A Silent Ritual of Gestures

Still working on my T post for PBP because I can’t really think of anything to write about, but in the meantime, I’ve been having Thinky Thoughts about this idea of a silent ritual of gestures, and how to deal with my menstrual cycle and my daily rites and ritual purity and whatnot. I like being able to do my rites and I miss the days when I can’t do them, so I’m trying to find a way to still do them while not compromising my own ritual purity. I happened upon this video on Youtube a while back, and it got me thinking about silent rites and ritual gestures again.

I got thinking about this with regards to silent rituals with gestures because I got thinking about heka and what it is. It’s a form of magic that’s meant to be spoken aloud, it’s authoritative speech, and that’s half the reason my mouth in particular needs to be purified before rites, so it is pure enough to speak the words of the rites. My daily rites are a very personal form of heka, and that requires certain purifications that I’m still figuring out. Though I think I’ve got the natron purification sorted, I think. Will need to play around with that and see how well it works, and if it needs any tweaks.

It’s also interesting – to me, anyway – because of a magic system I came up with for an epic Georgian/Regency steampunk novel thing that was essentially magic made with gestures and words. The gesturing was very important to get right, moreso than the word itself. Gestures are combined together to create spells, and come from about ten different ‘classes’/elemental types, along with other more universal gestures for beginning/ending/invoking/banishing/etc.

A master magician in that world could gesture without words to create magic. You could even do it with music if you could figure out the sound of the gesture (like the ren in Kemetic thought, the true name of something/someone, that it’s a sound rather than a word? I think I nicked it from there.), so that playing the ‘true sound’ of a  gesture is what is used to cast the magic. This is also a system of magic that Amun and Djehuty seem quite interested in.

What I also like about the idea of doing my daily rites in silence with gestures is that it kind of makes sense to me as a way around purity issues and the role I play as lector priest during the rites. The recitation of the hymns is the most important part of my rites, but if I’m not able to be ritually pure enough during menstruation to recite them, then saying them in my head with gestures might be a way around that. I also like it as an alternative when I’m travelling and can’t have candles or a shrine or anything like that. It’s more subtle as all it requires is a quiet space and my hands (and my mini grimoire/prayer book). So I think I’ll play around with this for the last few days of this cycle, and see how it goes.

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19 comments on “A Silent Ritual of Gestures

  1. von186 says:

    It is my personal belief that the rites of AE had gestures that went with that- important gestures and movements that went with the words that were mandatory, not separate. So I think it’s a great idea- with or without the ritual purity issues/words/etc. I have done a few rites (predominantly heka only rites- not the daily stuff I do) where no words were spoken. And honestly- they felt quite potent to me. There have been times when Set has told me to quit prattling on and get to the point- so sometimes, I think certain gods (and certain situations) really can call for doing a silent rite. I also think that making sure your gestures are in a certain form and place really brings you right there in the moment- because you have to really be conscious about what you’re doing. That’s my food for thought, anyways :3

    • Sashataakheru says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard there were gestures too, but I have no idea what they might be, so I’m just making mine up based on instinct at the moment. Got another nudge from Djehuty to make a more complete list of ritual and magical gestures, so yaaaaay. More work. :D

      It is really interesting doing the same rites silently and with gestures. Completely different feel. It feels like tai chi, but in a different context. Once I’m more familiar with both the gestures and the words, I’ll try doing them together.

      • von186 says:

        I actually have to resist the urge to do movements while doing my daily rites anymore. Usually, there are other people in teh room, so I’d feel a little odd. But maybe I should quit trying to fight the urge and see what happens :P You’ll have to report back how your gesture work goes!

        • Sashataakheru says:

          Ahh, I have my shrines in my room, so I can do mine privately. I’ll definitely let you know how it’s all coming along. It’s all very interesting.

        • von186 says:

          If I didn’t feel like such a dork, I’d find a way to document the gestures I’ve seen and used so far. But I really have no idea on how I would do that lol. I think it is interesting- I wonder if other people are getting the same requests- to create gesture-based rituals for the gods.

        • Sashataakheru says:

          I’ve started notating gestures by simple symbols that I could probably bodge up in Paint or something with lines and circles and such. Part of the List of Gestures is listing the symbols, what they represent, and how they’re done. It’d be cool if other people were being asked to create gesture-based ritual. That’d be awesome.

        • von186 says:

          I will think about this and see if maybe I can create a method to show some of what I’m doing- then we can compare notes :3

        • Sashataakheru says:

          Here’s a 30 second Paint job with some of the symbols I’m using and some equally dodgy descriptions, if it’s in any way inspirational? But yes, I’m all for comparing notes.

        • von186 says:

          hahahaha, I can’t get my hands into some of those positions. It’s certainly food for thought- to be able to hold your hands into a symbol that you assoc with a particular god. I shall think on this more, and eventually make a post about it, I’m sure. And we can compare then :3

  2. Aubs Tea says:

    My daily rites are all done silently. I prefer it this way. I think it’s a mix (besides occasionally being too tired to think past getting the stuff they want ready) between not knowing quite what to say or how to say it properly, but also knowing that I won’t worry about screwing up at some inopportune moment.

    • Sashataakheru says:

      Yeah, this is kind of why I prefer having something to follow. I need instructions in the morning when I’m half-asleep and not thinking clearly. Because I’m not a morning person, so yes.

  3. L says:

    I love this and have been trying to figure out a way to include this kind of “procedural” ritual work in my stuff.

    As far as I can tell, in the old Maya religion, liturgy has its importance directly attached to the role of priesthood within a community; much purification done back in the day was for the body as a whole as well (fasting, sexual abstinence, covering the body with an opaque substance that obscured the skin, or physically removing oneself from the community in a hermetic fashion for a period of time). Most of the accounts of ritual and festivals were procedural in nature… they did X first, artisans made a bunch of Y, and then they did Z with them. Or hunters performed X dance, went out to capture Y, Y was done up in the fashion of Z, and sacrificed via A. And any one of those steps can and likely will contain may smaller steps, actions, procurement/sacrifice of items, and so on.

    If there’s one thing I think Wiccans and Wiccish practices have down, is the fact that they understand the importance of spacial relationships and physical movement and action. Sure, it’s usually done within the symbolic space of “circle”, but I see the fact that we work with the real world, real landmarks and local spirits and geography frees us to do more.

    And what about the myths? Those are rarely documenting the dialogue of a bunch of celestial talking heads– they’re full of action, and those actions have very real repercussions. Whether those repercussions are “the creation of humankind”, “the cycle of the sun and moon”, or “why the hawk has a spot around its eye”. The careful ordering of movement is immensely powerful to me. And if you’re working with more folk deities, I think they appreciate that far more than endless prayer and pontification.

  4. picklewalsh says:

    I think you are on to something here. Most Kemetic rituals contain Henu, which as you know, is gesture based. So i dont see why this would not be an issue.

    • Sashataakheru says:

      Yeah, that’s what I figured, too. I think we’ve lost a lot of those gestures, so discovering them, and finding our own way to use them within ritual is good fun for me, and it really enhances the rites.

  5. picklewalsh says:

    So i dont see why this would be an issue ***

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