Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Abracadabra – Wordplay Wednesday™ 10/17/18

Mystics, Magic, and Mayhem – Halloween!

Halloween wouldn’t be our favorite scary and amazing Holiday of the year, without a little magic.

We’ve heard this spooky Wordplay Wednesday’s mystical expression since childhood, to naively open locked doors, conjure great magic, and create potent spells. None of which ever really worked.

However, there was a time, many centuries ago, when a wave of the hand with an ardent utterance invoked anticipation or hope, if not fear.

With cauldron boiling and dark night clouds roiling, three times I repeat loudly:

I write this spell
that all who read
shall join my mind
to plant a seed

That I may choose
with keen mind and most devout
big win lottery numbers
beyond a doubt

As I speak the final line for the third time, I raise my arms to the sky and shout … 

ABRACADABRA! (ab’rɘ kɘ dabʹrɘ) n. – 1) a word supposed to have magic powers, and hence used in incantations, on amulets, etc.; 2) a magic spell or formula; 3) foolish or meaningless talk, gibberish. (interj. used, as by a magician, to signify, or seemingly command, a sudden change or occurrence.) [SPOOKY / WW #186]  

From stage shows of unparalleled magic to campy witchy movies, we’ve exclaimed abracadabra in fun and frolic for at least the past two centuries. But Wiki gives us an interesting etymology, “The first known mention of the word was in the third century AD in a book called Liber Medicinalis (sometimes known as De Medicina Praecepta Saluberrima) by Serenus Sammonicus, physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, who in chapter 51 prescribed that malaria sufferers wear an amulet containing the word written in the form of a triangle.”

Though of serious beginnings for a health “cure,” we know little about how abracadabra materialized into a word of generalized magical powers, able to pull a rabbit out of a hat.  

According to, “Over time the belief in the power of 'abracadabra' receded and in the 19th century it came to mean 'fake magic'. Terms like 'legal abracadabra' were used to denote the flummoxing of juries by fast-talking lawyers. Stage conjurers then adopted it into their inventory of the 'magic' words they used to punctuate their acts and the first known usage of it in that context dates from 1819.”*

*But again, there is no concrete example that points to abracadabra’s stage performance origin. We can give it a strange twist, though, as it’s reported that abracadabra’s letters in Greek numerology, add up to 365—the number of days in a year. And while I haven’t confirmed this with my Greek friend, one must wonder what that has to do with anything, as the current span of a year didn’t pop up in history until creation of the Gregorian Calendar in OCTOBER 1582.

A coincidence? I think not. After all, it IS a magical word …

Word Challenge: ABRACADABRA. Ponder the mysteries of the season as you fit abracadabra into your week of magical writings.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 


LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!


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