The Magickal process is a simple formula (simple, of course, not being the same as easy): Desire + Will + Ritual => Manifested Change. The process is not a sequential one; in fact all of the input must occur not only at the same time but be sustained over time in order to achieve success. A Mage Musician must master all of the input in the Magickal process mindfully while at the same time being free to disappear into the music and let the music be the master. It's no wonder that there aren't a lot of Mage Musicians around. It's no wonder that, even though music is a highly suitable carrier for Magick, there just isn't a lot of Mage Music around either.
Desire is something we all experience to some degree or another all the time, though the quality of desire in Magick is not quite the same as, say, for rocky road ice cream or even for sex. On the other hand, Will is something we non-Mages experience way too infrequently - we tend to go through life on automatic pilot for one thing, and for another engaging our will is just not as much fun as fulfilling our desire. Without Will, though, desire easily slides into wishing and hoping. For the process of Magick, purposeful and directed Will is a bridge between desire and ritual; wishing and hoping alone aren't powerful enough to change Reality.
When you do something in a willy-nilly way, it can mean that you've done it in a disorganized or sloppy manner or, contrarily, that you were forced to do it whether you wanted to or not. Willy-nilly comes from "will ye, nill ye", and "will", too, seems to have two contradictory meanings: Your will can be merely your desire or it can be your deliberate focus.
Will or willy-nilly: All meanings apply very well to the music of Jimmy Page, which for so long has seemed to be nothing less than the product of the application of a Mage's Will to his soul's desire.
Creation is the transmuting of inner reality into something that can be experienced in the world; music does it using sound to express meaning that words don't or can't convey. Magick is a Mage's process for creation, the transformation of a desire into changed reality.
If music is the evidence, then for at least one extraordinary musician we can believe in the existence of a ferocious and persistent Will that has sustained an ongoing drive to express the perfect sound - the one note after the next that exposes the naked, pure heart and soul of Reality. This level of Will involves maintaining sustained attention and consciousness of process over time so that the perfect sound can be not only created, but the unending possibilities sifted, rejected, transformed, added to and pared back. It involves never accepting the music as "good enough".
Reality isn't so easy to change. Manifestation must overcome the powerful forces of inertia (resistance to change) and entropy (the tendency towards disorder and ultimately dissolution) within the Universe. Just wanting something to be different won't make it happen - a fact I think most of us are very familiar with. Creation and growth do not happen without a price: Directed, focused energy - that is, Will - is the currency for purposeful change, regardless of what the end result is to be.
It takes strength and determination, stubbornness and true grit to stay the path of Magick. It takes mental and emotional discipline to imagine what does not exist and what has never existed while keeping the mind clear of old paradigms and expectations. It takes sustained effort and being so controlled that the only thoughts, emotions and actions that are presented to the Universe during the process are the ones that lead to the goal.
If you think this is easy, try this experiment: Hold one thought - of anything you would like to see manifest in your reality, anything that does not already exist - without another thought entering into your mind for a mere 17 seconds (I have read this is the shortest amount of sustained time needed for a human being to effect even a small, insignificant change in Reality - but even if that isn't so, I still challenge you to try it). Seventeen seconds. Be sure to create a powerful desire for that thing you want to manifest, and keep that powerful level of desire burning at the same time as you sustain constant and focused awareness of your goal. This is not simply meditation: The goal of Magick is to create a change in Reality.
Most people can't even begin to generate a clear concept of something that doesn't exist, much less maintain a powerful desire for it for longer than a few milliseconds. Magickal Workings can take not just a short 17 seconds, but minutes and more. And then there are the Works of Mages....
The Mage is the Work
As above, so below: macrocosm/microcosm. The need for extraordinary desire and will plus the need to sustain the process over time means becoming the Work, not merely directing it. As an artist or musician is a person who has so merged with the work that he/she cannot meaningfully be talked about separately from the art or the music, so too a Mage cannot be meaningfully considered separately from the Work.
Unlike with artists or musicians, however, a Mage can never not be a Mage. Once become a Mage, a person has crossed a line: Enlightenment brings the understanding that humans alone are responsible for the outcomes of their choices - and that understanding cannot become unknown or unlearned or even forgotten. In order to manifest in the world, the Mage must literally change his/her own Reality. Enlightenment means that a Mage must be the change he wishes to manifest.
Thus enlightenment is like losing virginity - there is no undoing about it. An artist can stop painting, a musician can stop playing music and eventually each will no longer be an artist or musician - but no amount of celibacy will get a person's virginity back. "Mage" is not a title but a description of a state of being. Magick is a process used to change the reality of the Mage, whose state then becomes a microcosm of change in the greater Reality of the Universe.
We can only imagine how it must have been for Jimmy Page, back in the late 1960s, to be feeling his way through music in order to express what must have been a powerful inner vision that stirred within him. We know that he tried and discarded visual expression (painting) as a means to satisfy what was in him that wanted to come out. From the beginning Mr. Page experimented with different musical instruments, pushing musical barriers to try to capture the perfect sound that was his inner vision.
How extraordinary it must have been to one day hear a song performed by Jake Holmes (ironically, the originator of the slogan "Be All That You Can Be") that carried a hint, some echo of essence, some sound that was perhaps almost there, almost right, almost what Jimmy Page's heart and soul could feel so strongly. How that music must have called to Mr. Page, and how joyfully he must have responded! Did he know, even then, that Dazed and Confused would be one of the most powerful vehicles for his musical genius for the next half century?
Willy-nilly, Jimmy Page has changed Reality - his own and the world's - with that song. Each time he performs it, it is a Work in progress, never a repetition. Each time it is a restatement of his desire, an expression of his will, a ritual of exploration and manifestation that changes Reality. Each time has gone on since 1968. Can there be any more evidence of Will than that?
Mage Music is dazzling, it dazes and amazes us - but the Mage Musician that is Jimmy Page is never confused. We know this because if he plays the same song, he nevertheless doesn't play the same music! Mr. Page still explores, still searches for the perfect combination of components, still performs the ritual of Mage Music. The desire and Will that has driven him for so long is why he is a Master. Absolutely no confusion about that.
Future post: Ritual (probably next week, but maybe not!)
YouTube full playlist
Dazed and Confused - individual songs
1967 Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused (album) The Above Ground Sound
1968 Yardbirds - I'm Confused (live) Yardbirds Album: Yardbirds Featuring Jimmy Page
1969 Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused (studio) Album: Led Zeppelin
1973 Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused (live)Madison Square Garden. Soundtrack from the movie, The Song Remains The Same
1988 Jimmy Page - Dazed and Confused (live) solo Arizona Sept 17 1988
1999 Jimmy Page - Dazed and Confused (live) New York
2002 Jimmy Page with Paul Weller band - Dazed and Confused (live) Feb 09, 2002 Royal Albert Hall, Children's Cancer Trust Benefit
2007 Led Zeppelin/Jason Bonham - Dazed & Confused Dazed and Confused O2 Arena