Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mage Music: The Sorcerer’s Apprentices Part 2

Mage Magic 08:  The Sorcerer’s Apprentices Part 2
In the time that has passed, each of the three [surviving members of Led Zeppelin] has continued to evolve musically, but not together.  They have each kept moving forward, but not on the same path.  They may somehow arrive in the same place, but their musical stories will not sound the same.

Today, only one of them retains the pure vision that drove Led Zeppelin, because it was his vision all along.  The question is, how can he now bring forth that vision to the world?”

The Question
Can one powerful mage-class musician, without apprentices or partners, be expected to bring forth a vision that in the past had taken the full partnership and musical strength of four to create?  
In a word:  No.  And in a few more words:  Probably impossible; very likely a bad idea.

Why?  Because to be alive is to change.  Nothing can remain the same if it is living, and to attempt to stop that change only results in something very much like death.  Magic needs life to exist.

Musicians, if they are creators and not just performers, cannot prevent the music they make from evolving.  It is the nature of the artist to change the art being created.  No matter how perfect the song, the need to let it grow into something new is a pressure that cannot be ignored.  To not allow music to change is to play music without life - dull music. 

Sometimes songs are so tweaked and reshaped that years after the first performance they are barely recognizable as the song started out with.   What keeps the songs recognizably the same is not the lyrics, not even the melody, but the vision and intent of the performers to convey the essential meaning of the song.

When the vision changes and when the essence is not shared, then the song will evolve into something very different.   When, as is my belief, one of the musicians is also a mage and drives magic into a song – whether on purpose or unknowingly led by the muses to do so – if the vision and essence of that song change sufficiently, the magic will not follow.

We can never know what leads one person to do what he does.  Some of the changes brought about by a person’s choices are so miniscule as to be virtually indiscernible, yet we are surprised with how big the changes are in the end even as we marvel how it could have happened (“like magic”).  Many choices are made without conscious thought, driven by unknown or unacknowledged fears or desires, and the person makes the choices without even realizing choices have been made at all. 

We may never know what truly goes on in a person’s mind or how they got to any point in the evolution of his life, but we can see the results in the real world.  Each of the selections of this week’s playlist reveals the results of choices made by Jimmy Page – whether consciously or not – about his music and vision.  We may not know what led Mr. Page to those choices, but we can begin to see the story of the musical struggle involved when shared vision falters. 

Just because a mage is involved doesn’t mean the magic is inevitable.  And just because a vision was true doesn't mean it should not change.

Evolution of Magic in a Song
In the following sequence of performances of In The Evening, we can hear the changes in Jimmy Page’s musical voice as with each version his guitar gets more expressive and individualistic, at times overwhelmingly filled with non-verbal information and so heavily burdened with meaning as to be almost painful listening. Make no mistake - this is not poor guitar, it is mage music that is thwarted:  its energy having no outlet, it turns on itself.  Thankfully most ears can perceive merely the smallest range of frequencies of a potentially infinite range of magic, for magic with no outlet is unhappy magic.

Studio version 1979
In The Evening appeared on Led Zeppelin’s eighth and final studio album, In Through The Out Door.  A work in progress, this studio version begins with an unworldly feel, the guitar hinting at themes.  It is clear that the full magical potential of this song has yet to be revealed, as the magic stutters in fits and starts: Breathless pauses of anticipation; sudden thunder when John Bonham channels Thor (3:43 and 4:01); the sweet clarity of Jimmy Page’s guitar; abrupt changes in mood and sound; and a dreamy sequence (4:21) that appears in each of the various incarnations of this song, and that could be understood as the canary in the mine of Jimmy Page’s vision. 

Knebworth 1979
Heavy magic reminiscent of Lucifer Rising has been embedded in the song as performed at the Knebworth concert with trippy, phasing drums and the use of the e-Bow and Jimmy Page's powerful and strange chords that usher in Robert Plant’s first vocals.  The guitar is speaking with an insistence in this version, an alien insectoid voice that clamors for attention, the emphasized notes on the cusp of language begging for understanding.   Thor's crash of drums has gone and the soft, dreamy interlude (4:50) is now primarily keyboard.  During the last minute or so, Jimmy Page plays to John Bonham with extraordinary intensity that abruptly ends, as if the guitarist had been suddenly woken from a dream. This version is hard, uneasy music, with uncertain, confused, but powerful magic.

