February 02, 2018
When somebody dies, it’s a hugely devastating affair for all remaining family and friends. A funeral follows but if you are a magician, there might also be a broken wand ceremony. We look into this interesting tradition today!
Simply put, a broken wand ceremony is a ritual performed at the funeral of a magician in which a wand is broken. If the magician used a wand in his or her performances, then it is this wand that is used for the occasion. If they didn’t, then a ceremonial wand takes its place. The significance of a broken wand is to show that with the magician’s death, the wand too has lost its magic.
A broken wand ceremony isn’t performed at every magician’s funeral, but if requested then it can be performed by a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, which is a worldwide organisation made up of professionals and amateurs alike. When a magician is famous enough for their death to warrant a news article or blog post, the headline will often start with the words, ‘Broken Wand’.
So what occurs at a broken wand ceremony? If the family request it, the wand will be broken in advance of the funeral and ideally by somebody who is familiar with the process; as every magician will tell you when it comes to their magic tricks and performance, preparation is key! The same is true of a broken wand ceremony. There are two differing speeches that may be read – for religious and non-religious magicians – and we have outlined the basic text for the non-theist ceremony below.
We are gathered together as family, friends and members of this wonderful fraternity to celebrate the life of (full name of deceased) who was a member of The International Brotherhood of Magicians. (First name), as a member, was linked in fellowship with magicians all over the world and (his/her) interest, activity and skill of performing magic was enjoyed by those who were privileged to share (his/her) friendship.
We of the Brotherhood offer this time as commemoration for (his/her) life and express our sympathy to the people to whom (he / she) who was close. Let us be honest. Let us not pretend that it is less than it is. It is separation. It is sorrow. It is grief. But let us neither pretend that death is more than it is. It is not annihilation. As long as memory endures, (his/her) influence will be felt. Let us be honest with death, for in that honesty we will understand (name) better and ourselves more deeply.
(Display the Wand)
The wand in story and symbol is an ancient conjuring representation of mystery. To the uninitiated, it is but a piece of wood. To our late member it was a reminder to (him/her) of the joy and pleasure of an entertainment art that has existed since ancient times. This symbol was for our departed member an historic emblem like that old illusion called the Linking Rings; it linked (him/her) with others of like mind and heart in this vast magic fraternity. This wand without (name) is now useless. The magic that infused itself into the life of performing on this earth is now broken as we bid farewell when our loved one encounters mortality.
(The wand may be now broken by the person conducting the service or by a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians appointed to do so).
The magic of (his / her) performance is over. The magic and mystery that he shared will remain in our memory as commemoration of (his / her) life.
No one entering this world can ever escape sadness. Each in turn must bear burdens, both rich and poor, and in turn, bid loved ones farewell. Each one must suffer that sad goodbye when loved ones come to that final moment, that each in turn must face. But for those who make this life a pledge to the human spirit, there comes the assurance of a memory that made life worth living.
(A Period of Silence)
It is my privilege to present this memorial for (name) who was born into the world (date) and departed this life (date).
(At this point some of the person’s achievements, successes, innovations and / or contributions to magic and society can be mentioned.)
We, who are members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, extend to the family and (his / her) loved ones our sympathy, fellowship and gratitude for his / her life and companionship. He / She was endowed with the talent to amaze, mystify and entertain. May we, like (Name), members of this ancient theatrical craft, use our skills, dexterity of hands and voice to bring happiness and awe to those for whom we conjure our pleasant and benign wonders. Let us also appreciate the beauty and wonder of life that may be hard to find within its suffering, problems and setbacks.
May (Name) rest in peace and may his / her memories last long with those who enjoyed his / her love, his / her talent and his / her companionship.
As one might expect, the Broken Wand ceremony is often a deeply moving moment for all involved. Although it may not be a happy fact, we hope you found this week’s blog to be a fascinating one regardless!
Photo credit: Daniel & Daniel Ltd.
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By Henry Fosdike