Of all schools of Anarch blood magic, Punk magic is the least organized, the least understood, the least repeatable, and the least liked — and its adherents prefer it that way. Among mortals, Punk (first as a musical genre and later as an entire subculture) originated as a means of extreme self-expression and anti-establishment extremism in Europe and the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s. While the socio-political factors that led to the birth of Punk are complex, the driving force was a general sense of nihilism among many young people of the time, arguably a reasonable response to an era when nuclear Armageddon seemed to lay in wait just over the horizon. More specifically, Punk culture was a reaction to the advent of the Reagan and Thatcher administrations, both of which were perceived by punks as bellicose, corporatist, jingoistic, and destructive.
At the same time that Punk was attempting to tear down society and replace it with carefully scripted anarchy, a new way of looking at magical theory would do the same thing to the occult community: chaos magic. In chaos magic, the magician (or “chaote”) seeks to change reality not through the repetition of some dusty ritual or through appeals to some impersonal deity, but rather by altering his own state of consciousness. Chaos magic is a syncretic system which pragmatically applies whatever belief systems the chaote considers relevant to the moment, thus leading to the creation of new and highly unorthodox techniques. The central premise of chaos magic is that belief is an active magical force and that what the chaote actually believes in is less important than the intensity of that belief. In other words, the chaote should essentially have “flexible beliefs,” as well as a willingness to consciously choose his beliefs in order to find the most thematically appropriate ones for the situation and then discard them when they are no longer necessary.
Chaotes also place great emphasis on achieving an altered state of consciousness as a prerequisite to working magic. Some magicians achieve this through “inhibitory gnosis” via meditation, self-hypnosis, fasting, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and the use of certain hypnogogic drugs. Other mortal chaotes pursue “excitatory gnosis,” a state of transcendent mindlessness achieved through sexual climax, flagellation, dance, sensory overload, or hallucinogens. Another element of magic common to most chaotes is the use of sigils, personalized abstract designs meant to function as a focus for the will of their creator. Some magicians create sigils to function as representations of the spells they seek to create. Others use them as representations for thoughtforms — ideas held by the magician which can be manifested in the world through an act of will.
Both punk and chaos magic were born in Britain during the 70s, and while not intrinsically connected, in the minds of violent young Anarchs looking for any edge in the fight against the brutal repression of the British Camarilla, they were made for each other. Punk Anarchs threw themselves into chaos magic with the same abandon as everything else. Granted, relatively few of them had the occult acumen to master a radically new approach to blood magic (and even fewer of them survived the reprisals of Tremere thaumaturgists who were as offended by their approach to magic as by their political leanings), but those who endured gained both power and the fame that resulted from beating the Tremere at their own game.
Now, Punk Sorcery can be found anywhere there is an Anarch with just enough occult lore to be dangerous and with far more daring than sense. The basic premise of Punk Sorcery is that the caster must first reject the idea that magical premises themselves are important. What matters are the intensity of the sorcerer’s belief and the actions and rituals he uses to actualize that belief. Where a chaote might engage in sleep deprivation to achieve an altered state of consciousness, the Punk Sorcerer might force herself to awaken during the day so that the ritual can be performed at noon (even though the normal risks associated with blood magic are heightened by the penalties associated with acting during daylight hours). Where a mortal chaote might ingest psychotropic drugs or engage in Tantric masturbation in order to seek gnosis, a vampiric Punk Sorcerer might design a ritual in which she and a partner feed on a vessel who has taken hallucinogens before feeding sexually on one another at the climax of the ritual. Indeed, many Punk Sorcerers find that the Kiss is an excellent substitute for the sexual aspects of Chaos Magic, with the more reckless (or ruthless) Anarchs deliberately starving themselves of blood so that the risk of hunger frenzy heightens the sexual rush of feeding even more. Some Punk Sorcerers have recently been practicing a curious version of the Straight Edge movement, and focus on ecstasies like this one that are tied to a “purer” expression of the Kindred condition.
Similarly, Punk Sorcerers also make use of sigils in their workings. One common means of designing a symbol involves the chaote simply writing out what he wants to accomplish, eliminating every letter used more than once, and then arranging the remaining letters into a decorative pattern which the chaote then meditates upon. The principle is the same for the Punk thaumaturgist, except that the sigil itself is drawn in the Anarch’s own vitae or perhaps even carved into his flesh to be healed only after the ritual’s completion.
Easily the rowdiest of all blood magic schools, Punk Sorcery is adored by Brujah headbangers who wish to explore the occult as an alternative means of revolution. Malkavians are drawn to the school’s iconoclastic practices, although they and the Toreador must compete to see who can be the most “artistic” in crafting new and shocking rituals. A surprising number of Tremere Anarchs abandon their Clan’s Hermetic traditions in favor of this school as well. Having rejected every other aspect their parent Clan’s culture and heritage, such rebels consider Punk Sorcery to be the ultimate “fuck you.”
The paths pursued by Punk practitioners are often the most unusual and frequently the most violent. The punk ethos is as much a part of the school’s heritage as its magical theories, while its utility during fights is why it is in such demand in Anarch domains across the globe.
|The exuberant and iconoclastic nature of Punk Sorcery is most obvious in the school’s approach to ritual magic. Generally, rituals work for Punk Sorcerers exactly as they do for everyone else, at least from a mechanical standpoint. However, the actual description of each Punk ritual’s working is flavored with the style of the Punk movement and, indeed, with each individual Punk Sorcerer. Adherents of this school mock the Tremere (and most other traditionalist schools) for treating rituals like spell lists from a fantasy role-playing game. When a Punk Sorcerer learns a new ritual, she learns only the general parameters of the ritual’s requirements and effect. Beyond that, she is expected to personalize it to her own aesthetic style but also to be free enough and innovative enough to amend it as needed. Rarely does a successful Punk Sorcerer perform a given ritual exactly the same way twice, and it is a poor one who always performs a given ritual the same every time. Those who do often feel themselves slipping into a rut and suffer increasing difficulties in performing such boring, repetitive rituals, at least until the sorcerer comes up with some new and inventive spin to put on it.|