Archive for the ‘MuseLetters’ Category

The Magic of Love

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Jeff & Abbi McBride

Greetings friends, fans and family!

Abbi here, writing from the House of Mystery in Las Vegas… It’s that time of year again, when pink hearts are everywhere and dark chocolate is the gift of choice.  What you may not know is that, according to some accounts, Saint Valentine was also a magician.  Well, in order to be a saint you have to do something spectacular, right?  What Valentinus (the Roman pronunciation) did, back around the year 270, was to make a blind girl see — a judge’s daughter, in fact.

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking together in one direction… It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Laying on of hands, miraculous healing and magical restorations of lost function have become commonplace in some of the tent-revival circuits.  Anyone who has seen the movie Leap of Faith (from the early 90s, with Steve Martin) will be familiar with some of the methods used to create these “miracles.” Whether Valentinus used a secret method or not is up for discussion….

But, there is something to be said for the power of love to heal, the magic of a mother’s kiss on a booboo to stop pain, the comfort one receives from a gentle hug. This intersection of healing, magic and medicine is one we are looking forward to exploring more of in our upcoming conference Magic and Medicine.  There are four spots still open, if you’d like to come explore with us.

“Love is a balm that contains the power of healing and of renewing and of everlasting life within its effulgent essence. Love is the great refiner and beautifier. Love is more! Love is the key to every door. It is the creative reality behind every righteous desire and every ardent hope. Love is the cohesive power of the universe as it binds together atoms and substance. It holds families together-the world and the entire universe. If love were withdrawn all things would fall apart and disintegrate. When a human being eliminates love from his life he too begins to fall apart. Love is not only eternal but it is the most desirable element to possess.”
— Annalee Scarin

Jeff & Abbi McBride

If you love something, you give it your attention, and that which we give our attention to, becomes that which we love.  The more energy we invest in something, the more we care about it… which is why we need to be mindful about where we spend the limited amounts of time that we have.  Jeff and I make a conscious choice each day to spend time together… even if he’s away on tour, we spend time together on Skype.  One of our practices is to hug each other for the time it takes to have three deep and gentle breaths together— long enough to feel our connection.  We’re also big into eye-gazing.  Check out a book called Rumi: Gazing at the Beloved: The Radical Practice of Beholding the Divine by Will Johnson if you’re ready to go deep with your beloved.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

Jeff & Abbi McBride
Wishing you all the love in the world,


Rip-off or Original? The Magic Copy Cats

Monday, January 13th, 2014

“Imitation is the sincerest form of show business.” 
– Roseanne Barr

When will this madness end?

America’s Got Talent-style shows all over the world seem to be supporting the copying of original magic acts. Take look at this shocking video from Turkey’s Got Talent.  When you watch this “side-by side” video ask yourself, “Is this originality or theft?”

Are the Turkish magicians Kivanc and Burak copying the magic from Las Vegas headliners Jeff McBride, Mac King, David Copperfield and Penn & Teller? Did they copy? Watch the video and YOU be the judge!


Can you tell the Rip-off from the Original?

What do you think: Is this kind of behavior killing our art?

Who is at fault? Is it the TV station? The performers? Some say these guys are just puppets of the TV producers who ‘have to’ copy other artists to stay on the TV show. Others say that they just don’t know it is wrong to copy! How can we help people like this learn that this is not OK? I feel that clear communication might help prevent this sort of behavior.

An open letter to magic “copy acts” worldwide:

Dear Copy Cat Acts,

As a magic teacher, I wish to educate artists on how to protect their original material. I also want other performers to know that it is not ethical to copy other artists’ work without permission or agreements.

Young artists can prevent these situations from happening if they are well educated in the history of magic and well connected to the magic community. Here are three nuggets of wisdom for our students of the magical arts:

“Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.”
– Marva Collins

“No man was ever great by imitation.”
–Samuel Johnson

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
– Herman Melville

Please look deep within yourself. Good things take time, energy and patience to grow. If you nurture your creativity, you will develop your own style and original work. If you cannot create your own original work, you can ask for permission before you decide to take other people’s material, art, or ideas and put them in your show. Often, other artists will help you with your projects. Personally, I really enjoy helping young magicians make good choices when it comes to performing on TV. A few simple emails or a phone call to the originators would have prevented a situation like this from happening. Let us all learn from this, and grow in our understanding of each other and our magical art.

Yours in magical community,
Jeff McBride, founder of The McBride Magic & Mystery School

Doc is in Shock! – Mystery School News

Raise the Bar – Real World Restaurant and Bar Magic
with Doc Eason and Jeff McBride
Doc Eason
This is a rare opportunity to learn from the best in the business about the secrets of how to create a career doing what you love. Learn the secrets of success from the world’s most famous “Bar Magician,” Doc Eason, and one of the world’s great magic teachers, Jeff McBride. 2 days of workshops and personal training with Jeff and Doc.

