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Magic: An Art or a Forgotten Science

Updated on September 5, 2014

Does it truly exist

Many a times we are left to wonder what is in the Magicians Hat or his Wand that he comes up with so many tricks. The most commonly used term is “Pulling the Rabbit out of a Hat”. Technically I use this term when I have achieved the impossible. So coming back to the Hat the basic question that I would like to raise is that is there anything called as real magic in this world. Or is it just a few tricks technically to be termed as eyewash.

To some people it is bread and butter however for many it is simple tricks performed and there is nothing known as magic. For a few it is entertainment and they walk out of a theatre saying what a trick it was.

The percentage disagreeing that magic exist is a lot higher than the believers. But to my knowledge there would be a few more things that need to be assessed carefully before we conclude on this. There are many instances that prompt this feeling.

I would not treat magic as simple as eyewash or a few random tricks. Yes there are so called magicians who perform tricks to make a living and will claim it to be mere tricks. But somewhere I feel that there is more to what they perform, our materialistic demands do not allow us to believe it and the tricksters and magicians for the same reasons do not make you believe it.

The country I come from has many instances passed from word of mouth to make us think. I believe every country has its past so does mine. I would not like to get down all the examples yet would like to categorise a few events which will make us think.

The Famous Rope Trick:

All of us have read and heard about the famous Indian Rope Trick. Lot has been said and written about it. However there is no conclusive evidence how it is performed. However it is not something that defies logic. Even a lot of stage magicians perform tricks where it seems that impossible has been performed and later justified it as a trick.

It being their bread and butter they have never revealed their secrets. The entertainment value will keep them performing it time and again.

In the Rope trick, the boy or the assistant at the end of the trick is alive and that in itself is the surprise element. To add to it is the mystery of how the rope rises steadily without any support and this too is also a surprise factor. So all in all the Rope Trick is a complete package full of entertainment that surprises everyone and has a result that impresses one and all.

Until concrete scientific evidence is provided it will be futile to write off the rope trick as a trick. And again it will be incorrect to ignore any involvement of science in it. The crowd is mesmerised all the while to look into what is happening.

Let us evaluate what is happening in the entire act.

So what would be really happening, to begin at the start of it, when the trick begins the magician keeps everyone engaged in talks. This is when the attention is sought. As the crowd is engaged in the game, the magician begins with rope rising to the top. This ensures that the crowd is glued to the trick. Then the magician prompts the assistant to climb the rope, this again is ensuring that the crowd is completely engaged and thus will definitely fail to notice the person who is climbing. Next the magician climbs and disappears, here again the crowd is to busy to see what is happening and will not note the clear details to what is happening.

Then comes the shock as the limbs start falling. This ensures complete attention of the crowd as now shock is used to gain attention. We can say that they are entertained as if watching a movie and glued to the act and fail to see if there are any shortfalls or tricks involved.

As this is happening the magician comes up with the climax of him appearing from nowhere and mind you everyone had seen him disappear climbing towards the end of the rope. To end with the assistant or boy whose limbs were thrown down is bought back to life. So the act begins with gaining attention of the crowd, then surprising them twice, shocking them and ending with a couple of surprises.

Thus the act is value wise, as it effectively uses the engagement factor of the crowd and performs the eyewash.

The facts yet to be ascertained are how the rope remains stiff and goes up without support. There have been some facts given time and again but nothing conclusive. The rest of the act is a bunch of tricks like any other stage magician would perform. So the Rope trick though a fantastic act is an act indeed.

Mass Hypnotism:

This one is a good one. We have seen magicians perform this one stage. Everyone is busy watching the stage where the magician is performing and all of a sudden they see him vanish from the stage while he walks from within the crowd or from another door which is impossible to reach within that duration of time.

Why do I mention this? Well on stage this can be bought to effect without hypnotising and keeping the crowd engaged. But what if this was performed on a street and the audience is all around you. Meaning thereby that the magician is in the centre and surrounded by the audience from all sides.

In the latter act the magician is performing live in broad daylight with everyone watching him closely and he ends up walking from within the crowd. Now this is really an act which can be supported by only evidence that they use mass hypnotism or they manage to keep the crowd completely engaged. Thus the crowd or audience fails to notice the magician move around. You cannot say they use a double because a lot of magicians perform this on streets and thus getting so many doubles is practically impossible. So it has to be a great trick or a great performance of mass hypnotism.

Of course street performance is a dying art due to lack of audience and lack of promotion.

Snake Charmer:

This is another tale which was narrated to me by a senior person who claimed that it was documented by a visiting British Courtier. But then I haven’t read the document and hence cannot vouch for it, but yes I would like to mention it as it has stuck to the back of my mind.

Pre independence era there was a king who was very fond of eating fish. His cook tried his best to feed him with the best but then the King was not very fond of the taste served with. During this time another cook claimed that he could serve him the best of the fish and the tastiest ever. The King gave him an opportunity and he proved to be an excellent cook. The fish cooked by him was so tasty that the King dismissed the earlier cook from serving his meals. The earlier cook thought that the change of taste did the trick and thought that over a period of time the King will call for him. But then this did not happen and the new cook managed to impress the cook time and again.

Now the earlier cook was jealous he knew that he had to do something to get his position back. He once followed the new cook as he went to fetch the fish. What he saw astonished him and he narrated what he saw to King. The king was shocked to hear his tale and decided to follow the new cook, he was accompanied by the person who documented this fact. They too were shocked to see what happened.

The cook went by the lake and recited something and two water snakes came up to him and he killed them. These were then served to the King as fish. The King ate them as they delicious as others. But then he was not pleased that he was eating snakes and not fish.

