- Magic is called by many names. Some people refer to it as hocus pocus. Some call it conjuring, prestidigitation, or wizardry. It is also known as sorcery, legerdemain, necromancy and thaumaturgy.
- The earliest recorded magicians date back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, but we do know that even the earliest people had those who were believed to have special powers for healing and prayer.
- The earliest magicians were considered sorcerers, and they were believed to have supernatural powers.
- These sorcerers were supposed to be able to change the weather, prevent disease and illness, heal the sick, gain favor with the gods, and help win wars.
- When Christianity became the dominant religion in the 4th century, magicians were outlawed. Many were condemned to die, because they were thought to be witches or devil worshipers.
- By the 16th century, magicians began to perform as they do today. They did card tricks, made objects disappear, and performed mind reading.
- The magician’s success lies in their ability to create an illusion that appears to be real, and to focus the audiences’ attention where they want it to be at a specific instant.
- One of the most famous illusionists was Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen. In 1770 he devised an automated chess player that took on all challengers. Benjamin Franklin played against the machine in 1783 and lost.
- Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. The official cause of his death was peritonitis caused by appendicitis. Houdini is still considered the world’s best known magician.
- Today, the magic tricks and illusions are done by magicians who perform for huge audiences throughout the world. The tricks and illusions they perform are spectacular. Some make airplanes disappear, levitate cars, and squeeze people into a tiny box. Some of the better known magicians today are: David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, Lance Burton, Doug Henning, David Blane, Penn and Teller, and Derren Brown.
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