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Proper Ritual Terminology

By Polyphanes

Recently, someone asked me about the differences between invoking, evoking, summoning, banishing, and all that jazz. As a ceremonial magician, there’s a lot of different ritual I use depending on the need that can fall under different categories, each with a different label. Then again, much of the ritual is fluid enough to defy categories or change between them with the use of a few different words. So, let me clarify my stance (and only mine, I dunno how much others may agree with me on this) on the difference between the following words: invocation, evocation, conjuration, summoning, exorcism, banishment. After all, I seem to be doing so well with clarifying my use of particular words, so why not?

Let me clarify first that much of the distinction drawn between these words is strictly a modern thing. Traditional sources and grimoires from the medieval and Renaissance eras made no distinction between invoking and evoking, and used these terms interchangeably with conjuring and exorcising. Because humanity likes to bin and classify everything endlessly, drawing the thickest lines between the smallest groups, and because we’ve inherited a knack for classification from our Platonic and Aristotelian philosophical forefathers, we insist on making these distinctions known. In my practice, I tend to stick to the broadest, most applicable words used, mostly because these categories are strictly artificial and not always replicable in magical practice. Ultimately, when working with the spirits, shit either gets done or it doesn’t. This isn’t engineering where we can always follow the same procedures to obtain the same results, because magic doesn’t work like that, more often than not.

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