To begin, the Retelling of a truth
Sitting across from you, behind an altar adorned with skulls and wort sits a witch, zer cunning eyes illuminated by the flame of a single flickering candle. The witch’s gaze is lost, deeply mesmerized within the heart of the shewstone sitting before zer. Mumbled and foreign utterances begin to slowly tumble forth from the witch’s lips as whispers. You lean in closer in an attempt to discern what ze is saying, but can’t make anything out.
"Sher'gane ulech! Mehi ai'rouah!" the witch blurts out suddenly, turning to you with a grin. Ze awaits a response, turning zer head side to side while ze waits. Sady, you know not how to respond to the unfamiliar words the witch just exclaimed, and simply meet zer smile with one of your own.
The witch's eyes blink, and you sense a presence make it's departure. The witch pauses for a moment, breathing deeply and allowing zer eyes to finally close. "The spirit said that you shall have your heart's desire,” ze whispers, zer eyes still closed, “so long as you pour an appropriate offering, I suggest honey, upon zer grave every Thursday from now until the solstice."
As the witch slowly reopens zer eyes, you stare back confused and ask, "All that from a few words? What language was that anyway?"
"It was their language... my language... our language," the witch replies, zer eyes traveling across the altar as a smile of love breaks out across zer face, "and yes, all that from a few words. All that, and so much more."
The witch’s eyes settle upon the altar’s solitary candle flame, flickering low. With a sharp breath it’s extinguished, plunging the room into an eerily and silent darkness. For several seconds the only sound you hear is that of your own breath.
"Do you want to know what else they have to say to you?" comes the witch's voice from the darkness behind you, giving you a start, "They have much they wish to share, if you would open your heart to hear it."
The Arte, an Introduction
Utilizing spoken esoteric tongues (aka: speaking in tongues, glossolalia, or just "tongues") is a core ecstatic praxis utilized within the Stardust Compass for communicating one's intentions on a more robust energetic level when interfacing with the Otherworld and it’s denizens. For those unfamiliar with the act, when an experienced practitioner speaks in tongues it commonly appears to others as though the witch is speaking in a fully formed foreign language. However, it's often a “language” composed of sounds that are auditorily foreign to the listener, reminiscent of no other known languages.
Note: while we won't be referring to it within this article, there are instances of practitioners spontaneously speaking human languages fluently which they were formally unfamiliar with (i.e.: xenoglossia). While this is often part of the collective phenomenon known as "speaking in tongues," we shall not be focusing on this particular praxis within this article both due to it’s rarity and general inability to be taught as an arte.
Within the worldview of the Stardust Compass, the words being spoken are the energetic manifestation of the witch's heartfelt intention (or that of the spirit possessing them) cast forth into our world through the speaker’s vocal cords. Though, in truth, the auditory result of speaking in tongues is actually more of an artifact of the process of condensing and projecting one's intention outward via the vocal cords - rather than the magic itself. The sounds, if dissected with an analytical mind and laid out before the practitioner, rarely carry much radiance on their own. It’s only with the combined force of the witch’s intention that the utterances manifest with significant potentia.
An Example of Tongues
While numerous other examples of individuals speaking in tongues can be located online, I felt it was prudent to include a sampling of the praxis from my own lips. Writing an article regarding a subject only goes so far into explaining a topic. Sometimes it must be heard, and felt, to live on.
SPEAKING WITH THE HEART
Tongues is an act of speaking with the heart, and in order to do so the witch must release a majority of their conscious control regarding the production of sound. This is a difficult achievement, and perhaps the largest hurdle to most regarding tongues. It is not easy allowing our minds to give up nigh total control over a physical act that we've always championed since we were barely able to walk.
This is not to say that the witch should disable their logical mind entirely and allow their subconscious and heart to reign supreme when speaking in tongues. The analytical mind still maintains partial sovereignty in this arte. The witch, analytically, must decide on that which they wish to communicate (as we do whenever we speak). Often, as with everyday life, this is done in concert with the heart; allowing oneself to be moved as the rite takes them, and following the guidance of one’s tutelary spirits. Yet, once a message has been chosen the analytical mind relinquishes a majority of it’s control over the resulting manifestation from this arte, allowing the subconscious to take over.
MATTER OVER MIND
Whenever we utilize more than just our mind to conduct a magical act, the energy output behind that act, and therefore the energy perceived by the spirits / gods / Otherworld, has a marked increase in both quantity, quality, and refinement. This is not to say that mental-only magic is wholly impotent, but rather that the spirits generally agree that the more parts of your body that you involve in your arte, the stronger the generated output will be in nearly all instances for nearly all witches.
