Recognizing Self & The Other: A Spell of Communication

communication-bannerI don’t remember everything that comes out of my mouth in ritual, particularly Hekate at the Crossroads, after it’s all been said and done.

I know there tends to be some screaming and other vocalizations alongside a fluid river of words.  I’m relatively soft-spoken in person, with an aversion to singing (unless I’m alone in the car) and being loud in general. I remember the screaming because always somewhat of a shock to me.  (That I also manage to do it without wrecking my voice is another surprise.) Nothing is rehearsed or memorized – so while there may be a consistent message, the details can vary significantly depending on who’s in the room.

I recall the words more when people come up to me afterwards and tell me what affected them.  What words made the experience profound or powerful for them.  After the ritual in New Orleans at the Alombrados O.T.O., several different people came up to me to share what struck them most.  It centered around something that went like this:

“Look at each other.  Look into that person’s eyes. See them. Acknowledge them. Recognize them. You are not alone.”

I remember people circling the room, looking into each other’s faces. The temple was a cauldron of stirring energy as people flowed in both directions, making eye contact, nodding, sometimes smiling, faces relaxing. Perfect strangers being open in a shared space, making new connections in the flesh.

It struck me how amazing that something so seemingly simple, could be so powerful and profound.  

It’s something we’re often desperately lacking into today’s society. Remembering that there is a physical body and a spirit on the other side of a screen or phone, or even directly in front of us. We’re often failing at the very thing that helped evolve our brains: communication.

Most of us will say we’re fairly proficient in writing and talking. But communication isn’t just about writing and/or talking to or at someone.  Nope. Rather, communication is about the with factor.  We don’t converse AT someone.  We enter into conversation WITH them.  Which means you must be willing to engage fully – to listen or read their response, then consider and comprehend it before replying.

To make it worse, we often avoid eye-contact in person, unconsciously avoiding to break out of our shells.  Afraid someone may try to sell us something or ask something of us, or be put in an awkward conversation.  True that does happen from time to time, but in our avoidance of the awkward, we isolate ourselves and each other. We get stuck in our own heads, often making ourselves (and others) feel more alone than we truly are. This spirals down further to failure to recognize commonality, that the other is not so different, that the other is us.  Collectively, we all lose power when we fail to acknowledge, engage, and recognize each other.

Communication does seem like a pretty simple thing, but there’s a reason why I consider it an uncommon trait and vital for Witchcraft.  To work magick, we can’t just live in our own heads – we need to interact with the world and each other.  We must understand flow, movement, and reaction – and consider other viewpoints and possibilities.  It can sound difficult to talk with the gods, but I think it’s much harder to talk with each other.

This may all sound terribly abstract to you, so let me put it in the form of some concrete examples.

Etching of Saul & the Witch of Endor, from the mid 1700's
Etching of Saul & the Witch of Endor, from the mid 1700’s

Example: Commenting without reading the post or article.
The other week, I was astounded when one of my posts on the Patheos Pagan Facebook page had a slew of comments – that largely showed people actually read the freaking article.  Why? Because that’s an anomaly of Star Trek proportions.  Far too often it’s a bunch of folks responding to the title, image, or excerpt prompt (which is designed to get folks to get interested enough to read the article.), which gets really embarrassing IMHO.  (Not for me, but for the sake of those clearly commenting without reading). The communication breakdown here is that people are adding input without considering, listening, or thinking. It’s a bit like the bored toddler who goes “mommy, mom, mommy, MOM!” in the hopes that mom will pay attention to them, while mom is busy having an important conversation.  I wonder if folks actually spent more time recognizing the people around them and their own validity, if we’d all be a lot better off.

Example: Talking to everyone BUT the person you have an issue with or a question about. 
“Why is so-and-so person friends with X person on Facebook?”  “Why did that person do/write/say that thing?” – You know the best way to find out? Talk to them directly.  If you sincerely care and it actually *concerns you* and IS your business (versus NOT), then have the ovaries to talk directly to that person (unless obviously it’s a matter of security/harm). Otherwise it probably isn’t any of your business and no one owes you an explanation.

Example: Calling someone out online in a public manner about a personal or private issue.
Is it your goal to cause drama or stir up a wasp nest? Or do you sincerely want to address an issue and solve it respectfully? If it’s the latter,  avoid the dramallama by reaching out to them in person, directly first.  Demonstrate responsible communication.  Again, if you truly care and it actually involves you, bring up the level of respect by being direct, personal, face to face – not a theatrical show for anyone stopping by to rubberneck.  Sure there’s power in raising a storm, but there’s even more power in breaking it down.

What does communication have to do with Witchcraft? It’s about an exchange of energy and intention.  If we are to be effective Witches, then we must not waste energy that could be used for actual work.  We don’t demand power from others – we own our own and come by it naturally.  We don’t have to threaten others to gain what we think to be respect – when we know a mutual exchange of communication fosters loads more respect with far less effort.

How to cast a Spell of Communication around you?
– The people that you normally associate with – friends, family, co-workers – connect with them in person, look into their eyes (in a non-threatening way) when talking with them.  Be sure to actually focus and listen when talking with them.
– Remember that people you don’t know, moving all around you – are not that different from you.

Words have power – don’t use them as weapons unless you truly are willing to handle the consequences.  When possible, foster and illuminate instead.
– If you value someone, be sure to communicate WITH them, not AT them.  Respect them as you wish to be respected.
– Visualize communication as an exchange of energy.  You can assign it color, strength, pattern, etc.  What do you wish to paint?
– Reconnect in the physical, embrace one-on-one discussion.

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