Welcome back to our examination of the most common and often used phrases in the realm of Magic(k).

I apologize for missing this one.  It is not one I hear often.  It however no less important, valid or powerful.  You are probably familiar with it.  It is often used in magic shows, movies and books.

Sim, Sim, Sala Bim  Let’s take a look at it.


Word of the Week: Simsalabim

Dagmar Breitenbach

April 21, 2016

Learn the word German magicians say just before they wow the audience with a magic trick.

Bunny in hat, magic wand, Copyright: Kitty
Image: Kitty/

Harry Potter would have known just when to say: “Simsalabim!” It’s the magic word magicians shout just before they pull that rabbit out of the hat – the German equivalent of abracadabra.

Like most magic tricks, it‘s not entirely clear where the word comes from. It could be a version of the Muslim invocation of God that made its way into the language in the late Middle Ages; non-Muslims may have thought it was an incantation. Others believe it might stem from the Latin “similia similibus” (“similar things take care of similar things”).

Whatever its origins, Simsalabim does the trick!


“Sim Sim Salabim!” Insight into Indian Mysticism

By Ted Young, Summer 2011 HomeSpun intern.

If I relied on nothing else other than popular culture to inform me about Indians and Indian Americans I would think that they all have mystical powers somehow related to their religious beliefs… Oh yeah, also they love to dance. Until this summer, when I started doing research for HomeSpun, I never really questioned where these images came from. I am a little ashamed to admit it, but as critical as I am as a Chinese American of the representation of my own ethnic group in the media, I really did not question the ones I saw of Indian Americans. I just accepted that all Indians and Indian Americans had some form of superpower.

Interning here at the Smithsonian APA Program and doing research for the HomeSpun project has opened my eyes to just how ingrained these mystic Indian ideas were in my mind. While researching a range of topics for HomeSpun, from the history of the American circus to the Microsoft Cricket Club, I have been completely fascinated by how India has captured the American imagination.

(This is no natural phenomenon.  The American people have been propagandized an mind controlled to see Eastern Philosophy an traditions as mystical, enlightened, an full of health an healing powers.  It is BS straight from the pit of Hell.)

Indians have long been associated with a certain level of mysticism and magic. Apparently, Indians were considered naturally mystical because 19th century American magicians could not figure out the “Indian Rope Trick”

Though accounts of this trick vary, the basic trick is when the magician makes a rope go up vertically and has a boy climb it. The more outrageous versions of the story have the magician climbing the rope after the boy, cutting him up, and then putting him back together. Despite the numerous published accounts of this trick, audiences have traveled to India to observe it themselves, and huge monetary offers made to learn the secret, American magicians could not figure out how the trick was done. Some tried to explain it as hypnotism while others went as far to claim the trick did not even exist!  While the part about the boy disappearing or being cut up and put together is clearly a stretch, to put it mildly, the basic trick of making the rope stand up straight is not. While American magicians could not figure out how this trick was done, they still brushed the trick off as amateur. However, this never stopped them from pursuing ways of imitating it in the United States. The elusiveness of the trick’s secret just increased the trick’s mysticism and the sense of magic and mystery of India.

The mystery and magic associated with India is as embedded in America as deeply as apple pie. From Johnny Quest to Johnny Carson, American cultural icons have been able to tap into the realm of magic by associating with Indians. Jonny Quest had his Hadji, Carson had his Carnac, and even today Homer Simpson has his Apu. The relation between Indians and mysticism transcends generations. Apparently, secrets remain in India that they just won’t share with the rest of us. It allows them to make rope grow into the air, grants them psychic powers, and as any devote Simpsons fan will tell you, allows them to succeed in the realms of small business.

Hadji from Jonny Quest, Johnny Carson as "Carnic", and Apu from The Simpsons.

           Hadji from Jonny Quest          Johnny Carson as “Carnic”            Apu from The Simpsons

The frustration of not being able to figure out one magic trick is just a small glimpse of the legacy of Indian mysticism in American culture. Personally, I do not even think that the trick is all that impressive, but that could be because I have grown up in an age of computer generated special effects. Seeing a rope stand up by itself does not hold a candle to giant transforming robots fighting each other or Robert Downey Jr. flying around and blowing stuff up or even my smart phone for that matter. Still, the impact of this one trick on American popular culture is astounding. Besides, I still cannot figure out how it’s done.


“Sim Sim Salabim” is what Hadji would say to do magic on the Jonny Quest television show. It has no real meaning or ties to any language.   Or does it?


India has fakirs, turbans, snake charmers, the Ganges and Gandhi. It’s also full of temples overgrown with humid jungle and occasionally home to an evil cult, elephants and tigers.  Snakes  are everywhere, so it’s a good idea to have a cute and heroic mongoose with you to take them on.

Often, this trope goes hand-in-hand with a case of Mistaken Nationality, as India, for some reason, suddenly takes on Arab and Persian characteristics in some American films. In some older Hollywood movies, it’s not uncommon to see Aladdin and Genies[1] tossed together with Hindu deities. To be fair, this is Truth in Television to an extent as India has a large Muslim population (13.4%, according to The Other Wiki) and was ruled by Islamic kingdoms for century-spanning portions of its history, so it’s certainly been more influenced by the Middle East than most Western countries have been.

Examples of Sim Sim Salabim include
  • Kushan in Berserk.
  • While his country is unnamed, Shuraiya from Shugo Chara, and his followers, are extemely stereotypically Indian.
    • Kaolla Su and her family in Love Hina also feature some Indian stereotypes, although the manga establishes their homeland as being in the South Pacific.
  • As it does with every other racial stereotype in the book, G Gundam plays this to maximum effect with Neo India’s Cobra Gundam, piloted by a hypnotist/snake-charmer.
  • In Eyeshield 21 the World Cup arc has this in, of course, Team India. They all wear turbans, one of the players is a snake charmer, and their coach has a very thick beard.

Comic Books

  • The Indian state of Gaipajama (with town names like Sethru and Jamjah) in the Tintin book Cigars of the Pharaoh.
  • Asterix visits this version of India in Asterix and the Flying Carpet.


  • India as seen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, although being set in one of the princely states (ruled by princes of India that co-operated with the British in exchange for pretty much free rein), the whole ‘very backwards’ thing is justified. A stereotypical Indian wise man even shows up in Egypt in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Jumanjiworld inside the gameboard seemed to be a  Flanderized  mix of this and Darkest Africa.
  • The James Bond film Octopussy takes us to a very trope-laden India. Snake charmers, sword swallowers, fire breathers, fire walkers, beds of nails… the lot.
  • Ricky Gervais’s character in Ghost Town seems to follow this mentality when asking fellow dentist, Dr. Prashar, for advice
Bertram Pincus: Dr. Prashar – you’re from a… scary country, right?
Dr. Prashar: I’m from India…
Bertram Pincus: But, you’re not… Christian, like us?
Dr. Prashar: I’m a Hindu…
Bertram Pincus: Yeah. So, um, how would you extract information from a hostile?
Dr. Prashar: Well… as a… Hindu person… I would just… ask him… politely...
  • The country of the “Easterners” of Help


  • Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Books and their various adaptations. Kipling’s Jungle Book story “Rikki-Tikki Tavi” is the origin of the cute and heroic mongoose trope.
    • “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” in all likelihood is itself based on the Panchatantra “The Faithful Mongoose”, as was a Sindibad tale (where a weasel was substituted for the mongoose). Kipling was pretty cognizant of Muslim and Hindu folktales since childhood.
  • Cleverly subverted by Barbara Cleverly in The Last Kashmiri Rose (2001) – as there is no modern interest to display Colonial India as a Disneyfied place of superstitious natives ruled by brave colonial administrators and turbaned rifle-armed Martial Race troopers, she could freely display the vices of the system: idleness, drunkenness, exploitation of cheap labor (even poor Brits could afford Indian servants), incompetence…

Live Action TV

  • Outsourced (TV series) – Right outside the office you see the street has some sort of Middle Eastern looking drapes hanging in the middle of the road.
  • The Far Pavilions – the 1984 TV series and the 1978 novel on which it had been based – has them all: snakes as murder weapons, cruel and superstitious natives, sati, characters Raised by Natives, the might of The Raj putting things back in order and so on.