We will go to The Olive where Jeff hosts his Wonderground night club experience. Inside this venue, in real world conditions, you will see Doc in action and also get a chance to have your magic seen and receive feedback from the pros! To join us just go here:

McBride World Tour: Germany & U.K.

I will be teaching with Gaston in Germany and then will perform and teach at the Blackpool Convention in the U.K. I will be having 4 hour workshops in both countries, so please join me for the fun and magic!
Send us an email:

Germany contact Gaston:
Blackpool  UK go here:
Or email me:

The Virtual Mystery School – World’s First Online School of Magic

Did you know you can get free magic lessons every day at

I’ve also been working with students via SKYPE.  Learn more about that here:


Your invitation to the BIGGEST magic party in Las Vegas!

Thursday January 16th, 2014

3 totally new and different shows
Our headliners this month are  Kyle and Mistie Knight in a rare Las Vegas appearance. Here’s a sample:


Circe Martinez – from Cuba – returns from her award winning shows in China with her amazing dove act, “Wings and Dreams.” You can see highlights here

For a full list of the line-up go to

Please join us soon for one of our exciting events: online or in person!
See you in Vegas or on tour!

Jeff McBride

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
— Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Happy New Year

Dear Friends:

As you read this, we are all entering a new year.  It will not be like any year you’ve encountered before. Things will change, and so will you. If this year is anything like the last few, you’ll find things changing at an accelerating rate. So you’ll have some choices to make:  Will you strive to remain the same, and attempt to slow down the change that’s happening around you? Or race forward in an effort to keep up, to go along, to stay with the crowd? I’m hoping many of you will take yet another path:  That you stop, consider, and make the choice to consciously create the changes in yourselves and your world that you feel need to be changed.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
— Leo Tolstoy

I’m about to publish my book, The Wizard’s Way, which is a guide to becoming one of those powerful, potent individuals we think of as wizards.  This seems a good time to take a few moments and introduce you to some of the ideas from the book that I think you may find to be of use.

Lest you think I’m speaking of your becoming some old man with a long white beard, wearing a robe and making mystic passes over a cauldron while chanting wild incantations — consider that, while Merlyn & Gandalf are amongst the models I use for what it is to be a wizard, far more interesting and useful are the examples of Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Eve Ensler and Steve Jobs.  In Jobs’ words, these are all individuals who “Made a dent in the universe.”  People who exerted more than their fair share of influence over the changes in our world.

None of these people just found themselves “in the right place at the right time,” which seems to be the conventional wisdom about such things. No, each one made specific choices that led them to become what they were.  Each one did more than just wish to change the world. They took action. And the actions they took all started with themselves.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
— John F. Kennedy

Each one encountered significant pushback from their communities. Each one chalked up as many failures as they did successes. But each one did some things most of us do not.  Each one developed his or her own vision.  Each one educated themselves (note, I do not say “was educated”) and learned to view the world from different perspectives than those around them.  Each worked from a creative, proactive frame of mind, choosing action, even when the path forward was not already clearly laid out.  Each one took personal responsibility for the course of his or her life, and for creating the change they believed they needed to make in their worlds.

So I would ask each one of you:  What are you doing to create the life you want to have – both in magic and in the context of your personal life? Have you taken the time to define your vision? Are you doing things each day that will move you along the path you want to follow in life? Are you seeking out and spending time with the people who can help you educate yourself with the knowledge and skills you really need? Do you waste time complaining, or “waiting for that big break,” — or are taking action to create that big break yourself?

Jeff McBride & George Parker

Two of the more interesting wizards in The Wizard’s Way are people most of you already know:  Jeff McBride and George Parker.  Both have served not only as examples of how true wizards operate in the world, but also as consultants who helped me develop the ideas and techniques taught in the book.  It’s not an accident that both George and Jeff were such large influences in developing my ideas for the book.  In fact, all of the staff:  Jeff, Abbi, Eugene, George, Bryce and Larry Hass have been large contributors.  And each one already walks the wizard’s path.  In fact, it is a large part of the philosophy that governs the directions of the McBride Magic & Mystery School.

You see, we have a common vision.  As we like to say, we’re dedicated to helping to raise the level of magic, one magician at a time.  Each of us encounters hundreds of other magicians in the course of our work, both in performance and in our teaching. We do our best to be the best examples we can of a kind of magic that goes beyond the art of deception, and that redefines the magician’s job as one of creating magical experiences.  Deception is certainly an important tool, but it by no means the only one in the tool kit of an effective magician. That’s why, although we do teach a lot of tricks and deception techniques, we also spend time teaching stage presence, showmanship, story telling, as well as business and marketing techniques for magicians.