Berlin 1980
A year later in Berlin the magickal beginning of In The Evening is similar to that of Knebworth, even more reminiscent of Lucifer Rising with phasing drums and shards of thin guitar laid over a pulsing drone in advance of Robert Plant’s vocals.  Jimmy Page’s guitar has lost the insistent emphasis of Knebworth, but retains the insectoid tone with a harder glassy edge, while John Paul Jones emulates an orchestra with keyboards.  The dreamy interlude (4:53) now includes a flute, keyboards-as-orchestra and Mr. Page is relegated to a few notes.  Jimmy Page’s later solo is not as integrated into the whole of the song or with Robert Page’s vocals as we are used to.  At the end, the guitar speaks in a language we strain to understand, bringing the song full-circle - but as much as we deny it the magic is failing.

Post-Led Zeppelin 1995
And then John Bonham is dead and In The Evening’s evolution as a vehicle for magic is ended, for by the 1995 Page & Plant performance In The Evening has become Robert Plant’s song.  This is not a value judgment, but rather a description that explains something about the magic.  The opening drone and Bonham’s psychedelic, phasing drums have been replaced by Moroccan drummers and John Paul Jones’s keyboards by violins.  Mr. Plant opens as a muezzin, going in a musical direction that had always been played with by Led Zeppelin and that his voice is well suited to.  Jimmy Page’s guitar is small here; he adds musical quality but no more than music to this performance.  The song has become ponderous instead of wondrous and has completely abandoned the quest for magic that was begun 16 years before.  Robert Plant is a magnificent musician, but he is not a mage, and in 1995 he was not supporting Jimmy Page’s vision.

The song is still powerful, melodic, surprising and compelling – but it has lost the magic that it had.  It is just… music. 

Moving On
An artist-mage can stop creating, but he can’t stop being an artist or mage.  Jimmy Page has always been a private person who has not shared much about the motivations and drives of his personal creative life, yet we know that as he lives and breathes, he is still a musician and still a mage.  These are not things one has a choice about.

Jimmy Page has worked with quite a few musicians since the end of Led Zeppelin, the results for some of which has resulted in powerful and magically loaded music - but his mage music progress has been most evident when playing solo, when the clarity of the magic and the vision are so dramatically and undeniably evident.

Still, no matter how powerful a mage-class musician is there sometimes are just no apprentices or partners who fully give themselves to the Work or who create the alchemical mix that yields Led rather than merely gold. Mr. Page presumably has little need to work in order to earn a living, and possible little desire to play music on a regular basis simply for the sake of playing ordinary music.  There has been no recently created Jimmy Page original music released in years – yet we would be wrong to assume that there is no Work being accomplished.  Visions change but Purpose does not.

The imperative of the muses are ignored at the peril of an artist’s sanity.  The mage musician’s Purpose is to satisfy his soul’s desire to connect to the infinite and thereby to bring light into this world.  As a mage and a musician, what might make Jimmy Page most satisfied and bring him most joy could very likely require reinventing himself as an artist and mage and, not coincidentally, as a human being as well – not a task for the faint of heart or the weak of will, and not one that comes with an instruction manual.    

YouTube Playlist - all versions
As always, because this is about the music - not the musician or even the Mage himself - it is recommended that you listen to, not watch, the videos.

Individual versions

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mage Music: The Sorcerer's Apprentices (Part 1)

Hubble image: Omega/Swan Nebula (M17)
It is extraordinarily difficult to forge a new path, to boldly go where no artist, musician or Mage has gone before.  Throughout history advances in art and science have been built on existing structures.  Success is a middle ground, a matter of balance:  Too much the same and it is boring (or today, we might call it plagiarism); too different and it is threatening or even totally non-understandable. 
It’s hard enough to forge a new path in the physical world, but when you are creating something that is more new than derivative and it is on non-physical levels, when you are exploring spiritual realms that have no boundaries and no words to describe them, when you must invent a way of describing where you are going at the same time you are going there, the challenges are more than compounded – they can be simply overwhelming.   Sometimes a Mage simply needs help.
Apprentices provide assistance to masters of all arts and crafts.  That help ranges from the most basic levels (fetch and carry) through to the most advanced levels where the apprentice is an actual partner of equivalent skill who can help the Mage achieve what cannot be achieved alone.  The master Mage is the one who directs the Work; the apprentices or partners provide directed support for the master Mage’s vision.
Jimmy Page has been a seeker of musical solutions since he first started experimenting with riffs that were not dictated by song arrangements created by others.  He began his explorations even in his session years; he began seriously pushing the envelope during his time with The Yardbirds; and in Led Zeppelin he was, it seems for the first time, freed to let his magic explode.

