26.9.09

The Magick of Speaking in Tongues


“To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will....
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:10-13


Conjure finds itself rooted in the protestant Christian spiritual worldview, in addition hoodoo also incorporates some folk Catholicism such as petitioning saints for magical ends, the use of holy water and so forth. However, it offers a unique perspective of the Christian experience – what one might call magical Christianity. An approach that views the bible as the greatest conjure book of all, the psalms as a potent arsenal of spells and the Judeo-Christian mythological forms as profound magical patterns ready to be incorporated into spellwork and ritual forms.

This can be a revolutionary and disconcerting approach to Christianity if you are unfamiliar with it– one that has been instigated by the mingling and syncretistic integration of African religious and magical ideas with the bible. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where concepts of African origin and concepts of Judeo-Christian origin begin and end! We see distinctly African influences not only in hoodoo itself, of course, but also in Baptist and Pentecostal practices apart from hoodoo. The knife cuts both ways it seems.

This is a religious mindset of distinctly African origin that is not at all satisfied with sitting quietly in a pew having God served up as nice idea on a Sunday. No, there is a yearning to encounter the divine oneself, to experience the sacred directly, which is why these services become so energized. People are being drenched in the Holy Ghost, prophesying, healing and speaking in tongues. There is nothing passive about it – it is an active, lived encounter with the Divine. It’s also very magical, in the occult sense of the word, whether many Christians like to think so themselves or not.

That magical nature is no more evident than the way in which these Christian forms are incorporated into conjure. Laying on of hands and use of biblical anointing oils move fluidly between a religious Christian framework and the magical hoodoo repertoire –similarly other gifts of the spirit find their way into the practice of conjure. In this respect it is the gift of speaking in tongues that I am most interested in discussing in this article.

Speaking in tongues (glossolalia) is the spiritual phenomenon in which the religious devotee, often in a state of trance , begins uttering or singing syllables and sounds spontaneously – or in a provoked fashion. These kinds of utterances often resemble spoken language and there sometimes appears to be the kind of structure, intonation and emphasis we find in most western languages. Except the language of glossolalia is unintelligible. Often the devotees will describe the phenomenon as a spirit language or some other unidentifiable divine or angelic language. Sometimes other devotees might even interpret the language.

We on occasion find the beloved dr. Kioni mentioning speaking in tongues –what’s more is the context in which he employs the gift is distinctly magical. His time as minister obviously influences his approach to magic to the extent where there is no split between the craft of sorcery and the clerical craft – and arguably they are not in fact as separate as the orthodox practitioners of Christianity would have one believe.

As someone who has been involved in the Pentecostal church, (and the miraculous sort of revivalist miracle show that happens in a large tent too!) I can speak from experience of the power of these gifts. My philosophical perspective on them has changed dramatically since that time, especially after becoming a magician – but if you have been drenched in the energy of such a service and actually found yourself speaking in tongues you will attest the sheer force of power which that uninhibited act of ecstatic faith unleashes.

Of the many perspectives, whether they be orthodox biblical, psychological, linguistic or magical, regarding phenomenon of speaking in tongues there can be no doubt that it is potent form of spiritual and magical expression. One that has been found in numerous cultures, in various settings- ranging from the religious to the shamanic and even the purely magical. And it is a tool I feel the aspiring magician, and especially someone working within the hoodoo tradition, should not overlook as a useful and powerful magical technology for empowering spellwork.

So my intention with this article is to spark your imagination regarding ways in which you can work with the gift of speaking in tongues in magic – even if you are not necessarily from a Pentecostal Christian background. Certainly many Pentecostal Christians would writhe in horror at the idea of using the gift of Speaking in Tongues in the context of sorcery, but they would be just as horrified to find the psalms used for domination or revenge spells.

You see, I am a magician first and foremost and despite religious dogma can and will use anything and everything that makes magic more effective. God, the angels and saints, it seems, are not as hung up on the traditionally observed strictures against magic as the clergy might be and gladly work with us in our sorcery. This is very liberating to me as a magician and as someone who grew up in religious household - I don’t have to turn my back on that– I can include it, bringing it into my magic. Reclaiming it in a sense.

So before continuing it’s important that I distinguish the way that I use Speaking in Tongues in my magical practice from the way church sanctioned practice is used. Firstly, whilst the esoteric principles are the same and the mechanism and results are similar the orthodox religious doctrine is obviously absent to some degree. I personally approach all Christian symbolism within conjure from Gnostic Christian perspective – which is to say an ancient Christian model that emphasizes direct experience of the divine through personal knowledge whether it be magical or philosophical gnosis (direct knowledge), over that of religious dogma and doctrine. From the Gnostic’s perspective, gnosis trumps doctrine and dogma.

