Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mage Music: Ritual is not Magick

A black robe with a black cat looking on, a few candles and props, a chanted spell and a pass with the wand:  Magic?  No way!  On stage, maybe - but that's not real magick at all.

The truth:  Even when they use tools, today’s occult magicians and most other reality transforming professionals don't perform rituals like they did in the olden days.  In spite of what you may have learned from Harry Potter, real magic doesn’t require wands, spells, magic potions and powders, pentangles, crystals or any other prop to make the connections with the energy that will do the heavy lifting.  Still, all those things and more can be used to create magic - even if they are just tools that make the job easier.

The need to use specific tools of magic is indirectly proportionate to the skill of the mage. What this means is that a powerful mage can use anything – or nothing at all – to bring about transformations in the world, whereas a lesser magician can become dependent upon ritual, on the use of tools in a formulaic way to focus the mind and keep the will of the magician on task.

The reason rituals and magical props are not intrinsically necessary is because rituals are not the magic itself.  The fact is, anyone can use the recommended magical tools and perform the prescribed rituals with them, but only some will get the desired magical results.  Even the most highly skilled practice of ritual can never achieve the same level of results as a gifted mage who isn’t even half trying, because magical success resides not in the ritual but in the person performing the magic.

Lascaux, France paleolithicave painting

A little history
One theory of art history is that cave paintings, petrographs and petroglyphs were not art so much as summonings, blessings, and/or entreaties to the spirit world for success in the hunt.  The Lascaux cave paintings are around 17,300 years old and petroglyphs sites in Australia have been dated at 27,000 to 40,000 years old.  Undoubtedly the first human music consisted of humming, whistling, and singing; rhythm-keeping in the form of clapping or drumming must have occurred early on as well.

Music is powerful.  We don’t need science to tell us that music can evoke strong emotions and changed states of awareness (although science can, in fact, tell us how that works).  Shamanic drumming has its modern-day counterpart in trance music; a young child can tell the difference between happy and sad music; words that are used to describe music also are used to describe spiritual experience.  There has always been something magical about the application of paint to canvas or stringing one word or one musical note after another and having the end result be something that has meaning above and beyond the physical object.  For some practitioners of the various arts, the result is also magick.

Performance vs. creation

Jimmy Page is often referred to as “The Master” or “Mage”.   Magick or music - the honorifics acknowledge the quality and quantity his gift and his expression of it.  Yet performance itself, no matter how dazzling and technically excellent, does not a Master make.

Jimmy Page is definitely a master musician.  The YouTube playlist provided here includes selections of original music of Mr. Page's over a 15 year period from 1983-1998.  These songs were chosen to provide a powerful example of the skill of a musician at the level of mage.  Please note that some songs have solos that I have identified for particular consideration (also scroll down for individual links).

While any search of YouTube will yield numerous young guitarists (and some not-so-young or unknown) who have performed Jimmy Page’s tracks from various songs, none carry the magic of Mr. Page’s own work as he performs it.  Many can play the works of Jimmy Page's with technical excellence that may surpass his own technical skills, but none of it is magic.

“Music is an outburst of the soul.”  Frederick Delius

Jimmy Page, as has often been noted by his detractors, can be a sloppy guitarist and even off-pitch, yet somehow the magic is still there.  This is because ritual – musical technique – is not the magic.  You can listen to far more technically accomplished guitarists and be left cold.  Magic comes about as a result of the desire and will of the mage, not technique.  Jimmy Page plays music and makes it his own - he is always creating, not simply performing.  The music he produces is the result of focus of his desire and will; he is not merely producing a sequence of notes on his guitar that he has produced before, that anyone can produce – he is creating a new state in the world that matches his inner vision.

Each of the songs in the playlist is different, but each at its core expresses a certain Truth.  The expression of that Truth is magic.

It is highly recommended that you do not watch the videos while listening to the selections below. Concentrate on the sound for there lies the magic.

1983  Midnight Moonlight Live, ARMS concert with Paul Rogers [note particularly 3:23 – 5:15]
1988  Emerald Eyes Studio version, Outrider
1988  Writes of Winter Studio version, Outrider 
1993  Saccharin Unreleased, Coverdale/Page  [note particularly 2:50 – 3:16]
1998  Walking Into Clarksdale Live,  La Cigale Paris March 30 [note particularly 4:22 – end]


  1. Nicely written Lif. Jimmy's music and soul are one he transcends his instrument and in the process takes me on his journey.

    1. Thank you, Pagefan1960. I absolutely agree with your comment. I believe Mr. Page has always created music for his own purposes, and we are invited to go along on the journey as we will or will not.