"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letters are Magic

Many cultures believed the letters of their alphabet were far more than just symbols for communication, recording transactions, or recalling history. They believed letters were powerful magical symbols that could be used to cast spells and predict the future. The Norse runes and the Hebrew alphabet are simple letters for spelling words, but also deep symbols of cosmic significance.

The magical sense is preserved in our words for teaching children how to manipulate letters to make words: spelling. When you "spell" a word correctly, you are in effect casting a spell, changing these abstract, arbitrary symbols with meaning and power.

We say "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me," but this is untrue. We know that words have power to hurt or heal. The simple words of a letter, email, or phone call can strike you like a hammer blow. They're just words - marks on paper or vibrations of air - but mere words such as "Guilty," "Ready, aim fire!," "I do," or "We'd like to buy your book" can bind us, condemn us, or bring us joy.

They can hurt or heal us with their magic power. The healing power of words is their most magical aspect. Writers, like the shamans or medicine men and women of ancient cultures, have the potential to be healers.

Whether written or spoken, using those letters (and words) also gives an individual the power to persuade and transform others, perhaps an entire nation, and subsequently the entire world.

What letters, speeches, or books have had the biggest impact on you?

12 comments:

D.G. Hudson said...

Force of Circumstance, two volumes by Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus', The Plague, these three books made an impression on me.

Speeches are often written by ghost or speech writers, as we had in the corporation I worked for, so how much credibility do they have? They can touch on important points, but a good spinner knows how to appeal to an audience.

A.M. Guynes/Annikka Woods said...

The book I read about adult survivors of child abuse - I can't remember the title now - really resonated with me. Also listening to the speeches of the Dalai Lama. I've only heard them on YouTube, and his accent means you have to really pay attention, but they're amazing.

Taryn Tyler said...

I completely agree that language is magic. Without it we would all be completely alone, unable to communicate our thoughts and ideas. We would all go mad.

Paula Kaye said...

You have made me think about letters in a way that I don't usually! Great use of the L....

Steven said...

Words are powerful. I know of many cultures that believe the world was created with words first, and that words have the power to transform everything around us.

Nicole said...

Cool post! I was a history major in college and always loved reading through old letters or accounts from years long past. Words have such a power to transport!

Patrick Stahl said...

I've written about individual quotes in my "Magic: An Analysis of My Favorite Novel Quotes" series on my blog. Books that have the power to make my heart go tense with emotion have the biggest impact on me.

Mary Horner said...

Thanks for the interesting post! There are too many books, etc., to name! I do love watching TED Talks, and have been inspired by many of those speeches!

Kate @ Another Clean Slate said...

Letters are definitely magic! I would be lost without reading.

Eileen T said...

That's a new twist on spelling!

I feel really inspired by the wartime speeches of Sir Winston Churchill; a true wordsmith and the right man at the right time. As for a book that has inspired me - one that has always stuck in my mind is 'Dibs, in search of self' by Virginia Axline. I had to study it years ago as part of my teacher training and I've never forgotten it and how it shows the impact you can have on another person's life.

Eileen @ In My Playroom (also doing the A to Z Challenge)

Michelle Green said...

"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it." - Albus Dumbledore, The Deathly Hallows movie

I've got Harry Potter on the brain from my A to Z posts haha.

But seriously, I've always had trouble with the "sticks & stones" rhyme because words are incredibly powerful.

We write and read because words matter!

Michelle @ In Media Res

Esteban Porronett said...

Do you know any guide or table of latin alphabet letters and its magical power or deep meaning?
i'm quite interested in this subject...