Saturday, January 26, 2013

Let There Be Light

“…she held the image…strong within her mind, demanding of the Light that what she saw must become the world's truth. Because she desired it. Because she willed it. Because the world itself must bow to the will of the Lightborn".
~ Mercedes Lackey: Crown of Vengeance

Mage Music 37 

In science fiction/fantasy novels, Mages are always getting involved with battles, conjuring deadly forces to kill enemies with a flick of the fingers, a twitch of a wand, or a circle in chalk on the floor. They blast mountains to gravel, change the courses of rivers, generate blizzards from balmy spring days, bestow Magickal powers on inanimate objects and even take over the minds of the unwary and unshielded. Certainly all good tricks, but such conjuring is truly the stuff of fiction, not real Magick. 

That's not because it is absolutely impossible to do those things, but because the immense power needed to generate those kind of changes of reality is just an impractical - and darned tough - way to use Magick.  Even the most powerful Mage is courting failure when attempting to go against the forces of entropy in the Universe - or even the desires of living things. Which is not to say that a Mage can't do some pretty impressive stuff. It's just that changing the world that way is using the wrong end of a lever to move a rock. There are easier ways to go about Magick that will, in the end, get you where you want to be.

The reality of the reality of Magick

Think about it: Here's an army of orcs, here's the brave, solitary Mage facing that ugly bunch. Fiction would tell you that the Mage will use Magick to force the orcs to stop their advance. The reality is that the most powerful control a Mage (or anyone) has is of himself*- meaning the Mage isn't going to be using Magick against orcs at all.

So - do the orcs get to pound the Mage into mush? Actually, no - in the real world, the Mage changes his own reality to one in which there are no orcs doing damage. Um... if there were actual orcs in this world for a Mage to deal with, of course. Metaphor, okay?

But wait!

I know you are objecting - because what I've described might sound a bit... wimpy - and likely at least one of your objections probably goes something like this: If the Mage's reality is changed to orclessness in a new reality, are there still orcs storming the castle in the old reality?

Probably. Maybe. It depends on whether you subscribe to the infinite Universes theory or not. Still, one soul incarnate in one body experiences one reality at a time in finite existence.  Magick is about purposefully choosing what that reality will be like. Even Mages can't change realities they aren't experiencing (and that means Mages can't experience the reality of another living being without becoming that being, which would mean not being the Mage any more...).  And this means that the best Magickal leverage for a Mage is to simply create a reality where orcs aren't an issue.  For him, the Mage.

Perhaps this version of Magick is not something you'd like to spend time in a movie watching, but it's the way things really work.  Look around you at the reality you live in. If Magick was used like a super-power, things would be a bit different than the reality we are currently sharing.

What are Mages for if not to stop orc armies? 

And why do we think they should be stopping armies of orcs, anyway?  Aren't orcs living beings that have their own desire and will?

Well, no.  Orcs are fictional.  I'm talking about this plane of reality, not theirs.  Faced with the real-world equivalent of orcs, a Mage needs to leverage energy, and that comes about through knowing the true goal, the true desire, and using the true desire with will and ritual to bring about change in the Mage's reality.  And the true desire can only be that of the Mage, not that of the castle or anyone else.

A fine point, but a crucial one.

If the castle is to be safe from the charging orc army (or the Mage's equivalent of orcs) the Mage must exist in a reality where it is already safe and has always been safe and always will be safe.  Orcs are not part of the picture.  To do this, the Mage is the one who must know in his body, mind and soul what existence in a reality of safe castle feels like, must know without a doubt that this is the reality for the past, for the now and for the future, and must bind it with ritual that will make it so.

And then it's the Mage's reality that changes - and how the energy of the Universe brings that about depends on factors beyond any finite Mage's ability.  Orcs?  Who cares.  That army may be just charging the castle to get to the Black Friday sale.  It doesn't matter what the orcs do because in the Mage's reality the castle is safe, if not orc-free.

What Mages are for in this reality

Fantasy is a wonderful thing, though as a friend of mine just said the other day, it can be frustrating reading about those Gifts that none of us have.

Except we do have them.

Not to the same degree, not every gift for every person - but we all have Magick in us and the ability to change our own reality.  We can't help it - it goes with the human package.  The difference between Mages and the bulk of humanity is that Mages choose their reality and the rest of us pretend we have no choice and let reality happen to us.