The next the documenter and the King followed him one more time and the act was repeated, this time the king stopped him then and there and asked him what was he doing. The cook replied that he simply was using an art which is a secret within the family. The cook claimed that he cannot reveal the secret and he could any type of snake living on land or water using this art.

The King was tempted; he had tales of the famous Cobra Gem (Naag Mani), and wanted to acquire it. There have been lot of claims time and again that the possessor of this Gem gains powers beyond a common mans reach. He told the cook that he had two options, first was that he wanted to see the Cobra with this Gem and the second choice if failed the cook would be beheaded for serving the King with snakes for fish.

The Cook claimed that if the Cobra is summoned then it will summon all other species of snakes too. The Kings temptation was too high and told the cook to follow the instructions or the consequences. The poor cook had no other option but go for it.

He told the King to be at a spot in the nearby jungle at a particular time. The King along with the documenter reached the spot. The cook recited something and in no time a lot snakes appeared from no where. It was more like a meeting of snakes, different varieties of snakes reached the place. Finally all of them started making way as though someone special was on the way and a Cobra swirled through. He went and coiled himself on a rock in the centre of all snakes as though he were the King of the Snakes.

The King was tempted further and ordered the Cook to bring the Cobra to him. The Cook mentioned as per the art taught to him it was impossible to perform that part as he was under oath. But then the King knew no bounds and was clear on his orders. The Cook had no choice. He mentioned to the King that he was certain that we will get bitten in the act and if that happens not to treat him as dead but to quickly embalm him in a particular lotion and then mummify and summon his sister from the address provided. The King agreed to the Cook.

The Cook in an attempt to get hold of the Cobra was bitten and all the other Snakes along with Cobra disappeared as they had appeared. The King was shocked yet followed the instructions as given by the Cook. His sister was requested to come and she confirmed if the mummifying had been done according to instructions. To this King responded affirmative.

The Cooks sister then Requested for boiling water which was used to clean the lotion and she recited something as she did so. At the end of this the Cook was back to life again but then left the King’s court for good. Both brother and sister did not reveal to the King how they performed everything saying that they were under oath and it was prohibited to reveal the secret to any outsider.

Now in this case is a peculiar one. There is involvement of science to a greater extent. This includes, the reciting of mantras to invoke the snake and the Cobra, then the mummifying and the Cook coming back to life.

Most of this seems to be use of science. We all have heard of hypnotising humans but then hypnotising snakes to reach a spot that is not something heard of. So is this magic of summoning snakes an act of magic after all or a science which has not been taken seriously. Or is it very difficult part of science hence written off easily.

It is like the story which ends up saying that the grapes are sour as I could not taste it. So here I would like to say that it is a science which is lost in time or too difficult to study and practise.

Here in this case I cannot vouch for the above as I haven’t seen the document which mentions the above but then there is a possibility of truth in it.

Unseasonal Fruits:

This is the last one in the list.

This is documented by a famous Swami who is known world wide. I would not like to name him but hint at who it is. He had mesmerised the Americans in his first ever speech to them and won accolades thereafter.

This is something that he had documented and he has mentioned in his book that he was witness to the act. At the start of the book he has clearly mentions that in his quest to find evidence he came across many people and their tricks but this required a mention.

He and his colleagues from the ashram had heard of a man who could fetch fruits from any part of the world without having to go there.

Swamiji and his colleagues put him to test. They allowed him to wear only a Kaupinam and requested him for a fruit. He recited and the fruit was in his hand. They tasted it and confirmed that it was not an imitation. Then to further confirm they asked for an unseasonal fruit which was not available in that part of the country. He managed to get that one through.

Swamiji believed that this was not fake and it was definitely for real.

Now something documented by a person his stature cannot be written off.

So here again I would say this is magic but then somewhere it is a science too complex in nature which cannot be performed by the ordinary. Just like everyone cannot build a rocket, maybe everyone cannot be mentally strong enough to learn this branch of science hence written off as magic or as I mentioned before, the famous tale of Grapes are sour.

Vermillion Powder:

Now this one is a special one. I have witnessed this one myself.

My grand mom as mentioned in one of the earlier hub meditated and knew a lot of people with such abilities. One such person was a follower of a Goddess and when he sang an Aarti, (verses comprising praises of the goddess deed sung to invoke the goddess) he managed to get Red Vermillion powder (sacred to Hindus) on his palms from nowhere.

He was requested to perform the Aarti and I saw it right in front my own eyes, that without any tricks the vermillion powder appeared on his hands. Mind you he was not holding anything in his sleeves and I had seen it with own eyes.

This one I can vouch for sure. I was a witness to this act.

Here again I will claim that this is science.

Putting up all the acts together, one can say that to larger extent it is tricks used by people to earn. But in some cases I believe there is magic happening around us. It is a science which has not been studied seriously or ignored due to various reasons.

Maybe in the days to come it will be taken up seriously and some skilled in this branch will be able to survive using it as an art. Then we will all say that some things are mere imitations and otherwise there is something up the Magicians Hat afterall.


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    • Aniket Lawand profile imageAUTHOR

      Aniket Lawand 

      4 years ago from Pune, India

      Thanks Carrie. Early days I also believed it to be illusions or tricks, but after studying a lot that has been written and seeing a few tricks I realized that there is some truth in it after all. There are a lot imitators or tricksters creating the illusion but somewhere there is a truth. For example you see a new innovation on your electronic gadget, the first one is a innovation and then quickly there are imitators who copy and make money from it. We have been trained to believe that things do not exist because it is scientifically incorrect. but then how far has science reached has it uncovered everything?

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Carrie Lee Night 

      4 years ago from Northeast United States

      I believe in illusions not magic :). Thank you for writing an excellent hub :). Thank you also for sharing in such an interesting topic :)


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