Words As . . .

‘Words As’ is our regular guest posting. We invite creatives of all ilks to respond to the prompt ‘words as’. This month we welcome author Lois Spangler to the page to share her thoughts.

Welcome Lois.

Words as. . . .

Words as what? Fundamentally, words are the bits of language that mean a discrete thing. Go any smaller, and now you have sounds, which are important, but don’t convey a concept themselves. Even prefixes and suffixes don’t quite do it — they rely on the trunk word to have any relative meaning.

Like atoms, you string them together into molecules and you get sentences. A word is potential; it’s informed by other words in a cluster of themselves, and each one contributes to a communicative quality. So, words as chemistry?

Maybe. The word as an atom, the sentence as a molecule. The paragraph as a matrix, and the chapter as a recognisable component of a larger and relatively homogeneous whole. Can a book be a slab of limestone? Or better, can it be a near limitless combination of things — wood and plastic, a carburettor and a smartwatch, separate but near enough to each other to build some meaning? Stephen King has described writing as an act of personal archaeology, revealing things in one’s own mind in the building of a story.

But this approach is limited. Why? We’re talking about stories, which is a separate subject, but stories aren’t the only things words can convey. In this metaphor, where does poetry fit in? Words in poetry convey story sometimes, but often they convey a feeling, a deep inchoate sense of a moment or a state. And they often do it while flouting the rules of prose language. These things aren’t story, but they are just as important.

Poetry aside, we haven’t even considered the quotidian roles for words, like contracts and technical manuals. How do they fit in? In a sense, the chemistry metaphor still stands. A contract tells a story in the imperative, in a way, and so does a manual. The former sets up expectations, and the latter offers guidance.

Maybe we’re still too narrow, or maybe we’re still too broad. Let’s try again.

Words as. . . .

…Words as currency? This implies that words have value, which isn’t entirely incorrect. But it also implies that they can be offered in exchange for non-word things, and this isn’t incorrect either. But can you hoard words? Shore up words like you would in a bank, giving you clout in society in the same way money would? Can you invest words and expect a return?

In a sense, yes. And this is where we’re beginning to narrow in on the metaphorical heart of words. Words as wisdom. Even the emptiest phrases stand to teach us something, defining meaning through the negative space of their own intentions. And the things words teach can be very small in scope, or very large; and that scope doesn’t need to be directly related to stakes.

But even though words contain wisdom, can be hoarded and exchanged, they don’t come into being on their own. They need authors. And for words to function at all, they need an audience. They need us.

Words as us.

Words are some of the closest things to magic we have in this world. I want to share something that is in my mind, a thing that is separate from other living beings. Words let me do that, however imperfectly. They let me offer a little bit of me to you. They’re not proxies, they’re not representatives; they are an imperfect mosaic of myself that I send out into the world, and that you interpret under your own contexts and experiences.

While words can divide, they can unite. While they can alienate, they can also welcome. So with these final words, I welcome you to this shared space, with words as us, and invite you to continue the conversation.

Lois Spangler is a writer, editor, and translator who’s been making stuff up since 1976. When not knee-deep in words, she’s hanging out with friends or stabbing other friends in an historically Spanish style. She maintains a very infrequently updated blog at storytrade.net, and sometimes says things on Twitter as @Incognitiously. Learn more about that historical Spanish style at bsis.club.

SPARK: Words As…

SPARK is a monthly joint post exploring a single idea from multiple bite-sized perspectives. This month we invited the first of our guest contributors to The JAR to explore the ‘words as’ motif  Adam, Rus and Jodi traversed in earlier posts.

Welcome Christina Hira and Cara Moulds.

Christina Hira

I have been exploring and deepening my creativity, specifically poetry, over the last 4 years. There are many beautiful things that have arisen out of this curious journey of weaving words, but there are two main ones I want to write about here.

Firstly, poetry has allowed all the pieces of myself to have a seat at the table.

