Sacred Sound

Simply put Magic is ‘the arte of changing one’s environment in accordance with will’.  In order for this to happen there must however be desire, and in order for there to be desire there must be emotion.  ‘Heightened and focused emotion, channelled through one’s will towards the changing of individual Fate’ is probably a better description.

When I think of emotions, I often feel that, like spiritual experiences, words seldom do them justice.  Even the nouns which we assign to emotions perhaps fail to really express that which they designate.  When you feel Despair, Joy, Melancholy, Rage…do these words really express what we are actually feeling when we experience them?

I tend to think not, words are part of language which in turn is a handy tool created by humanity in order to communicate complex and often abstract ideas, but more often than not I feel we get hung up on such trivial things as words.  How often have we argued with our loved ones because we weren’t able to find the right words to express ourselves, instead we fumble around in our linguistic repertoire to say what often turns out to be the wrong thing causing further ill feeling and worse disharmony? Speaking for myself I can honestly say I tend to put my foot in it a lot.  It’s at those times I wish we had a better way to express what we feel.

Ah, but maybe we do! There is another device humanity has at its disposal which has the ability to express, evoke and even re-create an emotion in another and that device is music…the greatest of the arts in my personal opinion.  I am not, by any means a musician but I love music and I can even read music and play a few instruments.  I have been blessed with a musical ear which means I can pick up new instruments quickly…even my signing voice isn’t completely horrendous (or at least so I’ve been told).  For this reason, it’s no surprise that recently I have been looking at exploring the use of Music in my magical work.  If emotion is the catalyst for magic then music is surely a catalyst for the emotion.

Before I continue, I want you to stop for a moment, close your eyes, pick a period of your past, a time you felt happiest, or saddest, a time when perhaps your life changed completely…maybe a marriage, a birth or a death.  Remember this time in your life vividly…now…what can you hear? What music is playing?  If you can only remember one thing from that time I bet it’s a song, perhaps one that accompanied the first dance between newly married husband and wife, your first love, first heartbreak or your first drunken night out with friends.  Our lives, our memories and in fact the whole of modern human history is punctuated by music and sound.

Imagine watching an epic movie like Lord of the Rings for example with no score, or walking into a night club or party with no music, music is vital in creating certain atmospheres.  Have you ever listened to a piece of music and it has sent shivers through to your core, left you with goose bumps, or in tears because of its sheer beauty and efficacy in speaking to the deepest part of you? That is Magic, sound waves, that’s all it is, which cause vibrations in some of the smallest bones created which are located in the inner ear…such a simple bit of physics and neurochemistry can have a near divine effect.

In Religion and Spirituality this is clearly a well-known effect as music and song tend to feature in almost all world religions from Christian prayer, Gregorian Chanting, the melodic and harmonic chanting of the Islamic call to prayer, the guttural chanting of the Tibetan Monasteries, the drumming and rattling of aboriginal and Native American dances, the sitar of India…the list is endless.

The reason for this I think is still a much unexplored area.  My theory is that we are heavily influenced by rhythm.  The whole of creation is moved by rhythm from the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon which drives the tides and menstruation, and mating patterns in many creatures, the seasons which drive migration and harvest, the orbits of the planets, the circadian rhythms of waking and sleeping, even our working weeks have a definite rhythm.  Rhythm is the means where by the ‘powers that be’ (Nature, God and so on) move and change everything, why would we expect to be exempt from that?! We truly are slaves to the rhythm of life…and what better way of expressing that than through the rhythm of Music!

Here are some ways Music can be incorporated into practise (I haven’t personally explored all of these myself yet and there are, no doubt, many more)

  • I recommend reading Brian Bate’s ‘ The Way of The Wyrd’ in which the fictional ‘hero’ learns about personal power songs.  The theory behind it is that each of us can acquire a power song which we are taught directly from the spirits in vision.  We can then use the song to call them and get their attention…a personalised ring tone if you will.  I love this idea and its one i would like to explore one day
  • When working any magical practise consider the planetary influence and play music which resonates with that planet (a perfect example would be Holst’s ‘The Planets’)
  • ‘Sing’ your invocations (and that doesn’t have to be limited to songs with ‘words’ the human voice is capable of making some extraordinary sounds with practise)
  • Learn an instrument and incorporate it into ritual etc.  I am a big advocate of learning to play something…it engages a different part of the brain and is a great channel for inspiration.  Even if it’s just a drum…music creates its own kind of unique magic.
  • Make use of a percussion instrument when Treading The Mill…a steady drum beat adds a whole new layer to the experience.  I have often experienced the sound of thumping upon the earth or a distant drum beat when treading the mill.
  • Explore magical music and notation.  I have read that, just like colours and numbers, musical notes and scales can be attributed to a planet…writing a short tune where every note invokes the agencies of the planetary forces could be quite something if done well!
  • Some deities / Spirits are associated with certain instruments…Pan and his Pipes, Taliesin and his Harp, Apollo and his Lyre.  If you honour a patron deity or spirit perhaps find out if they were associated with a particular form of music, or dedicate one to them.

Happy Music Making!!

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