Saturday, June 29, 2013

Child's Play

I take chances and I risk, but I don’t study. I’m trying it on. With this spacey, trippy shit, I get in the middle of it and go.
~ Robert Plant, interview by Tim Cummings, July 11 2012

Mage Music 58  

Mage Music 59 Child's Play
We all know about play. We might not play very much as adults compared to kids, but play is an integral part of a healthy childhood and kids play a lot. It’s probably no coincidence that generating music with musical instruments is called “playing”, because the two are related.

It probably won’t come as any surprise to you that play and Magick can be related, as well.

Children naturally and spontaneously engage in music and play, and often the two are inseparable activities. Kids often will sing or hum while totally focused on their play activities, and we all know about play activities that involve chanting or singing. How can you hop through the hopscotch pattern, jump rope or play clapping games with your best friend without music?

If you think back, you might remember how it felt to become completely submerged in the world you played in – and how that play world was not necessarily at all like the world around you in reality. Do you remember how you completely were in that world, and how you experienced it the same way as the here and now, the “real” reality?

The Swiss psychologist and philosopher, Jean Piaget (1896-1980), described how children take information from their experiences in the outside ("real") world and integrate that information into the mental structures they've created for themselves. They then learn to change or accommodate their mental structures to better match up with what they already know.  That's how they learn to operate in a world of grownups.

But when playing, children do the opposite: They suspend the grownup reality and make their internal world adapt to experiences of their own choosing. And then they fully live there for the duration of the play time.

An isn't it interesting that musicians do that, too - and so do Mages.

Dreams, play, music and Magick

Mage Music 59 Child's Play  jimmypagemusic.blogspot.comDreams are like play in that the dreamer is totally immersed in a reality of his own creation. Musicians, too, can become fully immersed in a created reality of the musical moment. How many photos have you seen of Jimmy Page totally absorbed in the sound and creative process, surrounded by band and stage crew, in front of tens of thousands of people - and yet oblivious to the world around him? Eyes closed, face sometimes vacant, sometimes distorted with intense focus, the “real” reality has ceased to exist for him in that moment.

Just like a kid.

This is the very state a Mage needs to generate in himself to manifest change in the world. The state can be reached through any well-executed ritual, but music is natural and familiar to the brain and the body, and thus using music as ritual of Magick allows transmutation of reality to become a more natural and familiar process, too.

I'm cutting this week's Mage Music post short because I want to have some playtime of my own.  See you next week, and enjoy your Summer's Day.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Let The Games Begin

You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth
~ Jareth, the Goblin King (Labyrinth 1986)

Mage Music 58

Mage Music 58 lemonysong  jimmypagemusic.blogspot.comRituals of Magick can take many forms – theoretically, an infinite number of them. Each ritual is specific for a time and space in which it occurs - including the state of the soul of the individual performing it - so there is no one recipe for Magick that will do the job.  And of course, Magick isn't truly about changing the world. What it really is about is the Mage’s becoming a different person in a preferred world.

What all this means is that no one can ever know the true workings of Magick in any ritual that is not their own.  Magick is a thing of the Mage’s mind and soul. No one can know the true symbolic meanings of the objects or the actions of someone else’s desire and will, particularly since each instance of Magick is its own thing, blossoming into the world once to never exist again. Oh, anyone can see how things are placed in a ritual, they can hear the sounds, they can follow the progression - but they can never know the true symbolic relationships that the Mage has set for that specific instance in time and space.  Not unless they are truly psychic and living in the Mage's brain... which no doubt the Mage would have something to say about.

Thank goodness this doesn't mean that others can’t bask in the glow of a Mage's work.  In fact, the radiance of Magick that can be seen or heard or felt can be borrowed, in a way.  

It’s true - you don’t have to be a Mage to use Magick. In fact, those who are changed by the music of, say, Jimmy Page, are actually doing Magick themselves - even without being a Mage. With sufficient will and desire, a person can use the Magick of a Mage's ritual to prime the Magickal pump, so to speak.  

Metagame Magick - Recipe for Ritual

You still have to follow the rules of Magick, though.  Magick isn't random - it is the purposeful bringing about of change in reality.  One result is that while you can follow all sorts of recipes for a ritual, and you can even borrow the Magick of a ritual, the symbols must still be yours, they must have true and personal meaning for you. You still have to have the desire and the will, and even though the ritual is borrowed, you still have to understand it and own it yourself.

The recipe for ritual can be as simple as playing a game.

Metagaming is game strategy that transcends the regular playing rules.  The term refers to the game universe outside of the game itself - just like how Magick refers to the planes of reality outside of itself. Metagaming is using knowledge beyond the characters (in role-playing) or the assigned meanings of the game pieces to change the way the game works within itself. It is a layer over the game that is a game-changer.

