Of Water & Wizardry

Happy World Water Day! (March 22nd)

Photo by Lisa Kereszi

In 2017 I will travel to the desert to study the magic of water with a master wizard who runs a school of wizardry.  Literally.  I will take on this quest not only in pursuit of grand adventure and better magic but also so that I can use what I learn to inspire audiences with the importance of water.

The school to which I will return is McBride’s Magic & Mystery School of Las Vegas.  The Image result for jeff mcbride water bowlsMaster Magician, and school’s Founder, is Jeff McBride.  Although I may look more like Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, youthful-appearing Jeff McBride has acclaim in the real world equal to that of the great wizard in Harry Potter novels.  I have been fortunate to receive Jeff’s support of my magical studies and my use of “enviromagic” (Jeff’s term) for environmental education.  When the opportunity arose to learn one of his master work routines, The Water Bowls, we both agreed that the time was right.  My “Magic of Water” magic show already shares the wonder of water and the power we all have to conserve and protect it.   Jeff’s Water Bowls routine will improve this show, bringing it to the “Vegas Level”.  The Water Bowls routine is wordless but powerful for Image result for jeff mcbride house of mysterythe story it shares of human interaction with water as the source of life.  It will bring a very important and perhaps spiritual lesson to a show which already delivers messages of fact and science.  I look forward to learning this routine and to the time spent studying closely with a master magician.

Home  As a sustainability professional I must also offer thanks and gratitude to the environmental educators and officials who work tirelessly to ensure our waters remain abundant and clear.  This year I was able to partake in a unique training day in which the ties between waste and water were demonstrated for classroom teachers in Waterbury, CT and elsewhere.  TOMRA and Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) hosted Project WET, a national training and curriculum provision program, that brings water-focused activities to classrooms and nature centers nationwide.  Their efforts may not be magic shows in the strict sense of the word, but the fun and enlightenment that they bring to children can literally make all the difference in the world.

Enjoy World Water Day as well as the blessing, and magic, of water!

#worldwaterday #magic #water #enviromagic #spokeswizard #brasscitybuzz

 

Magic in Iceland

img_3001Iceland is a country renowned as a land of fire and ice, Viking settlers and northern lights.  I was fortunate to take in this magical landscape after performing “Recycling is Magic” for several schools in the Reykjavik area.  While I enjoyed sharing my environmental magic with my Icelandic audiences, the utter elemental beauty of the country reminded me that Nature is the greatest magician.

This adventure began with a magic to rival that of Iceland’s beauty:  love.   My wife and I decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary with a visit to a land for which we had such longing.   We were able to combine our own celebration with a partnership with Landervernd, Iceland’s most prominent environmental organization.  I worked with Landvernd’s Caitlin Wilson, Margret Hugadalfholsskoli-kids-and-cjottir and Gundmundur “Mummi” Gudbrandsson (a fellow graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) to create a bi-lingual version of “Recycling is Magic” for elementary school children.  We made some cultural as well as language changes.  For example, my American “ogres” became Icelandic “trolls”, a strong cultural tie.

Given the love that Icelanders have for their majestic landscape I was surprised to learn that their recycling efforts are mixed at this point.  Reykjavik has curbside pick-up for residences, but recycling at businesses and other locales around the island nation is very intermittent.  As such my offer of recycling magic shows tied well into Landvernd’s efforts to help Icelandic schools participate in a growing international green school effort:  Eco Schools.  It was nice to contribute my own small bit of magic to help such a splendid land in its work to protect its environment.  #iceland #enviromagic #spokeswizard #recyclingmagic #recycling

Municipal Magician

One of the most magical moments of 2015 for me was being asked by IMG_1896the Mayor of Waterbury, CT to return to full-time work as a sustainability professional so that I could use my magic to increase the Brass City’s recycling rate.   I have become, for lack of a more accurate term, the world’s first municipal magician.   I am delighted that the Mayor as well as others in Waterbury support this mix of “sorcery” with sustainability.   I incorporate magic into outreach while visiting neighborhoods, knocking on doors and delivering bins.  I introduce myself to parents and children in the waiting rooms at the City’s Health and Education Departments, levitating a bottle to show them the magic of recycling.  I empower school children with my magic so that they realize the power they possess to change the world one can, bottle and piece of paper at a time.

One very powerful bit of magic I use to share a very practical truth is producing an enormous “wad” of cash from an empty garbage can:   after telling on-lookers that Waterbury gets paid for its recyclables I continue by saying that tossing them into the trash is 2014-10-20 21.33.48tossing away (presto!)…MONEY.   I am repurposing magician’s magic for a new purpose beyond that of entertainment.   It not only delights, but it also educates.