Naturally one must counterbalance this with the complexity of the work being undertaken. Attempting to blend multiple forms of energetic output (voice, dance, etc.) with one’s intention can frequently cause a novice performing a working to become overwhelmed and fumble the delivery. Just like juggling, one must become a master of one ball before they move onto two or three or five.
Note: Another hindrance that exists when one exclusively "thinks" their communications / interactions with the Otherworld is that the "start" and "end" points of said interactions become hazy. When performing a physical rite there is often a clear beginning and end to all actions. However, when engaged in an exclusively mental praxis the starts and ends of things can become indistinct. This lack of clarity often appears to be less beneficial to interactions with entities, as clarity of intention is often lost within the cloudy exchange that is taking place.
When we integrate other parts of our body into our praxis we increase the energy we place into those acts, as the subconscious and our hearts are bequeathed a grander pallet through which to express themselves. When we allow our body to dance freely to the rhythm of a drum our analytical mind is denied totalitarian control, and our heart is allowed to speak through our body. So, too, does the act of speaking in tongues widen the avenue for which our heart can speak. The true intentions that come from deep within us are what the spirits understand best, when compared to the convoluted intricacies of the human condition and it's analytical languages. Spirits know what our hearts ache for when we share it, they understand the longing of desire, the dearth from loss, or the fires of passion. It is from these which they are often called out of need, and with them that they help us fulfill our goals.
Through the analytical mind relinquishing some of it's control to our heart, we find egalitarian rulership over our intentions that overflows with awe. This is, for me, one of the true and deep benefits of speaking in tongues: allowing both to have equal influence in steering a rite and it's objectives.
LEARNING THE ARTE
The practice of learning to speak in tongues is, frankly, rather simplistic. It is a learning experience which requires a healthy dose of faith in one's path, spirits, gods, and (most importantly) self. It’s an arte which involves allowing oneself to "get out of your own way," and therein is not recommended for the novice practitioner whose feet have only just begun to walk the crooked path. This is not to say a novice can’t have positive and profound experiences, but rather that this arte is generally considered to be of a lower priority to the novice practitioner compared to that of knowing oneself, the entities who walk the path beside you, and being able to manifest the core practices of one's arte at a nigh reflexive level.
For those new to the praxis of getting out of your own way (a common act among ecstatic practices) a sitter is recommended for those beginning this work. Those new to this arte have sometimes (though rarely) discovered places within themselves which stir strong emotions. Having a stabilizing individual, especially one with a foothold in witchcraft, can be a great boon to help one return to stability if needed.
To begin, simply start with the repetition of a sound, such as Ba, Ba, Ba. Try it three times in a row, then switch to a new sound, like Tra, Tra, Tra, then Om, Om, Om, then Rek, Rek, Rek, etc. Continue trying to speak new sounds, but do your best to never stop uttering. If you need to repeat sounds you’ve already made earlier, that’s okay. As you progress, allow your mind to take you where it wishes. Rattle off any sounds it like, no matter how odd they might be to you. Even foreign noises such as clicks, whistles, and pops are acceptable. Do not stand in your own way, or judge what utterances you make. Simply allow them to happen, letting them to flow forth unimpeded. If you find yourself repeating more than single-syllable sounds, allow the longer “words” to come forth. As before, repeat them thrice. Long tones or noises might come forth too, just allow them to flow naturally and continue the pattern.
Eventually you might find yourself wanting to say a new sound before you’ve repeated your current sound three times: go for it. This is precisely what you want to have happen. Soon you might find yourself forming “sentences” of a sort, then paragraphs, and so on. Excellent!
If at any point you suddenly find yourself at a loss for what to “say” next, go back to the beginning and just start with simple sound forms in groups of three. The less time you allow yourself to get frustrated at a hiccup the better. Nearly all who have learned this arte have (at one point or another) hit the hurdle of being tongue tied. It’s a natural part of the learning process. Understanding why you paused is beneficial, but kicking yourself for it lacks any redeeming value.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to take breaks when learning this arte. It is, and always will be, a wild, untamed, and sporadic praxis that rarely comes either effortlessly or flawlessly unto an initiate of it’s mysterious ways. Give yourself time to breathe, reflect, and grow as the arte works it’s way through your soul and across your tongue. Remember that, for most, this is not a praxis to be perfected in a single evening.