Just like Magick.

Here’s a down and dirty example of metagame Magick using Solitaire (2 colors) as ritual.
Mage Music 58  Metagame
  • First you just play, hoping to win.
  • Then you play hoping to see the patterns.
  • Then you use the patterns while playing to tell you something about how the world beyond the game works.
  • This starts to influence how the cards come out, as you infuse the process with desire and will.
  • And then you can manipulate the game to influence the world.
This metagame description is a metaphor, of course.

You have to play a lot of solitaire to get to the level of skill that lets you put your attention to other levels of reality at the same time you are moving cards. I believe that you may have heard examples of that level of skill in music before.

*  Background of the top image is neutrino sub-atomic particle tracings.  They look like arcane alchemist calculations, don't they.

Added 06/24/13:
"If there is no one recipe for Magick, and no one can know the workings of Magick in a ritual not their own, how does this fit with teaching the young magician -- eg, Hogwarts?"

If magic exists in the real world, it both is and isn't like Hogwarts.

It is like Hogwarts in its similarity to how schools teach a kid to play a musical instrument - fingerings, the proper way to hold the instrument, how to read music. However,in the end the kid isn't being taught music but rather the craft of playing an instrument.

A kid can get 12 years of musical instruction and still be a lousy musician because the music isn't something that is taught, it's something that a person finds in herself and feels compelled to bring out.

The craft of making music is a skill but it isn't the music itself. So too with Magick. The Hogwarts image of teaching young magicians could easily lead to a misunderstanding as to what is really going on.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Set the Stage

Know Thyself
~ inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi

Mage Music 57

Art reflects the real world, they say – and so as with any other creative process within this plane of existence, setting needs to be included when designing ritual. Be it music, painting, dance or a novel, details don’t just fill themselves in. They need to be supplied by the artist in order for the work to be manifest.

Mage music 57 Know Thyself
Sensory details and emotions fill in the “who, what, where, when, why and how”, and bring reality to the work that allows the audience to receive what the artist had in mind. The best of the creations can draw the audience in so deeply that they are shocked when they finish the last word and close the book’s cover, or see the credits rolling down the screen, suddenly thrust back in the here and now instead of in Westeros or Essos at the end of the decade-long summer.

For musicians there are different kinds of details, but they still need to be filled in. One riff does not a song make. The composer has the song inside his head, but the audience can’t hear it unless every note is brought forth in the order, tempo, pitch, timbre, rhythm, tone and dynamic that the musician is personally hearing, using instruments that best express what the composer has in mind.  Each sequence of notes - connected to a musical style with its own history, musicians, riffs, instruments - is connected to the next sequence, bringing in yet more connections to emotions and meaning in time and space.

Haphazard or incorrect choice of details can ruin the ritual so something quite unwanted is manifested - or nothing happens at all. It’s hard to know which would be worse, but this much is true: It would be a waste of energy no matter what.

Details are everything
Ritual objects of Magick are symbols meant to evoke meaning beyond the physical details. As with the elements of any kind of artwork, every detail of the symbol is important if the ritual is to be successful. Ritual symbols, however, have meanings that matter on more levels than merely on this plane of existence. This means there are a lot more details for one simple ritual object than there are for other human-created works. And you can’t have just one - every object exists in time and space and thus time and space for each object are part of the ritual, and that engenders yet more detail.
He reached in to a pocket and pulled out a river stone, smooth and dark. ‘Describe the precise shape of this. Tell me of the weight and pressure that forged it from sand and sediment. Tell me how the light reflects from it. Tell me how the world pulls at the mass of it, how the wind cups it as it moves through the air. Tell me how the traces of its iron will feel the calling of a [magnet]. All of these things and a hundred thousand more make up the name of this stone.’” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear.

Mage Music 57 Everything's Connected  jimmypagemusic.blogspot.comOnly a hundred thousand more details to consider? In fact, any one ritual symbol has an infinite spider web of meaning, with strands of meaning reaching in infinite dimensions. There are layers upon layers of elements of meaning, details of symbolism that make the difference between a ritual that has a chance of succeeding and one that doesn't.

The fat black candle or the thin white one... or the blue oil lantern? The eagle feather or the drum, or both? The asp or the cobra… or maybe a unicorn? Repeat the chorus or change it a bit? Lift one hand and spin or leap into the air? Perform this song before or after that one? Each symbol has a relationship with the other symbols in the ritual, which means the elements combine exponentially.

It is pretty mind boggling to even think it could be possible to work with symbolism at all, but yet Mages do it. Is that because they're smarter, more gifted, better looking or luckier than anyone else? 

No. It's because they know a shorthand - they know themselves.

