Yet more on words meaning things; or: sometimes words mean nothing.

It’s within the realm of possibility that I’ve talked about this before, but it’s something that needs repeating from time to time, if only to reassure myself that this works for me and I’m okay with it.

Sometimes there are no words.

When people talk about their relationship with their gods and spirits, the messages and omens they get, the communication, etc., the language is necessarily peppered with words like “I saw X,” and “He said this thing here,” and “I heard that phrase there,” and so on. If we were to rank the most common of the senses in order of their strength, I’ve no doubt that visual and auditory input rank high for the majority of people.

When it comes to how my brain works, how I learn, how my impressions of things are filtered, and especially with regard to my interactions with the gods and spirits, I don’t hear things — generally. I don’t see things — generally. Instead, what I experience is an almost ephemeral sort of feeling, of impressions.

It’s hard to explain. It’s exactly the same way in which I write and read. I was speaking to Beth about that just last week — when I read, I don’t hear the words in my mind. I don’t think in words (it’s said that most people don’t think it words anyway), and she does hear the words when reading, which is part of why I read so much faster than she does. It gets harder to explain because, since I’ve been reading and writing for so long, and since they’ve had such a prominent place in my life, and since I haven’t really spent a lot of time trying to dissect why it works the way it does, I have very rapid, very fluent translation from impulse/impression/sensing to English words. In my spiritual practice, it’s the same. I can sit and have an exchange with Poseidon that is all impulse/impressions and I can translate the experience into something that will allow me to communicate with others about it.

The difference in how spirits can and do communicate is important to note. In my experience, for example, some are more verbal than others. Odin, for example, has no problem using words with me (which I mostly don’t hear but rather are suddenly are of, like having conversations directly uploaded into my head, rather than having them be spoken) and when I was getting used to having Him in my life, my ways of communicating with Poseidon because a lot more difficult.

Because by and large, Poseidon does not use words with me. Not only that, but the way in which He communicates changes based on conditions that I cannot name or predict. Most of the time, it’s a matter of paying attention to impressions and impulses, and emotions both strong and subtle that may not be mine. Other times, it’s a matter of memories conjured up fresh, often by scent. Not infrequently, it’s a matter of my stretching myself and reaching for Him, and a sense of absence that makes me work to pull the connection between us up into my awareness on my own. In two decades spent worshipping Poseidon, I’ve actually heard aural words *twice*. Interior locutions are more frequent than that but they do not dominate.

My relationship with Odin, and other more verbal beings, has strengthened my interior verbal muscles, so to speak, and both rune work and my experiences with Reiki has helped me strengthen my ‘visual’ muscles, so these are things I *can* do . . . but they are added languages that I’ve worked hard to acquire, they are not my native tongue by a long shot, and more than Anyone else, Poseidon speaks to me in my native tongue. I wonder, time to time, if my native tongue isn’t inherently closer to His native tongue than either of our native tongues are close to words and sight.

Moral of the story: I know I’m not alone in this, and since I know I’m not alone in this, I know other people are not alone in this. It can be frustrating to see so much short hand when people speak of talking to their spirits or hearing their spirits — and some people mean just that, but I suspect “speak” and “hear” are often stand-in words meant to simply convey “communication”.

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17 thoughts on “Yet more on words meaning things; or: sometimes words mean nothing.

  1. It’s true that “saw” and “heard” are often used in shorthand, and often by me, so I’m glad there have been people recently tackling the issue for those who may be a bit confused about it all. The terminology is pretty loaded, but I’ve yet to find a more appropriate way to convey the communication, that is also as concise as “I saw X” or “I heard Y”. I don’t have it in me write a caveat before every post that details some spiritual or divine communication.

    • Just so I’m clear, the above post wasn’t intended to come across like a rant against terminology used. I completely get why it’s used, and I use it myself. Every now and again, though, I’m exposed to people who are stuck at those terms and having a hard time thinking beyond them, or trying to squash themselves into fitting into those terms, and I think it’s important to put out there the idea that, for some, they just make (heh) communication easier. We’re already describing pretty hard-to-put-into-words concepts as it is; using common and concise words only makes sense.

      I’ve been the person finding fault with how I’m wired because it doesn’t match up with how it sounds other people are wired for these things, and while it has thankfully been a while since I was there, it’s something I want to bring up from time to time because I think it could be useful for others.

