By Johnny Royall
Does everyone who learns magic, have to want to be a magician?
I spoke to a magician the other day and she told me that she loved practicing magic and buying new magic tricks, but didn’t think she will ever perform for the public. She then asked “Should I feel guilty not doing anything more with it?”.
It’s fine for magic just to be a fun hobby; you don’t need to feel guilty. Whether it be playing a musical instrument, craftwork or even collecting stamps, magic can simply be something for yourself to enjoy. If you like messing around with a deck of cards or practicing the nuances of difficult sleights, there are no rules that determine that performing professionally for audiences is a requisite end goal. In fact, when I was younger, magic was always something that was my own little secret world that almost felt like a superpower!
There are more reasons to learn magic than performance but even just having the courage to show your mum and dad a trick, or your friends as well, can be very rewarding. It definitely gave me the confidence that I needed to socialise more and was a great way of connecting with other people. But that doesn’t mean that I am wasting my skills by not performing magic professionally.
For some, the thrill of learning is reward enough. I love puzzles, and whenever I see a new effect, I try to see if I can work out how something so apparently impossible is happening. In learning the secret, it generates a great feeling if correct, but often an even greater one if what’s actually happening is far more ingenious than I could ever have imagined.
Many people study the theory and history of magic such is the intrigue of those bygone years. Like any historical era there’s a fascination in the time and the place. Magic can reflect the political and social events of the day. It’s interesting to see how magic was regarded around the turn of the century when the world was experiencing the massive leap forward that came with the boom of the industrial and scientific changes being implemented. That magic as an art form was continuing to amaze and astound in this new age where anything was becoming possible, is a testament to its power to entertain, enlighten and subsequently inspire. Compare that to today and the current resurgence we are seeing on our screens and theatres, and it’s clear that the audiences of the 21st century are as transfixed and open to astonishment as they ever have been.
Some people choose to collect magic or playing cards, and there’s nothing like discovering a forgotten treasure in a dusty corner of some old beleaguered shop. Perhaps an old children’s magic set that you know once held such wonderment to its recipient. Vintage playing cards also possess that kind of charm as well. Like an old book from decades ago; the colours and texture are now faded but it still ‘breathes’ that mystery.
For the last few years, designer bicycle playing cards have become more ubiquitous than ever. The artwork and imagination on some of these are amazing and demonstrate the wonderful creativity that is flourishing within the magic community. Like the collectables of old, toy figures still kept pristine in their boxes, some decks aren’t meant to be played with..
Ultimately, magic is something that gives back whatever you are prepared to put into it and whatever you want from it. Be that as a cool little fun thing you keep to yourself, or as a way to communicate and give someone a special moment of wonder. So long as you respect it, in the end, it doesn’t matter which path you choose, it only counts that you enjoyed the journey.