The Power of Words
Humans often consider the power of speech and written word to be the defining quality that sets us apart from the rest of the animal world. With the exception of some animals specially trained to communicate, Koko the Gorilla, for instance, humans alone possess the demonstrated ability for the ongoing use of language. There is little denying the power of words. We all have memories of times when words cut us to the bone and left us to bleed. Theory says it takes 100 positive words to make up for one negative word. Sometimes, words imprint on our psyches and become the filter through which we experience our lives. Words can damage us forever and often the person doing the wounding has no idea they have hurt us or changed us in some significant way.
Likewise, hearing positive, uplifting words can bring our whole day into the sunlight. We thrive on hearing good things about ourselves and the experience can dramatically change our attitude. Words are power and with them, we hold the ability to create and to destroy.
Information is also power and information is conveyed by words, written or spoken. It is a very profound moment when you know something that will change another person’s life and you are poised to make the big reveal. Sit with the words below for a few moments and think of the impact, positive or negative, they create. Different circumstances result in vastly different reactions to the exact same words:
I am leaving now
I am pregnant
The test was negative
Like energy, words are neutral until processed through human filters and like energy, we can use words to help or to hurt. The designation of “bad” or “good” comes from within us and in this case, within the receiver. Our own interpretations bring the power to the punch. “I am pregnant,” for instance, can mean something different to a couple struggling for years with infertility than it does to a sixteen-year-old girl telling her mother the exact words in the same configuration.
Journals are an important part working through what goes on in our lives. Lists bring organization to the world. Looking at words in print makes them more real and vital. Contracts are binding and we feel that permanence when we put promises, goals, and wishes into print. Words written by your own hand are a very intimate and personal act, which is why an autograph from a famous person has great value for some people. Making a written account of your magical work and writing about your intention gives it more power and writing your name or other magical messages on the tools you use for your energy work not only personalizes your property, but imbues it with your essential energy and intent.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, so there is also strong magic in silence. The Witch’s Pyramid is a lovely dictate that goes like this:
To Will &
To Be Silent
What a beautiful summation of the power of self-control. “To Know” means to know when to act and when to be still. “To Dare” means to dare to act when it is necessary and not just worry a situation to death or doubt yourself into paralysis. “To will” means to have the conviction of truth and good intent and to “make it so.” “To Be Silent” means that once Energy Magic is enacted, we need not talk about it and bleed all of the energy from the process. Working quietly and keeping our own counsel is often the best course of action.
As humans, we love our labels and the words we use to identify ourselves greatly influence our relationship with the authentic self. To me, the word “Witch” is a beautiful word. “Witch” and “Queen” are the words with which I most closely identify, before “Pagan,” “Wife,” “Mother,” or even “Woman.” Those words resonate deeply in my bones. A prominent Pagan who I deeply respect grumbled that he would not be sorry to be rid of the word “Witch,” remarking upon its troubling connotations. Like many words, it affects people in different ways.
The nouns and adjective we use in self-talk can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I am so clumsy!” “How could I be so stupid?” “I swear, I am the unluckiest person alive!” It is said, “If you speak a fact to The Universe about yourself, The Universe will believe you and reinforce your statement.”
Even humility can take away from the accuracy of our self-image, both internally and in the world. Society teaches us that self-effacing speech is a virtue, but there is no shame in taking a compliment with grace and appreciation. Imagine the difference in replying to, “You look amazing today!” with “Thank you, I feel great today!” instead of, “Ha! You must need glasses!” Too often, social games such as this diminish our value and create a false depreciation of our worth. The more we embrace our positive attributes and use complimentary terminology in our self-speak, the faster we get in touch with our own authentic identities and the truest gifts we bring to the world. When we devalue and diminish who we are, we detract from what we have to offer.
What does this have to do with magic? One of the basic tenets I put forth in my second blog post on Patheos is Know Thyself. When we align with our authentic self, we are clearly aware of the personal assets we offer the world and which challenges are worth our energy investment. Cognitive dissonance creates walls to effective energy flow. The more tightly we wed our self-image to who we truly are in the world, the stronger our energy flow and the more powerful our Divine connection regardless of the spiritual path we choose..or that chooses us.
The words we speak in magical practice and in mundane life define and accentuate how our spirits translate who we are, which in turn tells the world how to see us. Our words, written and spoken, are some of the clearest and most immediate indicators of the power we wield and how we manage it. Use them with the same discernment and care that you give your other magical tools.
I challenge each of you to leave a comment with three (or more!) positive words to describe yourself. I will get you started with my own comment. Ready…go…