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Encyclopedia > Incantation

An incantation is the words spoken during a ritual. such as those in praise of a god, in witchcraft or when casting a spell. It comes from the Latin incantare, meaning 'to utter an incantation', which would be done by an enchanter. Another name for an incantation is mantra. A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, which is prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. ... Michelangelos depiction of God in the painting Creation of the Sun and Moon in the Sistine Chapel Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, one of the manifestations of the ultimate reality or God in Hinduism This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Witchcraft, in various historical, religious and mythical contexts, is the use of certain kinds of alleged supernatural or magical powers. ... Look up Spell in Wiktionary, the free dictionary For spelling in linguistics, see orthography. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... For other uses of the words enchantment, enchanter, or enchantress, see enchantment (disambiguation). ... A mantra is a religious syllable or poem, typically from the Sanskrit language. ...

Examples are "Abracadabra" as might be said by a magician during a trick, or the Stunning Spell in the Harry Potter books. Abracadabra is a word used as an incantation, considered by some to be the phrase that is pronounced most universally in other languages without translation. ... The term magician can refer to a practitioner of either paranormal magic or illusionism. ... The word trick has several meanings in English: Confidence trick Magic trick Trick or treat A trick in a card game A trick can be a feat requiring some dexterity or ingenuity performed to amuse or as part of a game, such as a Skateboarding trick. ... this guy is a geek In the fictional universe portrayed in the Harry Potter books, a stunning spell is a spell which stuns the fighters opponent. ... The official Harry Potter film logo This article is about the Harry Potter series. ...


Incantations display several of the features of oral literature, including repetition, a strong reliance on performative language and formulaic composition. The earliest incantations in English are probably the Old English metrical charms. Written in Anglo-Saxon these charms are difficult to differentiate from the riddles and other short poems of the corpus of Old English poetry. However, they do rely strongly on metaphor, a relatively rare device of Anglo-Saxon poetry (except, of course, in the form of kenning), and one that may be universal to the genre of incantation. Furthermore, these charms invoke divine aid, especially in the form of the Virgin Mary, angels, and Christ. Oral literature corresponds in the sphere of the spoken (oral) word to literature as literature operates in the domain of the written word. ... The Performative is the part of speech representing the information conveyed by the fact that a speaker chose to say a particular sentence. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... The Anglo-Saxons refers collectively to the groups of Germanic tribes who achieved dominance in southern Britain from the mid-5th century, forming the basis for the modern English nation. ... A riddle is a form of word puzzle designed to test someones ingenuity in arriving at its solution. ... In language, a metaphor (from the Greek: metapherin) is a rhetorical trope defined as a direct comparison or cross mapping across two or more seemingly unrelated subjects. ... In literature, a kenning is a compound poetic phrase, a figure of speech, substituted for the usual name of a person or thing. ... A genre is a division of a particular form of art according to criteria particular to that form. ... Saint Mary and Saint Mary the Virgin both redirect here. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son ...

A cursory examination of a cross-cultural selection of incantations reveals a few similarities.

  • Most incantations are metrical in one of several poetic forms of the language in which they are written. Some use an unusual verse form. Prose incantations are somewhat rare.
  • Almost all incantations invoke the aid of a divine or semidivine being, or some other spiritual entity.
  • Information packing in incantations is extremely tight. Sometimes, metaphors are difficult to understand, either because they are deliberately meaningless, or, more likely, because the author intended the metaphor to carry more semantic weight than usual.
  • Many incantations contain nonsense words. These words may be mantras, "barbarous words" (in Greek incantations, often badly transliterated Hebrew), or strings of vowels or other non-linguistic sounds.
  • Most incantations seem to require some sort of physical action by the reciter in order for the performative act of the incantation (i.e., the act of magic) to work. These actions may be described as part of the charm. In some instances, it is difficult to tell if the description of the actions is also to be incanted as part of the charm.

Almost no formal study has been done on the literary qualities of incantation, despite abundant theory in related areas. Verse is a writing that uses meter as its primary organisational mode, as opposed to prose, which uses grammatical and discoursal units like sentences and paragraphs. ... Prose blah blah blahProse generally lacks the formal structure of meter or rhyme that is often found in poetry. ... Hebrew (עִבְרִית ‘Ivrit) is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by more than seven million people in Israel with the West Bank, the United States, and Jewish communities around the world. ... Magic or sorcery are terms referring to the alleged influencing of events and physical phenomena by supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means. ...

Some collections of charms

The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, runes and other literary-folkloric poems and songs collected, and translated, by amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910. ... The Atharva Veda is a sacred text of Hinduism, part of the four books of the Vedas. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Incantation - definition of Incantation in Encyclopedia (413 words)
An incantation is the words spoken during a ritual.
Incantations display several of the features of oral literature, including repetition, a strong reliance on performative language and formulaic composition.
Most incantations seem to require some sort of physical action by the reciter in order for the performative act of the incantation (i.e., the act of magic) to work.
INCANTATION - Online Information article about INCANTATION (425 words)
INCANTATION, the use of words, spoken, sung or chanted, usually as a set See also:
Japan in A.D. 577 was a reciter of mantras, who would find himself at See also:
common, widespread and persistent uses of incantation was in healing wounds, instances of which are found in the Odyssey and the Kalcvala, and in the traditional folk-See also:
  More results at FactBites »



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