Aside from being a technology blogger and a microbiology student, I also have another passion: Magic. Amateur magic is a fun hobby and a great skill to have in almost any social situation. When I was younger, I used to buy all kinds of tricks from magic shops and then try them out on my friends and family. I was predictably terrible and there wasn’t much I could do about it because I didn’t know anyone else who did magic. Back to my story in a minute…
As with all other things, the art of magic has grown into an online community. This has been a tricky transition, as magic is something that inherently relies on secrets. Many magicians feel that the internet has made it too easy for people to post “reveals” on the most popular tricks. Even in writing this article I wondered if I would be opening up the magic community to too much press. In the end, I feel that education is more important to the future of magic than secrecy is to its present.
Over spring break I picked my childhood hobby back up again. Once I came back to magic, I discovered that the way in which people learn and interact with magic has completely changed. Magicians no longer rely as heavily on magic books (though they are still very important) and often have a catalog of DVDs, video files, ebooks, and other multimedia resources. YouTube, whose users are notorious for revealing secrets, posting tutorials, and performing so poorly that they expose their secrets, has also been a good way for magicians to get new presentation ideas and explore new kinds of magic in a visual way.
Magicians have a number of great websites that can help you find your way in the world of magic. This article is meant to help anyone looking for resources and support in their hobby. Here are a few of those resources:
With over 35,000 registered users and more than 2 million posts, this forum has the best advice for every kind of effect. There are some forums for beginners, specific forums about different kinds of magic, and even access-restricted forums for long-time users who have proven their worth. Most of the posters are serious magicians who have experience and advice for any questions you may have. They have a very positive attitude about new magicians and will bend over backwards to help you out. The Magic Cafe is the cornerstone to any online magic experience.
One great resource for new magicians can be found on this thread. It is an ebook compiled by one of the Cafe users that has the collected wisdom of the “New to Magic?” section. It is very well written, spans over 6 years of posts, and any newbie will appreciate it.
This UK-based site is another forum that often provides a good alternative to The Magic Cafe. In fact it is very similar to its bigger brother and many magicians troll both sites for tips and valuable discussions. They are particularly known for their product reviews, so it might be a good first stop when considering a new trick or piece of equipment. Also, both forums will lead you to other magic sites that the community of magicians has recommended.
IBM and SAM
These two organizations are major players in any event that brings magicians together IRL (in real life). While the websites both detail how to join up, my suggestion is to just look up your local chapter and stop by. If it’s anything these clubs love, it’s new magicians who are taking the time to learn the craft as it should be learned. Most chapters will let you come to several meetings while you decide whether or not you want to join.
You may be wondering what the main difference is between the two organizations. IBM is very focused on lectures and demonstrations, while SAM traditionally gives more opportunities to perform in front of a polite and helpful audience. These are just generalizations though, as each chapter has its own style.
For previous generations, the only way you could learn magic was from a book, a fellow magician, or a brick-and-mortar magic shop. Magic shops can be great resources for magicians of any level, but depending on where you live, you may not have any nearby. Fortunately, the internet has thousands of online magic shops where you can not only purchase new books and trick, but also watch video demonstrations. I won’t publish any particular shops here, but after a short while you will begin to discover where to go for your magical needs. For more specific advice check the forums above.
Where to Go From Here
The toughest thing at the end of the day isn’t finding the magic tricks, learning the secrets, or even practicing. Most importantly, find out what kinds of magic you like to do and figure out why magic fun for you. Learning the magical arts can take a very long time, so it is important to set goals, stay organized, and make sure you’re enjoying every second. This holds true for any hobby, but especially magic.
To new magicians, I say, “Good Luck!” If you’re an established Illusionist, please post your ideas and suggestions below.
[Hat image from Dr. Nic]