The Magic of Language

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Sleight of Mouth has to do with the magic of words and language. Language is one of the key components from which we build our mental models of the world, and can have a tremendous influence on how we perceive and respond to reality. Verbal language is a characteristic that is unique to the human race, and is considered to be one of the major factors that distinguishes humans from other creatures. The great psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, for example, believed that words were the basic instrument of human consciousness and, as such, had special powers. As he put it:

Words and magic were in the beginning one and the same thing, and even today words retain much of their magical power. By words one of us can give another the greatest happiness or bring about utter despair; by words the teacher imparts his knowledge to the student; by words the orator sweeps his audience with him and determines its judgments and decisions. Words call forth emotions and are universally the means by which we influence our fellow-creatures.

Sleight of Mouth patterns come from the study of how language has been, and can be, used to impact people's lives. Consider, for instance, the following examples:

A police officer receives an urgent summons to a local residence to handle a reported incident of domestic violence. The police officer is on alert, because she knows that it is in these types of situations that she is actually in the most physical danger. People, especially violent, angry people, don't want the police interfering in their family affairs. As she approaches the apartment, the police officer hears shouting and screaming coming from inside. A man is yelling loudly, and the officer hears the sound of various objects being broken along with the terrified screams of a woman. Suddenly, a television set comes crashing through the front window, smashing into pieces on the ground in front of her. The police officer rushes to the door and begins to pound on it as hard as she can. She hears an enraged male voice from inside the apartment shouting, "Who in the hell is that!" Eying the pieces of the mangled television set spread over the ground, the police officer blurts out, "Television repairman." There is a moment of dead silence inside the apartment. Finally, the man breaks out in laughter. He opens the door and the police officer is able to make her intervention, avoiding any further violence or physical confrontation. She later reports that those two words were as useful as months of training in hand-to-hand combat.

A young man is hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of a mental facility, suffering from the delusion that he is 'Jesus Christ'. He spends his days unproductively, wandering the ward and preaching to other patients who pay no attention. The psychiatrists and aides have had no success whatsoever in their attempts to persuade the young man to give up his delusion. One day, a new psychiatrist arrives. After observing the patient quietly for some time, he approaches the young man. "I understand that you have experience as a carpenter," he says. "Well . . . yes, I guess I do," replies the patient. The psychiatrist explains to the patient that they are building a new recreation room at the facility and need the help of someone who has the skills of a carpenter. "We could sure use your assistance," says the psychiatrist, "That is, if you are the type of person that likes to help others." Unable to disagree, the patient decides to lend a hand. He becomes drawn into the project, establishing new friendships with other patients and workers who are participating in the construction. The young man begins to develop normal social relations and is eventually able to leave the hospital and find a stable job.

A patient awakens from surgery in the recovery room of the hospital. She is visited by the surgeon, who is to inform her of the results of the operation. Still groggy from the anesthetic, and somewhat anxious, the patient asks the surgeon how the operation went. The surgeon replies, "I'm afraid I have some bad news. The tumor we removed was cancerous." Facing her worst fears, the patient asks, "What now?" The surgeon answers, "Well, the good news is that we've removed the tumor as completely as we can . . . The rest is up to you." Spurred by the surgeon's comment, "The rest is up to you," the patient begins a re-evaluation of her life style, and the alternatives that are available to her. She makes changes in her diet and establishes consistent patterns of exercise. Reflecting on how stressful and unrewarding her life has been in the past few years before the surgery, the patient embarks on a path of personal growth, clarifying her beliefs, values and life's purpose. The patient's life takes a dramatic turn for the better, and, years later, she is happy, free of cancer and healthier than she has ever been before.

A young man has been at a dinner party, and consumed several glasses of wine. Driving home in the icy winter weather, he rounds a curve. Suddenly, in front of him he sees a person crossing the street. The young man slams on his breaks, but the car skids, hitting the pedestrian and killing him. For many weeks the young man is in inner turmoil, paralyzed by his distress. He knows that he has ruined one life, and irreparably damaged the family of the man he has killed. He feels the accident has been entirely his fault. If only he had not had as much to drink, he would have seen the person earlier and responded more quickly and appropriately. Becoming more and more deeply depressed, the young man considers taking his own life. At this time, he is visited by his uncle. Seeing the desperation of his nephew, the uncle sits next to him in silence for a few minutes. Then, placing his hands on the young man's shoulder the uncle says simply and honestly, "We walk in danger wherever we walk." The young man feels as if some light has suddenly come into his life. He changes his life path completely, studying psychology and becoming a grief counselor for the victims of drunken drivers, as well as a therapist for alcoholics and people who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He becomes a positive force for healing and change in many people's lives.

A young woman is preparing to go to college. She has looked around at many options, and would most like to apply to a business school at one of the most prestigious universities in her area. She feels, however, that there are so many people attempting to get into that program that she doesn't stand a chance of being accepted. In order to be "realistic" and avoid disappointment, she plans only to apply to some of the more average schools. As she fills in her applications, she mentions her reasoning to her mother, explaining, "I am sure that the big university will be flooded with applications." Her mother replies, "There is always room for someone who's good." The simple truth of her mother's statement inspires the young woman to send in her application to the prestigious university. To her surprise and delight she is accepted, and goes on to become an extremely successful business consultant.

A young boy is struggling to learn to play baseball. He wants to be on a team with his friends, but is unable to throw or catch well, and is frightened by the ball. As the team practices continue, he becomes increasingly discouraged. He tells his coach that he plans to quit because he is a "bad ballplayer." The coach replies, "There are no bad ballplayers, there are only people who are not confident in their ability to learn." The coach stands facing the boy and puts the ball in the youth's glove, and has the boy take it out and hand it back to him. He then takes one step back and gently tosses the ball into the boy's glove, and has the boy toss it back. Step by step, the coach moves a little farther away, until the boy is throwing and catching the ball at a distance with ease. With a sense of confidence that he can learn, the boy returns to practice, and eventually becomes a valuable player on his team.

Each of these examples shares a common feature: a few words change the course of someone's life for the better, by shifting a limiting belief to a more enriched perspective that offers more choices. They are illustrations of how the right words at the right time can create powerful and positive effects.

Unfortunately, words can also confuse us and limit us as easily as they can empower us. The wrong words at the wrong time can be hurtful and damaging.

This book is about the power of words to be either helpful or harmful, the distinctions that determine the type of impact words will have, and the language patterns through which we can transform harmful statements into helpful ones.

The term "Sleight of Mouth" is drawn from the notion of "Sleight of Hand." The term sleight comes from an Old Norse word meaning "crafty," "cunning," "artful" or "dexterous." Sleight of hand is a type of magic done by close-up card magicians. This form of magic is characterized by the experience, "now you see it, now you don't." A person may place an ace of spades at the top of the deck, for example, but, when the magician picks up the card, it has "transformed" into a queen of hearts. The verbal patterns of Sleight of Mouth have a similar sort of "magical" quality because they can often create dramatic shifts in perception and the assumptions upon which particular perceptions are based.

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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