For me, at least, this is an important distinction.  The magic that consists only of tricks and illusions is a magic that is light entertainment, at best.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  For me, though, and I think it’s safe to say, for the rest of us at the McBride Magic & Mystery School, magic is a deeper and more important form of art and expression than mere light entertainment.  It is a very special kind of theater, capable of eliciting strong emotion and inspiring real transformation in those who experience it.

Part of our growth as artists, then, comes from a constant questioning. A constant quest, not only for new techniques, but for new kinds of experiences we can create.  A quest to redefine why we do magic, what it means to each of us. Reading books about life outside magic — history, philosophy, novels and science. Because magic is our medium, but life is the subject.

As we enter this new year, we will continue to grow, to evolve, ourselves and the experiences we are able to create with the McBride Magic & Mystery School.  You can help. You can let us know about your ideas for what you would like to see more of.  More live classes in Las Vegas?  More “on the road” events, where we bring our shows and workshops to you?  More online learning? More advanced technique classes, or basic technique classes?  More on the history and philosophy of our art? What subjects are we not covering enough that are important to you? Have you got any brilliant ideas for ways we can expand our impact, how we can be more effective in reaching our stated goals?

Let us know!

And, in the meantime, please accept our best wishes to all of you for a most magical and wonderful new year! These interesting times are sure to continue — but we’re sure you have what it takes to see them as exciting challenges that will help enrich your lives and your art.  We’re excited and grateful to all of you who stay with us, reading the Museletter, attending classes and supporting our efforts.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Tobias Beckwith &
All the staff & faculty of the McBride Magic & Mystery School

PS:  If you’ll be in Southern California between January 13-19, don’t miss us in our annual “Magic & Mystery School Week” at the Magic Castle!  Jeff, Abbi, Larry, Bryce, George and Eugene will be joined by Jordan Wright, Michael Carbonaro, Tim Wise and Bill Cook in a special week where we bring our own special brand of magic to Hollywood.

After that, Jeff will be touring in Europe, with a special class in Germany from Feb. 13-19, then the Blackpool Convention in the U.K. Followed by a series of lectures around the UK. Check his calendar at the right for further information.

Gifts of the Magi… Gifts of Wisdom

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body’s burying.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dear Friends:

If you know me well, you know I collect gold – and I love to give it away! Here are a few “golden nuggets” of magical wisdom to ponder as we move towards the new year.

Seven Brilliant Quotes

The secret to my success in life – I attribute to the wisdom of my teachers.

I love giving gifts to my friends and family. (Shhh… and I occasionally get a gift for myself.) One of the reasons I hosted the first Mystery School 24 years ago is that I wanted to share the gifts of magic with my close friends… (and it was also a gift for myself!)

I invited the world’s foremost philosopher on the art of magic, Eugene Burger, to join us for a week at a magical retreat center. It was a exploration in “what magic could be in our lives”.

What we created that one weekend has evolved and grown over the last two decades into what is now called “The World’s Most Prestigious Magic School.” Tobias, Bryce and Abbi were all there! What our team created that weekend was a place for magicians to experience the deep mysteries of magic, and to encounter the best teachers in the world. A place to fill up on the magic of life… to be reawakened to the art of magic.

“You cannot give a gift you do not possess!”

Quite simply put, you must have a magical experience before you can give a magical experience.

I want to learn form the best, so I ask the magic teacher that are tops in their fields to join us at Mystery School for a week. For the past 6 years, I have been hosting my friends and magic fans at Wonderground, and this year, I wanted to continue my studies in restaurant magic, so I called my friend Doc Eason.

Doc will be in Vegas for a special class and you are invited to join us for this special session called “Raise the Bar.”

Give yourself the gift of a Magical Experience

Join us for a class this year in Las Vegas. We have Master Classes and classes on manipulation, restaurant magic, street magic, mentalism… and many more! Which class would be your favorite to attend? Explore our full schedule of classes at

If you can’t make it to Las Vegas, then join us at the world’s 1st online magic school

We stream our magic classes 24 hours a day at

GastonDid you hear?  Master Class is coming to Germany!

My friend Gaston is really one of the great theatrical magicians in the world today.  He is a great actor and a skilled conjurer. We are teaching a 3-day class in Germany together. This is a rare occasion opportunity to study the “theater of magic.”

For details, email Gaston:


The biggest magic party in Las Vegas, and you are invited!

