Music, Breath, and Magic

Part of my ongoing work in magic has involved experimenting with vocal tones and vibrations via my vocal cords. In my daily Tumo practice, I've been altering the position of my tongue on the roof my mouth and have noted that moving it to different parts of the roof of the mouth alters the tone of the vocalization. This work is informed by a recognition of the following principle mentioned in the Spiritual Dimension of Music:

The ancient metaphysicians and magicians repeatedly taught that the actual physical emission of sound, particularly of selected frequencies and patterns was a reflection of an inner spiritual reality. This inner reality has the potency of transformation , both personal and impersonal.

In Tibetan Shamanic and Tantric practices as well as in specific Western mystery practices the physical emission of sound is used to trigger specific states of spiritual power. For example, in my daily practice of Tumo, I vocalize the word Hon and utilize the vibration to invoke a specific union of my energies with the energies represented in that sound. There also techniques where a person can vocalize the different names of God in order to involve the energies of those names into his/her own personal energy.

Breath also plays an important role in this work. Breath is representative of spirit and is also what is used to fuel the vocalization of a sound. There is actually a way to learn how to continue emitting a noise, while drawing in a breath, without much break in the making of the noise.

What I've found in my own work is that there is a definite triggering of a state of mind that occurs with the vocalization of sound. The experience of that state of mind can be quite useful in ritual work as it helps to set up the ritual space/time a person works in. I'm even reminded of an exercise that I and some other people did, from the Possible Human, that involved making a ZZZ sound that signified the passing from one unit of time to another unit of time. At first all of us felt self-conscious, but then we found that the noise actually triggered a shift in time, and that doing the sound with others enhanced the effect.

I suspect the same is true in general. If you make a specific noise with others, for the intent of creating a specific state of mind or metaphysical being, the combination of your sound with others enhances the overall effect. Perhaps this is also because all of the people are experiencing a shift in consciousness to a similar altered state of awareness and the actual altered state of awareness builds of one person supports and enhances that of other people as well. Perhaps its a combination of the above. I do know that the use of sound in magical work is really effective and that turning your voice into a magical tool can be useful for a variety of practices both in meditation and more practical applications of magic.


Archetypes, movement, and getting into the role

I've been reading Acting and Singing with the Archetypes (affiliate link) and trying out some of the exercises. My main draw for picking up the book was because of my ongoing interest in integrating movement, dance, and space into my magical work and I thought the book might prove useful for that purpose.

It reminds me a bit of Antero's Paratheatre techniques, and I find that with the archetypes I need to get into a state of mind and body that allows me to channel them. It's not all that different from doing an invocation, but what stands out most is how mutable a given archetype is...or rather I find that it is much easier for me to draw on a variety of pop culture sources as well as more traditional sources. The various archetypal labels of Child, Devil, Trickster, etc. are useful, but in a way I wonder if we confine ourselves to much to those labels? Is the space pirate an archetype in its own right or just a variation of an existing one?

The process of orienting yourself into invoking a particular archetype requires two essential behaviors. The first behavior is an ability to let go of your ego or sense of self. You empty that awareness. The second behavior is the ability to embody the archetypal awareness and characteristics and traits. There's different tools you can use. I've seen people use masks for example, which can be a lot of fun, but your body is the ultimate tool. The change in posture, facial patterns, voice, and even a change in clothing and accoutrements can be quite useful. It's also a change in emotions, and energy. What are the emotions the archetype feels? How does that translate into space and movement? What are the functions it embodies and how does that change the space and movement of the body?

Getting into the role is getting out of the way and allowing the archetype, spirit, etc fill me. I allow my body to become a vessel for the divine force I am working with. I open myself to the experience and let the experience define the space.

Book review: Acting and Singing with the Archetypes (affiliate link) By Janet Rodgers and Frankie Armstrong.

This book was written for an audience of actors, but as someone who is not an actor, but nonetheless does work with archetypes I found it to be a valuable read, with useful exercises that can be applied to more than just acting. I like that the authors drew on perspectives of movement such as Laban's work, but also that they made their work very accessible. This is a book I'd recommend to a counselor, actor, artist, or the magician who wants to take a different approach to his/her magical workings.


The magical effects of what you wear

Bill Whitcomb pointed me to an article about how wearing lab coats make people smarter. It was also found that when volunteers wore other coats they didn't do as well as on the tests. It was only when they were told that they were wearing lab coats that they performed better. So does this mean there's something magical about lab coats?

Not at all. If anything what it really demonstrates is that people read meaning into items of clothing and associate specific behaviors with those items, which causes them to then embody those behaviors when they wear the clothing. In other words, there's nothing inherent to a lab coat that makes a person smarter. It's the person's perception about the lab coat and what it imbues them with that causes them to associate intelligence with it. Scientists and doctors wear lab coats and generally we think those types of professions are populated by intelligent people. So a person puts on a lab coat and performs better, but the coat has nothing to do with it. That person could focus just as intently without the coat.But the perception associated with the coat is what makes all the difference. I put on the lab coat and because I associate specific attributes with it, suddenly I have access to those attributes.

