Friday, April 29, 2011


Credo! Great word of mystic might,
Grow clearer on my soul,
Flash through its deepest depths thy light
—Cassie M. O'Hara, "Credo," The Irish Monthly (1884)

Credo is of Latin origin, meaning "I believe."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

"But all my frozen brain could come up with was, ‘¡Albóndigas!’” —David Lubar, Wizards of the Game (2003)

Monday, April 25, 2011


From our Abecedarian outpost:

"There is only the finest line between 'I am dreaming' and 'I am in a dream,' since the brain creates both states. Why not cross the line?" —Deepak Chopra, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul (2009)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wishka, Washka, Wushka

"[T]he fairy jumped up and down in front of the old lady squirrel three times, and said: ‘Wishka, Washka, Wushka!’ which is magical, you know, and then she added: ‘Look at your tail!’ and believe me, if grandma’s tail hadn’t turned silver-gray, just like grandpa’s, and she felt ever so much better. Then the fairy jumped out of the window and disappeared, after saying good-bye.” —Howard Roger Garis, Johnnie and Billie Bushytail (1910)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Cosmic Abracadabra

“A flawless sapphire, star-bright, a cosmic abracadabra...” —Lisa Rosenblatt

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Magic Vowels

This Wills's cigarette card shows a talisman with Greek vowels. According to the information on the back of the card, "the desired favors were supposed to be granted upon the correct utterance of the forty-nine different sounds of the Seven Vowels, each vowel having seven distinct methods of expression." Moreover, the ancients believed there was a correspondence between the seven vowels and seven planets known to them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sucop Sucoh

Sucop, Sucoh! Hold on tight! Soon my magic will work right.
—Kemal Kurt, Mixed-Up Journey to Magic Mountain (2002)

Facts: This magic phrase is hocus pocus spelled backwards.

In Literature:

  • From Mixed-Up Journey to Magic Mountain by Kemal Kurt (2002):
  • Rabbit’s paw, garden snail,
    Cat’s eye, mouse hair, dragon tail,
    Cross your fingers if you dare,
    From my hat will hop a hare!
    Sucop, Sucoh!
    You will see,
    My spells are working perfectly!
  • “The crowd circles around the old soothsayer with his long white beard and gray tunic. He was casting his wicked incantations upon Anazasi. ‘sucop . . . sucoh,’ he chanted loudly.” —Joseph DeMarco, 4 Hundred and 20 Assassins of Emir Abdullah-Harazins (2004)
  • Monday, April 18, 2011

    His Slightest Wish

    A line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    “His slightest wish seemed always to be translated instantly into the most impressive kind of reality."

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Oolong Caloophid Baeower Gazots

    This magic incantation is featured in The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters by Roger M. Wilcox (1986). The words Oolong Caloophid reference the humorous science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Wilcox explains: “Oolong Caloophid is . . . the author of that trilogy of philosophical blockbusters, ‘Where God Went Wrong,’ ‘Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes,’ and ‘Who Is This God Person Anyway?’”

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Mist Streaming

    A line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    “Mist streaming over the ridge, snatching trees and boulders from view then magically revealing them once more."

    Thursday, April 14, 2011


    A line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    Yet as insubstantial as a puff of smoke may be, there’s an undeniable concreteness to poof as a magic word.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Machts Nichts


  • I’m easy
  • “‘Naw, macht nichts, let’s walk.’ Jack pronounces it ‘mox nix,’ meaning ‘makes no difference’ or, in air force parlance, ‘I’m easy.’” —Ann-Marie MacDonald, The Way the Crow Flies (2003)
  • Matters not
  • Never mind
  • Whatever
  • Origins: This is a German colloquial expression.

    Variations and Incantations:

  • Mox Nix
  • Mocks Nicks
  • In Literature:

  • “She took a drag and waved both the smoke and the image away, dismissing them with the words she used to take the curse off all vexations, ‘Machts nichts.’ I repeated the magical words under my breath. Mox nix.” —Sarah Bird, The Yokota Officers Club (2001)
  • Monday, April 11, 2011

    Hisses as Magic Words

    “As they landed, Rolf waited a clear view, then gave a short sharp ‘Hist!’ It was like a word of magic, for it turned the three moving deer to three stony-still statues.” —Ernest Thompson Seton, Rolf In The Woods (1911)

    “The ‘hissings and murmurings’ . . . of magicians.” —Edward Peters, The Magician, the Witch and the Law (1978)"

    "Jack Starhouse could make [cats] dance wild dances, leaping about upon their hind legs and casting themselves from side to side. This he did by strange sighs and whistlings and hissings.” —Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004)

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    An Abracadabra Talisman followup

    Our magician friend and home-hacking expert Gordon shares a lovely photo response to our previous post about the abracadabra talisman. Our favorite detail in the photo is the ironic "Do Not Duplicate" message on the key next to the talisman. By the way, Gordon inspired and co-authored our latest book on magic, JINX Companion.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011


    A line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    For author M.M. Kaye, “Zanzibar is one of those names that possess a peculiar, singing magic in every syllable."

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    A Poetic Formula

    Gary Barwin offers a poetic formula for creating a magic wand and/or a magic word:

    Meanwhile, here's a line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    "I waved my linked hands around and chanted, ‘Football touchdown, toilet plunger, hocus pocus, woof!’"

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    A Magical Radiance

    "He realized how the world would grow anew with a magical radiance if he should ever manage to see all the things that habit and routine had robbed of speech in a fresh light."
    —Gustav Meyrink, The Green Face

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Words Fluttered Like Black Moths

    A line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    "From between those pages . . . from the leaves of the forest trees . . . words fluttered like black moths."


    Meanwhile, Gordon notes some interesting word clouds which "are incantations to induce children to buy whatever is being advertised." See these word clouds of gendered language in toy commercials here.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011


    "Isaïs is the woman within all women, and one word may transform all womankind into Isaïs!"
    —Gustav Meyrink, The Angel of the West Window

    (Meyrink here uses an alternate spelling of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of the earth.)

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Bob's Your Uncle

    A driving instructor who looks like a mentalist is pressured by his girlfriend to become a magician in the British comedy series The I.T. Crowd, in season three's episode "Are We Not Men?" His magic phrase is "Bob's your uncle." (Note that he's pressured to leave his old job because "that's almost the worst look a driving instructor could have.")

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    An Abracadabra Talisman

    This Wills's cigarette card from the 1920's shows an abracadabra talisman. It's number 13 of a series on lucky charms.

    The Doves Took Wing

    “Magic is a science of language.” —Alan Moore (Thanks, Enrique Enriquez!)


    Here's a line taken out of context, from our dictionary of magic words:

    "One by one, the doves took wing and disappeared into the seemingly infinite depths of the black silk topper."

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    A Substitute for Abracadabra

    We reveal a substitute for "abracadabra," worthy of fairy tales, in our outpost at Twitter.

    Hazard a Word Dropped Out of the Unknown

    "Divination is difficult with isolated incidents. Weaving them together into prophecy is an arduous labor. Hazard a word dropped out of the unknown. Several hazards sometimes make a whole sentence."
    —Leonora Carrington, "The Stone Door," The Seventh Horse