Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Power of Words



Words have power.

Words can create beauty and they can destroy lives.

Words can heal a multitude of hurts and they can create a whole lot more.

“I’m sorry” or “I love you” in the right time and place can change the world for someone.  So can “thief”, “cheat” or “sexual predator”.

Most creation myths begin with words causing the universe to come into being and the naming of all things.  In Kabbalah, knowing and using the names of G!d gives you the power to overcome evil influences.  In Egyptian Legend, Aset (Isis) gained power over Ra by tricking him into telling her his true name. In Folklore, there is many a tale about the power of true names - think of the story of Rumplestiltskin for example.  Many a modern fantasy has had a side plot based around true names - not just of people, but of everything.

A newspaper headline can infer greatness or destroy a career.  A human interest article can draw attention to something worthy but overlooked.  A throwaway comment can ruin a public reputation.

There are people who spend their entire lives trying to justify other’s words with “what I think he really meant by that is” and lawyers who can play with words until not even the person who said it is really sure what they meant.

We know all of this.  I’m sure nothing I’ve said so far is a surprise to anyone.  But we have sayings like “it’s only words” and “sticks and stones” and “words are meaningless”.

Which is true?  Are they both true?  Is it a case of which words are used or overused?

NLP is based on the use of words and inflection on certain words.  Positive affirmations uses the right words repeatedly to create change within yourself and your world.  Bullying (especially cyber bullying) is the use of words to harm or belittle.

Is it the intent behind the words that gives them power?

Words change meanings.  Not just over a long period of time either.  I’ve had difficulty explaining to my seven year old daughter why the word “gay” means happy and joyful in the song she was singing, while my teenagers use it to describe something lame and stupid and others use it in place of homosexual.  How can one little word mean so many different things?  How do you explain this to a child who is just learning many of these words?

Dictionaries are no help.  Dictionaries can give you the historical meaning of a word, it’s roots and etymology.  They are also constantly changing to suit more modern and often colloquial usages.  The Urban Dictionary can be added to by anyone who cares to do so.

So many words mean different things to different people.  A witch is an ugly old hag, an evil sorceress and a practitioner of folk magic.  All are correct, but very different.  Your and you’re are used interchangeably (which is incorrect, but common).  I like to describe this as the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.  There, their and they’re are more that get muddled.  These are simple grammar rules that we should have learned early on in school.  Why is it so hard to get these words right?  The meanings of these words change depending on which one you use.

Knowing the power of words, many witches will tell you to take care with the way you word a spell or working.  Clarity is important, so is the intent behind the words.  But when you’re not in the midst of a working, words are still powerful and important.  When you have worked with magic and have some experience, you come to learn that the things you say in any setting can be powerful.  So why do so many throw words around like they mean nothing?  Why is it so hard to have integrity?  To say what you mean and mean what you say?

19 comments:

  1. Words have power - what I said in one of my very first posts here. I agree with it wholeheartedly :)

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  3. " Bulling (especially cyber bullying) is the use of words to harm or belittle."

    Also if words are so powerful... wouldn't it be important to spel them all correctly :) and don't forget grandma.

    As for word bullying and cyberbullying. It's a pecking order, herd animal physiological drive. ie It's a social component of the herd animals behavioural system. You could push it further into the shadow, which would invest it with power, to come out even nastier elsewhere.

    Words are merely a social tool of humans.

    Ideas, on the other hand; Ideas have power.

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    1. I agree that ideas have power. More so perhaps than words. But does that mean that the words are powerless?

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    2. words are a tool. they're a technology.

      Sorry about all the deletes folks, I was basically trying to describe something that goes beyond words, but I only had words to attempt it with. They're such a poor and clumsy things.

      Think of it similar to this:
      If you've seen around corner of the street, it is obvious and silly to deny what is there. But if you've only gone as far as your [english garden] front gate and maybe popped over to the neighbours for a cuppa, then the "world around the corner" is a fantasy and there is no real relevant common ground to give descriptions.

      There are so many better ways to communicate, but so many people are still obsessed with words, and they so get in the way!

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    3. I was starting to wonder what was going on with all the deleted replies. Luana forwarded a couple that she'd gotten by email to me and I'm afraid I couldn't follow much of them.

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    4. I'm trying to not lecture or soapbox.
      But the words for such things....they too small and fit badly! which kinda explains some of the point I was trying to make. (I you have a word hammer, then you'll live in a world of word orientated nail experiences) - even worse for those who live their lives through others stories and rules and books.

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  4. Mist: if you're going to correct the above writing, I would suggest you spell check your comments as the word 'spel' is incorrect.

    Ideas are only powerful if you do something with them, otherwise they are just dreams.

    Words are a major tool, they have huge amounts of power.

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  5. Ok so I've fixed bullying :p

    Ideas have power, but are useless until formed into words as they cannot be communicated without them. The wrong words create the wrong impression. Whenever thought is transformed into words there is a bias based on the choice of words.

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    5. Glad you have fixed bullying. The world will breathe a sigh of relief. But wait, what will all those on-line people complain about?

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    6. LOL, I wish. But then, when they talk idiocy and get called on it, those people doing the calling are automatically bullies...

      If only I could change the mindset...

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    7. Re: the bullying/mindset. I suspect it's integral to the pecking order of a herd system. There has to be someone to put on a higher pedestal (even it's themselves, aka "Martha Stewart syndrome"), and more important their has to be someone to look down on. Thus creating a connection dynamic with in the herd.
      With out that Link, that fluctuating energy, that dynamic relationship tying the individuals together like atomic bonds; then they would drift apart in a cloud of individuals.
      I often wonder if there's a critical point to the self-management level of each of the members - if the herd itself (eg the Human Gestalt groupmind) would collapse if a significant portion became self-aware and self-managing under conscious deliberate awareness!

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  6. Words don't always have thought behind them... but can hurt or heal :P

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