Language and The Magick of Words
We have always emphasized the importance of language in magical work, but generally poorly understood. People who practice magick act as though this instruction only applies to ancient languages, such as Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. However, the proper use of language is even more relevant in whatever language we use today.
The written word was the first magical technology ever used. No matter how mundane, language was the foundation of all other technologies. We would do well to consider language the foundation of human evolution. It was not until we had verbiage that we could preserve ideas, knowledge, and trivial information by passing it on from generation to generation. Early humans had no choice but to pass on knowledge from mouth to ear. Mouth to ear was how our Western Mystery Tradition survived throughout the ages. Later as writing became more common, we could move information across generations. Imagine the world of humans before there was vocabulary, where discoveries and natural observations died with each person. The biblical story of the Tower of Babel attempts to communicate the importance of language.
It is not waxing on the philosophical to consider how the arrangement of words, complete with proper punctuation and emphasis, can cause people to fall in love. Words arranged in the proper order and delivered with the right intention can create and destroy. Our words retain their power long after the person who has spoken them or written them down is long gone. The Old Testament alleges that God created the universe with a single word. Words are so important that the text declares God and the word to be the same. Jesus was supposed to have been the word made flesh: the Logos.
If we do not have a word for a thing, we cannot have power over it, which is why the secret name of God is unspeakable, for if a person were to know God’s real name, they could, in theory, have power over him.
Another hint about the importance of words is given in Genesis, as Adam is given power over all things as he names them.
We must only look to the written word to see the effect of language on our evolution. Think about how words are arranged in the Bible, the Quran, and The Book of the Law. These characters are sigils designed to cause a change in the world, and the fact that they have been modified and interpreted in such a way to justify the actions of influential people does not diminish the fact of how powerful language is: it emphasizes it. Words are spells.
“Nor shall they who cry aloud their folly that thou meanest nought avail; thou shall reveal it: thou availest: they are the slaves of because: They are not of me. The stops as thou wilt; the letters? change them not in style or value!” AL I:54.
“Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet; thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto.” AL II:55.
Whether this was the trap that Aiwass was trying to prevent when he instructed Crowley not to change The Book of the Law, or if it just happened to be some happy accident, seems irrelevant in light of the atrocities committed in the name of other holy books.
“My scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest of the princes, shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he shall comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it.” AL I:36
History has shown us how words have been used to cause significant harm and great evil in the world. For anyone that doubts this, a glance at the Malleus Maleficarum, The Prince by Machiavelli, Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler, and The Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger should be enough to prove the point. However, one need not spend hours trying to prove this. Just turn to any news media source and witness how words are used in our own time to purposely cause division, violence, and chaos or justify some horrible behavior.
Words are magick. They are spells we cast every day without so much as a second thought. Imagine what might be accomplished by the magician if we were always conscious of this fact. Note: Silence, the opposite of speech, is also a spell. There are times when it is best not to use words at all.
“Fixed thought is a means to an end. Therefore pay attention to the power of silent thought and meditation. The material act is but the outward expression of thy thought, and therefore hath it been said that “the thought of foolishness is sin.” Thought is the commencement of action, and if a chance thought can produce much effect, what cannot fixed thought do?” Liber Librae: 17
When we speak to another, we transform the consciousness of those with whom we speak. Words can even affect the consciousness of an innocent bystander that happens to be within earshot. However, most people carefully craft their words (often time unconsciously) to achieve a particular goal or convey a specific idea to individuals or groups of individuals. In this way, language is like a carefully crafted talisman. As such, words give us the ability to affect reality.
Footnotes: The Malleus Maleficarum (Latin for “The Hammer of Witches” or “Hexenhammer” in German) was written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, and first published in Germany in 1487. Its primary purpose was to challenge all arguments against the existence of witchcraft and to instruct magistrates on how to identify, interrogate and convict witches.
The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise written by Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli as a guide for princes and royals. It championed ideas regarding the goals of royalty and justified using immoral means to achieve those ends.
Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is a two-volume autobiographical manifesto written Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler. The first volume was published in 1925, and the second in 1926. The work is a collection of Hitler’s feelings justifying his antisemitism and outlines his political ideology and plans for Germany. Edited Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess.
The Pivot of Civilization. Written in 1922, this book is about racial purity and selective breeding, ironically penned by Margaret Sanger, the founder of planned parenthood.