Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing … and Other Spells
Spells, enchantments, potions, charms, hexes and curses … call them what you will, they make up a huge part of both fantasy fiction and the fantastical characters many of us know and love. And though I believe the true magic lies in a well-written story and in the characters that speak to us and endure, that certainly doesn’t stop me from getting pleasure in seeing the varied ways authors and writers of books and movies have used words to express traditional magic! I hope you enjoy them as well.
The Summoning Charm
Is there anyone within a few years beyond or behind my generation who isn’t at least familiar with this one? Ok, so maybe I’m being a little fanatic. Most Harry Potter fans are. But what else can you expect from someone who instinctively calls out “Accio keys!” while searching frantically through my purse …?! Short and sweet, this one simply means “I summon.”
This is the magic law that is etched into the stone table Aslan was killed upon. It is full of power and meaning that, for me and many others, goes far beyond the fictional Narnian chronicles.
If a willing Victim that has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor’s stead, the Stone Table will crack; and even death itself would turn backwards.
Crossroads Uncrossing Spell
Earthy and timeless, these words come from Eileen Holland’s Spells for the Solitary Witch. I don’t know about you, but my somewhat dramatic imagination sees a fey creature, arms outstretched to the skies, crying out this chant.
Guardians of the North, grant me power!
Guardians of the West, send me strength!
Guardians of the South, give me energy!
Guardians of the East, know my spirit!
In the BBC miniseries, Merlin, our main character – Merlin himself! – works magic in nearly every episode. This is one of many examples that I could give – a spell of fire, which translates literally: “You are air in fire’s heat; defeat the hostile one.”
Lyft sy þe in bǽlwylm ac forhienan se wiðere!
Enter the Three Witches …
The evil of the three witches who set out to destroy Macbeth is palpable in the following lines, which are only a few taken from the much longer spell in the play by Shakespeare.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
In April or May, fashion a heart out of willowy rosemary branches. Secure your heart with a yellow ribbon – and for added strength, weave in a piece of your lover’s clothing or a strand of his or her hair. Place the charm in a white envelope, then place the envelope beneath your pillow. When the charm has worked its magic and brought the one you love closer to you, burn the rosemary heart in fire, thinking all the while of the fiery nature of your passion and love. (Taken from The Good Spell Book by Gillian Kemp).
Shield Us From Fire
Eragon spoke these words in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. They diverted fire from both him and his dragon Saphira.
Skölir nosu fra brisingr!
Rush, Waters of Bruinen
Arwen turns to her pursuers, the Ring Wraiths, and utters this spell. Anyone who has seen the movie The Fellowship of the Ring remembers the elven tongue … but what do these mysterious words translate to in English? “Waters of the Misty Mountains, hear the word of power. Rush, waters of Bruinen, against the Ring Wraiths.”
Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer!
There are spells of length, one-worded curses, rhyming and metered enchantments, a deceptively simple string of words … an endless variety of ways the words of magic have been portrayed through fiction and beyond. For me, no one of these methods is better than the other – each seems to fit with the story that is woven around it, and is meaningful and effective within its context.
Which are your favorites, from the above list or otherwise?
Posted on August 30, 2013, in books, fantasy, inspiration, Magic Spells and tagged charms, curse, enchantment, eragon, fire, harry potter, hex, incantation, Macbeth, magic, magic spell, merlin, narnia, potion, spells, the lord of the rings. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.