If you’ve been following along in Parts 1, 2 and 3, you’ll know I started a pilgrimage to Hollywood’s Magic Castle back when I was twelve with my first magic trick from Merlin’s Magic Shop in Disneyland. You’ll also know that the journey to The Magic Castle led to other adventures in Hollywood.
What you don’t know is that the final destination turns out to not have been the final destination after all. Such is the nature of most trips.
I eventually visited the interior of the Castle my senior year in high school as part of a charity event they held there. I got to see (or rather, not see) Invisible Irma, the “ghost” who can play any song requested of her on the Castle’s grand piano. I got to sit on the bar stool that descends ever so slowly that you don’t realize it’s being lowered until your chin is resting on the bar.
I got to say “Open Sesame” to the owl with the glowing eyes to cause the bookcase to magically open allowing me access to the depths of The Magic Castle. And I got to see many of the wonderful performers who routinely dazzle audiences with their prestidigitation.
A year later, I auditioned for the Junior Program at the Castle. I didn’t make it. But only one of about 60 people do. Still, they encouraged me to audition again and I did. This time, they liked the act and voila, there I was, a member of The Magic Castle.
I had reached my destination, the goal of my pursuit and pilgrimage. But that wasn’t the end of the journey.
Being a member enabled me to land a job as Lead Demonstrator at Merlin’s Magic Shop in Disneyland later that year, a full circle back to the roots of my interest in magic.
The next year, through connections at the Castle, I was invited while on a trip to London to visit the Magic Circle, England’s prestigious and exclusive equivalent to The Magic Castle’s Academy of Magical Arts.
My membership to The Magic Castle and performing in general opened doors and also opened my eyes. For example, while on a trip through Switzerland the following year, a kind family I met on the train invited me to stay the weekend with them. While there, I performed some magic for them.
They refused to believe it was all an illusion. Instead, here was a modern, highly intelligent 20th century urban family who was convinced that I somehow hypnotized them. They reverted to a century’s old perception to explain what their rational minds could not.
A few years later, I performed for a group of students in China. At one point, I caused a small ball to vanish from my hand. “It’s up your sleeve,” cried out a young man from the audience.
“I’m not wearing sleeves,” I responded, pointing out the short-sleeved informal nature of my attire.
“It doesn’t matter,” he retorted. In the US, I would have considered this a snarky comeback. There, it reflected a materialist worldview that roughly stated means that if you can’t see or physically prove something, it doesn’t exist. Thus, if the only logical explanation was that it went up my sleeve, whether or not I wore sleeves didn’t matter.
These and other insights, experiences and relationships have all been part of my journey.
And it continues to this day. Though I live 1,200 miles away, I still maintain my membership to The Magic Castle, visiting when I’m in town. I also have the joy of providing guest passes to friends, clients and even strangers I meet who, in conversation, will disclose a long-time yearning to visit the Castle but have never had the access to do so.
I understand that desire and now, I can fulfill that. It’s part of the ongoing nature of my own journey which, God willing, will continue for as long as I walk this planet. Or at least as long as The Magic Castle remains what it is: a destination filled with hope and longing, a place of dreams and most of all, a place of magic.
It’s been a good journey.