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Romans, though you’re guiltless, you’ll still expiate
your fathers’ sins, till you’ve restored the temples,
and the tumbling shrines of all the gods,
and their images, soiled with black smoke.
~Horace, Odes, III, 6; A. S. Kline trans.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Invoke and Evoke

I had a nice exchange recently about these two words, "invoke" and "evoke", and how they differ. I thought I should look around and see what other people think and how they might be used differently and I found this page (an page on Paganism/Wicca). It makes this distinction: "To evoke a deity or being is to call upon it and ask it to join you during ritual or a working. ... Invoking, on the other hand, is a form of voluntary possession." This is very different from the way that we cultores use these words.

To invoke, from Latin invocare, is "to call upon" or "to call for help". The noun is invocatio, "a calling upon". Cicero used invocare in relation to both gods and human help.

In contrast, to evoke, from Latin evocare, is "to call out". It is used to describe summoning the spirits of the dead (aliquem ab infernis evocare) or calling forth a god "from a besieged city by promising a temple at Rome". It was also used to summon soldiers for service or to call someone out to fight.

Since the general attitude of cultores is that the gods are "...the benevolent partners of mortals in the management of the world..." (Scheid p. 173) and therefore present at all times, there is no need to "evoke" them, except in the special circumstances mentioned above. They are already here, alongside us. We praise them directly, we offer them the respect that they are due because of their nature. When we need help, we ask for it. We invoke them, because they are already here.

In case it needs saying, I mean no disrespect to our Wiccan brothers and sisters, and I hope that they will continue to act as they see fit. I don't mean to say that they are wrong. It is just that we have different traditions.

[Latin definitions are from Cassell's Latin dictionary.]

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