Video Games

  • Punch Out has Great Tiger, a “boxer” who fights with attacks like teleporting and illusions.
  • Street Fighter has Dhalsim, who wears a skull necklace (probably  a reference to Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction) and uses attacks with names like “Yoga Fire.
    • Later story developments give a more down-to-earth story to Dhalsim’s skulls: they are the skulls of little children who died of a disease in his home village.
  • World of Warcraft: In the World’s End Tavern in Shattrath’s Lower City, there’s an NPC with this as its name.

Western Animation

  • Named for the magic words used by Hadji of Jonny Quest, who grew up in a version of this India. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest also gave Hadji some quite sleazy hacker skills; though this was meant to subvert this stereotype, little did they know that hacker skills would make him even more of a stereotypical Indian, now that India is a big software development superpower!
  • Somewhat averted in a Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?  episode, in which Carmen is plotting to make her own dinosaur.  Zack and Ivy land in a boat of Indian spices, discover Carmen stealing the Taj Hall, and have to deal with a merchant to get a Carmen clue. (The Taj Hall is the Indian version of Carnegie Hall, by the way. It’s often confused with the Taj Mahal, but they have little in common.)
  • Played straight in BatmanGotham Knight, complete with mongoose and cobra action. The plot of the short is that Bruce goes to India to get lessons from a fakir on managing pain.
  • Invoked in an episode of Family Guy, parodying “random selection” for “further screening” at airports:
Stewie: “Jonny Quest” … okay, welcome aboard.
Stewie: “Doctor Benton Quest” … alright, have a good flight.
Stewie: “Hadji” … hmm, uh, listen, you’ve been randomly selected for additional screening.
Hadji: But you didn’t even type anything in!
Stewie: Look, if it were up to me, you’d be right there on that flight, but … uh, I’m going to need you to take off your shoes, and that lovely, uh, hat.
Hadji: Sim sim salabim!
Stewie: Yeah, I’d cut back on that.
  • Shows up in an old episode of The Simpsons, where Homer and Apu travel to India to visit the Kwik-E-Mart HQ

Real Life

  • Subverted in a comic strip story drawn by Sergio Aragones about his trip to India. He took a flight and found that a large group of Hare Krishnas, an ostensibly Indian religion, were on the same trip, thankfully in a different section of the plane. As he saw the group disembark and chanting noisily as they marched, Sergio noticed that the native Indians were gawking and laughing their heads off at this ridiculous bunch of Westerners that have arrived.
  1.  Silly, of course, since everyone knows that Aladdin was actually set in China.



Sim Sala Bim

This magic phrase is popularly believed to have originated in Scandinavian folklore.

Sim salabim is spoken by a Turkish alchemist with magical powers in the early medieval folk play entitled Robyn Hode: A Mummers Play: “I have here a potion, brought from the east.  It is called the golden elixir, and with one drop I will revive Robyn Hode with these magic words: ‘Sim Salabim.’  Rise up young man and see how your body can walk and sing.”*

Dr. Herbert H. Nehrlich suggests that sim sala bim “is named after Ali Sim-sala-bim, a desert wanderer and—most importantly—a magician.”**

 Sim sala bim is “the Swedish equivalent of ‘abracadabra,’” and is known in other Scandinavian cultures as well.

These magic words were made popular by the famous professional magician Dante/The Great Jansen.  They also served as the name of his famous touring magic show.  Professional magician Whit Haydn once used these words in his performances as a tribute to Dante.  He explains: “Sim Sala Bim are nonsense syllables from a Danish nursery rhyme.  Dante used them in his show, saying they meant ‘A thousand thanks.’  He said that the more applause, the bigger the bow, and the more thanks that the Sim Sala Bim would mean.  Soon after moving to L.A. in the seventies, I bought a set of Dante’s rings from Ken Leckvold, who had bought them from Dante’s son.  I really enjoyed performing with these rings, and eventually added Dante’s line as a magic word in my rope routine and silk to egg, sort of a tribute thing.  I liked the Ali Baba/Aladdin kind of sound of the words.”

After the Second World War, Kalanag, the stage name of professional German magician Helmut Schreiber, “toured the world with his spectacular, colorful illusion show Sim Sala Bim. . . . His show is now in the collection of the popular British magician, Paul Daniels.”

Sim Sala Bim is the name of a card trick by Kolin Tregaskes.

Professional magician Jade uses the magic phrase sim sala bim in Houdin’s Light & Heavy Chest illusion: “A box is easy to carry until—zap!—the magician Jade says the magic words.  Suddenly, the box can’t be moved!  In the front stage, you are invited to lift Jade’s magic chestThen, with just the magic words, ‘Sim sala bim,’ Jade makes the chest too heavy to lift.”

Orson Welles uses Sim Sala Bim as magic words in the 1967 film Casino Royale.

For more about sim sala bim, see our Magic Words: A Dictionary.

*Daniel Diehl, Medieval Celebrations (2001)

**“Carpe Diem, Quam Minimum Credula Postero” (2004)

Sim Sala Bim

This magic phrase is popularly believed to have originated in Scandinavian folklore.

Sim salabim is spoken by a Turkish alchemist with magical powers in the early medieval folk play entitled Robyn Hode: A Mummers Play:

“I have here a potion, brought from the east.  It is called the golden elixir, and with one drop I will revive Robyn Hode with these magic words: ‘Sim Salabim.’  Rise up young man and see how your body can walk and sing.”*

Dr. Herbert H. Nehrlich suggests that sim sala bim “is named after Ali Sim-sala-bim, a desert wanderer and—most importantly—a magician.”**

Sim sala bim is “the Swedish equivalent of ‘abracadabra,’” and is known in other Scandinavian cultures as well.

These magic words were made popular by the famous professional magician Dante/The Great Jansen.  They also served as the name of his famous touring magic showProfessional magician Whit Haydn once used these words in his performances as a tribute to Dante.  He explains: “Sim Sala Bim are nonsense syllables from a Danish nursery rhyme.  Dante used them in his show, saying they meant ‘A thousand thanks.’  He said that the more applause, the bigger the bow, and the more thanks that the Sim Sala Bim would mean.  Soon after moving to L.A. in the seventies, I bought a set of Dante’s rings from Ken Leckvold, who had bought them from Dante’s son.  I really enjoyed performing with these rings, and eventually added Dante’s line as a magic word in my rope routine and silk to egg, sort of a tribute thing.  I liked the Ali Baba/Aladdin kind of sound of the words.”

After the Second World War, Kalanag, the stage name of professional German magician Helmut Schreiber, “toured the world with his spectacular, colorful illusion show Sim Sala Bim. . . . His show is now in the collection of the popular British magician, Paul Daniels.”

Sim Sala Bim is the name of a card trick by Kolin Tregaskes.

Professional magician Jade uses the magic phrase sim sala bim in Houdin’s Light & Heavy Chest illusion: “A box is easy to carry until—zap!—the magician Jade says the magic words.  Suddenly, the box can’t be moved!  In the front stage, you are invited to lift Jade’s magic chest.  Then, with just the magic words, ‘Sim sala bim,’ Jade makes the chest too heavy to lift.”

Orson Welles uses Sim Sala Bim as magic words in the 1967 film Casino Royale.

For more about sim sala bim, see our Magic Words: A Dictionary.

*Daniel Diehl, Medieval Celebrations (2001)

**“Carpe Diem, Quam Minimum Credula Postero” (2004)


Attention, Bill Maher!

Okay, I don’t think he reads this weblog but maybe somebody does who could call this to his attention…

Bill…I’m watching you on Larry King Live, and you just said some very nice things about Johnny Carson. But then you said to Larry, “Sim holla bim,” and explained that you use that phrase often because it was what Johnny always said when he was playing Carnac the Magnificent. Not quite.

The phrase is “sim sala bim.” These were the magic words coined and made famous by the late, great magician, Dante. It’s sometimes spelled as one word — “simsalabim” but the middle part starts with an “S,” not an “H.” This became a very famous phrase/word in the world of professional magicians, and many a rabbit-producer utilized them. Carson probably used it when he was in that line of work. (You can see Dante in action in a Laurel and Hardy feature, A-Haunting We Will Go. He says “sim sala bim” about eight thousand times in it.)

