Arthur Conan Doyle became interested in Spiritualism as early as 1886, inspired by the writing of the US High Courts Judge John Worth Edmonds, and confessing his belief in the supernatural in various publications, including The Coming of the Fairies, "a collection of facts" about the Cottingley Fairies, published a year after the start of an odd friendship. In 1920, Doyle received the book The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin from none other than Harry Houdini, the renowned magician turned resolute skeptic, yet the two became friends, discussing spiritualism in terms of faith and frauds, respectively. [more inside]
I love my cane, but I rarely hold onto it without rage..."My first cane was black like tourmaline, a crystal used as an aid against jealousy, negative thoughts, destructive forces, and internal conflicts; I’d adorned it with Hello Kitty stickers."
Edward Lovett was a bank employee and amateur folklorist fascinated with charms and amulets and the superstitions they represented. He rambled early 20th century London collecting charms from soldiers, sailors, street vendors and others. Today the charms are preserved in the Wellcome Collection, Pitt Rivers Museum, and Horniman Museum. [more inside]
Paul Daniels, internationally renowned magician and television performer, has died aged 77 after a diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour in late February 2016. [more inside]
"Her wide eyes glow a bright blue and bright blue sparks of overflowing energy are rushing out of them. A huge WAVE OF FIRE splits around her and DISPERSES as if it’s hitting an INVISIBLE SHIELD, leaving her unharmed." Terese Nielsen takes us through her process in creating the art for an upcoming reprint of Force of Will (scroll down for story), one of Magic: The Gathering's most iconic cards. [more inside]
J.K. Rowling has recently released some information on international wizarding schools. We already knew a fair amount about Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. But she also discusses Mahoutokoro, the Japanese school that actually has day students; Uagadou, the African school carved out of a mountainside; and Castelobruxo, the Brazilian home of Bill Weasley's ear-shrivelling penpal. She gives no information about Ilvermorny, the "North American" school. (There is not even a mention of the Salem Witches' Institute.)
The Conjuring Arts Research Center is a research library in Midtown Manhattan with over 12,000 volumes devoted to the arts of magic. They publish a semiannual journal by the name of Gibeciere. And for those who prefer not to wait for the mail, there's Ask Alexander, a searchable database of over 2,500,000 pages of magic instruction.
They misunderstood my ability to be a dick, when correctly inspired. Juggler and comedian Mat Ricardo describes a nightmare gig in Beijing, starting with a (supposed) world record attempt and ending with a mad dash for the airport.
Mark Rosewater, the head designer of card game Magic: The Gathering posted to tumblr about a rejected card. Magic: The Gathering is a complex card game where each card has rules that affect the outcome of the game. The card in question: Disrobing Scepter. Artifact. Activate: Target player either discards a card or removes a piece of clothing. Again, this is not a card that will be seen in play. Rosewater's tumblr post was submitted to reddit. Magic enthusiasts started an earnest discussion on the rules and protocols of Strip Magic. The discussion is focused on Magic rules, useful cards and is surprisingly mature. Gross and offensive replies to the reddit thread are appropriately downvoted. The discussion is ongoing. Enjoy.
Øyvind Thorsby, creator of multiple strangely charming webcomics (previously), has recently begun his fifth series, Trixie Slaughteraxe for President (link is to the first page). Thorsby's comics bear multiple trademarks: distinctively simplistic art, strange creatures with strange adaptations to their environments, creative applications for magical and technologically advanced objects and phenomena, and, of course, complicated farcical situations often involving desperate wacky schemes. A list of his comics (including the new hosting for his first three comics) is inside. Content warning: violence, swearing and sexual themes. [more inside]
Matthias Buchinger, sometimes called Matthew Buckinger, described himself as "the wonderful Little Man of but 29 inches high, born without Hands, Feet, or Thighs." Despite being born (in Germany in 1674) with limbs "more resembling fins of a fish than arms of a man," he was renowned for his works as a calligrapher and micrographer (remarked for details illustrated in psalms written in characters of different sizes), builder of whimsey bottles (the oldest known "mining bottle"), and called the most extraordinary conjurer of all time. People may have initially gathered to see a tragedy, but instead were presented with an astounding range of impressive skills. [more inside]
Google Translate's real-time sign translation [Word Lens] vs. La Bamba. Plus a link to a video interview with creator Otavio Good about how it works.
