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Mind Reading Magic Tricks

Updated on March 11, 2021
TimothyArends profile image

Tim Arends has been a practicing magician and magic enthusiast for over 40 years.

What Are Mind Reading Magic Tricks?

In mind reading magic tricks (also known as "mental magic" or "mentalism") you, the magician, appear to be capturing the thought waves of someone in your audience and tell them what they are thinking. This effect is usually accomplished in one of three ways:

1. You arrange things so that the audience member is forced to think of what you want them to, such as a certain number or word.

2. You manage to find out what they are thinking by using certain clever methods or subterfuges.

3. You make it appear that you know or knew what the audience member would do, say or choose even though you didn't.

Mind reading magic tricks require more acting skill than other forms of magic. After all, you're trying to make it appear as if you have certain mental rather than physical powers.

You can't satisfy the requirements of the trick merely by making a rabbit appear out of a hat! Instead, you must make it look as if you have some hard-to-define ability of the mind such as thought transference, precognition or the like.

On this page, you will learn some easy-to-do mind reading magic tricks. You will learn how to burn some papers and yet know what word the audience member has chosen, tell the color of a crayon that is placed in your hands behind your back, announce the number that was chosen seemingly at random by a member of the audience, divine the word that the audience has selected from a book while you are out of the room, and get an impression of a symbol that was written on a pad of paper. All of these are done without the need for any assistants or confederates.

Practice these mind reading magic tricks well and you will be able to entertain and amaze your friends with your apparent mind reading abilities.

Mystic Ashes

While you sit at a table, you ask members of the audience to call out the names of famous people, either living or dead. As the names are called out, you write each one on a slip of paper, fold it up, and toss it into a bowl or ashtray.

Now you have an audience member choose any one of the slips from the bowl at random and hold it to their forehead, and you light the remaining papers on fire.

When the papers are consumed, you pick a few ashes out of the bowl and mention how the fortune tellers claim to be able to read the future in tea leaves. You say that you are going to read the audience member's mind by studying the ashes.

After gazing into the ashes for a few moments, you announce the name of the person written on the slip of paper the audience member is holding.

What you need:

A fireproof bowl or ashtray, a small pad of paper, a pencil.

How you do it:

As the audience is calling out names of people, you simply write the same name - the first that was called out - on all the slips of paper! All the evidence is burned at the end and you are left "clean." Clever, no?

The Mind Reading Crayons

You tell the audience that you can read minds and hand someone a box of crayons. Turning your back, you tell the audience member to place any crayon in your hand so that you can't see it. You are able to tell what color is handed to you every time!

How you fix it:

A small, new box of crayons works best for this trick. These can be purchased at any convenience store. if the crayons are all new, no one will think that you can tell the color by the length of the crayon.

How you do it:

Hand the box to an audience member and tell them that you can read minds. Turn your back, and have someone select any crayon from the box and place it in your hands.

Now here comes the secret move: with the crayon still held behind your back, you turn around and face the audience. After you do so, you rub the crayon against the thumbnail of your hand!

Tell the audience member to concentrate and pretend to be trying to receive his or her mental vibrations. Then point to the audience member and tell them the color of the crayon.

By pointing to them, they see that your hand is empty, but at the same time, this allows you to glance at your thumb and see the color they selected!

When you put your hand back behind your back, you have an opportunity to rub your thumbnail against your trouser leg to wipe off the mark so that you can then turn around and repeat the trick a second or third time. Three times will probably be enough to "prove" that you have psychic powers.

Note: If the box has a lot of crayons, tell the audience that you will identify the general color rather than the exact name of the crayon. For example, if the crayon is burnt umber, you may identify it as "brown."

Number Divination

You write a prediction in large numbers on a slate or sheet of cardboard and turn it face down on the table. You ask a member of the audience to write on the other side any number containing three digits with the first digit higher (of a greater value) than the other two (such as 867). You then tell them to reverse the figures underneath the first row of figures and subtract the lower sum from the upper such as:





Next, tell the spectator to add the resulting digits to each other and to announce the total (18). You turn over the cardboard and your prediction matches the total!

