For those familiar with cantrips, you know they are minor acts of magic that have hardly any noticable effect on the world. For example a cantrip to make your food taste better won't heal you any more, or be any more nourishing, just won't make it so hard to get it down. A light cantrip certainly won't be able to blind or even distract anybody, but you might be able flash it to signal someone looking at the right spot.
What if children's nusery ryhmes were a form of cantrip? Like the "Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day." One child singing it wouldn't do more than spare her house a couple raindrops, but what if the whole village got together and was chanting in unison? Each one doing just a bit might actually be able to divert a whole storm...
A possible answer to what happens to spells when a mage dies. If the spell is strong enough, say and enchantment or other permenant effect, part of the mages spirit may become lodged in the magic. It may be a way for items to gain some kind of intelligence, but a mage who has knowledge of this fact would be very hesitant about enchanting anyone or thing. He might have other plans for his afterlife than counting the change in your bag of holding.
Preists, I think, would have this sort of thing covered.
Weapons or equipment that is heavily relied on can be "named". Then the equipment begins to gain abilities beyond those of normal equipment. They might siphon off some of the experiances of their owners (1 to 5%) and level up on thier own. Could be an unintenitional way of creating artifacts. Ships could become sturdier or seem to just barely outrun the worse of a storm that would have surely sunk another vessle, swords could fumble less or resist dulling more, a farmers plow could turn stones aside easier. Anything that is depended on as much as an inividual can depend on as much as another individual could be "named".
A golden skull contains the spirit of a person who has been magically entrapped in an ethereal undead status by an ancient ritual. The person was boiled alive in a golden mixture until nothing remained of him except the bones, now covered by a golden layer. Whoever has these golden bones, controls the spirit and can command it. It can assault the living with wind and storm. Manipulate objects and communicate with the living. (Inspired by Anne Rice, Servant of the Bones)