Defining Invocation

Invoking spells are probably the most common ones I came across when I began my journey into witchcraft. Likely because they are so adaptable. Used to draw energy and call upon spirits to support you; they are often highly ritualistic and can feel intimidating as they are an old form of magic and require some certainties in order to remain safe. These are the spells depicted in pop culture and films where a person calls an energy/being into themselves and all hell breaks loose. In this post I aim to shed some light on what invocation spells actually are, the process and some of the pitfalls.

Invoking, Evoking or Summoning

Before you start calling in support, whatever form it may come in; It’s important to get clear about what you are aiming to do. For me that means having a clear intention, knowing what I am calling in and how best to implement that. This can be done by asking if you mean to invoke, evoke or summon.

Invoking means to call into action usually for support, guidance or help. It is expected that whatever you call forth understands you are asking for something. Be it blessings, specific help or answers. It is not a command but a polite request. When working with spirits and deities, invocation is a way of asking respectfully for you to be given something. It also means that the level of help you receive is not determined by you or even guaranteed. It is what the other party deems as appropriate (and this can depend on many factors) These entities expect something in return even if it is just to be honoured by you. When working with energies; invoking means to call that energy into yourself for example: if you invoke the element of Earth you are asking for the blessings of Earth, such as grounding or abundance, to be present within you. Likewise, you can invoke power, clarity etc. By invoking you are calling it from somewhere else into yourself.

When we evoke something in non-magical terms, we are talking about something being brought forth like a memory or feeling. There is some blurring between evoking and invoking in ritual. It’s hard to explain but I’ll try my best: It is possible that you have used the word ‘invoke’ to call a spirit or energy into your circle rather than into yourself. It is outside of you still but present. If this is what you are aiming for, use a term like ‘evoke’ ,’call upon’, ‘welcome’ or ‘invite’. I use this when communing with a spirit or deity, the presence is welcomed but nothing is expected to be given either way. I still give thanks in the form of offerings but it is not expected. Like if a friend popped round for a chat and to offer advice, I would offer them a cup of tea (of course, I’m English) but it is not promised and therefore, would be rude for the invited to expect or demand one.

That being said, why would anyone continue to come round and help me if I didn’t even offer them a cup of tea?! Funny story, a friend came round to drop something off to me, so I offered him tea, I said ” I only have goats milk, I hope that’s ok” and he fucking left and didn’t come back! I feel like this is an apt example. This is why I believe it is important not to confuse the two. Don’t say ‘invoke’ if you are not asking for something to be given/expect to give something otherwise you may offend.

Summoning is something different entirely. To summon means it is demanded. This is used when dealing with something that may not want to attend to you. It is forceful and rude but sometimes it is necessary. The fact that you have to summon a spirit or deity in the first place indicates you are dealing with something that requires that level of force, something potentially dangerous. If this is the case you will need to ensure you are strong enough to protect yourself from it’s wrath. Even the most benevolent of beings don’t appreciate being summoned. Sometimes they can be won over with gifts and bribes once they arrive but the nature of this magic in itself is likely to piss them off. It is not to be undertaken lightly. It can also be the first part of a banishing or binding ritual, neither of which are recommended for beginners. You have been warned.

into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul-John Muir

What Makes Up An Invocation Ritual?

Now that we have clarified what is intended with invocation it is important to know what is required/expected. This can depend on what you are invoking but there are some fundamentals that remain the same.

Firstly, as mentioned above; There is a request being made. It is important that you have given this enough thought. This is your intention. You do not want it to be misinterpreted. With this in mind, the specificity of your intention will depend on who/what you are invoking or petitioning for support. If it’s a spirit or deity, do you already have a relationship? Are they likely to be compassionate towards your energy, wants and requests? For example, your ancestors already have your best interests at heart and have their own ideas about what will benefit your journey. As will any Goddess/God you are already know. Are they tricksters? If this is the case, you will have to take extra care around the wording of your intention to ensure it can’t be misconstrued.

As with any intention, ask yourself why you asking for these things. How will it benefit you? What do you need it for? What do you intend to do with it? I am not all ‘love and light’ it is fair to ask for support in grey and dark magic too if that is what you practice. I don’t judge, but be aware that the darker sides of things come with higher costs, a greater need for protection and specific intentions. Bear in mind that things rarely manifest the way you imagine it will anyway.

Secondly, You are invoking it from somewhere. Your ritual will be slightly different depending on what you are invoking as they each have different interests, expectations and ways of honouring them. You can invoke the gifts of an element (or all of them) by calling upon it’s spirits. This can be done with any ‘energetics’; the spirits of anything, but it’s vague. Basically, what you are asking for is blessings in an area and asking for support from the energies and spirits that share it. This is good for when you are asking for an increase in those corresponding energies within yourself. For example: you may ask for the spirits of fire to bless you with courage, air for inspiration, water for intuition, earth to keep you grounded etc.

When it comes to invoking deities; it is vital that you have done your research. Each has their own preferences and etiquette. Knowing this will help you gain their favour and know what to look out for to know you have been heard e.g. animals crossing your path, synchronicities and gifts. You don’t want to piss them off. All enjoy offerings and gifts. Some are more easily flattered than others, some more compassionate, some harder to please. Some will want to help you already, some need more persuasion. If you haven’t worked with a particular deity before you might want to go big to start. Also, as I’ve already mentioned (but it is good to hammer it in); they will decide how much they give you and how it manifests. I will be posting about specific deities in the coming months so keep an eye out for that (or subscribe to newsletters to receive updates as they go out. I am also open to requests).

All magic is an exchange of energies. This is why honouring through ritual and offerings is important. You put energy in to get it back. It is possible that what you ask for comes at a cost. Are you prepared for that?

Finally, ensuring you are protected and confident in what you are doing is of the upmost importance when invoking. Casting and closing a circle properly ensures nothing unwanted comes through. This kind of magic involves opening a door and closing it again have you practiced this enough to rely on it? Confidence in your intention and desired outcomes before you start (like, way before), leaving no room for error will, aid you in being successful.

Dancing and singing can be ways to honour a deity and raise your own vibrations
Photo by luizclas on

I will be posting invocation rituals in the spellcraft section in the near future but be warned; they are not to be taken lightly. You are opening yourself up to potentially massive energies and ancient influences in order to benefit yourself, others and your journey. It takes an open mind, open heart and confidence in your abilities. There is no room for self-doubt in this form of ritual. If you doubt it will work for you, it wont. If you don’t know exactly what you are asking for, don’t ask. I appreciate that everyone has to start somewhere but you need to know what you are capable of and what you are dealing with before working with invocation.

I hope you have found this post helpful. As always if you have any questions or want to chat with other witches about your experiences you can do so in the comments section below.

Peace out witches!

Love Kate xxx

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