Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Magick Equation

"...light and shade and a certain dramatic tension..."                                                             ~ Jimmy Page, Chris Welch interview
Mage Music 29

This is a briefer post than usual because I've gotten caught up in a deadline for another project that is demanding extra time.  However, the point of this post - that the balance between equal things does not mean sameness - is one worth giving some serious thought to.  The concept applies to much more than music or Magick.

I'm no mathematician  but the above equation looks right to me for a start in describing Magick.  The beauty of an equation is that it clearly describes a relationship of one thing to another.  The use of the equal sign (=) indicates that the things on either side of that sign are equivalent.  This does not mean the things on either side of the = sign are the same - what would be the use of an equation like a=a?   So this is an initial thought on what an equation for Magick might look like, though it's probably not complete - I don't know how to include the requirement for the purity and clarity required of the components on the left side of the equation.  Still, it looks like a decent start - fairly clear, simple even - but that doesn't make the process easy.

In plain English: Desire plus Will, plus Ritual (in some amount) equates to Magick. The (n) is the level of action of ritual.  Performing no ritual action at all could still result in Magick, but unless the desire and will part are very strong, the Magick will likely be puny.  A very powerful Mage could pull it off, of course.

For most of those who practice Magick,some ritual is necessary.  Very powerful and well performed ritual (the n would be a high number) can make up for low d or w

Why the equation?
I've been spending time lately thinking about the balance required in life, in plain good music, and in Mage Music.  When Jimmy Page talks about light and shade, he's also talking about balance between them.  The best contrast adds up to a balance - for example, if there's a lot of light, then a small but powerful contrasting dark will balance it, or vice versa.  Equivalent in impact, but not the same.  It is the amount of contrast between the dark and light that creates the tension:  More contrast, more tension, as long as there is balance.

Evenness is blah.  I'm not sure how to include that in my equation - maybe someone else can help out here. I just know that introducing strong contrast makes balance harder to achieve, and it's risky business.  And I know that when the contrast teeters on the edge, when the tension is highest, sometimes Magick slips through.

YouTube Playlist - Communication Breakdown

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lif Strand: Happy Thanksgiving

Lif Strand: Happy Thanksgiving: Every day is a day when we can give thanks for something.   I'm thankful for my family, friends and supporters, my health,  my won...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rambling On with Celebration Day Thoughts

Celebration Day movie report 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012.  I just got back to the motel room after having seen Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day (LZCD) at a theater in Albuquerque, NM.  I had been waiting for this with the kind of anticipation and excitement that I last felt as a kid at Christmas.  Now that it's over, I feel like I've had about 50 cups of espresso.  My cheeks are sore because apparently I was grinning from ear to ear the whole two+ hours of the movie, and I keep feeling like I want to cry.

What a totally awesome and profound experience LZCD is. I am so grateful that I got to see it (at last!), so happy I have the opportunity to see it over and over on the DVD that I pre-ordered and that will come in the mail in the next few days.  I am also so very thankful that Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham gifted the world with the music of Led Zeppelin one last time.

I hadn't expcted to feel quite as emotional about seeing the movie as I did.  After all, I was in a movie theater not a real concert, and there weren't thousands of people around me sharing their energy - just a small and very restrained audience this evening.  Just about everyone was grey haired, including me - but I was clearly the worst behaved one there.  I bounced in my seat like it was 40 years ago, little squeals of pleasure leaking out of my mouth.  Every time Jimmy Page smiled, I smiled.  Every time his guitar wailed, I melted. Every time the O2 audience cheered, I couldn't help but cheer - but quietly, darn it.  I was dazed and confused because I kept forgetting I was in a theater, five years after the actual event.

Commemoration, Proclamation, Solemnization

Every Led Zeppelin concert has always been its own unique experience, each providing  valuable clues as to the musical vision of the individual performers as well as the band itself.    LZCD is no exception.  The movie is a true celebration of the band that was, while not trying to duplicate the past.  As with all of the more than 600 other performances, this concert, too, was its own unique experience - but unlike the others, this one was a recapitulation (a musical term - a musical theme repeated in an altered form and the development is then concluded).

And this is why I keep feeling I want to cry.  Led Zeppelin has not been a band since that awful day in 1980 when the world lost John Bonham.  I know that in my head.  I have no reason to doubt Jimmy Page and Robert Plant when they say that there will never be another tour as Led Zeppelin.  But what stabbed me in the heart was the unavoidable fact that the 2007 concert was not just a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, not just a great, fun showing off of extraordinary musical expertise and partnership - it was also, finally, a good-bye to all of us from the band that was Led Zeppelin.

O bittersweet music!

If there were going to be tears, they would be a mixture of sadness and joy, because the O2 performance was not just an ending, it was a joyous celebration of the artistic achievements of what many of us consider to be the world's best rock band, arguable a musical group worthy of being considered an example of the best of the best of any musical category.

Each of the 16 songs (14 set, 2 encore) was performed in the here and now of 2007, fully embracing the limitations and the added experience of the passage of nearly 30 years.  It was glorious music - not the music of 1968 or 1980, but the music of who and what Led Zeppelin was in 2007 - still extraordinarily emotional, complex, pure, simple, mysterious and Magickal.  It was an expression of the What Is of that music in that time and that place that could not have existed without what had come before it.

I might have chosen a few different songs - but this set list was about Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham, not about me or you.  What is important is that these songs were picked carefully by these musicians to make a statement of their choosing, something like This is who we were and this is who we still are.  No one like us then, now or ever again - ain't it grand!  

