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A magician , also an illusionist or magician , is an artist of the performing arts of magic who is apparently able to abolish the physical laws of nature: things appear, disappear, transform and can float. The supposed "mind reading" is also part of it.


The alternative name "magician" comes from the name of Zoroastrian priests , the lean . It initially refers to the wizard who has actual or imagined magical abilities. Magicians use this name to psychologically reinforce the illusion presented and to bring it closer to the supernatural . Other alternatives are pocket players , jugglers , illusionists and mentalists .


There is a great deal of evidence in history about people who pretended to be serious magicians by using tricks , for example about temple magicians who induced their clientele to sacrifice their knowledge of physical laws such as aeolipile . Many later magic tricks have a criminal origin such as cheating , pickpocketing , the pretense of spiritualistic phenomena or fakir tricks . However, the classic trick of the " cup game ", which was used purely for entertainment purposes , was already observed on Hellenistic marketplaces . The first book in which concrete magic tricks are described using scientific knowledge and tricks is De viribus quantitatis ("The power of numbers") by the Franciscan Luca Pacioli, a friend of Leonardo da Vinci, around 1500. However, the book was never distributed and got into of the University of Bologna in oblivion. The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot (1584) is the first popular book with explanations of tricks . It served to educate the people, since about the time of the witch hunt in everything that was not understood, the work of the devil was seen. A sleight of hand book called Hocus Pocus Iunior. The anatomy of Legerdemain was published in London in 1634.

It was not until the 18th century that the term “sorcery” or “magic art” was used for the art previously known only as “pocket game”, which originally had a purely magical meaning. Joseph Pinetti opened the first known magic theater in Berlin at the end of the 18th century. The art of magic experienced an appreciation in the 19th century when Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin , John Henry Anderson and Alexander Heimbürger began to present it in a contemporary and stylish way like the established arts. Around 1900 magicians and other curiosity artists enjoyed a boom as entertainers. In the first decades of the 20th century, magicians traveled with elaborate illusion shows (“Golden Age of Magic”).

Magicians and "real" magicians

In the past, magicians sometimes left it open as to what nature their “miracles” were, today this is the exception. Nevertheless, magic tricks are interpreted by some contemporaries as real magic. This is particularly encouraged by the so-called mentalists , who pretend to leave it up to their audience to decide whether the performance should be assessed as reality or illusion, but in reality play with this superstition and thereby nourish it.

Traditionally, prominent magicians felt called upon as trick experts to expose con artists in the field of the apparently supernatural, such as John Henry Anderson , John Nevil Maskelyne , Houdini , Dunninger , Milbourne Christopher , James Randi , Derren Brown and Penn & Teller .

Wizarding associations

Amateur and professional magicians are organized nationally, for example in the Magical Circle of Germany , Magical Ring Austria in Austria, Magical Ring of Switzerland , The Magic Circle in the United Kingdom and internationally, for example in the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques or the International Brotherhood of Magicians . The Society of American Magicians has voted outstanding magicians from around the world into a Hall of Fame since 1967 .


In Germany , the German Magic Art Championships take place every three years, organized by the Magical Circle of Germany . In addition to the winners in the various categories, the title of German Master of Magic has also been awarded since 2008 . In the following year, the international umbrella organization Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques organizes the World Championships of Magic . There too, in addition to the winners in the category, the Grand Prix winner is an overall world champion.

Well-known magicians


Web links

Commons : Magician  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Society of American Magicians website , SAM Hall of Fame