Thank goodness, then, that real Mages are living breathing conduits to the energy of the Universe.  They may be manifesting their own realities, but in doing so Mages open portals to the Light for us. Even if we don't choose to step through, we can still bask in the Light.  I've said it before and I'll keep saying it here:

Light bringers - that's what Mages are for.

That's no small potatoes, either.

* I use the masculine pronoun but understand it includes the feminine.  I'm a female, and I don't exclude my gender, just am going along with what's easiest.  The he/she, him/her way of writing is kinda kludgy, and I just can't make myself like using "their" when what I really mean is his/her, you know?  Yeah, okay, sometimes I do, but give me a break here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Beethoven in 1818 by August Klöber

A tourist in Vienna goes through a graveyard and all of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source.

He finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: "Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827."

Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony, and it is being played backward! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him. By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward. Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar.

When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th.

By the next day the word has spread and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward.

Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the group asks him if he has an explanation for the music.

"Don't you get it?" the caretaker says incredulously. "He's decomposing."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Day Off

Never put of until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.  
                                           ~ Mark Twain

I just read a really great book called The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing.  I highly recommend it.  It's only 90 pages or so and a quick and fun read.  Made me laugh out loud quite a few times, because it describes me perfectly!  Even if you aren't a "structured procrastinator", you might want to read this book because it probably will describe some of your friends. Borrow it from your library if you don't want to buy it.  Libraries are great places.

This is a way of telling you that I've put off Mage Music post number 36 to the point where I decided I don't want to write it at all.  It would have been glorious - my best post ever.  So sad that you won't read it.

But wait - I'm just kidding, aren't I?  I'm just procrastinating, right?  Yes - I am.  In fact, I'm procrastinating so long that you won't see a post from me till next Saturday.

But I did do some artwork for your enjoyment.  So enjoy.  Now I'm going outside to play.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Vision Quest

How far did they go?
"As far as our imaginations would carry us."
~ Jimmy Page, from Brad Tolinski's Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page

Mage Music 35

Hinode satellite image + It Might Get Loud

Vision: "the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be". 

Vision drives everything.  Every normal person has a belief system that describes the world is and what their place is in it.  Belief is the basis for vision of what will be.  Even if they're not conscious of having any vision at all, still people's decisions are influenced by their vision.  Their emotions arise from that vision.

Vision guides and shapes human lives.  The vision may not be based on "truth" - it may in fact be totally unrealistic - but it still guides and shapes decisions and emotions, and vision is the paradigm against which success and failure are measured.

The range of vision is infinite
For most people personal vision is small - that's not a value judgement, just a statement about scale.   Vision is derived from what is believed to be possible, and for most what is possible comes from what has existed or what is known.  Their vision goes not much further than the basics of everyday life.  As "small" as this vision may seem, it is still something extraordinary - few, if any, animals have the capacity for extensive vision.  

Moving along the range of possibility of vision, there are creative people - such as artists - whose vision is broader.  Their vision involves imagination and goes well beyond the basics of everyday life into areas that push the envelope of what is known and accepted.  Success is measured against the internal vision as well as external factors, such as how well the creation is received by peers and audience.

Sages, Mages and other grand visionaries are at the other end of the scale.  Their vision encompasses that which may never have been, and includes the improbable and the impossible.  These are the Masters who don't require external validation - their Work may never even be seen by others.  Their measure of success is how close their Work comes to fulfillment of their personal vision.  What they produce may be so different as to be frightening, so frightening as to be threatening, so threatening as to cause others to want to cast them down.

Vision Quest
Vision is always changing and growing as the human who holds the vision changes and grows. Sometimes, however, the vision is just a seed, an idea with no flesh.  Sometimes the holder of the seed has no idea of how it will grow or what it will grow into.  Sometimes that person only owns the desire to find out.

A vision quest is a search for the clues that will allow the seeker to find answers.  For those with small vision, the goal is to find one's life purpose: Who am I, why am I here, where am I supposed to be going?  For those with greater vision, the goal is to find the purpose of life:  Who are we, why are we here, and where are we going?  
For the Masters, the goal is to find the Way that will allow them to move life along.  For the Mage, the goal is to create a new reality.

For the Mage Musician, the Way is through the vision of the music.  How far can the vision go?  As far as the Mage will allow the vision to carry him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Muse Music Magick - and a Happy Birthday

2013 - Year of the Muse, January 1 2013

Before all the sweat equity that a Mage must put into Magick - or a musician into music - there must be inspiration to provide the goal, the end point of that journey. But where does inspiration come from?

