Voices are very powerful tools, and vocalising has some really interesting effects. One of the things that can make group ritual more powerful than solitary ritual is that when we’re working together, voices are usually deployed. It can be tempting to do a solitary ritual mostly in your head, while doing it outloud can feel weird and exposed. Being self-conscious can be a genuine barrier to doing any kind of spiritual work, but I think it’s worth pushing through if you can.
When everything happens inside our own heads, it can easily be hurried and also jumbled up with whatever else is in our heads at the time. Speaking something is a way of asserting it as your focus. Spells, prayers, rituals, affirmations – there are many things we might do because we want to change ourselves or the wider world. Vocalising creates focus, which means that our brains are more engaged with those intentions.
If you’re trying to put an intention or a prayer into the world, then having it go out from your body as sound is a way of making that happen.
There’s a significant psychological aspect to this, too. Hearing yourself say something can be deeply affecting. Thinking the words ‘I need to heal’ is not the same as hearing yourself saying them. Again, if you’re trying to change something, the process of hearing yourself saying something out loud can be very effective. If something is too difficult, or too painful to say, or exposes you in ways you don’t like then that can also help guide your actions. I’m not averse to curses, but saying them aloud can make it really obvious whether you’re seeking justice or being vindictive. It’s not difficult to say ‘I hope this person gets everything they deserve’ but even in rage, it can be more obvious if you’re ill wishing someone just to be vindictive.
I find that spoken words don’t have to be very loud in order to be more effective than doing things in my head. It is enough to whisper, because that’s still a physical thing to do and brings in all of the aspects I’ve described above.
I don’t really know how this would work for someone with impaired hearing, or for anyone deaf or experiencing limitations around speaking. If anyone has any insight and is willing to share in the comments, that would be great.