So in that sense the magical use of glossolalia is distinctly universal and whilst it draws on the biblical ideas of Speaking on Tongues it does so without necessarily assuming all the same beliefs and strictures that say Pentecostals would – just as we use the psalms and other biblical trappings magically in hoodoo. Glossolalia is an ancient, global spiritual phenomenon, and can be found in many different religious contexts (Vodou, Siberian Shamanism, Chinese and ancient Greek religion to name a few) it is safe to say that it is part of the greater human spiritual heritage, just as the psalms and the bible are. Resultantly, I do not believe you have to belong to certain church to enjoy the gift – it’s available to anyone who sincerely wishes to take part in communication with the Divine. Nonetheless, we have to respectful to Pentecostal Christians beliefs regarding the practice and distinguish our use of it to some extent when discussing it, which I hope I have accomplished.

So before I go into detail giving some techniques and approaches for activating glossolalia also known as the gift of speaking in tongues - you might ask what are the magical applications of this practice?

Meditation and Trance Induction

Firstly, as the primal soul language it is used in prayer and meditation. Which is to say for communication with the spiritual world or God, as you understand the Ineffable One. It bypasses the conscious mind’s self-talk and communicates directly from the heart. It has no rational, logical content and at the same almost entirely blots out any conceptual thinking– a feature that induces a potent trance in the speaker. Entering into deep trance is itself already a compelling reason to employ the practice, because as we know - its from that altered state of consciousness that powerful work is wrought. However, just because it has no rational content doesn’t mean it has no meaning! It contains ample spiritual meaning, although it is hard to articulate that meaning in any rational language. Its higher spiritual meaning is perfectly communicated in a primal code perfect for your situations needs.

For instance, have you ever sat in prayer or meditation speaking to God or the spirits but found no words to say what you wanted to communicate? You felt you needed to speak to the Spiritual world but what you wanted to say was inexpressible for various reasons – grief, joy, hope or fear. Perhaps you just couldn’t find the right words! When you speak in tongues your deeper truth is communicated perfectly and you are saying exactly the right thing to the Divine. It is pure expression of ecstatic revelation, and when the gift is activated with trust and conviction it’s the spiritual power, the force of those strange wordless-words’ that is immediately recognizable and felt. It is something that you know quite clearly when you take that leap of faith and utter your first syllables in the angelic language of the soul. You soon begin to understand the profound benefits of communicating with the spirit world without using the logical thinking process. Instead, it is the soul that is doing the talking.

Magickal Incantation

Secondly, speaking in tongues makes for an exceedingly potent form of mystical incantation of tremendous use during magical workings. For instance, when you hold your hands over a candle to fix it, you might recite the appropriate psalm - you can allow yourself to slip into glossolalia as you pray over it. You will be surprised at the rush of magical energy this produces!

Scholars of the Greek Magical Papyrus, (a collection of hermetic spells and formulas which represent an important synthesis of Greek, Egyptian, Hebrew and Gnostic magick) have debated lengthily regarding the origin of many of the incantatory formulas found in spells written in these spells - most of which are untranslatable. Famous examples being IAO, ABLANATHANALBA and perhaps most famous of all ABRACADABRA! Recently its been speculated that these strings of strange syllables are in fact of transcriptions of glossolalia and there is some evidence that indicates that Oracle at Delphi would communicate in glossolalia which would then be transcribed and decoded by the priesthood. Its been speculated that the Gnostic magicians did the same thing. And similarly, it could be argued that when you speak in tongues you are in fact tapping into the same source of these ancient formulas.

In my opinion - when one is speaking to that candle, dressing oil, and herbs in tongues, you are charging them with divine magical force straight from that source. Your magical wishes are expressed in a primal language, that although it seems to be making no rational sense – has profound spiritual meaning. To use a modern metaphor - you are communicating the exact goals and aims you have for this spell in the basic ‘programming’ language of the cosmos.

You can enchant (which literally means to magically fill something with incantations) a mojo hand or condition oil this way. Similarly, you can use it when anointing yourself or someone else with condition oils – or when you are cleansing them by means smoke or a spiritual washing. Or during any other extended working in which you need to invoke magical power and direct it.