“When people talk about how good other guitarists are, they're talking about how they play within the accepted structures of contemporary guitar playing, which Pagey plays miles outside of.  I like to think of it as...a little left of heaven.”  Robert Plant, from forward by Cameron Crowe to Led Zeppelin, Volume I (Two Volume Songbook Set).
Mr. Page made careful choices in the musicians he chose to share his vision.  What made Led Zeppelin work was that Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham each were no mere apprentices but extraordinarily gifted musicians themselves.  What made Led Zeppelin different was that that they separately and jointly understood the power of music to convey meaning and emotion, and were willing to explore musical pathways outside of the accepted musical structures of their time. 

Balance is magic is balance
Unlike classical symphonic music, almost all today’s popular music focuses on lyrics, with the lead singer almost always considered to be the band’s leader.  In a way this links back to the days when music was used to support story-telling and oral histories.  Lyrics are so important in modern music that the musical instruments have been relegated to mostly support for the vocals.
Where there are lyrics in music the human mind tends to focus on the words and to use the words to bring meaning to the song.  If there are words present, no matter how vague, humans use “pattern recognition” to provide context and meaning.  Pattern recognition is an ability humans share with animals; it is so strong in humans, however, that patterns will be found even when they don’t exist (images in clouds, for example).
It is significant, then, that although Robert Plant’s vocal presence is huge within the music of Led Zeppelin, lyrics are not always the focus of a song.  Mr. Plant’s voice often is not used to tell the story of the songs, but rather to suggest an approach to concepts just as strongly put forth by the instruments.  Mr. Plant wields his voice as an instrument rather than a conveyance of human language, and pure vocal sound intertwines with the guitar of Jimmy Page in a balanced manner that is a signature sound of Led Zeppelin.  Yet for all that the lyrics are not the story, the songs do not lack in meaning – human pattern recognition ensures that although people might not agree on what that meaning is, all are drawn to the powerfully meaningfulness of the music. 
This approach – the subsuming of vocals to the musical experience of four instruments rather than a human voice with three supporting instruments - is extraordinary; it is so rare as to exist virtually nowhere within the equivalent realm of modern popular music.  A classical symphonic concept applied to contemporary music, it is a key factor - mostly overlooked and under-appreciated - that secures Led Zeppelin’s place in musical history.  Perhaps more importantly, it also provides us with hope when faced with a musical future where there is no more Led Zeppelin.  For those who are open to this kind of larger-than-life concept of music, the desire to receive the grace and enlightenment of the vision, the need for connection to the Universe that was made present in our human world through that music still remains
Thankfully, although there is no Led Zeppelin today there is still Jimmy Page.

Beyond Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page was, by all accounts, devastated by John Bonham’s death, and did not pick up a guitar for some time.  His partners in Led Zeppelin, meanwhile, moved on to pursue their own musical goals and the results are as good as anyone would expect from musicians the caliber of Robert Plant and John Paul Jones.  As exceptional as their music is, though - it isn’t Led Zeppelin.  It can’t be.
“We arrived at songs like 'Kashmir' because we kept moving forward and didn't try to recreate the past."  Jimmy Page, as told to Make Blake in Guitar World, May 2005.
More than a decade of working and living in intense partnership with friends and co-magicians of Led Zeppelin cannot be so easily replicated by any one of the remaining members of that band by himself.  It took the alchemy of the four to move forward as they did:  Growing up together, physically and musically traveling the same path, working towards a goal they shared.  They each had an intimate knowledge of the minds and souls of the others and frequented the same musical spheres.    
In the time that has passed, each of the three has continued to evolve musically, but not together.  They have each kept moving forward, but not on the same path.  They may somehow arrive in the same place, but their musical stories will not sound the same.
Today, only one of them retains the pure vision that drove Led Zeppelin, because it was his vision all along.  The question is, how can he now bring forth that vision to the world?
[To be continued]
Individual versions:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mage Music: Lucifer, Bringer of Light

Mage Music:  Lucifer, Bringer of Light

There is no doubt that music is a form of communication, a kind of language that is meant to convey meaning without words.  Music can convey mental images and states of emotion by learned association or, like magic, directly through the music itself.

