The mention of singing IO PAN in Crowley's Star Ruby Banishing Ritual, could leave people a little baffled as to what they should be doing. Singing the formulae is not exactly what we would really imagine, as the immediate response would literally be trying to find a catchy tune.
The first thing to bear in mind is the formulae of IAO which you may recall was mentioned in my first book, The Reality of Things. The second thing is that the vowels are assigned to energy centres on the body. “I” is assigned to the brow, “E” to the throat, “A” to the heart, “O” to the will centre or navel, and “U” to the root or genitals. The formulae of IAO can therefore be seen as a formulae that focuses on the three main energy centres, the three Cauldrons, being “I” in the Brow, the Cauldron of Wisdom; “A” in the Heart, the Cauldron of Motion; and “O” in the Will Centre, the Cauldron of Warming. Therefore we find another mystical connection.
We can also relate this to Kabbalah in terms of the houses or parts of the body where the three parts of the soul reside. The Neshamah, or Higher Self, resides in the head, the Ru’ach, being the Middle Self, in the heart, and the Nefesh or Lower/Instinctual Self, in the solar plexus. With the singing of IO PAN, we will therefore be uniting all three parts, first the Higher, followed by the Lower, and then uniting in the Middle Self, which is the thinking and rational part of the soul.
We can also refer back to the chapter on the Hexagram found in The Reality of Things, in that the two triangles of the hexagram relate to the feminine and masculine, the Water and Fire elements. If we place a dot in the centre of the hexagram, we then find the third element of the formulae, the uniting or bridging element, Air.
Further, we can also look at the vowels in relation to other aspects. IAO relates to the three letters in the Ineffable Name of God, YOD, HEH and VAU, respectively. And again in the three mother letters SHIN (Fire), ALEF (Air) and MEM (Water), which appear in the centre of the Rose on the Rose-Cross glyph of the Golden Dawn (this rose was originally the Yetziratic Invocation Wheel of the Hebrews).
The singing of the vowels is actually a form of vibrating the vowels in the respective areas. “A” which is sounded AH. This is sung in the heart, the house of the Ru’ach, and is the expression we sound when we are satisfied, we put our hands on our heart and say, “Ahhhh”.
“O” is sung in the solar plexus and is sounded OH, the house of the Nefesh, and we get the sound when we have stomach cramps or someone hits us in the gut, “OHHH”. However the way OH is sung can be a little difficult. The method is known in Kabbalah as “swallowing”, and as you say OH you need to bring the sound to the back of your throat and down as if you were swallowing it. It is easier to demonstrate than to explain, but written form will have to do here.
“I” is sounded as an EE and just like OH, there is a specific technique for singing it. EE is the sound that birds make, very nasal creatures that sing from the nasal cavities of their beaks. When singing the vowel you need to sound the EE in the sinuses and allow it to vibrate in the front of the face and forehead. This can be accomplished by raising the pitch of the sound and smiling with the mouth as the sound of the EE comes through, almost as if you were screeching, but sing it, don’t screech.
So when singing IO PAN, take in a deep breath and then sing EE in the head, followed by OH in the solar plexus, ending with AH in the heart. You are invoking the totality of Self, starting in the head with the Higher Self (Neshamah), followed by the Lower Self in the solar plexus (Nefesh) and ending with the unity of all three in the heart with the Middle Self (Ru’ach) which is the conscious thinking self. The entire singing should be done on one exhalation, then pause between breaths and repeat. Pausing between breaths does not mean holding it, it means to exhale, and then rest or pause, and then inhale again when you require it.
To end, it should be mentioned that there are no vowels in the Hebrew language. The alphabet is made up entirely of consonants, so how then can we derive vowels when speaking in terms of Kabbalah? The letters YOD, HEH and VAU are considered to be the Divine letters. When placed in a certain position in a word, although being consonants, are considered to be vowels in that particular position. It is because of this that YHVH is the Ineffable Name of God, being I-A-O-E, the final HEH taking on the aspect of Earth and therefore taking on the sound EH. The fifth vowel, “U” which is pronounced OO is the Centre, Ether and it doubles up with OH, whereas AH doubles up with EH, and so we have Fire in the head region as the letter YOD (“I” or EE), Air in the region of the throat and chest as the letter HEH (“E” in the throat or EH, and “A” in the heart or AH), Water in the region of the gut from the solar plexus to the lower stomach as the letter VAU (“O” or OH), and finally Earth in the region of the buttocks down to the feet as the letter HEH (final) (“U” or OO in the region of the genitals). This forms the Middle Pillar of the Etz Chayim or Tree of Life, Kether/Yod/Fire; Tifareth/Heh/Air; Yesod/Vau/Water; and Malkuth/Heh/Earth.