“Thee we invoke where gather thine own
By the nameless shrine forgotten and lone”
– Doreen Valiente (Excerpt from Invocation to the Horned God)
Magick as we know it has many a fine line between certain terminologies. The most predominant debate in our alternative circles is that of invocation and evocation and when either of them is to be used. Is invocation channeling a deity, or spirit, or is it something else altogether? Can evocation be loosely termed summoning a spirit or entity? Why the confusion?
As the pagan paths have found themselves new avenues to practice, so have the terminologies changed. You can walk into one coven or spiritual circle and find that calling the quarters is done completely differently to what you are used to. This is largely why magick states that intention is one of the most important parts to doing any working.
Regardless of the specifics we will dissect the two terms: Invocation and Evocation separately.
late 15c., from Old French invoquer, envoquer, envochier “invoke, implore” (12c.), from Latin invocare “call upon, implore,” from in- “upon” (from PIE root *en “in”) + vocare “to call,” related to noun vox (genitive vocis) “voice” (from PIE root *wekw- “to speak”). Related: Invoked; invoking.
Invoke according to the etymology of the word has meant to implore and beg for assistance from deities, spirits or entities in question. According to Marian Green, in her book The Elements of Ritual Magick, she outlines how invocation is more of an invitation to a deity or elemental spirit. You are imploring them with gifts and invocations to join you in circle. Invocation is pulling within. It is sharing your sacred space with another. Within many circles invocation can be pulling aspects of a certain entity within oneself and mimicking or becoming that entity. This draws a fine line again between channeling, possession and invoking. This is a whole article by itself. However it is safe to say that no two spirits are able to possess a single vessel at any given time, therefore if you are invoking, you are still in complete control of your body, mind and spirit. You may take on attributes of a deity or spirit, but you are not allowing that spirit to take over your being.
Invocation means you are willing to share your sacred space with another spirit. It is in its essence a call or prayer for assistance. It is not a command and it is not placing you as the practitioner in a higher or more dominating position than the spirit that you have called on. The spirit has a choice in this matter.
It is also widely accepted that invocation in its respectful manner is for higher beings than ourselves. The nature of imploring over commanding is definitely prevalent. Therefore it is safe to surmise that the act of invoking a deity into your sacred space is a prayer to be joined by a spirit higher than oneself, whether that be to envelop their attributes within you or simply have their energy and blessing upon your magickal workings.
1620s, from French évoquer or directly from Latin evocare “call out, rouse, summon,” from assimilated form of ex “out” (see ex-) + vocare “to call” (from PIE root *wekw- “to speak”). Often more or less with a sense of “calling spirits,” or being called by them. Of feelings, memories, etc., by 1856. Related: Evoked; evokes; evoking.
Evocation is a completely different kettle of fish. H. P. Blavatsky warns us extensively on the practice of evocation. She states that the practitioner is to be of sane mind and strong heart and that evoking a spirit or entity within your space is not for the foolish minded. Aleister Crowley introduces many tools for the practitioner, specific evocations and extreme methods in summoning a spirit.
The art of evocation is used when you wish to commune with another entity, be they lesser or greater than the practitioners idea of hierarchy. In layman’s terms evocation is the art of summoning a spirit. Wiccans do not generally practice evocation and it is very rare that an evocation is necessary in any ritual or magickal working. However, if you are to summon an entity, it is not done within your own sacred space. The entity should be summoned or called into a designated cordoned off space and as Blavatsky warns, should not be done simply for the fun of it. It is safe to surmise that evocation gives the practitioner a dominating position over the spirit that is called. In many high magic practices, evocation is done against the will of the spirit in question. It is a command and not a plea.
Both invocation and evocation are used within magickal practices. It depends on your ritual working and your desires. More often than not, invoking a spirit is enough to reach a magickal working goal.
Let us know in the comments below what your views are.
Do you invoke or evoke in your magickal workings and which do you prefer?
What is your experience with either?
We love hearing your story.
Marian Green – The Elements of Ritual Magick.
Frans Bardon – The Practice of Magical Evocation
Picture in Featured Image under Commons License – Witch of Endor.