Wednesday, December 30, 2009


mirabilia: a Latin word meaning marvels, miracles, wonders.
"If all possible mirabilia are natural mirabilia, and if all nature is good, how can a magician err?"
—Jan R. Veenstra & Laurens Pignon, Magic and Divination at the Courts of Burgundy and France, 1998

(Thanks to Fred for suggesting the word.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009


"The word 'sunshine' is a magical word. It can turn a dark mood into laughter."
—Angela R. Novak Amado, Friendships and Community Connections Between People With and Without Developmental Disabilities (1993)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Almost Magic Words

We often notice references to "almost magic" words. Will these words eventually graduate to fully-magical status, or will their power flicker out over time? Here are some examples of words designated as "almost magic":
  • appreciate
  • architectonic
  • billion
  • contiguity
  • evolve
  • freedom
  • incentive
  • influence
  • information
  • liberty
  • mercy
  • mojo
  • pedigree
  • philosopher
  • polymers
  • sharing
  • stability
  • theory
  • Transylvania

Monday, December 21, 2009


"The very word forest is magical, suggesting an abundance of rich colors, shifting patterns of haunting light, textures and materials that practically ask to be touched, earthy and evocative smells, and mysterious thematic sounds. A forest changes with every step taken into it. It whispers much, but I always sense there is much more held back, much more to be discovered if I can only take the time to stop and stare and listen and sniff."
—Michael W. Robbins, The Hiking Companion (2003)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

World and Magic

(Click image to enlarge.)

* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins. Parchment texture by pareeerica.

Friday, December 18, 2009


"Egypt! What wondrous pictures are conjured up by that magic word! Scenes of white-robed priests moving in solemn procession through columned aisles to the sound of stately music; . . . of royal pageants wherein King and Queen, bedecked in silks and cloth of gold, embroidered with a mine of gems, pass through the crowded lines of their acclaiming subjects; scenes of light and life and colour, which cannot fail to rouse our admiration, even our awe; such are some of the pictures that rise before us at the sound of the mystic name." -- F. H. Brooksbank, Legends of Ancient Egypt (1914)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


"I thought I wouldn't write a poem, but just write what I wanted to without fear, let my imagination go, open secrecy, and scribble magic lines from my real mind—sum up my life—something I wouldn't be able to show anybody, writ for my own soul's ear and a few other golden ears."
—Allen Ginsberg, “Notes Written on Finally Recording Howl” (via Social Fiction)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Magic as the Essence of All the Arts

"Some speak of magic aspiring to be art, but it is really art that aspires to be magic. Magic is the highest art, pure art, art's ultimate accomplishment."
—Lee Siegel, Net of Magic

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breaking the Curse of Cassandra

This is a talismanic mini-treasure chest I made for breaking a curse. Like her namesake in Greek mythology, my cousin Cassandra often complains of speaking the truth but being disbelieved. The box I prepared contains 30 parchments, each with a snippet from literature in opposition to the curse of Cassandra. They are all positive affirmations and earnest wishes -- essentially promissory notes. I didn't need the statements to come from literature (I don't even cite the sources on the parchments), but the scavenger hunt was fun, and the different type styles lend some nice variety to the pieces.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The magic word zigazak originated in a Jewish fable. It is featured in Eric Kimmel's book Zigazak! A Magical Hanukkah Night.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Spell that Won't be Broken

Though we say goodbye
We cast a spell that won't be broken:
"Let this night forever live in our dreams!"
—Walt Disney World's "Spectromagic" parade

Thursday, December 10, 2009


This is an Italian magic word from the animated film Opopomoz (2003), taught to a little boy by three mischievous devils.

Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas

See our previous post about this palindromic magic phrase.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Masquerade Wherein the World Lays Open Its Secret

"Whoever disguises himself in words turns into their interior and thus into that which they 'properly' are, into clouds."
—Rainer Nägele, Benjamin's Ground: New Readings of Walter Benjamin

Friday, December 4, 2009

How to Electrify with Words

In "The Creation Game®" card deck, magician George Parker notes that magic formulae aren't confined to fairy tales. He encourages us to "Notice how some words can rob you of your energy, while other phrases seem to instantly vitalize you. Block out words that drain you of energy. Use expressions that fuel you." Parker suggests that the best way to become a wizard of words is to bring conscious, artful awareness to everything you say. "Talk like a poet. Express yourself in a vivid, colorful and rich way. Observe how consciously chosen words have the power not only to electrify yourself, but also to transform other people."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Words to the Snake

In traditional Finnish magic, "Word magic was used to get rid of snakes and other pests. One has to read 'words to the snake' which is a long spell, and recite very fast if one can remember the words. As snakes are deaf, this would fall on deaf ears, but maybe the fast recitation makes for a certain vibration that snake would feel." —Kati Koppana, Snake Fat and Knotted Threads: An Introduction to Traditional Finnish Healing Magic, 2003

Photo caption: "The asp plugs one ear with its tail while pressing the other ear to the ground, so it cannot hear the words the enchanter is reading from a scroll. British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 61r."