Religion Past and Present

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(476 words)

[German Version]

Incantations, as ritualized speech or writing, most closely resemble prayers. But whereas a prayer can be either spontaneous or formulaic, an incantation almost always uses traditional formulas. Prayers are addressed to personal powers such as gods, but incantations can also be addressed directly to natural forces. Normally prayers attempt to persuade a personal power through praise, whereas an incantation – also using words of praise and persuasion – attempts to coerce. If a pray…

Cite this page
Alles, Gregory D., “Incantation”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 03 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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