If you’ve been paying attention to the reports of certain serious consulting firms, then you are well aware that chaos magic is sweeping the undersides of the internet. But magic, like many basic aspects of networks, has always been there, whether we have been aware of it or not. The most fundamental transubstantiations of data packets require magical incarnation. To teleport will across platforms and servers necessitates the ability to shapeshift oneself through digital image and digital text. These are assumptions that we have internalized, unspoken mantras we repeat subconsciously, as our fingers find the keys of our liturgical usernames and passwords.
But more rarely, do these spirits find their way into the real world. And yet they have been, for years. The high magic social sets of the OTO and Golden Dawn had their heydays in the early 20th Century, New Age movements and the Church of Scientology found their mainstream expressions through the 1960s and 1970s, and the 1980s saw a resurgence of darker, chaotic influences in Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth.
Since the late 1980s, artist Steven Johnson Leyba has been producing art books. The Trickster’s Bible, first published in 2009, solidified many of his influences along with that of other artists, coming together in what would become known as the Coyotel Church.
The Coyotel Church takes a legacy of occult and magical influences, and retranslates it through an open hostility to brands and corporate entities. The ideals of Coyotel attempt to liberate the will through magical acts, fusing the intention of will into the space of artistic creation via its works.
All of this sounds like the text of a manifesto, and for Coyotel, often is. But lurching beyond the overly ritualized text of social media posts are actual rituals, far less common in this day and age. Whether because of our increased existence in virtual space, or a cultural over-reliance on the written word, we seem to have stepped away from the act itself. The pics, as it were, are more important than the happening.
But with the books of Leyba and Coyotel, the text is the happening. The 2010-2011 book Monsanto came into existence through a series of blood rites and rituals, culminating with a live performance of a death curse against the corporation. Just recently, Leyba and Coyotel performed a death curse against Nestle in response to attempts by the corporation to bottle water from California, featuring piercing, suspension, blood, and a lot of body paint. [Ed. note: Head to LA Weekly for photos - you'll be glad you did. Obviously NSFW.]
These curses are working—not in the sense that any person is literally "dead" as a result, but in the sense that the performances substantiate the will in a way that the internet cannot: quite literally, in the words of Coyotel Church, in "blood, sweat, and chocolate."
Click here to learn more about Steven Johnson Leyba and the Coyotel Church.