“Deep Roots” and Meaningful Associations: Musical Tarot Continued, Auditory Sigils, and Aeonic Chant Magick
With respect to my previous post on musical tarot (“Techniques for Doing a Musical Tarot Reading & Creating Auditory Sigils”), I would like to add a few comments regarding the selection of appropriate music. I will additionally offer some commentary regarding the purpose of sensory layering techniques like combining musical and visual tarot readings in relation to the creation of advanced auditory sigils for the purpose of chant magick. I will conclude by noting a few ways this finds application in Aeonic magick.
Regarding the selection of music for musical tarot readings, a few things should be kept in mind. The music selected should be meaningful to the user, emotionally evocative, and selected with care, keeping in mind that it needs to be appropriate for this type of working. While one should feel free to experiment, it should be noted that certain forms of popular music may introduce coloration and structural distortion in the creation of auditory sigils. Lyrics and certain lyrical themes, certain musical production elements, “noise,” and other distracting characteristics may misdirect the user’s emotional and psychic attention. Lyrics, for example, can be distracting insofar as they involve the mediating role of language. This is not to say that music with lyrics should be avoided; chant itself is defined as “sung speech.” But on this point – and though here taken grossly out of context – something Nietzsche wrote on the relation between lyric poetry and music is relevant:
Language can never adequately render the cosmic symbolism of music, because music stands in symbolic relation to the primordial contradiction and primordial pain in the heart of the primal unity, and therefore symbolizes a sphere which is beyond and prior to all phenomena. Rather, all phenomena, compared with it, are merely symbols: hence language, as the organ and symbol of phenomena, can never by any means disclose the innermost heart of music; language, in its attempt to imitate it, can only be in superficial contact with music; while all the eloquence of lyric poetry cannot bring the deepest significance of the latter one step nearer to us.
In keeping one’s “eye on the prize,” the user must remember that the goal of techniques like sensory layering is to form meaningful associations – associations that combine many levels of meaning across the emotive, mnemonic, sensory, and symbolic domains. These are structured organically, in that each experience will be unique according to the musical selection, tarot reading, and a plethora of other associations from the user’s unique history; but there is also an element of chaos, in that the way these meaningful associations structure themselves systematically through sensory layering are unpredictable and beyond the comprehension or control of the user. Interestingly, however, in being directed systematically across the seven Septenary spheres of the Tree of Wyrd, the structure of such experiences can be reproduced for other individuals (in using, for example, the same music and tarot reading); but the way that structure takes shape across the psyche for a given user will be unique. This structure, which is in part created by meaningful associations combined with sensory layering techniques in motion across the Septenary spheres, creates what I call an “auditory sigil.” In the technique described above and in my previous post, this involves combining musical and visual tarot readings using a Septenary spread and then moving from one card and sphere to the next sequentially while listening to the corresponding music.
These auditory sigils become more efficacious as layering meaningful associations reach their zenith through an increase of precision and symbolic condensation. The technique I suggested of combining musical tarot readings with visual tarot readings and then directing them across the seven Septenary spheres is an introductory exercise. It is meant to allow the user to experience certain energies of the Septenary spheres, to form meaningful associations with them through sensory layering, and then to direct these systematically across those spheres, where the sequential movement or motion of meaningful associations from one sphere to the next essentially creates the auditory sigil (at the most basic level of chant, melodic movement and chant sequencing across the spheres perform this function). The exercise is not only a useful introductory tool to familiarize and then personalize the Septenary energies and correspondences, but also serves as a simple and practical technique to start creating and then cataloguing a “toolkit” of auditory sigils for use in more advanced Septenary and sinister magick.
As one gains experience with the creation of auditory sigils and begins to establish a catalogue, the practitioner may wish to make their way into the more advanced domain of esoteric chant magick. Much more can be said on this subject, and I may elaborate on some of the following techniques in a subsequent article. But part of the purpose of chant magick is to expand and increase the efficacy of these auditory sigils, and then direct them. Through a precise series of correspondences, meaningful associations can be focused, deepened, and directed using advanced sequences of melodic motion, specific Gregorian modes and diatonic musical keys, polyphonic and harmonic layering, visual sigils, incenses, colors, and the Dark Gods, to list a few examples. Each individual will additionally bring with them a vast host of meaningful associations from their life experiences, magickal experimentation, and transformations through the Grade Rituals. Previous, less clarified, and rudimentary auditory sigils can be expanded upon and developed; they can be structurally recreated and worked with interpersonally and intersubjectively in a group setting; they can be introduced into even larger groups of practitioners for purposes determined by specific Nexions; they can be used in the Star Game, including the advanced form, for the purposes of Aeonic magick; and they can be animated as “egregores” through advanced mimetic techniques.
