by Lukasz Grochocki
I have been interested in linguistics ever since I moved to the US from Poland in ‘84. Having to learn a new language at the age of 9, I was struck by the beauty of actual linguistic mechanics. Because Polish and English are part of the Indo-European language group, I began to notice patterns. Polish, a Slavic language, belongs to the Satem, or Eastern, Branch of Indo-European. Therefore Polish is much closer to the original Proto Indo-European. Polish has many archaic aspects as well as a grammatical complexity similar to Sanskrit, her sister language, which shares the the same Eastern Branch. Lithuanian also shares many of these same archaic froms. For example, we have nine steps of declination and Latin only has seven steps. Our word order is also based on “tone,” an aspect totally foreign to much of the Centum, or Western Branch, of the Indo-European family. However, as simple as English is, it helped me see the abstractions of linguistic mechanics. One of my Algebra professors made the observation that a complex thing is actually just a bunch of simple things put together. And so I started to explore this Magickal thing we call language.
I started off with Ancient Egyptian at the tender age of 11. I got my hands on all the A.E. Wallis Budge books I could, and taught myself how to read Hieroglyphics. To his credit, in most of his books when dealing with Ancient Egyptian Texts, Budge gives us three lines of text, the Hieroglyphic, its transliteration into Latin letters and then the English translation. Seeing the Egyptian language presented in this form, my young mind immediately started to grasp the visual aspects and grammatical dynamics of this ancient tongue. Much later in my college studies, when I was introduced to Maya glyphs, I was told that this 3 line visual cue was the exact same method used by Linda Schele and her comrades to break the “Maya Code.”
Now I could “see” these symbolized texts actually start to speak through their visual forms. For example Ancient Summerian started off as pictographs, which over time morphed into abstract cuneiform shapes and began to loose their original zoomorphic qualities. The interesting thing about Summerian is that it is an agglutinative language. This means that words are formed from simple syllables that carry meanings, and more complex concepts and ideas were just glued together from these simple roots. The Summerian word for King is LUGAL which has two root syllables: LU = Man and GAL = Big, so a King is a “Big Man.” This is reflected in the cuneiform script, where ideograms not only functioned as a root syllabary, but the roots themselves contained symbolic meanings! This idea of phonetic symbols is taken to an extreme in Chinese characters, where one is dealing with a text purely based on symbols. An interesting note about Chinese writing: the very first glyphs, the so called “Oracle Bone Script,” originated as a form of divination around 2000 BC. The characters were derived from the cracks of the heated bull bones whose stylized shapes were “read” and interpreted as oracles. This is perhaps one of the earliest forms of “automatic” or “ghost” writing in the world.
This got me thinking. Aside from my linguistic passions, ever since I could remember I was always drawing. This probably had something to do with my father, Jerzy Grochocki, who is one of Poland’s foremost still living Systemic artists. So as a child, art and systems were at the center of my creative education. In time, my creative passions bloomed and I found myself majoring in Studio Art and Art History. As a student of art I was well aware of the many strange automatic methods the Surrealists developed, like the “exquisite corpse” game, or the many mark making techniques of Max Ernst like “Frottage,” “Grattage” and “Decalcomania.” I found myself being attracted to these “automatic” drawing techniques. These methods were a means for the Surrealists to into tap their subconscious minds, and through these “stream of consciousness” activities get in touch with their inner selves. This is an idea which they borrowed from the works of their guru Carl Jung, especially his Alchemical Dream treaties.
I started to wonder if there was a connection between Language, Magick and this Automatism. In time I came upon two very influential ideas: Fuji and Glossolalia. Fuji (the planchette writing of the Taoists Magickians) and Glossolalia (speaking in tongues) are both is a very interesting automatic phenomena. If one listens to the music of the Dead Can Dance one can hear Glossolalia in song. Lisa Gerard’s vocals are what she calls “Meta-Language,” a form of linguistic expression. It sounds like something specific, but actually isn’t anything at all. But by the strangeness of logic, something unique is actually something specific. Therefore the nothing becomes something that may carry a message. So the question of what language is arises. Is there anything more magickal in this world than language? By me saying “apple” it conjures an idea in your mind. It might be a granny smith or braeburn, red or green, nevertheless I just placed an image your mind. It may seem simple but like Nietzsche tells us: sometimes stating the obvious is genius. On the other hand, there is this idea of planchette writing of the Taoist, sometimes referred to as “Ghost Writing.” The Taoist practice is fascinating because the Chinese language contains so many abstract characters and forms. These characters were derived from earlier seal or oracle scripts which became finessed into the modern signs. Thus, the Taoist scryer can find meanings in these random markings because of this catalog of signs and their systematization.
It is actually possible to use these two concepts to create a magickal language system in which these automatic images derived from scrying sessions could be cataloged, analyzed and systematized. One could potentially start to develop one’s own “Meta-Language.” Does it seem convoluted and meticulous? One might be tempted to say, “Why bother? I already use Sanskrit, Hebrew or Egyptian in my magickal rites.” That very well might be the case, however, one has to realize that each language is a carrier of culture. Therefore, the use of a particular language brings with it what I call “psychic baggage.” So the use of a personal “Meta-Language” just might clear some of that distortion and static from the air waves. And just maybe the communication between one realm and ours might come in clearer. Because now we have a direct psychic link that is not bogged down with any misconceptions. Now ideas are clear and more direct, and I think much more effective in our ritual practices. This is precisely what I have been up to for the last twenty some odd years…
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