Charms and Incantations - Magical Arts

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Charms and Incantations
Magical Arts

Charms, incantations, and enchantments are technically magic spells created via the power of the human voice. These are among the most ancient spells of all. On one hand, these are simple spells: no other ingredients are required. On the other, charms are among the most challenging, difficult spells of all because they rely entirely on your will, focus, and personal magic power.

Charms consist of two components: the voice and the words.

Charms are carefully crafted spells, not merely spontaneous expressions of desire and passion. Method of delivery is thus consciously chosen. Charms may be cast via the following vocal techniques:


Image Singing: Charming literally means “singing.” Once upon a time (and still in some traditions), spells were intended to be sung. A proficient magician was expected to possess a wide repertoire of magical songs. This was particularly true in Finnish, Saami, and other Finno-Ugric magical traditions. Injunctions against women singing in churches and synagogues derived from fear that this left men vulnerable to women’s spells. In many traditions, the Fates sing one’s destiny. Everyone thus has a personal song that expresses his or her lifeline.


Image Chanting: Incantation and Enchantment refer to the power of the chant. Chanting involves rhythmic verbal expression, somewhere between singing and speaking. Among the dictionary definitions of “chant” is “to recite in a monotonous repetitive tone.” That makes it sound boring but rhythmic chanting is used to induce trance. “Entrance” is sometimes used as a synonym for “bewitch.” Chanting is a method of entrancing.


Image Murmuring and muttering: Sometimes verbal expressions are not meant to be understood by other people. Some spells require that the caster murmur or mutter; the power of the word is transmitted without being directly understood or even clearly heard. This enables a spell-caster to maintain privacy even when casting a spell in public. Murmuring spells are often incorporated into healing; the healer murmurs over a wound, for instance, to hasten healing.


Image Whispering: Whispering is more sibilant than murmuring. One metaphysical theory suggests that the power of the breath transmits magic power. Whispering is particularly incorporated into spells cast in the form of drinks or potions. (See FOOD AND DRINK.) Whispering is also a synonym for witchcraft in Russia.


Image Declaiming: Sometimes a magic spell demands that one boldly state one’s intentions to the universe. Many commanding and compelling spells involve clear, loud articulation and careful pronunciation.


The second component of charming involves choosing your words. Different magical philosophies choose words differently. Some systems suggest that you speak from your heart, carefully, concisely, and clearly. Express your desire in your own words, choosing them carefully to avoid ambiguity. This type of magic teaches you to clarify your desires and to be tremendously aware of the innate power of words.

Other systems suggest that only certain words expressed in certain ways possess optimum magic power. Thus certain words of power transmit magical energy even if no one understands any longer what the word means. These traditions suggest that words must be pronounced a specific way and delivered via specific rhythms.

Traditional charms are also incorporated: certain rhymes or magical poems have been handed down for generations. Others suggest repeating appropriate passages from the Book of Psalms, the Koran or other sacred texts. (See BOOKS: Magical Books of Power.)

Word charms are a particularly primal form of spell-casting. The ancient Egyptians suggested that this was the most primordial of all forms of magic. Heka, the Egyptian word indicating divine creative, magical energy, is often described as “the art of the mouth.” Magic spells are conveyed via incantations, verbal spells, and word charms.

To this day, some people consider that all spells should contain a verbal component; this verbal component is the finishing touch that ultimately turns the trick.

The Egyptians believed that there was a secret rhythm that Thoth, Lord of Magic and inventor of language, had taught the earliest magicians, who then transmitted this magical art to others. Knowledge of this rhythm, together with knowledge of spirits’ true names of power, was considered the crucial key to magical success. (See DIVINE WITCH: Thoth.)

Incantations are heavily incorporated into Commanding and Compelling rituals. Certain magical traditions, particularly Pow-Wow and traditional Russian magic, rely very heavily on word charms.