Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thought for the Day: What's in a Word?

Most people don't think about the simple power that words have. They simply use them and move on, never thinking about how the words they use came to have the meaning they do.
By "meaning", I mean the emotional context (the CONnotation), as much as the actual definition (the DEnotation).
You hear someone upset and cursing a blue streak and may be shocked. But think about it: a word (or phrase) is only a collection of sounds until we (society or individuals) give those sounds a definition with an associated emotional context.

A colleague on Etsy made a profound post on her blog yesterday (click here for the post, pointing out a specific instance: how do people react when someone says they are a witch or mentions witchcraft? Revelate said:
Words are powerful. They are tools and are loaded with energy. Words can bring on intense emotion. Spilling tears, steaming anger, delirious joy and belly laughs can all result from words. The energy attached to a single words can create a vivid picture in your mind's eye. You may feel emotion and be transported to a different place with the energy of one single word. A fine example of this attached energy is found in a related group of words; Witch, Wicca, and Witchcraft. To many they immediately are negative, words that stir up ideas of "the devil" and of animal sacrifice. What really bothers me about the negative attachment to these words is the fact that the ideas of Wicca and Witchcraft being practices of devil worship and causing harm to living beings is ignorant.

If you are pagan, Wiccan, druid, shamanic, Buddhist, Taoist or a member of any non-mainstream spiritual path, I'm sure you have encountered these reactions. If you are a member of a mainstream spiritual path (Christian, Jewish, Moslem), you may have used those words in a negative context or reacted in a negative way, without even realizing it. Or realizing why...

Please go to RevelationsNorth, Revelate's blog, to check out the full post - you won't be sorry!

I believe that most people are inherently good, in that they do not go out of their way to cause harm to another person, physically or emotionally. I may be wrong. People in groups tend to react differently; they get caught up in the "mob mentality" and become dangerous. But, please, THINK about the way you react to certain words or phrases. If it's a negative reaction, examine the reason. It may be valid...but it may NOT.