01 December 2011

The Power of Language

At this time of the year, I find it interesting how many people who confess that they are Pagans throughout the year start becoming "Christianised" and celebrate Christmas.  The reasoning behind this personally escapes me as being a Pagan, the only festival I acknowledge is the upcoming Solstice, and being in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Summer Solstice, unlike my northern counterparts who will soon be celebrating the Winter Solstice, or Yule.

I have recently come across indication that "oh it's only words, and words don't matter" - which statement in itself has prompted this posting for to me anyhow, as there is much power in words, they actually do matter.

Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"
Words are not just mindless dribble the flow from our brains out of our mouths, but they are the main form of communication, both verbally and written.  We use words to empower our thoughts and desires and the impact of such is often dependent on the words we use.  It is possibly that because words are often used automatically and unconsciously, that we have some how come to the view that they are no longer important.

Words shape the language we use and the way we define things.  Language is equally as important for it creates and transforms our lives.  In times of conquest, language was one of the first things the victor sought to suppress.  Even within the English language this is happening today with the various definitions creeping in from other sources.  For example, when I was at school, the emphasis was on "English" English, however today, and possibly thanks to the internet, an increasing number of "Americanisms" are creeping in with not only a change in the spelling of words but terminology - such as 4WDs are being replaced by SUVs.So goes the evolution of the English language I guess.

Words also do not just convey a meaning - they are actually a force.  They can hurt and heal, be manipulated to carry hidden meanings, and if thought is not given to their interpretation, they have even been known to start wars.  Therefore, to simply dismiss something becuase "it is just words" could be seen as being rather foolhardly.

Summer Solstice altar c.2007
Former Catholic monk and author, Thomas Moore, once said that the words a leader chooses are just as critical as their actions.  This is something that I believe we all should be aware of.  Words therefore are very important and not something to be merely dismissed as irrelevant.

Aside from the obligatory family orientated gatherings (most of which I have managed to avoid), I have not actually marked Christmas in over 10 or so years now.  As a Pagan, I honour the Summer Solstice, which occurs around the 22nd December this year, and it pleases me when my non-Pagan friends and family wish me a "happy solstice" as opposed to a "happy Christmas"  because, at least to me, this simple gesture indicates that in some way they are honouring my choice of belief.

References and further reading:
"The Power of Language" (author not noted) - article from Resurgence ezine
"The Power of Language" (author not noted) - article from Green Living ezine
"The Power of Languages" by Eilidh MacDonald   

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