Are there any historical references to medieval magic?
"THE DISCOVERIE OF WITCHCRAFT" by Reginald Scot
A Modern English Rendering of Those Portions of the 16th Century English Text Dealing With Legerdemain
(Modern English Text and Commentary Copyright 1994-98 by Neil Alexander)
Originally published in 1584 in London. Authored, by Reginald Scot a justice of the peace in Kent, England.
In the 1500s witch-hunts were sweeping continental Europe and Scotland, and would soon engulf England with the coronation of the anti-witch activist, King James I, in 1603. Scot's work was intended as an argument against the existence of witches, and a protest to the rising tide of persecution.
A very small portion, 22 pages out of 283 in the Dover Publications reprint, was devoted to performance magic, and became the basis for many of the books on magic tricks that appeared over the centuries following the printing of Discoverie.
“The Discoverie of Witchcraft “ was written in 16th century Elizabethan English, and is filled with archaic spelling and phrasing along with obsolete expressions common to those times. Shakespeare's first plays appeared six years after the publication of Scot's work and the English is similar, although the student of poetry will search Scot's writing in vain for any examples of iambic pentameter.
It is a meticulously well researched study on the practice of witchcraft; and also touches on astrology, alchemy, divination, and more. The text presents logical evidences of the witches self-delusions or outright fraud.
The complete work covering charms; the names of demons, angels and other words of power; spells; rituals; sabbats; biblical and Egyptian magic; and much more, was researched with such academic integrity that the Discoverie remains a much-quoted primary source for those interested in the occult sciences and magic history, whether believers or not.
Scot was guided in writing the sections of the book dealing with legerdemain by John Cautares, a 16th century French sleight-of-hand artist who made his living as a laborer and resided in London. The sections devoted to magic tricks contain valid explanations of many effects still performed today, but include very little instruction on the handling of the sleights.
The chapters were written with tremendous respect for the art of legerdemain, which it discusses using that very term. Scot emphasizes that he considers such entertainments to be to the betterment of society and its citizens, and not the work of the devil or his allies.
The text holds little back in exposing the use of misdirection, manipulation, confederacy, and many other tools of the magician in surprising detail considering the relatively small space allotted to the subject. Not only does he reveal much sleight of hand, but also larger effects that can be compared to what we have come to regard as full sized stage illusions.
Among the many techniques and gimmicks "discovered" are: magicians' wax, double-sided coins, various finger palms, classic palming, coin shells, the classic force, lapping, loading for cups and balls, threads, false shuffling, second dealing, confederacy, "bar bets" (as they would be called today), mentalism including a simple second sight-style code, false bottomed boxes, paddle tricks, the double-tape (grandmother's necklace) principle, a four hundred year old sophisticated version of the "magic coloring book", and much more.
Magic Frequently Asked Questions
What is mentalism?
How does the shell game work?
What do I need to do the Shell Game?
What are some good books on mentalism?
How is the "Linking Paper Clips" trick performed?
How can I prepare for the unexpected while performing?
What if someone demands to examine my cards or coins?
What does "abracadabra" mean?
Do I have to learn a variety of magic?
Is it okay for me to allow videotaping?
What kind of rabbit is best for magic?
Should I include a rabbit in my magic act?
Is it okay to tell people how my tricks are done?
How do I handle hecklers?
When my time is up, should I just leave?
How important is misdirection?
Can I shoot my own audition videos?
Should I announce my tricks before I do them?
What must I learn to be a better performer?
Why should I volunteer to do non-profit and charity shows?
How many card tricks should I do?
What´s the difference between a trick and an illusion?
What are Platform, Parlor and Cabaret Magic?
What kind of magic is done in restaurants and clubs>
What is Close-Up magic?
Why do I need business cards?
Why should I join a magic organization?
How should I talk to an audience?
Should I include bits of my live shows in my performance tape?
Are other magicians rivals or friends?
How do I specialize in Mentalism?
Where can I find good jokes and one-liners for my act?
Are there summer camps for aspiring young magicians?
Should I Specialize?
How much should I practice?
What are some good magic magazines?
Why was FOX TV´s exposé of magic bad for everyone?
What magazines are available on the topic of magic?
What are some non-English words for "magician?"
Do I have to tailor my performances to specific audience?
What are the different types of magic specialties?
Are there any really old books about magic?
Are there any historical references to medieval magic?
What should my performance video tape contain?
Where in the NY area can I go to magic school?
How can I add a twist to the Jumping Rubber Band trick?
What are some good books for learning magic?
Can I perform with only card tricks?
Who is the patron saint of magicians?
What´s the derivation of the word ´illusion´?
How should I "act" onstage?
Where can I buy used props, or sell my old stuff?
How important are movement and choreography?
Is it alright to imitate other magicians?
What kind of magic do street performers do?
What does the word ´Magian´ mean?
How do you do that rubber band trick?
Where did the word ´magic´ come from?
What´s the etmology of the word ´magic´?
What is Linking Ring Magazine?
What is Escapology?
What do I do when I make a mistake?
Who is Magical Edd?
Is it okay to exploit stupid people?
How can I project a "feeling" that sets the mood for my audience?
What is the collective term for a group of magicians?
Should my act have a theme?
How can I develop a theme for my act?
Is it OK to repeat a trick if someone asks?
Can I use animals in my act?
Was the Tony Curtis film about Harry Houdini historically accurate?
How did Harry Houdini die?
What are the benefits of joining a magic society?
Why should I join a magic club?
What´s the Chinese (Mandarin) word for magician?
How can I keep my act exciting?
How do I locate contacts to find good jobs?
Where can I find good books and magic tricks?
Where did the term ´hocus-pocus´ originate?
Who were Los Reyes Magos?
Is it important to practice even the simple tricks?
How many tricks should I learn?
Do I have to plan out my performance in advance?
Do I have to check my equipment all the time?
What does ´hocus-pocus´ mean?
Where can I find good upscale stage magic equipment?
Where can I find magic classes?
Where can I learn more about physical theatre?
What is Magic Unlimited?
What is the Japanese word for magic?
What are the key elements of a great performance?
How can I improve my performance and keep my act alive?
Where can I buy used props and illusions?
What´s a great place to buy magic items?
Where can I buy magic items online?
How smart is the average audience?
Should I specialize or learn all sorts of magic?
Where can I get magical domain name for my website?
Where can I find new features for my act?
Is there a website where I can buy books, props and so on?
Where can I post a free website for my magic performances?
Where can I find an agent?
What kind of business card should I have?
How can I get table-hopping gigs?
Do I need an audition tape?
Is it okay to shoot my own performance tapes?
Why should I have a website?
What kind of photos should I have in my portfolio?
Where can I find up-to-date information on marketing and promotion?
Where can I have my services listed FREE online?
Is it alright to use special effects in a performance tape?
Why should I do a performance tape?
How can I get TV air time for my performance video tape?