Monday, June 30, 2008


Ideally, the magus becomes a nexus between God and the World.
—Christopher I. Lehrich, The Language of Demons and Angels (2003)
Nexus is of Latin origin, meaning a “binding together” of two things.[1] The word connotes a link or connection “with a motive for mutual benefit,” as in a network.[2] The word can also refer to a central point or core.

was the favorite magic word of Nicolas of Cusa, the 15th century philosopher, mathematician, and cardinal.[3]

A nexus may refer to a dimensional gate or portal. For example, in the fantasy novel Beyond World’s End by Mercedes Lackey, a nexus is “the rent in the fabric of Reality that let[s] the power from the World Beyond seep over into this one.”[4]

[1] Steve Blamires, Magic of the Celtic Otherworld (2005)
[2] P.J. Alexander, Policing India in the New Millennium (2002)
[3] Anita Albus and Michael Robertson, The Art of Arts (2001)
[4] Mercedes Lackey, Beyond World’s End (2001)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pentola, Pentola, Pentola, Bolli

Having found no fewer than 100 ways to fail to boil water, we were delighted to unearth an Italian magic spell that works even on a watched pot: Pentola, pentola, pentola, bolli.
‘Do you know what Pascoli said to the kettle which wouldn’t boil for his dinner?’ Monti suddenly asked one morning, ‘Pentola, pentola, pentola, bolli.’
—Iris Origo, Images and Shadows (1999)
Speaking of boiling water, here's a fun coincidence: While investigating a reference to "lirum larum" for our dictionary of magic words, we came across the song of a will-o'-the-wisp who just so happens to be describing bringing a kettle of water to a boil. Here's the quotation:
"Lirum! Larum! Long ago! long ago!" sang the little Light. "Is twenty years long ago? Ha, ha, ha! Yes,—twenty years ago and more, —the Kettle chirped its watery song; there I sat, and there I burned, on that one blissful evening!"
—Marie Petersen, The Will-o'-the-Wisps (1883)

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Oh! Brocoli,
Oh! Brocoli,
A magic word
is Brocoli!
—J.A.H., “The Masonic Password,” Freemason’s Magazine (Aug. 15, 1868)
The incantation quoted above was said in jest, yet it's not preposterous that the vegetable broccoli have a magical name. The word derives from a Latin root, brocchus, meaning "projecting." A simple definition of a magic word is "a powered projection" (to paraphrase W. Ong, The Presence of the Word, 1967).

(The image of fractal broccoli is courtesy of Digital Expressionism.)

Friday, June 27, 2008


Known as the "master of magic words" [1], Hermes is the Greek messenger god who crosses the boundary between the mortal and immortal worlds. (His Roman counterpart is Mercury.) In his novel The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann offers a lovely meditation on the magic of Hermes:
Hermetic’—I’ve always liked that word. It’s a magic word with vague, vast associations. . . . I can’t help thinking about our old canning jars . . . hermetically sealed jars, with fruit and meat and all sorts of other things inside. There they stand, for months, for years, but when you need one and open it up, what’s inside is fresh and intact, neither years nor months have had any effect, you can eat it just as it is. Now, it’s not alchemy or purification, of course, it’s simple preservation, which is why they’re called preserves. But the magical thing about it is that what gets preserved in them has been withdrawn from time, has been hermetically blocked off from time, which passes right by. Preserves don’t have time, so to speak, but stand there on the shelf outside of time.
—translated by John E. Woods (1995)

For a deeply fascinating and suspenseful exploration of the Hermetic tradition, don't miss the novel Mercurius by Patrick Harpur.

[1] Norman Oliver Brown, Hermes the Thief: Evolution of a Myth, 1990, p. 15.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Our reflective magician friend Fredrick reminded us of the magic word inspiratus, Latin for the divine "breath" that inspires creativity. We unearthed a delightful fakir's incantation that incorporates the word as it celebrates a Schrödinger's Cat paradox:
Hocus, pocus, inspiratus,
there is a cat in the hat;
hocus, pocus, inspiratus,
there is no cat in the hat.
(Incantation quoted in Lawrence Bruehl's The Mathematics of Unlimited Prosperity, 1939, p. 313.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Today's magic word is dedicated to Ferdinando Buscema, an extraordinary wonder worker based in Torino, Italy.
The magic word ‘Italia.’ If your heart does not leap at the sight of it you may as well about-turn and get you home again; for you have no sense of history, no love of art, no hunger for divine, inexhaustible beauty. For all these things are implicit in the one word, ‘Italy.’
—William Archer, “Eviva L’Italia,” The Forum of Democracy (1918)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Hearken, So-and-so, and assist me . . . .
I desire to ask for a little magic.
—a Malay shaman’s spell, Folklore,
Vol. XV (1904), p. 156
As we were celebrating the premiere of “Women in Boxes,” the documentary about magicians’ assistants, we were reminded that the verb assist is a magic word. Indeed, it figures into the incantations of the Gnostic medics, who used the verb in their secret rites for traveling through the “Airs of Mystery.” After reciting a magic prayer in Latin, these mystic doctors beseeched by saying “Assist me, Genii, assist me” (Samael Aun Weor, Occult Medicine and Practical Magic, 2004, p. 102).