I Had a Few Words With The Bad Witch and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?

Hamlet: Words, words, words.

I finally got around to watching What the #$*! Do We Know!? the other day.[1] It articulated much of what I try teaching my apprentices in terms of Quantum Physics, Magick, and “reality.” So, I wasn’t surprised by much of the stuff in this film. But one thing was new; I had never heard of the experiments being conducted by researcher, Dr. Masaru Emoto, chief of the Hado Institute in Tokyo.[2]

Emoto created some experiments on water that validate the influences human consciousness and “intent” has on physical reality; though you and I would likely simply call it “Magick” (duh), this phenomenon has come to be known as the ‘Hado’ effect. Emoto describes it as follows: “Hado is the intrinsic vibration pattern at the atomic level in all matter, the smallest unit of energy. Its basis is the energy of human consciousness.”  Dontcha just love it when they use scientific words to define those things we’ve been talking about forever?

Here’s what happened.  Emoto took some water and directed various thoughts and feelings “at” it. Then he froze the water.  When he “sent loving thoughts and feelings to the water,” the water froze into stunning and highly-organized crystals; however, when he directed negative energy into the water, there were either no crystals at all or there were disorganized and unappealing formations. Surprised? Neither was I. Invoking positive energy causes an equal and corollary reaction.

Momma’s church. The view from her “hill.”

Last weekend I went to an early Beltane ritual where a Reiki Master charged crystals and performed a ritual ending in participants “planting” charged crystals in damaged or ravaged places on Earth.[3]  I have my quartz and I intend to plant it on farms in North Alabama where, a year ago last Friday, tornados ripped through my families’ communities (*literally* just barely missing the homes of my parents and my sister and her family). We do this sort of thing; we call it Chi, Ki, Prana, Life-force. So this part is not a shocker for TBW.

But, the next part is what – ridiculous as it seems – blew my mind. In following experiments, Emoto did nothing more than write a word on a label and place that label on the water container before freezing it. Guess what happened. Same thing. No shit. Why am I surprised? It’s simple sigil Magick in a laboratory in Japan. I know. It’s not that the thing happened that’s got my head twisted, but that I’m starting to think about a lot of possible implications that I never thought about before.[4]

For instance . . .

This got me to thinking about t-shirts. Does the shirt we wear effect the 60-70% of our watery bodies? What about the water vapor on the planet around us? Does wearing a “Bad Witch” t-shirt make one internalize the sentiment? What if the sentiment is intentionally ironic? What matters more – the words or the intent?

Tell me then about tattoos? Huh? How does that work?

I always thought of these things in a psychosocial framework which is influenced by hegemonic values. i.e: I wear my ΠΒΦ t-shirt as part of my external and manifest identity – I want you to see this shirt and think of me in a certain way: as a sorority girl and all of the attendant meanings attached to “Greekness” in a college town like mine (family connections and affluence and certain social values) and more specifically as a member of Pi Beta Phi, and the meaning attached to a nationally respected sorority with a “secretive” past (more money, rigorous study habits, particular aspirations, and less likely to be a “sorostitute” than other girls in other shirts with other attendant meanings).[5] I know you will “read” my t-shirt and I choose to identify myself with its “message.” I have, perhaps, internalized this part of my identity to the point where I no longer imagine myself as making conscious choices about what my shirt says about me. After all, t-shirts do not appear in a cultural vacuum, but, rather, express a cultural engagement with values, attitudes, and concerns of the majority.[6]

But what does the symbol *ΠΒΦ* do to the water in my body? And therefore my body itself? And my brain? And my being? Anything at all? Do I have to be frozen for it to matter? Is freezing water like a wave collapsing into particles when observed? (Holy crap, I’ve talked myself into another “wave collapse” conversation.) In Emoto’s experiments, no one had to look at the labels in order for the crystals to have formed. No one knew which water would receive which label. Emoto did not “invoke” the water with positive/negative emotions. It was merely the presence of the word that caused the change.

I understand this in terms of sigil Magick. I really do. When we have intent. When we invoke, when we purposefully change the energy waves around us, when we charge an item or a bath or a meal with our intent. But I don’t get it in terms of daily, banal, t-shirt-y-ness. Does wearing a shirt that says “Love” affect our physical beings aside from our psychological states and psychosocial perceptions? I would tend to say no – but does Emoto’s experiment suggest that I’m wrong?

Am I having a duh moment? Was this something everybody already figured out and I’m just now stepping in it like a pile of horse pie that everyone else saw laying in the road?

This got me to thinking along another line. A personal line. Once, after a really strange and inexplicably dramatic pitfall in my life, I – understandably – hit a low spot. Not long before I started blogging in earnest. One of the things I did during that time was to take my eyeliner pencil and write all of the negative things said about me and to me on my mirror. Still in my dissertation-mindset, I had the re-appropriation and empowerment of terms like “queer,” “bitch,” and “nigga” on my mind. Using the kind of “magic” the rest of the world still believes in, as I found strategies to positively cope with each term written on my mirror, I would erase it. From Halloween to Mother’s Day the next year, I’m not sure I ever saw my face through anything but a smudge. I thought I had “gotten over” all of that years ago. But now, I’m starting to wonder about a few lingering “side effects” of that low-spot are related to the way I “banished” those words. Have those words “frozen” in me?

