With every philosophical or spiritual system, we may ask: what are the magical presuppositions which it is implicitly invoking? This is not a common question, but it has surprising power to illuminate under-noticed aspects of our experience.
There are thousands of philosophy and theology and New Age spirituality books in hundreds of traditions coming out each year. Many new thinkers pouring new wine into old wineskins. The problem most of these thinkers haven’t wrestled with: what sort of old or new wizardry is this?
They have built a systemic way of thinking with magical bricks and mortar and never questioned the materials they are using. In other words, they have borrowed the magic of their dominant cultural ethos which has grown ossified and forgotten in its weirdness and spell-like nature over time.
And by saying that most thinkers haven’t taken the time to erect their own magical system, I’m not saying they ought to join a coven for practicing Magick! And as much as I enjoy the Harry Potter stories, I’m not talking about creating a fanciful world erected on the notion that if you say something in Latin impossible things will happen that would delight or frighten a child.
Let me put it this way. Most people haven’t created a beautiful and elementally-fortified linguistic and symbolic edifice in which they are instantiating their agenda, and it matters not one whit whether we are speaking of The Four Agreements of Miguel Ruiz or the Sources of the Self of Charles Taylor.
If you don’t get a handle of the magic your ideas are incorporating implicitly, then you can’t control the forces in which that magic resides. Sometimes these assumptions are amenable to careful observation by the acute mind: hidden structural worldviews, value memes, levels of consciousness, implicit “quadrant” biases (to use a term from Integral theory), and so on.
But some of the trickiest assumptions I know are those which only become evident when you become consciously aware of the biases of the linguistic and elemental and subtle energetic symbolism which constitutes the idea. To see through language itself, down to its most basic building blocks with sound, to the other side … wow, what a concept! That is real magic.
We could quote the words of Albus Dumbledore:
Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.
What he ought to have said is that the parts of words are to magic what ingredients are to a stew. Playing magically with words, Latin or any other language, is like wading into the kiddie pool of wizardry; it’s playing with the elemental subtle energies comprising words that is like diving into the deep end of reality.
Philosophically, what is on the other side of language? There are basically three sorts of answers. First, there is nothing, so enjoy the nothingness. We are forever embedded in linguistic constructs which we cannot escape so there’s no point in trying. Wisdom is discovering the emptiness of all concepts and symbols and entering into a “non-symbolic consciousness”. Second, there is nothing, so play with and preserve all linguistic diversity. We are stuck with languages, incomplete and devoid of intrinsic sacred meanings as they are, but we can translate pretty well from one to another, and communicate well enough, so that is that.
Both of those answers have their merits, but they are missing the point. There is something beyond language that is like a rock, but not a rock (to steal a phrase from Master Yang Hsiung) It is the subtle energy of the Tao. It is the body of the Logos of the Creator. As Plotinus might have seen it, it is a series of emanations from the One. It is the Naadas of Sanskrit. It is the essential sound wisdom of the Koran and its literary descendants in Sufi mysticism.
Here there are obtuse realities inaccessible to introspection, observation, or even the study of conventional linguistics. Only a structural analysis of linguistic iconism in a cross-cultural perspective is able to produce anything like a sound description of the “magical” patterns of the sounds and letter-shapes that create our worlds of meaning.
At the same time, even a gifted phonosemantic researcher is not likely to identify all the patterns that are essential to getting to the other side of language unless she also marries her scholarship with insights from subtle energy research. With this help, you see that stepping off of language is not a plunge into an abyss; it’s skipping stones in a pond, the stones representing units of energy.
On the other side of language, as I have said, there is the territory of the subtle energies which are deployed for speech production and which are invoked in naming various nouns, verbs, modifiers, and other grammatical parts of speech. A very wide range of the sound symbolism in actual use today in the world’s most common languages – I’m guessing at least 95 percent – can be described using the symbols of Lingua-U, the new Integral Konstruct.
The way I see it, any magical system worth its salt has gotta attempt a project similar in scope to Lingua-U: strive to manipulate the artifacts of consciousness at the most elemental level possible, before a single word is formed, and before a single thought even arises.
Only when we understand that we are co-generating reality through the energy of our language can we transform reality at the roots. The transformation includes revisiting our spiritual and philosophical beliefs to discard stale language and refresh and engage with a new approach to Sacred Words that has been previously unexplored.