ABC Wednesday

A is for Abracadabra

A magical word special to me as an ankle biter after I was given a David Nixon set for my seventh or eighth birthday.

Nixon was born in 1919 and like many of his generation, he found his way into entertainment through Entertainments National Service Association in the Second World War. One of his early-stage partners was Norman Wisdom and this worked well enough to get them a gig at the London Casino.

The big break for Nixon came in 1954 when he became a panellist on What’s My Line, but it was his magic act that most impressed the fledgeling Parrot

The set looked something like the one on the right which I’ve put in a bid for on eBay. Mine certainly contained the Abracadabra magic wand which I recall had a ‘secret’ piece on elastic which you used to make it appear to levitate.

The piece missing, as far as I can tell from the photo, was the magic box which could make things disappear, to be replaced by pieces of tissue paper that a budding conjurer would reveal and throw in the air with a flourish.

Abracadabra has ancient power and was first found mentioned in the 2nd century AD in a poem called De Medicina Praecepta by Serenus Sammonicus, savant, tutor and physician to the Roman Emperor, Caracalla.

It was prescribed to relieve malaria by wearing an amulet with the word written in the form of a triangle like this:

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

The word is said to stem from the AramaicAhbra Kedahbra” which translates as “I will create as I speak” and was used as a magical formula by the Gnostics of the sect of Basilides in invoking the aid of beneficent spirits against disease and misfortune. [Wikipedia]

Abracadabra is also special for me as it was the name I gave to a typesetting venture I was involved in many years ago. It worked its magic because the business was made to vanish after not too long.

Finally, I mustn’t forget Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band.

Other ABC Wednesday posts you might like:

Animal Shelter from Hyde Daily Photo

Animal Adjectives from Ramblin’ with Roger

Acropolis from Daily Athens

Alter Kocker from Banterings of a Basketcase

Airport Terminal from Everything is There to See

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Lancashire Lass 22nd July 2010

    I thought abracadabra was a newish sort of word. `You live and learn!

  • Roger Green 22nd July 2010

    well, THAT’S an ABC Wednesday post. I remember Steve Miller, have a couple of his greatest hits albums.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team


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