May 16th – The Festival of the Transposition of Vedosk

In 1828 the musician, scientist, philosopher and self-described witch Celami Vedosk struck the edge of a metal ash tray, which at the time had a light dusting of ash, with a cello bow, as if she were playing it. What happened next was, she later wrote in her journal, ‘a moment of pure magic; a pattern was drawn in the ash, as if by an invisible hand. It formed itself, the ash coalescing together into intentional lines, unbidden but for the noise. I thought to myself, “this must be how life began, order from disorder, patterns from dust – god is a cellist.’ She didn’t know it at that moment, but what Vedosk had made was the first documented cymatic image; she took a photograph of the symmetrical ash-pattern, which you can still see today at the Shrine of the Holy Vedoskian Movement (HVM).

Vedosk kept the photograph close to her for the rest of her life (sadly only an additional five years; she was 78 when she made the image), and became obsessed with creating cymatic images and patterns. She worked out how that first image had been created; the ash tray, a metal plate, was affixed to a wooden stand in the centre, so could vibrate freely. Different sections of the metal vibrated in differing directions, and so the ash was pushed along by the force of these vibrations to coalesce in lines where there was no vibration. Vedosk refined her method for creating the images, using fine sand instead of ash to give it clearer definition, and using metal plates of differing shapes and sizes mounted on similar wooden stands. Most of the successful stands are used for the purpose of worship today.

Vedosk was a solitary woman who rarely shared the findings of her research, or talked about it to her few friends. It was only after her death, when her estate was sold off to a young entrepreneur, James Scornbrow, that much of the work she did in her later life surfaced. Scornbrow had intended to repurpose her house for use as a grain store and had gutted most of the interior when he began to read her journal and then later research logs, at first with idle curiosity, but then with an increasing obsession. It seems that Vedosk’s words had, no pun intended, struck a chord with the young Scornbrow; five years later he had set up the HVM, and had turned the building into a shrine.

The Movement contests that the world was created by an ‘Eternal Musician’ who played a long, powerful ‘note’ which set everything in motion. Sound, as everyone knows, is created through vibration, as is heat, the primary form of energy; the beliefs of HVM are often explained in this manner, couching them in pseudo-scientific terms which are familiar to many Buentoillitants. Worship is primarily directed towards the Musician, although Vedosk is obviously Venerated too; she is remembered as a prophet. Today the Movement will celebrate her ‘transposition’ (i.e. her death) from a flesh and blood being to a diaphanous, spiritual sound-being.

The Movement is a chimerical religion which draws not only from the writings of Vedosk, but also from a misconstrued, exoticised version of Chenorrian mysticism, and a number of other sources in a lesser capacity. Chenorrian influences are certainly the most obvious stylistically; in the large garden of the former home a number of tall yurts stand; spaces for worship of the Eternal Musician and generalised spiritual contemplation. Perhaps a more important ‘borrowed’ element from the Chenorrian Empire is the reading and interpretation of ‘Spirit Maps’ or ‘Zemegale.’ These are diagrams, hundreds of years old, which bear a remarkable resemblance to cymatic images. Stranger still, each diagram is linked to a particular polyphonic chant which, in some (but not all) cases can be played through a modern ‘cymatic imager’ to produce a pattern which matches the corresponding Zemegale with an extremely high degree of similarity.

The modern method of creating a cymatic image is to play a tone through a specialised speaker which in turn vibrates a plate at a given frequency, onto which salt or sand is scattered. These plates are usually circular, but can vary based upon function. The creation of these magical patterns is the primary form of worship for members of the church, a spectacle in which the acolytes all sing in a polyphonic manner either together or as a group, into a microphone, which in turn feeds the sound through an amplifier and into a cymatic imager. The shapes created shift as the frequency of the song changes, a fantastic animation of esoteric patterns. These tones and shapes are thought to be different letters or syllables in the speech of the Eternal Musician, and they are often sung in an order which has an assigned meaning.

This language is constantly being studied and taught by HVM acolytes, although only a few combinations of ‘letters’ have yet been assigned a meaning. One of these combinations, a thirty second long chant, apparently roughly translates as ‘Oh Eternal Musician, let our Lady Vedosk who did show us the way into your kingdom of heavenly music,’ and will be repeated over and over by the entire Movement today in a hymnodic manner, after the ritual feast of celebration and admiration for the memory of Vedosk.

Interestingly, despite her veneration today, Vedosk was very discouraging towards any form of religion, and would have probably been horrified to have had one founded after her. Vedosk’s journals were intended for personal reading, but now they form much of the religion’s holy book.

When the pattern has moved through the twelve positions eighteen times, the sermon ends and Vedosk’s soul is considered officially transposed into the spirit realm, at least for this year.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Lovely Warm Bread
  • The Festival of Watching Other People Try to Open Wine Bottles
  • The Day of the Rustling bush