Words have power.
In ritual—even solitary ritual—the spoken word can move, inform, reinforce, set intention and make more “real” what is not yet real. By speaking and hearing words, our minds are reshaped around their meanings, and we begin to believe, just a little bit more, that they are true. With repetition, this is a powerful tool for healing ourselves, gaining confidence, and achieving our aspirations.
That said, a ritual with nothing but talking is boring…words by themselves don’t raise much energy* unless they are genuinely moving and delivered in a compelling manner. Being able to do this—especially extemporaneously—is both a talent and a skill. Something to work on as we learn to be more effective ritual leaders.
Carefully selecting a word or short phrase that has meaning to you and using it often in your practice can have a powerful impact on your psychology and your life. This is a technique commonly referred to as “affirmation”, but, being a Pagan, I prefer to think of them as Words of Power, or magic words.
The science behind this practice is strong. In fact, the cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is in learning to manage our internal dialogue: the way we talk to ourselves about our character, about the world, and about our fellow humans. For many of us, the habits we have learned in our intrapersonal dialogue are disempowering: they undermine our confidence and promote defeatism, fear and even paranoia. Learning to change this internal conversation is essential for becoming a happier person and tapping into our capacities to make things happen in the world.
Magic words should be an affirmative statement. No negatives should be included, because the brain, slippery devil that it is, can easily edit a “not” or “don’t” out when listening, turning the statement on its head.
Currently, my magic words are “I have impeccable passion”. I say them to myself multiple times each day, and particularly when contemplating my Focus or doing solo ritual. They are a wish, an aspiration, a goal for myself. Previous examples of Magic Words have included phrases such as “I let love in,” and “Life is a great adventure!”
Don’t be surprised if, when you start this technique, a cacophony of argument or skepticism wells up from within you when you say your magic words. This is a good sign: it means that the phrase you have chosen really strikes a nerve with the parts of you that are disempowering you. As you continue to repeat the statement—preferably out loud, as that creates the multiple inputs of both shaping and hearing it—over time, those voices will calm down, and your belief in the words will increase.
It sounds silly, but it works. It’s the reason that religions all over the world have practices involving repeating the same words, over and over, such as the Catholic rosary.
Speaking of which, one way to use words of power is with an Atheopagan rosary. If you’re at a loss for identifying what phrase to use, start with the rosary provided—it’s a broadly empowering and positive message that can’t help but to enhance your life.
Atheopagan practices are tools for being happier, more effective, and more connected in the world, and thus more capable of making the world a better place. We all have personal work we need to do: the greatest magic of all is for us to evolve as people, become happier, and spread that happiness around through kindness and service to the world.
*That is, stimulate the mind to enter the Ritual State and the metabolism with excitement.