“Abracadabra” and mystical terminology- where did this word come from and does it mean anything?

Abracadabra is any nonsense: an incoherent set of words, illegible drawings, incomprehensible speech, etc. Therefore, it seems that the word itself is nothing more than a set of sounds. However, “abracadabra” has a very ancient history.

Researchers are still arguing about the origin of the word and dozens of versions have been put forward, among which the most common is the opinion that the term originated from the ancient spells of Kabbalah, or from the rituals of the Celts, Egyptian priests, ancient Sumerians and other extinct cults.

The first document where “abracadabra” is found is most often called one of the treatises of the ancient Roman physician, poet and scientist Quintus Serenus Sammonicus (lived in the 2nd century).

At that time, medicine was closely connected with magic. In his treatise, Serenus advised patients with fever to wear an amulet-plate on which the word “abracadabra” was written in a column 11 times. The Chaldean spell “ab bada ke daabra” means “perish like a word.” The inverted triangle, with the word Abracadabra read on each of the three sides, was an extremely popular amulet for fever and the magic square was also used to cure insanity. 

“Abracadabra” may have come from the name of the deity Abraxas or Abrasax (“supreme head of the heavens and aeons”), depicted as a creature with a rooster’s head and snake tails instead of legs. The seven Greek letters that make up this name and also designate numbers add up to 365 – the number of days in a year. The magic is there.

The second version connects the word “abracadabra” with Hebrew: it is, as it were, the result of the merging of the words ab (“father”), ben (“son”) and ruach hakodesh (“holy spirit”). What generally sounds realistic: European travelers in the East could often hear this set of words, perceive it as a spell and reproduce it as a single word “abbenruhkodesh”.

The English Old Testament scholar John Allegro believed that it comes from the Mesopotamian expression “Ab-ba-tab-bari,” which was pronounced during religious rites among the ancient Sumerians.

And finally, the third theory is that we are talking about a phrase in ancient Aramaic, which can be written as avda kedavra  – “what is said must be done.”

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In addition, it is interesting to note the obvious similarity of “abracadabra” with the little-used word “cadaver” – “corpse, dead man.”

Abraxas is a symbol of time

The image of inexorable time is the road, and the symbol of time is sand flowing through the fingers. And the attributes of measured time – a clock or a burning candle – are a symbol of the elusiveness of the present moment. And such a deity as Abraxas is the personification of various divine cycles of the solar year, and therefore belongs to the symbols of time. 

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This is a complex mystical image representing the Supreme Being, the highest of the seven, having 365 virtues. It consists of five emanations – radiations. This is Nus-Mind; Logos – Word; Phronesis – Reason; Sophia – Wisdom; Dynamis – Strength.

In the image of Abraxas, the human body personifies God. The two supports coming out of it, symbolized by snakes, are Nous and Logos, meaning intuition and quick understanding. 

The rooster’s head represents foresight and vigilance, i.e. intelligence. And two hands hold the symbols of Sophia and Dynamis – the armor of wisdom and the whip of power.

Aleister Crowley

Many esotericists see a magical formula in the word “abracadabra”. They claim that the sum of the letters of the word is equal to the Kabbalistic number 66. In The Book of Laws, the famous Satanist and magician Aleister Crowley also mentions this term as the gematric sum of the letters of which is 418, i.e. the number of the Great Work.

It is no secret that in the Middle Ages the “abracadabra” spell was actively used by alchemists, magicians and other warlocks. At the same time, the priests warned that believers should not pronounce, much less write, this word, because of its ability to attract the devil.

And here we see a clear contradiction. According to some sources, this is a divine term that can protect against evil forces. According to others, it is a magic spell. Of course, there is no exact information that anyone got into trouble because of this word. But it’s better not to say “abracadabra” out loud as for what other reason did the Roman physician Sammonicus derived this mystical formula from a Gnostic deity – a symbol of time?


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