The most common mistake I have seen magicians make is on a simple vanish, whether it be a coin, ball or card. They do not seem to have a reason for placing the object from the right hand to the left hand; they just do it so they can retain it in the right hand, which is an excuse not a reason! In fact, the act of placing often seems unnatural and, although it may look as if the object is in the left hand, the audience is aware of something not quite right. The only way to make it work is to really place the object in the left hand, the way you would place it there, and then analyse it (as Ramsay did) and when you do retain the object, there should be no difference in handling whatsoever. The audience should at no time be aware of a 'move' or sleight. When Ramsay did a sleight (and he did many complex moves), you were convinced that he was doing nothing, because every move and gesture blended in with the personality of the man. When he performed a sleight, the audience, more often than not, was not looking at his hands anyway and if what I will call sight misdirection was not enough to cover the move, he would use mental misdirection. In other words, he would keep the minds of the audience 'busy' for that split second. For example, he would ask a question so that the audience was mentally busy thinking of an answer.

John Ramsay's philosophy of misdirection seems very simple. If you want somebody to look at something, look at it yourself. If you want somebody to look at you, look at them.

Now the secret of this, I believe, is that you do not make or force people to look where you want them to. You have to get the audience relaxed and onto your own mental wavelength. In other words, the audience has to become accustomed to your style and personality before you even start to do anything. So, by the time you are actually into your first trick, you have to know that the audience will look and react the way you want them to, but of their own accord. It should never become a mental battle whereby the audience will be aware that they are looking you in the eye when you want them to.

I mentioned earlier about 'doing tricks'. Now this is the one thing that John Ramsay did not do as such. He created a situation whereby magic happened. A coin would appear and then it would vanish etc. There was never a 'get ready'; his hands would never go to his pockets prior to a performance or a 'show us a trick' situation. John would perform when he was ready, but he would always be ahead, often by several moves in fact. He would sit for hours with thimbles or coins palmed in case the situation arose when he would perform and that is another classic 'Ramsayism' — hold and hide.

I think the basis of Ramsay's philosophy on misdirection is the fact that he used the natural human responses and reactions of his audience; very simple basic facts, such as the human eye follows a moving object (in John's case, the object being his head, his hands, his eyes etc.). The audience, therefore, was absolutely unaware of anything 'unusual' going on, because there was nothing to see. He would reach into the air and pluck out a coin and proceed to rub it right through his hand. That is exactly what it looked like and the audience had no reason at all to suspect that he did anything different. He had analysed and re-analysed every single movement, from the angle of the head to the twinkle in his eye, and he knew the precise psychological second of every gesture. And that is the sort of work which is involved in creating pure magic!

With the Professor

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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