By: Essa Nazari
Incantations. We all wrestle with them as we learn and master various spells here at Hogwarts. But, why do we have them? What makes an incantation an incantation? How were they created? Does the language really matter? All of these things have been questions that many a Hogwarts student has pondered at some point in time and this is what we will be exploring, the ins and outs of incantations.
Let’s start this exploration into incantation with answering the most basic of questions. What is an incantation? According to the Standard Book of Spells: Volume 1, the most basic definition of an incantation is, “the word or words spoken to invoke a spell.” Basically, it is what makes the spell tick. According to Professor Reuter, [the incantation] seems to serve as the trigger for your mind to focus on how a spell should perform. So, for us muggleborns, it is the steering wheel to direct our magic. It serves as our focus point for the intent of the spell which then directs our magic in a way that allows it to be performed. The reason that we have incantations that we speak, at least at the very beginning, is to serve as a training ground for us to practice and master the spells to the point that it becomes a mental and muscle memory for how a spell is supposed to feel as it is performed. Then, and only then could a person can perform a spell nonverbally.
The word that is spoken for an incantations does not have to be in a set language. In reality, the incantation can be in almost any language. For example, the packing spell’s incantation is “Pack” which is English. Where as, the incantation Alohomora is a West African language and Creo Igniculus is Latin that translates to “create sparks.” According to Professor Reuter, the language of the incantation isn’t what matters. Instead, the language of the incantation seems to serve as the trigger for your mind to focus on how a spell should perform. So, for those who wish to become spell creators this should be something that is kept in mind. The incantation provides a road map as to what the spell is supposed to do. It’s a matter of experimentation to determine what word-or even version of a word-will work as a spell is being created.
Professor Reuter has explained that it is just a matter of discovering the proper incantation for a spell. Meaning work and experiment with different words to discover which incantation performs the most effectively to create the proper mentality required for the spell. Our spells are built upon each other like bricks in a wall. We depend on their experience and the basic principles that they establish to see what has been attempted, the successes and probably even more important, the failures of different the spell-discovers. They can determine why an incantation did not work for a spell and hopefully work to improve on it.
This is where the line between incantations and intentions can become blurred. If the incantation helps the spell caster focus upon the intention of a spell in their mind to control the magic. The incantation must have structure. This structure is found in the incantations, wand movements, and other such aspects of a spell. Much like music or even writing, every spell developer has their own structure that they follow. People can attempt to mimic it but it will never be exactly the same. Now, a spell structure isn’t just a personal style but it requires finding the right structure (or style) that will work for everyone. Other spell creators test the work and determine if the spell that has been created follows the various laws of magic.
So, the long of the short story, incantations, as odd as they sound, everyone has a set purpose to it which helps channel the energy required to cast the spell successfully.
Standard Book of Spells: Volume 1
Interview Professor Reuter