Whether you call it the Law of Attraction, Intention Manifestation, Calling Upon the Gods or just plain Magick, the advice is the same:
- Don’t use negatives. Phrase your intentions positively for the best results. Don’t say “I don’t want to be alone”, say “I am with Bob”; don’t say “I don’t want to live in the ghetto”, say “I am living in a comfortable home.”
- Be specific. Avoid generalizations like “I want everyone to have what they want”; it’s much more effective to list out the individuals and their particular desires.
- Don’t live in the past, don’t live in the future. Phrase your intentions as if they were already taking place now.
You can see all these laid out along with a bunch of other great tips, in this article. I can attest that my personal manifestations work better when I follow these guidelines.
Why all this worry about negation, specificity, and past and future tense? Why should Spirit care how we phrase our spells?
Well, part of it surely is because these phrasings affect our emotional states, and these emotions are the prime energy for intention manifestation. The more emotion you put in, the stronger the effect.
But this can’t be the whole answer. After all, it’s perfectly possible to generate piles of positive emotion behind an intention, and yet phrase it in an awkward, past-tense, negation-riddled sentence. You can put exactly the same emotion behind “I’m never going to smoke again!” as “I’m giving up smoking right now!”, but the second sentence is more effective.
It’s an odd thing. Surely Spirit is wise and crafty enough to understand simple English! Why does it impose these restrictions?
Set that puzzle aside for a moment and turn with me to phonosemantics.
Phonosemantics, described in considerable detail here, is the correspondence between the raw sounds of speech — consonants, vowels, syllable structure — and deep, organic, spiritual meanings of words. In phonosemantics, a syllable is a kind of sentence that describes the movement of spiritual energy. A simple sound like sac tells a story of directed energy moving in a balanced, even way into some kind of containment, while mer is the tale of a manifestation of powerful connective energy. A single syllable, in every language on Earth, always has the same basic structure: a nucleus (a vowel sound) optionally preceded by an onset (a consonant or consonant cluster) and optionally followed by a coda (another consonant or consonant cluster). In phonosemantics, the onset is the source or beginning of the energy, the start of the little story; the nucleus tells something about the quality of the spiritual energy involved (connective, balanced, rising, etc.); and the coda is the result, the end of the story. If there’s more than one syllable, then the primary syllable (the one with the most stress) tells the most important part of the story, and preceding syllables say something about what happened before, and following syllables say something about the results.
All the various meanings of consonants and vowels are laid out in a general way on the same Phonosemantics page I pointed to before, courtesy of the pioneering researcher in this field, Margaret Magnus.
Now I noticed after a few weeks of working with phonosemantics that there was an odd thing missing from the list of sound meanings. There’s no way to say NOT.
(Do you see where this is going already?…)
Never Say Never
You can reverse a phonosemantic sentence by reversing the sounds in the syllable. And some of the sounds seem kind of like opposites: “p” is a single location, while “t” is a path, for example. But that’s not the same as negating it. There’s no way of saying “not p“. If you don’t want “p”, you have to just leave it out of your syllable.
In English, and many other related Indo European languages, the first natural candidate for a “negation” sound would have to be “n”. After all, it appears in no, not, nowhere, no one, neither, negative, negation, never, nohow, nobody, nix, etc. But it also appears in lots of words that aren’t negative at all: new, nascent, nest, know, now, anyone, nineteen, nice… “N”, in fact, has to do with narrowing: energy that had been spread wide is gathered up and directed, narrowed, toward a target. There’s nothing inherently negative about it.
A study of the most common negative morphemes in English — no, not, and un- — shows a hint of what’s going on here. In each of these cases, the phonosemantic story being told is of energy that is being gathered up and directed downward — towards earthiness, wholeness, groundedness. In a way, the energy is being dissipated by being sent into the Earth, like a lightning rod does with a bolt of lightning.
This is the closest that phonosemantics can get to saying “no”: sending the energy elsewhere.
Other Logical Operators
Linguistically, negation (no, not, un-, etc.) is part of a class of linguistic structures called logical operators. These are familiar to you if you know any computer languages: they’re things like if, then, because, while, each, all, some, every, as well as relative and interrogative pronouns who, what, when, where, how, why. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m also going to include tense operators, like past tense, future tense, and the like; and even some adverbs like often or always. Although technically these are not logical operators, they pattern the same way in the sense described below.
The general function of logical operators is to take some specific instance — say, “Jeff likes children” — and change some kind of “meta-data” about it. For example, is the sentence true or false? Is it happening now, or in the past, or not yet? Is it true over all cases everywhere, or just some of the time? Different answers will give you slightly different sentences:
- Jeff doesn’t like children.
