Words are powerful things.
Nearly every ancient culture has traditions telling of “words of power” that were used to focus divine power or harness specific earth energies in order to bring about a desired effect.
For millennia these words were closely guarded secrets. Only those initiated into a specific tradition were allowed to hear or write the word and learn how to direct its use. In fact, some cultures were so protective of their traditions that they forbade writing anything down and instead directed their followers to memorize all of their wisdom in order to prevent any uninitiated person from learning their trade secrets.
For generations, memorization and the oral tradition was the name of the game. Even once cultures became large enough that they needed to use alphabets and numbers to keep track of harvests and seasons and incomes and taxes, many mystery traditions insisted that their adherents only pass their secrets down by word of mouth.
As many mystery traditions began losing followers, either because of encroaching religions or invading armies, their adherents began using the written word to record their closely guarded secrets so that those secrets would not be lost altogether. But it was only with the invention of the printing press that major inroads into information previously passed down strictly through oral tradition began being made.
Today we tend to view the written word with a lot less wonder and amazement then did the people of ancient civilizations. In fact, everywhere you look there seem to be words written down; in books and magazines, on internet sites and online shops, on billboards and newspaper advertisements, on food labels and even the tags on pillows.
In fact, words in general seem to have lost so much of their power and ability to entrance and enchant, that many people find the written word to be boring. I mean, why bother writing down what you are thinking when you can do a quick Tik Tok, Facebook reel or Instagram video instead? But in spite of modern society’s blasé attitude toward words in general and the written word in particular, if you look carefully, you can still see just how much power those words still have over us.
Have you ever been moved to tears when reading a story about a child or an animal who had been abused or abandoned and then been rescued by some loving individual? Have you ever found your heart hurting as you read reports of death and destruction from whatever war or conflict is currently the center of media focus? Have you ever found yourself stirred to a love of your country by reading the transcript of a great leader’s speech, feeling annoyed as a politician recites everything that is wrong with society, or rooting for a specific cause after reading an activist’s plea? The stronger your emotional reaction to what you read, the more skilled you will find the writer of what you are reading.
Social media in particular is very much a public display of the power of words, even in a society to whom words in general are not of much consequence. With just a sharply worded comment you can cut someone down to size, shame them publicly, belittle them, or even goad them into committing suicide.
On the flip side, the right words can uncover the truth, help to bring peace, bolster someone’s self-esteem, encourage others to be their best selves and even save lives. Its all a matter of what we choose to do with the words that we use; whether we choose to use those words to spread fear and anger and intolerance, or to encourage love, peace and inclusion.
So, as you develop your skills as a word wizard, remember that the power of the written word is not something to be taken lightly. In addition to choosing your words carefully as you create worlds and the people who populate them, as you describe a product or a place or recall an event to share you’re your readers, remember to also think carefully before posting that scathing comment, belittling critique or sarcastic response.
Being honest or authentic in our responses does not require us to be cruel. It is quite possible that the words you choose, especially as you become skilled in how to provoke certain emotional responses from your readers, can have as much power as the ancients believed their own special, magical words to have on others and the world around them.
The choice of how you use your words is, of course, always up to you.