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Magic and Rituals - Grimoires, rites, incantations, voodoo


Each civilization contains its share of magical manifestations, even if not all are designated as such, especially as the border between magic rituals and religious practices is, in many circumstances, very fluctuating. In principle, the acceptance of magic covers events caused by predetermined rituals.


The Necronomicon evoked in the work of Lovecraft has many similarities with a grimoire, without being one since it is relevant only in a very specific temporal context. A grimoire (from ancient French, grammar) is a work containing indications on the execution of magic rituals, as well as descriptions of supernatural entities such as demons, angels or monsters. The grimoires appear essentially between 1250 and 1750. Although in these times of trial for witchcraft, the possession of such a book led irrevocably to the stake, the majority of the works of reference was preserved. This is attributed to the fact that the grimoires were kept as evidence in the security of the conventual libraries.

How to perform a magic ritual

The process exhibited by most grimoires is based on a simple structure. Before the ritual, the magician must undergo a physical and spiritual preparation: fasting, bathing, praying and other, according to the ritual. According to the grimoires, such a purification would aim to facilitate the flow of magic.

The second step involves the meeting by the magician of the required instruments (chalk, wand, dagger, dress ...). In most cases, all of these tools themselves required prior work, such as an engraving on a dagger, a wand specially designed for this use or a detailed drawing on a bure. It is also often question of the "virginity" of the instruments used: in other words, the utensils that have already been used for one ritual can not be used to make another one.

The third stage integrates the "magic circle", which, according to the needs of the ritual, will be painted on the ground or of any other nature and endowed with predefined symbols and magic inscriptions. The circle does not usually intervene in the actual ritual, but serves more to protect the magician from the summoned creatures.

The following steps depend on the type of magic practiced. However, the grimoire or at least the list of entities to invoke and the composition of the ritual remain indispensable elements. If conspiracies prove necessary, there is usually mention of another book in which the conjured creature must affix its mark in sign of its obedience.

As a general rule, it is expressly stressed that each step must be conscientiously respected and that any imperfect preparation may provoke the failure of the invocation, or even put the magician in great danger. The descriptions given evoke consequences ranging from madness to the loss of certain body parts.

The effects of a ritual

Often, the incantation of spirits, angels, demons and monsters is aimed at expanding the wizard's personal power. Such a subject entity allows the Summoner to use the powers at will, in order to harm men or to help them. The incantation of a low-level demon is likely to cause eg nightmares in another subject. A higher-ranking demon can eventually provoke or cure diseases. However, the invocation of higher entities is more tiring and requires further preparation including sacrificial ceremonies where even the self-harm of the magician may be the climax.

White magic and black magic

White magic and black magic are no different in terms of rituals. It's more about the use of magic. When a spell is intended to bring a positive element to a person, and possibly with his consent, it is a question of white magic. On the other hand, rituals undertaken to the detriment of someone characterize black magic. Also the limit between these two forms of magic is difficult to determine, just as it is difficult to unravel the different applications of a charm of love or sleep.

The ritual dolls

There are, however, other widespread rituals of a simpler nature and with which the magician takes no chances. A form of ritual magic, now largely associated with voodoo, relies on dolls of cloth, wax or clay. The rites performed with these representations are usually aimed at a specific person and are intended to harm or exercise power over them. In order to exercise an occult action on the victim, hair, nails and body secretions are essential. The integration of these elements to the doll obeys different rules: sometimes, the ingredients must be burned in a clay figurine, although some books also recommend mixing them with the wet clay that will be made doll. Other rituals recommend sewing these components in a rag doll. Once prepared, the figurine undergoes a treatment that links it to the fate of the victim. Two dolls bewitched and linked to each other materialize a spell of love between the two people. If a part of the figurine is damaged, its alter ego flesh feels the effects in the same places. Finally, the destruction of the doll condemns the person bewitched to death.


Voodoo is a religion originally practiced in West Africa. The slave trade carried this belief to other continents, as in Asia (India) and America (Haiti and the Dominican Republic, for example), where the number of faithful grew steadily. The representation of bones and skulls, combined with ritual dances, struck the spirits of the white population, within whom the rumor circulated that voodoo was akin to black magic. It would even be a cult of the dead, claiming occasionally its share of human sacrifices. Indeed, the deities of the voodoo pantheon are devote sacrificed animals. The latter are not killed in a bloody and cruel ritual, but more in a public ceremony before being then accommodated and savored.

The magic rituals and their repercussions

Many events seem to be the result of bewitchments: people falling mysteriously ill, accidents, sudden deaths and even unhappy marriages are suspected to be the fruit of a defective love spell. To what extent are the blows of the spell attributable to magic rituals? Such a question remains open today, because in the Middle Ages, magicians, enchanters and witches went to certain death if they were to be discovered.

However, there are some documented cases reporting the impact of rituals that raise many questions. In 1690, Father Arthur Bedford recounted the occult rituals of Thomas Parke in Bristol: by provocation, the latter launched himself into an incantation and suddenly saw himself surrounded by spirits. Reiterating the experience, he lost control of the events and found himself confronted by demons more powerful than his circle of protection. Father Bedford seemed to believe Parke's story.

The rituals of magic on dolls have been the subject of several descriptions according to which the bewitched victim has indeed suffered wounds or inconveniences from the ritual object. An American journalist tells the story of a French concert pianist member of a sect from which he had separated following an argument. The doll that was dedicated to him was placed in a vise. In the days that followed, the agility of the pianist's fingers became so weak that the musician had to interrupt a concert. The journalist also reports the presence of several members of the sect, constantly in the immediate vicinity of the concert and constantly criticizing his performance. The psychologists claim that, since the victim knew the methods of the sect perfectly and was convinced of the power of the bewitched dolls, his own unconscious caused the paralysis of the hands. If the concert had ignored the vengeance plans of the sect, these repercussions would have spared him.