Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT)

Illuminates of Thanateros is an international magical order founded in Germany in 1978 by two English occultists, Ray Sherwin and Peter Carroll. Its formal name is «The Magical Pact of the Illunmiates of Thanareos»; the word thanateros is the fusion of the Greek thanatos (death) and eros (sexual love). The central focus is on Chaos magic with teaching methods and practical work emphasizing both the altered state of consciousness and the rejection of fixed belief.

The emblem of the pact is a black circle from which eight black arrows radiate, which is based on the «Banner of Chaos» taken from the fantasy novels of the English author Michael Moorcock and other fantasy fiction.

There are four grades, degrees, of initiation: Neophyte, 4; Initiate, 3; Adept, 2, Magnus, 1; the honorary grade of Supreme Magnus, 0, is generally held by the head of the pact. Ordination as Priest or Priestess of Chaos is available in grades 2 and 3.

The most important for the group is Peter Carroll who authored of several books on Chaos magic. According to him the group’s being came from the fusion of Thelemic magic, Tantria, Taoism, and the work of Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956), whose work Zos Kia Cultus was ancestral to most current Chaos magic systems.

Currently the group has sixteen temples around the world. Most temples do not advertise their existence but at least one in the following cities does Seattle, Dallas, Phoenix, New York, Baltimore, and Milwaukee. The IOT charges no membership or initiation fees, Unlike the O. T. O. and various branches of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn the IOT is a non-incorporated society, rather than a legal society or non-profit organization. A.G.H.


Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul. MN. Llewellyn Worldwide. 2005. p. 240 <>