As above so below
The theory of fractal cosmology states that the distribution of matter in the Universe, or the structure of the universe itself, is a fractal across a wide range of scales. Fractals are self-similar patterns, meaning they are "the same from near as from far". Fern leaves are an example of fractals in nature, as are trees, lungs, veins, and so on. In the fractal Universe, planets orbit around the sun, sun is in orbit in a galaxy, galaxy moving in a Universe and on up, and you can go the other way down, from molecules, to atoms, particles, etc. 

What this means is that you can know something about suns by knowing molecules: fractals across different scales. And what this also means is that a Mage can use symbolic objects in ritual when knows himself and his relationship to that object. 

First the Mage must know self. Then a Mage can know surroundings. Through this knowledge the Mage can know the Universe and can manifest in his reality.  

As above, so below. But first, know thyself, because the Self is the true stage wherein the ritual takes place.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Million Monkeys

“Your brain on music is a way to understand the deepest mysteries of human nature.”
~ Daniel J Levitin, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Mage Music 56
Mage Music 56  Comes the Magick

This post is a mix of a few different things that at first might seem not seem connected but at a deeper level really are. I want to share some questions that have been asked here as well as on the Mage Music Facebook page, and then there's my, um, unusual playlist that I have a few things to say about.

So here we go with questions first, though not necessarily answered in the order they were asked. Sorry.


Q: What exactly is a genius? Is it true that if you can bring Magick into music you must be a kind of genius? Are all Mages geniuses? Can an artist be a non-genius and still create Magick?

A: A Kind of Magic (I got an earworm from reading the question).  First, let's lay out a few basic concepts. Let's agree that a genius is a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative. And let's agree right from the start that Jimmy Page is a musical genius since there is no doubt that he is exceptionally creative. And there's no doubt in my mind that the music of Jimmy Page carries Magick in it and probably there's no doubt in your mind either since you're reading this, so let's take that as a given, too.

But are genius and art and Magick connected? 

Well… yes and no. I believe that an artist can be a non-genius and still create Magick. That's because I don't think there is a cause/effect relationship between genius and Magick (or art and Magick), but rather that they are similar expressions of the human soul. You can't lump the two together, making one a product of the other, because Magick can stand alone without art.  Plus, I think there are some pretty darned dumb Mages out there - artists, too.

Anyone can create Magick to some degree - at least if they do it right. Magick doesn't require intelligence or creativity - it does, however, require powerful desire and will and a certain skill in the performance of ritual.

Maybe not so coincidentally, it takes those things - desire, will and skill - for art and genius to express themselves in the world, too. That's because while it certainly appears that people of extremely high creativity and intelligence have something extra going for themselves, just having a gift doesn't automatically result in use of the gift to its fullest or highest extent. A gifted person can be a slacker just as well as the next person can. So, while it might be easier for a genius to do Magick, that doesn't mean they will do Magick - or anything else - not without actually working towards it.

Which brings up the monkey business

Q: Can a Mage own the magic without be aware of doing it? Or is just because of his particular being?

A: Magick is all about choices and manifesting with purpose.  A Mage is, by definition, a person who chooses to do Magick, which is purposeful transmutation of reality. An artist is also a person who chooses to purposeful transmute physical reality. But... the short answer to your question is sort of but not really.

You can't do something on purpose without being aware you're doing it.

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time (or an infinite number of monkeys typing for a specific amount of time if you want to get this done sooner) will eventually produce the complete works of William Shakespeare. This is assuming that the monkeys aren't aware they're supposed to be writing plays and don't stoop to plagiarism.

Artists and Mages work hard to achieve their results.  They like credit where credit's due.  Artists don't want people to think they create their art by accident.  Still, a person with sufficient desire and will and skill - a person such as Jimmy Page, for instance, or any person who has worked hard to develop those components of creativity - could and probably does also manifest Magick without being consciously aware of it, but not because it's by accident. Owning the music, owning the creation, means owning all of it, including the process of creation, and the process itself requires active and purposeful involvement. The musician may not have intended his music to carry Magick - that might indeed be a bonus - but he certainly intended to create the music itself, no accident there.  And given the similarity of the components - desire, will, skill in ritual - and given how suitable music is for carrying Magick... well, then you get Jimmy Page, who may or may not be purposefully manifesting Magick, but he's purposefully creating so it makes no difference, does it?

Check out this week's playlist, for example. Some of the sounds created by recording cosmic radiation sound pretty good. There are moments during them that sound almost purposeful - but the moment Jimmy Page's music starts, you know there's a human hand at work. That's because cosmic radiation sounds, no matter how beautiful, aren't actually music. Perhaps a higher level of being has created them on purpose - but that purpose is not knowable by humans, and therefore there is no meaning to the sounds and they are not music.  Non-music can suggest music, but it can't be music.