While these are only a few of the applications of esoteric chant magick, its application, unlike external and internal magick, is one of the most powerful forms of magick in the Order of Nine Angles. These techniques are unique to the tradition. It is also one of the few forms of magick that is capable reaching the Aeonic level for use in Aeonic magick.
On this point, and returning to the topic of selecting music for musical tarot readings, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to an interview with the composer Edward Artemyev on his experience working with the cinematic auteur and master, Andrei Tarkovsky. Artemyev’s account of Tarkovsky’s views on the inclusion of music in his films not only highlights the appropriate mindset one should have in selecting music for a musical tarot reading, but illustrates what is partially required for chant magick to find application in Aeonic magick, where all previous meaningful associations, symbolic “gestures,” and forms fall away, collapsing into an incommunicable essence that is then directed as “melodic” spiritual energy:
I’ll begin with Tarkovsky. The most unusual things were the tasks set and our first conversation with him … I was struck by his attitude to music in film, precisely in his films. He told me right away that he didn’t need a composer at all. He needed the composer’s ear and his masterful command of sound, in order to mix music, to make musical effects. Possibly, to add some orchestra, but so that it didn’t stand out. So that it be background sound organized compositionally. I was simply startled by this. But so it was when we filmed Solaris, Mirror and Stalker. This idea of his was constantly present. He did not need music as a developing theme. “This is not a concert,” he said. “This is something special. When I run short of cinematic means, then I put on music.” But since he, basically, had enough means, he needed a composer only as an organizer of the background sound. And if a film needed some music, as in Solaris, he used Bach. There was Bach in Mirror, too, it was either “The St. John Passion,” or “The St. Matthew Passion.” Music as the lining to image he did not want.
Once Tarkovsky told me a very interesting thing. I asked him: “Why? I can write something [music] for the film too.” He [Tarkovsky] answered that cinema had no roots, that it was too young an art. It is only one hundred years old. To give the viewer a sense of deep roots, to make a linkage with the world art, the music of old masters is needed. As well as the paintings of old masters which he did quote … Subconsciously, it creates, as he believed and was right to believe, the deep roots for that art.
In many respects, the Order of Nine Angles is equally too young an art, despite its ancient influences and roots. In constructing meaningful associations with the aim of auditory sigils and chant magick, in addition to the application of magick in general and the establishment of tradition, Tarkovsky’s point is helpful: the creation of “deep roots” requires a “linkage with the world of art,” and for this “the music of old masters is needed.” This is perhaps even truer in making linkages with the world of magick. For this, the “music of old masters” is indeed needed; and in the application of chant magick, that music tends to find its most powerful voice through devotional Gregorian chant. The “deep roots” Artemyev referred to need to initially extend into the unconscious and find shelter there, which is part of the goal of introductory sensory layering techniques like combining musical tarot with visual tarot. When one reaches the more advanced stage of esoteric chant magick, these will begin to form a “bridge” into consciousness (through, for example, the path from the Moon to the Sun, which is the path of Azoth / Satanas). Eventually, these “deep roots” will exceed both, requiring the dyssolving of the ego. At this point, previous forms of meaningful association will shed their skin, taking on a structural identification that can only be approximated in music or speech as their sensory, psychic, and spiritual layering becomes more and more condensed. This can occur, for example, when one’s “catalogue” of correspondences, associations, and auditory sigils has become rich and expansive enough to resemble a Tree a Wyrd through the “doors” or “paths” created by layered associations across the psyche (through, e.g., years of advanced chant magick). Chant itself then becomes malleable, where certain musical and magickal elements of a given chant become interchangeable with others. Auditory sigils themselves can then be layered, where that malleability can lead to a kind of musickal dyssolving, unlocking the true power of chant magick. Contrary to popular belief, the map can become the territory. And this is required before an Aeonic context becomes possible. For this, “deep roots” and meaningful associations can only do so much; it is necessary to enact both as a kind mimesis through embodied imitation – an imitation of these condensed associations and their function as a Tree of Wyrd within the psyche – through transformative activities like the Grade Rituals of the Seven-Fold Way (though there may be other ways). Put another way, one’s psycho-spiritual constitution should actually resemble the “deep roots” and meaningful associations an individual has established – a resemblance that mirrors and enacts a functional Tree of Wyrd within the psyche. (One’s psycho-spiritual constitution and the development of “deep roots” go hand-in-hand. Attempting to develop one without the other will usually be self-evident to those who have developed both.) Unless real alchemical change has occurred in the individual in lock-step with their approach to chant magick, this kind of magick is not only dangerous but may have catastrophic effects.