      I don’t believe folks should have to write a disclaimer or caveat before every post or writing on divine communication, for what it’s worth. It rather takes away from the writing in question. To a point, I think it should be understood that what communication looks like for everyone is going to be different and individual. It’s only that, now and again I’m reminded that it’s not necessarily understood, and so I’m inspired to write posts like the above post.

      • Oh, I totally get why you wrote it, and I’m grateful. Like you say, there are folks out there who try so hard to fit into the molds that they may mistakenly believe these terms are pushing. Divine communication is a highly individual thing, and there needs to be reminders of this fact posted from time to time. It helps. A similar post years ago also helped me.

      • Whew. I thought I did a decent job talking about what I was trying to talk about, but it was also after not a lot of sleep, and with a migraine, and my brain was all tornado-brain. So then I wasn’t sure. “Aw, crap, did I come across like a jerk??” But, no, so good. Thanks.

  2. I’m one of those who often uses words related to normal senses when discussing the interactions I have with the non-corporeal beings in my life. I have no idea what other words to use because I don’t think we have the right words in English.

    • I think we sort of have to use words related to normal senses, really. And it makes sense that the emphasis is going to be on the majority’s strongest senses. It’s possible that I’m sensitive to it also because vision is not my strongest sense, by any means; I’m much more keyed in to auditory input and scents, for example. “Hear” and “see” are the simplest ways of expressing one’s experiences; I get that. This post was intended not as a slight against those using “not precise terminology” (quotes because I do think that it’ll always be a struggle to get such things into words, and we all do the best we can) so much as an illumination(? not the word I want, but it’s the only one coming to mind) for those who do not communicate in that way and may not realize that there are others who also do not communicate in that way and yet use words like “hear” and “see” when describing their divine communications.

  3. I’m going to reblog this; I think it’s an excellent reminder to people (especially people fairly new to deep interactions with their gods) that there is more to spiritual communication that sight and hearing. Although I am strongly oriented towards both those sense, when I made an effort to expand my use of other methods of perception it greatly enriched me own spiritual experiences.

  4. Reblogged this on Wytch of the North and commented:
    An excellent reminder from Naiadis (especially important for those who are fairly new to deep interactions with their gods) that there is more to spiritual perception than sight and hearing. Although I am strongly oriented towards both those senses, when I made an effort to expand my use of other methods of perception it greatly enriched my own spiritual experiences.

  5. I am one of those people who thinks in words for the most part, that makes so much of Pagan writings and exercises hard to navigate (just visualize blah blah, I’ll kill you…).

    Hmm, if I had to be more specific about how communication actually occurs instead of using convenient terms like see and hear…its a lot of thought (downloaded conversations, probably kind of like you said) and feeling, and by feeling I mean instinct more than emotion (emotion *can* happen, but not often, its one of my weaker senses, instinct is much stronger). He uses a lot of the same channels that my creative inspiration comes through, since those are open and available no matter what state the rest of me might be in.

    It is nice sometimes to see people with different wiring weighing in on stuff like this. It can be frustrating when things don’t come to you the way you’re told to expect it (and if you’re having additional problems, it can be one more doubt to pile on). Always good to know it isn’t just you. 🙂

    • (just visualize blah blah, I’ll kill you…)

      d00d! Laughing here. Too funny.

      It *is* good to know you aren’t alone, even if what you are doing is not quite like what everyone else is doing.

    • A little spooky — I’m listening to Dar Williams’ The Ocean, which obviously makes me think of Poseidon, but it also makes me think of *you*, and poof, you commented! Yay!

      And, likewise; meeting you when I did helped with that a lot. I think you were one of the first people I met that I talked to that was similar in this way, rather than just knowing of people existing who were similar in this way. At least, you’re the first one that I remember; there may have been others I came across on message boards back in the day, but I don’t remember specific people.

  6. Thank you for this.

    Most of my interactions with the gods seem to be in dreams, or in the in between times. The interactions that happen when I’m not sleeping, falling asleep, or just waking up are more like random imagery/impressions of things that seems to just pop into my head, unbidden, and I’m left wondering, ‘Why did I just think/visualize that all of sudden? Huh…what does that mean?’ more than actually seeing or hearing things in words like some others do.

    It’s nice to know that there are other valid ways of experience. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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