Modular Occultism

I am curious to know if other member’s creative process involve elements of occult or ritual. I’ve personally found interesting links in my occult interests in modular. Compare automatic writing to randomization and quantization. Or patching to the creation of a sigil. Electronic shows to covens or rituals.

To introduce my own perspective I follow the writings of Austin Osman Spare, Georges Bataille, Robert Anton Wilson, Marjorie Cameron, and Peter J Carroll. I tend to view my creation of DIY projects as a work of magic in some way. To link to another discussion, on inscrutability, I fully understand the inclusion of surrealism or esotericism in circuits for the purpose of the occult.

Similar to the discussion we’ve had on metal, there is territory in magic (ie left hand path) that leans into evil. And some pagan/spiritual ideals tied closely to nazism/nationalism (theosophism/asatru etc.). So tread carefully.

35 Likes

(great topic i can’t wait to hear what ppl r thinking about) i am a relatively new to the modular world dunno if i’m experienced enough to where i can 100% speak from the point of view of having a creative process that involves fully developed ~intention~, but the space for the unknown, the Mysterious, the ushering but not quite controlling the flow of signals is definitely something that drew me to modular in the first place. ecstatic visions in sound. the process of patching and discovery. even when i know what i’m doing the intimacy of the process feels like it is always revealing sacred knowledge. i’m really intrigued by the concept of chaotic circuits although i haven’t really dived into them yet.

“visitations taken for signs”

this is a line from a poem that i love to take out of context and think about – the dead, the fairies, etc, are here with us and when we notice them we think it’s a sign, but maybe they’re just visiting. sometimes when u listen to the circuits you can hear them breathing.

4 Likes

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Modular to me is a form of divination, akin to tarot or i ching. I think it’s application to occult therefore is extremely interesting. The relation of white noise, chua’s circuit to quantization or sample and hold which become the de-facto lens of interpretation.

Patching too, while more deliberate I think if you approach it with a nimble mind can be a magical practice. I think of Shagai, where there is a set number of rotations but the relation of those lead to each-other becoming a mode of magical interpretation. Like tarot or astrology sometimes patching needs to deliberately fall off course to see the whole territory.

6 Likes

For me the whole creative act is a magical act, not just in electronic music or modular synthesizers. I do however consider the modular synthesizer as my main instrument and I also think that it lends itself pretty well to magical exploration.

I haven’t figured out a system of comparison to say that patching for instance is like drawing sigils and so on but in general I feel that creating music/sound (at least in the way that I do, in no special way really) is ritualistic, ceremonial and meditative.

From a young age I’ve been drawn to these things but have always struggled to put it into practice until one day I had the realisation that I am in fact practicing magic through my music-making.

I haven’t had the need to identify exactly how it works and to frame it into some kind of system but now that you’ve asked the question I’m very curious about everyone else’s thoughts and will also investigate my personal practice some more.

5 Likes

I’m wondering if y’all have read the “The Ghost in your Rack” thread? Similar things were discussed.

4 Likes

I wrote a detailed reply and then the site (or my connection to it) went down briefly and stopped me from posting it :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

So I’ll just say: magic was my motive for getting serious about making music. Music was my magical technique and vehicle for a while. Then I sort of closed a loop and made music for the music, but I don’t think the two can be neatly separated.

I tried adapting A.O. Spare’s sigil techniques to music, and some other things, but really my best results – magical and/or musical – have been more a matter of opening up my senses and following my instincts. It’s not very “ritual” at all.

7 Likes

I hadn’t caught this thread. It is an excellent connection! I believe the paranormal and magic are inherently linked, and one cannot be understood without the other. I personally do not believe in certain aspects of ghost hunting (EVP etc.) but it is fun to think of a ghost hunting modular with an RF Nomad (https://www.evatontechnologies.com/rf-nomad), some ERD Modules (http://1010.co.uk/org/ERD.html) and a Koma Field Kit (https://koma-elektronik.com/?product=field-kit)

Magic is also a distinct conversation from the paranormal. Ghost hunting, hauntings are an experience of a phenomena. Hunting is more active, maybe an attempt to quantify or chart the geography. Magic is a more active process of purposeful manipulation. Whether it’s (more commonly) setting the boundaries of a phenomena or (more rarely) affecting the outcome of the phenomena.

@Starthief I think our practices are similar in that I more often practice a diffused technique of magic. I am interested in ritual, but I try not to take things so seriously. Magic is something that is always informs my thought process, and exactly like you said it is difficult to discern where music and magic are separated.

2 Likes

the spiritually related spectrum is the way in on my composition instinct and thought processes. while it includes modular it very much extends to the whole studio, house, life. guitar rhodes sh101 modular drum machines all that stuff. working on next album and the working title is “of ritual and summoning”
i don’t read books about this stuff as writings usually hit me as intellectualized. but i seek out the magic in everyday life as HSPćASMR.

1 Like

Music is, for me, a way to resonate/amplify an emotional state and to make it briefly and temporarily tangible.

Making something tangible out of mere intention is at the heart of the creative act for me, and I understand much of magick is an effort to focus intention as well.

But I tend to think of it more in terms of meditation than any sort of spell casting or whatnot. And for me it tends to be more of a feeling of exploration and reflection than anything more goal oriented. It would be interesting to approach it with more direct outcomes in mind.