There is no other home I have found where I do not have to deny parts of my being. I can bring any version of myself to my creative desk and I am welcomed. Every thread of emotional chaos, every shame I have hidden deep within my bones, every insecurity about why I am here. Nothing is forbidden.
Religion has only ever invited my spirit. Spirituality only wants me when I am happy. Self-development allows my mess on the condition that I am evolving into something better.
But the words. The words only ever make me a cup of tea and witness. They allow space for my darkness, my mess and the totality of my emotional and human experience.

Secondly, poetry is not a solution.

The wonderful thing about crafting a poem is that I can take the chaos of my experience and stir words until they match how I feel; until they reveal something beautiful. And it doesn’t solve anything.

I think in a society that is always adamant on fixing everything, one which tells you that you are only worthy in your mess if you are on your way to growing out of it, having space where you can be seen without the expectation of transformation is expansive.

For me, poetry is not a cure.

It is a lake I fall down next to on a clear night. One which piques my curiosity and invites me to muster up all the courage I have to carve a path to where the moonlight is most strongly reflected on the surface. To look in and see myself, to allow the lake to hold a space where the ripples soothe just enough and what is revealed is often way more beautiful than what I thought it would be. And yet I still have to leave the lake behind and return along the path I came.

Poetry creates a space where I have permission to exist exactly as I am.

Cara Moulds

Masaru Emoto’s water crystal experiments showed that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. Water exposed to loving thoughts resulted in beautiful crystal formations, while water exposed to fearful, hateful thoughts resulted in disfigured molecular formations.

Thoughts are words unspoken. We are mostly water. What happens if we intentionally transform the water we are made of? Does that make us magic? Does it make our words magic?

Wayne Dyer taught that thoughts become things. Change your thoughts to change your life. How? By transforming the molecular structure and energetic vibrational field of your body in the same way that thoughts transform water molecules. Then that vibrational field attracts more of the same vibrational experiences based on the law of attraction, and the life you’re living transforms.

All based on the words you’re thinking and speaking. Your words are not only powerful, they’re magic.

Magic: the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious forces.

Except it’s not really mysterious anymore.

“I AM” is the most powerful phrase to connect to source energy and tap into the magic of words to become a conscious creator. Think about how many “I am” statements you make every day without even thinking about it. I am tired/sick/miserable/busy/stuck/stupid/overwhelmed.

Or I am happy/healthy/inspired/creative/powerful/divine.

Without realizing it, you are speaking your reality into being. I host women’s circles and lead meditations. When people are first learning to meditate, their greatest difficulty is stopping the thoughts/words running through their head, the monkey mind that replays the same fears and self-doubts that keep us small and disempowered. Tapping into the power of positive affirmations is one way to still the negative monkey mind and use the magic of words to change your life. Create I AM statements from your highest, divine, source-energy self.

We create vision boards in our women’s circles. They are always a mix of images and words, words that call out to each woman as she is ripping through magazines. Very often, they don’t know why they’re choosing specific words, but they follow their feelings. They are often surprised when we follow up after a month or two and they realize how the images and words on their vision boards have already manifested in miraculous ways. Like magic!

Just as daily words can transform the structure of water, so can the daily words you see in a vision board and state in your affirmations transform your life.

Because words are magic.

Our Guest Contributors

Christina Hira (@wild.dark.magic) is a poet living in New Zealand. She believes in creativity and black coffee. Both of which help her survive the chaos of mothering a three year old. Her poetry is fuelled by a curiosity of human behaviour and her current favourite method is cutting up books and rearranging words to find the unexpected connections.


Cara Moulds is a spiritual coach for awakening midlife career women feeling called to reconnect to their soul and jumpstart their creativity. She’s also a writer, high school career coach, and co-founder of Mind Body SHE, a networking group for midlife career women in Baltimore. She has built her career over the last 27 years in education as a former National Board Certified English teacher and high school administrator. At the height of her career success, she suddenly found herself wondering “Why am I doing all of this?” A lifelong spiritual seeker and personal development junkie, she embarked on her own Heroine’s Journey to redefine success on her own terms.