Home > Awakening, Language, Magic, Symbols, Words > Abracadabra



In language, some words diminish in value, the meaning loses its weight over time. Today, everyone’s a genius. And everything that happens is epic. There are also words and phrases that completely lose their true meaning, their relevance, and their beauty, in a devolution of their original form.

Over the weekend I attended the virtual Essential Magic Conference, hosted in Portugal by Luis de Matos. It was filled with the best in magic, and attended by over two thousand people from 74 countries. It is a fine learning experience, and creatively stimulating, even if you are not interested in magic. One of the presenters was Norberto Jansenson, whose work combines storytelling, mystery and magic. His talk was intense and inspiring, and something he mentioned struck a chord. It was the true, lost meaning of “abracadabra”.

While the word “abracadabra” may bring to mind faded images of magic acts replete with red curtains and a rabbit in a hat, the original word is far more compelling. There is a theory that the word is derived from a Semitic language. Jansenson says it is Aramaic in origin: “Avra kehdabra” — meaning “I will create as I speak”. How beautiful, rich, and powerful. It represents the spontaneity that, in the moment, gives way to articulation and creativity — sparking and igniting right before your eyes. It is a shared experience of wonder, from the ancient Greek theater to this morning’s street performer, occurring in full presence of the moment.

With a little digging, I found the source of the phrase may originate from these three words – ab (father), ben (son) and ruach acadosch (holy spirit). The three points form a triangle, a trinity, and the enclosed space of the three lines is where building is possible. Where things begin. Where magic happens. Art. Articulation. Astonishment. I will create as I speak. Abracadabra.

With gratitude to Mr. Jansenson for creating that moment,


  1. August 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Virtual magic seems like an oxymoron to me. “I create as I speak” – thank you for telling me.

  2. August 2, 2012 at 1:17 am

    It’s wonderful to read this before attempting another chapter of my story. Thanks for sharing it with us. “I will create as I speak” not only reminds me of the magic of words, but makes me consider the responsibilty, not only in writing and conjuring up characters, but in real life, as in parenting.

    As a writer, I want my characters to be anchored in emotional truth. I don’t just want them to react to what I put them through. I want them to react as individuals with history. That’s what drew me to the classic stories my mother read to my brother and me when we were young. Before I could read, I stared at the pages and wondered how the people in the story got there. I’m glad I figured that out.

    • August 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      You take great care when you write – – your characters always feel alive and familiar. The reader gets a sense of them even before they unfold. I’m already scrutinizing Miller. : )

      By the way, I used to do the same thing with books when I was a kid — wondering how looking at those letters made sense and how the people in the story got there. I love it!

  3. August 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    aloha Water Over Fire. – this is inspiring. I’m now wondering about haiku laid out in a triangle. interesting abracadabra. aloha.

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