By Mat: There are such things as magic words. I’m not talking about abracadabra or expecto patronum. I’m talking about magic words of a far more mundane and common variety. They are actually so mundane and common that they weave their ways into our lives on a daily, if not hourly basis. This is by no means meant to minimize their power. In fact, I feel that these magic words are so powerful that they can literally create the worlds we live in.
Brilliantly camouflaged, these powerful magic words stealthily construct the parameters through which we interpret our individual existential landscapes. They can have such power over our emotions and our behavior, our beliefs and our values, that there are some which are spoken only very rarely, in low tones and whispers.
Think of the most powerful words you can imagine, and you’ll find them hiding in plain sight. Love, hate, acceptance, connection, and greed, are a few common examples, a few others might be innocence, guilt, shame, and happiness. The magic in these words is tried and tested, used and abused, and often given out freely – for better or for worse.
Not all magic words are ancient, or have rich pedigrees like the examples above. New magic words are made daily. Sometimes they gain power over time, and sometimes their power is immediate and disruptive: debt, consumption, algorithm or coronavirus are a few which have seen their power increase exponentially in recent times.
If we think about how we react emotionally to these examples, and if we think about how our emotions dictate our behavior, we begin to see how powerful these magic words can be when it comes to influencing how we live our lives, or even how we think about ourselves. The difference between I love you and I hate you, for instance, is only partially about the tone employed when uttering the phrase.
That’s the thing about magic words. People are quick to condemn the words themselves, as though they have a kind of agency or life of their own. But magic words are dead unless they are uttered by a magician, by some individual who uses them with a particular intent in mind, and who releases the power that they hold deliberately.
As there are good magicians and bad magicians in the stories we hear, so too there are good and bad magicians in our everyday lives. Think about a time when a carelessly used magic word or incantation has had a devastating effect you, or how the right words wielded by an inexperienced magician has lodged a psychic spear in your side. You may have even been guilty of doing this yourself. I know I have, and I’m sure we can all remember instances where what we intended to say, and what our words ended up doing, were two very different things.
The beauty of magic, in my experience, is that one simply has to become aware of it in order to gain a measure of control over its power. For the vast majority of us, the curses whose weight we unknowingly bear, and whose influence over our lives we can only partially see, weren’t flung at us by witches in pointy hats or black sorcerers in front of altars.
Far from it. These curses are the result of magic words used carelessly by magicians who wouldn’t otherwise know they were such: by those around us who are all too ignorant of the power that these magic words have to either hurt or heal, wound or transform, separate or connect, depending on how they are used.
Waking up to the ordinariness of magic words can help us to understand more about the magicians behind them: their intent, their motivation, and often, their real power, or lack thereof. We can see their spells and incantations for what they really are. Sometimes, those closest to us want nothing more than to shine divine love and light down upon us, stringing ancient and powerful magic words together into incantations so sweet that they could have come from the lips of angels.
Sometimes, however, insecure and hurtful people desperately grab at the power in these words because doing so makes up for their own powerlessness. If we become aware of how powerless the magicians behind these dark words really are, then breaking a curse becomes as easy as casting a counter spell of our own. In my experience, the most powerful magic word available is love.
Its effects, when used correctly and with good intent, are invincible, and its many forms are so common to us that we needn’t look very far to find the right mantra for the job at hand. I love myself and I love you are two fine examples of how this magic word can be used to slay the magic words of others, to free ourselves and those we love from curses deliberate or unintentional.
If we choose to take this a step further, to see all of our words as magical, we find an easy road toward empowerment, and toward a space where we can more consciously create the worlds we want to live in. I’m reminded of the Buddha, who once said:
“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unbreakable.”
Love and Light,
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