Edit: it occurs to me that I use a lot of numbers in my music. Mostly to create rhythms and patterns. Numerals can be rather magically useful, I think…

9 Likes

All numbers lead to 5. Hail Eris.

:slight_smile:

I’m generally not a spiritual or mystically oriented person. However I have been interested in counterculture occultism for most of my life, not necessarily as a belief system, but as a critical lens for the world.

I’m also a great believer in honing and practicing intuition, improvisation, and a lot of things that are deeply related to occultism and spiritual musics…

I can absolutely identify with @dianus’s feeling about playing music as a form of mysticism, in that when I enter a flow state with music it begins to feel bigger than my intent… more like channeling something. Creation is magic in some definition, even as someone who is more likely to attribute magic and channeling as the output of the “practiced hand” more than cosmic forces.

10 Likes

Sort of. My thinking has been heavily influenced by Robert Anton Wilson’s approach to considering reality. I spent a fair number of years in the G.D./Thelema/Chaos headspace but more recently I’ve gravitated towards their own earlier influences including raja yoga and vajrayana.

Often I use a ritual attitude with the goal of creative inspiration, but only infrequently do I try to make the creative act part of the ritual. When I do attempt that, I often find myself having trouble getting out of my head because I’ll get lost in elaborate correspondences and structures. I think that I am at my best when I create loose frameworks and then let go of my assumptions about the framework with an attitude of exploration. Not too hard, not too soft.

I do resonate quite a bit with some of the more creative/chaotic exercises that Wilson likes to talk about. In particular, the William S. Burroughs cut-up technique is something that I’ll often apply to music in one for or another. Sometimes literally with sample cutting and mashing and other times more vaguely “inspired by”.

6 Likes

Great topic.

My own path leads more eastward, with zen and Tibetan Buddhism as major influences. Some generalized Native American wavelengths as well…

I tend to gravitate more in the direction of opening to inspiration rather than exercising the will, but I appreciate such approaches in others, particularly when the will is tempered with love and compassion…

I recently read some interesting web articles about chaos magic, which was intriguing…

Lastly, my vintage MS-20 is definitely the dwelling place of some kind of energy/spirit… it’s alive!

4 Likes

28 Likes

https://zlobmodular.com/product/vnicursal-vca/

Fnord

16 Likes

For me music has always been synonymous with spiritual practice.

In a very particular sense, it’s been a way of access into certain spiritual realities that have been a constant though unarticulated presence in my life for over 30 years.

A way of access is not an articulation though. And to articulate any of this directly, in words, is beyond the difficult – all of our common concepts such as “belief” entirely miss the phenomenon. They lead to statements that may be correct (I guess it’s “correct” that I hold certain beliefs, for instance), but are not in any way true.

Anyway, I’ve recently had some profoundly negative experiences recently which have called this relationship (between music and practice) into question, forcing me to question whether or not music has any role for me going forward.

First, an experiment elsewhere in which I tried to be a little bit more open about things (outside specific “communities of practice”) ended, I guess rather predictably, in very negative reactions and personal attacks. Not that I particularly care on a personal level (I gave up on that long ago), it’s just that there’s only so much energy available to fight though them, and fight one must, if one expects to be heard at all.

Second, there’s the problem that music itself is unthought in these communities. You get the same cross-section of musical interests as you do anywhere else and there’s nothing to unify them. Which brings me back to the realization “a way of access is not an articulation”.

Third, “modular music” itself, in terms of current trends, simply (in any of its imagery, ideas and so on) has no relation to any of this – this all despite the modular format being more or less integral to my practice. This is probably the least formidable obstacle, as there’s still plenty to draw on in terms of past musical language – still it doesn’t present a particularly encouraging situation when you’re so out of step with the present.

So basically, these “hard lessons” have foregrounded the need for community building and led me to consider that music itself may be a dead end. All this has thrown me personally into a rather serious depression, since music is the only way I’d ever be able to contribute – I really can’t do anything else.

So in a sense this entire area is one of personal crisis for me right now.

11 Likes

It probably doesn’t reduce the sting at all, but I’ve been having similar thoughts about my own music practice. I love making music, and will continue doing so, but it may become a private act. And I’m not sure what that means (in terms of the “why” behind the music).

8 Likes

Possibly worth a mention - the Church of Space has performed chaos magick rituals set to improv synth music the last couple of years at Moogfest. I was in their audience in 2018 and while it was an interesting experience, it didn’t seem like the synth bits were tied very heavily into or necessary for the ritual.

1 Like

Nor, one might imagine, was the ritual necessary for the synth bits…

But it seems that part of the magic is the choosing, or not choosing, what to combine with what, right?

I’m glad @mirth mentioned Burroughs, as his use of the cut-up technique with field recordings aimed for magic results. There’s a beaut interview with Genesis P Orridge where he discusses cursing a cafe by playing recordings from that location intercut with police sirens and other negative sounds.

I like manipulating field recordings with the intention of altering the listener’s memories.

Also, it’s cool to think how people have heard spirits in sounds before. Aeolian harps were thought to be the Devil’s music and I think I’m right in remembering that natural radio was thought to include noises from the other side.

4 Likes

You guys know Burroughs murdered his wife, right? I feel like people forget…

3 Likes