and the Use of Barbarous Tongues

by Joseph.Maxx 555

The Magic of Language

Language and magic are so intertwined with each other that the phrase "magic word" entered the meme-scape of everyday culture long ago. Like magic itself, magic words or languages were considered to be "ancient artifacts" of a bygone era.

That the spoken word is an indispensable tool of magic is indisputable. The underlying reasons why this is so are not so clear cut, but that is beyond the scope of this monograph. I usually opt for the psychological explanation myself -- I recommend the works of Richard Bandler (originator of Neuro Linguistic Programming) for those interested in exploring that realm.

In the last ten years, the occult world has seen the introduction of a new magical tongue, arising from the vortex of Chaos Magic: Ouranian-Barbaric.

The Ouranian and Enochian

Ouranian-Barbaric is a received or channeled language, in that it's vocabulary has been formulated (and continues to be formulated) by persons in a gnostic trance, rather than by natural linguistic development processes (as in most common languages of the world) or as an intellectual construct (as in Tolkien's Elvish or Star Trek's Klingon.) It is in fact incorrect to even call it a language per se; linguists would define it as a jargon. As such, it has no inherent syntax, sentence structure or rules of tense, plural or possession. Every English word has a direct equivalent; words are not derived from other words. For example, the Ouranian word for "magic" is LEVIFITH, but the word for "magician" is BEJVAS.

It's most direct historical equivalent would be Enochian, the "Angelic" language that was developed by (some say revealed to) Dr. John Dee and Sir Edward Kelley of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The Enochian language arose in scrying sessions conducted by these two magicians over the course of several years and led to the development of the Enochian system of magic.

Several claims have been made saying that Enochian is an actual language, rather than a jargon. In the accompanying text to Laycock's Enochian Dictionary, the author, who spent many years studying the subject, tends not to support this claim, though there are a few limited instances where some words seem to be derivative of other words. There seems to be a structure of a kind, but this may be a result of the process by which it was "received": first a series of incomprehensible phrases were obtained, followed by an English "translation". The meanings of the various words were made by direct comparison of each complimentary text. Accordingly, the structure somewhat mirrors that of the English of the 16th century.

Some words end up with two or more Enochian equivalents derived from different texts, although many words show no consistency across various texts channeled at different times. Others reappear consistently across several texts; this in itself is evidence that the texts were received from a vantage point of expanded, magical intelligence. However, several Enochian words represent more than one English equivalent. Numerous corrections and insertions are evident in Dee's original manuscripts (still on file in the British Museum) indicating that at least some editing must have been performed after the fact.

In this writer's opinion, none of this need have any effect whatsoever on the effective use of any magical language. However, some magicians will spend amazing amounts of time and effort arguing the "authenticity" of Enochian and claiming lineage going back to Pre-Sanskrit India and even Atlantis. There is no reason for the Chaos Magician to be concerned with this monkey squabble. It is the process of using barbarous tongues that make them effective, not their historical lineage or lack thereof.

This idea was put forward by Aleister Crowley in Magick In Theory And Practice (even though he also made a pitch for Enochian being a "genuine" language.) To quote from chapter IX:

"It is therefore not quite certain in what the efficacy of [barbarous] conjurations really lies. The peculiar mental excitement required may be aroused by the perception of the absurdity of the process, and the persistence in it, as when once Frater Perdurabo [Crowley] (at the end of his magical resources) recited "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" and obtained his result.

"It may be conceded in any case the long strings of formidable words which roar and moan through so many conjurations have a real effect in exalting the consciousness of the magician to the proper pitch -- that they should do so is no more extraordinary than music of any kind should do so." [Italics Crowley's]

The real purpose of barbarous incantations is to distract the conscious mind, keeping it occupied trying to make sense out of words it does not understand -- a slight-of-mind trick.

In most historical magic languages, there is a generally a dogma attached to "correctly" pronouncing the various words -- failure to do so supposedly can have dire consequences. But since there is rarely any consensus as to what constitutes "correct", we are left with a never-ending debate. To the Chaos Magician, correctness is not an issue; validity rests on results and nothing more. Nothing is true, and everything is permitted. It would seem that even the "old guard" types, such as Crowley quoted above, essentially agree.

With Enochian and the demonic names of the Goetia (The Lesser Key Of Solomon), the language has a historical source, giving it a aura of "authenticity". This is all fine and good to a degree, as it can lend a sense of "rightness" to one's work. In my Enochian experiments, I utilize an induced obsession with getting each word pronounced "correctly" (which I define as being consistent with whatever pronunciation I originally decided was correct) as a meta-belief tool to empower the working. But I do not dogmatically insist that my version is the version.

However, Enochian lacks certain words that would make it more generally useful for the composition of magic rituals. For example, there is no word for "magic", or for the names of the Planets. To be fair, using it in such a way was not the intention of it's originators -- virtually the entire language was "received" as translation of the nineteen Enochian 'Keys', or incantations, each meant for a specific evocation process. There was little or no mention of using the language for anything but the recitation of the Keys. Aside from proper names of entities, the entire available vocabulary of Enochian consists of only those words to be found in the text of the Keys, with a few minor exceptions (such as the names of the "Aethyrs".)

