Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's over!

OK, the Mage Music contest is over and the winner will be notified and mailing address verified, and then will be announced.

Thank you all for participating - this has been fun!

PS - The normal Mage Music posts will start up again soon, but I think not on a weekly basis as I've done for nearly two years.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Contest deadline coming up!

Find out more about the contest submission at the last post here, in which I not only announced a second chance to win, but simplified questions (that should generate the same answers as the first round).

So don't delay - go ahead and enter - you've got nothing to lose and a chance for a great TBL prize to win! The new deadline is no later than 11:59:59 PM MST (Denver time) Saturday December 21 (Winter Solstice).  You can do it!

PS - when you submit your answers via email, you should receive a confirmation email in reply.  If you don't get one within half a day, resubmit!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

And the winner is.... one!

I found one entry submission in my spam folder - oops!  I have no idea how many others might have been in it and got deleted forever.  Unfortunately that one entry was amusing but incorrect.

So you all have a second chance!  I'm extending the contest for one week and to make it easier I'm putting all the questions here and I'm rewording some of them so they are more clear.


Question 1:
Who of the following did Jimmy Page meet with and discuss Magick?
  • Aleister Crowley 
  • Jareth, the Goblin King 
  • Louis H. Sullivan 
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 
  • Thomas Carlyle 
  • William Burroughs 

Question 2:
What are the names of the following:
  1. The black avatar of arts - that creator and trickster - is an omen of omens (clue: his animal form)
  2. He reminds us of another rising into a red sky with the burden of humanity (clue: the light bearer)
  3. We hear the music and Magick of what Master? (clue: look in the URL)

Question 3:
  • Embryo No. 1 and Embryo No. 2 were both presented in what video?
  • What was No. 2's original name?
Submit your answers to no later than 11:59:59 PM MST (Denver time) Saturday December 21 (Winter Solstice).  

Put the word CONTEST in the subject line.

Good luck!

PS - You should receive a confirmation email stating that your entry was received. If you don't receive that email, please leave a comment below!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reminder: Contest submission deadline Saturday!

Find out more about the contest submission at last Saturday's post.

Go ahead and enter - you've got nothing to lose and a chance for a great TBL prize to win!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mage Music Contest - THIS IS IT

Here are the final instructions for the Mage Music Contest

  • Contest questions have been posted in the blog over the past few weeks.  The subjects clearly say Contest Question.  There are three of them.  Some have more than one part.  Answer completely!
  • Reread the rules before submitting your answers.  
  • Email the answers to this address (you will have to remove the spaces):  fasterhorses @ and be sure to put Mage Music Contest in the subject line
  • DO NOT include anything in the body of the emails except for the answers to the questions.
  • All entries with 100% correct answers will have a chance to win.
  • The winning entry will be picked from the pot of all correct entries using a random number generator. 

ENTRY DEADLINE is 11:59:59 PM Mountain Standard Time on Saturday, December 14, 2013.  Winner will be announced once he/she has responded to my email and verified a shipping address for the prize.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Contest update

I'll be out of town Friday & Saturday and though I scrambled to get the last question plus the whole contest form done before leaving, I didn't get it done.  So I'm sorry, but there'll be a delay till Sunday.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Contest Question 3

It's all very confusing: Embryo No. 1 and Embryo No. 2. They both made an appearance in the same place. But here's the thing - even though No. 2 is named No. 2, it actually came first. How do we know? Embryo No. 2 was born from music that was performed live on stage nearly ten years before and No. 1 never has been.

Maybe it's all about the names. Maybe it's all Magick in the making.  Maybe one piece leads to the next or maybe the music leads us to a masquerade that hides the answer.
Where do we find both No. 1 and No. 2?
What was No. 2's original name?
You might have to go outside of Mage Music to figure this one out, but the links are all there.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Contest Question 2

Finding meaning in everything

1.  The black avatar of arts - that creator and trickster - is an omen of omens
2.  He reminds us of another rising into a red sky with the burden of humanity
3.  And thereby we hear the Master.

What are the names?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Contest Question 1

Who of the following did Jimmy Page meet with and discuss Magick?
_ Aleister Crowley
_ Jareth, the Goblin King
_ Louis H. Sullivan
_ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
_ Thomas Carlyle
_ William Burroughs

Don't answer here, just do your research and hold on to your answer till the end of the contest when there will be a submission form with all the questions presented at one time.

Or however else I figure out how to do this.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Contest info!

Mage Music Contest Description and Rules

  1. This is supposed to be a fun contest. Emphasis on fun, okay? Anyone who’s a quibbler, nitpicker or general grump should not bother even starting it.
  2. The prize for this contest is a TBL Gift Pack. If Dave Lewis is really sweet about it (and he is a sweet guy) he’ll autograph it. I might decide to add additional prizes, but maybe not.
  3. All decisions about who wins the prize/s are up to me. I’ll follow my own rules, but if there’s a problem in some way and I feel like it, I will change the rules. So pay attention here: This contest is just like real life - the rules you start with may not be the rules you end with. Unlike real life, though, I will let you know what the new rules are. 
  4. The rules will be also posted on a page of its own on this blog, so you don't have to hunt for them. The posted rules will always be the official rules for the whole contest, regardless of what rules existed before them.
  5. I’m going to post one or more new questions or challenges at least once a week starting November 16 until at least the end of the month. This means these questions/challenges might appear any day of the week, not just the usual Saturday posts. If there are too many potential winners at the end of the month, I may call for another round, or maybe I’ll just put finalists’ names in a hat and pick one. My rules, remember?
  6. To have a chance to win, you must answer all questions/challenges correctly and you must follow all the rules.
  7. This contest will use all pages on this site, not just the blog posts themselves. 
  8. All answers will either be found on this site or can be deduced by information provided on this site.
  9. I will provide an email address at some point for you to send your answers. Or maybe a website. I haven’t figured that out yet. But at that point, responses to all questions or challenges must be submitted, along with contact info. Incomplete submissions will just be tossed out – it’s an easy way for me to figure out who the winner will be.
  10. You must be at least 18 years of age and have been born on planet Earth to win a prize.  If you are the winner, you will have to certify to the truth of those two items.
  11. If you are Jimmy Page, you can’t win the prize. Sorry, but that would just be unfair to everyone else.
Let the Games Begin.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

News, Contest & Blather

I'm taking a Mage Music hiatus while I work on another writing project, just for the month of November. That would mean four weeks, including this one, of no Mage Music, and I feel kinda bad about that.

So I decided to offer you a contest.  I haven't figured out all the details, but the grand prize (and maybe only prize) will be a TBL Gift Pack - thank you Dave Lewis for working this out with me!  I am considering - only thinking about it, mind you - of a second prize, but we'll see. It's going to be a Mage Music Trivia contest - all answers will be found here on this blog.  That's all I'm going to tell you right now.

So check Mage Music occasionally during the month for contest rules - yes, there will be rules!  Meanwhile, I'll keep posting on (Mostly) Daily Mage for those of you who've got to have their Magick talk fix.


Oh yeah, I wanted to remind those of you who are of pagan, Wiccan and the like persuasion (or those who would like to be, or the curious) that we are in that time of year when the Winter God is prime. This is a time of year for withdrawal and inwardness, of darkness and meeting with the bare bones of death and rebirth. This is a time for contemplation and renewal of power.

It's not all Santa and shopping.

Seek out the commonality of all Yule celebrations, rather than dismissing the festivities as fluff, and you will find the way.