To ensure I am successful as a “spokeswizard” for Waterbury, I learn from local and national allies, both magical and otherwise.   David Copperfield (photoed with me) was kind enough to chat with me before his evening show in Las Vegas.  The world’s most famous and successful magician, he was humble in admitting that there is no secret formula to great magic.   He felt his success is due to constant innovation, hard work and a certain amount of experimentation.  He has also assembled an amazing team of other experts to support his work.   I am fortunate in having the support of Master Magician Jeff McBride (photoed with mask) and the very real faculty of The McBride Magic & Mystery School, a real-life Hogwarts for modern magicians.  Jeff has been Magic Castle’s Magician of the Year, is a Guinness World Record Holder, and carries more honors than I can list here.  The classes, lectures, consultations and personal teaching of Jeff and these other masters of the mystic arts have aided me in my efforts to protect the environment in more ways than even they can fully realize.

One of the secrets that David Copperfield and I did JeffMcBridenot discuss is that along with other successful entertainers he is an expert at making a personal connection with his audience.  He structures his show to make sure that “tricks” and “wonders” are interwoven with personal stories,
conversations with volunteers and other very-human interactions.  We may be astounded by his magic but we love him, and so many others, because of who they are.

I follow this interactive model while door knocking on the streets of Waterbury, meeting people at events in the Silas Bronson Library, or visiting a block party.    It may be the magic of magicians that gets their attention, but it is likely that it will be the magic of a very human interaction that wins them over.   After performing recycling magic for my impromptu audiences at Health and Education I introduce myself to each family and take their address if they need a bin.  I make sure to deliver the bin within a few days personally.  I put their address on the bin and call or knock on the door while dropping this off.  This refreshes our personal connection and gives them some sense that there is a “kinder, gentler” component to Waterbury Recycling than they may have experienced elsewhere in our very big world.   It is with this combination of interactions, both magical and human, that we will together “vanish” much of Waterbury’s trash bill and “transform” not only cans and bottles but also a City’s sense of itself…at least with respect to recycling.

I still bring my magic to other communities beyond Waterbury.   I recently performed at the 25th Anniversary celebration for CleanRiver, a manufacturer of high-end recycling stations based near Toronto.  Sharing recycling magic with their guests, as well as sharing the magic of energy, water and wilderness with others, remains a true pleasure and a devotion.  I hope our magical paths may meet up some time in 2016!

CJ May – Cyril the Sorcerer

“Magic, by its ability to capture the imagination, can change the world.”

Little Fairies, Big Magic

Little Fairies, Big Magic

Little Fairies, Big Magic

ORIGINS OF A FAIRY TALE

When I was asked to perform “Recycling is Magic” at several fairy festivals, I began to wonder if I could create a unique magic show with both a fairy theme and an environmental message.  Showing fairies on stage is beyond my magic…and my personal circles of acquaintances.   Instead I decided that the fairies would remain invisible but their magical pranks would be mainstay of the show.   The fairies play their pranks on the villagers because they are mad at the plan to clear the entire forest….the fairies’ home.  I have been delighted to perform this show as a way to remind young and old alike of an important truth:  just as we need our homes, so do creatures in the wild.

Please do all you can to help protect wild animals and their homes by visiting The Wilderness Society and The Nature Conservancy.   Visit the National Wildlife Federation to learn how you can make your own backyard, or even apartment balcony, into a haven for wildlife!

The Artists Who Contributed to the “Little Fairies, Big Magic” Poster

The inspiration for pranks-from-fairies came from David Ginn, a masterful magician who lectured to conjurers here in Connecticut several years ago.  The wizardry for creating the promotional photo, however, took the talent of many artists…

The Wizard’s Robe – Melody Sciarratta

Magic Needle Creations (magic-needle.deviantart.com/)

2005_ 12-24 christmas eve 037 crop

Melody Sciarratta

 

At Cyril’s request, Maryland costume designer and seamstress Melody Sciarratta created Cyril’s robe using fabric purchased from a thrift shop.   Cyril asked for environmentally-preferable fabric and Melody took on the challenge with skill and enthusiasm!

 

 

The Wizard’s Hat – Sandra Sisti

Seams Like Magic (seamslikemagic.net)

Sandy Sisti

Sandy Sisti

 

 

Sandy has provided magical hats and other special stitch work for magicians far and wide.  Like so many of her creations, the new hat for Cyril has more magic than meets the eye.   Sandy is also a magician and fortune teller.

The Fairy’s Garb  – Robin McCahill

Intuit Arts (Intuit2arts.com)

Robin McCahill

Robin McCahill

 

 

Felt artist and teacher, Robin also creates felt puppets and clothing.  She generously loaned one of her most fairy-like outfits for use by Cyril’s daughter, Ella, for the photo.   As can be seen in the photo, Robin performs at events with her creations including an articulated phoenix, “Beatrice”, photographed here at the Comstock Ferre.

