Saturday, February 23, 2013

All In Good Time

The Mage musician's first notes begin to weave the spell.  It becomes harder and harder for the listener to focus on the guitar’s individual sound as the ritual builds.  The music becomes ripe with meaning above and beyond lyrics or melody…  and then suddenly Magick bursts into the world. 

Mage Music 41
Mage Music 41 - All In Good Time
Mage Music 41 - All In Good Time

Oh please.

In the movies and sword & sorcery books – and in wishful thinking - people believe that all it takes is waving wands or casting spells and then some Magick happens.  Sorry – that is just fiction, not reality. Even the greatest ritual, fueled by the most powerful desire and will, doesn't get Magickal results just like that <snap of fingers>.

Yes, the description at the beginning of this post is real enough – as far as it goes.  The thing is, Magick is not just the song you hear or the ritual you see, and Magick doesn't happen the moment the Mage says so mote it be.  

When you’re taken up by the Magick of the music - or the movie or novel - it's easy to overlook the fact that the real-life back story would have to include how long it took the hero Mage (or the bad-guy sorcerer) to reach the level of proficiency needed to get to that point.  Even if some of the months or even years of struggle to master the skills is depicted on screen or in print, having to actually sit through a the truth of all that hard work (work that is likely liberally sauced with failure) would be boring enough that you'd demand your money back.

Fiction can skip all the slow parts, but reality can't.  The reality is that little Jimmy put in hour after hour learning to master his guitar, taking days and weeks and months and years to prepare for stepping onto the stage and "effortlessly" creating Magick.

Time is of the essence

One of the defining aspects of ritual is time.

Dealing with time is an art in itself.  The infinite is timeless and all things that can happen in reality are happening at the same time.  Magick is, among other things, an interface between the finite and the infinite, and thus Magick partakes of the timelessness of the infinite to a degree.  It is the sequentiality of time on the human plane that keeps things from happening all at once, including in Magickal ritual.

Humans, even Mages, can’t help being stuck in sequential time, but that is a good thing.  Without sequential time we would not have music.  Inherent in movement is stopping, inherent in sound is silence. Thus, part of the art of dealing with time is knowing when to pause and when to stop – to know when enough is about to become too much.

The Mage begins the Work long before the first note of the guitar resonates in the world.  The requirements of the ritual have shaped the preparation; the preparation provides the momentum that builds over time until the point of change is imminent.  Only then is the first note of ritual sounded.  The ritual must take only the time needed to tip the momentum into change. More than that is too much, for Magick happens in its own good time. Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two for the price of one

“We went in there with such a will....
     ~ Jimmy Page, BBC interview 2007

Mage Music 40

There are a couple of things I want to talk about very briefly today.  They really should be two separate posts but oh well. This week you get two for the price of one.

There are two ways for a person to move a very heavy object:  Work at it really, really hard or use leverage.  Smart people don’t sweat it if they don’t have to, and Mages don’t get very far without being smart.

A Mage would have to be very, very powerful to generate all the energy required from his own person to manifest most of the monumental works of Magick.  Even if he was very, very powerful, the continued effort to fuel Magick that way sooner or later would consume him. We've seen more than one Mage musician flame out that way.  Thank the gods (or name your deity of choice) that a smart Mage can leverage power by tapping into the energy of the infinite.

Giving up the need to control, giving up specificity of process in favor of letting the Universe provide answers while still using desire and will to focus the energy through ritual is not as easy as it sounds.  It requires a master-level juggling act of Magick to pull it off.  I think we all agree that Jimmy Page is capable of that.

Most musicians would make playing at the highest level possible the primary goal for a one-off performance like the O2 Concert.  It would be a “have to do” thing - yet ironically, having to put forth a best performance makes it harder to reach.  That kind of pressure can lead to performance anxiety, to fatal doubt that undermines Magick by weakening the will.

They - Jimmy Page et al - didn't do that, though. Instead,  they went onstage with the desire to live in the musical moment, using their will to follow their hearts the way they always had.  Rather than attempting to force the manifestation, they felt their way to their desired end by following the sound and letting it lead them to the Magick.  In letting the music be their master, they opened to the infinite and let the energy pour in.  And we heard it as Mage music.

But was it really Magick?

What if Magick was just a fiction, only existing in novels about kids with lightning bolts on their foreheads, or TV shows featuring professional wizards who consult with skulls named Bob?

What if there was no such thing as Mage music?


We know Magick exists because we hear it for ourselves when we listen to the music of Jimmy Page. We recognize it personally when the Mage himself creates it right in front of our eyes (or ears). We know Mage music because we experience it.  We live in it and because it becomes part of ourselves we don't need anyone else to tell us when it's there. We know Magick is real because we feel it.

When the music sings in our own souls and we resonate with it and are brought out of ourselves to something more than these physical bodies because of it - that is Magick.