This leads to a whole ‘nother conversation about emotional addiction. Part of What the #$*! Do We Know!? looks into the theory that we are addicted to our own emotions (here it is on the YouTubes: http://youtu.be/6BkI8LD24y0). Realizing the chemistry behind emotions – “nerves that fire together, wire together” – can give us the key to changing our (capital *I*) Identity. Like any other addiction, in order to satisfy our biochemical cravings, we have to supply more and more of the neuropeptides that create a cellular response.[7]In other words, we have to keep “ramping it up” in order to feel “satisfied.” But if we could change our cellular reactions we could change our Selves. Could we change our cellular reactions by doing something as simple as writing words on our bodies? This

My arm (leftmost) and the arms of several co-workers on TWLOHA Day, Auburn, 2010.

made me think about To Write Love On Her Arms.

Every year on November 13th , I hand my daughters colored Sharpies, hold out my arms, and say, “Go for it.” They each take an arm and draw entangled hearts and write the word “LOVE” up and down their momma’s blighted wrists. To Write Love On Her Arms (both the foundation and the short story) is about taking the broken in body and spirit, the addicted, and the self-mutilating and covering them in love. In his (admittedly Christocentric) retelling of the experience which inspired the TWLOHA movement, Jamie tells about Renee, who has carved “FUCK UP” on her own body with a razor blade: “she is ours to love . . . . [and we are] coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.” I imagine Renee’s scars and the scars of so many like her. And then I imagine them with LOVE written over them.

And thinking about Renee’s scars made me think about my sister’s (very recent) double-mastectomy and her terror at removing the bandages for the first time to “see” – and suddenly I can’t breathe. I had put all of my energy into thinking about doctors and hospitals and medical outcomes that I forgot to think about being. I forgot to think about t-shirts. Not Susan Koman pink things, just t-shirts in general. And what she will look like when she wears her bathrobe and what she will be invoking when she sinks her body into a tub of water for the first time. Hoping it won’t be “GROSS” and “UGLY,” I urgently want to grab my big sister like I did in the days after those tornadoes left her living and I want to write “BEAUTIFUL” and “ALIVE” all over her.[8]

And I want to write things on me too.

Does this kind of sigil Magick work in real terms? Sure we change based on our imagination of our Self. We internalize what we see. But is there more to it?

Anybody up for an experiment?[9]

I suggest:

  • “Charge” a Sharpie or an eyeliner or something.
    • Better yet – don’t – I like the idea of a “control group” of sorts.
  • Write a word on your body.
    • Better yet – have a trusted companion write a word where you can’t see it – for the “control group” – or is that just a “variable group”?
    • Make a secret sigil if you must (yet another variable group), but I’d like to see what happens with a readable language.
  • Do this at different parts of the day.
  • Tell me what happens.

Blessings, Quarks, and 93,

The Bad Witch

PS – Look! More Quarks!

[1] Writ: Matthew Hoffman, William Arntz, et al. Dir: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, et al. Perf: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix and John Ross Bowie. Medula Films and Captured Light. 2004. Netflix.

The terms are basic and the metaphors are concrete rather than abstract and theoretical as most QP documentaries can be. If QP is hard for you to wrap you head around, I recommend it.

[2] I don’t know what to do with his name. I would call him Dr. Marsura, but the film calls him “Mister Emoto.” Seems all kinds of wrong.

[3] I have my own paradoxical feelings about taking quartz from the Earth, charging it, and then sending it back “with healing energy.” But that’s not a topic for today.

[4] And I keep remembering that, while the universe – especially the Milky Way – probably has plenty of water vapor to speak of and likely has liquid and frozen water (especially on Saturn’s moon), Earth is made up of over 70% water and that we are about 60% water (and the human brain is 70% water at that). If emotion can change water, and we and our planet are mostly water . . . I know – but – it’s – still – I’m . . . . I think I’m just having a weird day.

[5] While I may belong to a number of fraternal organizations, TBW is not a college-based sorority member.

[6] I can choose not to wear a Pi Beta Phi t-shirt and don a Bad Witch t-shirt instead. Alas, I will not subvert said values – I will merely uphold them from the outside. For exteriority confirms that there is an interiority to subvert. Dammit.

[7] According to the film’s scientific talking-heads, the cell is the smallest unit of consciousness in the human being. Ironically, this is something one of my dissertation committee members and I have discussed at length. She has written a book about Rhetoric and cellular production. I painted her a picture of mitochondria when I defended my dissertation. We are toooootal geeks.

[8] But, in the end, I may just get her a t-shirt after all. She hits.