 

 

 

 

The Fairy’s Wand  – Markus Almodarr Steelgrave

Steelgrave Magic (steelgravemagic.com)

Markus Almodorr Steelgrave & Angelique Steelgrave

Markus Almodorr Steelgrave & Angelique Steelgrave

 

When not performing magic with wife and fellow magician Angelique, Markus often works in his shop of wonders creating wands that would make Olivander jealous.   Cyril trusted one of his prized purchases from Markus to his daughter’s care….for the photo shoot only!

 

The Magic Tree  – John Liebler

Art of the Cell  (artofthecell.com)

John Liebler

John Liebler

 

John Liebler is a 3D artist that makes his living creating art and animation of the beautiful, and often surreal world that exists within our living (and sometimes dying) cells. He is founder and creative director of Art of the Cell, a 3D medical and scientific animation company in Connecticut.  Be sure to check out the magical worlds he depicts in his molecular animations.

 

 

The Visual Artistry – Irene Liebler and Sandy Connolly

Super 9 Studios (www.super9studios.com)

Irene Liebler & Sandy Connolly

Irene Liebler & Sandy Connolly

 

 

It took the discipline-spanning wizardry of Super 9 Studios to put together the imagery of wizard, fairy, wings, wands, wind, forest and magically-appearing tree.  Sandy & Irene put an immense amount of time in preparing the photo shoot, wrangling wizard and fairy, and bringing all the elements together for the final image.

 

 

The Prestidigitation of Printing a Poster

Allegra New Haven  (allegranewhaven.com)

Allegra New Haven Staff
Allegra New Haven Staff

 

Bob, Tammy and the creative and hardworking folks at Allegra are taking the digital work of Super 9 studios and turning it into posters on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified sustainably grown/harvested paper.

 

 

 Contact Cyril the Sorcerer for information on

“Little Fairies, Big Magic” posters & performances!

 

     203-737-0475

Fair Trade Magic

As a “good wizard” I believe in supporting fair trade as well as environmental sustainability.  Fair trade organizations, such as Ten Thousand Villages, pay artisans, farmers and others in the developing world a living wage for their work.    I support this by buying coffee, chocolate, magic props and gifts from my local Ten Thousand Villages store here in New Haven, CT.   I also support their fair trade efforts by performing “fair trade magic,” in the local store.   I theme the routines to fair trade and use props from the store itself.   Fair trade reverses the trend of creating poverty overseas so that we can have cheap and disable goods at home.

Liz Rider, manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in New Haven, CT, has partnered with Cyril the Sorcerer to bring several performances of Fair Trade Magic to her location.

Liz Rider, manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in New Haven, CT, has partnered with Cyril the Sorcerer to bring several performances of Fair Trade Magic to her location.

Magic Beyond Earth Day

As an environmental educator and magician I look forward to April as a Santa Claus performer might look forward to December:  a month busy with shows.    Weeks before and after Earth Day are fun and full.  This year I am delighted to add a number of other magics to the recycling, energy, climate change and other environmental performances I will again be sharing this year.

This Saturday March 29th I will be performing “Escape from the Goblins” at the La Grua Center in Stonington, CT.   This is a storytelling magic show in which I weave tricks into a tale of a woodcutter who is captured by goblins.  Jasper learns magic from his fellow prisoner, an imp, and together they make their escape past goblins, an ogre and the Goblin King himself.   I continue to improve this show by gaining feedback from friends in the magic and theater worlds.   Eventually it will be part of a longer epic storytelling show, “The Goblin Sword.”    Today’s public loves the magic of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and other works of film and fiction.   Ironically, the love of magic has not extended to magicians and magic shows.   I feel this is because magicians too rarely engage their audiences with emotion and story.   Rowling and Tolkien enchant us with their characters, plots and beautiful stories.   If magicians learn to do the same, adding their “magic” to that of great stories, we may find ourselves in a period of magical renaissance.

Abraham's Tent Flash

Performing Hard Times Magic at a homeless shelter

Earlier this week I shared my “Hard Times Magic” show with residents of a homeless shelter.   We shared conversation and food before I shared how magic can help all of us through our tough times.    I told some tales of how I am inspired by Harry Houdini (Born on March 24th) and others to continue onward despite life’s challenges.   Involving residents as volunteers in parts of the show empowered them and, I hope, keeps them optimistic about their own futures.

Magic can play so many roles in our modern world, not just in the tales of bygone days.   It can empower and inspire us by capturing our imagination and pushing us to reconsider just how much power each of us has to save our planet and to save ourselves.

Einstein’s Advice for Parents

Asked for advice on how parents could help their children become more intelligent, Albert Einstein offered a delightful bit of advice.  His words went something along the lines of “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”   This strikes me as sage advice for parents as well as magicians and environmentalists alike.   Stories capture the imagination.   Fairy tales and magic spark the imagination and help young and old think outside The Box in which we find our minds imprisoned.   I use fairytales of ogres, wizards, goblins and, yes, even fairies, to help tell my environmental stories about recycling, energy and water.   I hope that my magic and stories help my audiences increase their own thoughts far beyond The Box.