Silence, Sound, and Magic

soundsilence I'm reading Music Power Harmony by R.J. Stewart. He has some interesting insights to share about silence and sound and their relationship to magic. He notes the following, "Before music begins there is silence; but that silence itself is full of sounds. When the music commences, it generates patterns through the (non-) silence that preceded it, but each fragment of the music holds countless moments of resonance, interaction, silence, and sound." There is no silence. We live in a world of sound. That sound is all around us. Turn off your T. V., music, or whatever you are listening to and just listen. There will still be noises. The hum of your electronics, or just the sound in the background. Still yourself and listen and you will hear sounds you normally block out. Yet allowing yourself to hear them will provide an experience that shapes your consciousness by opening you up to what is around you all the time.

Stewart also notes that actual silence is found within, which is true to some extent, but only in the ability of the magician to be able to still the monkey mind. The chattering of the monkey mind brings its own sound that echoes through the mind, distracting the magician from the focus of the magical work. The monkey mind is stilled when the magician learns to cultivate silence by recognizing that there is no need to comment on everything. The stillness of the mind leads to an experience of silence that allows the magician to be receptive to whatever it that s/he is working with.

What I find most relevant however is what he says about musical empowerment, which is that it enables us to be transformed, to open ourselves to being transformed. I find this to be true with music and to some extent with other forms of media as well. Some of that transformation is the impressions left on the monkey mind, which is why you find yourself thinking of that annoying song or commercial tune you recently heard. However, when used for ritual purposes, media transforms the consciousness by conditioning it toward achieving states of altered awareness that in turn is used for magical purposes. And whether you are making the music or listening to it, you become part of this sonic experience that imprints your mind with the path to achieving that altered state.

In my own work sound and silence form a rhythm,which is used to create that altered state of consciousness. Each moment of sound is interspersed with moments of silence, with sound and silence leading into each other and supporting each other in order to help the person immerse themselves into a state of consciousness conducive for magical work. Vocalization is also used to help tune the working to the spiritual realms that will be called upon when doing the working. Silence and sound are powerful and both should be used with each other to help emphasize the working.

For example, take a bell and ring it. Let the sound fade until there is silence, then ring the bell again, letting the sound fade to silence, then ring it again. Observe the effect on your consciousness as you do this activity. The sound of the bell cuts through everything else in the background, but the silence brings awareness of the background to the forefront. The alternation of sound and silence takes you out of your usual state of mind, creating that altered state of consciousness that is useful for ritual work.

This can also be applied to the human voice. Chant a word or a syllable. Vocalize it as you say it and then let that vocalization fade into silence, then chant again, silence, and repeat. Note how the sound and silence sync up and work together to create the state of mind which is receptive to what the chant embodies. The patterns of sound and silence are used to create resonance with the magician and the forces s/he is calling upon or connecting with. That resonance is built up as the rhythm is established and through that build up the connection is established and strengthened until the magician is ready to bring it to head and commence to the next stage of the working.

I'm finding sound and silence more relevant than ever to my won work, both in terms of ritual magic, and solitary work. Sound entrains us while silence stills us. Both have their place in magical work and when used together they can be a potent tool for creating deeper connections or for putting you in the right state of mind.