[[quoteright:260:[[Comicbook/DoctorStrange http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stange_handsign_4049.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:260:More than just a [[{{pun}} Strange]] gesture.]]

->'''Frieza:''' ''[Goku raises his hands up]'' What are you doing?\\
'''Goku:''' ''[thinking to himself]'' I have to use the Spirit Bomb! It's my only chance!\\
'''Frieza:''' Seriously what..what is this all about? Are you trying to telling me you once caught a fish that big?\\
'''Goku:''' I'm just...stretching.\\
'''Frieza:''' In the middle of a fight?\\
'''Goku:''' ...yes!
-->-''WebVideo/DragonBallAbridged''

Any physical activity required for magic, ranging from simply pointing at the target up to day-long ritual dances.

At its simplest, this is just [[RuleOfPerception a way of showing the wizard is actually doing stuff]]. They will point at the target, wave their hand around to move it, and close their fist to crush it. Compare with the PstandardPsychicPstance. Moving up a step, some types of spell require precise gestures to work, leading to wizards with very nimble fingers as well as [[SquishyWizard an excuse for them not to wear armor]] involving the restriction of mobility. The precise gestures have to be memorized as part of the spell.

The more time intensive forms of RitualMagic also often require magical gestures: stir the cauldron nine times widdershins, point the sword at each compass point in turn.

If the action isn't simply a gesture, but a heavily physical action then it's FullContactMagic. Set it to rhythm and you have MagicDance.

A common gesture for this trope is the BadassFingerSnap.

Contrast GeometricMagic, LanguageOfMagic.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''{{Naruto}}'' has hand seals. [[note]]Influenced, if not completely derived from, Kuji-Kiri and mudras. Shikamaru's concentration gesture is a mudra.[[/note]]
** Sent up by the "Karate Island" episode of ''{{Spongebob}}'', of all things. Looked at frame by frame, Sandy [[ShownTheirWork uses actual mudras rather than made up symbols]].
* In ''InuYasha'' (among many others I'm sure) Kikyo, Kaede, and Miroku use what I belive is a mudra (Kapittaka? Pran? First two fingers straight out, next two curled, with the thumb touching the top of the third finger) when focusing their spiritual powers.
* In ''{{Harukanaru Toki no Naka de}}'', Tenma, Inori, Shimon and Tomomasa use specific mudras for performing attacks; for the first three characters these are single gestures taken from ''kuji-kiri'' ("pyou", "tou" and "sha", respectively). In the anime series, [[{{Onmyodo}} Yasuaki]] performs a full-blown ''kuji-kiri'' sequence along with the required [[AsianRuneChant mantras]].
* ''Manga/GaRei'' - Releasing Byakuei's seal requires a certain hand gesture.[[labelnote:*]]Clasp fingers together with the heels of both palms touching, then touch the tips of each pointer finger together.[[/labelnote]] Kagura's actually put out of action because [[spoiler:her hands are shot and she can't make the seal.]]
* Most signature attacks in ''Manga/{{Dragonball}}'' involve some unique gestures- the most famous being the spirit bomb and the kamehameha.
* A handful of characters in ''{{Manga/Bleach}}'', most notably Captain Byakuya Kuchiki. When he activates his [[DeathOfAThousandCuts Bankai]], he doesn't ''have'' to use the gestures and such to control the storm of blades, but he states that it ''does'' help, and increase his speed.
* Many wizards, especially those who use Maker Magic, in ''Manga/FairyTail'' utilize these. While nearly everybody in the series uses FullcontactMagic as well, gestures are often used for more powerful magic, like Makarov's Fairy Law or [[spoiler: Zeref's attack to kill Hades.]]
* Spells in ''TheSlayers'' involve complex gestures manipulating glowy magical energy. For example, the Flare Arrow spell needs a gesture like firing an imaginary bow (and, indeed, a glowing bow made of fire appears during the casting of the spell).
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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* As shown in the page image, Comicbook/DoctorStrange uses particular positions of his hands to cast spells. He often holds one or both hands up with the middle and ring fingers folded inward (c.f. the "I Love You" gesture or the "Metal Horns").
* The ScarletWitch has a similar gesture to activate her [[WindsOfDestinyChange probability-altering]] powers. In fact, in the early days, if she accidentally made the gesture, random misfortune would happen to whoever was in its general direction without her intending.
* Comicbook/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch's gesture varies DependingOnTheWriter. Sometimes she tugs her earlobe, sometimes she points her index finger (as seen in [[Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch the live-action TV show]]), sometimes she snaps her fingers.
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[[folder: Film ]]

