Abracadabra — Magical Words

As a “certified” — or perhaps certifiable — word lover, I’m enchanted with magical words of all kinds.

Using the right word at the right time is a kind of magic. It makes the story sing, creates a memorable bit of dialog, becomes a lyric that echoes in your imagination, or morphs into a meme with hash-tags and cat videos that go viral.

Right now, I’m concerned with MAGICAL words — the incantations of alchemy and the dictionary of unseen power. Sometimes the power of the word(s) is obvious. We all know OPEN SESAME. It’s the phrase that opened the mouth of a cave full of hidden treasures in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Abracadabra brings to mind stage magicians, some more reputable than others. Tooling around the Internet will tell you that the etymology may be Aramaic for “I create as a I speak” or similar translations. Whether it’s a historically accurate incantation or a relatively recent invention of popular mythology and literature, the idea that words can, and do, magically manifest a change in reality is truly magical.

I don’t think anyone can get passed the age of seven without the fantasy of altering the world through a wish written, spoken or whispered. Before blowing out the candles or in a letter to Santa we hope that magic will turn our words into concrete reality.

Even long after the letter to Santa and birthday wishes age, we write things down or say them out loud to clarify, share or make ideas REAL.  Everything from “I love you” to “I need help” are necessary steps in relationship transformations.

There’s another kind of magic word — the secret message or name — that, like a magical incantation, makes changes real. PIN codes are the dull end of this continuum with code names for spies at the other end of the bell curve. Still, I like Rumpelstiltskin. His name was both his secret and his Achilles heel, bringing him down in the end.

            Words, words, words…. Sometimes the magic trips up the best of plans.



  1. Interesting thought, we have still a number of incantations we tell each other and ourselves all the time. Or maybe these are lies we tell ourselves with hopes that they are true. Or it could be a moment of cynicism kicking in.

    Our growth and knowledge have changed much of what we place our faith and beliefs in. Sometimes I think looking at life with that childlike view of magic words can be so much simpler.

    • Candy Korman

      I’m pretty sure we all have some kind of “magic words” or employ some kind of magical thinking in our daily lives.

      It might be as simple as having to type THE END at the end of a draft to make it truly real, or to say excuse me even when you bump into a chair — then there are the funny ones from childhood that linger, like not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk without saying something to undo the magical curse.

      I think that, along with the need to see patterns (the source of many conspiracy theories) and our general need to make order of the chaotic universe, leads us to believe the certain words will cause a change in reality. The fact that some words do influence change — by changing minds or hearts with inspiration — only makes the idea that I can “wish” reality to change seem real. Entire self-help industries are based on aspirational thinking — a kind of magic, or magical thinking to a cynic like me.

  2. Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! That’s about all I have today. I’m cross-eyed from so much writing and editing time. Through I am also reminded of the scene in Cold Mountain where Nicole Kidman says to Jude Law, “I marry you. I marry you. I marry you.” 🙂

    • Candy Korman

      LOL… YES YES YES….

      There is magic in repeating something three times. Not four, not two, not one hundred, but THREE! I wonder why three is the magic number, but it is.

  3. I’m not much into magic per se, but I adore onomatopoeic words like ‘swish’,’sizzle’,’thump’, thud, tinkle… Ahem, and so on and so forth. 😀

    • Candy Korman

      I’d put that into the category of INDIVIDUAL magic words — the things we say or write to tickle our own psyches. Because I sleep up in a loft room and have a cat, I’m very aware of how the cat can trip me going down the stairs so I stand at the top of the stairs and say “mushy mushy move cat tushy” and the cat, invariably, goes ahead of me down the stairs. Does he understand my “magical incantation”? Nope, but he understands that I won’t budge until he moves and those words accompany my hesitation.

      They work like magic!

  4. Words are indeed like magic, and its strange to me how they fall out of our unconscious when we get into the writing zone. PIN to me makes me groan at yet another speck of tedious necessity we find ourselves in. I know I have words I share with my partner that we always say when we see a certain thing. Not to mention not stepping the lifelong not stepping on cracks. I think that’s the same vein somehow. Love your site, and happy to have found it via Jeri:-)

    • Candy Korman

      Woo Hoo! The magic here is that Jeri W-B sent you along to my site!

      A lifetime of NOT stepping on cracks is very admirable. I have to admit to some laxity in that arena, although as a child I considered it sacrosanct. Words with partners and friends — the magical shorthand of intimate communications is a very good example of magic words.

      I hope you check out the Timeless Tales page of free short stories and that you follow for my twice weekly Monster Meditations.