(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede. See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)
Soft of eye, light of touch, speak little; listen much
Soft of Eye
Soft of eye is exploring perception. It is plumbing our own inner depths, and achieving something more than a static model of looking at the world.
All of us are consciously aware, when we focus our vision. Honing our gaze to a fine point, to discern what we are looking for. Such as searching for an item within a puzzle. This type of fine focus, is used during periods of high concentration. It also references a person who is overly critical or judgmental. Such as the metaphors stemming from " long hard gazes" or taking a "hard look". During this type of activity, the eyes tense, the body develops a rigidity, and everything perches upon on edge. Careful someone doesn't tip you over!
Soft of eye, on the other hand is a different way of viewing the world. In "The Second Ring of Power" Carlos Castaneda writes that his teacher Don Juan , taught him to open his view, and flood his awareness, by taking the focus off of any particular object, and keeping them unfocused just above the line of the horizon. In doing this he had to feel with his eyes, everything in the 180-degree range in front of him.
Tai Chi and Aikido Masters also teach this same lesson. Through use of a softer focus, the ability to stay calmly aware of all of ones surrounding, and take and easier, less judgemental viewpoint, Masters were able to counter attack after attack from all directions. We all have seen examples of this from martial arts demonstrations to movie magic. It seems that the master is moving in slow motion. He is. The magick to this, is the change of focus, which in effect changes the master' s perception of the world, allowing him to entered into an altered state of consciousness. All things are visualized and realized, allowing for thoughtful right action, as opposed to hurried reaction. Starhawk defines magick as the changing of consciousness at will. Welcome to Magick 101.
Parker Palmer in his book "The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teachers Life" wrote that he made a conscious effort to help himself and his students develop soft eyes when confronted with something new. " I believe it will allow all of us to have more authentic responses and think new thoughts."
Parker also went further writing that soft eyes were an evocative image for what happens when we gaze on sacred reality. Our eyes are now open and receptive, able to take in the worlds greatness and the grace of great things. "Eyes wide with wonder we no longer need to resist or run away when taken by surprise. Now we can open ourselves to the great mystery."
Another perspective of Soft eyes, is the counter to the more critical hard looks, and fine focus. Soft of eye is also a gentler, more open and accepting way of looking at the world. Putting aside our overly critical and judgmental viewpoints and accepting people for who and what they are, in all their glory. We are each human with our own idiosyncrasies, rather than divide and separate, we should explore, accept and embrace.
Soft of eye, is that ability to blur our focus while heightening our awareness. Allowing us to take in everything. It is not harsh, critical or judgmental. It is open and accepting. This blur of our focus allows us to take our eyes from the distractions and instead see what is of importance. Bringing ourselves into tune with nature and the divine, allowing our conscious to slide back, and our unconscious to begin it's work. Each moment a lifetime of it's own, allowing for thoughtful right action and authentic responses. It is a new perception, fresh and refreshed.
Light of Touch
Light of touch is a more familiar concept to most people, or should I say it's opposite. The metaphors of "heavy handed" , "firmly under control" and similar ones, all demonstrate a method of control. Most of those connotations are negative. Much the same as "hard look" , the relate a critical and judgmental nature. In truth, have we not all been guilty of doing so at one time or another.
One who is heavy handed, is a micro manager. They do not trust others to be able to perform , even simple tasks without direct supervision. To further insure that the projects are seen through to their perceived correct completion, heavy handed folks will add stiff penalties for failure to comply, with their general direction. Yes we all know them, and perhaps are them. In truth when we look in this particular mirror, it is not always something we like to seeing looking back!
Light of touch, is much like soft of eye. The tension accompanying it's opposite, flows out, and the individual is more relaxed. Physically, the individuals voice drops low, the body language is open and accepting , action is taken, thoughtful right action, as opposed to reaction. Actions are more fluid and their touch is light, only to reassure. As opposed to heavy driven by purpose. Light of touch in an individual is the manifestation of perfect love and perfect trust. Nothing is hurried, all things are seen, understood, and trust in the abilities, intent and thoughtfulness of those around the individual is accepted, as well as that of nature and the divine.
Carried further our light of touch is also about the imprint we live behind us. Both with those who we interact, nature and the gods. It is about treading gently upon this earth. Taking out position as stewards of this magnificent living planet seriously. Living, walking and working on it, with reverence, honor and grace. She is our mother, we should honor her accordingly.
Remember when we first began our journey with the rede, we spoke of ancient laws being laws governing personal interaction and magick. The rede spends a great deal of time on the importance of right personal interaction, be it with people, nature, other entities or the divine.
Speak little; listen much
When was the last time you listened to someone when you were talking? Seriously think about it. Talking actually require a great deal of attention, to yourself. When you are in discussion, and speaking, you pay attention to your words, order your thoughts, so that you can make your point. You are also observing to a smaller extent to see how your words are received. When you are in a conversation and not speaking. We half listen to the other speaker, and relate their words to ourselves, and determine what course we wish to take the conversation, when our turn comes again. So are we really paying attention?
Lemur, my mentor, pointed out long ago, that observation is one of a Witch/ Wysard's greatest tools. Speak little and listen much is as much about observation as the act of listening.
Active listening is a skill taught in many medical institutions around the world. Active listening involves giving the recipient (the person you are listening ) your complete attention. Your body language should reflect your mindset, open and accepting. (Does any of this sound familiar yet?) A gaze can be soft, relaxed. Critical and very focused gazes, can send mixed signals on judgment. You should hear everything they say, as well as those things they do not. This is the perfect time for observation. Notice the recipients body language, their surroundings, even their clothing. Each part is a piece of the puzzle of the person with who you are speaking. In active listening you are engaged in the conversation, with very little talking. You may repeat what the recipient has said, to verify to them, that you are indeed listening and what they have said is important to you. A light touch to reassure the recipient of your engagement is also encouraged. Active listening very much distills all of the concepts we have been addressing in this post.
Advice of the ancients you say? From my perspective it is timeless. Soft of eye, light of touch, speak little; listen much, is very much the epitome of right personal interaction. It includes all facets, from all of our senses, and integrates them together. I would say it is fine advice indeed.
Casteneda, Carlos ; The Second Ring of Power, 1977
Palmer, Parker; The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teachers Life, 1997
(Next blog: By the Lady Blessed Be.)