Monday, June 29, 2009

Corny Magic

How magic become corny, one letter at a time:


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Words Spoken with Force

"Words spoken with force create particles."
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

(Thanks to William Keckler)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zing Zang Zoom

"Zing Zang Zoom" is the magic phrase of a new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show. The director explains: "We created the story of a young magician (the 'zingmaster') and the magic words 'Zing Zang Zoom' he uses, and the audience learns how to use them during the course of the show to create all sorts of wonderful, magical occurrences and create the different circus acts."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


"Time is the magic word," suggests Monotone, an indie rock band from the Netherlands. They might be right:

"Did you catch that magic word? Time."
—Ross Campbell, How to Really Love Your Teen (2004)

"Protected by the magic word 'Time.'"
—Wilfred Burchett, "South of the 17th Parallel" (1955)

"The magic of Time, the greatest of all magics."
—Michael Scott, The Alchemist (2008)

But here's our favorite:

"This is the truly special magic of time: The mystery can be fully revealed and still remain mystery."
—Tarthang Tulku, Dynamics of Time and Space (1994)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Singing an Inner Song

"I believe that everybody is singing an inner song, and the question isn't whether we are or not — we are! — the question is whether this is a song of power or a song of weakness; whether it is a song of love or a song of hatred. That's the question."

Eugene Burger, from his interview in The Magic Circular (May 2009)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Pbth is a magic word "so powerful, you cannot spell it, and it can dispel the worst of insults or even the dreaded evil eye. . . . Just put two lips together, stick out your tongue, and blow. It's so easy that kids use it all the time" (Joann Hankamer).

(For other strange and unusual voweless words, don't miss our dictionary of all-consonat words.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

One Talismanic Word

"Van Wyck Brooks has remarked that every writer possesses in his vocabulary one talismanic word which suggests the essential secret of his personality."
The South Atlantic Quarterly

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Silence as a Word of Great Power

Thomas Merton, the celebrated Trappist monk, suggested that "The contemplative waits in silence and when he is 'answered,' it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by this silence itself suddenly, inexplicably, revealing itself to him as a word of great power" (Contemplative Prayer, qtd. in Spiritual Gardening by Pegg Streep).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Generous and Stingy

Generous and stingy are both magic words. Here's proof:

"In one experiment, [Duke University economist Dan] Ariely gave a group of volunteers t-shirts with the word 'generous' printed on them and gave another group shirts that said 'stingy.' It turned out the the people behaved according to the word on the shirts they were given, even when the word was printed inside the shirt so that no one else could see it." (Source.) (Thanks, Gordon!)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Si-gä'-hah is an Iroquois storyteller's magic word for "tying" an interrupted folk tale, as if symbolically making a knot in the thread of the narrative so as to mark the place in the story. "If any one for any reason wished to sleep or to leave the room, he must request the narrator to tie the story, 'Si-gä'-hah.' Failing to say this, and afterwards desiring to hear the remainder of the tale, the narrator would refuse him, for if he related it at all it must be from the beginning through, unless tied. Thus si-gä'-hah was the magic word by which a legend might be told as a serial" (Harriet Maxwell Converse, "Myths and Legends of the New York State Iroquois," New York State Museum Bulletin 125, Dec. 15, 1908).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Magic Hinges

The Bookshop has a thousand books,
All colors, hues, and tinges,
And every cover is a door
That turns on magic hinges.

—Nancy Byrd Turner, as quoted in Night Light: A Book of Nighttime Meditiations, by Amy E. Dean, 1986. (via DJMisc)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Blankichisserando is a sibyl’s “word of necromancy” for opening a door into a sanctum sanctorum in Maud Howe Elliott’s Sun and Shadow in Spain (1908). The word's origin is surprisingly mundane: it is based upon the French blanchisserie, meaning “laundry.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Ruth comes from the Hebrew Rut and means “compassion,” “friend,” or “mercy.” Ruth is the name of a Moabite woman from Jewish and Christian scripture.
“‘Ruth.’ He had not thought a simple sound could be so beautiful. It delighted his ear, and he grew intoxicated with the repetition of it. ‘Ruth.’ It was a talisman, a magic word to conjure with. Each time he murmured it, her face shimmered before him, suffusing the foul wall with a golden radiance. This radiance did not stop at the wall. It extended on into infinity, and through its golden depths his soul went questing after hers. The best that was in him was out in splendid flood. The very thought of her ennobled and purified him, made him better, and made him want to be better.” —Jack London, Martin Eden (1909)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009


The magic word boohbah, representing the power of imagination, is featured in the educational computer program “Boohbah” (2003) to stop action or make things happen.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Ri-too-ri-lal-lural is "the magic word of words" from fairyland.* It is to be pronounced "by persons of innocent hearts, who have not reached the age of twenty, who never use bad language, speak ill of their neighbours behind their backs, or eat fish with their knives."

*Whispers from Fairyland by Edward H. Knatchbull-Hugessen, 1875

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


(Larger version available at source.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Eikaj-Ohuna is a "magickal word from the Chaldean oracle of numbers and letters," created through the tossing of dice. (Michael Bertiaux, The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, 2007)