At the most recent magical experiments night, we decided to do three meditation exercises with music out of the book Arcana V (affiliate link). I was intrigued by the exercises, partially because of the focus on space, sound, and silence, and partially because it reminded me of my own experiments with music and magic in my early 20’s.
The first experiment involved a minimalistic approach to sound. The goal was to focus on the silence that occurred between sounds being made. I chose to ring a bell for this exercise. I’d ring the bell and as the sound faded, we focused on paying attention to the silence. What we all agreed on was how little silence there was! Whether it was the bark of a dog, the hum of the refrigerator or the sound of a lawn mower, all we heard was sounds. I personally think that silence is an artificial construct, as opposed to an actual experience. There is always sound around you…you can’t get away from it…at least not on this planet.
The second experiment involved listening to music that could be defined as sensory overload music…in other words white noise. I picked Merzbow for this experiment. The goal of the exercise was to meditate and in the process ignore or block out the sounds. Everyone had varying degrees of success. We noted that when vocals were included it was a bit harder to ignore the sounds.
The third experiment involved listening to layered music, or music with multiple sounds themes (but not white noise). The goal was meditative absorption…absorbing the music without dwelling on a particular theme or noise or word. We listened to Tangerine Dream’s Atem, which is richly layered music. I found that relaxing into the music allowed me to be with it. This was the easiest exercise, probably because I listen to music all the time, when writing or working, and actually just absorb it as a way of keeping me focused.
All three of these experiments were fun to do and brought to mind the early experiments I did, where I would use selected albums to create sonic soundscapes for ritual purposes. We’d put the music on in the background, while doing our ritual, using the music itself to create the sacred space as well as any defenses we felt we needed, while we were doing magical work. I particularly liked using Coil’s music for that purpose, but have also used Rapoon, Scorn, Current 93, and other such bands to produce sacred space and altered states of mind for doing ritual work.
The other experiments this reminded me of were experiments I did with my voice. I created sound sigils, which I would activate through vibratory vocalization of the sigil, or through whistling specific sounds at specific tones to activate the sigil. I also experimented with using vibratory vocalizations for invocation and evocation work. I still do use these techniques now, but using them now is not so much of an experiment for me anymore, though I suppose it could be an experiment for others. It is something I will write more about for an occult journal or two.