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What is the line between spellcasting, and casual talk? Is Silence impractical?


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#1 phantasmagoria

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Posted 22 March 2020 - 03:04 PM

Words have power, I think we would all agree. They are a technology, that we either "speak" or "spell." Holy people of all religions and spiritual systems understand this, and it's why silence practices are so important. Some choose to remain silent for many years. But, these days, being silent is a luxury. I know that, in my life, I can't remain silent for very long. I have attempted silence for years, again and again, to find that it's impossible. I can't even leave my house without having to converse. Not only is it extremely rude to my family to disengage from casual speech, but, it's totally counterproductive. Same thing with outside the home, and, maybe even moreso. Unless a person is deaf or hard of hearing, or wearing recognizable buddhist or yogic robes, or considered "sick enough" either physically or mentally to be labeled as sick and in recovery, getting away with silence is just not really doable. I have found that even when going to great lengths to keep to myself, people want to talk. For me to refuse to speak back is a great offense, and can even start fights. Sometimes I wonder, "wow, deaf people probably get attacked for real sometimes by people who think they're ignoring them... that really sucks." Sometimes I find myself having to speak harsh words or tones to end conversations that I really, really, really don't want to engage in, but, to ignore the other person would cause infinitely more problems.

 

Silence is dangerous.  Even taking "too long to respond" can spur people to attack, in my experience. I have found that silence should only be practiced when alone. But, then, what's the point?

 

I have no practical experience of what it was like "back in the day" but I get the sense that it was much easier to remain silent.

 

It bothers me that things are this way, these days. I do feel as though I lose power, sometimes tremendous amounts, by being compelled to talk. Yet, we are social creatures. We become sick if we don't associate, and talk, casually, babble if you will. Talking without thinking often leads to great insight, bonding, magic, and song. Must we be so serious and think hard and long about every single word that we speak?

 

Sometimes, when I am "out and about" just doing regular things, I can feel that feeling in my throat that lets me know that my words are "especially spelly" and I have to be really careful. Sometimes this happens at the drive-through fast food place or whatever, and I think, oh jeez, every syllable is shaking the world right now, and here I am at Burger King, because I'm living in 2020. Maybe it's because they built a mall over the sacred ground, or, maybe it's because the natural flow of time has been disrupted by the "clock-work," separating everyone from the natural rhythms. During those moments, my words have a lot of power, and, ordering a shake and fries or whatever feels like I'm calling on gods and demons, and I worry, but, I have to do it. I mean, there's no way around it. I'm not separate from the need to eat. I'm just like everyone else, in this animal body. I talk dirty and repeat what I hear like a monkey, until I hear what comes out and then make an assessment to edit my speech: it's how I learned! So, I do my best to keep my tone flat, and my emotions flatter. Those surges, I do my best to control, but, I know that it's not entirely mine to control. Well, that is my worldview, anyway.

 

If I take it really seriously, sometimes, being compelled to speak activates the ancestral memories of being tortured to be forced to talk. When, obviously, it's just a neighbor trying to be friendly, in their own way.

 

What I see is that "contemporary life" has so many of us around, which exponentially increases the amount of communicative exchange that happens.

 

Where am I going with this? Well, here are some prompts:

 

Do you consider every syllable you speak, a spell? If you do, how do you approach casual talk? Is it easy for you to get by in your regular activities? Do you attempt unusual levels of silence? How do you deal with being "forced" to speak? Do you find that it's easy or difficult for you to separate "intentional wordcasting" from more casual, day to day speech? Is it an internal energy, a tone, the actual words being used? All of the above? Or, do you not struggle with this at all?

 

I suppose a good way to think about this, for me, is that, sometimes I speak with gravity, and sometimes, I tell comedy. A well-timed casual or serious word can lift an entire group. But, a badly timed casual or serious word can hurt many.

 

No thesis here, just opening the floor to ideas.


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#2 WitchVillage

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Posted 22 March 2020 - 03:19 PM

I don't think there's a great deal of difference between casually saying "have a blessed spring", to "have a good day y'all" or "have a happy holiday."

 

Though the etymology may differ, and that actually can be exceedingly important in more intentionally focused Worded workings. Including in incantation and such. Or even in spoken word enchantment with someone else, such as a lover. Those words can ring resounding bells when the deep mind is open to being penetrated by them.

