Friday, 03 January 2020
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I am new to the group and to the works of Dion Fortune. I've been reading her novels and have just started on Psychic Self Defence.

I have two music related questions. Firstly, I was wondering if anyone would have any idea what kind of music Dion Fortune might have listened to. Secondly, I'd also like to know if anyone has ever recorded versions of the chants and songs from her novels?

Whichever novel I read I end up wondering if Dion Fortune had specific melodies in mind when she wrote the chants and songs and what they might have sounded like. I sometimes wish authors would include sheet music in their writings...on the other hand perhaps it's part of the point that each reader creates their own melody, probably many different melodies, each time they read it. Alternatively, I might be taking it all rather too seriously and missing more important points...

If anyone could shed some light on this I'd be grateful.

2 years ago
Hello Scipiana

What interesting questions. Although I have musical training I must confess that it has never occurred to me to think about Dion Fortune's musical preferences. I'm sure that in the 1920s - 1930s she would have attended concerts held at the Assembly Rooms in Glastonbury, and there's a lovely description in her Avalon of the Heart of Rutland Boughton's opera The Immortal Hour that she must have seen performed there.

I believe I have somewhere read an account of how DF 'intoned' the chants in her novels when she included them in magical rituals such as The Rite of Pan and the Rite of Isis and I can't imagine that she would have spoken the words in a normal voice. But I don't think her chanting was given any precise notation and I can only guess that she performed them differently each time.

I'm going to think some more about this!

Best regards, Wendy
1 year ago
DF Observed “Egyptian magic appeals to those who are metaphysically minded, and Greek Mystery methods to the artistic, because the Greek invocations depend upon music and movement for their efficacy” (Aspects of Occultism, Chapter 1, God and the Gods). Further, she observed “Colour and sound play important parts in the operation of transmuting the forces of one plane into their correspondences on a lower and denser level. Their influence has its basis in the principles of the law of the Ratio of Vibration...sound is a vibration of the air, of which the number of vibrations per second of any given note can be ascertained...if the rate of the rhythm can be discovered, and either its root or prime factors be ascertained, and sounds be formulated which have the vibration-rate of the several factors, and these be enunciated in sequence, they will evoke the complementary vibration in the subtle body which corresponds to the plane of potency it is intended to evoke...This is the rationale of the use of Sacred Names and Words of Power” (The Esoteric Orders and Their Work, Chapter 9, The Use and Power of Ritual).

It seems therefore that DF probably considered that the use of any specific style of music and any specific notes (vibrations) would depend on the nature and purpose of the magic.

Gareth Knight, in discussion of the work of DF, observed “Different types of music and theatrical performance attract a similar interaction between the planes. The performing arts, good or bad, are very magical acts...” (An Introduction to Ritual Magic, Chapter 10b, The Purpose of Magic).

[I cannot resist here bringing in my own current interest – the link between magic and science – and observe that, as shown above, DF makes clear that the relevant sounds have specific and measurable vibrations. Thus science (which includes the measurement of the vibration of sound) can play a significant part in the effective application of magic, even when the successful occultist may have no idea (and need have no idea) that they are using science].
1 year ago
Is the use of music likely to help or hinder ritual work? I can appreciate that each musical note has a specific vibration and that an appropriate vibration might be relevant to specific levels of contact, but is the sort of vibration that is spoken of in relation to inner or higher beings the same as the vibration related to musical notes? If it is, how would one know what musical notes (vibration) to pick for any particular level of communication?
Music is certainly a potent means of stirring emotions but is stirring of the emotions appropriate to effective ritual work? Does effective ritual work not rely on deep control? Is that not at variance to stirring of the emotions?
I do not intend to suggest that I have any of the answers to any of these questions and would very much appreciate any ideas that anyone might have in relation to these issues.
1 year ago
Nova, I would like to think that the use of music in magical work would be helpful because, as you say, the two disciplines appear to have ‘vibration’ in common. My experience though is that the use of music in ritual is at best embarrassing and at worst a disaster. The rule of ‘if it can go wrong, it will’ seems to defeat the most expensive audio equipment and the sound of mechanical clonks, strange hissing noises and whispered ‘try switching it off and on again’ destroy any carefully nurtured psychic atmosphere. Group singing, under any other circumstances, is a fabulous and uplifting activity for every human being irrespective of vocal skill but in a magical context the mixture of trained, untrained and tonally challenged voices to my perception again reduces the magical atmosphere to a bit of a Saturday night sing-song.
I don’t think it’s likely that the particular vibration or pitch of a musical note, in terms of the length of the sound-waves, has a connection with the way we otherwise, perhaps loosely, tend to use the term ‘high vibration’ to suggest ‘spiritual,’ or to describe higher beings, or higher planes of creation. What makes all the difference between the sound of a tuba and the sound of a flute, or between one human voice and another, is the number of harmonics or overtones that each note sets vibrating - in other words the number of other frequencies that are being produced at the same time as the fundamental note. Fewer overtones means a ‘purer’ sound in a sense, but not necessarily a more attractive one.
The only use of ‘tone’ in magical work that does seem to work effectively is the use of an intoned or chanted OM or AUM, particularly if it’s done with deep, steady breathing and the sound is properly supported from the abdomen so that the whole body, rather than just the throat, is involved. It’s the ability to do this, rather than sheer volume, that seems to do the business. Perhaps, if we could really intone an OM properly we wouldn’t need to do any other magical work!
I do personally think that the experience of emotion is essential in magical work but - apologies for the cliché - perhaps the secret is to do with having the feelings but not coming from them. I entirely agree with you, music certainly is a potent means of stirring the emotions and I have found it an especial blessing in times of lockdown.
1 year ago
I should add that I have recently been reading about a Chinese instrument called a guqin (pronounced something like goo-chin) which probably contradicts most of what I have written above. Each part of the instrument is named after a part of the dragon or phoenix....but I won't describe it in any more detail here as it's easily researched on the internet. However, it impresses me as the most magical instrument ever invented and I imagine that playing it must be an extraordinarily magical act in itself. So, I think in this instance music and magic are brought together, although in a way that most of us might never experience. Another fascinating thing about the guqin is that it produces more overtones than any other instrument, which again probably contradicts all that I said above re overtones.
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