Once again, we have an amazing line up of guests from across the USA, including our capital of magic right here in Las Vegas. You can see the entire line up at


Abbi is home preparing for the holidays at The McBride House of Mystery. I am on tour a bit and home in time for our week at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, January 13-19. We hope to see all our friends from the Greater Los Angeles area then!

Wishing you all a most magical holiday season!

Jeff McBride and all the gang
at the Magic & Mystery School

Magic & Medicine: A Credo

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.
— Hippocrates

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the holiday season!  A time of year filled with much magic and special challenges for all of us.  I think of it as “the dark time” of the year – probably because I have an inordinate fondness for sunshine, and there’s just not enough of it to go around for the next couple of months. In magic we must, however, learn to embrace both light and darkness, and to find ways of keeping our lives and our art in balance between the two.

Our guest author for this Museletter is Ricardo Rosencranz, our friend, colleague, and the man responsible for gaining us the ability to offer CME credit for our Magic & Medicine event. As a lover of magic, I find what Dr. Rosencranz has offered below to be a great reaffirmation and inspiration. I hope you will find it the same.

Magic and Medicine: A Credo

Ricardo T. Rosenkranz, M.D.

Dr. Ricardo RosenkranzSure, I love the magical arts. And I have dedicated a significant portion of my life to medicine. But connecting them together has never been about my interests or me. Magic and Medicine intertwined in my life just as the two snakes encircle the rod of Hermes. But for what purpose?

For as long as I can remember, I have longed for a life of beneficial service. Painting a smile on someone’s face and pouring measures of hope into someone’s cup have been my fantasies, then dreams, then quests. I am no different than many of my colleagues in Medicine who enter the profession for the self-same reasons.

Today, however, the life of a physician seems to drift away from that fundamental, ventral, central goal of mine. Productivity, technology, competence, efficiency, evidence and proficiency are the terms that define our professional lexicon. And yet, we long for the true meaning of what we do. I know this because nearly every physician I meet reflects on the existence of this malaise and senses that our boat has indeed veered away. Is it unexpected? Not really. Today’s winds, forcibly swirling around the ship, are the product of the engine of progress. We hunger for more knowledge, want to have a bigger impact in the health of others, and strive for excellence and precision. It seems that since the 17th Century, when the Scientific Method gave rise to the modern view of Medicine, we have been sailing at vertiginous speeds, eradicating illnesses right and left. But where are we going?

Currents create winds and winds beget storms. Today, I would venture that we are adrift because we believe more in ship than sailor, more in GPS than captain, more in engine than ingenuity. The noise of the motor is so loud that it drowns out the voices of the most important ones, the oft forgotten reluctant passengers of this ship: the patients. Even the great William Osler, father of modern medicine said, “He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.”

That is where I have found the second snake of this caduceus I might call my life’s paradigm. I would like to think that she saw what was missing in my “Aesculapian Staff” and methodically embedded herself into my self-awareness. Her name is Magic, and she is teaching me to better understand the world of healing. Every night she reads to me from the books of Burger, McBride, Maven, Neale, and Hass, among others. She lifts a mirror towards my audience allowing me to see my patients’ hearts while my reflection sheds a painted smile. And it is through her that I have come to understand that which I already knew, yet needed to experience from the other side of the sail.

Today’s Medicine, while breathtaking, needs a course correction. Medicine needs to pay heed to the balance of science and humanities. But this is not the only realm caught up in the storm of reductionism and practicality. It seems today that all educational endeavors are challenged by this concept. Recently, the presidents of Stanford University and Michigan (a computer scientist and a biochemist) published the following in the Washington Post:

“The humanities — history, literature, languages, art, philosophy — and the social sciences focus on the lasting challenges relevant to all of us: creating lives of purpose and meaning, appreciating diversity and complexity, communicating effectively with others and overcoming adversity. Ultimately, our ability to work meaningfully with others will determine the success of our enterprises, and that ability is honed through the humanities and social sciences.”

In the world of the Caduceus, I firmly believe that technology, technique, synthesis, evidence, and method need to embrace with art, grace, empathy, reasoning, understanding, and love. To me, this is the challenge of my generation.

That is why I chose to merge these two realms of mine. That is why I love to teach young medical students who hold neither preconception nor predisposition. Because I believe in transformation and empowerment, I never tire of sharing what Medicine and Magic can say to each other.

And when the Caduceus is planted in terra firma, when complementary snakes dance upon its solid staff allowing the inner eye to really learn and see the truth, the wings shall overtake the sky, embracing all with care and compassion. Now that’s a journey of a lifetime.

Mentors and Masters

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
— Plutarch


I hear lots of them… mostly from folks that are stuck in jobs they hate.

