Magic is a word that we use on an almost daily basis. We all know what it is and what it entails. Some people find it extremely fascinating and exciting, others may not have the taste for it and some people excel at magical tricks themselves and call themselves magicians. But what exactly is magic? And how did it come to be as it is perceived today?

As it is, the history of magic is varied and diverse across the world. Each culture, religion and country have their own histories and stories about magic and magic shows. What we do know is that anything that was considered to be especially supernatural, tricky and involving the use of cleverness to do something considered to be impossible was called magic.

Ancient Egypt

The earliest magic tricks can be dated back to thousands of years ago in Ancient Egypt. The first-ever recorded act of magic was that of the magician Dedi in Ancient Egypt who was popular for his magic tricks that involved the use of cups and balls. This was around 2,700 BC. But in the coming centuries, magic came to be associated with the unnatural and witchcraft.

Slowly but gradually, these notions were dispelled. Today, magic is described as the art of intellectually and cleverly creating illusions or conditions that the viewers and audience believe to be impossible or supernatural actions or feats. There is absolutely nothing paranormal or supernatural about magic. They are tricks that the magician has perfected to the level of showing it as something completely ‘natural’.

In the 1800s, magic was brought to the stage and performed in front of people. Richard Potter and Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin can be accredited for making it a famous form of wonder, entertainment and awe. In the modern period, virtual magicians like David Copperfield, David Blaine and Dynamo have popularised magic and magic shows even more.

Classification of Magic

Magic is classified in different ways. In ancient times, when magic was considered to be a supernatural and paranormal entity, different magics were considered to fall into different categories like astrology, necromancy, divination, alchemy, sorcery, incantations etc. Some people still believe in these categorisations. But as a whole, in modern magic shows, magic tricks tend to fall in at least one of the following categories – Production, Vanishing, Transformation, Restoration, Transportation, Transposition, Escape, Levitation, Penetration and Prediction. The tricks in each category can be pretty self-explanatory.