Magic words and their deployment

Spells and spelling, grammar and Grammarie… magic is often formed of words. It’s not all about high ceremony or Latin. The magical use of language does not of itself have to be that esoteric or arcane, it is simply about how you put your will into the world.

“Oops” is a powerful magical word because of the possibilities it creates and the changes it allows. Being able to say “oops” allows a person to own a mistake. The mistakes we cannot admit to are ones we cannot do anything about. If we have to protect our wrongness, we cannot learn, grow or change. We cannot fix what went wrong. “Oops” allows us to do all those things.

It can be frightening to have to admit failure, ignorance or other shortcomings. “Oops” is a gentle, non-judgemental sort of word. It enables acknowledgement without bringing with it too much in the way of guilt, shame or awkwardness. This is important because guilt, shame and awkwardness tend to get in the way of learning and transformation, and are often barriers to it. “Oops” releases the problem gently, and allows the person saying it to recognise the problem without beating themselves up. This in turn is liberating, and for the person who suffers shame and guilt, or has been shamed repeatedly, the gentleness of an “oops” can itself be a healing experience.

Offering “oops” to anyone else affected by what went wrong is also transformative. This can work in a number of ways. With the problem recognised, it becomes possible to ask for help or information, or whatever else was lacking in the first place. A mistake made in ignorance can be soothed away by the simple recognition that it was not intended to hurt, but it did hurt. The former without the latter is worthless. It is one of the important limits of will working – your will does not define reality, only contributes to it. Therefore if the result is not in line with your will, the result is not wrong, it is the sum of all the factors of which your will was only one. You cannot make reality follow your will by refusing to accept when that’s not happened. If an error has an unintended effect, “oops” allows you to find out what the other variables were, and that gives you better scope for getting what you want next time.

With “oops” in the mix, the way is opened to ask what we do now. What would help? What would get us to where we want to be? What do we need to know? What do other people need to know? “Oops” becomes a gateway, a transition point, an opening up of options.

We need to take our words seriously. Careful use of language gets things done. Careless communication can be self defeating. Small words can have huge implications.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. 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

5 responses to “Magic words and their deployment

  • landisvance

    I remember the first time I was able to admit to myself and then to others that I had made a mistake. It was the most liberating thing I have every experienced. Oops is gentle but, all the same, powerful and transformative!

    Our wonderful commedian, now deceased, Gilda Radner had the character Roseanna Rosannadanna who was often outrageously and completely wrong about something on the SNL version of the weekend news- and when the time would come for her to realize her mistake she was so thoroughly adorable that it was easy to forgive – I always loved that she was so terribly wrong, that it was on a national news platform, and that she was not diminished by being wrong.

    Internal healing indeed starts with being able to acknowledge to ourselves that we are wrong and then forgiving ourselves. Still working on the last bit for myself!

  • Kaylee

    This is why I hate how our culture has tried to deny the power of words. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I’ve found words to be one of the most powerful things in the world. What else can cause harm or can heal without requiring even the smallest contact?

    Words can be used to expand our horizons, heal certains illnesses, and so much more. They are more than just how we communicate, so much more. And, for reasons unknown to me, we just ignore their power. Unless you are using them to get people to buy your junk or support your war.

    • Nimue Brown

      I very much agree! bruises I can heal, words take a lot longer to sort out, and the way in which the small nuances of language shape our interactions… it drives me nuts that people speak carelessly and don’t take good communication seriously as an issue. “I think what he/she’s trying to say is…” is such a depressing statement. we speak badly, infer wrongly, and nothing good comes of it.

  • journeymaid

    I don’t use that word often. In fact I use it very, very rarely. I used it today though. Oops. Yes, it is a good word.

  • Leeby Geeby

    Good call. I go for the Homer Simpson, “Doh!”, when I screw up. It helps me to not take myself so seriously. I can slap myself in the forehead, release some stress, and someone may even get a laugh out of it. I can rest assured that even my mistakes have the potential to bring more joy into the world!

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