Learned association:  Rossini’s The William Tell Overture is so associated with the TV show, The Lone Ranger, that it is almost impossible not to imagine the Masked Man and his sidekick, Tonto, when hearing the music.  Similarly, Wagner’s The Ride of the Vakyries brings forth the image of the helicopters of Apocalypse Now.  Who, other than students of classical music, knows that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a symphonic poem written in 1896-97 by the French composer Paul Dukas, and not in the 20th century by Walt Disney?   The instruments of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf are so well-dedicated to specific characters and actions that they scarcely need the words of the children’s story to tell what is happening (the links provided here and below are to a version charmingly narrated by David Bowie). Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a suite of ten movements that ushers the listener through an exhibition of paintings by the artist Viktor Hartmann.  Even without having images to guide the listener, the music clearly describes passage through the exhibition as well as the artworks themselves.  

Or like magic:  The potential for communication through music is vast - yet sometimes what is offered cannot be expressed at all through words, and sometimes the emotions conveyed are not the common ones of everyday life - particularly when a mage offers something from the deepest mind and soul, reaching for the infinite, embedding concepts that no language can express, opening the path to knowledge and enlightenment to the listener.

“Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite.” Thomas Carlyle

Like moths to the flame, mage music pulls in all but the most spiritually deaf to transcendent realms that they otherwise might never reach on their own.  In this sense, the mage musician is a Lucifer, bringer of light, bringer of enlightenment.

Contrary to popular belief, however, Lucifer is not the devil. 

Fallen angel

The association of the unfortunate Lucifer and ultimate evil comes from relatively modern Judaic and Christian religious writing.  To the ancient Greeks, Eosphoros and Hesperus were the gods of the “star” Venus:  Eosphoros was the morning star, Hesperus the evening.  Eosphoros translates as “Dawn-Bringer”, or Bringer of Light; the ancient Roman name for that same god was Luciferus, or Lucifer, which translates as “light-bearer”.

Bringers of light have a long tradition of suffering for their efforts.  In both Vedic and Greek mythology, the theft of fire from the gods -  fire (knowledge, enlightenment) that was then given to humans who had none - was severely punished.  The Greek Prometheus, a figure representing human striving for knowledge (particularly scientific knowledge), was bound to a rock for eternity; each day Zeus’ eagle fed on the immortal’s liver, which grew back and was eaten by the eagle again the next day.  In the Garden of Eden, Eve was offered the forbidden apple from the Tree of Enlightenment by the snake, and when she took it and was then found out by God, the snake was condemned to slither on its belly for all eternity, forever the enemy of humankind.

Gustav Dore illustration for
Paradise Lost 
Although the story of Lucifer’s demotion from archangel status says that he became the devil because he dared to elevate himself to the level of God (i.e. to have the knowledge of the infinite, thus enlightenment), in fact the connection of a fallen angel with evil did not come about until approximately the first century BC in Judaic writings - and even then not about Lucifer, but some other angelic being named Satan.  Lucifer, good guy bringer of light, had existed long before the Judaic writings and was not associated with Satan until some time after the death of Christ.  It was, simply, the new Christian religion's way to take care of pesky free-thinking angels:  Combine them into one.

In human tradition, there always seems to be a steep price to be paid for the gift of knowledge and enlightenment, and it isn’t always paid by the bringer – sometimes the recipient is the one punished for daring to seek more.  Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, forever blocked from the Tree of Life, and burdened with sin for choosing enlightenment.  It happens even in fairy tails:  Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid yearns for knowledge of the world above the sea.  A “strange child, quiet and thoughtful”, the youngest mermaid can only have an immortal soul like humans do if she chooses to give up immortal life, is willing to lose her tongue and accept that every step she takes will stab her with pain.  Even Siddhartha must give up his wealth and position as prince of the realm and suffer unto death before becoming the enlightened Buddha.

