(1/1/02 8:01:52 am)
| Power of Words|
I'm writing a story based on the idea that words contain power, both creative and destructive. I'm familiar with biblical teachings on the power of the spoken word, the most obvious being that God created the universe by His word. I vaguely understand that other cultures agree with the idea of powerful words, magical words, but I'm new to this field. Does anyone have a suggestion, perhaps a book or website that might be useful in researching the power of words?
Thank you so much.
(1/2/02 8:19:12 am)
| Power of Words|
Looking at fairy tales, you will find all kinds of examples of stories in which a key word changes the fate of a hero or heroine. Examples? Rumplestiltskin and Ali Baba, to name just the first two that popped into my head. "Open Seasame" of course has become more than just fairy tale lingo.
Just so you don't forget popular modern culture, there was a book published about 20 years ago , Six Weeks to Words of Power by Wilfred Funk, touting that if one were to extend his vocabulary, he could open doors otherwise closed. You might enjoy reading the intro to that one. Oh and don't forget a discussion of how Shakespeare used something like 20,000 words v. the 5,000 or so most people have in their vocabulary.
So there are really a couple of angles to approach this issue.
More examples of magic words, "mirror, mirror on the wall", coming up. Oh, and don't forget all those other tales regarding the power of the "truth" really words.
(1/2/02 10:30:00 am)
| Power of words|
There's a lot about the power of words in Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea -- kind of Christian mixed with Tao background to it. A great book.
(1/2/02 2:37:01 pm)
| Re: Power of words|
Thank you Elise and Jess.
What about the power of blessing or cursing with the mouth, as opposed to individual words of power? (Sticks and stones may break our bones, and words can certainly harm us.) Perhaps words of prophesy - either of joy or doom- at birth or later. I'm sorry this is so vague. I'm still searching for direction. I appreciate the help.
(1/2/02 2:54:51 pm)
| Power of prophesy or curse|
Ooh, greek mythology is full of the power of prophesy. The story of Hercules is another; Oedipus (look at Theban plays - Sopholcles) is another. There are many good resources for a study of greek mythology. Try a search on the oracle of Delphi for example. Have fun with this.
And don't forget our favorite tale here (it seems), Sleeping beauty, for the power of a curse.
Try some research on the religions and curses of the Caribbean, too. And I believe that some of the African tales have great things about curses in them.
More thoughts later.
(1/3/02 1:50:28 pm)
| Re: Power of Words|
Another good place to look is just about any translation of medieval Japanese tales. They're full of examples of the power of spoken Buddhist scriptures, especially chants of the Sutras, to drive off demons and devils and create miracles. One powerful meditation/chant is simply to say the name of the Buddha over and over. I'm currently reading one such, but the exact title and author/translator escapes me at the moment. I'll look it up as soon as I get home.
(1/3/02 4:46:42 pm)
| Re: Power of Words|
The ancient Celts, I think, held their poets/minstrels in high esteem, partly because they were thought to be seers, and also because the satires or curses they composed could inflict real physical harm on their recipients (blotches on the face, insanity, etc.). 'The White Goddess' by Robert Graves is the only book I can think of that discusses this, but I am sure there must be other (less ponderous) books on the topic.
(1/3/02 9:14:56 pm)
Here it is:
JAPANESE TALES ed./translated by Royall Tyler, Pantheon, 1987
(1/5/02 4:33:23 am)
| Re: Reference|
The power of words is a fairly common phenomenon throughout human history, at least in oral driven cultures. The Celts have been mentioned,where satire was a powerful force as late as Swift. Various First Nations (Amerindian)had strong traditions abut the power of words, especially that of names. Even in modern urban cultures there is a lingering tradition.
As for fairy tales, the first one that comes to mind is Rumplestilsken (I will lay odds I spelled that wrong).
For sources I would suggest looking through back issues of Parabola. I believe they have addressed it on occasion. And I believe that Campbell did some research on it at some point?
(1/5/02 8:07:18 pm)
| Re: Reference|
If you include the power of giving something a name, then you may include another entire layer to the conversation. You move from the realm of abstract to concrete when something is given a name. There has been much critical commentary on the power of a name.
(1/6/02 6:11:52 am)
You may want to look at D.L. Ashliman's site of electronic folklore and mythology texts, particularly under N:
The Name of the Helper. Folktales of type 500, in which a mysterious and threatening helper is defeated when the hero or heroine discovers his name.
Mistress Beautiful (Germany).
Dwarf Holzrührlein Bonneführlein (Germany).
The Girl Who Could Spin Gold from Clay and Long Straw (Sweden).
Tom Tit Tot (England).
Duffy and the Devil (England).
Whuppity Stoorie (Scotland).
Peerie Fool [Peerifool] (Orkney Islands).
The Rival Kempers (Ireland).
Kinkach Martinko (a Slav folktale).
There are links to the stories as well. Hope this helps...
(4/14/02 3:40:37 pm)
| Re: Names...|
and according to some people [ Astralian aboriganis] the world was sung in to ecistance to say nothing of the power of "Spells" The names we are all given have power as well it's just that most of us dont now know there true meaning.
Cats are called by similer sounding names in all cultures because they respond best to sharp high frequenzy sounds.
worrior farmer of the crooked mouth