[9] If there wasn’t s’much paperwork involved in human testing, I’d experiment at school.

11 comments on “I Had a Few Words With The Bad Witch and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

  1. Tana says:

    Power of words:

    To some extent, yes. But one got to be careful.
    Such a way of thinking can easily lead into instant insanity. (Or pointless superstition). ‘OMGS! I thought a bad word, now something terrible is going to happen!’

    If words alone had such an outstanding power, a lot of unexplainable things would happen all the time. (Think of internet memes, if nothing else.)

    I think without intent any inherent energy will dissipate rather quickly in the end and is not working towards the goal.

    (Oh, and I do admit that I wasn’t very fond of that movie out of several reasons.)


    Crystals are often mined under terrible conditions, they are torn from the earth, by people merely more than slaves and often the profit from the sales fills the pocket of some warlord.

    I honor the crystals I have. I buy rarely new ones and I am sure as heck not going to bury them in the ground, in the belief that the little charging I could do, would be so much more, than aeons of the elements have done.

    So yes, I have a pretty strong opinion about this. Healing a landscape can be done in a better way. Sending energy directly there for exemple. Soothing the upset spirits of the plants, trying to straigthen the distorted energies, cleaning up and so on.

    So your footnote No. 3 is not paradoxical. 😉

    • As an English teacher (my dissertation was on the rhetoric of gender – more specifically the epideictic formation of masculinity in Cold War era American film), I think that all words have soooooo much power. And as a Ceremonialist, I think that’s doubly so. But I see your point about there being a slippery slope in play. Nevertheless, I’m not talking about banal banter as earth-shakingly, life-alteringly powerful. That’s where the snowball gets rolling.

      But, now that I think about it, I do think that constantly engaging in mindless banter can create a cumulative affect on our world. If one only engages in prattle, that’s likely to be manifest in his or her life.

      More specifically, I was talking about invocation through the simple means of the written word – without High Ceremony. We do it all the time *in* High Ceremony, but I’m curious to see what happens without all the hoopla.

      Thanks for the comments about the crystals. I know that everything done in the ritual was well intended – but I couldn’t get my brain wrapped around the hypocrisy and, to be a Bad Witch about it, ass-backward logic. I’ll play along and “plant” the crystals but that won’t be all I do – or have done – for the land. I’ll also grab my shovel and sift out debris as I have done for a year and will likely continue to do for years to come.

      Maybe I’ll write about The Bad Witch shoveling out the Baptist church – it’s a fun story.

      • Tana says:

        The point in the magical use is ‘intent’.
        That makes a world of difference.

        Getting into negative mode all the time, will affect a person of course.
        But not because of the words used itself.

        Looking forward to the Bad Witch Shoveling post. 😉

  2. Aubs Tea says:

    I had never heard of the TWLOHA movement. Thank you for sharing. in looking it up, I had quite an experience.

  3. Mato Ska says:

    As a Goddess centric pagan I have been slightly off kilter as to the fact the God (Pan/Hern) has become so important in my life over the last 6 months, then I thought; what did I change 6 months ago? I tattooed Pan on my left upper arm. Hmmmm………

  4. Kim Roberts says:

    1. I’d volunteer my current freshman class at the local high school for human testing; they are the least motivated students I’ve had in 25 years. Of, course, they might be lower order primates instead of humans–ring-tail lemurs, perhaps…
    2. Yea! Quarks! Kindergarten physics! Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Truth and Beauty (I know, it was changed to Top and Bottom–but the older names are more poetic).
    3. I think Hado is more scientific than noetics.
    4. I know I have to go buy the book now…

  5. Angela says:

    I heard about Emoto’s experiments many years ago, and much more recently was using his work in a paper I was writing. In the time between, a lot of people had tried to duplicate his results, but found no one could. Also, people are completely picking apart his book as lacking a scientific foundation. A lot of people are calling the whole thing a fraud. I only bring it up so everyone can know more of the full story. I find both sides interesting.

    That being said, I love What the #$*! Do We Know!? and Emoto’s theories. I really agree with them, from a healer’s standpoint. It would be interesting for him to divulge more of his exact experiments, his personal background, etc. Perhaps there was a little more charging and intent in the experiment than anyone realized.

    • I’d like to know a little more about his critics. Could you cite some? It’d be cool to see if he’s being bashed on a scientific level (as you say, we don’t know his methods) or if it’s political.

      What was your paper about?

    • Ali says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard that much of the science in the movie is really pseudo-science. It was an interesting movie, but not something I’d put a lot of stock in.

  6. […] I’m not saying that they aren’t – this is a sincere question. Is what Sally did “Magic”? Sure, it’s akin to what Magicians do on purpose; does the fact that she did it unknowingly and ill-advisedly make it “not Magic”? Is it about “intent” again? […]

  7. […] Though I thought it was a good thought exercise in “I Had a Few Words . . . ,” having revisited What the Bleep . . . , I realize that it too is a crock. […]

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