Music from other realms

I've created a kind of strange playlist for this week's post, recordings of cosmic radiation and other space anomalies that are converted through instruments into audio signals.  These tracks alternate with Jimmy Page's soundtrack for Lucifer Rising.  The thing that caught my ear is that the space recordings were all made decades after Jimmy Page recorded Lucifer Rising, and yet they are so similar that you have to wonder just where and when Mr. Page's soul was traveling back then.

The combination is actually very eerie and the final one, the recording of the sun, seems creepy to me. How cool.

Also, I just had to include that link to Queen's A Kind of Magic in the post above.  First, I had to because the phrase in the question reminded me of it; second, if you want Magick in your life you've got to listen to your intuition; and third, Brian May certainly knows something about musical genius and Magick.  Not to mention the great Freddie Mercury, who, ironically, felt that you either have Magick or you don't - you don't work up to it.  I have to respectfully disagree.  But that's another tale, another time and place.

Full Playlist (note that some videos have a no-sound text introduction and conclusion).
NASA space sounds
Lucifer Rising track 1
Sounds of the Planet Mercury
Lucifer Rising track 2
NASA Voyager recordings
Lucifer Rising (Incubus)
Earth sounds from space
Percussive Return
Sound of the Sun

Saturday, June 1, 2013


“…knowing the notes isn't enough. You have to know how to play them.”
~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

Mage Music 55
Mage Music: Symbols of Ritual 1

Designing ritual is like building a skyscraper, as I discussed in the last post.  Both require solving one finite component of a complex issue at a time.  Both ideally begin with a strong foundation upon which a sturdy framework and solid layers are constructed, and only at the end is the ornamentation added.  Of course, neither ritual nor a skyscraper must absolutely be constructed that way, but if they're going to support any real weight at all for any length of time, it's best to start from the bottom up and do it right.

A structural engineer or architect works from specifications that can be generally known in advance. The specs for location, materials and the construction methods can be codified, and there will thus be similarity in basic construction from one skyscraper to the next if they are constructed within the same time period.

The challenge for a Mage, however, is that the components of ritual will not be known well enough for specifications to exist, and rituals with similar goals may not be similar in appearance at all. This is because rituals are generated from and are an extension of the Mage and the components have meaning of personal rather than external significance.

Ritual objects

Ritual should not be confused with ceremony, which is a series of acts performed according to a traditional form. Ritual of Magick must be new in essence every time it is performed because all facets of the world in which the manifestation is to occur are constantly changing. Owning the ritual - generating the symbolism personally - is key to successful Magick. This means that simply adopting the use of symbolic objects and acts from other rituals that have no personal meaning for the Mage most likely will not generate the intended result.

When it comes to ritual - and Magick in general - one Mage's truth does not have to be truth for the next. Furthermore, what the rest of the world believes to be true doesn't have to be truth for a Mage's either. Good thing, since much of the world won't even admit that Magick exists other than as stage tricks.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell defined a symbol as an energy evoking and directing agent. He said that symbols have three aspects: that of the thinking mind, of the unconscious mind, and of the "ineffable of the absolutely unknowable". The first aspect can be consciously known by the Mage, the second can be felt through emotion, and the third is known only indirectly as a Mage's connection with the energy of the universe.

As a symbol, the physical specifications of a ritual object are not as important as how pure, personally meaningful and emotionally loaded the object is for the Mage. While anything will do, obviously some objects will not work in a ritual - either because they don't have physical form or because the physical form is inconvenient or perhaps doesn't even exist. No matter, because it's the meaning of the symbol to the Mage that is the important thing.  Unfortunately, not only does meaning have many layers, it is a squirrely thing that can't exist nakedly on its own in the human universe. With the meaning changing as the Mage changes and the reality of the world changing as it will, it's obvious why the old adage of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) applies. The successful Mage has to develop symbols that he is attracted to and that he can manipulate without losing the meaning of as the ritual progresses.

Mage Music: Symbols of Ritual 2  jimmypagemusic.blogspot.comThis is why a Mage who works through music needs to own the music - ownership not in terms of the law of man but in terms of the law of Magick.  It's not enough to simply know the notes and to play them well.  A Mage musician has to know the notes as he knows his own soul, and to perform them each in a place made sacred by intent, without error of desire or will, and freely offered to the Universe.

Here are links to two versions of the same song, When The Levee Breaks, yet with so different a sound they could be different songs. Of course, part of the explanation for the difference is that the kind of music Led Zeppelin was doing wasn't invented yet - but what's more important is how Led Zeppelin made this song their own. This is how the Magick comes.
When the Levee Breaks, Memphis Minnie (1929)
When the Levee Breaks, Led Zeppelin  (1971)