I agree with some of what you said on the show about the environment and the War in Iraq and Social Security and the deficit, and disagree with other things…but that’s trivia. Misquoting Carson and Dante is monumental.

If you would like to view the movie and see Dante the Magician  click the link below and watch it on the Internet Archive.

A Haunting We Will Go  Laurel and Hardy 

Sim Sim Salabim – An Incantation from Jonny Quest of the 1960s Back to a Medieval Play

My mind wanders some strange and esoteric places:  I was thinking about a 60s cartoon of my youth, Jonny Quest and wondering if “sim sim salabim” actually meant anything or was just Hollywood gibberish.  This created a narrative line as absurd and bizarre as any Dan Brown book, so I began to unravel the Hadji Code:

Classic Jonny Quest was designed by comic book artist and writer Doug Widley for Hanna-Barbera Productions, who originally wanted a TV animation cartoon based on the radio seriesJack Armstrong All AmericanBoy.  When Hanna-Barbera couldn’t get the license, they went ahead with the project and called it Jonny Quest, which was a much more evolved concept, taking place in the near future.  Freed of any license constraints, Widley reworked the concept and made it his own.

Generally it was a plausible science fiction show of the near future, there were a few snafus.  One was the name of the character Hadji Singh, Jonny’s sidekick who was a apparently a Hindu and not a Muslim, yet he has an Islamic honorific as part of his name.  It may be a little petty on my point, but I always saw it as a glaring error.  But such are the ways of Hollywood and children’s television of the mid 1960s.

Be sure to go to some of the Jonny Quest links and especially the one on Doug Widley to get a real feel of the show and 60s animated TV shows.  For those of you who don’t recall, Jonny Quest was a mid 60s action adventure cartoon that was later criticized for its portrayed violence and representation of cultures in an insensitive way.   In later years, reruns of Jonny Quest had to conform to broadcast guidance on children’s shows and chop out the violence and it also came under attack for perceived stereotypes.  The show was in reruns for many years, but the content had been vastly reduced.  But I digress.


The Jonny Quest character Hadji used “sim sim salabim” as his incantation while performing “magic” or at least some pretty good stagecraft and psychology.  The character Hadji Singh’s backstory is that he was the adopted son of Dr. Benton Quest and appears the story in a flashback in Episode 7, Calcutta Adventure (30 Oct 1964).  Hadji grew up on the streets of Calcutta, apparently becoming streetwise along with learning some mystic culture along with yoga, and saved Dr. Quest from an assassin.  Hadji was always more level headed of Dr Quest’s sons and a good problem solver.  His streetwise upbringing, practical commonsense, and multicultural background gave Hadji an excellent skill set over the more impulsive and reckless Jonny.   The less said about the dog, Bandit, the better.  The character of Johnny Quest cartoon’s Hadji may have had roots in an youthful Indian born movie actor Sabu Dastagir, especially from the 1938 movie, The Drum, where he sports a turban much like Hadji’s headgear.   This leads us to the next step in the Hadji Code.

Sim Salabim was magician Harry August Jansen’s (1883 to 1955) trademark tagline, while appearing as Dante the Magician.  He was a protégé of Howard Thurston, another famous stage magician himself.  Jansen needed a magic phrase for his act and he chose “sim salabim” as his mystic incantation.  Jansen was born in Denmark and he remembered a popular children’s song that had been the origin of his version of incantation.  So the children’s bit of gibberish in a song became the trademark of a 20th century well-known magician, but there is more to come.

The song that Jansen’s “sim salabim” was taken from was the Danish song, Højt på en gren en krage, but interestingly enough that song took its “sim salabin” from a much, much earlier work.  It was perhaps from the medieval play called Robyn Hode:  A Mummers Play where a Turkish alchemist uses the incantation.   Now that’s pretty interesting that a bit of 20th century stagecraft is taken from a 19th century Danish children’s song, which in turn took it from a medieval play involving alchemy.

Now the writer of Jonny Quest probably knew about Dante the Magician and his “sim salabim” and using the memory, transformed it as Hadji’s incantation of “sim sim salabim”, which was taken from a young Harry Jansen’s piece of stagecraft, which itself was taken from his childhood memory of a Danish children’s song.  Jansen emigrated to the US when he was six, mind you.  I remember watching Jonny Quest in the mid 60s when I was a kid, so that links me to this chain of youthful memory.  That’s a lot childhood memories linking up over the decades and it really goes to show you how important our childhood is in our formation.

Jonny Quest’s influence is still out there in American popular culture.  The cartoon satire, The Venture Brothers takes a large amount of background from Jonny Quest.  Also Jonny Quest is referenced in the Blood Hound Gang song, Mope as well as in Less Than Jake’s song Jonny Quest Thinks We Are Sellouts.

Another Jonny used it — Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, humorously performing the Carnac the Magnificent skit beginning in 1964.  The routine starts as sidekick Ed McMahon says “O seer, sage, all knowing all seeing Carnac the Magnificent!  Sim sala bim”.   Carson was an amateur magician himself by the way, and no doubt was familiar with Dante.  Hopefully some of this was entertaining or informative because I would not like to think that any photon used in this blog may have died in vain.

CoastConFan —-

        Some Links of Interest

List of Jonny Quest episodes:

Jonny Quest sound bites:

Jonny Quest music:

Three versions of Højt på en gren en krage – Dansk Børnesang  on YouTube:


A translation of the Danish song can be found on this thread:


The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Sim Sala Bim

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I always wondered if Dante’s story about the origin of Sim Sala Bim is correct. He said that it was a Dutch nursery rhyme. I found this which might clear things up.

“Højt på en gren en krage” (High on a branch a crow), written by Johan Ludvig Heiberg and based on an old German folk melody.

Højt på en gren en krage (high on a branch a crow),
– simsaladim bamba saladu saladim –
højt på en gren en krage sad (high on a branch a crow sat).

Så kom en hæslig jæger (then came a horrible hunter),
– simsaladim bamba saladu saladim –
så kom en hæslig jæger hen (then came a horrible hunter walking).

Han skød den stakkels krage (he shot the poor crow),
– simsaladim bamba saladu saladim –
han skød den stakkels krage ned (he shot the poor crow down).

Nu er den stakkels krage (now the poor crow),
– simsaladim bamba saladu saladim –
nu er den stakkels krage død (now the poor crow is dead).

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In addition to being nonsense syllables from that Danish nursery rhyme, Sim Sala Bim is the Swedish equivalent of abracadabra, and is known in other Scandinavian cultures as well. Orson Welles used Sim Sala Bim as magic words in the 1967 film “Casino Royale.” For a complete definition of over 500 magic words check out Magic Words a dictionary by Craig Conley available at and I highly recommend it.
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The Swedish equivalent of abracadabra.
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That’s not noted in the dictionary. Are you Swedish?
Bill Palmer
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In an article by Dante in an old issue of Genii, he claimed that he (Dante) had originated the phrase Sim Sala Bim. He specifically stated that it was not “simsaladim.”

Note that the phrase “Sim Sala Bim” does not appear ANYWHERE in that nursery rhyme. The closest thing to it is “simsaladim.”

Before anyone says, “Well, it’s only one letter different,” remember that one letter is the difference between breast and beast. It’s also the difference between whether, weather and wether.

Mind you, this does not mean that Dante was telling the truth about originating the phrase.

“The Swatter”

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That’s the puzzling thing. He said he was the originator of it; however, the evidence in the old magic books indicates that he may not be.

I did some further searching and found the above line as “Sim sala bim bamba sala do saladim” in a song called “die Eier von Satan.” This can mean “The Devil’s Eggs.” However, in German slang, as in Mexican slang “eggs” can refer to “the family jewels.”

Notice that in this version Sim Sala Bim does appear at the beginning of the line. If these are the original lyrics, then Dante had nothing to do with the phrase.

“The Swatter”

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My Chickasaw name is “Throws Money at Cups.”

