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★ What Do Shin Megami Tensei Persona Spell Names Mean? ★

Follow Me on Pinterest On today’s episode of RPG(ology) we’ll talk about the meaning behind a few of the spells in Megaten games! This includes the Persona games!

Note that not all spells in the MegaTen series always do the same things or have the same naming conventions. There are subtle differences between the precise effects and names of spells in other game franchises too, especially Final Fantasy.

Zio is the name for the family of lightning spells in the Shin Megami Tensei series. Zio is actually a little known alternate name for Tyr (tear), a god of air and war in Norse mythology. Zio was a more common name for the god among the Germanic tribe the Teutons, who were kind of like cousins to the Gauls and shared a lot of religious ideas between one another in the Greek and Roman eras.

Actually, Tyr was also the source material for Jupiter, the roman God of Thunder and the Greek God, Zeus; these latter gods being a combination of the ideas surrounding Tyr, Odin and Thor. And for those curious my source is page 196 of Teutonic mythology, Volume 1 by Jacob Grimm– yes, that Jacob Grimm.

Agi, the family of fire spells, are most likely based on Agni, the Hindu god of fire and accepter of sacrifices.

Zan spells tend to differ on the game, sometimes they are a family of wind spells, and other times they are blast or almighty spells. I’m unsure what Zan is supposed to reference, but the Kanji used in the original game is ザン, which translates as “than” into English. I’m unsure what the significance of this is.


Garu is a class of wind spells in some of the games. The name most likely comes from the Hindu deity Garuda, a mythical bird deity who is often portrayed as the mount of Vishnu. Garuda is often used as a symbol in Hinduism to represent violent force and speed; fitting since the Garu family of spells are Wind based.

Bufu is the family of ice spells, and near as I can tell an Engrishified abbreviation for the Sanskirt bRhattuhinazarkara बृहत्तुहिनशर्कर, which means “full of great lumps of ice”. I imagine the English localization of “bufu” is a correction due to translation of the original Sanskrit into Japanese, and then heavily Engrishified into the form we are familiar with.

Mudo means pathless or curse in Japanese, and Hama is a kind of exorcism in Shinto. This makes sense as both Mudo and Hama cause instant death, though Mudo is more effective against Light aligned monsters and Hama is more effective against Darkness aligned monsters.

Some people have wondered about the etymology behind the stronger versions of the elemental spells.

Maha means “great” in Sanskirt — this makes sense, since the ‘Ma-prefix is added to the front of a spell that hits multiple enemies, such as MaBufu or MaZio.

The Rama label is attached to the medium strength elemental spells, such as Agirama or Bufurama. Rama of course is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. I’m unsure why Rama was chosen as the affix for medium strength spells, since his name is an epitaph for “night”.

Dyne is often added to the strongest versions of the base elemental spells. Dyne means “power” or “force” in Greek, and is also a unit of measurement in physics.

Dia is the name of the basic healing spell, and could come from a variety of places. Dia is the name of a nymph in Greek mythology who was one of Zeus’ lovers. Another possibility is the Celtic goddess Dia Greine, a sun goddess whose name means ‘Sun’s tear’ and her legend is associated with reincarnation- which would make sense since Dia is a healing spell in Megaten games.

Recarm is Sanskirt for reincarnation, which is fitting since it is a reviving spell.

Amrita is Sanskirt for immortality, or rather the nectar of immortality. It is a synonym for Soma, the drink of the Hindu gods which maintains their immortality.

Some of the high level spells in the games are named after locations of religious significance.

For example, the Almighty spell Megiddo is a reference to Tel Megiddo, an ancient city in modern day Israel. Megiddo, better known to English speakers by its Latin name, Armageddon, or Mount of Megiddo, is of theological significance to Christians due to the Book of Revelations. While no version of Revolutions ever says that Megiddo will be the site of anything more important than the meeting of kings, it has become popular in Christian beliefs to say Megiddo is the site of the final battle between good and evil. Over time the word Armageddon has become associated with the idea of the world ending, and it’s original meaning greatly diluted.

Another location used as a spell name is Nifleheim, which is a region of the underworld in Norse mythology that is covered in mist– and used as the name for the strongest ice spell.

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