Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Power Not Based in Letters

"A word's power is not based in the letters it is formed with, but rather your relationship, ideas, beliefs, images, and feelings about what the word symbolizes."
—Bree Maresca-Kramer, It's That Simple

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unlocking Magic's Greatest Magazine

We have a new book out for magicians and magic enthusiasts — a guide to the hidden gems of the classic magazine The Jinx (1934-42), entitled Jinx Companion.

See it online for free at our Jinx Companion page.

Friday, March 25, 2011


"It is impossible to understand how millions and millions of people all obey a sickly collection of gentlemen that call themselves 'Government!' The word, I expect, frightens people. It is a form of planetary hypnosis, and very unhealthy."
—Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When a Word's Power Diminishes

"Every now and then, I find a word's power has diminished. It's a sign that I have changed and I'm ready to move on."
—Mary Carroll Moore, How to Master Change in Your Life (1997)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Review of Alchemical Sequences Coloured

Some of our favorite magic words are actually pictographic. Take, for example, the profoundly arcane Rebus figure of alchemy, conjoining the opposites, or the Ouroboros dragon who guards the treasure of the Great Work. Glasgow's Adam McLean is an authority on the symbolic language of alchemy. He shares his passion for the subject in a hardcover volume entitled Alchemical Sequences Coloured. It's a meticulous labor of love and a joy to behold and explore. Printed with extraordinary detail on high-quality, silky paper, the painstakingly hand-tinted emblems come to life, inspiring active study to unlock their mysteries. Each alchemical symbol is beautiful and intriguing in its own right, but together the symbols compose the basic elements of a grander allegorical literature. The very first page of McLean's emblems dispels the popular, romantic misconception of alchemists as gold-obsessed wizards. Two distinct yet complementary faces of alchemy become immediately apparent: the exoteric (empirical/methodical/experiential/scientific) and the esoteric (theoretical/psychological/poetical/mystical). Though there is no one correct definition of alchemy, it may be safe to say that McLean's emblems constitute knowledge meant to float outside of time like a message in a bottle. As Gustav Meyrink suggests in his mystical novel The Green Face, "What is of value is not the invention itself, but man's inventiveness, not the picture — it's value is measured in monetary terms at the most — but the ability to paint. Any one picture can fall to pieces, but the ability to paint will not be lost, even if the painter should die. What remains is the power that has come from heaven; even if it should sleep for centuries, it always awakens when the genius who can reveal its majesty is born." Indeed, McLean's ability to paint is the true genius of this book. Highly recommended!

Mine and We

Youngeun Choi explains how the possessive pronoun mine is a magic word.

Meanwhile, Linda McPharlin favors another pronoun: we. Interestingly, she suggests that "'WE' can empower you to discover your own word. The word through which you will make your unique contribution to humankind to help us all reach our full potential both collectively and individually. Although there is magic in the word 'WE,' the real magic in it lies in you finding your magic word."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leaving a Mark

"As we learn to own and reveal a word's power, we leave a mark on the world around us."
—Patsy Rodenburg, "Re-Discovering Lost Voices," The Vocal Vision (1997)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lettuce Say the Magic Word

Chef Fred Raynaud has convinced us that lettuce is a magic word. He exclaims: "What a wonderful word—the word lettuce is. It is almost a proclamation. It beckons all its comrades to jump into the salad bowl and create something grand. It is a command, a call to action, a culinary trumpet if you will" (Reflections from the Kitchen).

We once stumbled across someone described as "a literary lettuce-leaf." It is a withering put down, presumably; a "literary artichoke" wouldn't sound so limp and would offer a more substantial heart within. And yet, perhaps enchanted by the alliteration, we find ourselves intrigued by the idea of a literary lettuce leaf.

Here's a lovely Lebanese folk song concerning a lettuce leaf:

The roses are full, full
The roses are always on my mind.
I love the roses only
And, O my soul, the lettuce leaf.

In a poem by Ricardo Sternberg, a lettuce leaf becomes the shroud of an expired mouse.

In Tom Robbins' Villa Incognito, mayonnaise cloaks a lettuce leaf like a magician's handkerchief, restoring the leaf's capacity to delight:

Yellow as summer sunlight, soft as young thighs, smooth as a Baptist preacher's rant, falsely innocent as a magician's handkerchief, mayonnaise will cloak a lettuce leaf, some shreds of cabbage, a few hunks of cold potato in the simplest splendor, recycling their dull character, making them lively and attractive again, granting them the capacity to delight the gullet if not the heart.

Fun fact: "In medieval belief, there were many ways a demon could enter the body, sometimes via so seemingly innocuous a vehicle as an unblessed lettuce leaf eaten by a careless nun" (Hilaire Kallendorf, Exorcism and Its Texts).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Review of Magic Words: A Dictionary

A lovely review of our dictionary of magic words, from the Silver Star Journal:
A massive and truly amazing tour de force of linguistic dexterity, merging sorcery, etymology, history, and literature into a global cascade of words of power magical and otherwise, drawn from countless ancient and modern civilizations. The art of Grammarye meets literary erudition, with each word examined, explained, and illuminated by wild and witty quotations from countless sources. Spells, mantras and Qabala meet slang, hokum and poetry. Enormous fun, and about thirty pages devoted to aspects of Abracadabra and its variants alone! Big fun! Hours of creative playtime!

Magic is Perfected Poetry

Enrique Enriquez defines magic and poetry, visually. Here's the link.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thrice Disposing of So Careless a Scrivener

Our friend Gordon shares this snap from the classic book Greater Magic, in which John Northern Hilliard proposes a game of Hangman for those who would persecute him for his errors:


Friday, March 11, 2011

On the Pronoun "I"

As collectors of one-letter words and lovers of microcosms, we were tickled by this description of "I":

"More than anybody else I have always found it painful to express myself otherwise than by the pronoun I. Not that this should be taken as a sign of particular pride, but for me the word I is the structure of the world in a nutshell." —Michel Leiris, Aurora

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why Words are Treacherous

"Words are treacherous because they are incomplete. The written word hangs in time like a lump of lead. Everything should move with the ages and the planets."
—Leonora Carrington, "The Stone Door," The Seventh Horse

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Merely Language

"The only reason a poem can be a magical experience, in those rare instances that it is, is because it uses, merely, language, the same language we use to argue about whose fault it was that we didn’t understand each other when we both spoke."
Geof Huth