Pp. 37-48 (12)
John Alan Cohan
The idea of mana permeates the customs of many cultures, including modern cultures. Mana provides
the theoretical basis for such beliefs as animism, totemism, witchcraft, and sorcery. Mana is the means by which
power is transmitted from one being to another. It means, roughly speaking, power, but a force altogether distinct
from physical power-a power associated with a spirit, a totemic ancestor, or other supernatural agency. All things
are thought to possess a “vital essence” that can be transferred by contact. Mana is thought to be expressed most
notably through thoughts and words, and this is evident in shamanic healing, folk medicine, or simply prayer
intended for healing. The conviction of a person uttering an incantation is thought to be an element relating to the
efficacy of a prayer, curse or ritual. There is widespread belief that mana subsists in names, as well as in artifacts,
tools and weapons. A club or spear of a great warrior, for example, is the abode of powerful mana. Objects such
as amulets and charms are thought to be imbued with mana, either intrinsically, or after being consecrated for
certain purposes, usually for the purpose of averting evil or to secure good fortune.
Western State Law School USA.