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  • Writer's pictureMadison Hagler

Hermes (A Two-Person Code) by Phedon Bilek

This new book is just over 100 pages. It’s short and sweet, but it packs a punch. If you have ever had any interest in performing a two-person code, you need this. If you have never considered performing a two-person code… this just may change your mind. 

Before we dive into Hermes, we need to first discuss what a two-person code is, or none of this will make sense. A two-person code is a method of encoding information and sending it to a partner in a covert way that no one will expect. Typically, these codes allow you to send the numbers 0-9. 

A typical two-person code performance involves one performer being on stage and blindfolded in some way, shape, or form. The other performer walks through the crowd and secretly sends various information to the person on stage via certain statements they make and words they use. The important point is that the person receiving the information cannot see what the spectator is doing, and if the spectator gives any information, they whisper it in the off-stage performer’s ear so that the on-stage performer can’t possibly hear what is being said. So everything you are about to read requires two people. Don’t let this scare you. Phedon uses a friend, his wife, or even his daughter. As you’ll see, you don’t even need to live in the same place as your partner. 

Let’s break down each chapter of Hermes.


Phedon begins by saying he never intended to release this; it is something he and his wife have used for years. They have built a reputation off of it. Ian ‘Rasp’ Cheetham planted the bug in Phedon’s ear, which eventually led him to release his work on the two-person code. The great thing about this system is once you and your partner learn it, it is 100% impromptu and propless. 

What Hermes is Not

This is not designed to code ANYTHING. That’s not the point or purpose. 

Real Purposes of Hermes

The purpose of this system is to have a two-person code that gives a wide array of possibilities while remaining easy to learn, master, and remember.

What’s New Here

The difference here is not necessarily the code itself; it’s what Phedon is able to encipher and send with it. The real value is in the “sending questions and concerns” section. There, this code is used to send the concern/question an audience member has, and the code itself dictates the way your partner will address the concern. 

The Hermes Code

Some History

This code was created in Greek, and Phedon shared the code with any Greek magician who requested it. Once Romanos and Phedon began sending concerns with the code, he decided to create an English counterpart. The English version of the code itself is very similar to a code found in Corinda’s 13 Steps to Mentalism, but Phedon created it independently as a result of translating his Greek code. But again, while the code is great, that’s only a small portion of the value here.

The Mechanics

This discusses the main principles behind the code and gives some important ground rules for making the code natural and resetting it in case of an error.

The Code

Here is where the code is taught. This code is a number-based code meaning it allows you to send the numbers 0-9, which opens up a world of possibilities that will be explored throughout the rest of the book. The code has some natural mnemonic aides that help you to remember the code even easier, and all of the pieces of code are very natural.

Examples of Pairs

After teaching the code, there are some examples given so you can see how natural the code seems when it is put to work.

Sending More Than Two-Digit Numbers

This code work really well with two-digit numbers, but here, Phedon teaches how to send things beyond two-digits such as a birthday. This is taught with three examples. Then Phedon teaches how to send a 4-digit number like a PIN or the last four digits of a serial number.

Other Simple Uses

Just when you think this system can only sen numbers, Phedon teaches how to send other information such as the denomination of a bill, the denomination of a coin, a piece of jewelry, what material the jewelry is made from, and colors. All of this, and we are only 27 pages into the book! And the best part is that it’s all dead easy. You could teach all of this to your partner in 15 minutes.

Two Very Important Tips for the Receivers

The first tip is on making sure the receiver correctly receives both pieces of information, and the second tip is on how to take the heat off of the verbal code. Both are fantastic tips that should not be seen as “suggestions” but should be seen as “laws.”

A Very Important Tip for the Senders

This is a subtle tip that justifies why you are having to talk to your partner in the first place. It is so subtle I imagine some may not even fully process how important this tip is because when you’re reading it, the “performances” read as very similar, but the difference is in justifying why one person must speak to the partner. If you don’t use this tip, your code isn’t as deceptive as it could be–plain and simple.

On Shortcuts

This is a small touch that allows the sender and receiver to have a bit of a shortcut to help them think of the encode and decode faster.

Less is More

As the title says when it comes to coding, less is more. 

Going the Extra Mile

Phedon teaches how to code a country with a single digit and a little something extra. This is a very clever ruse. It seems totally impossible, yet it is a very reliable system for coding countries. And again, it’s very easy. This is followed up with 7 examples of the code so that you can test yourself and see if you could be the receiver and decipher the country the spectator is thinking of.

Last Words

A few final thoughts on sending and receiving code naturally.

On Coding Concerns and Questions

Some History

Phedon begins this chapter reflecting on why this was seen as an impossibility. He and his good friend Romanos tried to come up with a way to send a sitter’s questions/concerns via a two-digit number. The more they looked at the vast array of questions/concerns, the more they felt this was an impossible task. Determined to come up with a solution, Phedon sat down with a cup of coffee and decided he wouldn’t leave until he found a solution. His criteria were that the concern had to be coded using only one two-digit number, it had to be as accurate as possible, and it had to be easy enough to be mastered in minutes. Luckily for us, Phedon had a breakthrough. He and Romanos sat and worked the code for hours on end to see if it could truly answer EVERY concern so easily. Amazingly…it does.

The Mechanics

This briefly explains what information the code is sending, but more than anything, it whets the appetite and gets the reader ready to learn how to send concerns with such a simple code.

The Code

This is where this incredible system is taught. In just two digits (and a little something extra,) you are able to communicate everything the receiver needs in order to very specifically answer any question or concern an audience member may have. There are eight examples questions asked, the code that would be sent, and how the receiver would interpret that code. This gives you specific examples of how this simple code really does work for any question asked. And these example questions are not easy! They are very specific questions and not the most common questions you see. It is so amazing because the receiver doesn’t have to do any “acting.” Just the process of interpreting the code verbally leads to an amazingly in-depth reading that anyone would accept as an answer to their question. It’s really astounding, and it is the most advanced use of such a simple coding system that I’ve ever seen. Here’s an example of one question followed by the answer the receiver would give. “Will my son graduate?” Again, remember that this question is never asked aloud. The receiver is in another room, or blindfolded, or what have you. This question is whispered to the sender or written down and shown to everyone but the receiver. The sender would simply ask the receiver if they could answer the question the person is thinking of, and the receiver would respond with something like this,

“Anna… I’m sorry it took me some time, but I must admit this is quite… unusual, and I was doubting what I felt. Allow me to explain: the huge majority of women your age wonder about their personal life, about whether they’ll make that trip to a place they love, or about their career. Not you. No no no… Besides, what made me hesitate is… that foreign energy. As opposed to most people whose concern is about themselves, this is NOT about you, Anna. Your concern is about someone else, and I suspect… a child of yours, because of the very strong bonds that are tying you two together. You’re wondering about whether this person will… achieve something you both deem not only important, but essential. And, this is not about their professional life yet, but about their… education? Yes. That’s it. You’re wondering whether your son will succeed in his studies, and I can assure you that should he put in the necessary means and dedication, he will do so, and even do so brilliantly.”

You can see how this response accurately answers the question, and any question that could be asked could be answered with similar specificity.

Final Remarks

At this point in the chapter, Phedon discusses some pointers for this system along with some reminders. The best tip is how Phedon choreographs the moment to give himself plenty of time to encode their question accurately. This is a great tip because the sender has quite a difficult job in this system. It isn’t necessarily HARD; it just takes some thought, so giving yourself time to think and compose the code is a necessary element to this. In this section, Phedon also mentions another thing you can add to the code, which could come in handy. I actually really like this option, and I think it would be worth adding. It provides extra clarity in some rare instances. You wouldn’t have to use it much, but when you did use it, it would make the reading so specific it could start a cult. Phedon also reminds readers that the receiver doesn’t have to be present. You can call up someone who knows the code and have them reveal a sitter’s concerns over the phone. 

On Coding Concerns and Questions: Training Wheels

This is a practice session that is included in the book. It allows you to practice being the receiver for a full performance. The performance is laid out with what the sender says, but the receiver’s comments have been redacted so that the reader can put themselves in the receiver’s shoes and test their knowledge thus far.


Phedon treats you to the script of this fictional performance where you are the receiver. Over the course of the performance, you’ll learn one of Phedon’s name reveals, and the reader gets the opportunity to decipher a birthday, the value of a banknote, the last two digits of the serial number, the denomination of a coin, the date on the coin, a piece of jewelry someone touches, the material it is made of, the color of the jewelry, the name of the spectator, and a concern the spectator has.