The seeking of enlightenment is obviously not in itself evil, but it does threaten the status quo and it is that threat that is labeled evil by the powers that be.  Beyond the fairy tales and mythology, many have died throughout human history, victims of religious, political and social persecution in reaction to the act of independent thinking - be it science, the arts, the quest for direct spiritual knowledge, or simply alternate lifestyle.  

Bringing enlightenment and knowledge to humans is not for the faint of heart.  Lucifer is not evil, but he pays the price for bringing light.

Pushing the musical envelope

Image from video of 1977 Page
solo with theramin & bow 
The mage musician or any artist at the mage level, like Lucifer or Prometheus, risks being persecuted and thereby associated with evil - not just for seeking personal enlightenment but for offering it to others through their art. The best art may not be the most beautiful, but rather  something that can be disturbing in ways that cannot even be pinned down.  This can be a sign of the magical.

Jimmy Page has not hidden his interest in the occult teachings of Aleister Crowley.  It would be easy - but not necessarily correct - to point to that interest as the reason that Mr. Page's work (including the music of Led Zeppelin) has been  accused of being associated with the black arts and the devil.  I believe, however, that such accusations have not been truly based on any connection with the occult - after all, the world is full of much darker stuff that is tolerated and not claimed to be the work of Satan - but because the music that Jimmy Page creates is so powerful, so full of other, that the magic cannot be hidden, and the enlightenment that it brings is feared by those who do not seek it or whose power would be threatened by it.  

From Jimmy Page's website recently:  
"Here is a section of my solo spot that features the theremin and the bow and the exploration of both. It's lengthy but gives an example of my avant garde journey with this sonic architecture."  (July 17, 1977 Seattle Kingdome with Led Zeppelin)  
Jimmy Page began experimenting with alternative sound early on:  Multiple instruments, alternate tunings, manipulation and distortion of sound - above all with sheer outrageous pushing of the musical envelope.  Some of the results are not traditionally melodic, but they sound surrealistically meaningful.  What is being created can be so outside our experience that it is hard to resist hunting for something we can hang on to, an association that makes sense of what we are hearing.  The reverberations of the bowed guitar and the theramin could be the voices of the lonely denizens of the depths, bits of captured alien communication between the stars, or perhaps fragments of restless dreams.  We have no guide; the meaning is outside our intellectual grasp.  We are forced to either allow ourselves to be enlightened or to turn away.  If we risk it, the magic will speak to hearts and soul in some way that can be frightening or disturbing - or exciting - depending on the listener’s openness to what is being offered.

The Seattle solo provides nearly 15 minutes of sound outside the normal realm of expectation.  It is in no way ordinary and it might not even be considered music at all.  It is a kind of exploration of the unknown through alchemical ritual:  A seeking, a summoning, and transformation.  It brings a clear sense of there being much more being offered than what is heard - a sense of vastness and something that is not music but is borne through the music.  Magic, bringing light.
"I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I’m doing." Jimmy Page
Dangerous stuff, that mage music.
Rossini, William Tell Overture Finale

Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries

Dukas, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Prokofiev , Peter and the Wolf, Narrated version by David Bowie

Mussorgsky Pictures At An Exhibition, Promenade
Emerson Lake Palmer version

Jimmy Page, Seattle Kingdome solo with bowed guitar and theramin

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mage Music: Ritual is not Magick

A black robe with a black cat looking on, a few candles and props, a chanted spell and a pass with the wand:  Magic?  No way!  On stage, maybe - but that's not real magick at all.

The truth:  Even when they use tools, today’s occult magicians and most other reality transforming professionals don't perform rituals like they did in the olden days.  In spite of what you may have learned from Harry Potter, real magic doesn’t require wands, spells, magic potions and powders, pentangles, crystals or any other prop to make the connections with the energy that will do the heavy lifting.  Still, all those things and more can be used to create magic - even if they are just tools that make the job easier.

The need to use specific tools of magic is indirectly proportionate to the skill of the mage. What this means is that a powerful mage can use anything – or nothing at all – to bring about transformations in the world, whereas a lesser magician can become dependent upon ritual, on the use of tools in a formulaic way to focus the mind and keep the will of the magician on task.

