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,