Once you begin to form words and then sentences, take time to reflect upon them. Pause and repeat them to yourself. This time not to make the noise, but to feel it upon your tongue, within your heart, mingled with your very breath. Do your best to understand what energies your body is putting into the sounds you just made. Many will "feel" what the words mean on an emotional and mental level, others will see an image or scene, and some even have wholly unpredictable stimuli bloom (sounds, tastes, etc). Below are some questions to ask yourself while reflecting upon the utterances made:
When you created those sounds, what were you feeling / what were you thinking about?
How do they feel when you say them again to yourself?
What energies do they inflame and inspire within you as they heat your throat and dance upon your tongue?
What pictures do they conjure in your mind, or that of a trusted friend, if whispered into the ear? If shared, how do your experiences differ, and how do they overlap?
As the inflections upon them change, what changes in the effect they have upon you?
How does the image they form, or feelings they evoke, change over time?
Does a room where the word is spoken with intention feel different than before it was said?
What part of the body do the energies behind the words you are speaking feel as though they are coming from? Heart? Groin? Feet? Hands? Top of the head?
What does the sound, and it’s energy, remind you of in our waking world (animals, plants, places, cultures, weather, colors, etc)?
As you tap into what you are projecting forth, and understand it, you will begin to control it. Your heart and mind will begin their courtship within this arte, a necessary coupling to manifest your results. Once you are allowing your heart to speak you must next conjure an intention within your mind but allow your heart to speak it forth using tongues. The first manifestations might be both difficult to conjure while also feel rudimentary, but stick with it. Once you've uttered those words, reflect upon them as before. How does the final product differ compared to what you had originally intended.
Generally many find it to be a richer, more full-bodied manifestation of their intended expression (even when the output is rudimentary) - but allow yourself time to process the experience and it’s resulting output. Eventually, over time, you will be able to manifest your deep intentions via the partnership of your head and your heart through your vocal cords. A beautiful and unique jewel you unearthed and cut yourself, which no one can take from you.
LISTEN TO THE HEART
As this gift manifests through the heart and subconscious mind, it can also be used within the acts of meditation and self reflection. Allowing one’s heart (or truly, any part of the body / mind) to speak unshackled is a boon not oft received. This skill can become a powerful tool for those who seek more self awareness, or a dangerous curse for those prone to fits of vanity.
VARIANCE IN SPEECH
Be aware that your speech might vary depending on multiple circumstances present in a manifestation. No longer are you bound by the limitations of natural speech, where inflection may change, volume may vary, but overall the sounds maintain rigidity within a standard language.
When speaking in tongues your entire pallet of utterances might change completely based on location, mood, a rite’s tenor, and more. Tongues spoken during a rite of war might have a strong, harsh, and staccato quality to them; whereas glossolalia uttered within a rite of healing might be smooth, flowing, and round. Additionally, various entities might evoke starkly different auditory manifestations (appearing as though one is “speaking their language”). For instance, if you begin to interface with a chthonic entity and find your speech becoming gravely, dry, and somber do not hesitate or retreat. Allow these changes to flow naturally and unimpeded. Discern whether or not the entity finds the communication more or less pleasant, and adjust accordingly if need be.
TO SPEAK BUT NOT LISTEN
Some feel that the one speaking in tongues is so far detached from the experience that they are wholly unable to understand or translate the utterances. This forces another human being to be present in order to authenticate / translate the experience. While I have not encountered this hinderance amongst witches I know that utilize this praxis, I also respect that such a variance is possible. If you find yourself in such a situation, stand strong and do your best to locate an individual (or individuals) with whom you can share the arte in a productive manner. Fellow practitioners who will treat you with respect and dignity as you manifest your arte for both yourself and others.
NOT ALL THAT IS SOWN SHALL BLOOM
Additionally, it must be noted, that novice practitioners could simply experience nothing. You could allow the sounds to come forth, relax into it as much as possible, waiting with baited breath for inspiration to come ... and it never does. You could try over and over again, with multiple offerings made and in multiple states of relaxation - and still nothing occurs. Try not to fret. This is an arte that typically does not produce results for those who tighten up, get anxious, or get nervous. It requires a level of relaxation at it’s core to manifest. I realize this advice is easily given, but difficult to follow. Do the best you can.
Remember that witchcraft is not easy, and powerfully manifested gifts do not come quickly, if at all. This arte is known to be slow to manifest in some, and to never manifest in others. Remember that rarely are all witches destined to wield all gifts. Do not allow yourself to fall into misery if this arte is not a flower which blooms for you; and know that even those who find this flower blooming in their garden will have their own barren patches of dry earth. It is the way of our people.
