Incantation - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Religion

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INCANTATION. The practice of incantation (Lat., incantatio, from incantare, "to chant a religious formula") differs considerably from culture to culture. For the purposes of this cross-cultural overview, however, incantation can be understood as the authorized use of rhythmically organized words of power that are chanted, spoken, or written to accomplish a desired goal by binding spiritual powers to act in a favorable way.

Since incantation uses words to move spiritual powers and accomplish a desired result, this practice is related to other uses of sacred language such as prayer, invocation, blessing, and cursing. Verbal formulas associated with prayer beseech the spiritual powers for certain actions or maintain communication by praise and submission. However, verbal formulas associated with incantation are designed to perform the desired result by "obliging" (Lat., obligare, "to bind") spiritual powers. Invocation, blessing, and cursing are used with both prayer and incantation.

The Power of Incantation

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This section contains 3,870 words
(approx. 13 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Incantation Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan
Incantation from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.