I like this version of Immigrant Song because of the long drone introduction.  It's the Universe holding its breath before the Winter God appears.  It's the pulling in of power.

Magick.  You gotta love it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Magick 102

"...the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
~Roald Dahl

Mage Music 76

Scientists and other logically-based thinkers like to put down Magick as nonsense because Magick can't be readily perceived. The reasoning is that if something can't be perceived (with the physical senses on their own or enhanced with technology), it can't be measured, quantified, and duplicated in a laboratory.  If it can't be identified by science then it isn't real.

Science, of course, would be that area of human knowledge that changes all the time. New technology enables things to be perceived that couldn't be perceived before, and surprise! Science changes its tune about the nature of reality and we all pretend scientists aren't contradicting what they just said.

No scientist should say that anything is impossible or can't exist. In an infinite universe, by definition all things are possible and do exist. That's why even "laws" of nature are still referred to as theories. In spite of what some would have us believe, in fact humans don't know everything that can be known about reality.

Working with the impossible

Mages and artists, however, know that just because something doesn't yet exists doesn't mean it isn't possible. In fact, that very point may be the most significant difference between Magick and the rest of everyday human reality.

That is, just because you can't perceive something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  It just might be hidden from human perception.

Creation is the act of changing reality, that is, manifesting something new in the world. It isn't duplication of something that has existed before. Creation is an act shared with the gods, and it is something that every human could do but few will. That means that for all intents and purposes, to the non-creative world the new thing that has been made manifest came from a secret place, and how it came to be manifest in the real world is a secret as well.

For truly, if the Work of a Mage or artist (a Mage musician for example!) was perceived and examined minutely, was measured, quantified, and duplicated over and over - where it came from and how it came to be manifest in this reality would still remain a complete mystery.

That's because Magick and art are hidden in the most hidden place of all - the duality of the infinite Universe manifest in the human soul ("as above, so below"), and of course that means Magick will never be found unless the seeker suspends the need for outside verification of the inner truth.
"Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong? In another 50 years, it’ll all be topsy-turvy anyway. It’s just the way people view a collective consciousness at any given time.
- Jimmy Page, Guitar World 2006 

Message to my readers:  Mage Music posts for the month of November will be briefer than usual and probably have no images. That's because I'm focusing on fiction writing for the month. I won't forsake you, but I am going to neglect you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Magick 101

It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin - music, sculpture, writing, painting - and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results.
~ William Burroughs, Essay in Contemporary Artists Magazine

Mage Music 75  

Here it is, everything you need to know, the whole of Magick in one list.
  • Understand what Magick is and can do
  • Identify your desires
  • Engage your will
  • Prepare and execute the perfect ritual
  • Step into the new reality
  • Cement the new reality

What it is

Bare bones: Magick is purposeful use of the raw energy of the Universe. No, not raw as in bare-skin naked. Raw as in not pre-processed, pre-digested or pre-packaged.  Raw as not things, but the stuff things are made of.

Bare as in without covering, without disguise. Unvarnished, without the trappings of mumbo-jumbo that cause confusion. The stark core of power and nothing else.

Magick at its most fundamental: That's where you start.

Honestly?  Anything else is unnecessary. You might think all the people and organizations that speak of What Magick Is and say they know How Magick Works are going to tell you what you need to know, but they aren't. They're only going to tell you their version of things, their niche. And in doing so, they steal potential from you - they steal your power.

This is not to say that there is nothing offered by such groups, but of course the moment you take someone else's truth for your own, you have replaced your own pure truth with something less pure. A cracked, imperfect version, one that serves others as much as yourself. Or maybe serves them more.

Magick is an art, not a religion. Magick can be art.  Knowing truth and expressing it doesn't require a guide. The truth is inside of you. You have direct access to truth and power, all you have to do is take it for yourself.

It's not easy walking that path, though. Everyone is eager to tell you where you're wrong and wants you to do what you're doing a different way. Everyone else is the expert, except for you - but it's your Magick and others can't make your choices for you any more than you can do so for them.

It's lonely walking that path. It’s easier to lean on others, even if their truth isn't yours. But the creation comes from inside you, not outside.  If you are paying more attention to the outside than the inside, you won't be able to find, much less fan, the flame of your own muse.

So you start with the fact that you already know everything you need to know, that you have all the tools you need to have, that you can develop what you need by yourself by doing.  You simply need to locate the path inside you and use it.

The more a person develops the skill set needed for Magick, the greater the Work can be.

Magick is purposeful use of the raw energy of the Universe

Magick works the same for all living beings that have the ability to consciously make choices in this Universe. Where there is purposeful creativity, there is the potential for Magick. The law of Magick is the law of deliberate creation. This is different from the laws of other physical objects in the Universe, even of other living beings, because the law of Magick is one of conscious creation.

The law of Magick opens the physical self to the infinite energy of the Universe.  Theoretically, there are no limits to what Magick can manifest, but in practice what is actually possible to manifest is limited by what a finite being can express of the infinite. Obviously the one can only contain a minuscule fraction of the other, just as cupped hands can only hold a minuscule fraction of the contents of the oceans. 

But... a Mage pushes the envelope of what is possible.

The law is this: As above, so below; as below, so above.  Think on that for a bit while you listen to the music of a Mage.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Interlude: Fiction

For something different today, here is a short story for your enjoyment.

Small Stuff
By Lif Strand (c) 2013

It had been raining all afternoon and evening, raining for so long that I didn't notice when the hammering on my metal roof finally stopped. Now all I could hear were the drops plinking from the broken gutter into a bucket just outside, a bit of a breeze soughing through the crack where the door sat crooked in its frame, and the snores of my dogs and cats.

It wasn't long after midnight. I wanted to call it a day, but couldn't, not yet. There was a nervous energy keeping me awake. I was way too restless to sit still much longer, way too jumpy to sleep.

I stared at the words on the page of the book in my hands. They didn't make any more sense now than they had an hour ago. I set it carefully on top of the precariously balanced stack of reading material that had already been rejected tonight.

I was seated at what was supposed to be my dinner table, but there wasn't enough room on the painted black surface for a soup bowl, much less a dinner plate.  I often ate just standing up at the kitchen counter.  I’m unrepentantly uncivilized that way.

Before me, instead of china and crystal and linen, were the tools of my trade and the debris of my life - maybe one and the same. An empty juice glass, safer for me to use for wine than stemware was. A crumpled foil wrapper with one piece of luscious dark chocolate left. A brass pipe-to-hose connector that I needed for a project, but that I couldn't remove from the 2” length of pipe it was attached to no matter how much I wrestled with it. An eBook reader. Three – no, four – crooked stacks of library and second-hand store books with bookmarks and post-its bristling from their pages. And my spiral-bound notebooks. With the words. The fiction I was compelled to write that was actually thinly disguised… well, let’s face it. Spells.

The notebooks were grimoires, okay? My spell-books. But hidden, like I was, by being right in the open.

You know why – don’t deny it. This is not a world where true magic is welcome any more, if it ever really has been. Ironic though, isn't it, since pretend magic is everywhere. Robed masters wield powerful forces on movie screens. Fae and demons and elementals splash the covers of new releases on the bookshelves. Vampires and zombies and werewolves populate video games. Rock bands with their painted faces and light shows out-flash Las Vegas magicians. Websites channel the wisdom of angels and disembodied spirits. The world is full of all that. But no one really thinks any of it is really real, right?

I’m all too aware, though, that these days are no different from the days when they burned witches at the stake – just not so messy. Magic stuff is okay as long as it is fantasy. Really real magic is not something to fool around with – not in the open, not now, not ever.