With respect to Artemyev’s reference to Tarkovsky on “deep roots” in relation to art, some of Nietzsche’s comments on the Apollinian and the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy may be helpful. Though unrelated and taken completely out of context – this passage needs to be read in its proper context to understand what Nietzsche is trying to convey – it does cryptically illuminate a sense of some of what has been said here on the relationship between “deep roots” and chant magick, particularly with respect to “imitation.” In needing to be practiced and experienced, chant magick by and large resists rational comprehension or explication – and Nietzsche indirectly captures both sentiments if the following is read “artistically” or “musically” with this in mind:
Thus far we have considered the Apollinian and its opposite, the Dionysian, as artistic energies which burst forth from nature herself, without the mediation of the human artist – energies in which nature’s art impulses are satisfied in the most immediate and direct way – first in the image world of dreams, whose completeness is not dependent upon the intellectual attitude or the artistic culture of any single being; and then as intoxicated reality, which likewise does not heed the single unit, but even seeks to destroy the individual and redeem him by a mystic feeling of oneness. With reference to these immediate art-states of nature, every artist is an “imitator,” that is to say, either an Apollinian artist in dreams, or a Dionysian artist in ecstasies, or finally – as for example in Greek tragedy – at once artist in both dreams and ecstasies; so we may perhaps picture him sinking down in his Dionysian intoxication and mystical self-abnegation, alone and apart from the singing revelers, and we may imagine how, through Apollinian dream-inspiration, his own state, i.e., his oneness with the inmost ground of the world, is revealed to him in a symbolical dream image.
In closing and to elaborate upon what has been written here a little further, I would like to share a transcript of part of a conversation I recently had with a close friend – someone who has completed the Grade Ritual for Master of the Temple (the sphere of Mars, past Internal Adept). Our conversation was on the subject of chant magick, during which I was asked the following:
As a musician … do you feel like when you perform esoteric chant … it is the precise performance of the chant that gives you access to … [a] particular pathway of [the acausal]? Or do you feel that it … [arises from] the connection … [you make] empathically [to it]? Or is it somewhere in the middle? Is it because you are a musician and by performing … [the chant as accurately as possible, you evoke] that empathic connection and … access is granted to you? What are your thoughts on that?
My response was as follows:
[While much more can be said,] the most important thing with respect to accessing the acausal is what I would call “charging.” Someone could formulaically perform a chant perfectly at every technical level and achieve nothing by way of magick. There are so many factors that play into successful chant work, but the energy generated to “unlock” a certain direction or momentum … [to] puncture into the acausal “stratosphere,” so to speak, comes from a continual, impromptu acclimation into higher and higher spheres of meaningful signification. This happens in real time, and those significations converge, often violently. I call this “charging,” and without that chant is at best informal mediation, not musick and certainly not magick. In this, certain “forms” can help the charging – the more symbolically condensed and meaningful the better. But eventually one doesn’t … need such symbols anymore. The condensation, like a sigil, becomes a kind of “muscle memory” – a treasure incarnated and recalled with each subsequent performance and charging.
The amazing and difficult thing about chant magick is that unlike, say, a Hermetic ritual, there are no symbols or meaning structures other than the internal movement of the … melody in combination with the words. Generating the proper charge from that takes skill and a certain – I would say [almost] Rounwythic – constitution. Because by definition and at the most advanced level, there are no gods, dates, holidays, or other meaningful correspondences. One has to make their own [through the malleability and “openness” of these condensations]. And this symbolic condensation is quite nameless, quite wordless, in the act itself. Which in my opinion and experience makes chant magick one of the most powerful types of magick, [capable of tremendous energy, direction, and adaptation to any form of chaos]; [capable, in turn,] of reaching the Aeonic level.
