The Importance of Keeping Silent

October 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

To Know, To Will, To Dare…and to Keep Silent” A maxim I’ve heard more than enough times to know it’s important, but knowing and doing (or “willing”, if you will) are two different things.

First, a little history. The above is known as the “Four Powers of the Sphinx“. The origin is essentially unknown, but Levi and Crowley both put a good deal of emphasis on it. The Four Powers relate respectively to the four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Crowley added a fifth power, “to Go”, which corresponds with the fifth element: The Quintessence. My understanding of what he meant here is that “going” is an act of godliness, somehow, but my understanding of this is obviously a bit muddy. That’s alright though, because for now that isn’t the power I’m going to speculate on.

To Keep Silent. This is the tough one.

  • To Know – I’ve got that one. As far as it applies to magical workings, you have to know what you want to do and you have to know what you need to do to get what you want. Know what you want, know what you need to get it. Makes sense to me.
  • To Will – “Will” yep, rings a bit of a bell. You have to make sure what you’re intending to accomplish is in accordance with your True Will, and you have to Will it into existence. Bit of a double meaning there, but I’ve got it.
  • To Dare – Yeah! Knowing you want to do something and truly desiring for it to happen mean nothing without a little action. You’ve got to try. It’s a bit equivalent to making a grocery list – You know what you need, you’ve made the list, you want food. Good, but if you don’t get in the car and drive to the store, you aren’t having dinner. Practical, I like it.
  • To Keep Silent – Uh oh. To continue my dinner metaphor here – To me, “keeping silent” is like telling somebody after they’ve made a really excellent meal that they can’t tell anyone how delicious it was. I mean, I made really great Cajun Chickpea Cakes last night (really, make those, they’re awesome) and if you told me I couldn’t run around bragging about it, I’d have a bit of an issue.

Keeping Silent is fighting against human nature. You made something work! You’re excited about it! You want to tell the world!

You aren’t allowed. No shouting from rooftops here. You have to shut up and go about your day or you’ll ruin everything.

To make things more difficult, I genuinely believe that keeping silent is necessary. Life would be easier if I could just leave that bit out, and go around knowing and willing and daring and then telling the world. But alas, as a psychology student the idea of “autosuggestion” (as brought up in quite a few how-to texts on sigil magick) is one I’m fond of, and I know autosuggestion doesn’t work if you don’t let things stew around in your subconscious for a while.

The brain can do miraculous things if you make a conscious effort, but it can also do great things if you leave it alone. Your brain does some of its best work while it’s sleeping. Keeping silent and “sleeping on it” are pretty equitable concepts – just leave it alone.

One of my favorite ways to keep silent, though I haven’t implemented it yet, is through fiction. Lon Milo Duquette did an excellent job of this by writing Chicken Qabalah pseudopigraphically (this also makes it a really enjoyable read). Grant Morrison dually accomplishes making a hypersigil *and* keeping silent by writing The Invisibles (which I just finished, have I mentioned I highly recommend it?) Alan Moore does the same in Promethea (next on my comics-to-read list). This may well explain why magicians are so prevalent in the comic world – stories don’t break oaths of secrecy, and yet fiction is often more real than the truth.

Considering I’ve been doing more ritual work lately than ever (and that’s all I’m telling you!) I’m going to endeavor from now on to do a better job of keeping silent. This is especially hard for me, having grown up in the internet age where everything is blabbed about on facebook and twitter and pretty much every previously “secret” or “sacred” text is available in pdf form for free. Despite the difficulties, I’m going to make it work, because without Silence as my aid I’ll accomplish very little indeed.

Until next time!

Ipsa scientia potestas est,






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§ 2 Responses to The Importance of Keeping Silent

  • Soul Thread says:

    Keeping silent is a realization that masters have had in the past when they realize they need not teach or try and spread their philosophy, that nature will do it itself either way. Alchemy has many themes of a child ‘growing up’, and quite literally in the physiological and psychological ways.

    The bible says a person must be born from water and again from spirit to reach heaven. The Water is the earthly world, while we are incarnated, we have the chance to further perfect the incarnation into an immortal spiritual body, and be born again. To accomplish this, you must achieve true growth in the real world here and now. Nature is always the best teacher, but if the stars are right, you can augment natures ability to perfect.

    Check out my site – and we should talk!

  • 20-1-30-40 says:

    Maybe this piece of writing will be of interest to you:

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