Good evening everyone,
I thought I might say a few words on the topic of music for aspiring musicians and artists in the Order of Nine Angles. In briefly detailing some of its influence in my life, I hope others can find some inspiration in the following commentary. By way of practical advice, I also include some techniques of my own on how to do a “musical” tarot reading using the ONA’s Septenary spread, in addition to creating what I call “auditory sigils.” The aim of such techniques is to establish a kind of toolkit by cataloguing these experiences in preparation for more advanced Septenary workings and rituals, such as esoteric chant.
Though I have spent many years refining my thinking and writing in the academic world, the existential cadence underlying my life has always been one of music. As strange as it may sound, I went into academia to become a better musician. My classical musical training provided an important toolkit to connect visceral, internal movements with meaningful forms of signification, whether historical, cultural, symbolic, or emotive. Through what I would call a kind of “pre-phonetic” musical grammar – the way certain combinations of tones stir the heart and spirit at a primal level – I began to sense over time that music and these “movements” provided the possibility and condition for the formal structures of thought.
Thought for me has always been a kind of primal impression of music, a way of visualizing sound in an organized and creative way. In my experience, the process is visceral rather than cerebral, emotive rather than intellectual, grounded first and foremost in instinct, intuition, and the way these combine into meaningful patterns across the heart rather than in the mind. In this, I found that the “pre-phonetic” patterns and movements of music have a direct connection to the grammar of natural language and can be used to structure it directly in thought. Contrary to much of what is written against abstraction in the ONA, I find that there is a kind of magick and alchemy in emotionally cataloguing the way thought can be made musical, where the abstract convergence of the two can creatively shape our worldview and direct our lives. For me, life is musical – a living narrative between abstraction and particulars, thought and spirit, cadence and caesura, without which thought alone would be quite uninteresting.
With this in mind and reflecting on the current climate of the ONA, I thought about what an auditory or “musical” tarot reading might look like for the immediate future of this tradition. I considered some of my own musical influences, including those that influenced the guitar compositions on my 2018 release, Hex Haruspex, as well as some of my classical guitar compositions. (As a curious aside, the songs on Hex Haruspex form auditory correlates to many of the tarot images of Christos Beest’s “Emanations” deck. It could thus be used for musical tarot readings.) In considering these and the immediate future of the ONA, a few of my deeper and long-standing musical influences emerged. I think these paint an optimistic picture for the future of the ONA in addition to demonstrating that sinister influences can – and should – be found in uncommon and unexpected places. My musical tarot reading thus looks as follows:
1. Moon – Michael Hedges, “The Naked Stalk”
2. Mercury – Michael Hedges, “Ritual Dance”
3. Venus – Michael Hedges, “Shava’s Song”
4. Sun – Kostas Grigoreas, “Ballad of Sensation and Illusion”
5. Mars – Michael Hedges, “Song of the Spirit Farmer”
6. Jupiter – Jeremy Jouve, “Cavalcade”
7. Saturn – Roland Dyens, “Fuoco (Libra Sonatine)”
There are many ways that a musical tarot reading can be conducted. One simple way involves assigning the above selections to the spheres of a traditional Septenary spread according to their numbers and interpreting them accordingly. I have listed which song goes with which sphere above. See, e.g., this Sinister Tarot Reader plugin page for further instructions on how to interpret these in a Septenary spread: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/tarot-reading/
A more advanced reading involves combining the songs from the musical tarot reading with tarot cards. In this case, one would combine the musical selections above with cards from the Sinister Tarot. To do this, you would draw seven cards from the Sinister Tarot deck using a Septenary spread and meditate on each card while listening to the corresponding songs in the musical tarot reading. Thus, if one drew the Nythra card for the Moon sphere, they would listen to the musical selection for the Moon sphere – which in this case is Michael Hedges’ “The Naked Stalk” – while meditating on that card. This method adds additional layers of signification to the overall reading and helps personalize the Septenary correspondences in a deep way through the combination of music and the tarot images. It also has the advantage of potentially combining readings from more than one individual, where one person “draws” musical selections for the musical tarot (using whatever technique they like) while another draws and then combines these with tarot cards.
