Sound and Silence in Ritual

Posted on February 27, 2014
Filed Under Magic | 1 Comment

Bell

One of the classes I presented at Convocation is the Ritual Sonics class. It’s a class I’ve recently developed because of my own experiments with sound and at Convocation I taught the full version for the first time and was pretty pleased with it. A couple of the concepts I explored focused in one the relationship between sound and silence. In my experience sound and silence are in a symbiotic relationship  that structures so much of our experiences with sound in both mundane and sacred circumstances.

Consider sound and silence in relation to each other. One begins where the other ends, and both are defined by the experience of the other. I actually pointed out in my class that we never really have silence. Turn off your music, be quiet for a few moments and just listen. You’ll still hear background noises, and perhaps you’ll even hear your own thoughts, suddenly standing out to you because your mind isn’t being occupied with sound. In that sense, silence is an illusion, but let’s consider another angle.

Sometimes what silence really is involves our choice to stop making sound and just be with whatever is there, or to purposely create a sense of quiet that helps to build up the energy of the ritual. When silence is used in this way, it becomes a part of the sound that is engineered to enhance whatever sounds are made. For example ring a bell and listen to the sound eventually quiet down to silence and listen to this silence and then ring the bell again. What you are doing is building up the sound using the silence as a way to enhance the recognition of the sound.

Another way I like to use sound and silence involves chanting the name of a deity or entity. The chant first starts in your head. You think the name of the deity or entity a few times, and then you whisper the name a few times, and then you say the name louder a few times and then you say the name louder again. then repeat the cycle, using the repetition of the silence and sound to build a cycle of sound that calls out to the deity or entity and establishes a group connection for the people doing the chant. The sound and silence create a rhythm and also illustrate something important in a group setting, which is that initially we’re individuals, but as we sync our vocal efforts together we become a group and that group consciousness in turn helps to manifest the connection to the deity or entity.

Sound and silence work hand in hand if we choose to allow them to. I like to integrate silence into the sound work I do because I find it makes the magical working much more purposeful than it might be otherwise. Silence causes us to appreciate the sound more and at the same time go deeper into ourselves to draw on the resources we’ll use to make the connection with the entity, deity or purpose that we’re choosing to make sound for. The sounds we make in turn allow us to not only connect with the deity, entity, or purpose we are seeing to connect with, but also help us appreciate the silence and use it, in and of itself, to be present with the connection we make.

A book review of Manifesting Wealth

Manifesting Wealth was reviewed by author Lilith Dorsey on Patheos.

Book ReviewCommunities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity by Etienne Wenger

In this book the author explores the concept of organizational design from two perspectives of practice and identity and explores how those perspectives inform the creation of community within organizations as well as the power dynamics that occur as a result. The author has some intriguing ideas to present and it’s worth a read if you are interested in building community or improving the efficacy of your organization. This is an academic text, so it’s not focused on how to build community, however you can get a lot of ideas from reading the text. I’d recommend it as a way of also understanding some of the dynamics in your organization so that you can make changes or make your organization sustainable.

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