The Sympathetic Silks

A beautiful problem with silks. A great favorite of Houdini. In various forms, this problem has graced the acts of a number of professionals. I present it to you in its simpler form.


Six silks are shown separately. Three are placed on the seat of a chair. The other three are knotted together by the corners. Performer explains that a sympathetic bond exists between the two sets of silks. Because one set was tied, the other set also ties itself. The three separate silks are lifted from the chair and are found to be tied in the same way as the tied set. Magician unties these silks, and when he picks up the other three, they are found to have mysteriously untied themselves also.


1 - Six silk handkerchiefs, preferably about 27 inches square and bright red for flash in the effect. Large silks are particularly desirable for stage use. For parlor work, pocket handkerchiefs may be used.


Tie three of the silks together as in Figure 98.

Austermann Magic Silk Patterns

Hold the silks up by the corners A, B, C with the knots to the rear. On the left place a single silk, and on the right, two single silks.

Arrange silks in this order on a table or chair so that they can be easily picked up without exposing knots. Audience must believe that all silks are separate.

To Perform:

Pick up silks and hold in left hand in order mentioned above. To call attention of audience to separate silks without appearing to do so, casually take the two separate silks in your right hand, jerk them up and down as if to straighten, and replace them in left hand, Figure 99.

Figure 100 shows view toward yourself.

Now count the silks aloud, passing them from left to right hand. Keep hands close enough together so as not to expose knots.

Figure 100 shows view toward yourself.

Figure 101 shows silks as audience sees them. Because top and bottom corner are separate, spectators think the silks are separate.

When you come to last silk, lift it away from others, snap it up and down with left hand, and then place with others in right hand. Now place silks back in the left hand, getting left single one over on right side with other two single silks.

"Six silk handkerchiefs"

Take the three prepared handkerchiefs and place them on seat of a chair as you would if they were separate. Bunch them up a little, Figure 102.

Tie two of the single silks together by the "Fade-Away-Double-Knot" method, taught to you earlier in this lesson. Handle the silks carefully so that they do not untie prematurely and tie the third single silk to one of the other two, Figure 103.

Bunch the silks up a little and drop them to the floor or to the seat of another chair.

"Peculiar to these silk handkerchiefs is the bond of sympathy that lies

between them. What one bunch over here does, the bunch over there imitates. We started with six single silks. I knotted these three together."

Reach down and pick up first bunch of silks, A, B, C, by corner X (see Figure 98). Jerk them upwards, showing a chain of three silks knotted together.

"And sympathetically, these three knotted themselves. I shall untie them."

Untie the three knots and drop the silks, one at a time, on a chair.

"And in sympathy with these unknotted silks, these three over here become unknotted."

Pick up a corner of one of the other set of silks and jerk it upward quickly to untie it. In the same manner pick up the second and untie it--then the third.

Another Counting Version

There are a number of ways of showing silks separate in the beginning. The method described is very easy. Another way is to hold silks as in Figure 104. A, B, C, the knotted silks, in crotch of left thumb; D between first and second fingers, E and F between second and third fingers.

Bunch corners together so that they appear to be held together, Figure 105.

Count silks aloud, one at a time. Pick up E first at upper corner with right hand and shake it, Figure 106. "One."

Take F in right hand and shake both together. "Two."

Bring right hand to left hand to pick up third silk apparently. Quickly replace E and F between second and third fingers of left hand, Figure 107.

With movement of left arm swinging toward right, pick up A, B, C in right hand and shake the three together, Figure 108.


The swinging of the left arm and flourishing of the right as you quickly exchange silks from left to right hand makes it appear to the audience that you merely took a third single silk from left hand into right.

Place the three knotted silks--A, B, C--on chair seat. Continue to count the other three silks.

Now proceed with the experiment as before. Using a Chair Display for Counting Silks

In this method, the silks are hung up in such a manner as to make the knotted silks look single. First, sew very small rings at top corners of A, B, C, D, E, F.

On top of a chair, drive six small brads equal distances apart. Drive them just far enough in to hold securely with enough projecting to hold rings of handkerchiefs, Figure 109.

Hang rings of A, B, C on first, third, and fifth brads, Figure 110. Hang rings of D, E, F on second, fourth, and sixth brads, Figure 111.

D and E cover the knots, and to all appearances, there are six single silks hanging on the chair.

Pick up corners C, B, A and jerk them downward suddenly to free them from other silks. Practice this move so that you perform it naturally as if you were handling single silks, Figure 112.

Count the silks—one, two, three—as you pick them up. Then place them on the seat of a chair.

Then continue your count as you pick up the other three in a similar manner. Proceed with this experiment from this point.

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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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  • Elen Yohannes
    Can satin handkerchief be used for magic?
    2 years ago

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