Some further thoughts on language and magic

Posted on September 29, 2008
Filed Under linguistics, Magic, Taylor Ellwood | Leave a Comment

Something I’ve been mulling over and discussing with a few friends is how concepts and practices of magic could be written about with as little jargon as possible. I recently just finished reading Aaron Hoopes book: Breathe Smart, where he does an excellent job of demystifying how to breathe. Instead of relying on far eastern terms and descriptions he boils the concepts down to fairly plain English, so that any person, regardless of background could pick up his book and read it and do the practices. I find that interesting and important, because I think that if the discipline of magic is to continue to progress or evolve, making it less jargon heavy as well as explaining the benefits of it will be a necessary step.

While the fairly obvious use of language is to communicate, another less obvious use is the ability to obsfucate language, to utilize jargon so that only certain people with access to a discipline’s discourse can understand it…in essence creating an elitism through language. You see this a lot in academia. Those who cannot master the discourse are weeded out. It doesn’t necessarily mean a professor is smarter…s/he just knows how to jump through the hoops for that particular discipline and is very specialized.

On the one hand, I think this can be necessary with occult practices. My book are intentionally written to be a bit harder to read…I consider it a protection mechanism, in that it insures that if a person doesn’t understand what I’m writing about s/he can’t hurt him or herself. On the other hand, I also think being able to write about certain practices and techniques without jargon can be a useful exercise for a writer and also useful for helping people understand the benefits of particular practices. For instance, learning how to breathe properly doesn’t have to be very mystical…it is, in fact, very relevant to each person’s life. My point is that while there can be some value to jargon and technical terms, there is equal value in finding ways to write about a practice so that anyone could do it. I think language can provide the means to do that, but it also involves unlearning the jargon and to soem degree the expected discourse.

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