Sound and magic

H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume 1, p. 93-96

To pronounce a word is to evoke a thought, and make it present:  the magnetic potency of the human speech is the commencement of every manifestation in the Occult World.  To utter a Name is not only to define a Being (an Entity), but to place it under and condemn it through the emission of the Word (Verbum), to the influence of one or more Occult potencies. Things are, for every one of us, that which it (the Word) makes them while naming them. The Word (Verbum) or the speech of every man is, quite unconsciously to himself, a BLESSING or a CURSE; this is why our present ignorance about the properties or attributes of the IDEA as well as about the attributes and properties of MATTER, is often fatal to us.

“Yes, names (and words) are either BENEFICENT or MALEFICENT; they are, in a certain sense, either venomous or health-giving, according to the hidden influences attached by Supreme Wisdom to their elements, that is to say, to the LETTERS which compose them, and the NUMBERS correlative to these letters.”
This is strictly true as an esoteric teaching accepted by all the Eastern Schools of Occultism.  In the Sanskrit, as also in the Hebrew and all other alphabets, every letter has its occult meaning and its rationale; it is a cause and an effect of a preceding cause and a combination of these very often produces the most magical effect.  The vowels, especially, contain the most occult and formidable potencies.  The Mantras (esoterically, magical rather than religious) are chanted by the Brahmins and so are the Vedas and other Scriptures.

The “Army of the Voice, ‘ is the prototype of the “Host of the Logos,” or the “WORD” of the Sepher Jezirah, called in the Secret Doctrine “the One Number issued from No-Number”—the One Eternal Principle.  The esoteric theogony begins with the One, manifested, therefore not eternal in its presence and being, if eternal in its essence; the number of the numbers and numbered—the latter proceeding from the Voice, the feminine Vāch, Satarupa “of the hundred forms,” or Nature.  It is from this number 10, or creative nature, the Mother (the occult cypher, or “nought,” ever procreating and multiplying in union with the Unit “1,” one, or the Spirit of Life), that the whole Universe proceeded.
In the Anugītā a conversation is given (ch. vi., 15) between a Brāhmana and his wife, on the origin of Speech and its occult properties.* The wife asks how Speech came into existence, and which was prior to the other, Speech or Mind.  The Brāhmana tells her that the Apāna (inspirational breath) becoming lord, changes that intelligence, which does not understand Speech or Words, into the state of Apāna, and thus opens the mind.  Thereupon he tells her a story, a dialogue between Speech and Mind.  “Both went to the Self of Being (i.e., to the individual Higher Self, as Nilakantha thinks, to Prajāpati, according to the commentator Arjūna Misra), and asked him to destroy their doubts and decide which of them preceded and was superior to the other.  To this the lord said:  ‘Mind is superior.’ But Speech answered the Self of Being, by saying:  ‘I verily yield (you) your desires,’ meaning that by speech he acquired what he desired.  Thereupon again, the Self told her that there are two minds, the ‘movable’ and the ‘immovable.’ ‘The immovable is with me,’ he said, ‘the movable is in your dominion’ (i.e.  of Speech) on the plane of matter.  To that you are superior.  But inasmuch, O beautiful one, as you came personally to speak to me (in the way you did, i.e. proudly), therefore, O, Sarasvati! you shall never speak after (hard) exhalation.” “The goddess Speech” (Sarasvati, a later form or aspect of Vāch, the goddess also of secret learning or Esoteric Wisdom), “verily, dwelt always between the Prāna and the Apāna.  But O noble one! going with the Apāna wind (vital air), though impelled, without the Prāna (expirational breath), she ran up to Prajāpati (Brahmā), saying, ‘Be pleased, O venerable sir!’ Then the Prāna appeared again, nourishing Speech. And, therefore, Speech never speaks after (hard or inspirational) exhalation.  It is always noisy or noiseless.  Of these two, the noiseless is the superior to the noisy (Speech) . . . The (speech) which is produced in the body by means of the Prāna, and which then goes (is transformed) into Apāna, and then becoming assimilated with the Udāna (physical organs of Speech) . . . then finally dwells in the Samāna (‘at the navel in the form of sound, as the material cause of all words,’ says Arjūna Misra).  So Speech formerly spoke.  Hence the mind is distinguished by reason of its being immovable, and the Goddess (Speech) by reason of her being movable.”
This allegory is at the root of the Occult law, which prescribes silence upon the knowledge of certain secret and invisible things perceptible only to the spiritual mind (the 6th sense), and which cannot be expressed by “noisy” or uttered speech. This chapter of Anugītā explains, says Arjuna Misra, Prānāyāma, or regulation of the breath in Yoga practices.  This mode, however, without the previous acquisition of, or at least full understanding of the two higher senses, of which there are seven, as will be shown, pertains rather to the lower Yoga.  The Hātha so called was and still is discountenanced by the Arhats.  It is injurious to the health and alone can never develop into Raj Yoga.  This story is quoted to show how inseparably connected are, in the metaphysics of old, intelligent beings, or rather “Intelligences,” with every sense or function whether physical or mental.  The Occult claim that there are seven senses in man, as in nature, as there are seven states of consciousness, is corroborated in the same work, chapter vii., on Pratyāhāra (the restraint and regulation of the senses, Prānāyāma being that of the “vital winds” or breath).  The Brāhmana speaks in it “of the institution of the seven sacrificial Priests (Hotris).  He says:  “The nose and the eyes, and the tongue, and the skin and the ear as the fifth (or smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing), mind and understanding are the seven sacrificial priests separately stationed”; and which “dwelling in a minute space (still) do not perceive each other” on this sensuous plane, none of them except mind.  For mind says:  “The nose smells not without me, the eye does not take in colour, etc., etc.  I am the eternal chief among all elements (i.e., senses).  Without me, the senses never shine, like an empty dwelling, or like fires the flames of which are extinct.  Without me, all beings, like fuel half dried and half moist, fail to apprehend qualities or objects even with the senses exerting themselves.”

This, of course, with regard only to mind on the sensuous plane.  Spiritual mind (the upper portion or aspect of the impersonal MANAS) takes no cognisance of the senses in physical man.  How well the ancients were acquainted with the correlation of forces and all the recently discovered phenomena of mental and physical faculties and functions, with many more mysteries also—may be found in reading chapters vii. and viii. of this (in philosophy and mystic learning) priceless work.  See the quarrel of the senses about their respective superiority and their taking the Brahman, the lord of all creatures, for their arbiter.  “You are all greatest and not greatest,” or superior to objects, as A. Misra says, none being independent of the other.  “You are all possessed of one another’s qualities.  All are greatest in their own spheres and all support one another.  There is one unmoving (life-wind or breath, the ‘Yoga inhalation,’ so called, which is the breath of the One or Higher SELF).  That is the (or my) own Self, accumulated in numerous (forms).”
This Breath, Voice, Self or “Wind” (pneuma?) is the Synthesis of the Seven Senses, noumenally all minor deities and esoterically—the septenary and the “Army of the VOICE.”


* Anugītā forms part of the Asvamedha Parvan of the “Mahābhārata.” The translator of the Bhagavatgītā, edited by Max Müller, regards it as a continuation of the Bhagavatgītā.  Its original is one of the oldest Upanishads. (another footnote was not used here)