Magicians wanting to excel face the challenge of dividing their available time between technical, hands-on rehearsals, and heavy information processing studies that are crucial to artistic and professional advancement. I will detail the development of my performing style, and also reveal what I believe to be some of magic's most fundamental secrets. Truths so basic, yet universal, that all magicians must be familiar with them, whether they are working close-up, producing birds, or performing illusions. I will tell you exactly WHY I perform the style of magic I do. Notice I said WHY, and not HOW. There are thousands of books that can tell you HOW, but not so many on the WHY.
After explaining the WHY, I will then reveal eight principles for Making Magic Memorable. Some of these principles have been chisled from experience, others were gathered from various magical mentors from around the world. Together, they represent the most important "secrets" in my magical repertoire.
I didn't have any particular performing style when I first became a magician, as anyone who saw my beginning performances will surely agree. But boy, did I love magic. So much so, that I tried to learn it all. And, j ust as any type of seed will grow if the soil is fertile enough, my early days in magic found me doing doves, close-up, silent manipulation, whatever.
Unfortunately, being a "jack of all tricks" meant never really mastering any given style.
Who could worry about getting better? I was practicing as fast as I could just to make sure I remembered it all! But I must have been lucky, because my environment supported it. By some stroke of fate, my youth found me in a somewhat secluded mountain town, where audiences valued enthusiasm more than polish. There may be a little truth in a comedian 1 heard recently who said some parts of West Virginia make Mayberry look like a think tank!
But to some extent, the size of my home town worked against me as well. To some extent, 1 HAD to be the ever evolving, cameleon-Uke entertainter in order to deal with my tiny pool of potential audience members. Of the three West Virginia towns 1 divided my youth in, the population of the largest one peaked at 17,000, and that was during hunting season. In situations like this, it's easier to get a new act than a new audience. All I had to do was one school show, the local men's club, a church function, a few birthday parties, and everyone in town would have seen my act. If I wanted to be re-booked, I had to get a new act.
But then, in a series of experiences changed FOREVER the way I would view magic. It was in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I was going to college. I found out that the five nursing homes in town each had a $25 budget for their bi-monthly entertainment. Soon after this, I developed what you might call, The Nursing Home Circuit. Every two months, I got to go to all five homes, for two full years. Thafs sixty shows! For me, and for my environment, this was a rare opportunity. After all, EVERYONE needs SOMEPLACE to be bad. Someplace to try something several times in several ways to find out if it will work. For me, it was the Nursing Home Circuit
But guess what? I discovered you just can't predict the results of experience. I learned a lot from these shows, but not what I went into them to learn. Speaking from a very Zen-like point of view, I didn't go into them with an empty cup, waiting for it to be filled with whatever knowledge the experiences would bring. No, I went into them just sure that what I would learn would be a better way to steal that bird, or to do that switch. I was so sure I knew what I was going to learn, that I almost let the real value of this experience escape me. The experience had to hit me twenty or thirty times before I noticed the pattern. Eventually, I noticed that at virtually every show, at least one of the residents would approach me, saying something like, "...when I was a little girl down in ridden., a magician would come thru once a year at our school. When I zvas in the 5th grade, he brought me in front of the class - ! had worn a skirt that day, and he put an egg into my pocket, and made it disappear. Do you do the egg trick?"
Or, "...we grew up in Logan, but my uncle lived down in Charlotte, and he knew all about magic. Every Christmas he would come in, and there was one of his tricks I never could figure out. I'd hold a quarter in hand, and he'd hold a nickle. Without touching anything, I'd have the nickle and he'd have the quarter. Do you do that quarter trick?"
Well, I thought that was all pretty neat, and taken in isolation, that's all it would have been, just some pretty neat interactions.
But that's just it - it wasn't an isolated event. If anything, it became a PREDICTABLE event. I could count on hearing at least one such story at each stop.
Then, as time passed, I finally came to realize, there were patterns, INSIDE the patterns. Common thread that ran through each of the stories retold from decades earlier. All of the stories were about things that happened to them. They were all personal experiences.
