Wednesday, September 17, 2008


There are profound truths in that old cliché of a magician pulling a rabbit out of an empty hat with the magic word abracadabra. Almost everyone recognizes the image. But what relatively few people know is that our stereotypical magician is speaking an ancient Hebrew phrase that means “I will create with words.”[1] He is making something out of nothing, echoing that famous line from Genesis: “Let there be light, and there was light.” Only in this case, the magician’s venue being already equipped with light, the magic is applied toward the creation of rabbits—and perhaps a sensational flash of supplementary illumination, in the form of fire.

The magic word, whether it be abracadabra or another at the magician’s disposal, resonates with the audience because there is an instinctive understanding that words are powerful, creative forces. “The word has always held an ancient enchantment for humans,” says scholar Ted Andrews. “It hints of journeys into unseen and unmapped domains.”[2] No wonder it has been said that “all magic is in a word.”[3]

[1] David Aaron, Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah (1998)
[2] Simplified Qabala Magic (2003)
[3] Alphonse Louis Constant (Eliphas Levi), The Key of the Mysteries (1861)

No comments: