Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Music and The Magic

Mage Music: The Music and The Magic
What I’m listening to as I write: Ten Years Gone
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin Atlanta 1977
Led Zeppelin Seattle 1977
Led Zeppelin California 1977
Led Zeppelin MSG New York 1977
Led Zeppelin Knebworth 1979
Led Zeppelin Cleveland 1979
Page & Plant Rehearsal 1996
Page & Plant Japan 1996
The Black Crowes with Jimmy Page New York 2000

Jimmy Page is often referred to as a Mage or Magus. A mage is a person who performs a paranormal kind of magic as opposed to magical tricks like a stage illusionist in Las Vegas. It's likely the label originally reflected Mr. Page's interest in the occult teachings of Aleister Crowley, although today it holds true for a different reason: Jimmy Page's uncanny musical ability.

A mage can also be referred to as an enchanter, wizard, magus, thaumaturgist, or simply magician. Each term has a subtly different meaning - some more negative than others - but all terms that refer to the occult kind of magic revolve around the manipulation of reality through supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws.

Magic is similar to religion in many ways. Although magic is generally more result-oriented and religion more worship-oriented, both (ideally) are about spiritual growth. And, as with religion, magic may take different approaches: That of the holographic or sympathetic universe (the practitioner's actions cause a parallel effect elsewhere), or that of collaboration (the practitioner gets supernatural beings to cause the effect).

In some ways all meanings apply to Jimmy Page as magus, especially since he, himself, described his life as “a fusion of magick and music” (Guitar World, January 2008). (Note the alternate spelling: magick. Crowley chose the spelling with “k” at the end to differentiate between occult vs. stage illusionist practice).

Rituals are sets of symbolic actions, performed in a certain order. Almost all religions and magic use rituals in their practice, however those more "purely" spiritual are seen as being able to practice without need of ritual. For most practitioners, pure or otherwise, ritual is a tool that serves as a means of settling the mind into the right frame to achieve the transformation desired.

The specific ritual used in magic depends on the type of magician and his/her approach to the practice, but the purpose for using ritual for all practitioners is the same: To create a focus of the will (focused desire) of the mage in order to bring about the desired transformations and to focus and unify the other participants in the ceremony (ceremonial participants are generally a source of power for the magician).

It would be easy to simply say that Jimmy Page’s musical work is magical because it is so very good, but that says nothing much at all.

It would be more accurate to say that Jimmy Page’s musical work is magical because it is about manipulation of reality through music and, in my opinion, because it is also for purposes of spiritual growth.
In his own words and actions, Mr. Page shows that his music speaks for him in a magical way. In a 1973 interview he stated that “We're all still seeking for truth - the search goes on", and “…at those times when I've hit it [when performing], it's just like I'm a vehicle for some greater force."

Of course, people grow, people change. The beliefs of the young are tempered by age. The Jimmy Page of 1973 is not the Jimmy Page of today, yet in 2010 Mr. Page still believed in the power of music: “ I think it’s got to be all part of our DNA, this mass communication through music” (The Scotsman interview).

Pure magic, the transformation of the world, is achieved almost every time that Jimmy Page performs. Mr. Page has been dismissed by critics for his sloppy playing, for not always staying in tune – basically for lack of perfection - but even on his worst, most tuneless, sloppy days, his music conveys an extra layer of meaning, a communication that makes the manner in which it is performed almost irrelevant. It is magic coming through, as Jimmy Page says about Embryo, a work in progress that he plays in the movie It Might Get Loud.

It is what we, the participants in the ritualistic ceremony of the music of Jimmy Page, understand is the guitar alchemy of a powerful mage.

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