It was always their quarter, their pocket, their hand. Never did I hear them say, "He had this big box, see, and he'd spin it around a couple times, right, and I don't know what happened, but there were these scarves, and paper fold up flowers, and all Do you have one of them boxes?..."
Apparently, things they just witnessed, without EXPERIENCING, just didn't become part of long term memory. I've heard purely visual experiences compared to bubble gum for the eyes. And while there's nothing wrong with that, I've grown to believe that, except in rare cases, the purely visual experiences don't go any deeper than the eyes. And personally, I wanted more than that I wanted to go past the eyes, working my way deep into their psyche. I wanted my magic to move them. I wanted to deeply etch the experience into their long-term memory. In a nutshell, and no pun intended, I wanted to be the talk of the Nursing Home Circuit in the year 2030.
Now, everyone has goals, whether they verbalize them or not. And every goal has its own demands. By acknowledging, then embracing, this particular goal, I realized I would have to study more than magic techniques alone. I've often felt that magic methods and techniques, for the most part, were meant for fooling the eyes. Mirrors, false bottoms and palming techniques were created to conceal methods from curious eyes, but my goals distinctly mention the mind, not just the eye.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes from a magic book. It comes from Erdnase in EXPERT A TTHECARD TABLE. While teaching how to palm a card, he reveals a secret so fundamental to the performance of magic that if someone DIDN'T understand ifs full meaning, they would have a hard time doing close-up, dove magic, or even illusions deceptively. The quote goes: "...it's one thing to put a card into the palm and turn the hand so it is out of view, but it altogether another to put it there in a way that the most critical observer would not even SUSPECT, LET ALONE DETECT the action."
I repeat: "in Slidl a way that the most critical observer would not even SUSPECT, LET ALONE DETECT the action."
Why is this such a valuable insight? Because it articulates one of the most unfortunate truths about magic: To laymen, suspicion is a method. All they have to do is say, "whooo... there he did it.
Wow. I'd sure hate to play cards with him!" Keep in mind they don't have to know EXACTLY what you did, all they have to be able to do is say, did it. I couldn't do it of course, but I caughtyal" and as far as they are concerned, the fat lady has sung... And do you know what's REALLY bad? They don't even have to be right about WHEN they think you did it. All they have to do is SUSPECT, and as far as they are concerned, they got ya.
When you start to accept responsibility for things an audience might just SUSPECT, let alone DETECT, you realize that your studies must then go beyond technique. To deal with people on this level, I feel you must develop an understanding of psychology, human nature, people skills, and emotional engineering; supported by all the help you can get from dramatic, comedic and theactrical studies.
Trying to create experiences worthy of long-term memory with technique alone would have been like trying to lounge backwards with my feet proped up in a chair with only one leg. Granted. Maybe SOMEBODY could do it. But why take a chance?
One way I look at goals is to see them as carrots on a stick. The nature of the goal relating to the size of the carrot. In my world, pushing people's wonder-buttons so hard the experience sticks with them for a lifetime, takes on the appearance of a 30 foot, two ton carrot. Sounds motivating, right? Well, maybe yes. Maybe no.
What if the stick that holds that carrot turns out to be a mile long? What if the goal is good, but the effort to accomplish it is just too great? What if the studies are too demanding, the price just too high? There has to be some ratio of carrot size to stick length for either horses or humans to be motivated. The good news is that it is here, in dealing with the length of the stick, that I think I can be of help.
In fact, I believe that my studies and experiences over the last year have revealed things to me that can dramatically SHORTEN the length of this particular stick for any of those who share my passion for this particular carrot
I've identified eight different principles I try to revolve my style around. You, like me, may find some of them to be very obvious. While others have taken every day of the twelve years since the Nursing Home Circuit to crystalize.
Lef s start out with the obvious, since s so often overlooked. I heard a guy say, "There s no telling who ih.'^vcu^ water, but we're pretty sure it wasn 't fish..." So at the sake of sounding obvious, Principle Number One is:
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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.