April 9, 2022
ADDENDUM: GETTING STARTED WITH ESOTERIC CHANT MAGICK
For those interested, there are many ways to begin learning chant. Other than various online resources, including the instruction manual by Fr. Columba Kelly provided in the first endnote below, the best way to start, as with all music, is to use your ear: listen. Listen carefully, thoughtfully, and actively, as many times a day and as often as you can. Repetition is the key to many mysteries; and chant magick is no exception. There is much to observe in listening: the movement of the melody, the structure of the chant, where to hold notes, how to enunciate and project properly, as well as breathing and breath control. Once you have listened carefully for some time, the next step is to try to imitate what you are hearing, trying to match your performance to the original as closely as possible through continual practice and repetition. After you have spent some time singing along, start looking at the chant notation while you sing to try to understand what certain symbols and notes mean. Once you have done this for some time, supplement your eyes, ears, and voice with a more detailed study of the notation itself using an instruction manual. There are further resources at the bottom of this addendum to assist with this.
To get started, I suggest beginning with the main ONA Septenary chants, which are simpler than some of the more advanced ones, such as the Dark God chant arrangements below. The main ONA Septenary chants will provide a basic familiarity with the energies of each of the spheres on the Tree of Wyrd and will provide a framework to learn and construct more advanced sequences. Below are some resources to get started.
Once upon a time, I learned the main ONA chants from the old Chant of the ONA cassette, released by MMP Temple. Most people have digital versions of these and they are not hard to find. Currently, they can be accessed here, for example:
There are, however, mistakes in some of these performances. I corrected these in the versions found in my “Dark Gate” sequence. This can be used to practice the main Septenary chants (and I recommend these over my older versions of the chants). It should be noted that this sequence includes the first public recordings of the chants for the Star Gate (“Chant to Open a Star Gate”) and Dark Angle or Man’s Gate (“Chant to Return Atazoth to Earth”), which are advanced and difficult to learn (having taken me many years to decipher, learn, and then finally record and release). They are required and important for more advanced chant sequences, being two of the most powerful, dangerous, and magickally significant chants:
When one gains more experience and familiarity with the main chants, they can move on to experiment with more difficult chants, such as the arrangements I did for each of the Dark Gods. Though I will not elaborate on how to use these in detail here, the most basic approach involves substituting Dark God chants for specific Septenary sphere chants in a given sequence or series of sequences to generate a specific type of acausal energy. (These can follow a specific pattern determined by the cantor according to, e.g., a “magickal algorithm”; or they can be completely random, to list just two examples.) For example, the “Agios Kthunae” chant could be substituted for the “Agios Alastoros” chant for Mars in a given sequence to target a specific aim, goal, energy, attribute, or desire. The Dark God chants can be found in the following playlist:
Other chants, such as the chant arrangements I did for those listed in the ONA’s Black Book of Satan can be found through the following link. These can be used to generate specific types of energy, usually of a sinister or “Satanic” nature:
Finally, some of the advanced chant magick techniques I alluded to in this article are demonstrated in the following chants I composed. These are but an introduction to the many possibilities of such techniques:
Additional chants can be found on my youtube channel:
It should be noted that chant can be used for more subtle forms of magick, such as internal and external magick. These can take the form of devotional, contemplative, reflective, or pensive exercises aimed at creating or projecting a certain type of energy generated from a “mood” or “disposition.” These require a different approach to creating and layering meaningful associations, which I will not go into here. My chant composition for David Myatt’s c. 1986 poem, “In the Night,” is one such example:
More resources can be found within the ONA for guidance. I may create a more detailed list in the future. For now, I suggest NAOS: A Practical Guide to Modern Magick for the beginner, which provides some basic instructions to get started. The Hostia texts and some of the old Fenrir editions under Christos Beest provide more advanced guidance for the discerning reader.
A helpful resource outside of the ONA can be found at Corpus Christi Watershed. The Saint Antoine Daniel Kyriale performances are accurate and are an excellent place to start:
 See Fr. Columba Kelly, “Part 2: Chant is ‘Sung Speech’,” in Singing Chant: Latin and English: A Performance Manual (Indiana: Saint Meinrad Archabbey, 2016). I consulted this text for many years in learning chant. It is a great resource and reference manual. The text can currently be found in its entirety at the following location: https://www.saintmeinrad.org/media/1387/chant_manual03.pdf
 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modern Library, 2000), 55-56. One must be very careful here, as making sense of what this passage means requires carefully navigating Nietzsche’s analysis of the Dionysian and the Apollinian, in addition to understanding the distinctions he makes between epic poetry, lyric poetry, art, and music in relation to these. See, for example, Nietzsche’s characterizations of the “plastic artist,” the epic poet, the Dionysian musician, and the “lyric genius” on p. 50. See also p. 49, where Nietzsche discusses the taking for granted of the union or identity “of the lyrist with the musician” in relation to ancient lyric poetry.
 Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, 38.