Inconveniently for my peace of mind, I have magic in me. I’m too afraid to ever let even a hint of it seep out where anyone else could figure out what I am doing. Not even my family knows. Consequently I don’t know a thing about it - which makes me wonder if I’m not just insane and delusional instead. Though they say if you think you might be crazy you probably aren't.

Can I trust that?

Here’s the problem: One day I found out that I could do magic. It freaked me out then and I’m still freaked out for all kinds of reasons. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of being stoned or burned at the stake like in the olden days – that doesn't happen where I live, though it’s never a good idea to discount the possibility. It’s more likely, though, that I’d be locked away somewhere with the other whackos. Or worse. I didn't really know what worse was, but I feared it.

The lead-up to my discovery started out so innocently. I mean, come on – I was a good Catholic girl for years, and sure I fell off the wagon, but I’d passed through the drugs and sex and booze stages of rebellion and had settled down to more or less responsible adulthood. More or less because I was still not normal of course. Back then I still wanted to grow up to be a writer, and writers are never considered normal. But that’s another story.

Then after all I’d been through, when I finally thought I was settling down, there was this… thing, this albatross on my back. Demon? Nightmare horror? Devil?

Okay, she was my business partner. Pamela and I were – oh hell, I don’t even understand it. We were going to make lots of money through the junk business. That would be junk as in other people’s discarded treasures, not as in drugs.

I've been in business with partners before. Sometimes actually made money. Pamela wasn't even my first female partner. The last partnership hadn't gone well but I had higher expectations this time. I always did. The problem was that I hadn't learned from the last time. I was… oh… not the weak link, but the gullible one. The one who wanted to play it straight with a con-man (or woman) partner.

But unlike my other partners, good or bad, Pamela scared me – I don’t know how else to put it. Although she was physically bigger than me that wasn't the scary thing. I’m tallish for a woman with average build, but I do have a few muscles. Pamela was only a few inches taller. Well, and she was broader, too. And rougher.  Not that any of that mattered, since quite honestly I’m just not into violence, physical or otherwise.

Okay, I just now lied - I can be plenty violent if pushed to it. The problem is that I can’t control it and then someone gets hurt. While it’s no biggie for me to be hurt, I feel bad when I calm down after I've done that to someone else. So my preference is to control myself – not the other person – in situations where I get pissed off. It’s just safer for everybody. Sometimes, though, I get pushed too far and then all I know how to do is strike out – and whatever I hit, I hurt bad. I don’t hit with my fists, you understand – I hit with my mind.

Not magic. I mean, I didn't think it was that then, or maybe I did but I didn't care because it worked. And that was dangerous – not because it bothered me so much to hurt others (come on, they deserved it) but because that let people see me. And that could bring a world of hurt on me, or so I’d believed ever since I could remember. I don’t really know why, I just have always known it was that way.

On the other hand, it was a fact that my business partner scared me, badly enough that I was getting even more scared of myself. And so I had to stop her.

I know - you want to know what she was doing. But I can’t really describe it. It wasn't the poor business practices (well, that was part of it but not an important or insurmountable obstacle). It wasn't that she didn't listen – unfortunately that seemed to be normal business practice for the partners I got involved with. It was something that she was doing to my head. It was a control thing. It was a weight on my soul, an unrelenting pressure that... heck I can only say it felt like I was constantly fighting being turned into not-me.

Talking it out was the mature thing to do, but it didn't achieve a thing. Pamela was offended and wounded, she said. I was mistaken, she said. I was a hurtful person, she said. Don't sweat the small stuff, she said.

Yelling at her didn't work either. The mature talking it out always devolved into horrible fights. Each time I’d win the arguments but somehow she won the battles. The atmosphere afterwards was oppressive – the miasma just got thicker and darker. She unrelentingly dragged at me when we fought, sucking my energy. I’d go home afterwards totally exhausted, feeling filthy and violated and confused - yet I was unable to stay away from her. She would call me up and demand I show up to work and even though I didn't want to go back there with all my heart, I did go.

I tried to avoid her each time, but that was hard – I mean, we were in the same small rooms, going through the same stuff, having to discuss what we’d do with each item. She kept a lot of it. I can’t explain how that worked – we were supposed to be selling it all, right? But somehow the good stuff wound up as her personal property. And me? I got to where I didn't want to touch any of it because it represented her and the foulness that was working into my flesh.

I got all defensive. I tried to block her out but I couldn't. And I was dreading what was coming – I could feel it, that being backed into a corner feeling, the one that I knew – I knew – would end up badly because this time there was the added element of her specifically, of Pamela and the thing she was doing to me – the thing she was. I didn't want to name it, but I knew. Deep inside something in me recognized it, all right. Laugh if you want, but she was dark and ugly, and whatever she was, she wanted something from me that I didn't want to give up.

I’m not calling what she was doing evil, because as scary as it was to experience, it still felt like the actions of any living thing that needs to eat. No one wants to be the thing being eaten, but that doesn't make the thing taking a bite out of you evil.

I didn't call what she wanted to take from me magic, either – I didn't admit to magic then. Heck, I can’t even call it magic now - I can barely talk about it at all. I mean, I am unable to tell you any more than what I have already of what Pamela was doing. I literally cannot describe to you what I did to stop her, either, and I did stop her. It’s really weird, but when I try to force it out – well, those words just will not come out of me. A bummer isn't it, given that I’m a writer these days.

Believe me, it isn't writer’s block.

I can talk around it, though. I can say what I came up with in a general way. I can say I just got pushed to the point of such desperation that I did a small magic.

It was like discovering fire, the wonder of it that the first humans must have felt. It was the first time I’d consciously done magic and the first magic I’d ever done that wasn't reflexive fear-biting. Imagine that. Just like those first people with fire, I found this thing all by myself and just like that, it changed my world.

It wasn't hard but it was the most frightening thing I've ever done – because irrefutably, absolutely, incontrovertibly I had used magic on purpose. And that’s the most I can tell you. All those grimoires I've written since? They don’t really tell how to do magic – they are words that dance all around the subject, just like I’m doing now. They’re like recipes from famous chefs that only contain the main ingredients and no real instructions, so that the dishes are still theirs alone.

But back then, when I did magic for the first time I couldn't have told you about it anyway. That’s because I didn't really know what the heck I was doing.

And then I did. And that freaked the hell out of me.

The on-purpose magic thing I did was not meant to hurt Pamela, amazingly enough. I wore out a lot of brain cells trying to figure out my situation while I was stupidly still involving myself in the ugliness every day. The drive to and from work took me an hour and a half each way, plenty of time for thinking – on the way there building myself up and quelling the sick feeling in my stomach, on the way home recovering and quelling the sick feeling in my stomach. But I did finally realize that I had to know what I wanted, as opposed to what I didn't want. That’s a lot harder than you’d imagine, especially when there are bad things happening that you want to stop right away.

You see, magic works on what you want - not what you don’t want. It’s obvious, really – but most people just don’t get it. Suppose someone asks me what I want for dessert, and I say, oh anything but fruitcake. Well, I’m a chocolate lover. I almost always want something chocolate for dessert, unless it’s a cinnamon roll. So if I say anything but fruitcake I might be spared from that nastiness but it doesn’t mean I’ll get chocolate. I mean, I might get mincemeat pie (oh yuck) or lime Jell-O with fruit cocktail mixed in. When it comes to magic, what you have to do is be specific about what you want. I say I want German chocolate cake, I get German chocolate cake. See how that works?