Perception is a powerful tool, both in every day life and in magical workings. I've discussed using clothing to invoke specific traits or behaviors and this is a prime example of how this principle works. It's similar, in my experience, to putting on a suit. You feel a sense of change, both in terms of how you perceive yourself and how other people perceive you. It's magical in its own right, but its also perception. Understanding that distinction helps you also understand how to use perception as tool in its own right. That's when you get into some interesting experimentation with perception and clothing, specifically in terms of how you can manipulate your own perception or even the perception of others based on how you present yourself.

One of the reasons I wear a hat with a multicolored feather is because when I go out in my professional clothing it sticks out. It's an anomaly compared to everything else I'm wearing. It allows me to show my personality while also invoking the professional persona I've chosen to adopt. It's fun for me, and I've experimented with it further just in terms of letting my "true" self shine through with people in professional settings. I actually think its helped business a bit. So I think if you experiment with clothing and your perception of it you'll likely see similar results with what was discovered with the lab coats. Give it a try and let me know!

Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow (Affiliate Link) by Daniel Kahneman

In this book, the author explores intuition and rational thinking, in particular focusing on both the strengths and flaws of intuition. The author does a good job of presenting his research and reinforcing it with case studies. He makes it easy to understand the concepts. What I found most fascinating was how much we take for granted intuition in terms of what it tells even though it can be wrong. We don't really question that and he explains why we don't question it. This is a great book to read if you are interested in psychology or social behavior.

Invocation and the process of magic

Traditional invocation is a technique magicians use to connect with entities. Invocation involves allowing the entity to access your consciousness and take partial or full control of your body.  Invocation is done for a variety of reasons, as follows: Information: Invoking an entity can give a person access to the entity's knowledge, though usually the entity will want something in return. Since invocation is the easiest way to pass information along, what the entity usually wants is the opportunity to enjoy some time in the person's body, having experiences it might not normally have. The magician will share consciousness with the entity, allowing it a taste ofh is/her experiences. It will provide the information in return, so that the magician has access to it when needed. This type of invocation could be considered a form of divination, though usually it's for very specific information the magician wants.

Possession: Sometimes an entity will be invoked in order to give it possession of the invoker's body. For example, in voudon, the invoker will allow the loa to fully take over his/her body. This type of possession isn't limited to just voudoun, but you are less likely to encounter in other traditions. With this type of invocation, it is very important that the magician has other people on hand, both to keep his/her body safe, and to keep an eye on what the entity is doing, while also recording any information it offers.  When the person is possessed s/he will move differently than normal, may talk in a different language, and otherwise will act like the entity. The entity will use the possession to express itself, not just in language, but in movement, and in whatever other ways it can, in order to convey its message to other people.

Healing: An entity can be invoked to help in a healing ritual. The magician will invoke such an entity when s/he wants to heal someone and wants to draw on resources the entity can offer to help with the healing. The benefit of invoking an entity is that it can help guide you as you're doing your healing work on the person. You can also invoke an entity when you want to ask it to heal you. This can be useful, because the entity is drawing on its own energy, as opposed to drawing on the impaired resources of the body.

Worship: In a religious context, an entity is invoked as a way to worship it. The person who invokes it doesn't allow it full possession, but will channel it, so that the worshippers can interact with the entity. The ritual that's performed to invoke the entity is part of the worship process.

Non-Traditional Invocation

I mentioned traditional invocation, which implies that there is non-traditional invocation, and in fact there is. I developed non-traditional techniques, which I've discussed in full in Multi-Media Magic, when I realized that invocation is a two way street. In other words, if I can invoke an entity into me, it stands to reason that I can also invoke myself into the entity. Pathworking, which is a type of meditation, where a person creates a virtual reality, can actually be used for that purpose if you're working with an entity. Invocation works on a principle of identification. In order to successfully invoke an entity, the magician needs to identify with the entity, and through that identification provide a pathway that it can use to access the body, mind, and spirit of the magician. But this same pathway and identification can also be used to invoke yourself into the entity. It's a matter of being able to understand it enough to access its consciousness. I've found this type of invocation most useful for obtaining information from the entity, but it can also be useful in a situation where you want to do an exchange of essence with the entity. By being able to access the entity in its native environment, you can get a better handle on the essence it provides you, in return for what you give to it.

You can also invoke yourself into a person. Since invocation is based on connection, if you can connect with the person, you can invoke yourself into him/her. I've invoked myself into people to help them unblock or heal themselves. I've also this practice as a way of aligning with other people when we do long distance rituals. This kind of invocation should only be done with the permission of the person you are invoking yourself into. It's important to remember that you will be getting access to that person's emotions, memories, etc., but that person will also be getting access to you and could just as easily invoke him/herself into you. I think it's ideal to use this kind of working to help someone work through an issue or to synchronize people before doing a major magical working.

Am I missing anything? Would you add anything else about invocation?

What information do you draw on for your magical work?