* Nerissa from Disney's ''{{Enchanted}}'' tended to wave her arms and then throw them up or outward as part of her incantation process.
* The Genie from Disney's ''{{Disney/Aladdin}}'' makes all sorts of gestures. Sometimes they appear explicitly necessary for the magic he's casting, but other times it appears to be just plain showmanship.
* Using TheForce in ''Franchise/StarWars''. As with many examples, it's not absolutely necessary, but it helps with focus.
* Parodied by ''ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld'', where Gideon uses hand gestures that are suspiciously similar to Naruto to power up into his "ultimate form".
* The title character in ''BruceAlmighty'' has a habit of doing this whenever using his divine powers. Being near-omnipotent, he doesn't need to do them, he just does for fun.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'', spells requires precise gestures with the wand.
** In ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince The Half-Blood Prince]]'' (the sixth book), the making of a potion requires to be stirred clockwise. But the notes of the Half-Blood Prince say it's faster if you stir 1 time counterclockwise for each 7 clockwise.
** This is explained in the [[Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone first book]] as well, when Hermione describes the proper method for [[ChekhovsSkill Wingardium Leviosa]].
* In ''TheLuckOfRelianKru'', all the sorcerers need double jointed fingers to perform the gestures.
* Interesting example in the later ''{{Wheel of Time}}'' books. Aes Sedai have during many handing-downs of techniques been including gestures to the casting to make them easier to cast. The result is that many younger Aes Sedai cannot cast the techniques without them.
** Played with even further. Some people claim to be able to tell which Aes Sedai a channeler learned techniques from, simply by the motions. While the Aiel Wise Ones, as well as the Sea Folk Windfinders, can do the techniques without the motions. As such, they are much more efficient and much quicker.
* Hand gestures are often used by sorcerers in ''TheBelgariad'', especially when using telekinesis. They aren't strictly necessary, they just help the user focus their will in the right direction. Ditto for most spellcasters in Eddings' other works.
** Spellcasting, at least as done by Styrics and by extension the Church Knights in the {{Elenium}} is mentioned as requiring highly specific (though undescribed) gestures as a key component. It is not mentioned if the magic of the followers of other gods requires anything similar.
* Magic in the world of ''TheWitcher'' is usually harnessed through gestures and incantations, but the latter part can be skipped, and the former can be performed with, say, leg.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', magic ''can'' be done without motions, but most wizards and sorcerers use hand motions to hep focus magical forces. Some attach certain gestures to spells in the same way as words are.
** Conversely, Cold Days describes how for the Fae their magic is bound into their actions; for them, movement itself is magical and their [[MagicDance dancing even more so.]]
* In ''Literature/TheMagicians,'' complex gestures are essential to performing magic; in fact, when [[spoiler: Penny has his hands bitten off by Martin Chatwin, he's rendered incapable of magic.]]
** The sequel reveals that [[spoiler: Penny eventually found a way around this by utilizing a form of magic based on subtle muscle movements.]]
* Spellcasting in the ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' books typically requires some physical gesturing, though more experienced mages go for subtle movements, leaving the grand sweeping gestures for beginners and showoffs.
* The Sartan from ''Literature/TheDeathGateCycle'' have to trace runes with their hands in midair for many of their spells (and trace other runes on the ground with their feet for some of the more powerful ones, lending a spellcasting Sartan the look of someone engaging in a bizarre interpretive dance routine). Their rivals the Patryn do this a little, but not as much (their runes are tattooed directly onto their bodies).
* Averted in ''{{Mistborn}}''- Kelsier explicitly points out to his apprentice Vin that Mistborn don't need to gesture at a piece of metal to telekinetically manipulate it. They sometimes ''do'', but it's just for show.
* While Literature/JakubWedrowycz usually uses RitualMagic to do his exorcisms, he knows more than a few magical gestures as well, and taught some to his grandson. They can do things like allowing you to throw something at the annoying news anchor on TV, or bringing sexual impotence upon someone.
* In the ''Literature/OldKingdom'' series, Charter Magic is done by drawing the signs on the air, with hands or with sword-tip. A diamond of protection (a must-have when exploring Death) is drawn with one's sword. Using the magical bells requires gestures (different ways of ringing will produce different effects), so this all crosses over into RitualMagic.
* {{Parodied}} in ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', when Rincewind makes the finger gesture that's described as the traditional one used to banish demons. As it turns out, [[FlippingTheBird it's the same gesture used to banish people, too.]]