This provides the answers to all of the coded information that was sent during the performance. This allows you to check your work and see what areas you may need to revisit. The first time I read this, I was able to nail every answer without any additional help. That just goes to show that if you take your time reading this, you will have the system down quickly. Phedon provides a few tips here in case you missed anything.

The Act

This is the last two-person routine Phedon and his wife performed together to close one of his shows. This routine is a beautiful combination of methods that hides the coding element and will impress even the most skeptical of audience members. You and your partner could quite literally perform this exact routine and begin making a reputation for yourselves. 


This explains a few things that both the sender and receiver should know for this routine and a clever method to obtain information that will be used for the grand finale of the routine.

The Act

Describe this act in summary doesn’t do it justice because it is riddled with subtleties that enhance the deceptiveness, but during this act, Phedon wonders through the crowd while Flora, Phedon’s wife, is stood facing a corner with a judge to make sure she isn’t seeing anything or receiving information through an earpiece. Flora is able to describe what Phedon is touching in rapid-fire succession as he travels around the room. Along the way, she also correctly determines how many cigarettes someone removes from a pack, the value of a banknote, the last two digits of the serial number, the value of a coin, a piece of jewelry someone touches, and what it is made of. It ends with Flora accurately describing the details of an odd piece of jewelry, the birthday of the person wearing the jewelry, and the name of the person wearing the jewelry. The crazy thing about this act is that it takes no time at all to learn it or teach it to someone else. If you’ve read this far in the book, you will already know the answers before Flora’s script is delivered. Phedon always squeezes every last drop of entertainment out of a simple concept, and this is no different. It’s hard to imagine a stronger ending to a show, and the combination of methods makes it virtually impossible to backtrack. I know if I had seen this act live, I would have been absolutely clueless to the workings. 

Last Words

This is a brief paragraph wrapping up Phedon’s thoughts on the act.


Phedon wraps up the book with the reminder that this simple code allows you to create the illusion that anything could be sent to the receiver. With the basic knowledge of the code, you can be creative, improvise, and create many other uses for this. 


Phedon provides eight more encoded sentences for you to decode. He originally sent this list to his proofreader Ian ‘Rasp’ Cheetham after being asked to be tested. Ian’s words of admiration for the code are quoted at the end. 

The book ends with a few lined pages for Notes, and then a couple of pages of charts. The chart lists the code and the association with Euro bills & coins, US bills & coins, GBP bills & coins, jewelry, materials, colors, regions, concerns, and the structure for sending concerns. Essentially, it’s a chart of every single thing taught in the book. This is a great quick reference if you don’t use the system for a while and need to jog your memory. The intention is for you to rip out one of the charts to give to your partner so they can have a copy as well.

If you know me at all, you know I love Phedon as a human and as a creator. He is one of the nicest guys in the business, and his talent and creativity are otherworldly. Any time he releases something, you can guarantee it has been read tested, and worked to the bone. Hermes is clearly no exception. The system is easy to learn and master, and very effective. Even if you already have a two-person code, this is worth picking up just to learn how to send questions/concerns. If your code can send the numbers 1-7, then you can code any question/concern. One thing you can count on when you buy Phedon’s work is that you WILL receive your money’s worth. He does not put out fluff, and his material works.

I’ll end my review with the words I sent to Phedon after reading a draft copy of this over a year ago.

“Wow, amazing stuff. Simple and effective coding system, but the gold is in sending concerns. That is phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything even close to that. That is the easiest cold read I’ve ever seen, and it perfectly describes ANY question thought of. Genius. As you perfectly show, just verbally deciphering the code is an effective reading. And the best part is that I imagine this is the exact way real psychics would answer a question. They would get super specific feelings and answers without knowing precisely what the question is. 

It also forces you to seem real as you give the reading. I can see in my head what it would look like as someone deciphered the CODE into a READING, and it would look exactly like they were deciphering their FEELINGS into WORDS. It’s really brilliant. 

I wish I could have seen you perform the code because I know I would be clueless, and if I saw the partner give a reading, I would never suspect that all of that information could be coded in a single sentence.”

I still stand by those words.

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