So I wanted Pamela to do… what? Go away? How would I go about making that happen even if I could do it? And besides, what about my investment in the business? How would that get dealt with? And did I really want to hurt her? Yes. No. Not at the expense of my own soul. Fear-biting was one thing, but on-purpose, premeditated harm was a bit much.

Too many questions, no resolutions. I kept coming back to a niggling idea that it wasn't about her, it was about me. It took days of driving back and forth before I had my duh moment.

Oh man, this is hard to write – you have no idea. It’s so… slippery. But here it is: I didn't really give a shit about Pamela. I didn't care what happened to her.  I didn't want to change the world, I didn't even want to change her.  All I wanted was personal peace of mind. What I wanted was mental silence and still waters where there had been roiling lava mud pits of icky emotion. Such a small thing, really, but wow.

I got it finally.  I had to do magic on myself, not on Pamela. And why not? It’s my own life I wanted to change – I didn't give two hoots about hers. I didn't need for her to just go away because that might not get me what I wanted. I needed me to be happy again, or as close as I could get to that elusive state.

So I found myself suddenly clear that doing an act of magic would fix things. Me, the one who had never dared think that way before. And then I did it.

And how did I do it? Good try – but I can’t tell you. It involved ordinary things found in any kitchen, just a few little things for a short and sweet ritual, and the clear intent and… hell. I just used magic to shut myself of her. I slammed a door, not on myself, but between us – a door she didn't even have to know about. And then I put the key – the thing I made from the kitchen stuff – away somewhere safe, a place I could forget about it even as I knew it was secure. And there was the magic, right there. The putting it away from me with a knowing: What I had done would do exactly what I wanted. It was extraordinary, it was real and powerful. It was mine, a thing that I had done. And I knew it was done.

From that day on Pamela was gone from my life. Oh, she lived in town still, but she and I didn't say a word to each other for several years after that moment of magic in my kitchen. I didn't avoid her, she just wasn't there. Where did she go, what did she think? I have no clue and I don’t care. What happened to the business? I don’t know. Maybe she’s still doing it. No one talks about her to me, and I don’t ask. Every so often we see each other at community functions and she nods her head pleasantly and her eyes slide right off of me.

That was ten years ago. Since then, I've become a writer, though what I write about for money is a lot more boring than magic. Since then I've thought a lot about magic.  I write about magic a lot – notebook after notebook of what I have figured out, and not a bit of it useful to anyone else because none of it will ever see the light of day.

Since then, I've done it again. It's such a small thing, that magic.  A small thing - like an atom that you split apart and the world changes.   

Saturday, October 12, 2013


A lot of people mistook it for a word…
~Robert Godwin, as quoted in George Case’s Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man: An Unauthorized Biography (2007, p114)

Mage Music 74  
Mage Music 74: Zoso

Symbols are remarkable.  Without them, you couldn't read this post.  Without them, you couldn't communicate on more than the most basic of levels.  

Without symbols, there would be very little Magick.

Symbols can convey meaning above and beyond “what you see is what you get” (that is, the denotation or literal, dictionary meaning of a word or term).  The capacity of symbols to carry richness and depth of additional meaning (connotation, or overlaid meanings that convey emotions, values, associations and nuances beyond the literal) makes symbols possibly the most valuable of all the treasures that a human might possess.  For a Mage, symbols are the secret heart of ritual.

In Magick, symbols are most potent when they are maximally realized and intensely embody the desire that fuels the ritual. At their most potent, symbols are so rich that their power carries over to others.  Thus a Mage whose ritual is meant to be shared with an audience - a painter or a musician, for example - can use personal symbols within that ritual that have such extremely powerful meaning that the symbols pack a punch for the audience too.  

The most potent symbols must remain personal to the Mage, though.  To reveal the meaning – if a Mage could even bring himself to do so – would bleed off the pressure of that power, reduce its intensity and thereby weaken the ritual.  

The Eagle and the Horse

Let's use the example of the eagle and the horse to talk about denotation and connotation:  An eagle is a bird, but its deeper meaning is that of wild power used as weapon.  Long a symbol of power, the eagle was the Egyptian symbol for the god Horus, it was the standard of a Roman legion, and today eagle is the US emblem.  Although there are much larger birds in the world, the eagle has long been held as the King of the Birds in mythology by many cultures.  A predator, eagle carries a depth of meaning that includes the danger of a focused and yet unlimited power.  

A horse is a mammal, but its deeper meaning is that of power shaped by human will.  Horses symbolize grace, beauty, nobility, strength, speed and freedom.  These meanings can transcend the normal world when the horse has wings or horns as Pegasus or unicorn.  As a powerful and dangerous animal that is not a predator, horse’s power is broader focused and symbolically horse is a helper.  There is great power with both horse and eagle, but horse carries a feeling of less danger in its symbolism. 

Or not.

Mage Music 74: Janus
Maybe you come from a place like Alaska where there are so many eagles that they’re like pigeons and you have little respect for them.  Maybe you come from a culture that eats horses, or maybe from a culture that has never even heard of either.  Maybe you're scared to death of both of them.

The power of a symbol isn't in the object itself and certainly not in its name or its history, but rather what it means personally to the one who uses it. 

In the right hands, a symbol can carry meaning so powerful, so potent, so filled with possibility that the symbol is the fissionable material of Magick. Such things have no names that you or I could - or should - know.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


"Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god."
~ Aristotle

Mage Music 73

I'm writing this post on my laptop while sitting on a porch of an isolated lodge overlooking an alpine meadow in the wilds of the White Mountains in Arizona. I'm on vacation and I'm at a quilting retreat.

The occasional bald eagle flies overhead. Horses graze in the distance. A pair of pigs (ultimately intended for bacon and chops) trot by. Wind soughs through the pine trees. It's peaceful out here. 

Inside the lodge - not so much.

Inside there are wall-to-wall tables set up in the main room for nearly two dozen women who bend over sewing machines. Some of these women have quilted for decades, for half a century, maybe longer. Some, like me, have come to it more recently. Everyone knows everyone - whether from before the retreat or because of it. And everyone has a lot to say. Twenty-some women, all talking about sewing techniques, fabric, family, food and life in general - all at once. The retreat is an opportunity to gather to share knowledge, to complete projects and to be inspired to new creativity. For me, it's an internal battle between opportunities not usually available to people who live a solitary life - as I do - and the desire to run, screaming, from the clamor of so many minds and voices.

Magick, and creativity in general, benefit from solitude. In some cases, they require it. The solitude doesn't have to be physical, but being alone makes it easier to find the psychic and spiritual quietude from whence Magick and creativity arise. This is the inner silence that is the equivalent of a blank canvas or sheet of paper, the silence of a room before the first chord.

Creativity in art and Magick starts with the identification of the spark of a new thing that has not existed before in this world, a spark deep inside the self. Less than a spark, actually - creativity begins with the discovery of the idea of a new thing, an intangible potential so fragile and elusive that almost anything can become a distraction that leads to its destruction.

The psychic noise of everyday life, while providing comfort and stimulation for most purposes, can destroy all but the most demanding and insistent creative thought. The most delicate nuances may be stillborn, unable to compete with the loud and insistent noise of tribal interaction.

This is not to say that an artist or Mage must dwell in isolation, but only that he (or she, of course) needs to reserve an inner space for the Work, and to hold that space inviolate for the creative process. For some this can be achieved by withholding the inner self from the public eye while yet living in the spotlight. For others, it means hiding out far from the maddening crowd.