Respect that the words you utter, and the spirits you speak with, might not always utilize simple and straightforward language when engaged in a dialog. Occasionally colloquialisms, slang, jargon, and more might be muttered and cause you to raise an eyebrow upon deciphering what was just said.
COLLOQUIALISMS AND MORE
For instance, a witch might utter the phrase "Tesh Rehlai ka'Rat" and it might translate to "to walk the stillness." Naturally, as we must remember, the actual sounds which make up that translation can differ every time, but the meaning remains. At first, this phrase "to walk in stillness" might sound like cryptic nonsense to the witch. However, upon asking the spirits for an explanation a deeper meaning can emerge such as, "To be someone who undertakes a task that requires one to do nothing but be still (and frequently silent). Often an arduous task that is difficult to do (e.g.: standing watch while someone you loved slips away from you in a hospital)."
Translation of dialog that is layered like this can understandably become an arduous and draining task for the witch - made even more difficult if their ego stands in their way, preventing them from simply asking the spirits for assistance. Practitioners are encouraged to give themselves time to process foreign concepts and ideas as they arrive, asking tutelary entities for aid whenever appropriate.
The spirits of the path are there to help. Yet they will sit in silence if they notice one's ego block them from making honest admissions of ignorance. Spirits typically do not feel that it's their job to give a witch help if they are acting too egotistical to request it. Don't expect to learn and grow if you don't ask questions.
You will find that, on occasion, the utterances used to create specific meanings do not change. They become fixed in a confluence between the witch, the spirits, and the intention. While a witch is never forced to utilize these specific sound forms to manifest said intentions, standardization of key energies and concepts within one’s tongue can be a great boon towards the manifestation of results.
Within the Stardust Compass this is known to be true, with specific words holding specific meanings, used repeatedly in a formulaic way for sorcerous intentions. For instance, the phrase “Ah’kah, Zah’kah, Jez Cahbar” is a phrase in the tongue Shen Tay’ll that is used in rites to send forth one’s intentions (oft at the culmination of spellwork or offerings). The meaning behind these is as follows:
Ah’kah: the outward force or emanation; the blasting radius of a magical act; the circle bounding the whole of the witch’s universe; the bloody acre; the sacred plot.
Zah’kah: the inward force of descent; the moving of oneself through the worlds; in particular the underworld & otherworld of the spirits, dead, and fae folk; to engage in a state of ecstatic trance in which one loosens and releases the spirit from the corporal shell.
Jez Cahbar: the act of raising or summoning, in particular of spirits & deity; to becoming possessed (at the full extent) or entranced with spirits / entities brought forth into the working space; to become as the axis mundi, channeling forth the forces from the stars, dead, and world-around towards a goal of witching & magic.
More standardized words and phrases, as they are revealed, will be stored within the Lexicon.
Most will not be able to understand a witch speaking in tongues, sometimes even including those who can also manifest the arte. Remember this when interfacing with others, and do your best to explain to them what is occurring. Ideally brief others on the arte before a rite, and explain what has occurred after a manifestation. Also respect that others may hold negative feelings surrounding tongues, and hearing them could evoke an uncomfortable response. As such, utilize your best judgement regarding where to manifest your gift, and where to remain silent.
Conversely, know that there are some who would squelch a witch's tongue simply to satisfy the own selfish desires of control and power over others. This arte, more than others, seems to fuel the fire of envy in those who are unbalanced and do not share in the gift. Those who would dictate what, when, and how you manifest your path, and it's corresponding artes, are unhealthy parasites that should be excised without hesitation.
Be aware that the difference between those who are uncomfortable, and those who are selfish. It can be difficult to discern, especially when those acting from a selfish place oft do so under a cloak of subversion. Breathe deeply, double-check your gut, perform divination, and act with equal parts prudence and confidence.
DANGERS ALONG THE HIDDEN ROAD
As noted earlier, potentially the biggest opponent that you will face when practicing this arte will be yourself. With this praxis one’s own mind can become a festering wound of fear and pain birthed from one’s own doubt and sabotaging ego.
Many who now speak tongues fluently will regale new practitioners to glossolalia with stories of their first experiences with the arte. How, to them, they felt they were speaking gibberish, the sounds they were making were akin to that of a baby, and that they believed it was all sheer nonsense. It is due to these doubts that many novice practitioners abandon this arte shortly after their initial sojourns into it’s darkened copse.
