3. ^ The New Equinox, 1978
  4. ^ Chapman, Alan; Barford, Duncan (2009). The Blood of the Saints. Heptarchia Press. pp. 284–285. ISBN 978-0-9563321-0-3.
  5. ^ a b Carroll, Peter J. ("Stokastikos"). "The Ice War". Chaos International 23.
  6. ^ Mayer, Gerhard (2008). Arkane Welten: Biografien, Erfahrungen und Praktiken zeitgenössischer Magier. Ergon Verlag. ISBN 978-3-89913-618-0
  7. ^ Carroll, Peter J. (Dec 16, 2010). "Message 0". Archived from the original on 2012-07-14.
  8. ^ Hine, Phil. Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic. New Falcon Publications. ISBN 1-56184-117-X
  9. ^ Greer, John Michael (2003). The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 1-56718-336-0
  10. ^ Gallagher, Eugene V, Ashcraft, W Michael (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98712-4

External links[edit]