Wednesday, March 31, 2010


“Spoken words are silver, unspoken words are gold.”
—Leo Tolstoy, War & Peace, 1869; translated by Anthony Briggs, 2005. (p. 491)
(via DJMisc)

Monday, March 29, 2010


"The word 'sorcerer' is magical itself and conjures up images as different as Merlin the Magician, the Sorcerer's Apprentice and Dr. Faust."
—Lynn Edelman Schnurnberger, Kings, Queens, Knights, & Jesters (1978)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Praise and Blame

"The human use of word magic extends as far as magical practice itself. Without oversimplifying, it might be helpful to categorize the magical use of verbal power in literary terms: as praise and blame." —Stephen Murphy, The Gift of Immortality

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Fairy Origin of Abracadabra

Our article tracing the magic word abracadabra back to fairy origins is now available for free reading over at Witches & Pagans.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


In the World of Warcraft game universe, Allaminar is a magic word used by night elves for creating illumination.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Magic and Erudition

Magic and erudition in alliance
Opened the door to every mystery.
—Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game,
translated by Richard and Clara Winston

Monday, March 15, 2010


"['Transcend'] has been a veritable magic word for me, like 'awakening,' an impetus, a consolation, and a promise. My life, I resolved, ought to be a perpetual transcending, a progression from stage to stage; I wanted it to pass through one area after the next, leaving each behind, as music moves on from theme to theme, from tempo to tempo, playing each out to the end, completing each and leaving it behind, never tiring, never sleeping, forever wakeful, forever in the present."
—Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, translated by Richard and Clara Winston

Friday, March 12, 2010


“‘Therefore,’ approximately in the sense of ‘Abracadabra’ or ‘Open Sesame.’” —Roger Kimball, The Rape of the Masters (2004)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Your Name on a Wall

Peter Prevos explores how writing one's name on a wall is an act of magic:
Magic is a psychological force – a means to understand our position in nature. Although some might argue that magic has been wiped from contemporary culture, it has never actually disappeared from our psyche. Simple acts, such as writing your name on a wall are in fact magical. To some this is a simple act of vandalism, but that is not the real motivation for people to do this.

Writing your name on a wall makes the wall becomes an extension of yourself and you become part of the wall. It is a way to exert our self onto the world. This is I think the deeper psychological reason for the popularity of tagging. Tagging is a way to impart part of your self onto the environment in which you live. This is in essence an act of magic because it is a way to connect the inner world (psychology) with physical reality. There is no rational reason to write your name on a wall.
See his full discussion here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Fred points out an archaic Italian word meaning effortless magic: Sprezzatura.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Prana is a Sanskrit word for the breath as a life-giving force.

"In Hindu magic prana is the energy source for all magical feats. Magicians use prana to energize the imagination and will, which are the keys to the Creative Mind Principle, the controlling instrument of genuine magic." —Rosemary Guiley, Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, 1991, p. 627

(Dedicated to Fred.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


We just discovered (with help from Gordon) that a Mac app called Presto contains a passage from our Magic Words: A Dictionary. Presto is a utility for quickly pasting in commonly used snippets of text, and the magic word "presto" is the default example. So when one types "presto" into any application, a passage from our dictionary appears, like magic!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Zim Zala Bim

Facts: Zim Zala Bim is the name of a Commodore 64 computer game (1984).

Variations and Incantations:

* Abrakadabra zim zala bim -- Anonymous, "Earth Dream" (2000)