“I’m too old to begin a new career”

“What if I fail?”

“I don’t have the time or resources to do this!”

Many great artists had financial challenges or started late in life!


But, many great artists had a mentor! And a mentor is worth more than gold! A mentor reignites our  creativity and passion, and lights the way for us when we feel lost.

Who is Your Yoda?

This is a question I often ask our students at our classes. Who do you consider your coach, your inspiration?  Just like in STAR WARS… the hero needs a mentor; one to bring out that hidden treasure inside.

Sometimes it takes a very special teacher to “bring out the gold” in you.  Think back over your school years… who was your favorite teacher and why? Many of MY mentors, guides and teachers weren’t “school teachers,” they were people I admired.  I put energy into contacting them and meeting with them… and then a friendship began.

I’ve been with Tobias and Eugene over 20 years!

Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger


When I perform my “sorcerer’s apprentice” coin routine, I often have a strong impact on my onstage “apprentice,” and also on his family.  After the show, the parents frequently tell me about how shy their kid was, and that they never seen him perform like that!  My message is one of empowerment. The audience feels this and knows that it is more than a trick.  This the REAL MAGIC!

My performance and my teaching is all about “finding the treasures that are hidden inside of you!”  It takes a mentor to help you learn the process. then it is YOUR turn to mentor others!

Jeff McBride - Sorcerer's Apprentice

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

One of Abbi’s early music mentors was her piano teacher, Mr. Charles Rose.  When she started playing, at four years old, Mr. Rose had the right combination of talent, patience and creativity to get her involved and keep her motivated…. Now, Abbi’s music is a big part of what motivates many to become their highest visions.  She recently finished her third solo project, called The Family of Fire.  Take a listen, and let us know what you think:


Some people never find a mentor…why?..they do not look! But, there are steps to consider if you do want to find a mentor… Adam Toren is an entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of Adam says, “Although few entrepreneurs are fortunate enough to have a keen mentor in the family, it is possible to find one or two. Here are eight tips to getting the right mentor – or group of mentors – for you:

  1. Determine your needs. Keeping in mind that your mentoring needs will shift as you start and build your business, take the time to determine exactly what kind of mentor you want now. Build a wish list for your mentor – laying out what skills and support you need to get to the next step.
  2. Take time to network. Networking isn’t just important for finding customers. It’s also vital for finding a mentor. Who do you want helping you? Someone who sits in an office and thinks connecting with the business community means reading a couple of magazines a month? No, you want someone who’s out there, knows the market and can point you in the right direction.
  3. Listen more, talk less. Given your youthful enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, it may be hard to stay silent. But to find a mentor, you need to listen – a lot. Pay attention and you‘ll be able to separate the smart potential mentors from those who just use all the right words.
  4. Be “mentorable.” If you come off as someone who knows everything – or thinks you do – many people will back away. If you want to learn, be willing to consider ideas that may not match your expectations or opinions. Above all, don’t fall victim to your own hype. Your business may or may not have serious problems, but another viewpoint will help you sort things out.
  5. Remain flexible. You may have mentors who stay with you over the long haul, but you will also benefit from people who provide just an afternoon of insightful ideas. If you are fortunate enough to get time with someone who is rarely available, absorb all you can and take notes. Your mentor may be skilled only in one specific area, but that’s okay. All help is good help.
  6. Don’t overlook nontraditional mentors. Some mentors may help you without their knowledge through books, seminars, speeches, videos on Ted, TV programs and the internet. My brother and I always looked to Richard Branson as one of our mentors. We don’t have to meet him in person to appreciate all he provides to entrepreneurs and others all over the world.
  7. Thank your mentors. When people help you, intentionally or unintentionally, let them know. Mentors are not in it for the money; they just want to help others grow. Think about what you can do to let them know how much you appreciate them and their help.
  8. Pay it forward. You may never be able to pay your mentors back, but you can recognize what they’ve done for you by becoming a mentor to others.

Read more from Adam here:

Abbi and I love to read the poems of Jalaluddin Rumi…his poetry inspires us. Though he died hundreds of years ago., his words still mentor millions!

Hidden gold
“You sit here for days saying,
This is strange business.
You’re the strange business.
You have the energy of the sun in you,
but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine.
You’re some weird kind of gold
that wants to stay melted in the furnace,
so you won’t have to become coins.”
— Rumi

I’ll be taking one of my favorite collections of Rumi’s poetry, called Open Secret when I leave for Bulgaria in a few days.  I’ll be in touch when I get home!

Keep your furnace blazing my friends!
Jeff and Abbi


If you want to be filled with the fire of  inspiration and creativity…we have new classes coming up



WONDERGROUND is coming up Thursday Nov. 21, we have the full line up here!