The witch must remain vigilant against zer ego when it flares brightly, fueled with doubt. Reactions such as these are part of an ancient biological survival response designed to keep one safe and “part of the herd” rather than becoming an outlier and in danger of banishment. In this instance, the ego is instilling fear by generating lies designed to return the witch to the safe haven of their native language. Truly, the ego will likely attempt numerous tricks to seduce the witch away from the untrod path of the hidden tongue. It is only through extended devotion to the praxis that the witch can expect to become comfortable trodding the mysterious and unlit road of glossolalia.
Speaking in tongues is a rewarding journey, but it’s often not an easy one. Even if one grows comfortable with it’s utilization within a solitary praxis, manifesting the arte before another could petrify the witch entirely. It can potentially revivify the entirety of the aforementioned fears, causing panic and terror at unprecedented levels - all generated by the witch’s own ego in an attempt to protect zerself.
To this, one must stand strong before askance looks and incredulous grins. This praxis is not one held in the highest of regard by the general public, both due to it’s lack of extended use and it’s modern attachment to the protestant church.
Practice the arte in a solitary environment, or with others who wish to walk the journey with you. If you are nervous, invite individuals to experience the arte that you trust to give you truthful and honest feedback. One of the least helpful friends to a witch is someone who will lie, whether out of love or malice. Find those who will share honesty with you, free from sugar coated critiques or painfully cutting criticism. They will be some of your most powerful allies along your path - even if you have to be that friend to yourself.
TRANSLATING WHILE SPEAKING
While it's true that a witch can allow the tongues to flow forth for paragraphs at a time, then translate the general meaning at the finale, this method is not ideal. Frequently it can evoke both confusion and concern within others, individuals who are unable to engage with the unfolding ecstatic experience. One member of the rite shifting into a foreign tongue for long periods of time is generally not beneficial to ritual cohesion, nor the rite’s energetic flow. Such a singular and cryptic moment can often stagnate energies which should otherwise be flowing freely.
As the witch becomes more proficient in the arte of glossolalia, and understanding what they are saying (even if it can only be approximated utilizing their native tongue), the ability to translate "sentence by sentence" becomes plausible. While this is an act that can take years of experience to develop, it can be immensely powerful when interacting with others who lack the ability to understand what is being spoken. Sliding back and forth sentence by sentence allows the gathered to connect more deeply to the experience and (potentially) begin to understand the tongue as it is occurring.
There are times when an entity might speak through multiple individuals at once, either simultaneously or sequentially. While I have only experienced this a few times in my life, it can be a very powerful experience if done properly and undertaken by a group of individuals who are deeply in sync with each other. This activity can be be accomplished by as few as two practitioners, but even small groups are feasible. Ideally one of the individuals who is not speaking in tongues will translate the glossolalia for others present.
This manifestation, however, is not without its potential pitfalls - the foremost being the aforementioned requirement of synchronization amongst the practitioners. Witches who are not close, or whom harbor among them an individual who is attempting to exert control over the others, will find this activity ill suited for their work. One could even discover entities whom choose to take advantage of the situation in order to sow discord and reap the resulting energetic bounty.
Undertaking the learning of this arte is a journey, and as noted a difficult one for many. Not all will manifest results, and even less will have a natural calling for the arte. Breathe deeply, relax, and take your time with the praxis. It is not a race, and not a mountain to be climbed in a day. Work with your tutelary entities, seek the guidance of your deities, and accept yourself and all that it manifests along the way.
To aide the seeker along this path the following is a key phrase that can be uttered in order to connect one with the specific esoteric tongue of Shen Tay’ll that I utilize in my craft.
I suggest learning this arte firstly within a compass rite if at all possible. Evoke Hekate and ask her to place the Key to Shen Tay’ll upon your tongue. Open wide your mouth and extend your tongue, then close your eyes. Feel a small, translucent, radiant key being placed upon your outstretched tongue. Retract your tongue and swallow the key, feeling it unlock your throat on the way down. Now, from this place, recite the following phrase nine times, followed by the exercises above.
“Er’rinou Evon-breh,” trans: “May the Way [of the Voice] be Opened”
In future instances of utilizing the phrase, the evocation and swallowing need not occur - the radiant key has already done it’s job. Whether it fit into the keyhole or not can only be determined by observing if the arte manifests for the practitioner.
Image: Large-Black-Raven-Crow-and-Rising-Moon-at-Yellowstone by Kim Seng