Druidic Arts – Good Speech

As I understand it, the Celts considered good speech to be a virtue. By ‘speech’ I mean any kind of direct, word based communications where we have control over our part in the exchange. It is impossible to have speech as an art form without simultaneously practicing the art of sensing truly – already discussed. If we do not hear, read, see and understand clearly, our capacity to respond well is sorely impaired.

If you’re reading this then it’s safe to assume that communication is part of your daily life. We all do it, by one means or another, and therefore we all have the option of choosing to do it well, and cultivating it as an art form. Good speech is empowering, enabling and enriches every other art we might undertake. Poor speech, on the other hand, will create conflict, cause confusion, generate misery and otherwise make a nuisance of itself.

To practice good speech as an art form, we also need the art of slowing down. Words said in haste without consideration are seldom good words. Off the cuff comments, spur of the moment outpourings and the haste of rage or frustration are barriers to good speech. A few seconds taken to mentally rehearse words so that they do not surprise us as we say them, enables good speaking. It also gives us self control, and control over how others see us and respond to us. The ‘spontaneous’ person who opens their mouth without thinking will spend a lot of time dealing with the unintended consequences of ill conceived words.

Slowing down our responses and the words as we utter them, and using the arts of true sensing to support what we do, we can not only express ourselves clearly and get the point across, we can also observe how those words impact. What we think we mean, and what others manage to hear are not always the same. Alert to nuances and responses, we might catch the communication break sooner, and fix it before it becomes a problem. What might be playful banter to me, could be agonisingly painful to you, and I don’t want to get that wrong. Once we start thinking about how others hear us, alongside what we mean, then communication improves. We can consider how to make our speech less confrontational, more compassionate. We might think about what others are able to understand, watch for accidentally patronising people, or excluding others with impenetrable jargon.

At more advanced stages of the art, we can contemplate poetry in speech. Most people use a tiny fraction of the available language. Short obscenities as punctuation, clichés, dependence on ‘you know what I mean’ ‘like’ ‘by the way’ and all kinds of linguistic props actually weakens the beauty of communication. Once we start branching out into more diverse and expressive language, we can become deliberately poetic in our communications. Here the blending of life art and bardic art is absolute. There’s no reason why the awen can’t flow when we’re talking to a colleague, and it might come in handy whilst attempting to butter up the bank manager! We can talk our druidry, bringing the essence of what we believe into the modes of our communication – peace, beauty, compassion, the desire to nurture and empower. How we talk, or email, or write letters can become a very clear expression of what we value.

At which point, the idea of saying anything off the cuff that we didn’t mean, becomes insane.

As I understand it, the Celts considered good speech to be a virtue. By ‘speech’ I mean any kind of direct, word based communications where we have control over our part in the exchange. It is impossible to have speech as an art form without simultaneously practicing the art of sensing truly – already discussed. If we do not hear, read, see and understand clearly, our capacity to respond well is sorely impaired.

If you’re reading this then it’s safe to assume that communication is part of your daily life. We all do it, by one means or another, and therefore we all have the option of choosing to do it well, and cultivating it as an art form. Good speech is empowering, enabling and enriches every other art we might undertake. Poor speech, on the other hand, will create conflict, cause confusion, generate misery and otherwise make a nuisance of itself.

To practice good speech as an art form, we also need the art of slowing down. Words said in haste without consideration are seldom good words. Off the cuff comments, spur of the moment outpourings and the haste of rage or frustration are barriers to good speech. A few seconds taken to mentally rehearse words so that they do not surprise us as we say them, enables good speaking. It also gives us self control, and control over how others see us and respond to us. The ‘spontaneous’ person who opens their mouth without thinking will spend a lot of time dealing with the unintended consequences of ill conceived words.

Slowing down our responses and the words as we utter them, and using the arts of true sensing to support what we do, we can not only express ourselves clearly and get the point across, we can also observe how those words impact. What we think we mean, and what others manage to hear are not always the same. Alert to nuances and responses, we might catch the communication break sooner, and fix it before it becomes a problem. What might be playful banter to me, could be agonisingly painful to you, and I don’t want to get that wrong. Once we start thinking about how others hear us, alongside what we mean, then communication improves. We can consider how to make our speech less confrontational, more compassionate. We might think about what others are able to understand, watch for accidentally patronising people, or excluding others with impenetrable jargon.

At more advanced stages of the art, we can contemplate poetry in speech. Most people use a tiny fraction of the available language. Short obscenities as punctuation, clichés, dependence on ‘you know what I mean’ ‘like’ ‘by the way’ and all kinds of linguistic props actually weakens the beauty of communication. Once we start branching out into more diverse and expressive language, we can become deliberately poetic in our communications. Here the blending of life art and bardic art is absolute. There’s no reason why the awen can’t flow when we’re talking to a colleague, and it might come in handy whilst attempting to butter up the bank manager! We can talk our druidry, bringing the essence of what we believe into the modes of our communication – peace, beauty, compassion, the desire to nurture and empower. How we talk, or email, or write letters can become a very clear expression of what we value.

At which point, the idea of saying anything off the cuff that we didn’t mean, becomes insane.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Druidic Arts – Good Speech

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