 

We cast spells every time we scribe on here. We are spelling. Bottom line is, that all interaction works that way at a very primal level. We are an interconnected web of beings. In casual daily intercourse (yes, intercourse), we mean we wish wish the other well, and I'm okay with that. Humans are tribal creatures, we connect, it is natural and normal, organic. And I don't separate my life from my Craft, because I cannot completely. It only differs in focus, intention and intensity.


Edited by WitchVillage, 22 March 2020 - 03:21 PM.

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Heaven above, Heaven below
Stars above, stars below
All that is over, under shall show
Happy thou who the riddle readest
 
 

 


#3 woodwitchofthewest

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Posted 22 March 2020 - 04:47 PM

In a world where it often seems to be more common to wish others ill than to wish them well, I think sincere "blessings" in any form are a nice, gentle kind of low magic that has the ability to make at least one person's life better in that moment.  Two, if you count the "bless-er" along with the "bless-ee."  

 

The only problem I can see with the practice in general is that some people use it as a foil for their bad intent (for example, the common southernism "well, bless your heart!" :D ) , and some others use it so indiscriminately that the practice becomes essentially meaningless.  In those cases I think discernment is called for, and so that's why I say I accept blessings in the manner in which they were intended, because blessings come in all sorts of forms (a plate of homemade cookies given to a friend who is having a tough time of it could actually be taken as a non-verbal blessing) so IMO, intent is pretty much the only important thing to keep in mind about the practice.  

 

All of the "blessings" I've seen here so far appear to have had good intent behind them so I acknowledge them with gratitude.  


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If I were more clever, something interesting would appear here...


#4 woodwitchofthewest

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Posted 22 March 2020 - 05:04 PM

On the subject of words - I personally try to keep mine as succinct as I can.  Sometimes that's not possible or desirable, for example when storytelling, but when it is possible, that is my goal.  There are reasons behind that. 

 

First, it's a matter of style.  I try to be clear and simple in most of what I write because in a world that constantly bombards us with noise, you risk losing people's attention if you are not.  Second, it's a matter of energy.  Writing takes energy from the author to write, and for the reader to absorb, so a high signal-to-noise ratio is helpful for all.  Third, I have found that the more I talk, the easier it is to accidentally say something I didn't really mean to say.  Editing for conciseness helps me stick to that which I intended to convey.  

 

Edited to add:

 

Fourth, focus and intent is something that can be practiced outside of ritual and spellwork.  The more areas of your life in which you practice being concise and focused in what you do, the more that focus will feed into the quality and effectiveness of your craft work.  


Edited by woodwitchofthewest, 22 March 2020 - 05:30 PM.

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#5 phantasmagoria

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Posted 22 March 2020 - 05:43 PM

On the subject of words - I personally try to keep mine as succinct as I can.  Sometimes that's not possible or desirable, for example when storytelling, but when it is possible, that is my goal.  There are reasons behind that. 

 

First, it's a matter of style.  I try to be clear and simple in most of what I write because in a world that constantly bombards us with noise, you risk losing people's attention if you are not.  Second, it's a matter of energy.  Writing takes energy from the author to write, and for the reader to absorb, so a high signal-to-noise ratio is helpful for all.  Third, I have found that the more I talk, the easier it is to accidentally say something I didn't really mean to say.  Editing for conciseness helps me stick to that which I intended to convey.  

 

Edited to add:

 

Fourth, focus and intent is something that can be practiced outside of ritual and spellwork.  The more areas of your life in which you practice being concise and focused in what you do, the more that focus will feed into the quality and effectiveness of your craft work.  

 

This is something that I struggle with a lot. When I get going, holy crud, I can go on forever and ever and I have to go to great lengths to put limitations on my thoughtflow. I do my best to succinct as possible, but, if we're talking about style, well, sometimes the style is in the length, or, the content requires length. You can't tell a novel in a short story, for example. Indeed, writing is terribly laborious and time-consuming, and even moreso when attempting to edit from elaboration to simplicity. As a lifelong writer, this drives me absolutely batty. What would take 15 minutes or a half hour in real time can take hours!!! It's something that I am working on, on many levels, these days, to simplify what and how I write, for my own sake more than anything.

 

It's a tradeoff. Writing takes longer, but lasts longer, too, in time and space.

 

Then again, if I'm being elaborate, and I lose someone's attention, then, they weren't worthy of being my audience anyway. I forget where I read it, but I remember it being in a text by a widely recognized magickal author, that it's important for a student of the Occult Arts to read every word, because often the most important bits are given in a passing manner floating amongst what seems to be a long passage of "whatever" (to use a technical term, heh heh). Do I do this all the time? no. But, I do my best.