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Well, I found a series of articles in Genii Magazine, volume 22, 1957, in which Ray Muse and others give their opinions on the origins of this phrase. It seems that there was a battle going on between Kalanag and Dante as to who used it first. Kalanag claimed that he had heard a group of German school children singing the song, and realized that Sim Sala Bim sounded very magical. So he used it starting 1923.

Al Jansen, Dante’s son, claimed that he had written Sim Sala Bim Polka and copyrighted it in 1933. He also claimed that Dante had taken the phrase Sim Sala Dim and converted it to Sim Sala Bim.

This would have been unnecessary if he had been using the German version as a reference, because the phrase already existed in the German version.

So who originated the phrase? Neither of the magicians actually. I would let the children take credit for it — or the unknown author of the German folk song, which may have been around before Heiberg wrote his Danish version.

Which was the first illusionist to use it? It’s hard to say. There was a fellow named Lou Lo Well who wrote a letter to Ray Muse claiming that he had heard Kalanag using it very early on, say the 1920’s.

So, nobody can really say.

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Very good research Bill. I was thinking about Kalanag when I started this thread. I always assumed that Dante said it first and Kalanag took it from him.

I remember as a kid, I use to hang out at a magic club near the LAX Airport. Bob Wagner and his sister (I can’t remember her name) were talking about magicians in the past. They said that both Dante and Kalanag were not good magicians. But, they were of agreement on Blackstone. Everyone there liked him.

I don’t know why they thought Dante wasn’t any good. What I have read, he seemed like he had a great show. He was a master manipulator of cards and billiard balls which was their argument for liking Blackstone over him. I suppose it was something personal.

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Some people liked Dante, others did not. It was a matter of personal taste. Kalanag was another story. Because of his position in the German regime during WW II, he had a rather odd reputation.

He had a big tour booked in the US during the late 1950’s. He appeared on the Sullivan show and did a very good act. However, various groups, particularly those who had survived the Holocaust, protested his presence in the US, so he basically folded up his tent and went home.

He was very popular in Germany and is still remembered almost with reverence to this day.

As far as his tendency to pinch material is concerned, when he was awarded the Hofzinser ring, he kept it for the appropriate amount of time, then it was to pass to Punx. He refused to give the ring to Punx. Finally, under pressure to various magical groups in Germany, he did give it to Punx, as was supposed to happen, but not until he had a copy made. He continued to wear the ring long after he “gave it up.”

Punx passed the ring to Werry, who died before he could award it to anyone else.

“The Swatter”

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is “Throws Money at Cups.”


Die Eier von Satan

English translation: The Eggs of Satan

For what its worth, here’s what I presume is the entire lyrics, plus the English translation, straight form Northernlight (the AltaVista server was down):

Die Eier von Satan

Full German Lyric Lyric Translated to English
Die Eier von Satan
Eine halbe Tasse Staubzucker
Ein Viertel Teelöffel Salz
Eine Messerspitze türkisches Haschisch
Ein halbes Pfund Butter
Ein Teelöffel Vanillenzucker
Ein halbes Pfund Mehl
Einhundertfünfzig Gramm gemahlene Nüsse
Ein wenig echter Staubzucker
… und keine Eier
In eine Schüssel geben Butter einrühren
Gemahlene Nüsse zugeben und
Den Teig verkneten
Augenballgroße Stücke vom Teig formen
Im Staubzucker wälzen
und Sagt die Zauberwörter:
Simsalbimbamba Saladu Saladim
Auf ein gefettetes Backblech legen und
Bei zweihundert Grad für fünfzehn Minuten backen
und keine EierBei zweihundert Grad für fünfzehn Minuten backen
und keine Eier
The Eggs of Satan
Half a cup of powdered sugar
One quarter teaspoon salt
One knife tip Turkish hash
Half a pound butter
One teaspoon vanilla-sugar
Half a pound flour
150 g ground nuts
A little real powdered sugar and no eggs
Place in a bowl
Add butter
Add the ground nuts
and Knead the dough
Form eyeball-size pieces from the dough
Roll in the powdered sugar and say the Magic Words:
“Sim sala bim bamba sala do saladim”
Place on a greased baking pan and
Bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes
Bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes
and no eggs.


Saladu – Kannada  –  meaning No Debt

Saladim  unknown but Saladin is an important word/term/title/name


(history) First sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, who led the Muslim opposition to the European Crusaders in the Levant.


From Arabic صَلَاحُ الدِّين‎ (ṣalāḥu d-dīn).

Salahu: 1 definition
Salahu (ಸಲಹು):—[noun] the act of protecting, guarding; protection. Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India. Discover the meaning of salahu in the context of Kannada from relevant books on Exotic India.Aug 25, 2021

The Meaning of Salah in Arabic

Quranic Arabic For Busy People
Feb 20, 2023 — Some have suggested that salah derives from the root و ص ل (w-ṣ-l) which means “to connect,” “to link,” or “to unite,” the logic being that …

Dīn – Brill – Reference Works

It is usual to emphasize three distinct senses of dīn : (1) judgment, retribution; (2) custom, usage; (3) religion. The first refers to the Hebraeo-Aramaic root, the second to the Arabic root dāna , dayn (debt, money owing), the third to the Pehlevi dēn (revelation, religion).

Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub[a] (c. 1137 – 4 March 1193), commonly known as Saladin,[b] was the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Hailing from a Kurdish family, he was the first sultan of both Egypt and Syria. An important figure of the Third Crusade, he spearheaded the Muslim military effort against the Crusader states in the Levant. At the height of his power, the Ayyubid realm spanned Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, the HejazYemen, and Nubia.
Saladin Name Meaning. Muslim: from the Arabic personal name Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn ‘righteousness of religion’. This was the title adopted by Yūsuf ibn .

spacer spacer

1940 DANTE Sim-Sala-Bim Master Magician Magazine

From those humble beginnings, Dante became a magic superstar! This booklet describes his beginnings and 50 of Dante’s most fascinating effects. Included inside …
$15.00 · ‎In stock     Boardwalk Magic Shop





Profile photo for ChatGPT

“Zim, zim, zala, bim” are considered to be magic words because they are often used in popular culture, particularly in children’s entertainment, to convey a sense of mystery and enchantment. These nonsensical words are often associated with the idea of casting a spell or performing a magical incantation. The repetition and rhythm of the words can create a sense of otherworldly power, adding to the mystique of magic in storytelling and entertainment. However, it’s important to note that these words do not have any actual magical properties in reality.
Ya, and surely the ROBOT would not lie!!  LOL

Actually, the phrase you’re looking for is “Sim Sala Bim”.

These magic words were made popular by the famous professional magician Dante. (They also served as the name of his famous touring magic show.)

Professional magician Whit Haydn once used these words in his performances as a tribute to Dante.He explains: “Sim Sala Bim are nonsense syllables from a Danish nursery rhyme. Dante used them in his show, saying they meant ‘A thousand thanks.’ He said that the more applause, the bigger the bow, and the more thanks that the Sim Sala Bim would mean.

‘Sim salabim’ is spoken by a Turkish alchemist with magical powers in the early medieval folk play entitled Robyn Hode: A Mummers Play: “I have here a potion, brought from the east. It is called the golden elixir, and with one drop I will revive Robyn Hode with these magic words: ‘Sim Salabim.’ Rise up young man, and see how your body can walk and sing.”

Sim sala bim is also the Swedish equivalent of ‘Abracadabra,’ and is known in other Scandinavian cultures as well.

I just like the Aladdin-ish sound of it.


Indian rope trick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
LEFT – Advertisement for a reproduction of the trick by stage magician Howard Thurston.

The Indian rope trickis a magic trick said to have been performed in and around India during the 19th century. Sometimes described as “the world’s greatest illusion”,it reputedly involved a magician, a length of rope, and one or more boy assistants.

