WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THESE WORDS?
Click your heels three times!
Double double toil and trouble!
I’m betting that you recognize we’re in the realm of sorcery. And you immediately know we’re talking about someone with supernatural powers. Because whether it’s a witch or wizard, an illusionist or fairy godmother, you understand at some level that they possess the power of incantation. The power to use language to state what is and will be in ways the rest of us mere mortals can’t.
But wait! What if you could use magical words? What if you did have access to your own version of personal wizardry?
Actually, we all do. And producing it doesn’t require us to join a secret club, swear a blood oath, or be born the seventh son of a seventh son. Quite the contrary. We can tap into this power any time, when we call forth our magician archetype.
Last week I wrote briefly about archetypes, those transcendent stories, myths, images, patterns, and symbols that are hardwired within us. Our internal cast of characters, if you will, often operating at a deep unconscious level. Carl Jung believed that the human psyche is like an iceberg, and the parts that we see and know are just the tip of said iceberg. Which means a vast amount of who we are resides in the watery depths beneath the surface.
So go ahead, dive in, the water’s fine. Well, maybe a little cold, but you’ll get used to it.
And as a matter of fact, if you’re looking to hook up with your magician archetype, you’ll find scads of raw material all around you. Because the magician archetype is alive and well in movies, literature, and television. We’re surrounded by it. Think Harry Potter. Twilight. Simon Cowell. (Okay, I’m only halfway kidding about him. Stick with me and I think you’ll see what I mean).
Not surprisingly, the magician archetype is about transformation, both positive and negative (more in my next post about the negative stuff). When we’re in its grasp it pushes us to listen to intuition, pay attention to synchronicity, and act on hunches and sometimes hazy impressions.
Sounds interesting, right? But how do we do that?
For most people this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s all well and good to imagine our inner transformative powers, but it gets confusing when we try to actually bring them out into the real world. After all, most of us aren’t blessed with Merlin’s supernatural powers, or for that matter, even a standard issue crystal ball.
But what we do have is WORDS. We have the POWER OF NAMING to transform seemingly ordinary, even limiting, ideas or situations into extraordinary possibilities.
Which is exactly what Simon Cowell does. He names people, who they are and what they will be, in a seer-like way. Of course he doesn’t always focus on possibilities. And that’s the danger when we let other people name us.
But it’s equally dangerous to shrink from those magicians in our lives who have a second sight about us, who name us not for who we are but who we will be. My most vivid memory of this is from the end of grad school, after I’d spent months researching, writing, and talking about creativity and transition. I was chatting with one of my peers at a party, and he said, “I saw an article the other day and thought of you, because you’re the expert on creativity.”
Can you guess what I did? I retreated a little, stumbling over myself, “Well, you know, not really, I mean, come on, um, lots of other people…” My words faded out, and I’m sure this lovely man thought I was a bit addled. But at that point in my life, I didn’t yet understand the power of naming and being named.
I learned a lot in the ensuing years, though. In the very first group I facilitated (for creative souls), one of the participants told us about a tribe in Africa that had a magnificent response to compliments: “YOU’RE RIGHT. THANK YOU.” Our group broke into goofy laughter at this, but soon we all began practicing it. It felt good!
Mind you, this power of naming, in its genuine form, is not about ego or bluff or bluster. It’s more like crossing a bridge that you didn’t quite know you were on. An experience of finding your own voice.
A moment when you have clarity about who you are and you express it in some way to the world at large (or accept it when another magician expresses it for you).
I had an unexpected rendezvous with this a while back. For several years, my husband and I trotted ourselves around to conferences, events, and other such affairs, doing a series of (unpaid) workshops. We learned a whole lot, upping both our competence and confidence in the process. So at some point we started wondering about the next step. Could we get paid? Maybe a professional development institute? A seminar? Or a keynote presentation? That seemed big. Pretty much unreachable, given the usual suspects at these shindigs.
Then an extraordinary thing happened. A call came, out of the blue, asking me to coordinate a creativity lab at a national conference. And part of my job was recruiting a bunch of swell creative types, and putting the program together with their bios. As I was finishing it, cutting and pasting everyone’s bio, I got to the last one – mine. For a few seconds my fingers hovered over the keyboard, then they suddenly moved into frantic action, typing words that seemed not to even originate with me: “…and she presents seminars and keynote presentations with her husband.”
At that moment I finally got it, this power of naming. And I’m absolutely convinced it was an encounter with my magician, because in the next two years we did three professional development institutes and a keynote presentation before an audience of 400 people.
Most of my own magical naming experiences have been around purposeful work and my callings. But as I’ve seen in my work with others, naming can show up in any area of life. I’ve witnessed a young, uncertain woman about to turn 30 name herself as an adventurer, and take off on a cross country RV trip. And a woman at midlife proclaim herself as someone who has a right to ask for her needs to be met. And a man about to retire announce himself a marathon runner.
And as you’ve no doubt noticed, you don’t have to traipse very far into the blogosphere to discover many outposts where the magic power of personal naming is alive and well.
As powerful as these individual naming experiences can be, however, there’s also another form of naming, that proclaims something larger. Naming that takes us out of our individual stories and into our sense of collective possibility. You’ll find a great illustration of this if you click over to the halfway point. Last week Belinda Munoz named a new movement that’s brewing: Can You Feel the Change? It’s a superb and inspirational act of both personal and community wizardry, so check it out.
So how about you? What’s your experience of your inner magician? How has the power of naming shown up in your life? And what do you choose to name as your own true voice?
(p.s. Stay tuned for my next installment about the other side of the magician: Dark Magic and the $97 Book).
WHY NOT START NOW?