Enochian practitioners tend to be traditionalists and sticklers for "accuracy", so that to them, any expansion of the vocabulary or application of the language for any purposes other than those put forth by Dee and Kelley borders on sacrilege. Various attempts to adapt Enochian to other uses -- i.e. to use it as a general purpose barbarous language -- such as Gerald Schueler's series of books on Enochian Magic are not considered 'canonical' by most practitioners of the system and are generally looked on with derision by "serious" Enochian scholars.

Barbarous Deconstruction

Though Crowley and others acknowledged that it's the chanting of the "alien" language, and the psychological reactions conditioned into the magician by particular sounds, that gives barbarous tongues their magical effecy, occultists still relied on contemporary reconstructions of "ancient" languages.

Using a jargon with consistent meanings for words allows one to utilize the mantra-like effect of repetition. Just babbling something that sounds word-like isn't the same thing. This makes it different from glossolalia, or "speaking in tongues". Glossolalia is a hypnotic state where the speech center of the brain is accessed without conscious intervention and purpose. The resulting babble, while seeming to follow a sort of pattern, has no inherent meaning. As an altered state it's a useful tool, but it doesn't allow for the capability to load certain words with a consistent and specific psychological effects.

What was needed was a set vocabulary of words bearing no resemblance to their English (or any other language) equivalents, arrived at by a magical "channeled" process. Thus the words themselves are charged sigils, and carry the "contagion" of magical power.

Ouranian-Barbaric was originally conceived by members of the British Illuminates Of Thananteros (IOT), notably Peter Carroll, Ian Read and Phil Hine. The idea was to create a new magical language, one not based on dubious historical accounts and faux "authenticity".

The bulk of the words contained in the existing O-B dictionary were devised by a procedure not unlike using a "talking board" (of which a Ouija board <TM> is the most common example). The participants began with an invocation of the Godform of Ouranos (which is actually an alternate spelling of Uranus), the god associated with magic itself. The participants than set themselves spinning in tight circles until gnosis-by-dizziness was obtained, and a large hockey-puck like device was grasped and moved about a flat board covered with letters while the English word and it's meaning were focused on.

The result was several hundred words covering a wide range of meanings. Ancient ideas like goddesses and elements mingled with words for Hiesenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Planck's Constant. They even slipped in a joke -- VULBUZO, which means, "Morning is not the magician's friend".

The one important "linguistic" element to constructing O-B syntax is that it is meant to be a "Venicular-Prime" language. V-Prime is a syntax consisting only of "action" words -- there is no 'are' or 'to be'; there is no 'is'. All is what it does , not what it is.

Linguistic Evolution

With the IOT playing it's flash cards close to it's chest these days, most of the dissemination of O-B into the occult community has been at the hands of The AutonomatriX (AX) guild and various solo practitioners. It's available on several computer networks, including the Internet. The AX has been actively expanding the language, with their version obtainable from their World Wide Web page.

This brings up some important questions:

Who "owns" Ouranian-Barbaric? Though I am no trademark lawyer, it would seem to be impossible to register several hundred nonsensical words as commercial trademarks, and to my knowledge, the IOT has pointedly ignored the existence of various reproductions.

But then who decides what is "official" Ouranian? The entire idea of official anything is generally anathema to Chaotes. What seems to be occurring, and this may be a first in the history of language, is that O-B is evolving, growing "organically", with it's various appendages finding interconnection and it's users finding concensus through the technology of computer networking.

Chaos magicians are collecting Ouranian words like postage stamps, or perhaps more like the obsequious "Magic: The Gathering"<TM> cards. Regular announcements of new O-B words appear on Internet newsgroups and mailing lists dedicated to Chaos Magic, along the methods by which they were derived and ritual applications for them. New words generally arise because a need was being met for a particular purpose, and no pre-existing word was suitable.

Growing Your Own

Virtually any method of sortelige can be used to obtain an Ouranian word. There are published procedures for using scrabble letters, or one may use a commercially available Ouija<TM> board in the same manner the originators did. What's important is that the words be derived while in a state of gnosis, or expanded magical consciousness.

The process is not unlike what Austin Osman Spare was describing as "the Alphabet of Desire". In Spare's version, a series of glyphs with strong emotional meanings is obtained while in gnostic trance derived by the same process as making sigils. Once again, that is a subject beyond this paper's scope. I refer the reader to Spare's works, as well as that of Carroll, Frater U.D., and Kenneth Grant.

The crucial element is that the resulting word is charged with the creator's magical intent. Then it functions in the same manner as a talisman, carrying it's meaning and power with it.

The networking of those persons whose will it is to expand the Ouranian-Barbaric vocabulary is of great importance, especially you hold to the "morophogenic field" paradigm put forth by Rupert Sheldrake and others as the operative function of paranormal phenomena (which I believe in on every third day, alternating with psychological relativism and blind faith in the gods.) The more people there are using a particular O-B word for the same purpose, the more magical power it accrues. Expect to see user's groups and WWW based repositories to arise in the near future (some have begun already as of this writing.)

Ouranian-Barbaric is a perfect example of something arising to fill an evolutionary niche. When it's time had arrived, it arose and spread beyond even it's originators' vision, progulmated in a way that was virtually unheard of when it was first developed. It is also a living language, not an ancient and long-dead one. These facts may make it the most magical of magical languages ever known.


Joseph Max.555 (AX)