Moreover, it FEELS great – the process of letting go and letting this primal torrent of sound stream out of you, is extremely cathartic. It release energy and tension and induces relaxation too – at the same time it shifts and energizes the senses.

Petitioning, Evocation and Invocation

The next important aspect is spirit communication. Approaching the gift as being the language of the spirit world it naturally makes sense that when talking to angels, saints and other spirits that we can use tongues to do so in their ‘native’ language, as it were. Moreover when we do so we are elevating and blessing the spirit we are dealing with – or if it is troublesome spirit – restraining and binding it by the power of Tongues. You will find that spirit contact is enhanced and communications increase in clarity along with your ability to call spiritual entities using the gift. Because the flow of it is spontaneous you do not have to memorize lengthy orations or formulas – it’s freeform, and at the same time raises energy which allows the spirits to make themselves known more easily.

Protection , reversal and spiritual warfare

Tongues can also be induced in an angry blast of aggressive energy. What Pentecostals call spiritual warfare. The tone is harsh and there is a driving authority and strength in the delivery – ideal for impromptu protection and banishing work. It also good for justified reversals and revenge work. You can really let rip and let that power build to frenzy as work yourself up with it.

Words of Power

After speaking in tongues for a while you will begin seeing certain words or phrases keep popping out of your mouth – although you don’t know, consciously, what they mean these do become words of power which you might develop certain associations with. You might find a certain word always comes up when you are doing a money blessing and begin associating it with money, or another phrase might always come out when there is a lot of energy flowing form your hands and you begin to connect it to power.

For instance I often have the word KARABASHANTE coming out when I feel the energy or power of my work is flowing strongly. I now use this word intentionally on candles and talismans to call on that power. These words can become your personal abracadabra words – perfect for inscribing candles, petition papers and talismans with – and because they are flowing directly from your spirit they are attuned to your personal magical force and needs – they are your personal words of power.

If you are the curious and adventurous sort, as I am – you might decide to use either Hebrew or Greek gematria to analyze some of your words of power. Although I don’t want to go into gematria in this article let me just say - you might be very surprised what you find!

Activating the Gift of Speaking in Tongues

So now that I have given you some ideas how the phenomenon can be used magically lets talk a bit about how to actually do it and what it means to do it.

Firstly you might be thinking doubtfully – “Why would I want to babble a bunch of random syllables?” To which I would answer: Why would you draw random cards from a tarot deck? Or why would you throw bones and shells randomly on a matt? Why would you throw coins and randomly select passages from the I Ching? These are all perfectly random acts, but as anyone with experience reading cards will tell you – that this seemingly random act can produce profound meaning and insight into the structure of the universe and time! There seems to be no causal link between the events in the world and the cards on the table – yet the tarot cards are describing its workings with great subtlety and sophistication.

Similarly, glossolallia in my experience is the reverse of the process of divination. With tarot, I Ching, or other divination devices you are listening to those “random” signals from the cosmos and interpreting them and so doing finding great structure and meaning in them. Conversely, with glossollalia you are talking back to the universe, God, Goddess or whatever word you use to describe spirit, in its native language – a language which seems random to an outside observer but as we discover with the tarot its not so random at all.

So this is the first step –put aside doubts that the syllables you are forming are meaningless or silly. They may sound meaningless or silly at first – but as you will see they in fact encode a profound and subtle mystery that evades conscious analysis. Just trust the process and enjoy it – let your intuition and instinct guide you and you will find it is as natural and spontaneous as breathing.

Techniques for activating the Gift of Speaking in Tongues

Prayer

So the first technique I need to mention is of course the traditional Christian approach. This simply entails entering into prayer quietly and requesting that the God bless you with the gift and that the Holy Spirit fills you with grace. Then trusting that what you ask is always given – you wait till you feel that divine grace fill you and you begin speaking in tongues! This approach requires sincerity and faith. If you work from a Christian perspective anyway (which most conjures do) this should feel natural and available to you. If you feel squeamish about the idea then you might ask yourself why you are interested in hoodoo – a tradition which is so thoroughly meshed with Christian concepts?

Having said that I will offer another technique. Which does not rely on prayer or the Holy Spirit but rather on focus and intention. Patrick Dunn in his book, Magic Power Language Symbol, breaks down the technique into three steps.

1. Preparation
2. Silence
3. Speech

The first step requires relaxation, intention, and focus – you might formulate statement of intent as you calm yourself. The second step nothing is said at all and one decides firmly that you will now speak the primal language of the spirit. The final step you open your mouth and you allow any random syllables to come out – this might require making up a few just to get the process going but if you approach it sincerely will flow into glosollalia spontaneously.

