Magic Words

Some believe that the word Abracadabra was once used as a protective word on amulets and charms. Early Christians believed that it had the power to ward off evil spirits.

Others believe that it came from a combination of Hebrew words including ab, which means father; ben, which means son; and rauch acadosch, which means holy spirit. Others say it originated in a second century poem written by Quintus Serenus Sammonicus. Still more think is the derivative of the name of the Gnostic leader, Abraxas, which means God.

What is know, however, is that during the Middle Ages, people often wore the word on parchment around their neck to assure they that didn’t contract illnesses and were not attacked by evil spirits. The word was written in its entirety on the first line and then with each subsequent line, the last letter of the word was dropped until nothing remained but the “A” at the beginning; forming an upside down pyramid.

It was believed that this “charm” could cure the plague, fever, toothache, and a variety of other ailments. The word abracadabra itself was believed to have magical power. Over time, magicians picked it up and used it primarily because of that belief.

Hocus pocus wasn’t coined until the 17th century. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it originated from a conjurer by that name who used it as part of his magic act. Other magicians picked it up from there and it was simply passed down through the ages.

Some believe presto came from the Italian word, which means “quickly.” However, it is far more likely that it comes from the Latin words for “quick fingers” because it was used it to illustrate slight of hand magic tricks like pulling a rabbit out of a hat,

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