What Kind of Real-Life Magic Should You Learn?

By: Zoe Samuel

What Kind of Real-Life Magic Should You Learn?
Image: Eva Carollo Photography / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

"Magic" or "prestidigitation" or  "legerdemain" — the name hardly matters. The act of performing apparent miracles is as old as the human race, and while the methods and styles of presentation have changed, the essence of the act remains the same. In days of yore, wizards and priests of ancient cults used the tools of magic to convince their followers of the truth of their claims to special authority. Today, magicians treat their acts the way actors treat their roles: when the magician performs, magic is presented as though it is real, but off stage, the magician will readily admit it is all fake.

The contemporary performance style of magic reflects the mysteries that still fascinate modern humans. In a world where every person carries a device in their pocket that is capable of feats one could accurately call miraculous, the nature of magic has evolved, including feats accomplished far from the use of technology and feats that seem impossible because of the existence of technology. Some magicians conjure ancient mysteries with enduring allure, while others embrace more modern superstitions or enigmas. 

In the end, whether magic is about the stars in the sky or accomplishing an impossible transformation, its purpose is to reacquaint audiences with childlike wonder. To do that, the artist must be inspired by something deep within. Discover your talents and inner spark, and you will find your magic!

1 fortune tellers In the Middle Ages, it was heresy not to believe in magic. Which medieval stories fascinate you the most?
Stories about fortune tellers
Stories about demonic possession
Tales of witches and warlocks
I'm only interested once we reach the Renaissance and people stopped being stupid.

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2 magic shows Which type of magical performance do you like the least?
Tricks with animals
Magic with big boxes
Card tricks
Anything that pretends to be "real"

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3 urban fantasy What type of urban fantasy stories appeal to you?
Stories about people who develop superhuman powers through training are my favorites.
I love a good ghost story.
I like vampire stories the most.
I like straight-up superhero stories.

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4 why have magic skills For what unconventional purpose would you like to possess magic skills?
I'd like to better understand criminals and con artists.
I'd like to be able to pass myself off as the real deal, in a pinch.
I want to be able to read people — or at least make them think I can.
I want the ability to make money with one silly bet.

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5 x-men powers A great modern catalog of supernatural powers is Marvel's X-Men. Which mutant's powers do you covet?
Gambit, of course!
Magneto. He's the best.
Professor X
Quicksilver! The young, cool version, anyway

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6 magician orgs Which organization of magicians sounds like the one you would want to join?
The Society of American Magicians (SAM)
The Magic Circle
The Magic Castle
The International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM)

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7 monks Every culture with monks has ascribed some supernatural power to them. Which culture's monks best reflect the powers you find interesting?
The European ones, who always seem to have a past
Indian Fakirs, more than monks, per se
Chinese monks
I don't really know.

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8 learning magic Some magic employs many methods to do a few things, while other magic is the opposite. What would you like to try?
I don't mind learning a billion methods for only a few effects.
I like the idea of a middling number of methods and a middling number of effects.
I want few methods but many effects.
I only want to be able to do one thing. I don't care how it's done.

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9 monsters in mythos Monsters figure prominently in mythology, each with their own powers and symbols. To which of these beasts can you relate?
I feel like I understand vampires.
I think demons are badly misunderstood.
Witches are my jam.
Call me crazy, but I always side with the people hunting the monsters.

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10 childrens parties If you were performing professionally, you would likely specialize in some type of event. Which of these sounds like something you would enjoy?
Private parties
Corporate events
Public speaking engagements
Children's parties

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11 getting powers The acquisition of supernatural powers is inseparable from the powers themselves. Which origin story would you rather have?
I played a game of chance with the devil and won, but at a terrible price.
After an accident while testing a teleportation machine, I awoke from a coma with strange new gifts.
I met a spirit guide in a dream, and now I can channel their power.
I practiced magic tricks for a long time, and now I can do them.

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12 performing Under what circumstances would you prefer to perform?
I'd limit it to when I have my basic tools on me.
I would like a premise that means "I can only perform" when the circumstances are right, logistically.
Any and all!
I'd like to be known for one thing, which, if given the right props, I can do any time.

