Ogdoad Again

Wishcraft is a method of conveying meaning to the world significantly enough to change it. I should say that wishcraft would be what I described, if only I would settle on a method of practice. Instead, it’s mostly ideas about how causes ought to make particular effects. Even that, which I ought to lead with, made its way to the backburner in the etiology of power on corporeal, social, and psychological registers.

I owe a lot to this Grand Unifying Theory of all Witchcraft that covered subtle energy and symbolism, even though I feel that I’ve outgrown the subtle energy paradigm as a metaphor or symbol, and perhaps some influence of the deplorably solipsistic New Thought did still get me leaning away from bothering with symbolism at all. Without subtle energy, thought is world, and there is either no self or all self (even others are self and only other with higher self, it’s all a bit vague.)

But language has ever been as irresistible to me as the aesthetics of fairy tales, and they go well together.

Fairy magic is traditionally known as glamour, a word that shares a possible word history with grimoire and grammar, and so the word effectively bridges the assertion that Words Mean Things with understanding the social climate of privilege and prestige (glamour).

Words Mean Things, but how? The temptation to answer that they just do is, I think, an indicator of how compelling the representation is, how deeply-held the belief system. Words are difficult symbols to dissociate from meaning, but I continue to categorize them as referential or representative rather than real.

So, I gave Marcel Danesi’s A Basic Course in Anthropological Linguistics a read, and it definitely turned my development of Ogdoad in some direction.

Ferdinand de Saussure made the distinction in language between the system and the practice, serendipitously enough to me, like a game of chess. Only those who know the rules of a chess game can play. Without knowing the rules (what Saussure referred to as langue, or language), especially without your opponent’s agreement to the rules, it’s just moving the pieces (what Saussure referred to as parole, or words.) Note that this is a more structuralist than functionalist approach, and is not without its critics.

When it comes to written words in human history, pictograms would often be the first logical step: simplified drawings that imitate that which is referred to. I’d like to think that the idea to represent units of sound in writing was the result of reflective people who examined the more dominant medium of communication, deconstructed its representation (if a written representation of spoken language already existed), and reconstructed that representation more efficiently*.

And written representations influence visual representations. For instance, timelines that put the past in the left side and progress to the right are influenced by horizontal writing systems that start from left and continue in a rightwise direction. Ogdoad is written vertically from the top down, and I wondered what that would do to the spatial perception of time. Is the future grave (like gravity as opposed to the levity of the past)? Or does it bring ideas of the future back down to earth? It thought it would be more efficient, like checking a list.

If it’s going to be a language of wishcraft, though, it might be better served written vertically from the bottom up. That creates an outward movement. If I wrote notebooks of it where the pages were meant to be turned the opposite way from most books written in English, perhaps the anticlockwise movement would also have some effect.

* Unfortunately, with a basis of chess piece “groups” on clock hand diacritics, Ogdoad remains inefficient as a writing system. I must admit to also being awfully precious about it, so much that I don’t want to follow Zipf’s Law (which states that languages trend towards simplicity as they develop.)

When I read through the chapter on phonics, I was relieved to find that my amateur analyses of the corporeal acts that link to spoken language weren’t too far off. My uninformed thoughts were, of course, much simpler. I think I’d like to keep it that way.

Phonetics include consideration of sounds that don’t involve the voice box (squee! Odgoad has a group for those!), sounds that do involve the voice box, the tongue’s position as high, mid, low, front, central, back, if the tip of the tongue is flat or retroflex, if the jaws are clenched or agape, lips rounded or unrounded, is the sound bilabial, labiodental, dental, alveolar, uvular, glottal, plosive, sibilant, affricate, vibrant, lateral, nasal, continuant, obstruent, or sonorant?