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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology


Two methods of calling forth spirits and deities in magical and/or religious rites.

Evocations are used in Ceremonial Magick and Sorcery.   An evocation is a command, a summons, to an entity to appear and do the bidding of the magician.

In Ceremonial Magick, spirits are evoked to appear in a triangle outside the magician's protective Magic Circle, lest they cause him harm.   Evocation is an elaborate ritual, and procedures are detailed in the many magical Grimoires.   The magician purifies himself through fasting and prayer, dons his garb, purifies his magical tools and casts the circle and triangle.

To evoke the spirit, he must have perfect knowledge of it and the purpose it is to serve.   He must visualize it, for once evoked, the spirit will reappear in the same form in subsequent evocations.   The evocation comprises words and gestures with ritual tools.   The magician speaks in a commanding tone of voice and may even shriek the evocation to intimidate unruly spirits.

Invocations are used in religious ceremonies and some magic rites, especially in Neo-Pagan WIitchcraft.   An invocation is an invitation to an entity or deity to be present.   When a Magic Circle is cast in modem Witchcraft, invocations are made to the Guardians of the Watchtowers, the spirits that rule the cardinal points, to witness the rites and protect the circle.   In various rites, the Goddess and/or Horned God are invoked, or drawn down into the High Priestess or High Priest (see DRAWING DOWN THE MOON).

By way of contrast, in many forms of Ceremonial Magick, Invocation is the summoning of a spirit, whether of a dead person or a demon.

In preparation for this, the magician was required to fast, to perform ritual cleansing and to wear white (or, alternatively, to wear nothing). The reasons for this were the avoidance of contamination from powerful and perhaps unfriendly spirits, and also to increase the Adept's sense of power.

Fasting has always been used as an aid to building up psychic energy. In more recent times, some (but by no means all) magicians have used an opposite technique, of alcohol, drugs and orgiastic sex, in order to reach a state of mental exaltation.   A secluded place was necessary, free from interruption, and with the right spiritual atmosphere for the purpose.

In some Grimoires, the magician was instructed to have a newly forged sword and dagger as well as a wand of hazel, cut at sunrise.   Then the Magick Circle was drawn out.   This could be accomplished by various means, of which the most common was to draw out a Pentagram or other significant shape on the ground or floor, which would serve to contain or trap the spirit; the Magick Circle, nine feet (2.74 metres) in diameter with an inner circle eight feet (2.44 metres) in diameter, with Pentagrams and Words of Power drawn and written in the rim, was another.   When all was prepared, the magician proceeded to call out its name or names, bidding it to appear, usually accompanied by Incantations.

Invocations to deities also are used in Vodoun to effect a Trance possession, in which worshippers are ridden by the loas.   Invocation enables the invoker to tap into the powers of a spirit.

Rituals of invocation vary.   Spirits and deities are summoned by name and by visual and sensory perceptions associated with the entity.

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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