“If a gramophone record of a Word of Power were played in an empty room, would it produce any result, or is the effect of such a word simply dependent upon the associations in the minds of those who have been conditioned to it?”
-“The Magician: His Training and Work,” by W.E. Butler
In Gerald Gardner’s book, “High Magic’s Aid,” he describes a particular scene in which Morven the witch is able to make a group of men change their emotional state by playing certain music and tones. He also describes a scene in his book “Witchcraft Today” in which members of his coven told him they could make him raving mad – which they demonstrated for him and he recounts how they were successful in this particular experiment.
Gerald’s description in his fiction book, High Magic’s Aid, and in his non-fiction book, Witchcraft Today, he describes an occult practice that has been in fact known not only among those of the Wicca, but also by other occultists as well…. And that is the magic of words, sound and names of power.
These sounds, words and names of power do in fact “have power.” Many can attest to how at different times in their life that a particular song that just moved you in your very soul. Maybe that song was very healing to you, very soothing, maybe it made you get off your ass and go do something you always wanted to do. Maybe even that particular song helped you recover from the pain or loss of a loved one, or was part of your “falling in love” experience. Whatever it may be, the song had power to you, and *potentially* changed your life.
I have heard certain singers and songwriters give interviews that talked about the most humbling experiences in their musical career – and these experiences seem to become humbling experiences when hearing from their fans and being told how a particular song got them through a difficult time or even saved their life!
Production companies realize the effect of music in the movies and on the television shows we watch. A horror flick will always have music that increases the suspense level. Romantic comedies seem have music with intent to increase its amorous effect and so on……
Bringing it back to Wicca and the Ancient Wisdom Traditions:
Sound, music and words of power are given thought and paid attention to in our Craft. Certain words are “vibrated,” sung out, spoke in rhyme and done so in sympathy with the effect it is meant to achieve.
When thinking of mystical chanting, for many folks the tone and sound of Gregorian chants come to mind. These chants do speak to us on a primitive level. Those of a mystical bent seem have no choice but to be mesmerized by these types of seemingly mystical chanting such as the Gregorian.
The idea of “Words of Power” is a common theme in Wicca and this is one of the reasons that the god-names of our covens are kept secret and only spoken about to other initiates of the Wicca and done so for a multitude of reasons.
One other concept that is used in our branch or line of Wicca (Horsa Tradition) is the vibrations of various calls, chants, vowels, consonants and other sounds strung together which produces a very strange effect. Some of them are very harmonious and some of them feel “glass-shattering mad” and are different at times for different times of the year or depending on what the spell or rituals intention is. These vowels and consonants, rung out at the right pitch, create not only a hypnotic effect on the mind of the witch, but actually DO leave impressions in a particular space and impregnate the items that are around that space with a mystical fluid-like power that can be read through psychometric techniques or those who are sensitive to psychic impressions.
Qabalists place great emphasis on certain words of power and of “correct names” in their work. Words such as the ineffable “Tetragrammaton” is described as a four-lettered word for the name of God. Other names at times were written in as substitutes for these “magical words” so as not to pronounce it too much and defile the name. (I have always wondered if one of the reasons for keeping certain words and names secret was a carry-over from Qabalah/Cabala/Kabbalah texts and also the old medieval grimoires that are filled with words of power, or if it was just as simple as not defiling the coven’s artificial -elemental or thought-form that is created when people of like-mind get together? I guess we may never know, and maybe the real answer lies somewhere in between?)
One of the most popular “Words of Power” that we hear in our society is the word “Hocus Pocus,” but how many people realize this phrase is just a corruption of the Catholic Transubstantiation of the communion wafer into the body of Christ? Since this ritual was seen as a magical rite, transmuting the water and wine into Christ’s body and blood, it was considered special. When they saw the Priest perform the rites and in Latin say, “Hoc est Corpus” they may have been mesmerized by the religious act and wanted to copy the act itself. Certainly it wouldn’t be the first time that people would have borrowed pieces of Catholic religious ritual that were in turn originally borrows from other religious and mystical sects in turn. The stories of how people used to steal communion wafers and keep them as talismans or amulets, or use them in exchange to make a pact with supernatural entities is but example of this borrowing that occurred – so why not with names and what appeared to be magical words as well?
Many old spells utilize Latin and various corruptions of Latin. The first time I went through some of our spells and rituals, it look me a little while to try and figure out what the translations were before successfully performing them. Other magical books and grimoires are also filled with them. Take the well-known grimoire called, “The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses” which utilizes various forms of Latin in the spells and experiments. (As a side note: The book itself also contains a method of creating a magical circle for occult and conjuration experiments that are used by practitioners of Hexeri.)
The power of sound and music, recorded, spoken, vibrated or sung has quite an effect on our human psyche. It can be used to create much beauty in the world.