“Lingua Creationis” and The Creative Nature of Language

By Patrick Jemmer

This is the first in a series of articles exploring the relationships between magic, religion and science, the thrust of which is to illustrate how these relationships shed light on modern-day approaches to psychotherapy. Central to these discussions is the pivotal role played by language in shaping humankind’s psychic development; this is explored extensively in the different contexts mentioned, in order to show how this relates to current ideas, particularly in Neuro-linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy. We begin with an in-depth exposition of the link between language and mankind’s ideas about its own ‘creation,’ and of the whole issue of ‘creativity’ – one of the defining characteristics of our species. Further articles develop this thread and investigate the creative use of language, and the nature of magic, religion, science, communication, therapy and change, from a psycho-linguistic viewpoint. The aim of these articles is to contextualize therapy of all kinds in terms of its use of language, and provide new memes which might act as tools for use with clients in practical therapeutic interventions. Parts of these articles themselves act as hypnotic scripts designed to engender Trans-detrivational Serach on the part of the reader to enable them to find their own meanings in the loom of language.


“For thousands of years it was the priests of religion who were the experts not only on the nature of the universe but also on the nature of man. So it was largely accepted that it was the priests, too, who should tell humans how they should act … The new experts on the nature of humankind and on human needs are the ‘social scientists’ of psychology, sociology, economics, ethology, linguistics … their way of discovering truth … the only possible way… The particular expert wisdom that I want to question is the ‘science’ known as linguistics.”

André Gethin [1]

“I would like – if I may – to take you on a strange journey” [2] – a journey to a land of “beautiful but unreal islands, and … unreal but beautiful princesses” [3] – a voyage into the mysterious realms of mesmerism and mana – a land where “there is no truth beyond magic” [3]. This and succeeding articles set out to investigate the hypnotic nature of magical language and the magical nature of hypnotic language, “… moving back and forth between the philological, the mystical, and the poetical for … comparisons … [where] sound determined associations cross boundaries of languages, disciplines and traditions” [4]. And all the while you should bear in mind the admonition of those wily wizards of word-weaving wisdom [5] “Everything we’re going to tell you here is a lie. All generalizations are lies. Since we have no claim on truth or accuracy, we will be lying consistently” [6]. And so, at the winding-up of our “poetic experiment to find sense in the non-sense of language” [4], you will find that “you, too, now begin to be a magician” [3], and understand with wonder “The mild letter-sound shifts that turned GHeGOOL into chakras, in the neuro-linguistic Big Bang of Babel-babble” [7].

Ak•ampo línn•émaro endéri•ormaró;

Ak-ídhon í•tánon tín,

A deron akalimán•kai,

A dhemon arón ía-tevién kempë•alér lidán [8].

Let us begin, then, at the very beginning. And … “as if by magic!”… we can go on to uncover the “long story” of the relationship between the myth of Language and the meaning of Creation. The link between these themes is this: that since “… metaphor, myth, can only be clarified inside the circle of metaphors; a mythology of mythology is – absent; the circle of metaphors is – not enclosed; it is closed by sound; sound is – immediate; and the mythology of mythologies lies in the meaning of sound …” [9]. So let us ascend through the “circle of metaphors” and attend to the “mythology of mythologies” – the “… creation of the world from sound … an ever evolving theory of the poetic, symbolic, magical word … ‘glossolalia’ … combining the mythological, logical and the sound senses leading to Wisdom …” [4]. For to use the true “language of Heaven,” “yr iaith y Nef” [10], “the language of the angels, spoken before the universe and time began” [11]: “Yn y dechreuad yr oedd y Gair; yr oedd y Gair gyda Duw, a Duw oedd y Gair. Yr oedd ef yn y dechreuad gyda Duw.” (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1) [12]. We can compare this with the equivalent passage from “I Hain u Firithe” (“The Sunsong”) [8]: “Ia Firithe isonu ina. A sana, ā fathe inā thu, a lisipā zisas sanas ī the” (“In the beginning, God was. And he was alone, and wrapped in thought and knowing only himself”) [13]. So language is the “thought” of God: an entity separate and lonely, trapped by its language. And “… we do not transcribe thought into language so much as make thought (meaning) through the use of language. This is a relatively uncontroversial notion for a poet, but I suspect it raises the hackles of certain scientists & analytical philosophers” [14]. But what then is this “God,” this “Word” that brings the Universe to Be? There are various ways of comprehending, and thus defining, depending upon our burgeoning linguistic and philosophical bent, and “As we have been created, so do we, the created, create! What occurs when we create with Conscience, with Consciousness, and with knowing What Life Is? We consciously become co-creators instead of individual conceptualists. We create without a speck competition in our thoughts. We create that which promotes Life, instead of that which seeks to hide it. And, we create that which supports awakening and true ecstasy for all of creation” [15]. And thus “the created create” their god in many ways, as “… a distant, unapproachable Creator … the Supreme Being who reflects his nature in lower spiritual beings; or … the impersonal power that permeates all of nature” [16].