For me, it means I have to take frequent time-outs so that I my soul can uncurl itself and breathe freely.  The women here may sense I'm some kind of wild beastie compared to themselves, but if so, they're very understanding.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mind Meld

I gave everything I had. I wasn't holding back…
~Jimmy Page

Mage Music 72
Mage Music 72 Mind Meld

The best music isn't always the most beautiful or melodic.  It isn't always the catchiest tune or the most easily hummed or whistled while you work. Sometimes it's so unlike anything that’s come before it that it’s hard to grasp. 

Sometimes the best music is raw and ugly, jagged and hard to bear.  Sometimes it is sloppy. It can be sweaty and dirty and offensive. And sometimes it’s so starkly beautiful you have a hard time breathing because of it.

Sometimes, without you ever being able to figure out why, the best music is so good it hurts to hear it and it makes you cry.

The best music is the music that the musician falls into and pulls meaning from, and that the listener falls into and receives from the Universe through the music. It doesn't matter who the musician is - what matters is what he can do.

The best music is all the above and more, because the best music has Magick in it. The Magick grabs the soul and shoves the Universe right in. Mage music is life itself and we recognize it. That’s what makes it the best.

It’s dangerous. It’s risky. But you still have to let it in. You still have to open up. You have to still give it everything you have. That is the price of Magick.

[Opinion alert!  What follows is personal opinion of the author!*]

Blending, merging, becoming something new

Ironically, Jimmy Page’s full immersion in Led Zeppelin, with the extraordinary results that came from his doing so, has been a major obstacle to his continuing forward musically. Robert Plant has moved on by taking a different musical path. But Jimmy Page, who I believe has unfinished business with the path he started out on, is held back by the public’s refusal to let go of Led Zeppelin.

How can new music stand on its own merits if it is always faulted for not being something else? How can Jimmy Page’s musical vision be appreciated if instead of hearing the message of his guitar people are listening for a singer’s voice that isn't there?

But it works both ways. Listening well to Mage music can be an act of Magick just as a Mage’s making the music is. It takes desire and will on the listener's part: desire to fully hear, will to not allow outside influences to deter the listener from the path. The ritual: The music itself, the point where it all comes together.

Coverdale - Page

I highly recommend that you decide to listen well to Coverdale/Page. This means listening with the desire to fully hear what is there in that music, not what is missing from it.  There is power in this music, music that - like almost everything Jimmy Page has done post-Led Zeppelin - has never received as much acclaim as is deserved.  Here are two mature and accomplished musicians, each with their own power, who attempted a two-way musical mind meld in order to create something new, and yet so many people have missed what was going on entirely.    

Look at the album cover: a merge sign.  It's the first hint.

Look at the titles.  There is a story being told.  

Then open yourself to the bigger message. This music is dangerous. It is full of brutality and anguish, hope and forgiveness – and it is an invitation. If there is not so much light in it, the dark is so dark as to make the slightest gleam a blinding laser. Follow the light where it leads.

Can I say for sure that Jimmy Page meant what I believe is going on? Of course not. But what I can say is this: Jimmy Page is not known for creating music by accident. Pay attention.

*The usual caveat applies: My opinion does not have to become your opinion. I merely offer these ideas as food for thought.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What May Not Be Ever Again

Everybody I know seems to know me well but they're never gonna know…
~ What Is And What Should Never Be, Led Zeppelin II (1969)

Mage Music 71 What May Never Be
Mage Music 71

The desire for another reunion of Led Zeppelin is a big topic of conversation for music lovers, and if it's not that, then the talk is about when Jimmy Page might come out with new music of his own. What follows is my personal opinion based on my own observations and conclusions and from the point of view of Magick. You may not agree, as is your right, and you are welcome to contribute your own opinions - but please keep them limited to the music and Magick aspects.  Also note that this is part one of a two-part post.  If you comment, I may steal your idea and use it to inspire thoughts for part two.  If I see farther it is by "standing on ye sholders of Giants"*.

The "just play with another band" theory

Jimmy Page has dropped in on many great bands over the past decades. He's worked with some pretty good musicians in his own groups, too, and people wonder why Mr. Page doesn't do an album with them. I say, how could he?

Sure, a musician of the caliber of Jimmy Page has got to have some highly talented people to work with. But as I see it, a major obstacle for Jimmy Page playing with other big-name musicians is that those guys are big-name musicians. They've got their own well established style, their own approach to music, their own feeling for what to say and how to say it musically. So does Jimmy Page.

So the real question would have to be who's going to yield the musical direction to the other?

Whose Magick is it anyway?

Jimmy Page basically started out his professional career as a session musician.  That means he was freelance, not with a regular band but hired to play individual studio recording sessions.  More importantly, this meant he had to match the needs of the music of the sessions and there was very little wiggle room to bring in his own musical vision.  Jimmy Page was very, very good at it, but playing other people's music wasn't where he wanted to do.  What he really wanted was to express what he had in him and that's why when the opportunity rose he set forth with that triumphant musical colossus, Led Zeppelin.

The beauty of Led Zeppelin was that Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham were basically at the same place at the same time in terms of music.  They were all very, very good - but the potential for greatness hadn't yet been expressed in any of them. Once they were together much of Led Zeppelin's music - not the lyrics, but the music - was driven by Jimmy Page, and the others in a sense yielded to Mr. Page's muse. Led Zeppelin wasn't all Jimmy Page, of course - the chemistry came from all of them, after all - but they were at the same place musically.  They created the Magick together, as indivisible components of one ritual.

Today that's not so.

Now things are very different. Robert Plant is following his own muse and has gone off to explore new musical territory for himself. I believe that for him to come back to a situation of being subsumed in a creative project over which he no longer had his own full musical expression, as he now does, would be very hard - and who could blame him?  This would be true for any other vocalists or guitarists who were of the equivalent level of experience and musical genius as Jimmy Page, and I think that this is a key point.

The best of the best musicians have all worked hard to get where they are, and why would they want their individuality, their unique musical vision and all they've achieved with it to be cast aside for something new, something in which they would not be the star?

And even if they would do it, could they do it?  Could they give up who they are to become something else?

Old dogs can learn new tricks

It is hard to do, but highly talented people can strike out in new directions. The problem with the music industry, though, is that audiences aren't always open to newness, and critics have not been bashful about expressing how they feel each time Jimmy Page has stepped off the beaten path.  From the very beginning with Led Zeppelin, to Lucifer Rising and carrying through to surprises such as Come With Me (with Puff Daddy), critics have been fast to complain although thank goodness, that hasn't stopped Mr. Page.

But finding musicians who could work with Jimmy Page to create new work today - that is a different story. This week's playlist was chosen partly because the title suited the subject here, but also because the versions provide examples of Jimmy Pages most exquisite techniques of fingering and timing. He squeezes some of the notes for so long that your heart wants to stop from the sweet torture of it.

This level of musicianship and creative artistry - this Magick that has been sustained for half a century - this is not something that anyone wants to see diluted by collaboration with lesser musicians, I think.  Only the best musicians.  But who are they that are that good yet willing to give themselves up for the Magick of the Master?

If there is to be any new music from Jimmy Page, I think he would have to find extraordinary new musicians who could joyfully bend to the Master's will while still being powerful in their own right. That's what Led Zeppelin was, after all. But is it even possible? We can dream, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks to Denise Smith for inspiring this post in one of her comments in a Jimmy Page group on Facebook.  This post has been part one of a two part thought, which I probably will continue next week.  

* Quote is attributed to Sir Isaac Newton but he wasn't the one who originated the thought.  He understood that he, too, "stood on ye sholders of Giants."

