Introduction to Magic in the Middle – Part Two

By Finn Voldtofte, 2005

Magic in the middle when people meet
It is the examination of that magic in the middle that may arise when people meet that interests me. I believe that it may be helpful to look at the wider concept of magic in the middle in order to understand the magic in the middle of a meeting of people.

So now we shift from paying attention to the individual in the meeting, not to the group or the team, but to what happens between people that meet.

To meet here means some kind of interaction. Talking is just one of these forms. Everything that people can do with each other contain the possibility of a meeting. But it is also possible to have, for instance, a conversation, without actually meeting. In my examination of what happens between people, I assume that it is possible for a real meeting to come about. It is not an unimportant prerequisite – sometimes it can be hard to fulfil.

The network of relations and interactions that come about in the meeting of people create a field. This field emerges, it is magic in the midst of the people that meet.

A field transmits impulses to an extended area. The influence of the field is not limited and local. The field transmits influences from one place in the field to all other places in the field. Contrary to this, it is a local and limited influence, when one billiard ball bumps into another billiard ball.

This field, this magic in the middle of people, is not “just” an abstract idea. The magic in the middle can be experienced, felt, and recognised. Practices can be trained, so that I become more firmly based in my experience with the magic in the middle. The magic in the middle has power to transform.

* * *

This is the second of six weekly posts taken from Introduction to Magic in the Middle written by the late Finn Voldtofte in March of 2005 (click the following links to go directly to Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, or Part 6).

Finn was one of the original co-founders of the World Café. He worked tirelessly with Juanita Brown to distill and articulate the World Café Design Principles that underlie all World Café practice. Finn was an amazing human being who inspired and touched many, many people at a profound level. His articulation of the “Magic in the Middle” is still one of the most evocative descriptions of what makes World Café “work” and we are honored to publish his words here in this crucial time.


World Cafe is “Stepping In” on a new level – increasing our capacity to engage most effectively with the challenging issues of our times. Here’s an overview of what we’re envisioning and some of the priorities we’ve identified to start. Please join us and contribute what you can to support this important work.

This blog post is one response to an open invitation to our global community – to step up & express what the gift of the World Cafe means to YOU. We welcome your posts, as well as your comments and shares.