Written by Ephraim Chambers
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
an Inscription, antiently used as aCharm or Spell, for the curing of several Diseases, and driving out Devils. See CHARM, PHYLACTERY, &C.
The Author of this piece of Superstition, who is said tohave lived under the Emperor Adrian, form'd the Namefrom that of the Deity he adored, Abrasax, or Abraxas;whom he made God-paramount; having several petty Divinities under him, and particularly seven Angels who presidedover the seven Heavens ; and to whom he attributed 365Virtues or Powers, the Number of Days in the Year, withother idle Reveries.
This ABPAΕAΣ S. Jerom will have to be the same Godwhom the Persians and other Heathens worship'd underthe Name Mitra ; which is warranted by some antientGrave-stones. 'Tis added, that moft of the Fathers ascribethe Fable of the God GREEK, to Basilides and his Followers, a Branch of Gnostics. See BASILIDIANS.
The Gnostics, 'tis known, suppofed wondersul Virtues inNumbers ; and accordingly, this same Abraxas, or ratherAbrasax, was thus denominated, as including or comprehending the Power or Virtue of 365 dependent Intelligences:which Number is express'd by the Greek Letters of theWord ; it being the Custom of the Greeks to express theirNumbers by the Letters of their Alphabet : The Value ofthofe in the present Word are thus;
A B P A Ε A Σ
1. 2. 100. 1. 60. 1. 2oo.
which added together make the Number 365.
Abracadabra still continues in use and esteem among somesuperstitious People, who pretend to do Wonders hereby inthe Cure of Agues and Fevers. The manner of preparingthis extraordinary Medicine, they have been at the Painsto describe in the following Verses.
Inscribas chartæ quod dicitur Abracadabra
Sæpius & Subrer repetas, mirabile dictu;
Donec in anguslum redigatur littera conum.
That is, "The Word is first to be wrote at length,
Abracadabra ; then, under that
Abracadabr ; and in the third Line
Abracadab ; &c."