In the 1990s the trick was said by some historians to be a hoax perpetrated in 1890by John Wilkie of the Chicago Tribunenewspaper.[1]Peter Lamont has argued that there are no accurate references to the trick predating 1890, and that later stage magic performances of the trick were inspired by Wilkie’s account.[2]

There are old accounts from the 9th century (by Adi Shankara),the 14th century (by Ibn Battuta), and the 17th century (by the Mughal Emperor  Jahangir)of versions of the trick, but this is denied by Lamont as the accounts described are different from the “classic” Indian ropetrick.[3]

The trick

There are three variants of the trick,which differ in the degree of theatricality displayed by the magician and his helper:

In the simplest version, a long piece of rope is left in a basket and placed in an open field,usually by a fakir. The rope levitates, with no external support.A boy assistant, a jamoora, climbs the rope and then descends.

A more elaborate version has the magician (or his assistant) disappearing after reaching the top of the rope, then reappearing at ground level.

The “classic” version was much more detailed: the rope seems to rise high into the sky, disappearing from view. The boy climbs the rope and is lost to view. The magician calls to the boy, and feigns anger upon receiving no response. The magician arms himself with a knife or sword, climbs the rope, and vanishes as well.An argument is heard, and then human limbs fall, presumably cut from the assistant’s body by the magician.When all the parts of the body, including the torso, land on the ground, the magician climbs down the rope.He collects the limbs and puts them in a basket or covers them with a cape or blanket.The boy reappears, uninjured.

Robert Elliotof the London Magic Circle, when offering a substantial reward in the 1930s for an outdoor performance,found it necessary to define the trick. He demanded that “the rope must be thrown into the air and defy the force of gravity, while someone climbs it and disappears.[4]

The accounts

In his commentary onGaudapada‘s explanation of the Mandukya Upanishad, the 9th-century Hindu teacherAdi Shankara, illustrating a philosophical point,wrote of a juggler who throws a thread up into the sky;he climbs up it carrying weapons and goes out of sight;he engages in a battle in which he is cut into pieces, which fall down; finally he arises again. A few words further on Shankara referred to the principle underlying the trick, saying that the juggler who ascends is different from the real juggler who stands unseen, “veiled magically”, on the ground.[5]In Shankara’s commentary on the Vedanta Sutra (also called the Brahma Sutra) he mentioned that the juggler who climbs up the rope to the sky is illusory,and so is only fancied to be different from the real juggler, who is hidden on the ground.[6]The fact that Shankara referred to the trick’s method was pointed out in 1934 in a discussion of the Indian rope trick in the Indian press.[7]These Sanskrit texts of Shankara are the basis for the claim that the trick is of great antiquity in India.

Edward Melton, an Anglo-Dutch traveler, described a performance he saw in Batavia about 1670 by a troupe of Chinese jugglers. Grasping one end of a ball of cord in his hand, a juggler threw up the ball which went out of sight, then swiftly climbed the vertical cord until he, too, was out of sight. Body pieces fell and were placed in a basket. Finally the basket was upturned, the body pieces fell out topsy turvy, and Melton “saw all those limbs creep together again,” the man being restored to life.A detailed engraved illustration accompanied this account.[8]

Ibn Battuta, when recounting his travels through Hangzhou, China in 1346, describes a trick broadly similar to the Indian rope trick.[9]

Pu Songlingrecords a version inStrange Stories from a Chinese Studio (1740)which he claims to have witnessed personally.In his account, a request by a mandarin that a wandering magician produce a peach in the dead of winter results in the trick’s performance, on the pretence of getting a peach from the Gardens of Heaven. The magician’s son climbs the rope, vanishes from sight, and then (supposedly) tosses down a peach, before being “caught by the Garden’s guards”and “killed”, with his dismembered body falling from above in the traditional manner.(In this version the magician himself never climbs the rope.) After placing the parts in a basket, the magician gives the mandarin the peach and requests payment.As soon as he is paid, his son emerges alive from the basket.Songling claims the trick was a favorite of the White Lotussociety and that the magician must have learnt it from them(or they from him), though he gives no indication where (or how) he learnt this.[10]


There has long been skepticismregarding the trick.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

LEFT – Karachi performing the Indian rope trick with his son. Magicians have suspected that the “rope” was a rigid iron shaft.[17]

Demonstrations and rewards

In 1911, Charles Bertram reported how he had visited India and communicated with over a hundred magicians in search of the trick.According to Bertram “none of them laid any claim to being able to perform it, and when they were questioned upon the subject, disclaimed any idea of ever having seen, and in many cases, having heard of it.”He offered a reward of £500 but no magician took the challenge of demonstrating the trick.[18]

In 1917, LieutenantFrederick William Holmesstated that whilst on hisverandawith a group of officers inKirkee,he had observed the trick being performed by an old man and young boy. The boy climbed the rope, balanced himself and then descended.The old man tapped the rope and it collapsed.[19][20] This demonstration did not include the disappearance of the boy.In February 1919, Holmes presented a photograph he had taken of the trick at a meeting with members of The Magic Circle. It was examined byRobert Elliot,who stated it was not a demonstration of the Indian rope trickbut an example of a balancing trick on a bamboo pole. Elliot noted that “the tapering of the pole is an absolutely clear feature and definitely shows that it was not a rope.[21]Holmes later admitted this, but the photograph was reproduced by the press in several magazines and newspapers as proof of the trick having been successfully demonstrated.Although discredited, the photograph is considered to be the first ever taken of the trick.[21][22]

In 1919, G. Huddleston writing inNature,claimed to have spent more than thirty years in India and knew many of the best conjurors in the country but not one of them could demonstrate the trick.[23]

Lord Frederick Spencer Hamilton in 1921 described an alleged demonstration of the trick, told to him by Colonel Bernard.[24]Bernard described taking photographs of the boy climbing the rope, disappearing and reappearing at a courtyard inCalcutta.However, the courtyard had been filled with dense smoke and when he had developed the photographs they revealed that “neither the juggler, nor the boy, nor the rope had moved at all.”This caused Hamilton to suggest that the juggler had somehow drugged or hypnotizedBernard.Elliot criticized this second-hand account as nothing more than “hearsay evidence.” He found the details and lack of witnesses suspicious, concluding that Bernard had hoaxed Hamilton.[25]

L. H. Branson in his book Indian Conjuring (1922) wrote that “the trick has never been performed out of doors.That is to say that a rope thrown up into the air has not remained suspended in mid-air, nor has any boy ever climbed up it.That when at the top he has not disappeared and that after his appearance he did not come down in bits,covered with blood or otherwise.” Branson offered £300 to anyone who could demonstrate the trick in the open.[26]

Magicians such as Harry Blackstone Sr.David DevantHorace GoldinCarl HertzServais Le Roy and Howard Thurston  incorporated the Indian rope trick into their stage  shows. However, their stage versions involved the use of curtains, mirrors and wires.The real challenge was to perform the full trick including the disappearance of the boy in broad daylight, outside in the open air.[27]Thurston considered this to have never been achieved and in 1927 offered a reward of 5,000 rupeesto anyone who could demonstrate it.[28]

The journalist James Saxon Childersreported in 1932 that he visited India with a desire to see the trickbut noted that “the first conjuror I asked about the rope trick smiled at me,the second laughed,and the third swore that the trick could not be done, had never been done,and that only the amazing credulity of the Occident nurtures the rumor.[29]

In 1934 the Occult Committee of The Magic Circle,convinced the trick did not exist,offered a large reward to anyone who could perform it in the open air.[30][31]

The American magician Robert Heger claimed to have perfected the trick over 20 years and would demonstrate it to an audience on stage in Saint Paul, Minnesota.He claimed he would perform in London to The Magic Circle if his demonstration was successful.[32]However, his demonstration was a failure as the boy who climbed the rope was observed by the audience to have swung to the end of another rope behind a curtain.[33][34]

John Booth’s advert offering a reward for the trick.A man named “Karachi” (real name Arthur Claude Darby), a British performer based in Plymouth,endeavoured to perform the trick with his son “Kyder” on 7 January 1935 on a field in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire.After being granted four days to prepare the site, the presentation was filmed by  Gaumont British Films.[35]His son could climb the rope but did not disappear, and Karachi was not paid.The Occult Committee demanded the trick must include the disappearance of the boy.[36]

In 1935, Karachi sent a challenge to the skeptics, for 200 guineas to be deposited with a neutral party who would decide if the rope trick was performed satisfactorily.His terms were that the rope shall rise up through his hands while in a sitting posture, to a height of 10 feet (3.0 m),his son Kyder would then climb the rope and remain at the top for a minimum of 30 seconds and be photographed.The rope would be an ordinary rope supplied by a well-known manufacturer and would be examined.The place could be any open area chosen by the neutral party and agreed to by the conjurers,and the spectators could be anywhere in front of the carpet on which Karachi would be seated.[37]The conjurers of the Occult Committee refused to accept Karachi’s terms.

