Some modern magicians, such as Aleister Crowley and those who follow the traditions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Ordo Templi Orientis, describe magic in rational terms, using definitions, postulates and theorems. Aleister Crowley said "the magician of the future will use mathematical formulas".
The paranormal kind of magician (unlike the stage illusionist) can also be referred to as an enchanter, wizard, mage, magus or thaumaturgist. These overlapping terms may be distinguished by some traditions or some writers. When such distinctions are made, sorcerers are more often practitioners of evocations or black magic, and there may be variations on level and type of power associated with each name. In this regard white magic very often seems to be a non-relevant form of wizardry, although in literature, poems and movies it actually represents and performs a much more future-oriented way of existence.
Many illusionists attempting parlor tricks and sleight of hand receive the title of magician whether it be by label or self description. A wizard, in this case, is a person who claims to be aptly skilled in arts considered hidden or arcane.
Throughout history, there have been many who have claimed having secret knowledge was a result of supernatural powers, insofar as certain platitudes alluding to an ability and knowledge of the occult (literally, "hidden") techniques often felt could be of great importance. Perhaps the oldest example of this is knowledge of the jealously guarded secret of the making and tending of fire.
In particular, the practice of alchemy contains many elements that in the modern era would now be considered magical, while other sciences unknown by practitioners of the past have been incorporated into the study and application of chemistry.
Legends in medieval Europe attributed Virgil with prophetic powers, and sometimes more magical abilities, as in the fairy tale "Virgilius the Sorcerer" collected in The Violet Fairy Book. The figure of Faust appears to have been based on an actual alchemist, Johann Georg Faust, who was accused in his lifetime of practising magic. Merlin, a magician of Arthurian Legend, is among many other legendary characters that may have a basis in fact.
Examples include the "Atsinganoi", early Gypsies as described in the time of Constantine IX, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa occult writer and alchemist, John Dee, Queen Elizabeth's court astrologist, Alessandro Cagliostro and Aleister Crowley.
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- List of magicians
- List of occultists
- Magic (illusion) for information about professional magicians
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- Magic in the Greco-Roman World
- Onmyou Mystic
- Esoteric Christianity
- Renaissance magic
- Cunning folk
- "Magic (Sorcery)". Microsoft Encarta 2006 Premium. CD. Microsoft. 2006.
- Crowley, Aleister. Magick (Book 4) (Introductions and Theorems). Weiser Books. ISBN ISBN 0-87728-919-0
- "Fire". HighBeam Research. Retrieved 2006-11-15.
- Paul Rincon (2004-04-29). "Early human fire skills revealed". London: BBC News. Retrieved 2006-11-15.
- Jeetan Sareen. "The Lost Tribes of India". Kuviyam. Retrieved 2006-11-15.