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.