* The setting of ''TheEyeInTheStone'' uses and explains this. Magic works by manipulating a many-dimensional lattice of energies which underlie reality. All movement disturbs this lattice, but movement entirely within "normal" spacetime only causes the magic known as physics. The older races born before planets (the setting is sort of a softer Lovecraft) simply exist and move in a different set of dimensions, which may overlap ours. Mages in some way have become connected or "sponsored" by such beings, which provides the needed extras to work magic. Spells can include physical props and ritual, or just consist of carefully-derived sets of incantation and gesture (whose movement and sound waves help create vibrations within the Lattice). It ''is'' possible to cast a spell "in your head" - but this is directly connected to clearly visualizing yourself performing the ritual, as the visualization is itself a form of physical movement through other dimensions, and can be perceived as such by others. You can cast two spells at once if you're good at doing it both ways, and having more than two arms (or probably tentacles, though that doesn't come up) is an advantage.
* Hand gestures are used in ''Literature/ToughMagic'' to help direct the spells, most commonly seen in incuels.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In ''Series/{{Bewitched}}'', Samantha Stevens has her famous nose wiggle.
* In ''IDreamOfJeannie'', Jeannie crosses her arms and nods her head, then blinks.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' RealityWarper Q sometimes gestures or snaps his fingers (finger-snapping became more and more common as time went on) but it's purely for drama's sake.
* In the 1998 ''[[{{Film/Merlin}} Merlin]]'' series, magical gestures are said to be used by intermediate wizards, called Hand Wizards. Stronger wizards could use magic without gestures, while weaker ones had to rely on [[MagicalIncantation words and incantations]]. Merlin himself is an intermediate wizard.
* In ''Series/{{Charmed}}'', binding witches' hands to their backs often makes them unable to use their powers, even if some have learned to "point" with the eyes instead.
* Played with in the famous ''Series/{{Twilight Zone}}'' episode "It's a Good Life", about a [[RealityWarper young boy]] who terrorizes his small town with his powers, especially his power to whisk people away to a place where no one can escape from or be found, the Cornfield. While he can make things happen simply by thinking about it (making food appear, changing the weather, etc.), he points and glares menacingly at his specific victims.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* In Hinduism and Buddhism, mudras are precise hand positions, believed to have spiritual effects.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuji-kiri Kuji-Kiri]] (influenced by Buddhism) are a part of some Japanese martial arts traditions (including Ninjitsu) and religious traditions.
* Traditional rain dances.
* The Christian sign of the cross, originally made to ward off evil.
** There's also the [[http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=450599 Pontifical Benediction hand shape]] often seen in older paintings of bishops.
* [[http://kotaku.com/358237/mind-over-no-matter-hands+on-with-the-psychic-controller Prepare to have your mind blown.]]
-->''The Emotiv guy used his hands to try and cue himself to think the same way every time, performing what looked suspiciously like something out of StarWars to get things to float or vanish. But they said that wasn't really necessary. In fact, they are playing around with a game mode that would punish any physical movements you make while trying to perform the mental magic.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* ''[[TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening Mage: the Awakening]]'' has mudras for rotes (codified spells as opposed to improvised ones). Rotes ''do'' require the mudras (which can be hand gestures, facial gestures, body postures, breath control or tattoos) because they act as a mnemonic for remembering the complex imago (imaginary image of a spell's effects and mechanics) of a codified spell.
** [[TabletopGame/ChangelingTheDreaming Changeling: the Dreaming]]'s bunks. A changeling can do just about any kind of magical effect (stats permitting) as long as they can do a bunk that makes it "possible".
* In ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', any edition that specifies the need or lack of need for these calls them "somatic components". Generally, somatic components for arcane spells need to be so precise that armor, or at least too much armor, will get in the way, while for divine spells as long as you can move at all you're good to go.
** Then there are feats and prestige classes that allow an arcane caster to bypass many of these limitations.
* In standard {{GURPS}} magic, the better you know a spell, the less moving around and speaking you have to do to cast it. (Casting time is also affected: a bad spellcaster takes double the listed time, and has to dance around and shout to get the spell to work.)
* ''TabletopGame/TheFantasyTrip: In The Labyrinth'' has specific rules governing Magical Gestures. Basically, the smarter a wizard is, the less he has to move to cast a given spell. (This particular game also enforces {{Squishy Wizard}}s by ruling that ferrous metals interfere with magic, meaning no steel armor or weapons.)

