Some people have tried to associate the word with ancient Jewish mysticism and Kabalism. Typical examples say that it is derived from ab, ben, and ruach acadasch, words that respectively mean father, son, and Holy Spirit. Another supposed source is that it is a variation of the Hebrew abreq ad habra, which means, "hurl your thunderbolts even unto death." Another version has it meaning "Speak the blessing" from the Hebrew "ha brachah dabarah." There are a wide variety of other variations and supposed sources for this word.
The first written record of its use is in the poem "Precepts of Medicine" by the second century physician and Gnostic, Quintus Serenus Sammonicus. Some occultists believe that it was a magical word used by the Gnostic sect, the Basilidians (their founder was Basilides), and may be related to the name they use for their Deity, Abrasax (Abraxas in Latin). In her book, An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present, Doreen Valiente claims it comes from a Sufi saying, Ha Brachab Dabarah, which means, "speak the blessing."
Beside the formation shown in the definition of the word, abracadabra has been used in other talismans using a similar pattern but other geometrical forms.