Primer words

Dr Zhi Gang Sha, a famous Chinese healer uses glosollalia extensively as a healing modality. He refers to it as Soul Language. He recommends using a starter mantra to get the glosollalia engine fired up and offers the Chinese mantra San San Giu Liu Ba Yao Wu. This is the mantra of the bodhisattva Quan Yin. Dr Sha recommends you chant the mantra and progressively speed it up – chanting faster and faster until it begin garbling and once it does you allow the new garbled syllables to evolve into glosollalia. It works really well too!

I have discovered you can use any mantra or word of power to get the process started like this - priming the pump as it were. For instance the hermetic formula ABLANATHANALBA, ABRAXAS or ABRACADABRA which we mentioned before as possibly being transcribed glosollalia, works really well too. As described before - you begin chanting the formula, speeding up gradually until the syllables begin garbling and then you let go, allowing any syllables to form at will. I like using hermetic formulas like this – I also like using cabbalistic formulas to do this. If you investigate a bit you will find hundreds such formulas all with their own symbolic associations and they all seem to work equally well as ‘starter words’ to get the tongues flowing. Once you have gained some experience you might find you don’t need these anymore, but I enjoy working with them from time to time.

With a bit of practice you will be able to drop into tongues at will – and you will begin noticing the consciousness altering effects and other energetic effects it has on the body spirit and mind. I hope this article as sparked your interest in the phenomena and that you will give it a try and see what it can do for you and your magick!

Recommended Reading:

Magic Power Language Symbol: a magicians exploration of linguistics. Patrick Dunn - this is an excellent book and his chapter on glossolalia is brilliant and formed the basis of much of my thinking in this article.

Soul Language. By Dr. Zhi Gang Sha – a very interesting take on using glosollalia for use in energy healing, if you are interested in Chinese healing or energy work - but i will caution folks against getting too involved with the whole organisation it seems a bit cultish to me.

Hermetic Magic by Stephen Edred Flowers - no glossolalia in this one but is excellent book on greaco-egyptian hermetic magic, it has a slight Setian slant but is very, very well written and packed full of potent magic formulas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_gift

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossolalia

3 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for this post. This is one area of spiritual practice that I have longed for my entire life.

    I grew up in a evangelical church that made great use of tongues, and my mother is able to speak from the spirit in that way. Her's is so beautiful - it's one of my very favorite auditory experiences. Of course she usually only does it when the situation is quite serious, so if mom starts speaking in tongues you know there's a problem!

    During my childhood I would pray frequently for the ability to speak in tongues. I would try trigger phrases to start it (usually imitating my mother's trigger sounds), all to no avail. When I got into magical practice later in life I very much wanted to be gifted with tongues, and I've tried many of the techniques offered in books for creating the experience. So far no luck. LOL.

    But I'm happy to take the recommendations for these new resources and start trying it out. I have a gift for spontaneous song, usually using Hebrew Divine Names, Sanskrit bijas, or sometimes just vowel sounds. My mother calls it "songs of supplication", and they certainly are that. But they don't fit the context of really inflamed prayer/speech for more mundane or aggressive magics. It fits healing and blessing work really well, though, and I do use it in my energy healing practice.

    In any case - thank you for writing on the topic. I will keep working on it!

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  2. Speaking "in tongues" is not a gift; it's interpreted that way by people who lost touch with reality. A tongue, being synonymous with Language, is a method for humans to communicate amongst each other following a learned set of rules- that's fact.

    How can one objectively call something a tongue that does not adhere to any rules and when only one person speaks it? The religious answer is: "Spirituality is subtle and does not adhere to our measures"; So we have no choice but to shove aside logical argumentation and accept that the person in the corner is speaking the angel-language with God.

    That having being said I do the same trick when using mantras because it shortens the distance between thought and expression. Instead of thinking "Oh passionate intellect deeply seeded within, come before me", one might simply say "Propantos Ichai Fore Das!". Total nonsense, but effective self-expression; gift from God? think not.

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  3. Don't be such a literalist ass Neelands. Nobody is comparing tongues to human language. It's not rational. And it is a gift. If you ever encounter anyone with the gift and they burst into tongues you will know for certain that something magical is happening. Don't discount it simply because you have distaste for evangelicals. It's a global religious phenomenon - common in many shamanic cultures as well as the ATRs. I suspect you didn't even read this post before you posted this silly rant.

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