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''WebComic/ElGoonishShive'', Elliot's (and by extension Ellen's) [[SupernaturalMartialArts "Tamashii Gekido"]] [[KamehameHadoken attack]] requires arm movement. This isn't readily apparent the [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2002-04-18 first]] [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2002-12-07 two]] times it is used but becomes obvious when Elliot tries it [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2003-12-09 while tied up]].


[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* In the WhateleyUniverse, Fey has done some hand movements so magical that it hurts other people to ''look at'' them.
** Although the "painful to look at" aspect may be specific to Ayla, rather than humanity in general, since ''Ayla and the Mad Scientist'' mentions that the same gesture that makes Ayla queasy just looking at it out of the corner of his eye goes completely unnoticed by anyone else.
* Many DPIs in ''Literature/{{Phaeton}}'' learn to bind their powers to movements to prevent themselves from using them by accident.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Videogames ]]

* In ''FireEmblem'' (the first one released for the US), all spell casters have hand motions before casting their spells. They only become more complicated-looking if the spellcaster becomes promoted.
* Various entries in the TalesSeries involve spellcasters that require gestures before they can launch their spells. Interrupting this gesture will often cancel out the spell.
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', this is justified by saying that biotics ([[MindOverMatter telekinetics]]) use "a technique called 'physical mnemonics'; the biotic uses a physical gesture to cause the right neurons and eezo nodules to fire and create the desired effect."
* Mages in ''{{Aetolia}}'' can [[ItemCrafting craft]] enchanted items, but doing so requires specific rituals involving magical gestures such as ringing a bell, waving one's arms, flipping a coin, lighting a candle, spinning around, and "squaring the circle."[[note]]the impossible geometric task of creating a square with the same area as a given circle using a limited number of steps with only a compass and straightedge.[[/note]]
* VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion featured three main gestures, open palms pushed forward for touch based spells, a throw gesture for ranged spells and a closed fist held high for on-self spells. Oddly there was not discernible difference to spell effect if this was done one handed, two handed or carrying a weapon.
* In ''Videogame/FinalFantasyVII'', [[PowersAsPrograms magic is commonplace]], so most characters just throw up their hands when they cast a spell. [[WiseOldMentor Cid]], [[LegacyCharacter on the other hand]], goes into a full-on onmyoji routine during his incantations.
* In FinalFantasyTactics, the charging animation for spells is raising both arms over the head until the spell is cast, singing MagicMusic is done with one arm raised in a dramatic gesture (while singing), and the MagicDance is pulled off by a combination of right arm raised, left arm raised, both arms raised, and [[EverythingsBetterWithSpinning spinning in place]].
* For an RPG character in an SNES game, Magus from VideoGame/ChronoTrigger pulls off some fairly elaborate hand gestures during his magic attacks.
* Amaterasu, the sun goddess in wolf form in ''{{Okami}}'', uses her Celestial Brush with what appear to be precise movements of her tail.
* Arguably in ''{{Magicka}}'', it is the player's own nimble fingers and hands that cast the spell, as each keystroke corresponds to a spell element. Quick and precise finger movements can result in complex spells.
* ''{{Nox}}'' features this when using magic. The player character automatically does them when you select which spell to cast, but each spell has a specific set of pictures of hand gestures pop up on the screen, and each even has it's own on-syllable spoken line, resulting in the character chanting as well as gesturing.
* In ''VideoGame/ArxFatalis'', you the player cast spells via mouse gestures.
* Ninpo in ''VideoGame/NinjaGaiden'' utilizes hand symbols.
* Some of the ninja in ''VideoGame/DeadOrAlive'', such as Ayane, utilize hand symbols in their magic. In fact, Ayane and Kasumi, who both use these, became {{Canon Immigrant}}s to Ninja Gaiden, mentioned above.

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