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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

abracadabra While the actual origin of the word is uncertain, it has been said that it was the name of the supreme deity of the Assyrians, but it may also be an Aramaic phrase. It is a magical word often appearing on amulets, and was first mentioned by the third-century physician Quintus Severus Sammondicus. It is often seen in the configuration of a diminishing triangle:

      A B R A C A D A B R A
       A B R A C A D A B R
        A B R A C A D A B
         A B R A C A D A
          A B R A C A D
           A B R A C A
            A B R A C
             A B R A
              A B R
               A B

      It was believed that certain evils would diminish and vanish in the same way the word did. The word was often used by conjurors as an exclamation at the culmination of a trick. Now not so often employed, and in any case totally ineffective.
      See also charms.

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