The whole conception of language and naming can be related to creation and building, with consonants providing the “framework” and vowels the “fabric” of the words. For example, we are told that “Hebrew is a phonetic language, built upon common root words of three or four letters each” [17]. It is easiest to understand this if we consider a specific case: “For example, one ‘root word’ … is made up of three Hebrew letters, kuf, dalet and shin, which roughly translates into English as the letters K, D, and SH. You may recognize the Hebrew word for Holy, Kadosh … In fact many other Hebrew words contain a kuf, a dalet and a shin as their primary letters, with different prefixes and suffixes, and all of these words are related to Holiness” [17]. In this sense we could say that “Learning Hebrew is like playing with building blocks” [17]. And whilst some conceptions of sacred language are tautological as they effectively say that a language is sacred because it is a sacred language, to wit, “Hebrew is indeed the sacred tongue [Leshon ha-Qodesh] of the Jewish People … It is sacred because the name of G-d is written in Hebrew …” [17], we can nevertheless go on to make the philosophical link between language and the nature of creation. Monotheists proclaim “La Ilaha illa-l-lah” (“There is no God but the One”) [18]; in contrast the non-gods cry out “My name is Legion: for we are many” (Mark 5: 8 – 9 [19]). And we might therefore ask, along with the Pharisee, “… who is the God Phoebus? – whom doth the blasphemer invoke?… who dabble with the Teraphim! – is it Nergal of whom the idolater speaketh? – or Ashimah? – or – Nibhaz? – or Tartak? – or Adramalech? – or Anamalech? – or Succoth-Benith? – or Dragon? – or Belial? – or Baal-Perith? – or Baal-Peor? – or Baal-Zebub?” [20]. Thus the One God’s true name is mysterious and powerful, since it harnesses the essence of the emanation that permeates all of creation.

For further illustration of the power of names, let us turn again to the Hebrew language where the radical HWH (he-vau-he) generates the root YHWH (yod-he-vau-he) designating ‘being, life, woman’ – all concepts which are interchangeable in the Middle East [21]. In a scriptural context this root is often transliterated JHVH and both this and YHWH are referred to as Tetragrammaton, and “Yahweh is the name of the Almighty Father in Heaven that people commonly call ‘The LORD’ or ‘God’” [21]. Moreover we find that “According to Jewish tradition, in appearance, YHWH is the third person singular imperfect of the verb ‘to be’, meaning, therefore, ‘God is,’ or ‘God will be’ or, perhaps, ‘God lives’” [22]. This is reflected in God’s introduction of himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 [19]. Here, “… God is represented as speaking, and hence as using the first person — ‘I am’ The meaning would, therefore, be ‘He who is self-existing, self-sufficient,’ or, more concretely, ‘He who lives,’ the abstract conception of pure existence being foreign to classical Hebrew thought” [22]. Essential to the emerging Hebrew religion at this time was the concept of monotheism; in contrast to the polytheism of the surrounding tribes, and “It stems from the Hebrew conception of monotheism that God exists by himself, the uncreated Creator who doesn’t depend on anything or anyone else; therefore I am who I am” [22]. We find an exact parallel in the Sanskrit tradition where the Deity, Ab-Brahman is “Tat Sat.” We learn that “The very ancient Sanskrit phrase ‘Om tat sat’ has been translated in many ways, such as ‘Thou are that’ and ‘I am that.’ ‘Sat’ stands for truth, being, or reality. ‘Tat’ stand for ‘that.’ ‘Om’ is said to be the sacred syllable. The seed sound that is the source of all other sounds” [18]. In fact these ideas ramify much further and “Some say ‘Om’ or ’Aum’ is the primal sound of the universe – there at the moment of creation. Someone called it the ‘dial tone of the universe’” [23]. This concept thus forms the basis of meditation practices since “This ancient phrase suggests that we attend to our sense of ‘I am’ or ‘self-existence.’ It’s that simple, yet profoundly difficult because of all that distracts us from the sense of existence from moment to moment” [23]. And we can summarise the “Tat Sat” as “’That is truth.’ A terse phrase pointing to the inexpressible truth of which nothing more can be said” [24]. In terms of meditation practice to be discussed in detail below, “… the supreme object, om tat sat is invoked. These words om tat sat are used to perfect all activities. The supreme om tat sat makes everything complete” [25].