Simon Pegg as drunk Ron Weasley wishing Harry Potter a happy 35th Birthday. Weasley previously got smashed to celebrate the occasion back in 2013.
Magic: the Gathering is a fantastic strategy trading card game, currently in it's 22nd year and more popular than ever. But as it becomes more mainstream, an ugly issue is coming to light: there just aren't many women players. The official company line is that 38% of players are female, although that number is not represented in high level play. Gaby Spartz's article 6 Things You Can do to Get More Women Into Magic puts the percentage of women in tournament play closer to 1-2% of the field. Spartz's article, as well as her followup 7 Counterpoints to My Women in Magic Article, has sparked a debate that has raged over the past few months. [more inside]
"A selection of pages from an 18th-century demonology book comprised of more than 30 exquisite watercolours showing various demon figures, as well as magic and cabbalistic signs. The full Latin title of Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros, roughly translates to “A rare summary of the entire Magical Art by the most famous Masters of this Art”. With a title page adorned with skeletons and the warning of Noli me tangere (Do not touch me), one quickly gets a sense of the dark oddities lurking inside its pages." - The Public Domain Review presents illustrations from a 18th century guide to demons and demonology (NSFW illustrated nudity, snakes on bits.)
“Etsy seems to be only targeting those items of a pagan/occult nature while allowing items of certain faiths traditionally used for protection like St. Christopher medals, to still be marketed,” said another vendor in an email. “Personally I think it's probably unintended ignorance and failure to consider and think through what banning all spiritual, energetic and magickal claims will really mean.”Witches are furious at Etsy for banning the sale of spells (Previously)
Everyday Sigils: A tumblr where you can commission magical sigils and symbols to deal with everyday trials, from the mundane to the sadly common.
Infamous was a 2014 magic show from Derren Brown: This is an hour long Youtube video with a fantastic finale.
How does he do it, on Quora.
"...look like you are witnessing true magic": A positive review from a fellow magician.
How does he do it, on Quora.
"...look like you are witnessing true magic": A positive review from a fellow magician.
You probably know Richard Garfield as the creator of Magic: The Gathering. But his favorite creation is actually Netrunner, intended to be a "richer game" with bluffing and skill "more like Poker." Android: Netrunner is an asymmetrical Living Card Game based on the original Netrunner (which still has its fans). Set in a cyberpunk future, you play a megacorp using "ICE" to protect servers hiding company agendas (like The Future Perfect and Hostile Takeover) or the hacker "runner" trying to steal them. Chose from five megacorps and three runner factions and get started with a few data packs, important jargon, and deck-building. For the initiated, prepare for this year's regional championships and read up on quantitative analyses of cards, runner economies, corporation economies, ICE and icebreakers, opening moves, studies in variance, and the ever-changing metagame. Still not sure? Watch the Worlds 2014 Final (or read the champ's recap) and practice online using OCTGN or newcomer Jinteki.net, a browser-based version in development by World Champion finalist Minh Tran. And as always, beware Scorched Earth.
Steven Millhauser is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author known for his erudite, witty and surreal writing style that blends the magical and the real. Enjoy the full text of Eisenheim The Illusionist (pdf, 20 pages), the story that inspired the 2006 film The Illusionist. [more inside]
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
Alan Moore's Jerusalem - "The frequently confusing cross-currents of Moore's late work make much more sense, in fact, when one sees them not just as entertainment products but as attempts at building a better reality."
Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies. Tell it by the fireside or in a marketplace or in a movie, almost any story is almost certainly some kind of lie. But not this time. This is a promise. For the next hour, everything you hear from us is really true and based on solid fact.Orson Welles' cinematic confidence scam, F for Fake, gets a new two disc Blu-Ray Criterion Collection release this year. Ben Sampson offers a visual analysis in two parts, breaking down the film's layers of paradoxes. [more inside]
Most people have probably never seen the magic of Steve Cohen, who for 14 years has held court in a private suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, to sold-out crowds of "celebrities, royalty, government officials, and other VIPs." But bits of his "Chamber Magic" show are available online to marvel at. [more inside]
So all of your friends have either just started playing Magic: the Gathering or have picked it up again or else admitted to having played it continually for twenty years now, and eyes are glazing over as they discuss bomb rares and 2-for-1s and mana flooding and drafting. You're not sure if you actually want to immerse yourself in this but you can't know for sure without, well, immersing yourself in it. We've all been there. Thankfully, Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry channel has a show for you - Spellslingers! [more inside]
L. W. De Laurence has been called "the incorrigible reprobate of twentieth century publishing" but his extensive and well-written catalog, and the books he offered on subjects ranging from mind-control to Hindoo magic, had an immense influence over American voodoo and hoodoo, as well as Jamaican obeah. The general hatred for De Laurence seems to stem primarily from his plagiarizing of magic-related texts by other famous authors. While this sort of act was frowned upon, at the time that he was operating it was all perfectly legal; the only thing he did that was not, was the actual selling of occult products by mail. Carolyn Morrow Long's book Spiritual Merchants contains excerpts from the trial. The lawsuit didn't seem to stop the De Laurence company, however. They continued going strong for many years, even outlasting the companies that manufactured most of their original perfumes and incenses. The De Laurence Company is still in business but no longer produces the fancy catalog and appears to have turned its 21st century focus toward jewelry making.
The Minimal Superpermutation Problem - Imagine that there is a TV series that you want to watch. The series consists of n episodes, with each episode on a single DVD. Unfortunately, however, the DVDs have become mixed up and the order of the episodes is in no way marked (and furthermore, the episodes of the TV show are not connected by any continuous storyline – there is no way to determine the order of the episodes just from watching them). Suppose that you want to watch the episodes of the TV series, consecutively, in the correct order. The question is: how many episodes must you watch in order to do this? [more inside]
Norway seems to be particularly good at making interesting museums. If you're touring, the museum of magic is spell-binding. The museum of knitting is a real purl. The petroleum museum is a gas. The Lofoten Stockfish museum is off the hook. And the Norsk Hermetickk-museum is about the history of sealing things in cans. [more inside]
Sometimes the best thing about David Blaine's magic tricks are the reactions he elicits. A rather Regarding Henry-ish Harrison Ford: "Get the fuck outta my house." A predictably overwrought Ricky Gervais: "Oh for fuck's sake!" Or maybe you just enjoy seeing someone manhandling George W. Bush while the President maintains a look of childlike wonder.
Leigh Bardugo writes haunting, Eastern-European inspired fairy tales (Previously) often highlighting the experience of women in a unfair world. Tor.com presents two new stories, the somber "The Too-Clever Fox" and the subversive "Little Knife."
"The concept is a staple of the global culture of fantasy novels and video games, many of which feature a blue bar of magical energy called 'mana.' "But how did this happen? How did a concept from Pago Pago become part of global gaming culture? How did an Austronesian spiritual force come on board the Exodar, and become part of the life of my draenei shaman?" A lengthy look at the history of "mana," from Pacific Islanders to RPGs and trading card games.
Nathan Fielder's Ingenious Dumb Humor - "How the star of Comedy Central's 'Nathan for You' makes the most of uncomfortable moments." (via; previously 1,2,3)
MagiCATastrophe, in which a birthday party magician discovers his secret power.
“Putting magic at the center of a play about a magician doesn’t seem like that radical a choice,” explained Teller’s co-director and co-adapter Aaron Posner. "But in the history, at least the modern history of producing 'The Tempest', it is a radical choice."
Magic for Dogs by Jose Ahonen
Witchsona Week is a week for artists, doodlers, webcomicers, and more to draw themselves as witches.
Through the power of clever editing, forced perspective and some other subtle tricks, Zack King has a "magic" Vine compilation that is excellently entertaining. [slyt]