I am reminded of two commercials… Libby’s and Smuckers. Both finally were honest about the nature of brand-based advertising. In the case of the former the jingle went, “If it says “Libby’s, Libby’s Libby’s” on the “Label Label Label” you will “like it like it like it” on the “Table table table.” Smuckers took the direct approach; “With a name like Smuckers… it’s got to be good.”

Is the name really sufficient to identify something’s worth or quality? The classic “Saturday Night Live” had their response to the name making the Jam But in the 1970s… SNL had a driving and vicious look at the world that has only been rivalled of late by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

So in this worlds where we are seeing the war of Gay Marriage vs. Equal Marriage for all … words as always become weapons of mis-definition and weighted egregore. The great saint George the 14th (For those not keeping count that is George Carlin) said it best that…”There are no bad words… Bad thoughts… but no bad words.”

We use words to define and refine who we are. This can be either by single words that we try to master, own, re-direct, or any other number of verbs. My personal favourite will always be ‘slut.’ This word contemporarily still carries with it darkness or often an ugliness directed at a woman who enjoys having intercourse; often times with more than one partner. There is no gentle word for this behaviour for a woman in English. There is no gentle or even not-so-gentle word for the behaviour in a man. Though sadly, in a man it’s just behaviour that is expected and underwhelming when revealed.

These words can also be sentences, phrases, or oaths. Promises we make to ourselves or to others. I will be this way. I promise to do that thing. I resolve to lose twenty pounds in the New Year. And in truth we find ourselves fixated on the guilt when we either don’t live up to these phrases or worst condemn ourselves when we unconsciously or worse yet consciously break them with intent.

Sometimes we seek definitions to hinder, soften, or deflect other definitions. I am a heterosexual, white, and married male. Each of those words carry the weight of an entire polar opposite group who have members that avidly resent me just for having one of those. For each group represented by one of mine descriptors there are members that have committed (and still commit) great injustices. So, I deflect by finding comforting terminology that subdues each one. I actually consider myself a Queer, Jewish, Pair-Bonded, ummm… err… Okay… Now I mis-quote Meatloaf: “Three out of four ain’t bad.” Well, two out of four.. It’s never okay to admit Judaism… there’s still groups out there that think Semitic Genocide is still a good plan.

Queer? But you said you were hetero?!?! While I’m not going to go fully into my sexual views in this posting (as thanks to the Facebook revolution I now have active co-workers reading my blogs 😉 but suffice it to say; that I tend to view my views as avant-garde and often times challenging to the norm. This ability to see both sides of the line and to try to pull both sides closer has served me well as an ordained priest. Especially when offering pastoral counselling.

Priest? But you said you were Jewish!!! (And now I see the old Giggles and Goggles routine from the Electric Company. And please… This is a show that ran in the 70’s and 80’s. Any programme you saw from the last 5 years calling itself “The Electric Company“… Wasn’t even close. But look… we come back to the power of names and words.

My last post was about the change of my name. It’s interesting how people have reacted to it. There have been the obvious two camps. Those that knew me by my birth name and those that never knew me by that name. Society seems to not really have a strong acceptance for men changing their names at marriage. As I said before, it’s an interesting argument with civil servants who ask for my wife’s birth name but not mine. Of course there is one subset that does stand out, those that were there when the transformation began.

My name change happened outside before it happened on the inside. This is similar to the Watchman character of Rorschach who put on the name until one day something changed inside of him that made him change from being a man calling himself Rorschach to becoming Rorschach even out of costume. I can say with all honesty, The Greg calling himself Andrei was not a great person. He kind of sucked in many, many ways. There are those that probably would never be able to really accept the Andrei I am as I wear Greg’s face and carry the name Andrei. Again, the reference here is to an amazing two-part Doctor Who. The 2nd part “Family of Blood” really hammers home the idea of “The Doctor wearing an identity” while the identity itself has a life of its own.

Doctor Who also gives me another inspiration for this twisted web of the value of a word or name. In one episode we meet creatures that use the power of words to build, control, and destroy. Yet, when they try to use the name of a contemporary woman to kill her, it fails. She is merely rendered unconscious while the creature exclaims that ‘the name has lost its power and meaning to these people.” We’ve come a very far way from the worlds of “Earthsea” where people used public names because their secret names carried so much power over them.

Perhaps in reflection this is a possible reason why the Jews were so hunted and hated. Their entire language and alphabet is built on the Thoth-ian concept of the power of the word and the letter. The Hebrew alphabet is often referred to as the “Alephbet of Flame” as each letter looks like it was breathed out by the Old Testament God him-(white, male, straight)-self. The Hebrew Torah itself is copied by hand so that every letter looks and is placed exactly where it always is required to be. The deepest layers of Hebrew Mysticism come from the power of words and the numbers they represent.

So, while we wish to control words, we must also understand that words have power. A name can be as powerful an identifier as an epithet or slur. But power comes from within as well as from without. We can take on the power of a word as quickly as we can let ourselves be crushed by its weight.

Words are magickal creatures. They have a life and a power of their own. We keep them, we wield then, we use them, and we abuse them. But we have no choice… Words are the doorways to the unspoken magic that transcends the voice of creation and destruction. This is the magick that exists without sound or form. And when we unlock that power… maybe we won’t need words to cause each other harm.