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13 who you invoke Some magic comes from outside the spell-caster. Which of the following would you invoke in casting your spells?
The dark gods who granted my infernal powers
The chemical compound that keeps me alive also grants me my powers.
I will meditate and create a second mind inside of myself.
I'll use props to do magic tricks.

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14 memorizing scripts Magic may look spontaneous, but it's often based on scripts. How well can you memorize scripts?
I'm pretty good at memorizing them if I can connect them to something physical.
I can memorize a script reasonably well, but I will end up paraphrasing in places.
I like to keep things mostly open to improvisation.
I have all of the scripts for the original "Star Trek: The Next Generation" TV episodes memorized.

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15 incense A "focus" is a kind of object or ritual used to enact magic. Which of the following would you use in your performance?
Careful arrangement of ritual objects is for me.
I will use the nine hand seals.
I will inhale incense and begin.
I guess I'll take out my props and perform.

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16 cold reading How much time do you need to get a basic sense of someone's character?
A minute or so
A few minutes
Five seconds
I'm terrible with people. Why do you think I want to be a magician?

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17 highlander tv show Which of these supernaturally themed television shows embodies the approach to magic you like best?
"Carnivàle"
"Highlander"
"The Dead Zone"
"Supernatural"

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18 heckler How would handle a heckler while performing for a large group of people?
I'd have some stock responses ready to go.
I'd involve them in a way that shows everyone who is boss.
I'd pick on them in some clever, humiliating way.
I'd try to ignore them.

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19 american legend To which American legend do you relate?
Robert Johnson's account of how he obtained his skills with the guitar
The story of the Fox sisters, who were early American spiritualists
The heyoka (sacred clown) of certain Native American traditions fascinates me.
Candyman

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20 standing a lot Some magic gigs involve standing all night. How long do you think you could be on your feet?
An hour or so
Several hours
Two hours
Ten minutes

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21 geralt Some who hunt the supernatural happen to wield magic themselves. Which hunter of supernatural creatures do you think is the coolest?
Dean Winchester
Blade
Van Helsing
The Witcher

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22 ship in a bottle Some magic requires the magician to make a gimmick by hand. Which of the following art projects could you handle?
Building a ship in a bottle
Making a knife by hand
Developing film and enlarging an image in a darkroom
Painting a mask

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23 intution Belief in the supernatural is widespread. Which of the following beliefs do you hold?
I believe in lucky numbers or symbols.
I believe in the power of previsualization.
I believe in the power of intuition.
I'm proud to believe in nothing of the sort.

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24 juggling Which of these live performance arts have you attempted?
Juggling
Dance
Acting
Music

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25 magic is science Which of the following definitions of sorcery or magic do you like the best?
Magic is shorthand for "the inexplicable."
Magic is power that comes from within us.
Magic is just another name for science we don't understand.
Magic doesn't exist.

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26 piano Magic may require some dexterity. Which of the following musical instruments could you handle?
A twelve string guitar
A piano
A kazoo
A harmonica

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27 biblical magic Which biblical magic user do you admire?
I always felt for Jannes and Jambres, the Pharaoh's magicians.
Aaron did it for me.
King Solomon was clearly the best.
God?

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28 storytelling Some magic relies heavily on storytelling, while other magic does not. What characterizes your storytelling style?
I like to crack jokes.
I like to toy with my audience without having to make them talk.
I love to interact with an audience member at length.
I like to just talk and not have anyone interrupt.

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29 magic good vs evil Some view magic as good, others see it as evil, and still others have more nuanced opinions. How do you see it?
It's all in how you apply it.
It depends on where the power is drawn. Good and evil powers can accomplish the same thing sometimes.
Magic is always evil. Is that such a bad thing?
Magic isn't real, so it doesn't matter.

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30 belief in real magic To what extent do you believe in "real magic"?
Well, what is magic, really? It's all in how you define it.
While possible, real magic seems unlikely.
I think it's possible, though if I had real powers I would keep them a secret.
Not at all

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