Below is an essay I penned a long time ago. Thinking it might be useful I have put it here.

Magic would not be the same without a few incomprehensible words thrown into a ritual. To most people a magician without not be worthy of the name if they were not chanting something weird in some arcane language. And those of us who have used them are aware of their power in bringing forth something that really was not there before.

The Ancient Egyptians considered these words of power so important they had a God, Hekau, assigned to them. His function was so important it was considered that the Sun would not rise if it were not for his aid.

Through-out the history of magic there was a belief that certain words said with the correct intonation had tremendous power. Books which have been preserved show that these words were often extremely long with so many vowels that you would need a good set of lungs to get through them. But are hundreds of other occult alphabets that have come down to us and in the Golden Dawn you are expected to know three: Hebrew, Enochian and Coptic.

It may seem odd since the creation of the Israeli State to think of Hebrew as a magic language, but it has been for centuries even before the birth of Christ. In fact it was considered so holy there are a few orthodox Jews in Israel who will not use it in their daily conversations because they believe it should still be reserved for worship. At the time of the first Golden Dawn few people would have seen it used outside the synagogue or the beyond the obscure religious or magic text.

This gives us an idea about what makes a word of power ‘powerful’. They must be words that are reserved from current use. Somehow mundane use wears them out. Does the mundane use of Hebrew in Israel really ruin its use as a magical language? The answer is no. To make Hebrew into a mundane language it had to make certain changes, which means the version we learn is subtly different, which led to some amusing problems for me when I went to Israel (Zain is not so much a sword these days as a willy)

The Ancient Hebrews made writing their holy letters a work of prayer and interaction with God. The position of a scribe in a community was considered honoured because of this interaction. The books with their Hebrew letters upon them were never destroyed either. When a book became worn out it was buried with honours.

This again indicates the sort of relationship that we need to have with the names of power that we use. There has to be a feeling of connection with the entity behind the name.

Finally there was a feeling that the names were unchangeable and there was only one way of correctly pronouncing them. There was a belief that if you pronounced the name YHVH correctly you would have the power to undo the universe.

This is a piece of superstition, but it is well worth focusing on. You will notice, having performed the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram that you all pronounce the words of power slightly differently. Even if we drilled the pronunciations into you so hard Tom’s would still be different from mine, Sue’s would be different to Graham’s. Yet when we all vibrate the names there is still a glorious harmony that comes from them all.

So how does this fit with the idea of the names cannot be changed? To understand this it is important to know what a name of power is. It is a symbol – in other words something that links to something else. A word is not the object, it is a representation of an object. When I say the word ‘duck’ it is just a word – it lacks feathers and the ability to quack. However it links into your mind with the image of a duck and leads you to it.

A word of power is just that. It should take you out of your ordinary consciousness and lead you to that which it represents. How you perceive or pronounce that symbol or word is unique to you. It does not make it correct it is just how you perceive it. If you perceive it dimly then you will only get part of the experience.

At the moment when you pronounce the name YHVH correctly are you taken directly to the throne of God where you are given the power over all? No. At best you might get a buzz of something powerful. So how can we make our pronunciation better?

The best way is through experience and meditation on the words of power that you use. Approach them in you meditation as something of great importance. When you vibrate them see them as living things taking you to the holy name that they represent. See the world actually shaking when you vibrate them.

One of the best ways, I have interacting with the name is to chant it as a mantra. Take a deep breath and vibrate it over and over until you start to get a feeling of how the energy should be. This act should through you into an altered state similar to deep meditation. However you should not stop there. You should keep going until you are bored. And then you should keep going. In the darkness of extreme frustration, the real meaning of the name will unveil itself to you. This will not be an intellectual understanding, but something much more. Once you have reached this state, which is something I cannot describe to you, you will know that whenever you vibrate that name again it will appear with a much greater depth.

This is something that all grades in the GD can do, because you are given divine names and other words of power quite early on. I should point out that each Hebrew letter is a name of power in its own right. If you use mantra techniques on all of them you will not only be able to learn them quicker, but when you actually combine them into divine names of power they should blow your socks off.