For example, regarding the question of the immediate future of the ONA, I drew the following corresponding tarot cards for the above musical tarot reading. These can be combined using the technique just described and interpreted as follows:
- Moon [unconscious factors] – Michael Hedges, “The Naked Stalk”: XIII Death / 2 Nythra
- Mercury [past] – Michael Hedges, “Ritual Dance”: 0 Physis / 8 Ga Wath Am
- Venus [past] – Michael Hedges, “Shava’s Song”: III Mistress of Earth / 19 Davcina
- Sun [present] – Kostas Grigoreas, “Ballad of Sensation and Illusion”: XIV Hel / 5 Aosoth
- Mars [immediate future] – Michael Hedges, “Song of the Spirit Farmer”: X Wyrd / 6 Azanigin
- Jupiter [immediate future] – Jeremy Jouve, “Cavalcade”: VIII Change / Nekalah
- Saturn [outcome] – Roland Dyens, “Fuoco (Libra Sonatine)”: VI The Lovers / 12 Karu Samsu
Much like in performing sequences in esoteric chant magick, the experience of meditating on the cards with ritually significant music playing forms a kind of larger “auditory sigil” from the combination of these two in a structured, organic motion across the psyche. Over time one could even catalogue these sigils – either visually, through music, or otherwise (and then potentially use those for new and more advanced tarot readings). This is a practical way to bring certain energies of each Septenary sphere to life through personalized musical experiences of the Sinister Tarot in a ritualized, meditative, active, and reflective setting. (This involves a species of active contemplation rather than passive reception.) Rather than reading this and trying to understand it rationally, I strongly encourage the reader to try the above tarot reading using the link to the Sinister Tarot cards in combination with the music specified above. This will give you a sense of what that “auditory sigil” feels like with respect to sensory layering. I found the particular musical and tarot combinations listed above to be a beautiful experience. When doing this, one should keep in mind the question or aim of the tarot reading (the immediate future of the ONA in this case), the correspondences of each tarot card, the sensory and internal experiences the music evokes while listening (emotions, memories, tactile sensations, etc.), the energies of each sphere, and the contours of what “takes shape” as one moves across the spheres, keeping in mind that sensory layering between sight and sound will combine with the movement across the spheres as a kind of structure: what I call an “auditory sigil.” The more experience with and “cataloguing” of these sigils, the more specialized a toolkit one will have at their disposal in approaching other more advanced Septenary rituals and workings involving these correspondences, such as esoteric chant. The difference is that in using appropriate music, one can personalize these experiences, lending greater significance to their understanding of Septenary correspondences and the energies of the spheres. This method helps make those uniquely their own and may function as a kind of informal pathworking.
Many other methods can be derived using additional techniques, tarot spreads, and tarot decks – these are just a few techniques that I created. The Sinister Tarot Reader plugin can be used to initially experiment with such techniques. In “drawing” songs for the musical tarot reading, one could experiment with genres, styles, eras, and cultures for certain forms of music, for example, perhaps assigning a given genre to a certain Septenary sphere, star, or Aeon for advanced workings. (The techniques described in this article could, in a very advanced setting, be combined with the Star Game, but that will not be explored in this brief overview, which merely provides a few techniques to get started.) Songs could be selected randomly using a variety of methods (writing them down and drawing randomly, picking from a physical music collection, shuffling them digitally on a computer or phone, and the like). There are many possibilities. The only limitations to deriving new techniques are one’s creativity and imagination.
I would like to close with a few comments on the above musical pieces. The songs by Michael Hedges come from his album Taproot, which had a lasting influence on my musical approach and guitar style growing up. I recommend the album highly. Kostas Grigoreas brings the tradition of Greek classical guitar into a modern context (he is also a terribly friendly person). Jeremy Jouve is a talented modern classical guitarist who deserves more attention in my opinion – both for his ability and exceptional performances. Roland Dyens is a well-known French classical guitar virtuoso with a background in composition (whom I almost had the pleasure of meeting/studying with briefly and have had the pleasure of seeing live). It should be noted that none of these individuals have anything to do with the occult or the Order of Nine Angles. I think their music does, however, capture something unique about its essence, its spirit, its current climate, and the possibilities for its future.
April 8, 2022