• What is the Magician’s Code?

  • May 06, 2019

  • “As a magician, I promise never to reveal the secret of any illusion to a non-magician, unless that one swears to uphold the Oath in turn. I promise never to perform any illusion for any non-magician without first practising the effect until I can perform it well enough to maintain the illusion of magic.”

    Those two sentences are also known as “The Magician’s Oath”, and you have probably heard it in one form or another if you’ve ever shown interest in magic. If you are anything like me, you will have had to hear it endlessly whenever you see a magician perform, especially since I always wanted to know how the magic was done.

    There are excellent reasons for its existence and why magician’s, myself included, will often bring it up if asked that infamous question, “How did you do that?”

    When you perform a magical effect in front of your friends and family for the first time, and you absolutely nail it, what happens next can be overwhelming. You will suddenly be the centre of attention in a whole new way, with everyone demanding to know how it was done, going so far as to beg, plead and even bargain. This newfound “power” can be very seductive, and you will be tempted to hand over the secret nugget of information. Still, you only have to make this mistake once to see firsthand why you must not do it, under any circumstances.

    Imagine you are a budding magician and you have successfully performed an effect or two, your audience is desperate to see more, all the while asking you to show how you did it. If you were to do just that, you would see a change in your audience. Their faces will fall, disappointed in the solution. When someone asks how you do your magic, most of the time they want to hear you say that traded your soul to the devil, or the ritual you conducted on midnight during a full moon. Once they know about the sleight you used to pull off the magic, they will know what to look for in your following effects. Your audience will now be aware of what to look for the next time you perform.

    While revealing that secret move to your friends and family might ruin your next performance, the real danger it poses is that it will also ruin it for any other magician they come across. You have stolen magic from your audience, but also work and abilities from another performer now. This is the reason magician’s do not take someone else violating the code lightly.

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