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.