“It takes only the acceptance of a single belief to make someone a magician. It is the meta –belief that belief is a tool for achieving effects. This effect is often far easier to observe in others than in oneself. It is usually quite easy to see how other people, and indeed entire cultures, are both enabled and disabled by the beliefs they hold. Beliefs tend to lead to activities which tend to reconfirm belief in a circle they call virtuous rather than vicious, even if the results are not amusing. The first stage of seeing through the game can be a shocking enlightenment that leads to either a weary cynicism or Buddhism. The second stage of actually applying the insight to oneself can destroy the illusion of a soul and create a magician. The realization that belief is a tool rather than an end in itself has immense consequences if fully accepted. Within the limits set by physical possibility, and these limits are wider and more malleable than most people believe, one can make real any beliefs one chooses, including contradictory beliefs. The magician is not one striving for any particular identity goal, rather one who wants the meta-identity of being able to be anything.”
– Peter J. Carroll, Liber Kaos
If it is possible to effect changes in reality simply by changing one’s beliefs, then it logically follows that words must be powerful tools of magic.
Putting it another way…you can make things true simply by stating them as fact, provided that your statement is convincing.
It further follows, then, that the most basic foundational skill of magic is to speak and write convincingly and with authority. To develop this talent, one should study oratory, rhetoric, acting, art, poetry, hypnosis, psychology and propaganda. Practice telling stories, anecdotes and jokes as a means of making a point. In order to develop the glamour of authority, the magician requires a broad general knowledge. Study history, philosophy, mythology, religion and languages.
The ability to speak multiple languages carries with it the glamour of the world-traveller and renaissance-man. In the US, a facility with French will make one appear cultured. Spanish, streetwise. To speak and read in archaic and forgotten tongues is especially impressive as this taps simultaneously into the archetypes of priest, scholar and mystic.
It should be clear by now that it really doesn’t matter much which particular languages one chooses to study. Each has a slightly different, though equally positive effect. Much more important are the foundational skills and the conviction with which you speak. No-one’s going to think you streetwise as you stutter through your basic, overly formal high-school Spanish. Likewise, no-one’s going to mistake you for wise and powerful Magus if your command of the Elder Tongue extends no further than chanting the Futhark in your deepest D&D voice. On the other hand…maybe they will. There’s a sucker born every minute.
Hail Chaos! Viva Loki! Aum Wotan!