Saturday, August 29, 2009

Magic Expletives

"There is was, the old Magic Word, clear as a bell, booming like a foghorn. 'Magic-Word you, you mother-Magic-Word-er.'"
—Joseph Di Prisco, Confessions of Brother Eli, 2000

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Words within Words

"Any word containing a magic word must be a magic word."
Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems, 1983, p. 544

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Higitus Figitus Migitus Mum

Higitus Figitus migitus mum,
—Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Disney's The Sword in the Stone

  • Higitus Figitus zoomacazam
  • Hockety pockety wockety wack, abracabra dabra nack
  • Ali-i-ca-fez bal-a-ca-zez malaca-mez meripides
  • Higitus Figitus zumbabazing

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sometimes They Work Wonders

"Before I send him up in the hills I'm going to give him a magic word."
"That's a good idea," said the Professor. "Sometimes they work wonders."
—Heywood Broun, Seeing Things at Night, 1921

Friday, August 21, 2009


The word of YHVH is refined
As silver and gold are refined.
When these letters came forth, they were all refined,
Carved precisely, sparkling, flashing.
All of Israel saw the letters
Flying through space in every direction,
Engraving themselves on the tablets of stone.

The Zohar, quoted in People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, 2008. (Via DJMisc)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flash Bam Alakazam

I was walking along minding my business
When love came and hit me in the eye
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Out of an orange colored sky.

—Milton DeLugg & Willie Stein, “Orange Colored Sky,” 1950

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ancient Civilizations

"The names of these cities call up, like an incantation, the memory of the civilisations which grew in them to greatness and sank in them to decay: Mesopotamia, a great heart of civilisation which is cold today, but which beat so strongly for five thousand years that its pulses were felt from Siberia to the Pillars of Hercules and influenced the taste and technique of the Scandinavian bronze age; the Assyrians, who extended the political marches of Mesopotamia towards the north, and turned them into a military monarchy that devastated the motherland and all other lands and peoples from the Tigris to the sea; the Hebrews, discovering a world-region in their hill-country overlooking the coast; the Sabaeans, whose queen made the first pilgrimage to Jerusalem, coming from Yemen across the Hedjaz when Mekka and Medina were still of no account ; the Philistines and Phoenicians of the Syrian sea-board, who were discovering the Atlantic and were too busy to listen to the Hebrew prophets in their hinterland; the Ionians, who opened up the Black Sea and created a poetry, philosophy, science, and architecture which are still the life-blood of ours, before they were overwhelmed, like the Phoenicians before them, by a continental military power; the Hittites, who first transmitted the fruitful influences of Mesopotamia to the Ionian coasts—a people as mysterious to their contemporaries as to ourselves, maturing unknown in the fastnesses of Anatolia, raising up a sudden empire that raided Mesopotamia and colonised the Syrian valleys, and then succumbing to waves of northern invasion. All these people rose and fell within the boundaries of Turkey, held the stage of the world for a time, and left their mark on its history. There is a romance about their names, a wonderful variety and intensity in their vanished life; yet they are not more diverse than their modern successors, in whose veins flows their blood and whose possibilities are only dwarfed by their achievements."
—The Armenian Herald, 1918

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Milton's Time-Warping Incantations

"[John Milton's] poetry acts like an incantation. Its merit lies less in its obvious meaning than in its occult power, and there would seem at first to be no more in his words than in other words. But they are words of enchantment. No sooner are they pronounced than the past is present and the distant near. New forms of beauty start at once into existence, and all the burial-places of the memory give up their dead."
—Thomas Babington Macaulay, Essay on Milton

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Druther is a magic affirmation, from a late 19th century pronunciation of "I'd rather."

"If I had my druthers every one, I'd have my wooden druthers, too." It sounded like an incantation, or the first couple lines of a poem maybe. It seemed, in the dark and under the moon, like lyrics from a very old song, translated too many times into too many tongues to be traced to ground.
—E. R. Stuart, "Wooden Druthers," The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 2000.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rabbit Cadabra

Rabbit Cadabra brings the classic magician’s white bunny into the famous magic word abracadabra. The hare is a traditional Trickster archetype in folklore.

Rabbit-Cadabra is a picture book for children, featuring a vampire rabbit and characters from the Bunnicula series of books by James Howe (1993).

(Photo of a sign in Vienna, by marcelgermain.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Difference Between a Psychologist and a Magician

Q: What's the difference between a psychologist and a magician?

A: A psychologist pulls habits out of rats.

(via Futility Closet)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


"Tad said loudly, 'AHDAHMAH!' He felt a surge of power run through him as he had never known."
—Jerry Blair, The Tree of the Nevee

In the Kabbalistic tradition, Ahdahmah is "a word for the element of earth, intimately associated with 'Adam,' the primordial human" (Jerry Blair, The Tree of the Nevee, 2002).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Magically Delicious

Comedian Michael Ian Black tweets: "Shouldn't we be concerned about a food that's 'magically' delicious? I'm not sure I want deliciousness to come from magic."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sain Sanat Salasta Ilmi

Sain sanat salasta ilmi: "The words I laid open!" (from the Finnish epic saga Kalevala. Photo by xjyxjy).