The Symbol of Chaos originates from Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion stories. In them, the Symbol of Chaos comprises eight arrows in a radial pattern. In contrast, the symbol of Law is a single upright arrow. It is also called the Arms of Chaos, the Arrows of Chaos, the Chaos Star, the Chaos Cross, or the Symbol of Eight.
Moorcock has stated that he conceived this symbol while writing the first Elric of Melniboné stories in the early 1960s. It was subsequently adopted into the pop-cultural mainstream, turning up in such diverse places as modern occult traditions and role-playing games.
There are a number of traditional symbols that have the same geometrical pattern as Moorcock's symbol of Chaos, such as any of various eight-pointed stars (like this one from a Greek vase from the fifth century BCE), the star of Ishtar/Venus, the Eastern Dharmacakra and the Wheel of the Year, but none of these were symbols of chaos and their limbs are not arrows.
Furthermore, the '8' of Wands in Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck features prominently an eight-pointed star with arrows at the ends. Crowley described the card as representing "energy" scattering at "high velocity" that had managed to create the depicted eight-pointed figure.
The symbol's first appearance in a commercial role-playing game (RPG) was in TSR's Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Deities & Demigods which included the gods, monsters, and heroes from Moorcock's Elric books as one of 17 mythological and fictional "pantheons". Copyright problems led to its omission from later editions.
It then turned up quite naturally in Chaosium's Stormbringer RPG (one edition of which was published as Elric!). The 1987 edition of Stormbringer was published jointly by Chaosium in the U.S. and Games Workshop (GW) in the UK.
Moorcock's eight-arrow symbol of Chaos was subsequently arrogated by GW and became a frequent graphic element in their own Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 games and the related miniature figures.
It also shows in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, in the home of Aleister Grout, the Malkavian primogen.
It further appears on an item called a "chaos device" in Heretic and HeXen.
The eight-arrow symbol of Chaos is used in chaos magic, as is its 3D analog, the Chaosphere.
Alternative symbols of chaos (owing nothing to Moorcock) include the Sacred Chao of Discordianism and The Five Fingered Hand of Eris.
It has also appeared in Bungie's Xbox 360 game Halo 3: ODST as an emblem for playable multiplayer characters.
It has also appeared in a lot of artwork by Shock Rock/Thrash Metal band GWAR. It has been featured on the cover of their album This Toilet Earth and in the inserts of other albums along with being used on much of their merchandise and early flyers.
It appeared in some of the cover artworks of the thrash metal band Testament.
The 3D Chaosphere appeared on The Swedish Metal Band Meshuggah 3rd Album entitled Chaosphere.
It frequently appears in the artwork of the albums of the British death metal band Bolt Thrower.
It has also appeared as album artwork on the albums of Black Metal band 1349, including the album Liberation
The Chaosphere has also been adopted by the New Right in Europe and the UK and the Eurasian Youth Union in Russia.
The American metal band Chimaira use a modified Symbol of Chaos logo that seems to be redesigned for every new album release.
The TV Series Sleepy Hollow (2013) uses the Chaos Star pattern in tattoo form as a mark of the Hessians, most notably on the center/back of the Horseman's Skull, as well as every Hessian's wrist. The American television show, Community, uses a six-armed Chaos symbol as the centerpiece of their school flag. The school on the show however, refers to it as an anus.
A colorful version is used as the logo for the CentOS operating system distribution.
The British Television program Luther features a version of the Chaos Star that they refer to as a 'Bedlam Axis'.
English cross-genre, experimental group Coil uses the Symbol Of Chaos as their logo.