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word, formula, or incantationincantation,
set formula, spoken or sung, for the purpose of working magic. An incantation is normally an invocation to beneficent supernatural spirits for aid, protection, or inspiration. It may also serve as a charm or spell to ward off the effects of evil spirits.
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 believed to have magical powers. The spell can be used for evil or good ends; if evil, it is a technique of sorcery. Many authorities believe that the spell was the precursor of prayer. In Teutonic lore, the spell was a form of exercising occult power and was sometimes used to summon the spirits of departed heroes to give prophetic utterances. Once cast, the spell was supposed to remain in force until broken by a counterspell or exorcism.
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A witch conjuring demons, along with a demonic cat and dog, in order to divine the future, 1688. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A spell is part of an act of magic, the essence of the actual working of the magic. While magic itself is causing something to happen that you want to happen, a spell is the ritual act of bringing about the desired result.

A ritual is made up of "things said" (legomena) and "things done" (dromena). A spell is usually the legomena of the ritual. Important to a spell are rhythm and rhyme. Many spells are chanted, or even sung, and they have a regular beat to them, usually with the words rhyming. This is to bring about a trance-like state in the practitioner, aiding in the visualization of the goal and helping build the power needed to project to that goal.

Not all spells rhyme, however. Prayers are actually spells. They are desires directed to deity, with thoughts aimed toward the accomplishment of the desire. Prayers are usually made up of words coming directly from the heart, with little thought of rhyming what is said. The feeling expressed is powerful and compensates for the lack of rhyme. Prayers are the least dynamic of spells yet can still be surprisingly effective.

In Wicca, spells are usually cast from within the ritual Circle. This is to protect the spell caster from any negative feedback. Witches may not perform negative magic, but binding spells are generally viewed as being in a "gray area," where the person at whom the spell is directed is neither helped nor harmed. Binding spells are used when it is deemed necessary to stop someone from talking (especially from giving away Craft or magical secrets). Most such binding spells involve the use of a poppet to represent the recipient, although they can be done with no more than a photograph or even a brief example of the person's handwriting. If a poppet is used, it may be of wax, cloth, clay, or similar material. No physical harm comes to the person, but he or she is restricted in words and/or actions regarding the object of the rite.


a verbal formula considered as having magical force


References in periodicals archive ?
The taps were turned on at Prestbury Park last week after a dry spell down in Gloucestershire.
The 26-year-old marksman is in for a bumpy ride from the fans of his hometown club following his spell down the road with arch-rivals Sunderland.
It was during a spell down in Alabama that he met the late Johnny Shines and the pair formed a lasting and rewarding partnership.
And Moore claims it was thanks to his spell down under that he made such an explosive start to this season andwas able to open the campaign with his maiden first-class century against Kent.
And after a fairly nomadic spell down south, German wants to find a permanent home in Scotland.
That's four games I've gone without a goal and I think I've had one shot in about two games," said the disappointed front man who puts his dry spell down a change in tactical emphasis.
The Middlesbrough-born pace bowler is currently playing in Australia and is hoping to end his spell Down Under by winning a cup final tomorrow.
Cross Keys Newport 20 8 NEWPORT were left to rue a controversial spell down to 14 men as Cross Keys deservedly secured a Gwent derby victory at Pandy Park, writes Chris Smart.
The new Crow Trees rugby director boasts Leeds and London Welsh as his playing accomplishments, even working on the coaching staff in his spell down south last year.
Malcolm served Broad Oak as player and official for most of his life (apart from a brief early spell down the road at Linthwaite), and his love for the club was continued through son Simon, who is still the regular wicketkeeper.
He left school at 14 and, after an almost inevitable spell down the pits, became a professional footballer with Doncaster Rovers, making 171 appearances as a no-nonsense centre-half.
Moore can trace the injury back to a loan spell down the leagues in 2003-04.