In 1936, Jasper Maskelyne stated that he had “perfected half of an Indian rope-trick”;he could make the rope rise into the air in an open space and have a boy climb it but could not make the boy disappear.Maskelyne never demonstrated his method but offered £2,000 to anyone who could perform the full trick in open space. Nobody ever claimed this reward and he considered the full trick to be a myth, never successfully demonstrated.[38]

In 1950, John Booth offered a reward of 25,000 rupees to any conjuror in India who could successfully demonstrate the trick.[39]Many other rewards have been offered but all went unclaimed.[40]

Examination of eyewitness accounts

In 1996, Nature published Unraveling the Indian Rope Trick, by Richard Wiseman and Peter Lamont.[41]Wiseman found at least 50 eyewitness accounts of the trick performed during the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and variations included:

The magician’s assistant climbs the rope and the magic ends.

The assistant climbs the rope, vanishes, and then again appears.

The assistant vanishes, and appears from some other place.

The assistant vanishes, and reappears from a place which had remained in full view of the audience.

The boy vanishes, and does not return.

Accounts collected by Wiseman did not have any single account describing severing of the limbs of the magician’s assistant.Perhaps more importantly, he found the more spectacular accounts were only given when the incident lay decades in the past.It is conceivable that in the witnesses’ memory the rope trick merged with thebasket trick.

Citing their work, historian Mike Dash wrote in 2000:

Ranking their cases in order of impressiveness,Wiseman and Lamont discovered that the average lapse of time between the event and witness’s report of the event was a mere four years in the least notable examples,but a remarkable forty-one years in the case of the most complex and striking accounts.This suggests that the witnesses embroidered their stories over the years, perhaps in telling and retelling their experiences.After several decades, what might have originally been a simple trick had become a highly elaborate performance in their minds… How, though, did these witnesses come to elaborate their tales in such a consistent way? One answer would be that they already knew, or subsequently discovered, how the full-blown Indian rope trick was supposed to look, and drew on this knowledge when embroidering their accounts.[42]

In 2008, a neuroscience paper suggested that the Indian rope trick may have “partially resulted from the misinformation effect.”[43]


John Elbert Wilkie


In his book on the topic, Peter Lamont claimed the story of the trick resulted from a hoax created by John Elbert Wilkie while working at the Chicago Tribune. Under the name “Fred S. Ellmore” (“Fred Sell More”) Wilkie wrote of the trick in 1890, gaining the Tribune wide publicity. About four months later, the Tribune printed a retraction and proclaimed the story a hoax.The retraction received little attention, and in the following years many claimed to remember having seen the trick as far back as the 1870s.According to Lamont, none of these stories proved credible, but with every repetition the story became more widely believed despite being only a myth.[2]

Lamont also claimed that no mention appears in writing before the 1890 article.He argued that Ibn Battuta did report a magic trick with a thong, and Jahangir with a chain, not a rope, and the tricks they described are different from the “classic” Indian rope trick. He said that the descriptions of the trick in Yule’s editions (1870s) of Marco Polo’s book are not in the body of the work, but in a footnote by Yule, and only refer to these non-classic accounts.[3]

Lamont’s popular but controversial work dismissed the accounts such as Shankara’s and Melton’s as irrelevant to his theme.This is because his book is not really about the trick itself, but about what he called the 20th-century legend of it being Indian, the fame of the trick, which peaked in the 1930s.It is this fame, chapter 8 of his book claimed, which originated from Wilkie’s hoax.[44]

Magic techniques

  RIGHT -Illustration of how the trick could be performed near buildings.

The magician John Nevil Maskelyne in 1912 reported a possible explanation for the trick from a witness to whom he had spoken.It was suggested that theposition of the Sunwas crucial to the trick:

The jugglers brought a coil of what appeared to be a large rope.As they uncoiled it and held it up it became stiff; it was evidently jointed bamboo with the joints made to lock.It was covered to look like a rope, and it formed a pole about thirty feet long.A diminutive boy, not much larger than an Indian monkey, climbed up to the top of the pole and was out of sight of the audience unless they bent forward and looked beneath the awning,when the sun shone in their eyes and blinded them.As soon as the boy was at the top of the pole the jugglers made a great shouting, declaring he had vanished.He quickly slid down the pole and fell on the ground behind the juggler who held the rope. Another juggler threw a cloth over the boy and pretended that he was dead.After considerable tom-tomming and incantation the boy began to move, and was eventually restored to life.[45]

In 1935,Harry Pricesuggested that a strong sun and jointed rope could explain the trick.He translated an article by the German magician Erik Jan Hanussen who claimed to have observed the secret to the trick in a village near Babylon.According to Hanussen the spectators were positioned in front of a blazing sun and the “rope” was actually made from the vertebrae of a sheep covered with sailing cord that was twisted into a solid pole. A “smoke producing preparation”, combined with the blinding sun, gave the illusion of disappearance for the boy.[46]

Will Goldston, who was mostly skeptical, wrote that a possible explanation for the illusion of the suspended rope may have been abamboorod, covered with rope.[47]Others such as P. C. Sorcar have suggested that a long horizontal thread or wire was used to support the rope.[48][49]Joseph Dunningerhas revealed methods of how the suspended rope could be performed by camera trickery.[50]

Analyzing old eyewitness reports, Jim McKeague explained how poor, itinerant conjuring troupes could have performed the trick using known magical techniques.[51]If a ball of cord is thrown upwards, one end being retained in the hand, the ball rapidly decreases in size as it rises.As it unwinds completely the illusion of the ball disappearing into the sky is striking,especially if the pale cord is similar in color to any overcast cloud.Before the cord has time to fall the climber leaps up, pretending to climb, but really being lifted by a companion.Skilled acrobats could make this quick “climb” look very effective until the climber’s feet are at or even above the lifter’s head. Then a noisy distraction from other members of the troupe is the misdirectionneeded which allows the climber to drop unseen to the ground and hide.This type of “vanishing by misdirection” is reported as having been used very effectively by a performer of the basket trick in the 1870s.[52]

The lifter continues to look upwards and holds a conversation with the “climber” using ventriloquism to create the illusion that a person is still high in the air and is just passing out of sight.By now there is no cord or climber in the air, only an illusory climber as Shankara described (see above under “accounts”). Ventriloquism is quite capable of producing this remarkable effect, and a report from near Darjeeling by a school headmaster who witnessed the trick states specifically that ventriloquism was used.[53]As to the falling of the pieces of the climber, according to an Indian barrister-at-law who saw a performance about 1875 which included this feature, it appears to have been produced very largely by acting and sound effects.[54]When a magician acts out the visible catch of an imaginary deck of cards thrown by a spectator, or throws a ball in the air where it vanishes,the appearance or disappearance really occurs at the location of the magician’s hand, but to most spectators (two out of three in actual testing[55]) the magic appears to occur in mid-air.McKeague explained the falling body parts as being produced by much the same acting technique.He explained Melton’s account of seeing the limbs “creep together again” (see above under “accounts”) as being the result of contortionists’ techniques.