I recently posted a couple of comments on invocation via Twitter and what I do to do a successful invocation. Someone else responded and mentioned how using Astrological information can be useful. I agree it can be useful, but I also admitted that I never used that information in my workings. Some people will use astrological and planetary information because that's part of what they need for doing magic. And other people will draw on other information. When I do an invocation, I don't always stick with traditional entities. I look for an emotional connection, a feeling of resonance, and attributes and characteristics that I can imitate and adopt. I suppose in some ways that my approach is derived more from observation and a desire to fit what I perceive is the mental and physical state of what I'm going to invoke. I've always found this information to be highly useful and effective for my workings.

The information you draw on for your magical work needs to be information that you understand and resonate with. I don't know a lot about astrology, so drawing on that information wouldn't work, unless I spent some time learning about it and integrating that information into how I do magic. On the other hand, I'm an avid student of human behavior and pop culture and find it easy to work with that information in my magical work.

The ability to personalize your magical workings is essential for really getting the most out of magical practice. This means that while you do make time to learn how others have approached magic, in order to develop a sound foundation, you also experiment with integrating other interests into your magical work, to make it more effective for you.

Book Review: Rebel Buddha (affiliate link) by Dzogchen Ponlop

Rebel Buddha is a guide to finding Buddha within you, as well as exploring the concept of the Rebel Buddha, which is the voice of your waking self reaching out to challenge you. The essays in this book explore Buddhism from a philosophical/lifestyle approach as opposed to a religious approach. I found that I really got a lot out of such an approach, because the author doesn't use a lot of esoteric language. He strips Buddhism down to its core, and in the process asks the reader to do the same with him/herself. This is a book you'll read multiple times and you'll get something new out of it each time.

An exercise in make believe

This year my partner decided to surprise me with a Halloween/birthday party that was also a murder mystery dinner. Needless to say all of us had fun, but a critical component of having fun involved everyone being willing to engage in an exercise of make believe in order to become the character they were supposed to represent. In fact it was somewhat like invocation... When I invoke an entity there's a process at work which involves as a key component my willingness to believe in the entity and believe that I can open myself to allow it to enter my body. I don't consider it make believe per se, but I recognize that imagination is a a fundamental component that helps to make invocation effective. Imagination is a path that allows you to become something else.

At the party,I played the party of an ancient mummy. We even wrapped me up in some toilet paper, which kinda worked. When I spoke, I made sure I spoke in a wheezing voice. I shuffled around and in short allowed myself to become that character. It wasn't the same as invocation, but I still had to use my imagination to get into character.

I think imagination is one of the more powerful tools a magician has, and its important to cultivate that tool whenever you can. One of the reasons I read a lot and play games is to exercise my imagination. I've found that my imagination has helped me look at the world in unusual ways that has benefited me on numerous occasions.

What about you? How is imagination important to your magical work?

Further thoughts on clothing and magic

Since my earlier post on clothing and magic, I've been doing some further thinking about it, and considering just how much the act of getting ready for the day can be incorporated into a purposeful ritual that allows a person to invoke a persona that enables him/her to go into the day's encounters and succeed. I've mentioned clothing of course, but even other acts such as putting on makeup, or deodorant, or shaving, tying hair back or otherwise prepping for the day can be construed as part of the magical act of creating the persona. Each action can be perceived as putting on part of the costume or ritual garb, which allows the person to assume the persona of a business person, entrepreneur, or whatever it is s/he needs to be in the moment.

For myself the various activities I do to get ready for my day have become ritualized. Putting on the business shirt and buttoning it, and then tucking it it into the business slacks and tying m hair back, before putting on the business coat and shoes and socks has become a ritual I use to put myself into the right mindset I need for public speaking, visiting with a client, and otherwise assuming the persona or godform of the successful entrepreneur. It's lead to some other results as well, which has been useful on other levels of my life.

Part of my fascination with this topic is born out of my recent decision to dive back into ceremonial magic further, albeit my own brand of ceremonial magic. If I can use my flair for outfits and fashion choices as magical act, it turns that into another tool and/or medium to exert my presence on a metaphysical front, as well as physical and mental front.

I'm even fascinated of late with the jewelry that one can wear. Putting a ring on can have symbolic importance, but having gotten some finger talons recently, it's been quite fascinating to not only feel a physical difference when wearing them, but to also note the change in mindset while wearing them. It speaks to a subtle shift that I think occurs far more often than many of us might realize, when it comes to what we wear and how it prepares us for social situations, but also how we can proactively utilize principles of magical invocation to create personas, which can adeptly navigate those social situations and create more favorable situations in the future.


I'll actually be attending a talk by Thorn later this week at the Sekhem Maat lodge, on embracing the I am of selfhood, so this review is timely. Should be interesting.

Book Review: Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle

This is one of those rare reviews where I would have to say that this book is an essential read for today's occultist. Taking a mystic's perspective to magic and it's integration into our lives, Coyle provides a model of attaining mindful awareness that isn't newagey and is something the occult culture sorely needs. She explores in depth the value of internal work and provides exercises that the reader can use to get in touch with his/her higher self. This book is a guide to internal work and what is refreshing about it is that it's written from a Western tradition of magical practice. Definitely put this book on your must read list this year.

five mystic sages out of five