 

But yeah, focus. It's a challenge for me, and I actually also benefit from having my attention in many places at once too, but slowly, I find, I'm getting better at it.


Edited by phantasmagoria, 22 March 2020 - 05:54 PM.

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#6 Phaedra

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 04:09 PM

When I think of people practicing silence as a spiritual austerity, what first comes to my mind are monks, nuns, and other such folks who live in an environment and in a structured way of life that really serves to facilitate asceticism. Take one of those people dedicated to the practice of prolonged silence and spiritual listening of that manner and place them in a layperson's daily routine, I figure they too would find it pretty impractical and thus difficult to maintain without causing external problems that altogether distract from the whole point of the exercise to begin with. For me personally, I don't take the traditional power of To Be Silent so literally as to mean that I need to track and carefully govern all my spoken words...Rather, it serves as a reminder to me that tuning in and really listening is where power is found. I have stepped into so many heaps of rank in my days all because I spoke in hasty ignorance, or gave an opinion that wasn't really mine, but instead one that I adopted because it sounded right without actually giving it critical thought. I feel like these actions have weakened me, and so I do mind my words and especially whatever I speak out into the world as my own personal beliefs and opinions; reclaiming the lost power has been a lesson in patience with myself, and in how much harder it is the restore other people's favor in you once you've already made an ass of yourself.

 

...And I don't know about y'all, but something in me just feels chafed whenever I'm told to "have a blessed day" by a Chik-fil-A employee.


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#7 Gyreleaf

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 05:32 PM

I don't have time just yet to write a detailed post. But there is a technique of No Wasted Words. I have been practicing this on and off for a few years now. You only talk, including in writing, when you have to. If someone engages you in conversation you talk back enough to be polite but do not get caught up in idle gossip.

Over a period of time this builds up a kind of "presence" within you. Now when I use my voice it has a certain strength to it, people take notice and spirits will listen. It is more a spiritual technique but it has been highly useful in my witchcraft work.

It has the side effect of teaching one to be silent and still to better listen and tap into currents. Also in learning when best to act and when best to conserve your strength for another time.

Consider how carefully people word their spells and how everyone knows to be careful what you wish for. Well apply that to your whole life and the people around you and the spirits you work with will know to take you at your word and know what you say is important. As I wouldn't have said it otherwise.

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#8 Onyx

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 06:19 PM

Well, I do not discuss my magical life with mundane people, why,  because, they just don't  understand.   Oh!  They say, you like Harry Potter!  Yes i do, but that has nothing to do with me being a Witch.   Of course the mason jar full of 16 odd wands, is a bit obsessive, but, I just like painting sticks.  I am an artist after all.  Then there is the Altar, I just like candles...Nothing to see here folks....

Witches know Witches, just one word can let you know that you are talking to a sister witch.  When that happens it is a glorious feeling of sisterhood.

However, nobody ever sees my Grimoire or reads it.  That is private,  my spells are private, my methods of workings are private,   To keep silent is, I think, the  most important part of the saying,  To Know, to Will, to Dare and to keep Silent.


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#9 Phaedra

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Posted 23 March 2020 - 06:51 PM

Gyreleaf--that sums up the lesson I've been learning about the weight of words nicely. You definitely build up a sort of personal power that others can pick up on when you carry yourself with an air that your voice has more value than a tool for steam of conscious prattling, reflexive input, air-filling chatter, etc. When animals in nature, speak, they do so because there is a definite purpose and goal behind their utterances. Only humans would waste their breath and power on something ultimately meaningless even to themselves. 


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#10 Belwenda

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Posted Yesterday, 10:10 PM

You know; I just learned that cats (not kittens), only meow to us; they are silent with each other.

 

I think Dumbledore summed it up when JK wrote "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it."

 

But I agree; it's best to be both succinct and interesting. And you're right about active listening; so important. Not just to each other but also to that little voice; you know; the one we're all tempted to argue with....

 

And as far as silence, my closest friends are the ones with whom I can be silent and it's not uncomfortable in any way.

 

Regarding spell work; personally I weigh every word and usually write them out before casting and I'll admit it; I like them to rhyme :vhappywitch: 


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"For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" W.S.

#11 Onyx

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Posted Today, 12:13 AM

Yes, I like to rhyme my Spells too, Belwenda!  They seem to roll off the tongue easily.


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