A few months ago, I was invited to speak at a day of talks about chaos magick in Bilbao. I agreed, and then googled where Bilbao actually was…
At the southern edge of the Bay of Biscay, in the Basque country, Bilbao is a northern industrial city. Therefore, grim, I suspected. The airfare arrived the next day, courtesy of some unexpected proofreading work, and I booked my flights. I packed for cold weather, with a waterproof coat as my prize last minute purchase! Optimistically I bought some sunblock at the airport. Both proved essential, as Blibao’s weather is the most abruptly changeable I have ever encountered.
The locals seemed very friendly, the food delicious, and the city easy to enjoy. Not grim at all, although certainly robust in places.
The talk itself presented a few issues. I cannot speak any Spanish, and my audience was unlikely to have much English. Making an opportunity out of this, I gave a talk on language and non-verbal communication. I include the notes below:
¡Hola! No hablo nada de castellano. Es una pena, lo siento mucho. Mi amigo traducirá por mí, y voy a tratar de ayudar mediante el uso de gestos.
[Hi! I do not speak any Spanish. This is sad. I am very sorry. My friend will translate for me, and I shall try to help by using gestures.]
Words shape our thoughts. They are the containers of our concepts, or we can think of them as the handles by which we move abstract ideas around in relation to one another.
These sounds that indicate either physical objects, like this table, or non-physical objects, like April (Abril), allow our species to share our intelligence and emotions with each other. With this group mind, we can achieve different things than as individuals.
Words alone only communicate a small amount. Most of our evolutionary past did not use ‘words’. Other signals gave us ways to share information and emotions.
Knowing another person’s internal emotional state proves vital. Our current technological social media recognises this as the primary motivation, shared status updates are where it begins.
Acting together as a group has always been important. In ritual space we often need to co-ordinate our movements. Giving verbal instructions can interrupt the flow of the ritual.
Today we can see if we can perform a ritual, using a few words as possible.
We will be creating parts of it together too, and as we do not share expertise in one language we will need to communicate using other tools as well as words.
There are chalks to draw with, we can use sounds and gestures. We will practice these in a moment.
Words are used so much today as we type and write to each other so easily. We sometimes forget to learn about other ways of listening to others, ways of understanding what they really feel or know.
Magicians like to escape from the patterns and traps of the usual. We sometimes use made up languages (so, not like the ‘real’ ones we all speak everyday…), like Enochian, or ancient ones like Latin or Greek, or strange sounding multi syllabic Ouranian barbaric. This gives the narrative verbal parts of our awareness something to play with, while our consciousness can then focus on getting meaning from other levels of communication signs.
If we add in a simple repetitive set of movements, to entertain the bodily awareness too, our intellect is freed to wander, to see directly what remains outside of words, outside of existing categories. The attention floats free, as in los sueños. And, this helps us to find ourselves in magickal states of consciousness.
Rituals often require these components, meaningless sound, and repetitive movements.
Today we will do a ritual which we construct as a group.
We will do the whole process with very few words, using sounds, and movements.
*takes paper. Writes on it, big* This is a spell, the result: For all of us to gain the power to understand what people are REALLY saying to us, by paying attention to their non-verbal communication.
Explain charging stuff in centre
The power of the spell becomes alive when we charge it, a word which has echoes of charging a phone with energy.
It also means to give instructions, to give responsibility for a task.
These objects *place them on paper* will catch the charge, and act as talismans to carry this spell with us, to help it to come back from the ritual into our daily lives, acting as a physical reminder (until we lose it, by which time it won’t matter as we will be the talismans ourselves…).
Charging a thing can take many forms *demonstrates*
Many systems use four elements one for each direction. *demonstrate* Other qualities can be mapped onto these four, according to local cultural and geographical influences.
We do not all know a common language, so we will just make random sounds. Practicing: Take a breath, let the air out through open mouth. Let the air make sounds, as it wishes to.
Sound & movement
*Get groups to make up elemental evocation, and they each charge the spell with their elemental power*
*People into four groups* Name each element.
Say stuff about each one.
Give chalks out/have them in situ in advance
Charge stuff in centre, by non-verbally leading the group through holding hands and raising cone of power.
Everyone gets a talisman or several, moment of silence while holding them before breaking out into laughter.
The group of nearly 20 people joined in with gusto, and the talismans worked well, with very few problems with communicating during our stay! Some intelligent questions were asked, and excellent conversations had.
Excellent work Nikki! Makes me wish I’d been there myself. (sigh)