Thus it is the very “Word” or “Name” which calls the Universe into Being and so “… the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered” [21]. “The reason we see ‘LORD’ and ‘God’ in our bibles is because of a Jewish tradition that the name Yahweh was not be spoken for fear that the name be blasphemed” [21]. In fact “The vowelized vocalization of the four-letter, Ineffibale Name of God, the Shem HaMeforash, YHVH, was known only by the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, and uttered by him only once each year, on Yom Kippur, and then, only in the Holy of Holies” [26]. Indeed “So holy, so powerful was this secret name that anyone other than the High Priest who uttered it would die – and even he could be struck down by God if he mispronounced it for some reason” [26]. Thus precautions had to be taken, and “As a result, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies alone on Yom Kippur with a rope tied around one ankle; thus, in the event that he should be struck down by YHVH for mispronouncing the Shem HaMeforash, the secondary priests could pull him out of the room so that he could pass on the vocalization of the Name to one priest before he expired” [26]. These practices ended with the destruction of the first Temple in 586 BCE [27] and, “With the final destruction of the Temple and the resultant passing of the office of the Kohain Gadol (High Priest), the true vocalization of YHVH, the most-high ‘Name,’ was lost. Only the ‘High-Priest-To-Come,’ which is to say the Messiah, would know its true pronunciation and be authorized to speak it” [26]. In order to avoid “undoing” the work of Creation by speaking the name of “the uncreated Creator – SVYAMBHU – the self-born first person” [28], “the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover” [29] we find that “[Yahweh] was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (‘My Lord’), which was translated as Kyrios (‘Lord’) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament” [21]. And further, “The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew word Adonai [‘Lord’] or Elohim [‘god’]. Thus the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being” [21]. And so we get “Adonai Sabaoth” (“Lord God of Hosts”) [22]; and “Azlanay Frith i Alefthil” (“Highgod God-of-Clans”) [13]. Furthermore, a second, more prosaic, yet important, factor is involved, since “As Judaism became a universal religion through its proselytizing in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun elohim, meaning ‘god,’ tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others” [30]. This is fascinating with regard to the notions of naming, individuation and differentiation in relation to the Godhead discussed heretofore [31]. We will go on and revisit the manifestations of the plural-yet-coherent elohim and its-their relationship with the singular-yet-divided YHWH in detail below.

Now, if we delve further into the naming of God we find that in Latin, the Hebrew HWH is equivalent to EVE, the “Mother of all living beings.” In fact, a lesser-known root arising from the same Hebrew radical is EHYH, which gives rise to Hayya, the name of the “great Earth Goddess, the immortal Mother of All Living” [32]; so we might infer that “… ‘HWH’ (Eve) is also the mother of ‘AYSH’ (Aish) [YHWH], The Living ‘ALHYm’ [Elohim]” [33]. Walker extends this argument thus, stating that EVE in Hebrew was “YHWH, yod-he-vau-he, … from the Hebrew root HWH, meaning both ‘life’ and ‘woman’ – in Latin letters, E-V-E. With the addition of a Y (yod), it amounted to the Goddess’s invocation of her own name as the Word of creation, a common idea in Egypt and other ancient lands” [34]. Furthermore we find that “Justin Martyr in his dialogues [35] appreciates the instinct of Genesis when he points out that the words of Yahweh at creation were spoken to Sophia: ‘Let us make man in our image’ … ‘So God created them male and female’” [36]. This male-female splitting-reuniting or dichotomy-zeugma is reflected in the fact that “On Samaritan phylacteries the male and female versions of the Tetragrammaton were intertwined” [37]. Interestingly, in the Hindu tradition, we find the seemingly contradictory refrain “Eck Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wha Guru” – “The Supreme is One, His Names are Many” [38]. Yet it might still be possible to reconcile “The contexual split between the Hebrew YHVH and the Vedantic ‘Self is It’ … [as] a ré-jouissance of confusion-and-nostalgia for Mother rupturing the thELimitrophe, an eternal re/s/igning, re/z/ining, and reassigning the GRAMMARGRAPH of the marque … within the erasure/signature which is signed/erased” [39]. And as we break down God-barriers and talk about our mothers, undoing babble, reassigning meaning with a re-Joyce-ful cup of coffee, it is exactly the ambiguity of, and degeneracy inherent in, the type of linguistic deconstruction illustrated above, together with the playfulness and resulting humour, which truly emphasises the idea of recreation as “re-creation.” This is taken to its illogical extremes when “artfully vague” language is used to engender “Trans-derivational Search” in an individual, as seen in the practice of magic, religion and modern Ericksonian hypnotherapy, as discussed in great detail in following articles.

