April 10, 2013

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Day Nine: I is for Incantation

Incantation is one of those words we hear and use all of the time, but do we really understand what it means?

Digging down into the word's etymology, we find that "incantation" is derived from the Latin word "incantare" which means "to chant upon" or in other words to chant a magical spell. So incantations are just spells that are cast by repeating words. Sometimes those words are said just once, while other times they are repeated over and over.

Believe it or not, not all incantations are written or are prescribed. Some witches and occultists do use incantations that are written down or even passed from generation to generation orally, which is why spell and magic reference books exist. There are even spell websites these days. Other practitioners of magic like to write their own spells, believing that a spell that comes from their heart is more powerful and is custom tailored to their situation.

Sometimes incantations are used when someone is praying or otherwise communicating with a deity or supernatural being. In this respect you could argue that some mainstream religious chanting or rote prayers are incantations (think rosaries, etc).

Still, incantations for the most part carries a negative connotation with it in mainstream society, It could be that some practitioners of magic at least attempt to use incantations on other people, even possibly trying to bend that other person's will to their own (like using a love incantation to make someone fall madly in love with you). Quite a few magical systems teach that such incantations come at a horrible price, whether they rebound or cause the other person to become unstable and unpredictable toward the spell caster.

There are many, many examples of incantations in popular culture. Just watch any of the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies, along with pretty much any movie that depicts witches.


Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Steven! The incantations in Harry Potter are my favorite. I wish Accio was real! I mean, I'm sure it is. I just lack the skill. ;)

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Lexie C. said...

Very interesting and yes I would consider rote prayers incantations (I'd really never thought of that but it makes perfect sense!).

Great post :)

Steven said...

Laura, Accio would be a great tool to have, I have to admit...

Lexie, glad you enjoyed my post! I like to make people think.

Julia King said...

Sometimes I wish I could do some incantations. I think this stems from the Harry Potter. It would be great to hold such power in a wand. :)

Steven said...

Julia, I think we all have those moments.

VR Barkowski said...

Fascinating post, Steven. I was surprised when reading through a series of Wiccan spells how many sounded like prayers. They were a lot longer than Accio, though. More difficult to commit to memory.

~VR Barkowski

Steven said...

VR, the entertainment industry doesn't usually portray how long and complex some incantations can be. I think most people wouldn't find it that interesting, sadly.

Anonymous said...

Yes, incantations are definitely fun and popular in the media. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all featured them.