Math Magicians

If you’ve ever heard of Math Magicians and been curious as to how these two very separate professions ever became combined, you might be interested in reading the few words below on the subject. The words Math and Magic can be found separately in the English dictionary and no two words could have been more diametrically opposed.

Math as listed in the Oxford dictionary is ‘the use of the abstract science of numbers, quantity and space in calculation etc’. Magic is defined as ‘the supposed art of influencing/ controlling events supernaturally, through witchcraft, conjuring tricks, inexplicable influence, enchanting quality or phenomena.’

Magic makes the unbelievable happen at will and apparently without any rhyme, rhythm or reason. Math on the other hand has its whole basis in logic. So how do math magicians link logical math to the not so logical magic? Why, by making use of math to make the magic happen of course.

Professional magicians often use such skills as math, logic, psychology and symbolism to raise the value of their art in the eyes of audiences. It is thus that the term math magician first came into being. The famous mathematicians Pythagoras and Plato were also mystics, and the famous magicians John Dee and Aleister Crowley (to name a few) dabbled in mathematics.

Math magicians have existed throughout time, and the use of math in mystical and magical creations is clearly illustrated in such design constructions as the pentagram, Stonehenge and the sacred temples of ancient Egypt.

The use of patterns and sequences in math are of immense value to math magicians - the most popular uses of math in magic being through numerology, gematria and mathematical symbolism.

Numerology goes on the belief that each number has a meaning that is of mystical and philosophical significance. A number is assigned to each letter of the alphabet to help math magicians in the evaluation of star charts, personalities & horoscopes. Symbolism is used by math magicians, in a largely qabalistic manner to clarify meanings in tarot cards and alchemy.

Gematria, similar to numerology, is used by qabalists to find connections between words and phrases. Here too, numbers are assigned to each letter of the alphabet and used to calculate the value of words such as love, hate, god etc. Gematria is traditionally used in Hebrew and Greek texts, though math magicians have now also started using it in English.

However, just as magicians rely on math to help them improve their performances, it is interesting to note that some mathematicians actually rely on magic tricks to help them resolve real life problems. One example would be Persi Diaconi, a mathematician at Stanford, who uses a normal pack of playing cards to solve complicated problems in physics and engineering.

All of these citations of math magicians and examples of math and magic crossing their carefully ordered dictionary-defined boundaries, is but one wondrous instance of how logic and reason can merge successfully with instinct and the paranormal to bring about greatness.