lecture18 marucci


The mage puts a Tarot card face down on the table and, taking a regular deck of cards, shuffles it. He asks a spectator to deal any number of cards in a pile on the table - a number that may or may not have some significance to her.

When the spectator has done so, she is asked to take the tabled pile and deal it into three piles, representing the past, the present, and the future. Her past, present, and future? Or the world's? Or someone or something she knows?

When she has done so, the mage recaps: A freely chosen number, the cards handled exclusively by the spectator. The spectator now turns over the top card of each pile: The number formed is 666, the "number of the beast". The Tarot card is then turned over and it shows "the beast" with the number "666" below the picture.

The Tarot card is a blank one on which you have drawn or pasted a picture of the devil (or what you imagine the devil may look like!) and printed the numbers "666" below it. The deck is set up with three sixes on top. It can then be false shuffled or cut, provided the top three cards are not changed. When the spectator has come up with a number, she deals the cards to the table, putting the three sixes on the bottom of the pile, because of the reverse count. When she deals that pile into three, for past, present, and future, a six will end up on top of each pile.

This I will leave up to you. Break out your trusty Bible and go to the Book of Revelations; there you will find the references to the number of the beast. Revelations 13:18 ". . .  Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." When the book was written, the number may have referred to the Emperor Nero (unlikely) or any Roman (possibly) or the imperial city of Rome itself (most likely). These were all considered enemies of the early Christian church by the church's adherents.

A search engine on your computer, like Google, will give you dozens of background sites for "the number of the beast". You can make the routine tell virtually any story you want. (Some have even argued that "the beast" was former U.S. president Ronald Wilson Reagan, because his name has six letters in each individual name; this would make some sense - if the original Bible were written in English, which it wasn't!). Depending on what routine you come up with, the justification can be that the spectator has conquered the best, has called up the beast, has been captured by the beast, or whatever you think will work with your audience.

Second thoughts:
An Internet search for "the number of the beast" will also turn up some humorous references, too, if you should want to go that way: "666 is the number of the beast and 668 is the number of the beast's next-door neighbor."

Have fun with this sleight-free routine.

Peter Marucci.


Home    Main Page

All the material in this lecture is copyrighted with all rights reserved to Peter Marucci, 2002.