- Jeff likes all, some, most children.
- Jeff likes children who aren’t too sticky.
- Jeff always liked children.
Notice: just as phonosemantics has no way of representing negation, it has no way of representing any of the other logical operators, either. There’s no way to provide this kind of meta-data about your syllabic message. If you want to say directed energy moving in a balanced, even way usually into some kind of containment, you’re out of luck.
Phonosemantic meanings are always positive, specific, and timeless. Just like spells and intentions are supposed to be.
The Language of Spirit
So is phonosemantics the same as the Language of Spirit?
Let’s be honest: I have no idea. But imagine if that were the case. Then every syllable out of your mouth is a spell — a fully formed expression of intention manifestation. But Spirit doesn’t hear the specific meanings; instead, it’s hearing the energetic flows embodied in those words. When you mutter to yourself, “Gotta pick up the milk,” Spirit hears you intending a flow of energy — one that includes the grounding of “gotta”, the localizing of “pick up”, and the manifestation in “milk”. When you curse, the combination of raw emotion and the spiritual syllables is a powerful spell of the first order. When you call out to your child, or whisper her name at night, Spirit hears that name as an embodiment of her life’s purpose and path.
Don’t take this to mean that you’re out there unintentionally casting powerful spells. If you speak without much emotional force, I doubt if your words have much of an effect outside the immediate visible world. But if you speak with enough emotion and intention, every syllable carries weight.
There are other ramifications. Common components of intentions like “for the good of all” may not be as effective as we’d like to hope, simply because “all” isn’t a word that Spirit can really “understand”. (Can you really understand it? Can your mind encompass “all”?) This isn’t to say the statement has no effect; it definitely packs a certain emotional punch, a sort of fullness of gratitude and generosity, that can’t be missed. But the literal meaning may be lost. It’s simply not specific enough. You might do better to say “the Earth” or “the Universe”.
You might also want to avoid things like “more”, as in “more money” or “more happiness”. Again, it’s a logical operator, it’s vague, and it refers to some unknown future time. Instead, try “increasing money” or “increasing happiness”, which is specific, measurable, and refers to the present.
But don’t get discouraged if all of this linguistics sounds complicated. The whole point is that Spirit is listening to your feelings and the sounds you’re making. Keep your words simple, concrete, and positive, as if you were speaking to a child.
Children are, after all, closer to Spirit than we are, in many ways. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that logical operators are among the last elements of language to be learned by children around the world. My six-year-old daughter still gets “why” and “because” mixed up half the time, bless her. Maybe the language of Spirit is a child’s native tongue.
The Voice of Spirit on Earth
As I’ve discussed at some length elsewhere, there are two basic kinds of religions (with a continuum between them): old religions and new religions. Better names for them might be organic religions — religions that arose over many millenia, growing slowly and gathering into them the wisdom of untold generations of seekers, shamans, and storytellers — and revealed religions — religions that came into being relatively quickly, usually with the insight of just one or two luminaries, to whom the Truth was revealed, and whose words were written down for posterity. As a revealed religion ages, it gradually takes on more and more characteristics of organic religions, although there are frequently “revival” movements that try to return them to their simpler original forms.
Because revealed religions are indeed much simpler than organic religions. They frequently feature only one diety, with one set of laws, just a few morality stories, and so forth. And they frequently contain all-encompassing, universal principles like “Only through me can you be saved” and “All experience is Suffering”, not to mention sets of enumerated rules for all people to live by.
Organic religions aren’t like that. Usually it’s impossible for anyone to say exactly how many gods there are, much less lay out universal principles of behavior or Truth. The stories are uncountable and the morals they tell are sometimes contradictory (at least on the surface). They are unsystematic and unprincipled.
Humans (or at least, grown-ups) like universal principles, clear laws, and logical belief systems. This may be why revealed religions are so popular. But if I’m right about any of this, Spirit doesn’t play that game.
Each of us is on our own individual path through this world; and in each new situation we encounter, we are changed, and the world is changed as well. How can any set of rules hold for all people, for all time? Even a simple commandment like love your neighbor, which would seem to be good advice regardless of circumstances, excites a different stirring for each of us, and its import changes as we age and learn more meanings for the word love.
Instead, each of us must listen to our own hearts and make a quiet space so that the voice of Spirit can speak to us in its own way: specific to our circumstances, positive and uplifting, present, and timeless.