And then it was over

If I had not already known the set list, I still would have known that the last song was being played when I heard the opening notes of Kashmir.  Still the most mysterious and meaningful Led Zeppelin song, this 2007 version might actually have been the best performance of it, ever.  No Egyptian ensemble, no orchestra, just a few extraordinary musicians making Magick right there on stage.

For oh yes, there was Magick - there can be no doubt about it hearing what I heard.  Let me put it this way: My reality was absolutely changed.  I was pulled out of myself into another place and time.  My awareness of Self was replaced - willingly, with permission - by  music that filled up the vacancy that had been created.  It made me another person.  It changed who I am, if only for those hours.

If that isn't Magick, I don't know what is.

And then they were gone

And so, when the lights came up and the noise of commercial movie theater Muzak replaced the music of the gods that had filled my heart and soul for the past two hours, I was a conflicted emotional wreck: Happily high and miserable at the same time, mourning the end of something monumental while bouncing out of my skin from having been exposed to the music of the masters.


Because the movie is not even yet released for purchase as of the date of this post, I am not providing YouTube links to any videos of LZCD except what has been officially released.  Please support Led Zeppelin by buying the music, not just watching on YouTube. The choices below reflect differences in media format, content and packaging.

Officially released by Led Zeppelin on YouTube

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Do What Thou Wilt

The choice is always yours

Mage Music 28

The Universe is bigger than the gods that humans cast in human form with human characteristics that are larger than life.  The reality is that the Universe is infinite.  For humans in physical form, that should mean that the Universe is profoundly and fundamentally unknowable, since physicality is a subset of the infinite and subsets don't encompass the whole - that's just the way it is.  But the human condition is more than physicality and if everything is a holograph of the Universe (a basis for Magick), then subsets are in a sense the whole and then humans can know something of the infinite.

The Universe is always offering
The Universe has no constraints (infinite, remember?) and does not hide anything.  Like a lighthouse's beams that shine out in the gloom, the Universe sends a message of What Is for any being capable of receiving it. Anyone capable of choice could receive the message - it is transmitted in an infinite number of forms - but not everyone makes the choice to do so.  Having the choice is part of the gift of being human in the first place.

Choice is a part of being alive.   No one is forced to heed the warning beam of a lighthouse.  Eyes can be shut, ears can be covered.  Refusing to choose is a choice, too.

Choice is so fundamental to being human that all our mythology and learning sagas are about it (the Garden of Eden being one of the more familiar examples) and most of our best music embodies it, because the choice offered by the Universe is always basically the same:  To remain the same or to open to enlightenment, to allow self to receive the message of What Is.

Magick in music
Some artists have chosen to be messengers.  Receive, transmit:  That's what an artist who is a messenger does.  The message is a truth that the artist chooses - be it a statement about the human condition (most common) or about the infinite.  In choosing to convey the What Is message an artist's job isn't to tell the Universe what to transmit, it isn't even to provide meaning to the message - it is simply to translate the message as captured into whatever medium the messenger speaks with:  Words, paint, stone, music.

Magick is what happens when the artist has got it right.  Whether or not you hear the Magick in music is not simply about whether the artist has got it right, though - it's about your choice to open or not to the message of What Is.

Do with that what you will.

YouTube Playlist - Do What Thou Wilt 

Individual songs

1967 Jimmy Page/Yardbirds, White Summer (studio) Little Games

1969 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (studio) Album: Coda

1969 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) Fillmore West San Francisco January 10, 1969

1969 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) L'Olympia Paris, 10/10/69

1970 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) Royal Albert Hall

1970 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) Julie Felix show April 26

1977 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) Cleveland, Ohio - April 27, 1977

1979 Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) Knebworth

1993 Page & Coverdale, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live) Osaka Coverdale/Page Dec 20 1993

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kashmir Deja Vu

The more things change, the more they stay the same. 
                                      ~Alphonse Karr (1808-90)

Mage Music 27

The language of thought is language of words, but the language of experience is language made of music. Music immerses the listener in states of being.  Words tell stories, music lives the story.

Music infused with Magick raises the stakes. Truths can be conveyed that have never been imagined before, and can blast open even the most tightly protected hearts.  

Kashmir has brought forth Magick through music over and over again.  Time changes all, yet the essence of Kashmir is always the same. 

I can take you there, Robert Plant sings. Where? 

Kashmir is the experience of the essence of Led Zeppelin. Kashmir shares the heart and soul of a place that does not exactly exist yet you recognize. The language of music infused with Magick invokes the fifth element that Jimmy Page, Mage Musician, created with the desire, intention and ritual of Magick.

Let it take you there.

Please forgive the brevity of this Mage Music post - life happens!

YouTube Playlist - Kashmir Déjà Vu 

Individual songs

1975 Led Zeppelin, Kashmir (studio) Album: Physical Graffiti 

1975 Led Zeppelin, Kashmir (live) Madison Square Garden 02-12-75 

1975 Led Zeppelin,  Kashmir (live) Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada 3-19-5

1975 Led Zeppelin, Kashmir (live) LA Forum 3-27-75

1975 Led Zeppelin, Kashmir (live) Earls Court 5-24-75

1977 Led Zeppelin, Kashmir (live) MSG 06-07-77

1979 Led Zeppelin, Kashmir (live) Knebworth 1979

1995 Page & Plant, Kashmir (live) Irvine Meadows, Irvine California, 10-03-95

2007 Led Zeppelin/Jason Bonham, Kashmir (live) O2