Well. Whatever whacky wisdom we wish to work with, we witness the wonder that “in the beginning … God said … And God saw … And God called … And God made … And God created … And God blessed …” (Genesis 1 [19]). And even the gods of “many names” used language as their creative medium: “The Ennead (of Ptah), however, is the teeth and lips in this mouth which named the names of everything, from which Shu and Tefnut came forth, and which was the fashioner of the Ennead. The sight of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, and the smelling of the air by the nose, they report to the heart. It is this which causes every completed concept to come forth, and it is the tongue which announces what the heart thinks. Thus all the gods were formed and his Ennead was completed. Indeed, every word of the god really came into being through what the heart thought and the tongue commanded” [41]. But of course it doesn’t really matter whether your God is in Egypt or Israel, for “A deist might argue that … displacement of a god is of no serious consequence, because, as everyone knows, moving a god around is no skin off its omnipresence” [39]. And we now live in an age where “The one god comes to drive out the many gods. The spirits of wood and stream grow silent. It’s the way of things. Yes, it’s a time for men and their ways” [42].

So, language and existence are absolutely intertwined, and existence is brought forth from musical language as when “… he spoke to them [the Ainur] propounding to them themes of music … Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding … Then the themes … shall be played aright, and take Being at the moment of their utterance” [43]. And gracefulness and atunement are of the essence for if one single note should be “… out of tune … this discordant note … [be] enough to destroy the perfect harmony” [44]. So with this in mind, “… we will comprehend, what rose up before the wise Jew in the sounds of the Bible; ‘B’reschit bara élohim et haschamajim w’et ha’arez’ [In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth]. The whole world arose; pictures emerged resembling those rising up at the threshold to the suprasensible mystery…” [9]. In the mystical, medieval Jewish tradition of Kabbalah the visual and verbal associations of every religious letter, syllable, word, sentence, paragraph, page, prayer and book have a precise meaning and effect, to the point that the mystic “ascribes a higher meaning to the purpose of prayer, which is no less than affecting the very fabric of reality itself, restructuring and repairing the universe in a real fashion” [45]. That is, “…prayers can literally affect the mystical forces of the universe and repair the fabric of creation” [45]. The poet Bely “… firmly believed in ‘the magic of words,’ i.e. that words formed a secret, mysterious repository of esoteric knowledge, and his life and creative works were attempts to bridge the gap between everyday experience, the perception of reality, and this other noumenal world” [4]. And thus whilst we might well agree with Bely that “… attempts to recreate the original sound-senses (smysl) of words are for philologists ‘mindless ness-madness’ (bezumie)” [4], we can with him, make “a ‘leap of faith’ to the sound and the spirit of God that hover above the creation of the word …” [4]. This is why “In Jewish lore, Hebrew alef enjoys a philosophical glory … alef symbolizes the divine energy that preceded and initiated Creation. The seeding power existed before any other form could be realized, which is why the opening word of the Hebrew Bible – bereshith (‘In the beginning’) – starts with the Hebrew alphabet’s second letter, not the first. Correspondingly, aleph may represent a person’s readiness to act, while the second letter, beth or bayt, is imagined as the doer of things. Hebrew alef could also be used to signify numeral I and was a symbol of cosmic unity” [46]. We can apply the prism of language to this idea, and refract its light in many dialects, producing “another delving into sound” [9], so that if we consider Boehm’s “Am Anfang schuf Gott Himmel und Erden” … we find that “the word Am collects itself in the heart, and approaches the lips, here it is captured, and soundingly returns to the back to its point of departure … This signifies … that the sound departed from the heart of God and embraced the whole space of this world; but as soon as it turned out to be evil, then the sound again retreated back” [9]. We in turn can thus embrace the fact that “Aleph-Mem, EM, the Hebrew mother, reverses to mean From, Me, as in a matrix or mother. The Hebrew father, Aleph-Bhet, reverses (via the common phenomenon of metathesis) to mean Come, as in come from” [7]. So we see that “the Absolute enters into, but is itself incapable of, evolution and progress” [47]. It is this “leap of faith to the sound and spirit of God” which infuses power into language, which “… was believed to be a gift from God and … was seen to have been involved in the actual process of creation and that therefore there would be some mystical connection between word and object, some intrinsic fitness of a particular word for its corresponding object” [48]. And we return to this idea below.