It has always been the outdoor disappearance of the climber, away from trees and structures,which has led to claims the illusion is “humanly impossible”.[56]McKeague’s explanation not only solves the mystery of the mid-air disappearance but also provides an alternative explanation for the Wiseman-Lamont observation discussed above that eyewitness reports were more impressive when much time had elapsed.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the fame of the trick increased performers would have had increasing difficulty in puzzling audiences with it, until finally the disappearance of the climber ceased to be a feature and the rare witness who had seen it spoke of a time long before.This is because misdirection of attention is extremely unlikely to be effective when the audience is expecting the disappearance,a fact which also explains why no one could claim any reward for a performance where it was specified the disappearance must be included.The increasing fame of the rope trick and the basket trick ended the possibility of using “vanishing by misdirection” in the methodologies for both tricks.[57]

John Keelreports that he was told the secret of the trick in 1955 from an aged mystic who claimed to have performed it in the past.A horizontal wire is stretched above the site, anchored at ground points of higher elevation, rather than obvious nearby structures.The rope has a weighted hook, and an invisible thread which is draped over the wire above;when the rope is tossed upward the thread is used to pull it and hook it in place.The magician wears loose baggy clothing, in which are concealed the “body parts” that he tosses down.The boy then conceals himself inside the magician’s voluminous outer garment, and clings to him as the magician climbs down seemingly alone.Keel describes his public attempt to perform a simpler version, but failing badly, according to “two articles and a cartoon that appeared in Indian newspapers”.[58]

Penn & Teller examined the trick while filming their three-part CBC miniseries Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour.According to that miniseries, the tour travelled the world investigating historical tricks, and while in India they travelled to Agra, where they recreated the trick.[citation needed]

Penn and Teller invited two British tourists shopping nearby to see what they claimed was a fakir performing the trick.As they walked back, an assistant ran up and claimed the fakir was in the midst of the trick, so they rushed the rest of the way so they wouldn’t miss it. As the witnesses neared the room they dropped a thick rope from a balcony.The witnesses saw what they thought was the end of the trick, the rope falling as if it had been in mid-air seconds before.A sheet was then removed from a boy with fake blood at his neck and shoulders, hinting that his limbs and head had been reattached to his torso. According to their account, the rumour that a British couple had witnessed the trick was heard a few weeks later in England.[citation needed]

Examples of the trick

Horace Goldin performing the trick on stage


Lieutenant F. W. Holmes photograph from 1917 Carl Hertz “Great Indian Rope Trick” poster c. 1920 Illustration of David Devant performing the trick on stage
Joseph Dunninger demonstrating how the trick can be faked in pictures A stage recreation by Howard Thurston Harry Blackstone Sr. on stage c. 1948



Now, let’s see what we can find for the root… the etymology of the words.  

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit dictionary

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Ṣim (षिम्).—[(u)ṣimu] r. 1st cl. (semati) To hurt or kill.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Śim (शिम्).—śimyati = 1 śam.

— OR —

Sīm (सीम्).—([enclitic]) lays stress upon a [preceding] pronoun or preposition.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Śim (शिम्):—(= √1. śam) [class] 4. [Parasmaipada] śimyati, to cut up, prepare (a sacrificial victim), [Taittirīya-saṃhitā; Kāṭhaka]

2) Sim (सिम्):—1. simind. [gana] cādi.

3) 2.sim (in Vedic gram.) a technical term for the eight simple vowels (viz. aāiīuū).

4) Sīm(सीम्):—ind. (originally [accusative] of a [pronoun] base and connected with sa as kīm with ka) him, her, it, them (employed for all genders, numbers and persons cf.idīm, and [Greek] μιν, νιν; and often weakened into a generalizing and emphasizing particle, which may become an enclitic particle after a pronoun or preposition, = περ or cunque, often translatable byever’), [Ṛg-veda]

sim › wiki › sim

sim –  Noun




From Old Galician-Portuguesesi(yes) (with nasalization of the vowel under the influence of não or mim), from Latinsīc(thus; so), from Proto-Indo-European*so(this, that).



yes(affirmative answer)

Usage notes

Sim as an affirmative response is relatively uncommon in Portuguese. The typical affirmative response in the language consists of repeating the first verb of the question, with a change in person if necessary:

“Eles saíram?” “Saíram.”

“Have they left?” “Yes.”

“Eu ganhei?” “ganhaste/ ganhou.”

“Have I won?” “You have.”

“Você vai sair?” “vou.”

“Are you going out?” “I am.


sim (not comparable)

indeeddo(used for emphasis in affirmative expressions)

Eu já li esse livro sim.

I have already read this book indeed.

Ele matou sim o bicho.

He did kill the bug.


simm (pluralsins)

yesyea(an affirmative answer)

Recebemos um sim e três nãos.

We got one yes and three noes.



(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


sim (Cyrillic spellingсим)

(Kajkavian)hitherthis wayhere synonyms ▲spacer


sala  wiktionary


Etymology 1 –  Noun Borrowed from Sanskritशाला(shalaliving room).

living room

Etymology 2 – Noun Unknown.

a tree, Lepidopetalum perrottetii

Etymology 3 – Noun

From either:  Proto-Philippine*salaq, from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian*salaq.[1]   or Malaysalah(سالهsin), from Arabicزلة‎ (zallaerror; slip; lapse; fault; sin), with possible influence from Sanskritचार(cāratrap; snare), as in अपचार(apacāraoffence), or Sanskritछल(chaladeceit; fraud).[2]




From Proto-Uralic*sala(to hide, steal, thief). Cognate to Finnishsala(secret)Northern Samisuoládit(to keep secret, to conceal)Northern Samisuola(thief)Eastern Marišolšta-(to steal)Tundra Nenetsталей(thief)Tundra Nenetsталесь(to steal)Nganasanтолар-(to conceal), and Ket Selkuptuel-(secret).

Adverb – secretly


Etymology – Noun

From Proto-Central Pacific*sala, variant of *cala, from Proto-Oceanic*salan, from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian*zalan, from Proto-Austronesian*zalan.


path(a trail for the use of, or worn by, pedestrians)

path(a course taken)

road(a way for travel)

road(a path in life)

street(paved part of road in a village or a town)


Etymology – Noun

From Proto-Finnic*sala, from Proto-Uralic*sala(to hide, steal, thief).Cognates include Estoniansala(secretly)Livoniansalātõ(to hide something)Northern Samisuoládit(to keep secret, to conceal)Northern Samisuola(thief)Erzyaсаламс(salamsto steal)Eastern Mariшолышташ(to steal)Tundra Nenetsталей(thief)Tundra Nenetsталесь(to steal)Nganasanтолар-(to conceal), and Ket Southern Selkup[script needed](tuel-secret).

secret(currently used mostly idiomatically and as modifier in compound terms) synonym ▲

Synonym: salaisuus
olla salassa ― to be (a) secret
jäädä salaan ― to be left a secret

SimSala Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

śiṃsaḷa (शिंसळ).—n R (śīsa) Hair of the head hanging about disheveled and disorderly.


bim: meaning, definition

WordSense Dictionary
bin: …spelling of bien bin (German) Origin & history From Middle High German, from Old High German bim‎ (“am”), from Proto-Germanic *beuną‎ (“to be”), from… IBM …


Etymology edit … Borrowed from English beam and/or German Baum (“tree”). Pronunciation …

India history and geography

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical GlossaryBiṃ.—(biṃº) (PJS), abbreviation of bimba, ‘an image’(especia- cially in medieval Jain inscriptions). Note: biṃ is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

bīṃ (बीं).—n (bīja S) The seed collectively or accumulatively, the seed-crops (of vegetables and grasses). 2 Sowing-seed. Pr. bīṃ tasā aṅkura. 3 Seed, grains, berries, kernels, roots, slips, leaves, anything viewed as the principle of production of. 4 Cirro-cumulus or fleecy clouds. v nigha, vira, vāha.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

bīṃ (बीं).—nSowing-seed; seed.

Kannada-English dictionary

Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Biṃ(ಬಿಂ):—[noun] an onomatopoeic word used to express the feeling of emptiness.

context information

Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

Discover the meaning of bim in the context of Kannada from relevant books on Exotic India 


Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam

Sāla (साल) is the name of a tree found in maṇidvīpa (Śakti’s abode), according to the Devī-bhāgavata-purāṇa 12.10. Accordingly, these trees always bear flowers, fruits and new leaves, and the sweet fragrance of their scent is spread across all the quarters in this place. The trees (e.g. Sāla) attract bees and birds of various species and rivers are seen flowing through their forests carrying many juicy liquids. Maṇidvīpa is defined as the home of Devī, built according to her will. It is compared with Sarvaloka, as it is superior to all other lokas.