Three Shades of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more.”
—Brother David Steindl-Rast

Greetings friends,

Abbi here, in the House of Mystery, feeling particularly grateful today.  Jeff has recently returned home from China, where he was the first magician to receive a standing ovation from the Beijing Magic Convention in their entire history. I am grateful he is home, safe, healthy and well.

As we move toward our official one day of the year to remember gratitude, I was reflecting on the different kinds of gratitude I’ve been aware of recently.

Jeff & Abbi McBride
Jeff scares Abbi with one of his many faces

False Gratitude

This form of thankfulness stems from expectation; it’s insincere and inauthentic – (“oh, gee, thanks; you shouldn’t have…”). This false gratitude may arise within us when we feel like someone is expecting our expression of gratitude and will be offended (or worse) if they don’t receive it. I remember once, as a little girl, my father’s mother, Muriel, had sent me a small gift for my sixth birthday, which, for some reason, I didn’t properly acknowledge.  When I saw her, a couple of months later, she came up to me and said, “Abbi, I have a bone to pick with you. I sent you a gift, and you didn’t send me a thank-you note.” I felt terrible, and muttered, “thanks, Grandma.” Gratitude, when demanded, loses its sweetness. Feeling like one must be grateful is an excellent way to lose any real gratitude. For me, if I find myself doing something I don’t want to do, in hopes that someone will give me their gratitude in response, that’s the time for me to stop, breathe, and remember that if I can’t do something with a willing spirit and a glad heart, it’s probably better that I not do it at all.

“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot,for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.”
— Dr. Seuss

Reverse gratitude

This type of appreciation appears when we think about the things that didn’t happen, or that we don’t have, and are honestly thankful for them.  For instance, I’m very deeply grateful that I don’t have to spend eight hours a day under fluorescent lights, on my feet, in a job I hate. I’m grateful that I don’t have a house filled with empty beer cans and a blaring television.  You get the picture – there are lots of things to have reverse gratitude for, but this way of seeing things can easily lead into judgmental thinking, so use sparingly, with caution.

Abbi McBride
Giving thanks for the gifts we receive

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
—Albert Schweitzer

True gratitude

True gratitude arises when we are aware of the gifts in our lives and allow ourselves to experience a feeling of thankfulness, from the heart. There are so many gifts: the fact that we live on a planet perfectly positioned so that we receive just the right amount of sunlight to make all things grow, with an ideal atmosphere for breathing, and pure water to drink – to our health and well-being of body, mind and spirit, – to our relationships with family and friends. Once we open the door to gratitude, the list expands.

Jeff & Abbi McBride
So much gratitude

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
—Winston Churchill

Jeff and I are deeply grateful for each one of you reading this. Whether you have seen us perform in a show, attended a lecture, participated in our virtual magic school, or have studied with us here in Las Vegas, we are grateful to have you in our magical circle, and thankful that our paths have crossed. It’s been said that gratitude opens the door for grace to come in, and that what we focus on is what increases. As we move closer to the end of the year, let us remember to tune into what we can be grateful for, so that more gifts, more creativity, more blessings may flow to us and through us.

Lies, lies, all lies!

Monday, October 14th, 2013

“Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.”
— Oscar Wilde

Lies and Truth

How do magicians deal with lies, and a life of deception?

Deception is at the core of magic and magical performance. If the magic effect is not deceptive or “fooling,” there is no mystery.

I was raised to be an honest person. My parents told me it was not OK to lie. So how did I grow up to be a magician… an artist who tells truth in the form of lies?

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve… but I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
— Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

There is more to magic than just “tricking people.” Let’s look at the dynamics of lying and social deception.

In a recent article, writer Ulrich Boser said: “Researchers have been studying deception for decades, trying to figure out why we tell lies. It turns out that we spin facts and make up fictions for all sorts of reasons. We might want to gain a raise or a reward, for example, or to protect friends or a lover. Our capacity for deceit appears nearly endless, from embroidering stories to wearing fake eyelashes to asking, “How are you?” when we don’t actually care. We even lie to ourselves about how much food we eat and how often we visit the gym.” You can read the full article here:

Radical Honesty

I was researching lying on Wikipedia and found out about Dr. Brad Blanton. He says that lying is the primary source of modern human stress and that practitioners of his technique (called “radical honesty”) will become happier by being more honest, even about painful or taboo subjects. Blanton claims that radical honesty can help all human relationships since it “creates an intimacy not possible if you are hiding something for the sake of someone’s feelings.”