What you need:

A sheet of cardboard, a slate or a heavy piece of opaque paper, something to write with.

How you do it:

All you have to do is write 18 as your prediction. As long as the audience member follows your instructions, their total will always be 18!

Pocket Book Mind Reading

Have a member of your audience call out any number from 1 to 100. Have another member of the audience call out any number from 1 to 20. Have a third member call out any number from 1 to 5.

You now hand someone a small book of several hundred pages. Tell them to turn to the page corresponding to the first number called out, look at the line corresponding to the number that the second person called out and then count over to the word corresponding to the number that the third person called out. They are to write the corresponding word on a piece of paper and fold it up.

They do all of this after you have left the room. When you return, You hold the folded paper to your forehead and call out the word that was selected. This trick requires no confederates.

What you need:

Two identical copies of the same book. This book should be small enough to fit in your jacket pocket.

How you do it:

You remember the numbers that were called out by the audience. After you leave the room, you simply turn to the corresponding page and look at the word that corresponds to the chosen numbers in your own copy of the book. When you return to the room, you can then reveal the word that was selected.

The Psychic Impression

self working mental magic
self working mental magic

You hand a small pad of paper to anyone in the audience and tell them to draw on it any symbol they desire. You can turn your back while they do so or even leave the room.

Next you tell the volunteer to tear off the sheet on which they drew the symbol and place it in their pocket. Taking the pad from them, you tell them to concentrate on the symbol they drew.

Say that you are receiving a fuzzy image of their drawing through ESP. On a chalkboard, whiteboard or slate you now draw a symbol that looks pretty close to the one they drew! Have the volunteer take out the sheet of paper and hold it next to your own drawing for the audience to confirm.

What You Need:

A small notepad, a piece of carbon paper cut slightly smaller than the pages of the notepad, a pen or pencil with a hard point and a larger notepad, slate or whiteboard for your sketch

How you fix it:

Before the performance, insert a piece of carbon paper in the notepad after about the third or fourth page.

How you do it:

After you take the notepad from the volunteer, tell them to concentrate. Pretend that you are receiving "psychic vibrations."

With the notepad behind some object on your table, flip past the carbon paper to see what symbol they drew (the pen or pencil with a hard point will ensure a good impression). Do this quickly so that the audience does not catch on to the fact that you are looking at something.

Finally, re-draw the symbol from memory in front of the audience on your own notepad or slate. Ask the volunteer for his drawing and hold it next to your own to show the audience how well they match.

Remember that the symbol you draw does not have to match the volunteer's symbol perfectly. It is the nature of ESP that psychic impressions are sometimes close but not perfect.

How To Be A Mentalist

Appear to be a real mind reader!

Remember that you are supposed to be receiving thought waves. This is hard work: the thought waves come slowly, and they may not be very clear at first. The audience member must concentrate harder to send you the message. Only with some effort does the desired thought come into your mind.

For example, if you are pretending to receive a mental impression of the number 18, you might say something about it being a very important number in a young person's life. Or, you might pretend that you are seeing the numbers as they fade in on a large blackboard in your mind's eye.

You might say, "I see two digits. The first looks like a one, but the second is very different. It looks like a double "O", but not quite. It is something like the infinity symbol. Ah! I see it now! It is an eight. The number you are thinking of is 18."

If the impression you're trying to get is that of a word, you might pretend that you are getting the meaning of the word before you receive the exact word itself. If the word is "man," you might say that you're getting the impression of a person, but it is not a child or infant. Perhaps it is a woman. No, you see it quite clearly now, it is an adult male!

Try to actually believe that you're getting the thought waves yourself. If you have this conviction, then you will be able to be more convincing to others.


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