Devī (/ˈdeɪvi/; Sanskrit: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for ‘goddess’; the masculine form
is deva
 Devi and deva mean ‘heavenly, divine, anything of excellence‘, and are
also gender-specific terms for a deity in Hinduism.

Loka is a concept in Hinduism and other Indian religions, that may be
translated as a planet, the universe, a plane, or a realm of existence.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mesopotamian goddess of the weather and grain

Impression of a Syrian cylinder seal showing a goddess riding on a bull and spreading her dress. Similar images have been tentatively identified as depictions of Shala.[1]
Major cult center Karkar, Zabban
Symbol lightning bolts, ear of the corn
Mount a lion-dragon chimera or a bull
Personal information
Consort Adad
Children Halbinunna, Namashmash, Minunesi, MisharuUṣur-amāssu
Sumerian equivalent Medimsha

Shala (Šala) was Mesopotamian goddess of weather and grain and the wife of the weather god Adad. It is assumed that she originated in northern Mesopotamiaand that her name might have Hurrian origin. She was worshiped especially in Karkar and in Zabban, regarded as cult centers of her husband as well. She is first attested in theOld Babylonian period, but it is possible that an analogous Sumerian goddess, Medimsha, was already the wife of Adad’s counterpart Ishkur in earlier times.

Both in a number of relatively late Mesopotamian texts and in modern scholarship she is sometimes conflated or confused with Shalash, a Syrian goddess regarded as the spouse of Dagan.


It is accepted that Shala’s name has no plausible Akkadian etymology,[2] and it is possible that it was derived from the Hurrian word šāla, daughter.[3] Researchers attributing Hurrian origin to Shala include Gary Beckman[4] and Daniel Schwemer.[5] A theory regarded as less plausible considers it to becognate of the Hebrew word šālah, “to be carefree” or “to be unconcerned.[6] Frans Wiggermann proposes that it had its origin in a Semitic language and that it might mean “well-being.”[7]

Sumerian and Akkadian texts spell the name as dŠa-la.[8] A variant spelling with a long wovel, dŠa-a-la, is also attested.[9] Logographic spellings of the name are very rare, though one text attests dME.DIM.ŠA as a logogram meant to be read as “Shala.”[10]

In a late explanatory text, Shuzabarku is defined as “Shala of wisdom,”Medimsha as “Shala of totality,” and Shala under her primary name as “Shala of people and dew.”[18]

A further deity belonging to the court of Adad and Shala in god lists was Nimgir (“lightning”), the sukkal of Adad/Ishkur.[33]

It is possible that on at least one seal Shala and Adad are accompanied by Aya, possibly acting as a divine representative of Sippar.[39]

Iconography and functions

Similar to spouses of other deities, Shala was believed to intercede on behalf of human supplicants with her husband.[50]

Like her husband, Shala was a weather deity.[51]She was commonly depicted spreading her dress[52] or naked.[7] Texts frequently highlight her charm and beauty.[52] In art she often holds symbols associated with rain, such as lightning bolts.[41]Sometimes she stands on the back of a bull or lion-dragon chimera pulling her husband’s chariot.[52] Such images are known from both Syria and Mesopotamia.[1]

Shala was also a goddess of agricultural produce.[3] Grain was metaphorically regarded as the product of a sexual union between her and Adad, and some artwork depicts romantic scenes between them alongside humans ploughing their fields.[53] An ear of corn was a symbol of her, especially on kudurru.[54] A star associated with her, Šer’u (“Furrow”; identified as one of the stars in the constellation Virgo), was depicted as a woman holding an ear of corn in an astronomical tablet from theSeleucidperiod.[55] Occasionally birds were also associated with Shala in her agricultural role,[56] and on at least one cylinder seal a bird presumably symbolizing Shala accompanies a lightning bolt representing her husband.[39]

An Elamite figure of a woman cupping her breasts. Louvre.

Maurits van Loon proposes that a “gate” symbol accompanying Adad and Shala on some seals could represent the rainbow,[57] though he notes his theory does not take into account that in Mesopotamian and Elamite pantheons the rainbow was also represented by a separate goddess, Manzat.[57] He points out that the temple of Shala and Adad at Chogha Zanbil was adjacent to that of Manzat.[57] He considers it a possibility that figures of naked women cupping their breasts found at this site might represent a weather goddess (Shala or Manzat), and their jewelry – the rainbow.[57]


Eariest evidence for the worship of Shala comes from Old Babylonian Nippur, where she appears in offering lists alongside Adad.[58] One of the year names of the Babylonian king Hammurabi indicates that a statue was dedicated to Shala by him.[9] A qadištum priestess of Shala is attested in documents from Sippar.[31]

A hymn to Nanaya which enumerates various goddesses regarded as either city goddesses or wives of city gods mentions Shala in association with Karkar,[51] located close to Umma and Adab.[59] Indirect evidence indicates that it was associated with the cult of her husband’s Sumerian counterpart Ishkur as early as in the Uruk period.[60] According to a list of temples, her sanctuary, most likely located in that city, was the Edurku (“house, pure abode”), which might had been a part of Eugalgal[61] (“house of great storms”), a well attested temple of Adad.[62]

The worship of Shala and Adad as a couple is attested in both Assyria and Babyloniain multiple time periods.[63] Shala appears in late Aramaic sources as well, for example in a bilingual inscription from Tell Fekheriye.[63] In the first millennium BCE Zabban was the location of an important temple of Adad and Shala, seemingly connected in some way with Sippar.[64] She was also venerated in Guzana.[26] An Assyrian temple of Adad and Shala was also located in Kalhu according to a document from the reign of Ashurnasirpal II.[65] An inscription of the neo-Assyrian king Sinsharishkun might indicate that Shala was worshiped in the joint temple of Anu and Adad in Assur.[21] Other sites where she was worshiped alongside Adad include Nineveh, Kurba’il, Ekallatu, Urakka, Suhu and Babylon.[31] In Achaemenid and Seleucid Uruk Shala was one of the goddesses accompanying Antu during a parade of deities celebrating the New Year festival.[66]

Multiple theophoric names indicating the worship of Shala are known, with Ipqu-Shala, translated as “friendly hug of Shala” by Daniel Schwemer, being particularly common.[67] Other names, with fewer attestations, include Amat-Shala (“servant of Shala”), Apil-Shala (“son of Shala”), Nur-Shala (“light of Shala”), Sha-Shala-rema (“the actions of Shala are merciful”), Shala-damquat (“Shala is good”), Shala-sharrat (“Shala is a queen”), Shala-ummi (“Shala is my mother”), Shimat-Shala (“fate determined by Shala”) and Shu-Shala (“he of Shala”).[68] Some of them are attested west of Mesopotamia, in Mari.[69]

In incantations Shala was invoked against dogs.[70]

In Elam

Shala was also worshiped in Elam alongside her husband.[71] While names of presumed Elamite weather deities (Kunzibami, Šihhaš and Šennukušu) appear in Mesopotamian god lists, so far none of them were found in Elamite and Akkadian inscriptions from Elam,[72] and it is assumed that Adad (dIM) and his wife were worshiped under their Mesopotamian names and were not merely stand-ins for the names of deities of Elamite origin.[71] They had a joint temple at Chogha Zanbil,[73] referred to with the term silin, for which various translations have been proposed (“rain water,” “abundance,” “prosperity,” “growth”).[74] Like a number of other terms used to describe temples forming the Chogha Zanbil complex it is a hapax legomenon.[75] Most of the evidence for worship of the pair comes from the lowlands (especially Susa).[76]

Only the so-called Persepolis Fortification Archive from early Achaemenid times undeniably confirms the spread of Adad’s cult further east.[76] It is also possible that a theophoric name attesting the worship of Shala in the highlands is known from Tall-i Malyān (ancient Anshan).[76]


This phrase is obviously not just some accidently grouping of sounds.  It appears to carry with it some weight in the realm of magic and it is deliberately kept in our consciousness through the media.  

All of the etymologies of the varies parts of the phrase  Sim, Sim Salabim seem to me to be associated with the aspects and symbols of this ancient goddess/devi.    So, in their reciting of this incantation, I would think they are giving reverence to this entity or invoking her presence.