How could a magician be radically honest and still create deceptive magic? H’mmmm


“I can fool you because you’re a human. Usually when we’re fooled, the mind hasn’t made a mistake. It’s come to the wrong conclusion for the right reason.”
— Jerry Andrus

More Truth than Trick

Jerry Andrus was a wizard. In 1993, I had the pleasure of visiting him in his “Castle of Chaos” in Albany Oregon. He was also a very deep thinker and a very honest man.

Jerry avoided telling lies while performing his magic!

He was exacting as a script writer. Jerry never said his hands were empty if they contained a hidden object. In his scripts he told the truth. Although perhaps he did eliminate some sentences that might give too much information to his viewers!

“I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”
— Al Pacino

Techno Magician Marco Tempest gives his thoughts on The Magic of Truth and Lies. Marco’s TED talk is well worth seeing again.

(If you listen closely you can hear Tobias Beckwith doing character voices as part of this story!)

A Few Questions I Ask Myself When Creating Magical Art

One of the techniques I have used over the years when creating illusions is to make the story that accompanies the magic contain life enhancing content, rather than just deception.

At our yearly Magic & Meaning Conference, we learn how performers can make their magic more appealing by exploring alternative presentation techniques, so that their magic makes a more potent form of theater than “just tricks!”

Here are the questions I like to ask:

  1. What is the “take away” from experiencing my magic?
  2. Will the audience be MOVED by my performance, or just feel tricked?
  3. What can I add to the story or presentation that will give my audience a more satisfying experience?

“One lie has the power to tarnish a thousand truths.”
— Al David


Here is an excellent talk on how YOU can spot a liar.

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
— Dorothy Allison


“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
— Abraham Lincoln

The truth is…  We enjoy your feedback on these Muse letters and like it when you share them with your friends and other newsgroups.

The truth is…  I am back home from our China shows and enjoying my time with Abbi here in Las Vegas.

Happy Valley, 2013

“The Shanghai china tour was a blast…Bill Cook, Jeff, Melanie Kramer and Jordan Wright strike an action hero pose!”

The truth is… You can visit us at one of our upcoming events here in Las Vegas or online at

Wonderground, October 2013

The truth is… WONDERGROUND will host the faculty of Mystery School this Thursday, October 27th.

As we wind this up, we are preparing for Magic & Meaning, The Wonderground, Witches’ & Wizards’ Ball…and Fall Fest, all during the coming week!

Thanks to those of you who have made Magic & Meaning and the upcoming class on Mentalism both “Sold Out.” Click any of the other events in the calendar on the right at the top of this Museletter to get your spots in our other classes before they are all sold out, too!

Best wishes.

Jeff McBride & all the folks at the McBride Magic & Mystery School


The Gift of Failure

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Dear Friends, Ladies & Gentlemen:

It is our pleasure this month to present a piece written just for you by our Dean, Eugene Burger:



Eugene BurgerFor the past several years, the task of writing an October Museletter has fallen upon me. I think this is partly because images of Halloween goblins are on the same wavelength as my continuing fascination with things spooky and mysterious. And so it has been with a certain delight that I have accepted the task of writing the October contribution. After all, I do love the Halloween season!

But this year my thoughts are moving in a different direction. I am not thinking so much about things mysterious. Instead, I have been reflecting on much more, shall we say, “practical” matters. These thoughts spring from my work as a teacher and also from my great interest in the teaching process itself.

A thought has been in my mind for some time now. It surfaces at some point almost every day and, when it does, I try to understand it once more. I find that my understanding changes and even grows at times. Here is the thought that has been echoing in my mind:

Sometimes the greatest gift of all is failure.

Among other things, I have been thinking about how much time is spent in the teacher-student relationship with the teacher helping the student deal with failure—and, more specifically, the fear of failure. The fear of failure can be crippling and even paralyzing, whereas failure itself can be an important way to learn and grow. It’s an important difference. Perhaps to see this, to see it clearly and deeply so that the very seeing is action, requires personal courage. For fear can be met only with courage.

Then, another voice in my head rises up and says, “Wait a minute, Eugene, nobody wants to fail! Including you! So, if failure is a gift, it is a pretty weird gift. In fact, if you don’t mind, it’s a gift that I would just as well refuse to accept! Thanks anyway!”

Yes, I hear that voice, which is also my voice. Yet when I look at this closely, I see that failure can be a gift—perhaps, the greatest gift of all. Here is what I mean: first, when I fail (in the performance of a magic effect, for example), I may be inspired to work harder, to go back and fix the problem, and to move on. Learning from failure might be called “learning by fire.” And it works.

Second, failure may bring me new insights, new ideas that had previously never entered my mind. Some of my most creative thoughts have been generated by having something go terribly wrong during a performance.

