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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The International Brotherhood of Magicians! » » THE MAGICIANS' OATH (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Skip Way
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When society began to accept Magic and revere Magicians for their special talents, Magicians felt a keen need to safeguard the tradecraft and secrets of the art. Masters established an oath of secrecy for their apprentices to protect the art.

Here is a modern version of this Oath:

As a Magician I promise never to reveal the secret of any illusion to a non-magician, unless that one swears to uphold the Oath in turn. I promise never to perform any illusion for any non-magician without first practicing the effect until I can perform it well enough to maintain the illusion of magic.

The oath serves as a reminder of the Magician’s role in protecting the art’s trade secrets. It also serves to bind Magicians around the world to a devoted and supportive brotherhood. It reminds the Magician of his responsibility as an artist, role model, and entertainer.

Why is this important?

In A Study in Scarlet, the great detective Sherlock Holmes states, You know a conjurer gets no credit when once he has explained his trick; and if I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all. By revealing too much of our method, we irreversibly diminish our universal image as Masters of the Extraordinary to that of mere tricksters and con men.

Magic attracts the sense of wonder and imagination of audiences large and small. Audiences attend Magic performances through a desire to believe in the illusions weaved by the master Magician. The seeming impossibility of the feats performed by modern Magicians empowers this fascination. Openly revealing the methods and highly toned skills behind these feats diminishes an entertaining and wondrous illusion into a mildly interesting puzzle. It deprives our art of its mystery and spoils the show for everyone, including and especially for the artist.

By exposing the secret behind an illusion, we destroy the surprise and sense of awe from that illusion for that spectator for all time. The pleasure derived from experiencing that illusion is forever gone.

Of equal importance is the fact that exposure deprives fellow Magicians of the opportunity to create awe and wonder with the revealed illusion. This affects his ability to entertain and earn a living through this art. Over time, it can also adversely affect his passion for the art. Essentially, a secret revealed, intentionally or through carelessness, is a moment of awe and wonder forever lost.

This defines the importance of one aspect of the Magicians Oath.

Of Equal Concern

Of equal importance is vigilance in protecting the creativity and inventiveness behind the art.

Our modern world is constantly evolving and shrinking. Nearly all the information of humankind is immediately available at our fingertips. Magic illusions can quickly become stale and overworked. Without fresh new ideas, audiences may lose interest in the art causing it to fade slowly into oblivion. Most Magicians rely on the creativity and inventiveness of masters of the art to create new effects, illusions, and techniques. Without these steady infusions of fresh ideas, public interest in our art will quickly fade.

The original Magicians Oath fails to consider this.

It has long been “accepted” that Magicians have an inherent freedom to duplicate an effect, illusion, or routine created or performed by another and sell or perform it as their own. Such behavior is unethical, unacceptable, and incredibly destructive to the future of Magic.

Composers, authors, and other artists all receive compensation for their creative efforts. It is through this compensation that authors like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and R.L. Stine are able to continue producing their exciting stories. It is through this compensation that musicians like Adele, Taylor Swift, and Pink are able to continue producing their trend-setting music. If we remove this compensation – if we allow and support the efforts of unscrupulous thieves who would steal and duplicate these creative works and sell them as their own – then the true creative artists can no longer support themselves. The creativity stops!

This reality holds true for Magicians, as well. By adopting a fellow Magician’s routine as our own, by buying knock-off Magic effects at reduced prices, by funding unscrupulous dealers who duplicate and sell original works under different names, we are ripping the rewards for hard work and risk from the hands of our most creative artists. We are in effect telling them that their contribution to our art – to our passion – is unappreciated and not respected. The creativity stops!

The Oath Revised

The Magicians Oath is simply a reminder that unethical behavior among peers is career and artistic suicide. The individual Magician who strays from the ethical path will soon – and justifiably - find himself isolated from the Magic community. The offending Magician, amateur and professional alike, may find himself banned from social and educational events within the Magic community. No Magician will step forward to teach, coach, or share with him.

Much of this closing of ranks is a means of protection and preservation for the ethical Magician, the art, and the Magic community. It is necessary to assure that Magic endures as a force of entertainment and recreation.

For these reasons, I propose a more inclusive, more positive Oath for my students and for future generations:

I am a Magician. I strive to elevate the code, ethics, and rituals of the magical arts and its guilds. I stand ready to honor and protect the trade secrets and principles of my art. I promise never to reveal the secret to any illusion through intent, negligence, or lack of preparation or practice. I respect and defend the creativity and the intellectual property of my peers. I refuse to support the unauthorized and unethical copy, imitation, manufacture, or sale of materials, ideas, principles, secrets, and presentations of my peers. I treat all fellow magicians with the respect, encouragement, and fellowship I appreciate in return. I am a Magician.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Dick Oslund
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A long overdue statement! --and, I agree 200%.

I'm retired from 20 years as a part time, professional, + 50 years as a full time professional.

I'm a former Associate of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star, Order of Merlin Excelsior IBM (66 years) SAM 41 years, AND, Member # 6 7/8 of the the SECRET SIX.

I believe we met in Houma Louisiana about six years ago. I was with Jon Racherbaumer.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Skip Way
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I remember you, Dick...how could I not. It was a pleasure meeting you then and I look forward to seeing you again.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
jkostyal
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I agree with this completely. Very well stated. My additional rantings would only diminish your presentation. Thanks for posting.
Mike Maturen
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I move that the IBM oath be changed to Skip's new statement.
Mike Maturen
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AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

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