What Is And What Should Never Be  (♫ YouTube playlist ♫)

1969 (studio) Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions
1970 (live) Led Zeppelin
1994 (studio) Unledded
1998 (live) Page & Plant, Colorado
1999 (live) Live At The Greek

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Journey is a Trip

“I am a traveler of both time and space”
~ Kashmir, Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti 1975

Mage Music 70
Mage Music 70:  The Journey

Magick is such a trip! No, not the kind you do with chemical assistance but the kind of trip that is a journey. Magick is a process like a journey in that it's not just about arriving at a new place, but about the whole experience of getting there.

When it comes to Magick, every aspect of the journey from initial desire to end result matters.  Beaming down to a planet's surface is not a journey.  No matter what the movies would like you to believe, time - and what happens within time - is as important an ingredient of Magick as any other factor. The right amount (not too much or too little) and quality of use (as opposed to just spending it) are part of the art of manifesting reality.  

Time is, in fact, the most overlooked and therefore the most likely reason for an unsuccessful attempt of transmutation of energy. Magick isn't simply about waving a wand and instantly arriving at Point B, it is about the whole process of Point A through Point B and the infinity between the two points that is known as space and time.

It is self-evident that in any journey, you won't get where you want to go if you screw up too much.  This means you need to know where you want to go before you start, you need to know why you want to take your journey so you can know how to plan the trip. Once on the road, you need to pay attention to the signs along the way and take the correct route.  And there is no getting around that in any journey, the change from Point A to Point B is going to take the time it needs to take, no matter what.

Rushing things and taking shortcuts so that you can get to the destination is not the point of a great journey. If you only want to reach your destination, ask Scotty to meet you in the transporter room.  If, however, the going is as important as the getting there then what happens between the time you decide you want to go and when you get there is what it's all about.

If you want to be successful at Magick then know before you begin that the going is as important as the getting there. Magick is a process of creation - of changing personal reality on purpose, as opposed to letting the currents and whims of life do the changing. Full engagement of mind, body and soul in the entirety of a journey through the time and space of the process is what it takes for success in Magick.  High levels of desire, will and performance must be maintained throughout the planning and preparation as well as during the ritual itself. This means there are many possible opportunities to screw up along the way.

Many who attempt Magick will fail.  These would primarily be people who sabotage themselves by not being clear about what they really want or what that would look like in the new reality (not knowing their destination) and by failing to stick with the program all the way through to the end or to pay attention to the signs that would guide them along the way (messing up the journey).

It's not the fault of the Universe when Magick fails.  On the other hand, if a journey is never attempted, the goal will never be reached.

What are you waiting for?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My bad

"Got a monkey on my back, gonna change my ways tonight.  Nobody's fault but mine."
~Led Zeppelin, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Presence 1976

Mage Music 69

I could have scheduled a day off, I could have asked someone to be a guest blogger, but I didn't.  I could have figured out even a short post for today but I didn't - instead I made sauerkraut (yes I did).  And so all I've got to say is that there's no post this week and it's nobody's fault but mine.

Mage Music 69 My bad

If you really, really need to get your fix, you can check out a new blog I've got going, (Mostly) Daily Mage, which is sort of, more or less, tips for aspiring mages.  Or not.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mage Music Lite: The Master's Call

"Let the music be your master. Will you heed the master's call..."
~ "Houses of the Holy" by Led Zeppelin, "Physical Graffiti" (1975)

Mage Music 68

This graphics stuff has been fun but I'll probably go back to my usual writing next time.  Just letting you know.

Mage Music 68 The Master's Call

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mage Music Lite: Muahahaha

The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities...
~ Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Mage Music 67

Put yourself in the mood with this great sound effect a couple times*.  Prepare to travel down the path of no return, to the dark night of the soul....

Now get real - if you've been reading Mage Music all along, you know I'm just kidding - sort of. It's true the path of knowledge is one of no return. But evil? Read on.

Mage Music 67 - Muahahaha
Click to enlarge

* Muahahaha sound effect by Ondra Krist2008-01-14 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Going Over to the Lite Side

Mage Music 66 Ritual Object
Click to enlarge or scroll down for even bigger image
Not a Communication Breakdown, hopefully, or even that I'm Dazed and Confused (or at least more than usual). That's The Way it is right now, is all. If you don't like it, I guess That's Nobody's Fault But Mine

You know, maybe one of these days I'll do a blog post that's entirely song titles - but not this time.

Mage Music 66

(Best viewed if you click on the image below to enlarge it a bit).

Mage Music 66  the Lite Side
Click to enlarge

No guarantees I'll do this comic strip thing again, but you never know.

BONUS full-size image "Ritual Object" (1000 x 441)

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Mage Music 65 The Artist At Work
click to enlarge
I have dreamed of that song. In those dreams ... I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. 
~ Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Mage Music 65

This is the Mage's true art: Like a novelist or a movie producer who creates such fine work that the audience is totally comfortable and willing to suspend disbelief  and dive into a secondary and parallel reality of a fictional world, the Mage creates a work so perfectly free of stray and undermining thoughts that he can suspend his own disbelief and enter into a new state of reality. This is the path to the manifestation of Magick.

The disciplined mind of the Mage - the mind with powerful desire and will that stays On Purpose through ritual - doesn't actually repress or block thoughts that would undermine the Magick. Those thoughts just do not even occur, because they have no place in the mental setting the Mage creates. And yet, we all know what it is like to have unwanted thoughts slip in when we least want them.  They're bad enough for us, but for a Mage those unwanted stray thoughts can ruin an otherwise perfectly good Magickal ritual.

Not thinking of pink elephants.  Easier said than done? Not really. We all dream, don’t we.

I had a dream. Crazy dream. Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go...
~ Lyrics from The Song Remains the Same

Dreams are the alternate reality of the sleeping mind, and they are also the imaginings of the waking mind in the form of daydreams. A lucid dream is dreaming with awareness. While traditionally lucid dreaming refers to dreams that occur while asleep, dreaming while awake – if a person is aware of and directing the dream – could be considered lucid dreaming, too.

Dreams are experienced as reality while they’re happening.  A Mage must experience the desired changes he wishes to manifest as reality before they can happen.  A Mage does this using a process very similar to dreaming.  He becomes so fully invested in a secondary and parallel reality that it exists for him in personal experience which then allows him to shift from what has been to what will be.  

A Mage's desire and will, focused through ritual, channel the energy of the Universe to manifest a new reality.  A lucid dreamer uses desire and will to create a new dream reality without the expectation of carry-over to the waking state. 

Understanding lucid dreaming gives the non-Mage a taste of what Magick feels like when it is being worked because lucid dreaming is of the same coin as Magick, only with different expectations and outcomes.  

Add a little music into lucid daydreams and the state is as close to what a Mage does to change reality as makes no difference. Try it, you might like it.


These two pieces just popped out at me today.  They aren't particularly dreamy - in fact, they're hard-edged and a little scary... but dreams can go that way, too.

Baby Who’s Driving Your Car   Jimmy Page & John Williams, 1970
Guitar solo   Jimmy Page, Landover May 30 1977

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Burning Up

The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
~Alexander Graham Bell.
Mage Music 64:  Focus Everywhere/Nowhere/HereNow

Mage Music 64

Magick requires that the Mage maintain a deep-set knowing that a desire will manifest in reality.  This knowing is beyond belief and beyond thought. It is a surrender, a giving of self to the idea that the process of Magick absolutely will result in the desire made manifest.  

