Genres and Categories of Verbal Magic: Towards a Holistic Approach

Passalis, Haralampos (Articol)

“The term “verbal magic” defines a variety of phenomena such as verbal charms/spells/incantations, exorcisms, abracadabras etc., of which the main common characteristic is the considered “magical” efficiency attributed to the verbal part of a ritual act. This general term which is composed of the combination of two non clearly defined words, verbal and magic, is based on the attempt to discriminate the verbal part of a ritual act from the non verbal or the ‘magic’ from other academically defined categories, as ‘religion’ or ‘science’. The present paper constitutes an attempt in investigating the existence – or not – of the appropriate criteria of distinguishing the magical verbal genres and supports the idea of creating a European database that would mainly include the folk terminology of different types of verbal magic with an English translation. The fore-mentioned database will take into consideration, apart from functional and morphological factors, contextual parameters as type of performers and performance (collective or private, written, oral or reading performance), restrictions on transmission, accompanied ritual acts, etc. The creation of such a database could facilitate and enable a comparative study and the holistic examination of the phenomenon of verbal magic, point out similarities and differences between different types, identify the mixture of genres and ultimately explore whether there are criteria or distinctive features which allow classification of any kind.”

Cuvinte cheie: Charms, Distinctive Features/Criteria of Classification, European Database, Incantations, Performative Frame, Spells, and Verbal Magic

Revista de etnografie și folclor / Journal of Ethnography and Folklore

2011, nr. 1-2