What is the Difference Between Invocation and Evocation?

Felicia Dye

Invocation and evocation are English words that are often used interchangeably. They are both derived from the Latin word vocare, which means to call forth. Both words can deal with summoning interaction with non-human entities. Yet, many people, especially those with knowledge of the occult, believe there are differences. These are generally based on how an entity is summoned and which entities are being dealt with.

Prayer might be used in an invocation.
Prayer might be used in an invocation.

In most cases, the words invocation and evocation are used in conjunction with actions that deal with peoples’ beliefs. Many people limit the use of these words to occult practices. According to their proper definitions, however, this does not have to be the case.

Heavenly entities such as angels are often believed to be invoked.
Heavenly entities such as angels are often believed to be invoked.

The first notable difference between evocation and invocation involves the distance between the entity that is being called forth and the person who is doing the calling. With an evocation, a non-human entity is summoned, but is not linked to the caller. The entity remains in an outer area. The energy that is used to summon the entity is also believed to be derived from outside of the caller.

With an invocation, the caller becomes a medium. The entity that she summons is meant to come forth within her. This person is generally believed to use inner resources or energies to allow this to happen.

When the process of invocation is successful and a non-human entity is acting through a person, a number of changes are believed to be possible. The person’s voice, for example, may be altered. Her physical appearance and demeanor may change. However, many who claim to have had such experiences say they are fully aware while the entity is acting through them.

Another difference between evocation and invocation involves the types of beliefs they are associated with. Evocation is generally only associated with the occult. Entities that are evoked are usually those that are perceived as being rivals to a heavenly God. These could include the devil or his demons.

Invocation can be associated with either type of belief. Heavenly entities such as Allah or angels are often believed to be invoked. They may be summoned by way of prayer to act through their subjects.

Law is another area where both of these words can have relevance and may be confused. In legal terms, an invocation involves summoning something from another case. This could be documents or physical evidence. An evocation involves transferring a case from a lower to higher court. If a case, for example, is removed from a district court and taken to a supreme court, it has been evoked.

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Evocation is the calling forth of that which is already inside, releasing it so that it may be known. Memories and emotions are evoked. It is proper to call a song, for example, evocative, if it summons up strong emotions.

Invocation is the calling forth of that which is external and bringing it within. Channeling is invocation. Acting is a form of invocation, as we channel the personality of another and bring it within us so that we may move and talk like they do.

Both are powerful means of psychological growth, and should not be limited to the esoteric realm. To evoke is to know thyself and to release that which has been repressed. To invoke is to fill in those areas of our character that we deem lacking by imitating the character of our heroes. Children invoke their parents as they grow.

A good therapist will encourage their client to evoke and invoke, though they will not use these words. Magick is, after all, a system of self-help. Many let the negative connotations of paganism deter them from the practice. Paganism implies only that these practices are older than the hills. In a capitalistic society, we think that newer is better. But that which has been evolving for thousands of years, and which has retained its utility for equally long, is certainly of worth if we are willing to open our mind to it.

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