Not so easy when the Magick involves something the Mage has never done before, or perhaps something that has never existed before. Or even something the Mage has tried before and failed at.
It’s no sweat to manifest when the path is well-worn. In fact, it is so easy that Magick doesn't need to be involved at all. Almost anyone can make a meal out of raw ingredients using a tried and proven process – why bother with Magick to cook those ribs when the BBQ will work?

Dedication of time and energy and fully giving of self to an end that has never existed before is a whole other kettle of fish, particularly when the events out there in the world seem so out of control. 
Yet the biggest Works are those that seem the most impossible, the ones that manifest in the midst of apparent chaos. These are the Works of a Mage that exude such an excess of energy that the rest of us can bask in the glow of the Magick.

Boldly going where…

Imagine being blindfolded, earplugs cutting off all sound, wearing boxing gloves so you can’t feel anything - and then stepping off a platform trusting that the guy on the trapeze will grab your hands before you plunge to the hard ground below. Imagine believing so powerfully that you are able to walk across a bed of hot coals without burning your feet. A Mage uses the energy of the Universe itself to change reality, which is a kind of miracle, actually, since manifesting the smallest atom of anything that did not exist in this time/space before makes messing with trapezes and hot coals easy in comparison - although they do have a lot in common. Trapeze artist, fire walker and Mage all must hold an unwavering belief and trust, a steady desire and will that admit to no hint of failure, no moment of doubt of the outcome.  

Imagine, however, that you have tried and failed before. How much harder, then, to hold the necessary state of pure and intense trust that will result in manifestation, to know success in spite of the past? 
The past can't, of course, be unknown. A Mage must rather dwell in a state where the past has never existed.

No foolin’

A Mage can’t fake the level of belief and trust needed for Magick. It isn't a matter of logic or words - it is a matter of creating a change at the seat of emotion in the brain, such that the body and guts and mind already know the new state of reality.  A Mage creates within himself a new state that exists in the Universe already - so that which will be manifested in the outer world is already manifest in the Mage.

Impeccable preparation, the patience that allows time to stand still, and performance of the perfect ritual provide a means for the Mage to focus on the desired manifestation and keeps pressure, doubt and memory of failure out of the process. The Mage steps outside of the current state of reality into a transitional space where the new conditions can replace the old.  Magick then burns a new path in this world.

Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Albert Lee Burn Up 1967
Page/Plant Burning Up  1998 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Omens and Portents

"It is your omen, only you know the meaning. To me, it is but another star in the night."
~ Gerald R. Stanek, The Eighth House

Mage Music 63 
Mage Music 63: Lugh Light Singer
Click to enlarge

Reality communicates with us constantly. Reality can slap us in the face with a power chord, a car skidding into a tree, blood coming from a wound - or it can come at us more subtly through signs, omens and portents. Omens and portents are symbols that represent possibilities and guidance for choices, if only the meanings can be understood. Unfortunately the logical, analytic part of the human mind is not so good at interpretation. That’s because symbolism is emotional and therefore not the job of the thinking mind.

Gods are an example of symbols. They don't represent the Universe directly; they represent aspects of the universe that have meaning for humans. When Raven appears in the aspect (god, avatar or interpretation) of Lugh, Apollo, Odin, Morrigan, Mercury, any number of Native American or other cultural forms, for example, Raven can symbolize messenger, prophecy, thought and memory, warfare, arts and sciences, guardian, creator or trickster. The broad spectrum of cultural and mythological meanings for Raven or any of the gods or avatars do not lessen the value of their symbolism, but rather allows the meanings to be personalized and therefore more powerful. Thus what Raven or any god or avatar - or any omen or portent - means will not be the same for me as for you, and therein dwells their value.

Understanding the messages of the gods or of the Universe itself in the form of omens and portents is seated in willingness to open to pathways of knowledge that bypass the thinking mind and access the intuitive, emotional mind to provide meaning. Once these pathways are open, personal cultural history and life experience will provide a framework for the concepts elicited by the omens.

Raven appears: What is he for you, me or Mage? For the logical, analytic mind, a bird - perhaps at most carrying a mythological association. But Raven is more even than Ildánach "skilled in many arts", Lleu Llaw Gyffes "The Bright One with the Strong Hand", champion of artistry and skills, bringer of messages of beauty and light - though it is up to each person to discover the meaning of the message Raven embodies.

When the mind is open to opens and portents, everything is meaningful.  How much meaning you can grasp is up to you, and what the meaning is will be meaning for you alone.

This is how to understand the message that music brings when delivered by a Mage. Only you can know what the message is. The Mage has his own purpose, which is not yours.  Open your arms and let the meaning come running in.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Inner Wolf

Mage Music 62: His Inner Wolf  -
“The caribou and the wolf are one; for the caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf that keeps the caribou strong.”
― Farley Mowat

Mage Music 62

Wolves are scary. They are apex predators - meaning they are some of the most savage, ruthless killers on the planet. They are smart. They are organized. They will persevere until they've achieved their goal and they will overcome whatever they need to get there.

No wonder they're so scary. Wolves are just like us.

Humans fear and are attracted to wolves because we see ourselves in them. The power of the wolf is an irresistible lure. It calls to our souls, because while we label wolves apex predators, of course it is humanity that holds that title.

Nowadays people tend to hide from the predator and the power it represents within us – a mistake. Repression never deals with an issue; it only makes it more powerful, encourages it to seek out other avenues of release. Predators will not be caged. Wolves don’t run from things - they run towards things.

The inner wolf
Humans live with feet in two planes of reality – that of the body and that of the mind. The physical body shares aspects of all physical life. The mind shares aspects of the energy of the Universe.  The two parts need each other to be strong.
The power of the body and of physical reality is the power of the wolf. It appears to be a dark and dangerous thing when it is cloaked in the guise of the predator. When a person chooses to seek other realities - to connect with the energy of the Universe - the power of the wolf can be transmuted. For the artist, the flow of creativity is opened. For the Mage the energy of the wolf becomes the energy that changes reality.

We hear the song of the wolf, but it is wolf no more. We come to the call in fear or joy, but we come nevertheless.

Play this song, Cadillac (The Firm/Mean Business Hammersmith Odeon, 12-09-1984) while reading this post and looking at this week’s Mage Music artwork (click on artwork to enlarge, so you will see details you might otherwise miss). If you don’t feel the wolf, I'm pretty sure you are working hard to hide from it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Walk in Beauty

Mage Music 61  Walk in Beauty
With beauty, may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk
~ Excerpt from the Navajo Night Way Ceremony

Mage Music 61  

While beauty truly is in the eye (and ear) of the beholder, one thing that most people would agree to is that too much sameness is pretty darned boring, and that rule applies to what can be found in nature or in human-created works of art.  It is contrast that makes the difference – but not in just any which way.

Balance is beautiful
Contrast is the difference in surroundings that makes the contrasting thing stand out and be noticed.

Humans are quick to notice differences in patterns of everything around them.  Things that have changed leap out and attract our attention, because evolutionary survival has taught us that changed circumstances are often immediately followed by things that leap out and make us dinner.  This ability to take note of changes in pattern is so important to survival that it is an involuntary response of the brain.  Our response to sudden change is hardwired into us.

No one could survive, however, if they spent all their time reacting to every change.  There would be no time for anything else in life. We tolerate lots of change in our daily lives just fine.  Our brains don’t automatically shove us into involuntary survival mode every time there’s a difference in what we perceive.  We need to take time to differentiate between bad things and good - after all, just because something changes doesn't mean we won't like it.    

