Some Thoughts on Language as a Tool of Art

“Hear Now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into light.”

­~The Witches Creed © Doreen Valiente 1978 in Witchcraft for Tomorrow


The recent upheavals in the Twitterverse, and my own recent explorations on Mastodon, have me thinking once again about the importance of language…

In Magick we weave together our own Will and actions and symbols together in specific ways to affect change within ourselves and the world around us.  Sometimes in our Work we are calling upon the assistance or participation of various Ancestors, Spirits, or Gods; sometimes Magick and ritual are framed as ways of being in a direct communication with the universe itself.  How are we communicating with Them?  How are we communicating with one another or the universe around us to work our Wills and desires into reality?

As children, one of the first tools, the first symbols we learn to wield to affect change in our condition and to affect changes upon the world around us in seemingly mundane and practical ways, are our words.  The language that others use around us and towards us, the words, and thoughts we use to describe ourselves and our condition, all of these can have powerful and lasting and life changing consequences.  Entire branches of psychology and so many battles in the public spheres of politics and society revolve around language, around words, the words we say or are forbidden from saying.

Isn’t it surprising then that we do not see more discussions about the use and power of language and words in our magickal work and lives?  One will often see suggestions of books for beginners, but you never see a dictionary, or a particular style manual listed.  Where are the recommendations of poetry and prose?

I believe it is important to ask ourselves as practitioners what poetry and prose, as the saying goes, speaks to us?  What moves us?  What wording or style of language stirs our heart and mind and touches our soul?  Are we moved by a particular writers work because their ideas or baseline assumptions of how the world works or should work agree with our own, or is there something about the way they are stringing words and phrases and ideas together that touches the deepest part of our minds and souls where Magick stirs?

We should also explore the idea of language in the more metaphorical sense of visual language.  People will dismiss other practitioners as being ‘only in it for the aesthetic’, without sparing a moment of thought for the intense power and subtle influences that the visual language we use can have.  In contemplating the question of language as a tool of ones Will and magick, being willing to expand ones understanding of language beyond spoken or written words can become especially crucial in many ways. 

For one, given the nature of the social media sphere in our digital age with the ways machine learning and algorithms influence our daily lives.  Algorithms take what we post, what we like and share and then can determine what we see, determine the sources and ideas and images and philosophies we are exposed or even have access to all based on what we have communicated to them what (they sometimes imperfectly ‘think’) we want to see.  What are the offerings are you making to your local digital egregores and internet genius loci telling them about what you want in your life or for the world?  What is what you share or post or the signals you boost communicating to other people in your life?  Are you sure about that?

Another good example is in our own awareness and interaction or engagement with the world around us.  As I write this, I am waiting on the landfall of a Category 1 hurricane on the Florida coast.  By the time Nicole reaches The City Beautiful, she will be passing through as a Tropical Storm.  Earlier today I was amused to think about how before moving to Florida I thought of the saying “the calm before the storm” as purely metaphor.  But, if you’ve been here long enough and you pay attention, you can feel it.  The dry coolness in the air, the movement of the clouds, the slight but unrelenting breezes playing with the tree branches; there’s a storm a commin’!
It’s reminiscent of how on a hot humid day you’ll feel the air turn suddenly colder and you’ll know that the humidity has moved quickly elsewhere and you’re about to get caught in an afternoon thunderstorm?

Our words and the languages we use and how we use them are all worth some contemplation and care in our journeys as practitioners!

Bliss and Blessed Be, Pax / Geoffrey

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