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I no.1 – ‘Incantations’

Sorry for my absence last week. I’ve been laid off from my job, and also quite sick, so I wasn’t much in the mood to write. I’m still (mostly) unemployed this week, but feeling better about it, and so I’ve got a good post for this, week 2 (though my week 1) of the letter I for the Pagan Blog Project!


noun \ˌin-ˌkan-ˈtā-shən\

: a use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic; also : a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect

An integral part of many magical practices, incantations are the part of a ritual or spell that is spoken out loud and is often the ‘activation’ of the spell. These incantations can be in different languages, such as Latin or Greek, or in English, or gibberish; they can be verses, single words, or they can be rhyming couplets as seen in many Wiccan charms and spells; these incantations can be a tiny part of any spell, or can be the work of the spell in its entirety.

For a long time incantations always seemed like the work of stage magicians to me, but they really took on an interesting heft once I got older. I think that, being raised Catholic, I took for granted the power of things such as The Lord’s Prayer; the flow, the rhythm, the weight. Once I converted, I wanted to find similar poems and incantations but had a lot of trouble.

I have to say that my point of view on a lot of incantations or chants changed rather quickly, the day that I found out that a certain incantation wasn’t just for pulling rabbits out of hats!


Abracadabra is, in fact, one of the world’s best know, and one of the oldest, incantations! I found a few stories for its etymology, though the most common is the one found on Wikipedia which says that it comes from two Aramaic words: ibra (אברא) means “I have created” and k’dibra (כדברא) which means “through my speech”.


Its initial use was as a banishing charm. The word ‘Abracadabra’ was written on a paper in the form of a triangle where each successive line removes the final letter from the line above. The charm was worn on the person and used against malaria, fever, and any range of illness, as it was believed to also mean ‘to destroy the thing’. This may have been just an interpretation of the charm. If it meant “to create with my words”, by removing one letter at a time, you destroy the word, and thus the sickness? I’m just guessing.

In Crowley’s work, the word is transformed to Abrahadabra (for numerological reasons, as well as to include an epithet of an important deity) and was said by him to be the “Word of the Aeon, which signifieth The Great Work accomplished.” This meaning gives weight to its use as the final word in any spell work. It is the last word and the word at the end of all words, a powerful addition to the end of a ritual or spell.

That said, I asked some other people for their favourite words of power, incantations, or frequently used spells.

A coworker of mine, and former follower of Crowley, told me she found the invocations found in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to be particularly powerful for her. The include the 4 names of Archangles and have a heavy ritualistic feel to them. She also suggested the prayer to the Lord of the Universe found in the Middle Pillar.

Another coworker told me that he prefered to write his own rituals and spells, and so classic ‘incantations’ weren’t a large part of his practice.

Ginandjack included some expletives, as well as “Amen” (which I liked), and “With holy dread”…I’m not sure about that last one, maybe he’d be kind enough to explain it in the comments?

And finally, Thiscrookedcrown had a similarly quirky list, though she included I word I don’t think many of us would even think to consider….. “Please.”

What about you, readers? What words do you find particularly powerful? What phrases, chants, prayers, or words do you fall back on regularly? Why are those ones important for you?