Being able to appreciate the contrasts in our environment, not just involuntarily run from them, is a good thing, too, because artists rely on contrast to give life to their work.  

Light and shade
Normal humans are most comfortable in a middle-ground of contrast, but we seek entertainment outside of the comfort zone.  We look for the maximum difference that doesn't tip us over into the danger zone. We all flirt with discomfort and risk for fun and enjoyment to one degree or another.

Contrast is interesting. We are attracted to it.  Beauty happens when there is just the right amount of contrast, which means balance. Sameness may be pretty on the first go-round, but artfully balanced contrast will stand the test of time.

Jimmy Page refers to contrast as light and shade. These are terms for visual arts, but the terms obviously apply to music, too. The important thing for music and any form of art is to find the delicate point of balance between too much and too little, and when you are dealing with things that are not necessarily alike, it becomes a juggling act.

Balance is beautiful
We humans have an innate understanding of music. We know instinctively when various components satisfy intuitive benchmarks. We seek out pattern and completion, and we know when the contrasts are beautiful or boring.

It’s not so easy to satisfy us though. The light and shade – contrast – that provides interest doesn't come from simple juxtaposition of opposites, which would be too predictable and therefore boring. Musical contrast doesn't come from just going from loud to soft, from fast to slow, from plain vanilla to heavy effects – it comes from mixing all possible combinations of musical values in contrasting patterns. Juggling, if you will.

Balance in art is a tricky thing. Great beauty comes from balancing on the edge of chaos – after all, juggling one tennis ball is not nearly as interesting as juggling a couple of raw eggs along with a sharp dagger or two.

When it comes to Magick, it’s even trickier.

Beauty in the heart of contrast
Consider how a downhill skier handles the many changing conditions there are on a run: Speed, slope, snow quality, obstacles, wind, and more. The skier finds an internal place of balance in the heart of the onslaught of new and constantly changing conditions, letting her body move around that center, rather than trying to move her center in reaction to the conditions. Knees flex, skis bounce, poles poke and drag, the body sways – a flurry of movement centered on a core of balance.  
A Mage steps from what is now to what will be by dwelling in the quiet point of balance between the inner world of his own desire and will, and external reality. Walking in beauty is dwelling in the quiet heart of contrast.  

I believe if you listen to the music of Jimmy Page, you will hear exactly what I'm talking about.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


“Will is another word for animate energy.”
~ William Burroughs, Crawdaddy Magazine, June 1975

Mage Music 60

Mage Music 60 - Review
There are quite a few new readers of Mage Music now, so this week I’m presenting a review of what this blog is all about. The review will not only serve as introduction to those who haven’t read the posts from the beginning (shame on you), but for those who've been here all along but maybe have forgotten some of the basic concepts.

Forgetting, of course, would only happen if you aren't practicing what you’re reading. But that’s a lecture for another time.

About Mage Music
I began this weekly blog because I was personally interested in exploring the music/Magick connection, specifically as demonstrated by the work of Jimmy Page. Mr. Page himself has stated that his music reveals who he is, and I found this to be a fascinating concept that felt intuitively correct as well as significant - a clue not simply to the mystery of that very private man, but about where his music comes from and what it is.

Mage Music, it must be emphasized, is not about Jimmy Page. It is about exploring the concepts involved with manifestation of new states of being in this reality through use of creative acts, such as music. I use Mr. Page’s music because it is so clearly full of Magick.

It is my intention to present an understanding of what Magick is and how it works in the real world in a way that is free of the constraints of traditional customs or beliefs of Magick and religion. To do this I explore the basic concepts that underlie all traditions.

Sometimes music helps explain or fleshes out things I’m discussing, in which case I offer a playlist. But not always.

About Magick and Music
The spelling, “Magick” has been in use since the mid 1600s. I spell the word that way, and I capitalize both “Magick” and “Mage” in this blog to not only to emphasize their use as metaphysical terms and to differentiate them from descriptors of the acts of illusion such as performed on stage, but also as a form of respect.

Magick is a process of desire+will that brings about change in reality, and desire+will are focused through ritual. According to the culturally influential and innovative artist and novelist William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), it is self-evident that the assertion of will is the primary moving force in this universe. All discussion of Magick in this blog derives from that assumption.

This means that any “rules” of Magick are the same as for all living beings that are capable of choice in this Universe (choice is a result of desire+will). Thus Magick works the same for Mages as for anyone who uses the process, and further, the laws of Magick are laws of deliberate creation. They are different from the laws of other physical objects, even other living objects, because they are laws of conscious and on purpose behavior. As Mr. Burroughs has said, there are no accidents in the world of Magick.

Music and all creative acts are very similar to Magick in how they work. Music, in particular, is worth looking at because it involves the same parts of the brain as Magick - and the effects are, in many ways parallel. Music is so natural and such an integral part of human consciousness that it amounts to another non-verbal language, one that expresses concepts that words cannot express.

Music used as a ritual of Magick is powerful stuff.

About Mages, You and Magick
Anyone can perform Magick. With sufficient desire and will, and focused through a correctly designed ritual, Magick is available to all as a way to purposefully manipulate the energy of the Universe, that is, change the stuff of which reality is made. As used in this blog, the difference between a Mage and anyone else who creates change through Magick is the level of proficiency. A master is a person who has complete knowledge or skill in an accomplishment, technique, or art - a Mage is a master of Magick.

To master music to the point of someone such as Jimmy Page is a matter of powerful desire and will, and a tremendous amount of time and effort. The music is the ritual that focuses that specific desire and will. Mr. Page has reached a level of proficiency that allows him to manipulate the music as he desires and wills without having to consciously think about it. This is not something that comes about accidentally or overnight, and it is the mark of a master.

Whether or not Mr. Page is a Mage is his own business, as whether or not you or I practice Magick is ours. What is important is to know that the concepts presented in Mage Music can be applied successfully to life itself, because Magick is a process of life itself.

About the Author
A professional non-fiction writer of government documents for the last ten years, I have decided to branch out into areas that are more speculative and closer to my heart. To that end I write weekly posts here on Mage Music and occasional posts on another blog, Spiritual Horsemanship. For a person with an open mind, the two blogs may be synergistic.

I also have completed my first novel, which touches on music and Magick. More on that another time.

It is no accident that I have chosen to live in New Mexico, a.k.a. the “Land of Enchantment”.

About the Artwork
All artwork on Mage Music is created by the author unless otherwise noted. Sampling has been purposefully limited to small portions of pre-existing images and, in using the samples for non-commercial educational purposes only, seeks to avoid infringement of photographer’s copyright.  You are welcome to share Mage Music images.

Mage Music generally also avoids using full face images of living persons due to the subject matter of this blog. Therefore, any resemblance to a living person found in a Mage Music image is in the eyes and mind of the beholder.

You will see this at the bottom of the Mage Music blog:

Magick is a matter of personal responsibility for beliefs, choices and actions. No one is required to believe, choose or act in any way other than he or she wills. No one else is responsible for the beliefs, choices or actions any human takes but that human alone.

That said, understand that what is expressed on this blog is a matter of the author's personal opinion, and these expressions of personal opinion are not recommendations for the readers' beliefs, choices or actions but merely food for thought.

I don't know everything
And I don't know the only thing
But what I do know...
In Closing
Your comments are welcome - I know what I know but I don't know everything.  Please keep comments on-topic.  I reserve the right to remove any comments that I have decided are are too stupid or ugly or boring to sully our minds.

Walk in Beauty.