“A mantram is a collection of words which, when sounded in speech, induce certain vibrations not only in the air, but also in the finer ether, thereby producing certain effects.”William Q. Judge, 1888
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, describes an occult practice that has been in fact known not only among those of the Wicca, but also by other occultists as well…. that certain words, sounds, vibrations, frequencies and names or words of power seem to have an effect on our mind and our emotions.
These sounds, words and names do “have power.” Many can attest to how at different times in their life that a particular song that just rocked their world. Maybe that song was very healing to you, very soothing, maybe it made you get up and go do something you always wanted to do. Maybe it made you sad or introspective? 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 the way you thought about your life?
I have heard certain singers and songwriters give interviews that talked about the most humbling experiences in their musical career – and it is those experiences of 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 and puts us on edge. Romantic comedies seem have music with intent to increase its amorous effects to increase your emotional responses and so on …
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, or even layers, with an effect in mind that it is meant to achieve.
When thinking of mystical chanting, for many folks the tone and sound of Gregorian chants or even words spoke in Latin come to mind. These chants do speak to us somehow on a deep level. Those of a mystical bent seem have no choice but to be mesmerized by the sound of these chants as it takes them into different states of consciousness.
The idea of “Words of Power” is a common theme in Wicca and this is one of the reasons that some covens keep the god-names 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 own branch or line of Wicca 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 depending on the purpose they are meant to affect. 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, such as through clairsentience or clairvoyance. These types of sounds put together are often called mantras or mantrams by some.
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.
One of the most popular “Words of Power” that we hear in movies, books and television of a fictional variety 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 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, 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.
Many modern witches of today have developed their own techniques of creating “Words of Power.” Recently, Weiser Books re-released two classic books by New York City Witch, Marion Weinstein, who popularized her own method of creating words of power through invocation. The two books, “Positive Magic” and “Personal Magic” have been re-released for today’s reader and by using them, the reader can follow Weinstein’s own devised formulas for crafting your own “Words of Power” for a variety of magical intentions. (Marion Weinstein first came out publicly as a witch in 1969 on a talk radio show in New York she used to be on. In those days, coming out as a witch was quite shocking when you are a public figure! Today, many public figures still fear coming out of the closet.)
I’m sure if you think on this, you will be able to find pieces of music, words and sounds that conjure up various emotions for you personally. These emotions, when released at the proper time, such as in spell-making, can help give you a boost needed so that you have the necessary emotional involvement for certain spells. It is rare in our coven meetings here at the Wolfa Coven that we don’t have some type of appropriate music playing at some point or all of the ritual. The only exception where music is not played is when we are outdoors for ritual – for nature has Her own music to share with us: the sound of the crackling need-fire, the grass and flora beneath our feet, the sound of the wind in the trees, insects and animals carrying out their activities.
The power of sound and music; whether recorded, spoken, vibrated or sung has quite an effect on our human psyche. It can be used to create much beauty in the world. It is probably no coincidence that most religions in the world use some form of music or song as part of their religious ceremonies.