Week 39 – Chanting

May 9, 2011 at 5:00 am (Uncategorized)


Chanting influences the mind: gives rational part something to do keeping it out of the way so that the intuitive mind can do work.

Enchant means to bring your energy to the object (person, place, or thing). Chanting used in many different religions and cultures. Pagan chanting draws on entire musical history of chanting. Learn through oral traditions. Can have musical accompaniment. Chanting used to raise and direct power. In paganism, used for magical spells and celebratory rituals.  The regular rhythm engages the regular mind in relaxing while energizing the intuitive mind. With time, the repetition builds up, not just raising energy, but producing profoundly altered states of consciousness. Can be performed for hours at a time. For solitary practitioner, can create mystical mood in the absence of others. Others use prerecorded chanting while they work. For a group, it unifies the members into a “group mind” out of the individual line. Melodic chant with a harmonizing line are best. Evoke natural cycles, human-divine connections, etc. Single melodic line can be done by one person or a group, which can build more energy than with one person. Chant raises power through (energy manipulation through repetition and intensity).

Chant can be used to heal someone in the middle of the group or passed hand to hand during chant. Circle or spiral around the subject moving clockwise for attraction and counter-clockwise for banishment. The performance raises and directs the purpose of the chant. Raise, guide, and sending through different chants or by varied intensities. Gradually increase speed and volume to increase the intensity. Takes practice especially to sense when it’s right to release it. Raise the speed and volume to a peak and stop suddenly to release the spell. Can add a gesture like hands into the air or at a person to release and send the energy.

A brief magical composition in between speaking and singing, although it can be just spoken. If it’s performed by multiple people at the same time, it’s performed by everyone in the same way. It can be in a round, subdivided into parts and the performers can also be subdivided. A chant is the ultimate exchange of quality over quantity. An effective chant can be as short as one syllable (Om).

Short 12-16 words, Medium 20-36, Long 50-65 words.

Sounds repeat through alliteration, assonance, consonance, rhyme. Not all rhyme, though. Words, phrases may occur and reoccur. Consider magick number. Celtic = 3, Native American = 4 sets.

Strong rhythm is necessary. Performers will stumble over a poor rhythmic chant. One good line,

Brevity, repetition, and rhythm facilitate both condensation of energy and ease of learning. Ideally, listeners should be able to learn the chant after hearing it only a few times.

Free verse or prose-style rely on alliteration, refrains and rhythm without rhymes.

We go down to the cave
Bravely climbing, gravely chanting
We go down, we go down
Earth swallows us, water wets us
Magic awaits us
Down in the cave

Sound echoes with the “w” and “ave” sounds
“We go down” repeats
Parallel phrases “Bravely climbing, gravely chanting” and “Earth swallows us, water wets us, Magic awaits us”
Rhythm changes and descends towards calm helping chanters descent into spiritual space.

Lines from leader and/or audience may rhyme. Repetition makes it easier to remember. Focus on polarity. Write down key words into “leader” and “audience” columns. Rearrange order. Check for quality of sounds.

Come whirlwind Mama
Thus we do call
Oya of the storms
So say we all

Overall Steps

  • Composing a chant is all about creating the right sounds
  • Create free verse at top of page
  • Write about topic: What does it mean? Goals? Hope to accomplish? Associations?
  • Refine what you have. Look for one or two lines that best define what you want. If not, synonyms that might work?
  • Pick the line and repeat it a few times.
  • Use active verbs and vivid nouns. Be specific rather than general.
  • Don’t need to follow grammar. Get rid of words that get in the way.
  • READ CHANT OUT LOUD. It should get smoother and more compelling as you go along. It’s ready when you want nothing more than to start chanting it. It will hum with energy.

Poetic form

  • Research colors, stones, deities, ideas, times of day
  • Alphabetize for alliteration and assonance
  • Sort by syllable count and stress patterns
  • See if some phrases naturally point to other phrases
  • Fit into form and connect with additional words as needed.
  • 1 or 2 ideas per line only.
  • Repeating a great line is preferable to creating a mediocre line.
  • Stick to the form of poetry.
  • READ ALOUD. Smooth it out with better words and rhythms.
  • Rhyming dictionaries help; near-rhymes work well.
  • Check revised version against the poetic form. Decide if they matter enough.

Compose two chants.

  • Raising energy. Figure out subject of spell.
  • Call-and-response.

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