For thousands of years, magic and spells have been written in various languages from Latin, Medieval English, Old English and a variety of others based on regions, countries and cultures.
Some spell books have been translated while other spell books have remained in tact in the original script or language.
Some ancient spells are written in code and script that is intended to be deciphered by only those who know how to read the magical script.
Historically even in the Roman Catholic Church, the Tridentine Mass (“Latin Mass”) was performed only in Latin which was still popular even in North America up until the 1960s. The Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican still performs its rituals in Latin.
So what purpose does writing in a foreign language add to witchcraft, magick or spells?
Witchcraft & Languages: Why Spells in a Foreign Language are Mystical AF
When performing a ritual or spell in a foreign language, the tone and sounds of the language can add a certain element of mysticism to the working.
If you’re familiar with the chosen foreign language for your working or spell, there may be certain words that have additional meaning that don’t hold the same substance or context in your mother language.
If you’re unfamiliar or somewhat familiar with the chosen language for your magickal working, you will be less focused on the words and more on the sound of the language to give it emphasis.
However, it’s important to have an accurate translation of any spell or ritual that is to be performed.
Translation of Rituals or Spells
If you’re not fluent, bilingual in another foreign language or you don’t have a grammatical understanding of the language, you may want to do some research and lessons in the chosen foreign language before attempting to translate your rituals or spells.
While Google Translate can be effective to give you the “bare bones” of the sentence or paragraph, it won’t understand the nuances of the translation such as selecting the right word for context or correctly identifying the gender of the speaker (e.g. if using first-person past tense verbs in a Slavic language.)
Some language apps or programs that may be helpful are:
How to Choose a Foreign Language for Magick or Spells
Choosing a foreign language will come down to personal choice, your ancestral background and/or your chosen witchcraft path.
For example, if you follow a Norse Witchcraft path, you may wish to learn Old Norse or one of the Nordic languages such as Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese or Finnish.
If you follow a Germanic Witchcraft path, you may wish to learn German.
If you follow an Eastern European path, you may wish to learn a Slavic language such as Polish, Ukrainian, or Russian.
If you are drawn to Celtic / British witchcraft, you may wish to learn Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh.
When choosing a language, it may also come down to your aptitude for the language and the amount of resources available for that chosen language.
This will also depend on your learning style and your goals for learning the language whether you prefer self-learning text, books, videos or if you prefer to have a class setting whether virtually or in person.
How to use Foreign Languages in Witchcraft
So how can you use a foreign language in witchcraft to enhance your magick?
Here are a few suggestions:
Connect with your ancestors by writing or speaking in their language. If you’re not sure if any of your known ancestors spoke a language different from your mother language, expand your knowledge with an ancestral DNA test from Ancestry DNA.
If you find that you have ancestry from different regions that have different languages, select and explore languages of your ancestors that you think you will be able to learn.
Some languages are more difficult than others such as Chinese, Polish, Finnish and Hungarian. Russian is considered somewhat difficult but gets easier once you get the hang of it.
For example, if you feel you have a knack for Romance languages, stick to languages within that language family.
If your chosen language has an alphabet that is different than your mother language, work on mastering the alphabet.
Working with a God or Goddess from a Certain Region
If you’re working with a god or goddess from a certain region where a language is spoken that’s different than your mother language, you can take steps to learn some of the language from that region.
For example, learning some Greek for Greek gods / goddesses; Latin for Roman gods / goddesses; Gaelic for Celtic gods / goddesses, Old Norse for Nordic gods / goddesses, etc.
While your goal may not be to become fluent in the language, it may be helpful to know:
- certain greetings, salutations,
- words of appreciation
- how to petition / ask for blessings or favours, and
- give thanks.
Writing in Your Grimoire / Book of Shadows
Knowing a foreign language can be an excellent way to record and keep your grimoire or book of shadows secret from other people who are unfamiliar with the language.
If you’re learning the language, this can be an excellent way to practice and learn witchcraft terminology and items such as the names of herbs and witchcraft items such as candles.
If writing your grimoire or book of shadows by hand, this will also help commit to memory the foreign words in your target language.
If not familiar with your chosen language, practice writing what you want to write in the language before copying the text to your grimoire or book of shadows.
Creating Spells or Rituals
Translating spells or rituals into a foreign language (ideally one that you’re interested in) can help add power and energy to the spell or ritual.
This can include writing down petitions in the language, chanting, incantations, invocations, evocations, etc.
Daily prayers can be recited in your chosen foreign language. Memorizing the prayers will add more emphasis and assist with learning the language.
You can write a small prayer in your chosen target language, print it onto a piece of paper and cut it out to make it pocket sized so that you can carry it wherever you go or place it at your workspace or altar.
The more you recite the prayer in the foreign language, the more it will begin to feel natural. This is excellent also for daily ancestral veneration prayers.
Learning languages isn’t for everyone – depending on your interest, skill level or aptitude for learning language.
However, writing in a foreign language or even a magickal script such as the Theban Script can add an element of mysticism and mystery to your workings.
For more about the Theban script, check out Omniglot: Theban and The Original Theban Workbook: Learn to Read and Write the Witches Alphabet.
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