The reason rituals and magical props are not intrinsically necessary is because rituals are not the magic itself.  The fact is, anyone can use the recommended magical tools and perform the prescribed rituals with them, but only some will get the desired magical results.  Even the most highly skilled practice of ritual can never achieve the same level of results as a gifted mage who isn’t even half trying, because magical success resides not in the ritual but in the person performing the magic.

Lascaux, France paleolithicave painting

A little history
One theory of art history is that cave paintings, petrographs and petroglyphs were not art so much as summonings, blessings, and/or entreaties to the spirit world for success in the hunt.  The Lascaux cave paintings are around 17,300 years old and petroglyphs sites in Australia have been dated at 27,000 to 40,000 years old.  Undoubtedly the first human music consisted of humming, whistling, and singing; rhythm-keeping in the form of clapping or drumming must have occurred early on as well.

Music is powerful.  We don’t need science to tell us that music can evoke strong emotions and changed states of awareness (although science can, in fact, tell us how that works).  Shamanic drumming has its modern-day counterpart in trance music; a young child can tell the difference between happy and sad music; words that are used to describe music also are used to describe spiritual experience.  There has always been something magical about the application of paint to canvas or stringing one word or one musical note after another and having the end result be something that has meaning above and beyond the physical object.  For some practitioners of the various arts, the result is also magick.

Performance vs. creation

Jimmy Page is often referred to as “The Master” or “Mage”.   Magick or music - the honorifics acknowledge the quality and quantity his gift and his expression of it.  Yet performance itself, no matter how dazzling and technically excellent, does not a Master make.

Jimmy Page is definitely a master musician.  The YouTube playlist provided here includes selections of original music of Mr. Page's over a 15 year period from 1983-1998.  These songs were chosen to provide a powerful example of the skill of a musician at the level of mage.  Please note that some songs have solos that I have identified for particular consideration (also scroll down for individual links).

While any search of YouTube will yield numerous young guitarists (and some not-so-young or unknown) who have performed Jimmy Page’s tracks from various songs, none carry the magic of Mr. Page’s own work as he performs it.  Many can play the works of Jimmy Page's with technical excellence that may surpass his own technical skills, but none of it is magic.

“Music is an outburst of the soul.”  Frederick Delius

Jimmy Page, as has often been noted by his detractors, can be a sloppy guitarist and even off-pitch, yet somehow the magic is still there.  This is because ritual – musical technique – is not the magic.  You can listen to far more technically accomplished guitarists and be left cold.  Magic comes about as a result of the desire and will of the mage, not technique.  Jimmy Page plays music and makes it his own - he is always creating, not simply performing.  The music he produces is the result of focus of his desire and will; he is not merely producing a sequence of notes on his guitar that he has produced before, that anyone can produce – he is creating a new state in the world that matches his inner vision.

Each of the songs in the playlist is different, but each at its core expresses a certain Truth.  The expression of that Truth is magic.

It is highly recommended that you do not watch the videos while listening to the selections below. Concentrate on the sound for there lies the magic.

1983  Midnight Moonlight Live, ARMS concert with Paul Rogers [note particularly 3:23 – 5:15]
1988  Emerald Eyes Studio version, Outrider
1988  Writes of Winter Studio version, Outrider 
1993  Saccharin Unreleased, Coverdale/Page  [note particularly 2:50 – 3:16]
1998  Walking Into Clarksdale Live,  La Cigale Paris March 30 [note particularly 4:22 – end]

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mage Music: Imagine This

Mage Music: Imagine This

Aubrey Beardsley
Frontispiece to The Wonderful History of
Vergilius the Sorcerer
What exactly makes a mage powerful?  Unlike what is portrayed in fiction, a mage doesn’t have to be a person in black robes, and isn’t a person who has a lot of magic stored up in amulets or who is born with magical power.  A mage doesn’t “have” magic any more than a computer “has” the internet.  Magic is like Yoda’s Force – it is the energy source of life.  Like a Jedi who masters the Force, a true mage is one who has the skill, talent and will to open to that energy and to use it to make changes in the world. 

Think of the relationship of a mage to magic the same way you do of the device you use to access the internet to the internet itself.  The internet is gigantic, so big it is for all practical purposes infinite – there’s no way your device can access it all.  Still, the more powerful the device the better it can access the internet and the more data it can process, providing it isn’t hampered by malware, poor programming or by just not having sufficient capacity.

