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Magicians vs Wizards

Magicians vs Wizards. To this day, there seems to be some discrepancy between what separates magicians from wizards. If you asked 100 random people on the street if they knew the differences between the two, how many do you think would be able to form coherent definitions – let alone the correct ones?

What is a “magician”?

According to the Collins Dictionary, a magician is an entertainer who is skilled in producing illusions by sleight of hand, deceptive devices, observation, conjurer, etc.

Prominent magicians with a global reputation include the legendary Harry Houdini (1874 – 1926) and modern pioneers David Blaine and Derren Brown.

What is a “wizard”?

A generic term for a magic user, but with the connotation of academia.

Wizards are both skilled and knowledgeable — you have to study to be a wizard. It doesn’t matter whether this studying happens in a formal school, in an initiatory secret society, while apprenticed to a master, or simply on one’s own. You have to study astrology, correspondence tables, divination, entire books worth of spells, long lists of the names of spirits, etc. Wizards may have some things in common with theurgists, like practising planetary magic with many robes of different colours and wands of different woods for each planet, or (more rarely) calling up and controlling spirits.

But in general, wizards in fiction practice magic that has immediate effects. They turn people into animals, they make things disappear, they animate inanimate objects, etc.

Because it’s so closely associated with fantasy magic, the word “wizard” is not often used by occultists in real life.

What is the difference between magicians and wizards?

Magicians and wizards are both undisputed masters of illusion, but there are various critical differences between the two.

Magicians employ tricks and sleight of hand to make their audience believe they can disappear or do things that are seemingly impossible. The classic example of a magician is someone who performs magic tricks close up or on stage. Close your eyes and picture someone that fits that description: whom are you thinking of? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Wizards apply magical abilities derived from supernatural sources, such as demons or angels, to do things that are considered impossible by human standards. A classic example of a wizard is Merlin from Arthurian legend.

The terms “magician” and “wizard” have been used interchangeably over the centuries, but they’re not exactly the same thing.

The main difference between a magician and a wizard is that magicians use tricks and sleight of hand to perform their illusions, while wizards cast spells based on supernatural powers from demons or angels — although both types of characters can do both types of acts.

Famous wizards

  • Gandalf [The Lord of the Rings]
  • Sauron [The Lord of the Rings]
  • The Wizard of Oz [The Wizard of Oz]
  • Merlin [Arthurian Legend]
  • Dr. Stephen Strange [Doctor Strange]
  • Zatanna [DC Comics]
  • Jafar [Aladdin]
  • Prospero [The Tempest]
  • Ursula [The Little Mermaid]
  • David Lo Pan [Big Trouble in Little China]
  • Jareth [Labyrinth]
  • Albus Dumbledore  [Harry Potter]
  • Harry Potter [Harry Potter]
  • Voldemort  [Harry Potter]
  • Nicolas Flamel  [Harry Potter]
  • The White Witch [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe]
  • Willow Rosenberg [Buffy the Vampire Slayer]

Throughout recorded history, magic is dictated to be something which lies dormant in every single one of us. Over time, as a species, it is something we slowly lose. Wizards are born with an extraordinarily high latent magical potential – more so than your average joe. Akin to one’s IQ – it is something that is a part of you, and that you cannot change. Certainly, you can sharpen your mind by performing tasks which activate your cognitive abilities, but no baby is born into the world with all the knowledge accumulated in human history. At the end of the day, it breaks down to natural ability enhanced with determination and drive. You could have the potential to be the greatest magician throughout the land, but if you do not foster and train that ability – it would be for naught.

Are Magicians and Wizards the same thing?

Are magicians “wizards”?  The answer is “yes,” but it’s not as simple as that. Magicians and wizards are often used interchangeably, but in reality they are two different things.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, magician comes from the Latin word “magus” which translates to “wise man”.  Wizard, on the other hand, relates to “witan”.  Any guesses?  This means “to know”. Via this definition alone, wizards are much more academic in nature than we might have thought!

As much as I would love to go toe-to-toe with the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, the feats of Gandalf the Grey are slightly beyond the capabilities of the modern-day magician.

Based on this information, I humbly beseech you to temper your expectations.  Neither I nor my colleagues may offer to conjure a series of goliaths for us to team up and combat in supernatural combat. It’s safe to say if there was a real magicians vs wizards battle, the wizards would win it.

What I offer is suspending your disbelief.  During my sets, I will transport you into a world where anything seems possible. I transform that frown into something upside down. I create memories you share with your friends and loved ones which will last a lifetime!