That is Mage music.  Thank you, Mr. Page.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


"I prefer to be weighed up purely by the communicative aspect of the music.
    ~Jimmy Page, 2010 interview by Tony Barrell, The Sunday Times

Mage Music 39

Mages have a reputation for being secretive and private.  Is this a behavior that is put on like black robes and a pointy hat, is it a requirement for becoming a Mage, or is it something that Magick does to a person?

Over the years of interviews, Jimmy Page has directed people to his music when they ask personal questions.  It is clear that what he feels anyone needs to know about him is to be found there, in his work. This has garnered Mr. Page a reputation for being a private, reclusive, even evasive person, implying somehow that this is a behavior he has purposefully adopted.

Perhaps, instead, the secretiveness of the Mage is not so much a matter of choice as of necessity.

Some things are not meant for words
Generally, for any artist the method of creation chosen is the only way of relieving the pressure of the Muse.  If what needs to be expressed could be expressed in any other way, it would be. The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan), or at least an integral part of it. Thus the art created is all the communication there needs to be - or perhaps even can be - because what you see (or hear or experience) is everything that the artist has to say in the exact way it can be most perfectly (or even possibly) said.

Hide or seek
Not only is the medium the message:  The messenger is also the message.  What is being said is an exposure.  It may be called music, fiction, dance, or art, but all art is a baring of emotional guts and raw nerve endings, of desire and need, of the innermost person that would otherwise never be made public.

Magick is a creative process.  It is an art that mirrors a Mage's soul.  In manifesting the Mage's inner reality as change in the Mage's outer reality, a bit of  the Mage's soul is brought forth along with it, visible and apparent for anyone who cares to see it.

Why would anyone wish to explain something vital and crucial with less than optimal use of communication? Why would anyone have anything more to say with words after Magick has been put forth containing as true and complete and perfect a communication as can be created by a mortal human being?

Magick is not about secrecy, it is about understanding.  Let the music be your master and you will know all there is to know about the Mage, for if you can perceive the Magick you have perceived the Mage.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


"What is important is that pursuit of something new and capturing that moment."
~ Jimmy Page (from Brad Tolinski's Light & Shade)

Mage Music 38

Rock and roll was was born from blues, country, jazz and the big band sound.  It was shaped for the teens and young adults of the 1950s and 1960s whose interests were very different from those of their parents' generation. The lyrics addressed topics that teens cared about - young love, young lust, young broken hearts, young loneliness - but the music itself was old and wise from the beginning, shivering with hidden meaning that was more enduring and universal than the immediate concerns of teenagers.

Rock as a musical genre has matured since then and so have the musicians who play it today - particularly those who were young when rock and roll first hit the airwaves and who have allowed themselves to grow up since then. Lyrics aside, the music has become more sophisticated, capable of conveying nuances and meaning well beyond the simple desires of youth.

And the Magick has changed, too.


As I write this week’s post, I’m listening to the audio of the O2 Concert yet again, paying close attention to the meaning-beyond-words conveyed through music by Jimmy Page. The evolution and maturity of the guitar work is obvious, something that is possible not only as a result of constant practice but also because of more than 25 years of life experienced between John Bonham’s death and those hours on stage in 2007.

No, it didn't sound exactly like 1980 or any other prior year in the active reign of Led Zeppelin - and why should it?  After all, the music of Led Zeppelin was that night just what it had always been: A musical expression of that moment in time, as individuals and as a band.  When they stepped onto the stage that night they weren't the same people they had been before and neither was the music.

The O2 Concert was the Led Zeppelin of 2007 - not 1977.  And, wow.

Wow because the music was great, of course - but even bigger wow because the Magick was not only still there, but better - richer, deeper, broader and more complex - then ever before.

The Led Zeppelin of 2007 had matured into something it could never have been 25 years ago.  Led Zeppelin - and Jimmy Page in particular - had always offered grace and depth and meaning (not to mention raw emotion and a violence and exultation of spirit), but never in such full bloom as they had on the O2 stage.  Like wine that had always tasted very, very good but that had finally aged to something extraordinary, in 2007 the music had evolved to a new plane of musical excellence.

And the Magick had evolved with it.


There can be no Magick without the human component for Magick is solely a human thing.  It is a relationship and process and experience that is shared between Mage and the life force energy of the Universe.  Even when absorbed by multitudes through music, Magick is the personal experience of the Mage.  Quantum mechanics tells us that at the level of energy itself - which is the level where true Magick takes place - the observer must be considered part of the system being observed.  Thus the Mage is a component part of the process of Magick, not external to it.  

This means that every instance of Magick must necessarily be unique from all others, because a living human is changed by life from moment to moment as it is lived. As the Mage changes over time due to constant new input that life itself brings, the Magick must necessarily change.  

Mage and Magick evolve, and yet The Song Remains The Same.