Now “in the beginning,” as we are told in Genesis I, “{26} Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ … {27} So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” [19]. Of particular importance here is “the plural nature of the Godhead in this version, as [it is the existence of] God in the plural – ‘Elohim, which permits Adam and Eve to be made in ‘our’ likeness, implicitly the likeness of both genders of the Heavenly Host. Although Elohim is male plural as ‘in the image of God he created he him’, this is just the conventional male grammatical form ‘man and God’, whose form is collectively male and female, as Adam and Eve are ‘in the Elohim’s likeness’ and they are both ‘male and female’” [32]. We must remember here that “The Elohim is even more ancient than Yahweh” [32]. In fact, “The most ancient biblical passage, Jacob’s blessing is with a fourfold Elohim: the God of thy fathers, the Almighty, the breasts and the womb (fecundity) and the deep (the abysmal), thus inferring two female entities [and two male] (Gen 49:25) [19]” [32]. And the first-created human, although God-like, with the potential for language, was dumb at his creation, a mere creature, without language or reason. And this is why “Adam (‘adam man) is claimed to mean ‘man of blood’ … but ‘dust’ … is consistent with ‘adamah, earth … [49] … There is however an ironic twist to Adam’s very nature … The Hebrew sopek dam ha’adam ba’adam damo yisapek – ‘shed man’s blood, by man your blood be shed’ illustrates the close relationship between man adam and blood dam” [32]. And is this why, perhaps, we can say: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust”? [50], for, as we are told in Ecclesiastes 12: “{7} and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” [19].

So our forebear was in a language-less state, for, “… if you turn the verbal sound (Nomen) inside out it almost comes out Nemo – no one; or even in Russian he is dumb [nem on]. Non-being, dumbness, deafness accompany the terms for us” [9]. The ancients became human when they were blessed (or cursed) with the magic of language [51], and, “In the beginning … the tongue began its movements that resulted in sounds … Incomprehensible to us now, these original combinations of sounds (roots) held meanings which we can no longer recognise” [9]. And further there is an inextricable link between sound and motion, since: “Sounds are gestures of the tongue in the mouth … These movements embody the root of ancient consciousness” [9]. Ashley-Ferrand reminds us that “A saying from the Vedas claims that ‘Speech is the essence of humanity.’ All of what humanity thinks and ultimately becomes is determined by the expression of ideas and actions through speech and its derivative, writing. Everything, the Vedas maintain, comes into being through speech. Ideas remain unactualized until they are created through the power of speech” [52]. Thus we could say that “As image of God every person is a sign, and the Creator must be conceived as a sender according to the communication models. The God of the Jews and the Christians created Adam from earth and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs so that they might refer to Him as their Creator” [53]. Now the importance of this is that “Thus, every human can be understood as God’s means of addressing the other humans. Those who regard a person as a sign of God in this way may find it difficult to accept that the very person might simultaneously be a sender in the sense of the communication models: Whenever a person speaks, they will assume that someone else is speaking through him – either God or the evil spirits who instrumentalize him. In the Western tradition, God’s medium of addressing people through the body of a given person is that person’s soul or heart” [53]. And still the name is crucial, for “The individual is only separated from his body in name. When this is not recognised you have been fooled by your name … you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate thing. This is – rather literally – to be spellbound” [54]. Gethin extends this idea, saying: “We know of no time when humans have not been under the sway of language … Language has for so long determined human beings’ relationships with each other and to the rest of the world … mankind’s first principle … man’s unique talent, the key to our personality … ” [1]. And even as we “hunger and thirst after [the] righteousness” (Matthew 5:6 [19]) of language we must begin to be mindful that this hunger can lead to the ”{8} Vanity of vanities …” and that “{9} Besides being wise … [besides seeking] knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging proverbs with great care … {10} … pleasing words … words of truth …{12} … [we must] beware of anything beyond these” [19]. For we find that “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” [19]. For we now understand that

In the beginning was the word, the word That from the solid bases of the light Abstracted all the letters of the void; And from the cloudy bases of the breath
The word flowed up, translating to the heart First the characters of birth and death.

Dylan Thomas [55]

With this warning firmly in mind, and with tongue firmly in cheek, we conclude the present article. In the next section, we shall learn that “Nomen omen nemonis homini [est]” – “The name of noone is an omen to a man”! And so we are led to apply the “key to our personality” to our “unique talent” for naming and language play and to ask whether “ … a verbal enunciation, a word, a name (nomen), can have a performative force, conjuring the destiny (omen) and therefore determining the future”? [56].

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