In episode two of the Theory & Thoughts for Magicians podcast I ask; “Do You Believe in Magic?” Specifically, does your performing character believe in magic? It’s important to know the answer! When you present a magical effect, what is actually causing the magic to happen? What magic powers do you have? What is the source of these powers?
I encourage you to listen and ponder on these questions.
In this post I’d like to highlight one idea from the episode. Partly because it is my own original way of thinking about this, and partly because it benefits from a visual aid, unavailable in audio form.
The Spectrum of Magicality
This is a measurement of your (character’s) belief in magic. I identify five particular spots along the way, but your own character may be a mix of two.
WIZARD – Resolute in their belief of magic, has complete control over the supernatural. Words Used: Command, summon, conjure.
MYSTIC – Connected with a supernatural force, but not in control of it. They possess some special ability to tap into this force and have it work through them. Words Used: Power, influence, intuition, phenomena.
AGNOSTIC – Sitting on the fence, expressing no opinion either way. This is dramatically uninteresting. Words Used: [shrug]
SCIENTIST – Observes the wonders of the universe and tries to make sense of it. May not have an explanation for all mysteries, but believes there is a rational answer. Words Used: Experiment, atoms, psychology.
JUGGLER – Amazing feats are the result of manual dexterity. In complete control of their skill. Words Used: Skill, practice, demonstration, stunt.
(I go into a little more detail on these types in the podcast.)
Two big takeaways (for me)
The majority of magicians are Agnostics only because they have not made a choice. They just haven’t considered it. In performance they probably jump all over the place, being a wizard for one trick, and a juggler for the next, or express no viewpoint at all. It’s either confusing or boring! I encourage you get off the fence and pick a spot.
Much like real life, your beliefs remain relatively consistent. Maybe not static, but within a limited range. Your performing character’s beliefs should be consistent. It would not make sense for a Wizard (pure magic) to present a gambling demonstration (pure skill.) That said, with a little creativity, any magic trick can be adapted to suit your beliefs. When a coin vanishes, a mystic calls it magic, and a scientist calls it a quantum dislocation.