The neat, clean hard-wired explanation
Scientists today are discovering some incredible information on how communication and creativity work in our brains. They are getting a picture of how truly hard-wired we humans are for what we are capable of. The actual physical pathways of electrical pulses and brain structures involved during acts of creativity are being mapped.  This is very exciting stuff - but what scientists are doing is confirming what many of us have already understood:  Music is something that not only we all can do or at least appreciate, but is a basic and necessary part of the human communicative experience that evolution shaped the brain to do.

But as nice and neat as that sounds, that still doesn't explain the source of inspiration.  Science is remarkably chary of addressing the hard questions:  Why does life exist at all?  What started it?  What's it all for?

The mushy, non-scientific explanation
Like with Magick, music is a process and an experience. Like with Magick, the musical process requires desire and will and ritual (performance). And like with Magick, in spite of what science would say, the source of music is not ultimately to be found in the hard-wired world but in something much vaster than electrical pulses in the human brain. 

Science has yet to venture into to the scary territory of the Mysteries and pretty much either pretends that part of the human experience doesn't even exist or that it's hogwash (although quantum physics is making that avoidance harder and harder to maintain). Even when attempting to categorize, quantify and otherwise pin down psychic phenomena science clings to the notion that there is no difference between the mind and the brain.  

The ancients tackle the hard stuff
Some thinkers have always known better.  To them - particularly the ancient sages of mythology and philosophy -  the mind/brain sameness claim would have been considered ignorant in the extreme.

Which is not to say that human attempts to explain the unexplained (and likely unexplainable) have been 100% accurate either, but at least they tried, and so those of us today with broader vision benefit.  There is much to learn from mythology, and thus we come to Muses, the goddesses who embody inspiration and the arts.

The Muses
In western mythology there were originally three muses: Practice, Memory and Song. However, traditional mythology gives us nine muses - either daughters of Gaia and Uranus, or of Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of memory, daughter of Gaia and Uranus). No matter what the genealogy, the Muse we are most interested in is Euterpe ("giver of delight"), originally the muse of music and later of lyric poetry. She is most often depicted holding a flute or sometimes a lyre.

Diodorus Siculus (Greek historian 1st century B.C.) said of Euterpe, "she gives to those who hear her sing delight in the blessings which education bestows."  The bringer of musical inspiration bestows the blessing of knowledge. But we knew that.

The point of the mythology is not that there is a goddess named Euterpe hovering in the background tapping the head of a musician with a magic wand and knocking inspiration into the otherwise vacant mind, but that the inspiration is a connection from the human mind to another realm, one that is vaster than humans. It is a blessing of enlightenment and delight that appears to spring from outside the musician, in mythology from a Muse.

Truly, inspiration comes from and through the musician, as does Magick. The source isn't the human being exactly - the Mage or the musician opens the way, is a conduit of the infinite and, necessarily, a filter that cannot help but distort (that pesky infinite/finite issue).

Background mosaic of  Euterpe
appears on the front
of a concert hall,
"la salle Rameau",
in Lyon, France.  
Click here for full image. 

Who needs a Muse?
So what's with the Muse, then?  If a Mage or musician can do it without one, who needs an ancient goddesses of mythology?  Well, to put it simply, there's the audience issue, too.

The Muse not only provides an explanation for the seeming Magickal blossoming of an idea but is also an audience to bounce ideas off.  All artists, all creators, need an audience - someone impartial who will experience and validate the work. But while in the process of creation, an actual human and fallible audience can be a bad idea - an uneducated comment, or even a good comment at the wrong time, can squash the artist's creative flow flatter than a bug under the sole of a Dr. Martens boot.

While some artists and Mage have a living, breathing person as Muse who provides inspiration and feedback, those extraordinary individuals are rare.  For the solitary artist or Mage, the work in progress must be bounced off of the vision of the heart and soul. It can be done, and must be done that way for the highest-level Mages of Magick, music or any of the arts or advancements in knowledge - new work means going where no Mage has gone before.

The Muse, then, is a metaphor for the artist's or Mage's process of tapping into the infinite and letting the light shine through.  Jimmy Page has declared this is the year of the Muse: A year of inspiration, of creation, of new music and of Magick.

Listen for your own Muse, for you surely have one if you want one.  If not your own, then Jimmy Page's will do.

Happy Birthday Jimmy Page January 9

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mage Music post delay

Posting weekly to Mage Music isn't rocket science, but it does take time and thought.  This week's post will be delayed due to pressing issues at home involving frozen water lines, thirsty horses and such.  Thanks for your patience.