Third, failure can be the gift that tells us to stop, to give up on a particular performance piece, to remove it from our show and stop performing it. The end. It’s over. Period.

Over the years, there have been many times when I have worked on a piece of magic for a very long time (sometimes on and off for years) and then finally, after repeated failure, I just gave up.

Sometimes, I think the best thing to do is to give up, to stop and spend my limited time working on a piece of magic that is within my reach. As Alan Watts put it so well, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

So I wonder, isn’t failure the greatest gift of all?

Mad As Hell

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Mad As Hell

Mad as Hell!

Each time we face a new challenge, we have an opportunity to break old patterns. We can react to challenges in old ways (as seen above), or move beyond our old habits and limitations, and resolve conflict in new and more enlightened ways. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten from Max Maven is; “If you get mad…you lose.”

So before the next time you get “mad as hell,” read this short, but potent, Samurai parable.

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”
– English proverb

Facing Challenges and having Nothing to Lose!

When I think of all the times I encounter “trouble” along the road, I remind myself to reframe each experience as a “challenge”, and that facing each of these challenges makes me wiser! Yes, that is right my friends… over the years I’ve stopped using the words “troubles” and “problems”, and I’ve replaced  both these words in my vocabulary with “challenges.”

Hint: try this as an exercise! Just stop using the words and they seem to go away! Now all I have are “challenges”…. and I love a good challenge!

Why not take a risk and face your next challenge in a new way? There is NOTHING to lose!

If you win, you will be happy;
if you lose, you will be wise.
– Zen wisdom

Hecklers, Critics and Bullies

Even the top pros face extreme challenges. Many of us encounter bullies, hecklers and haters. What to the pros do? Take a look at this film and find out. Maybe you’ll find it to be as interesting as I did.

This documentary is titled Heckler, and I would consider it essential viewing for anyone who stands on a stage. (Thank you, Ferdinando Buscema for finding this!)

Q: Where in the World?
A: Russia and China!

I am on tour all over the planet this season!  Russia is the next stop on my world tour.

Then our full illusion show Abracadazzle! will open in a huge theater in Shanghai.

Jeff McBride in China

I travel a lot! And it takes a great team to keep me on track. Thank you Tobias, Jordan and Abbi for helping with all “the challenges” of this immense tour!

Sometimes I feel like I just want to “just stay home,” but then I reread this poem. Whitman’s words gave me hope, strength and courage to keep going.

“Henceforth I ask not good fortune — I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. S
trong and content, I travel the open road.”
– “Song of the Open Road,” Walt Whitman

Every so often tears come to my eyes when I hear a poem read out loud…This poem is a gift for every one of us who travels. Listen to the full poem read out loud….it is so beautiful! Here is a link to a wonderful reading of this great poem, with inspired images.

You never know who will pop up at WONDERGROUND!

When I get off the road and come home, I love sharing good times with my magic friends. I throw a party each month so we can gather and share fun, music, magic and community. Look who showed up last month! Wow — what a show, and what a night to remember!

Wonderground - September, 2013


On September 19th you are invited to this month’s version of our community magic celebration!
Directions and all info at:

8 pm Early Stage: Master of Ceremonies, Tim Wise, with Daniel Giandoni, Bijan the Magician, Alien Warrior Comic

9pm Parlor Magic: Master of Ceremonies, Christian Diamond, with Daniel Giandoni, Nate Jester, David Gabbay, Adam Flowers

10pm Late Stage: Master of Ceremonies, Tim Wise, with Anthony Rais, Shocker, Marc Love, TanBA,

DJ Leo Diaz, Christian Diamond, The New World Rythmatism Dancers, Tim Wise, Body Painting by Suzanne, Video Wizard Scott Steelfyre, Live art by Areeya, Photography by Sheryl Garrett, Psychic sideshow with “Scott Brown and The Readers”, Plus Great Food and Hookah at THE OLIVE!.. and much, much more!

Mystery School Mondays – New Programming!
The Locked Room

The Magic & Mystery School Locked Room is our place to host custom online learning experiences in real time.

Beginning in September, 2013, our format is changing somewhat.  On the first Monday of each month, we will broadcast our usual hour long “Mystery School Monday” show, free to all at  Every other Monday of the month we will have a different host opening the show with a 15 minute discussion, promptly at 7:00pm, which is free and open to all, discussing the subjects to be covered that week.  Immediately following that 15 minute free session, we will be hosting weekly Locked Room sessions for Magic & Mystery School Members only. Because these sessions are closed, except to our Members, we will be free to go a bit deeper, discussing techniques and tricks in a way we would not be comfortable doing in sessions open to the public at large.

Become a Member to get access to this exclusive content, starting in September.

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