It’s the same with a mage.  All of us access the energy of the universe without even thinking about it – it’s called being alive.  A mage, however, accesses that energy on purpose, using clarity of mind to visualize the desired outcome, and then ritual of some sort to focus the mind on the desired outcome.

The clarity both comes from and results in enlightenment – literally aligning with the energy of the universe.  The most proficient use of the energy comes through focus.  The actual process is not truly important – alignment with the energy of the universe can be equally achieved through magick, meditation, the sciences, art or, in the case of Jimmy Page, through music.  The product of true enlightenment is readily apparent to anyone who sees experiences it. 

It can be easily seen why Jimmy Page is considered a mage:  He engages purposeful clarity of vision, and focuses through the ritual of the music on a desired outcome.  Music is the ritual of his magic.

Jimmy Page is well known for his attention to detail and his control of all aspects of his vision.  Thus when comparing the John Lennon/Yoko Ono 1972 film, Imagine,  to the Jimmy Page acoustic segment deleted from the 2008 video It Might Get Loud, we must wonder what Mr. Page’s choices meant in the context of the music he was playing.

It would be very hard to believe that Jimmy Page had never seen the Lennon/Ono film, if not when it first came out then sometime over the next thirty-something years, when Mr. Page makes a video of himself playing an unnamed acoustic guitar piece in a room so identical to the one in the Lennon/Ono film that one might only tell the difference by checking out the scenery through the windows and details of the rooms.

A white empty room; a white chair for Jimmy Page, a white piano for John Lennon:  We must believe Jimmy Page didn’t just “happen” to choose that room to be filmed in or that his chair placement, in basically the same location as John Lennon’s piano, was accidental.  We must believe that the video starts and ends with visual focus on a reflection in the floor rather than the guitarist for a reason.  We must believe that there is purpose for everything in this video because control of detail has always been in Jimmy Page’s nature.  He is, after all, a master mage – he is performing ritual - but it is for his own purposes and it is up to us to take meaning from it.

The music
John Lennon’s song is very different from Jimmy Page’s.  Lennon’s is finished and polished.  It has lyrics that carry the meaning; the music is support for the lyrics.  Jimmy Page’s song sounds raw and unfinished.  It doesn’t even seem like it was meant for an acoustic guitar; it sounds very much like he was hearing an electric guitar in his head along with support instruments.  It has no need for lyrics because the music itself carries the meaning.

The visuals
While each song is being played, the music is the focus.  But before and after each song, the visuals are the focus. 

At the beginning of Imagine, Yoko Ono and John Lennon walk together to the room where the music will take place.  At the end they look at each other, then kiss – excluding the viewer and, in making the video be about the two of them, leaving the message of the song behind.  The song is over.

At the beginning of the Jimmy Page acoustic video the camera focuses on the reflective floor before panning to the musician.  At the end, Jimmy Page sits back and looks out the window, redirecting focus out to the world before turning to look at the camera, which then pans to the reflective floor.  The music has been given to the world, and then to the viewer, and then… the reflection.  Has the song, or more importantly the message, actually ended?

This brings us to the message, the intent of the work of the ritual.

The message
No one can read the mind of the artist or the mage, or presume to know what the meaning of a work is.  The inner vision is the artist’s alone and each person brings to a work his or her own life experience, which acts as a filter and framework for interpretation.

Nevertheless, we can make some statements about the message of Jimmy Page’s video.  The setting is meant to evoke another setting.  The beginning and end focus on a reflective surface:  This video is meant to reflect something else.  There are no lyrics, so the music and the video itself convey the message.  Jimmy Page’s song and video have no name, but reflects the Lennon/Ono film and song:  Imagine.  To me the message is just that:  Imagine what this song of Jimmy Page’s - still in process, still more in his head than in the world – will be.  Imagine, because there is so much more than what is seen and heard there.

Of course there is no way to know if any of this interpretation was meant by Jimmy Page. Sometimes, perhaps often, the creator doesn't actually know what the work means - he or she only knows that it must be created.  Still... keep in mind what Albert Einstein said:  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  Technology can come in many forms, can't it?  Science or art, video or music - whatever it is, advanced enough and it is indistinguishable from magic.