The Power of Words

This year's elections have been very focused on the words candidates say. Obama's "You didn't build that" became the focus of the GOP convention. Romney's "binders full of women" is only one of many gaffes that make us wonder if politicians are simply misspeaking under pressure as we all do, or if their slips are more, shall we say, Freudian.

More and more the focus of political rhetoric seems to be less about policy and intent, and more about the actual words candidates choose.

I have always been fascinated by words, and the power they hold. In a tarot reading, the proper choice of words is critical. I know what I see, but if I couldn't say what I see in a way that shares my vision with my client the reading would have very little value.

As a child I was told to tell bullies that "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me." Now, social media gives bullies so much power that it seems the words they choose are contributing to the suicides of their victims.

As a young adult, I worked for a very progressive organization. Long before work-place sensitivity training was mandatory in many companies we would attend a workshop called "Words that Hurt People." Back then, it was suggested that calling grown women "girls" was hurtful. Racial slurs were hurtful. I am sure there would have been a whole section on using the word "illegal" as a noun.

As I began to study energy healing and metaphysics, I learned that words have magickal power. Chants, incantations, prayers, invocations and sacred words all carry power. Speaking sacred words with intention can cause healing and transformation.

Flashing back on the concept of words that hurt people, I begin to wonder if hateful words are more than "politically incorrect." I wonder if hateful words do energetic damage in the same way that sacred words create healing.

Where do words get their power? When musicians use the "n" word in their lyrics, do they disempower that word's ability to cause them harm? Do we ourselves imbue words with positivity or negativity?

The Bible has something to say about the spiritual nature of words. The gospel of John begins with these profound words: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." Nowadays evangelists suggest that the "word" was a reference to the Bible as the literal word of God. To me, this makes no sense because the gospel was written long before what is now known as the Holy Bible was assembled. So then, what is this "word" that is in fact "God"? Could this be simply another reference to the sacred power of words?

Leonard Bernstein wrote a song popularized by Pete Seeger called "Words, Words, Words." The lyrics speak about our power to change the world with words.

"Words, words, words
On cracked old pages
How much of truth remains?
If my mind could understand them,
And if my life pronounced them,
Would not this world be changed?"

Some people will say that discussing the power of words is silly. To them, it is all about semantics. Whether you refer to someone as an "Illegal" or an "undocumented worker," or a "woman" or a "girl" doesn't really matter, they say. It all means the same thing.

I disagree. Each word has its own energy. The energy between "girl" and "woman" differs greatly.

So many spiritual cultures across the planet use words, tones and utterances in a holy way. If those utterances matter, perhaps every utterance matters.

So what happens when we speak a word in anger? What happens when we simply misspeak? We are all human. Part of being human is saying things we don't mean, and saying things we regret. But if we strive to be aware of the energy we send into the world, and strive to be responsible for the words we say, we will spread more healing than hurt.

On both a political level and a spiritual level words do have power. What a wonderful gift we all have; the ability to use our words to create our world.