My brother may just be the smartest and most naturally gifted person I know. Most of the time when he shares one of his tidbits of fascinating knowledge (which is all the time, I might add) in all honesty it goes straight over my head, like one of those elaborate, hand-made paper airplanes he would make as a kid and zoom past my head. However, after telling him about my daughter’s upcoming spelling bee, he asked me if I knew the origins of the word “spelling,” and then proceeded to share with me some of the history of the root word “spell.” My interest was piqued; I mean, who other than my brother would have researched the etymology and history of the word “spelling”?? Nonetheless, the more I listened, the more I began to understand why words have such transformative power, and why we must be very careful about what we think and what we say.
I think I speak for most of us when I say that the word “spelling” takes you back to grade school, when you had spelling words that you had to learn and recite and sometimes learn the definition of…right? And, for all intents and purposes, if you were to look up the word “spelling” in any handheld dictionary or online, you would find some variation of this definition: the forming of words with letters. Okay, nothing too surprising about that. But now consider the root word of “spelling”:”spell.” Now things get a little more interesting. For example, an online etymology dictionary lists the following definitions: “to tell, speak”-verb, or “a set of words with magical powers, incantation, charms”- noun (first recorded in the 1570’s). And just for greater clarity, for those of you not familiar with the word “incantation,” in the Wolfram Alpha online dictionary, it is defined as “a ritual recitation of words or sounds believed to have a magical effect.” Did you catch that? ”Magical effect”!
History is the foundation for our present state of existence, and as we know, history repeats itself over and over again. The fact that words have power is as true now as it has been throughout history, and this will always be the case. We must first guard what we allow to enter and dwell in our minds, because what we think about, we will often then speak about, thus directing what we act out. This can be to our benefit, or to our great detriment, depending on the content of our thoughts and our speech.
That being said, remember: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…” – Philippians 4:8-9
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
– Lao Tzu