The wind is magical. It appears unexpectedly from nowhere, and then disappears in the same fashion. You do not see it coming, however it can leave a tremendous impact on everything caught in it's path. It can generate many human emotions, such as happiness, when you are touched by a gentle summer breeze. Or fear, when it appears to be overpowering and out of control. Or wonder, when it makes snowflakes dance majestically through a moonlit night. Yes, the wind is magical.
But one of the most magical things about the wind is that it is invisible. It is impossible to "see" the wind, you only see the results of it. Sure, you can see leaves as they are tossed weightlessly through the air, but you cannot see what is actually giving them flight. Yes, the wind is magical, but more importantly, magic should be like the wind.
To be more specific, our methods should be more like the wind. When a card magically jumps back to the top of the deck, it should not appear that we did anything to bring it there. This means that the method should be invisible like the wind, with only the result being seen.
Far too often (and we are all guilty of this) we assume that our moves (or methods) are slick enough to "blow by" the spectators. But if we were to ask them, they would tell us that many times they are left with the feeling that something happened (usually at the precise time that it did), but they do not know what it was. One of the best examples of this would be a classic pass. Ask yourself, how many people do you know that actually do an INVISIBLE classic pass? The number will probably be fewer than the number of honest politicians that you can name.
Please do no take what I am saying as cynicism, quite the contrary. I believe that by looking closer at the flaws of an effect (and every effect has some sort of flaw, otherwise it would be "real magic") we can all make our performances more like the wind. Let us take this idea a bit further and examine our example of the pass.
In the hands of most magicians, a pass is not invisible. It can flash. It can talk. Or simply the movement of the hands can be suspicious. But these things do not prevent a number of individuals from trying to "blow it past" their audience. Now what I am about to say is probably nothing new, but good ideas can never be brought up too often. I shall break my thoughts down into three basic steps, which can apply to any move, or more accurately, any method.
My first suggestion is to work the move to the point that you can execute the mechanics to the best of your abilities. After all, there is no substitute for excellent technique.
Next, HONESTLY critique yourself and see if you can adequately pull the move off successfully time after time in performance. If the answer is "no", then continue practicing, or abandon the move entirely.
Last, concentrate on routining the effect to position the move at a point where it will generate the least amount of suspicion. If possible, during an off-beat, which can add an additional layer of deception and make the routine flow smoother. However, at times it will occur that the structure of an effect does not allow the move to be worked in during an off-beat. If it absolutely MUST be placed at a point when it will generate "heat" from the audience, then the first two steps are of the utmost importance.
I must mention that I have left this particular essay for the end of the book, hoping that it will leave a lasting impact. It was originally buried near the middle but as the publication date grew closer, I happened to see several performances by two different working professionals. Although none of their actual moves ever "flashed", it was quite apparent to the "laymen" that something "sneaky" was happening, even to the point of one of the performers being called a cheater several times. And the spectator was entirely correct with what she was saying, but the magician still persisted. From there, he simply wore her down with repeated confusion until, in the end, he "won" by executing a top change. Please do not take what I am saying as criticism, it is not. I am simply making an observation.
The performances that I am referring to were never like the wind, (although they certainly were "stormy") but they were considered "successful" because at the end, the spectators were "fooled". But I have always believed that magic is much more than simply fooling people, and after our time together, I hope that you agree. I would never be bold enough to say that my way is "the way", I merely offer my thoughts as an option. I believe that by following the basic three-step process that I have presented here, you can take steps to make your magic appear invisible and effortless, like the wind.
the empty soapbox...
(Some Closing Thoughts)
I spent quite a bit of time putting this book together. With well over 30 years of magical experience, I figured that I had quite a bit to say. I accumulated my notes, wrote out the routines, then went to work on several essays. The essays would be the parts of the book that would tell it like it is. I would have the opportunity to let others share in my wisdom, to see it my way. Or at least, to know how I felt.
The longer that I sat at my computer and wrote, the more I agreed with what I was saying. But then it finally hit me. I have preached for years that magic without meaning is worthless. Simply fooling the audience was not enough. I suddenly began to realize that my views about magic were quite the same because my complaints and my criticisms were not offering solutions. When I looked in the mirror, all that I saw was me standing on my soapbox. There was no meaning, no solutions, it was just me bitching.
Unfortunately for me, (and fortunately for everyone else) my soapbox was empty. And everyone knows that a box that is packed to the top is much stronger than one that is empty. So with my full (or should that be "fool"?) weight on top of it, my empty soapbox collapsed.
As you have seen, some of those essays have made the final cut, somehow finding a way to sneak into this book. But they did so only after they were reevaluated. I look now not to criticize for the sake of ego, but instead to hopefully shed light on something that I feel could use a bit of adjustment, or at least looked at from a different perspective. But even then, I realize that what I see and feel are only based on my opinions, which are as valid as the opinions of others. However, they are still simply opinions.
You may agree with some of my thoughts, you may violently oppose others, but please remember that the things that I say come from my passion for theatrical deception. There are times that my words may appear harsh, but those words come from the desire to achieve higher goals. In a nutshell, magic is special. It is unlike any other form of theater. It is noble, strong, and meaningful. The stereotypes that the art suffers from kill me, like when it is considered something "for the kids". (I am not demeaning or criticizing magic for children. It is a noble branch of the art, but I simply feel that it is not the only way that magic should be perceived by the general public.)
To sum it all up: "Magic should be magical". That is my message. I hope in some small way that I have made a tiny contribution through my thoughts and my routines. So if I have gotten carried away at times, or if try to climb up onto my soapbox at some point in the future, do not be alarmed. I am sure that I will fall off yet again. But until then, I promise to always love and respect the art of magic and deception. Thanks for listening, and keep the change.
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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.