Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mage Music 18: Fetching the Magick

Ritual is the glue that holds the Magickal process together...

Mage Music 18

Black Dog
artwork based on NASA image
click on image to enlarge
Like everything else associated with Magick, Ritual is simple, but it’s not easy. Just for openers, there is more than one flavor of Magick. There is no one Magical path that is the sole truth of things. There is no good or bad Magick, either – Magick is what the Mage chooses to make it, since Magick is a process and tool of the Mage, not an independent thing in itself. The Power that the Mage accesses using Magick is the infinite energy of the Universe, which is not owned by Magick, the Mage, a demon, an angel or any being.

Even within one flavor of Magick there are many possible rituals that can be used by a Mage to achieve the desired outcomes. The ritual can be from any number of possible sources or it can be created by the Mage. The same ritual can be used over and over again or can be changed from time to time. Always, however, the risk exists for putting too much emphasis on the ritual’s form rather than its function. More on this in a bit.

Ritual: The Abracadabra Part

Ritual is the visible, external part of Magick. It’s what people see in the movies and read about in books and, if they are uneducated about Magick, it's what they think Magick is all about. Not so.

Ritual is the action that is used to bind the desire and will of the Mage and provides a focus for long enough for the Mage to access and open to the energy of the Universe. It’s the unlimited and infinite energy of the Universe that makes changes in the reality of the Mage... if all the component parts of Magick come together just right.

There is no Power in Magick itself, since Magick is a process not a thing. There is no Magick in a magic wand or in a secret word or symbol – if any of those things seem to contain Magick, it is only an illusion, a seeming that comes from the Mage at the time of use in ritual. Don't believe it? Well, a non-Mage can go to a magic store and buy the most arcane, most talismanic object - but outside of Magickal process by a Mage, the object will be just an inert thing. Think about this: Jimmy Page told Brad Tolinski in 2010 that the iconic outfits that our favorite Mage Musician wore on the 1977 tour were “more than just stage clothes; they were talismanic”, yet I doubt anyone who put one of those dragon suits would suddenly gain the Mage Music abilities of Jimmy Page. That's because....

Magick isn't in the objects or the ritual; Magick is a process that provides a framework for a flow-through of purposeful and directed energy of the Universe. It isn't easy to do this - and it's not an immediate cause-effect, either, which is a good thing when you think about it. One moment of inattention and a demon pops through!  No, it is fortunate for reality as we know it that immediate cause-effect - a wave of a wand and an Abracadabra - is not how Magick works.


I mentioned in discussion of the use of a Mage's will how hard it is to sustain powerful desire and a conscious awareness of purpose for any meaningful length of time. For most of us, a moment or two is pretty good. For a Mage, minutes - many of them - may be needed to bring about the desired changes in Reality. There probably have been humans who could sustain the desire and awareness for long enough solely through their own will, but for most Mages, ritual is the tool that allows them to do the job.

Good ritual, through the use of stylized, formal actions performed sequentially, focuses the mind and emotions so that distractions are prevented and the primary desire and purpose can be maintained. Good ritual draws in and binds the senses and ensnares conscious awareness in order to align the mind, body and soul with the desired outcome. It is the loss of awareness and surrender to the desired new state - existing in the changed reality before the change exists in reality - that is the key to the ritual of Magick. Shamans dance and chant or dream, priests use prayer, Mages use Magickal ritual - all do so to surrender to the process, to step out of themselves and into the new state and to sustain that altered existence until it becomes the new reality. For some Mages, the form of ritual - and the surrender - is to music:  Mage Music.

Form vs. Function

The form of ritual provides a framework for the Magickal process that creates a familiar pattern.  [Note that if the pattern is achieved, then the ritual isn't improved by increasing technical expertise of performance, since it is the familiar patterns themselves that tell the receiver what kind of information to expect.  Jimmy Page has often been criticized for sloppy technique, but technique is secondary to content for a Mage Musician.]

The formula for ritual is pretty standardized:  There's a beginning, middle and end.  Each kind of ritual has its own pattern-within-pattern.  With Magick (and Mage Music) the ritual pattern looks approximately like this:
  • Preparation - Sets the desire and will, repeated so that the body/mind/soul are prepared (theme, riff) 
  • Invocation - Losing self in order to put the desire and intention of the Mage out into the Universe and to thereby become aligned with the change that is desired (solo) 
  • Close - Gratitude and creating the path to return to end of ritual (return to theme)
The function of ritual is essentially that of prayer (in the sense of spiritual communion), the object of which is to transform the Mage and thereby transform the Mage’s reality.

Ritual in itself is a catalyst, meaning that it brings about change while itself not being changed. Ritual is simply a component in a process that brings about/transmutes the Mage's reality, via desire and will, into a new reality. The need for the Mage to be able to surrender while maintaining the highest and most powerful levels of desire in full purpose and awareness means that during the sequential moments of ritual, what it looks (or sounds) like is secondary to the change it brings about in the Mage's reality.

No quality of musical performance, however skilled, will bring Magick to the music without the Mage’s purposeful immersion in the ritual.  The technical skill of a Mage Musician is less important than the strength of emotion, the purity of desire and the power of will used to perform the musical ritual.It can’t be faked and it can’t be emulated – Magick in music can only be created and recreated each individual time and only through the efforts of a Mage.

Fortunately for Mage Musician, audience has a function in the ritual.  We provide energy.  When we recognize the the ritual pattern and the quality of the music that carries Magick, when we feel the Magick we are transmuted along with the Mage and our feedback helps power the Mage.  It is the Mage Musician, however, who always does the fetching for us.


Future post: Magickal Mystery

Individual songs

1971 Led Zeppelin  Black Dog (live) Osaka (pre-album performance)
1971 Led Zeppelin  Black Dog (studio) Album: Led Zeppelin IV 
1971 Led Zeppelin  Black Dog (live) Knebworth
1973 Led Zeppelin  Black Dog (live) Madison Square Garden
1975 Led Zeppelin  Black Dog (live) Earls Court
1979 Led Zeppelin  Black Dog (live) Knebworth
1993 Page Coverdale  Black Dog (live) Osaka
1995 Page Plant   Black Dog (live) New Orleans
2007 Led Zeppelin/Jason Bonham  Black Dog (live) O2


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  3. Just a note here - I'm receiving email notices that there are comments being made here but the comments aren't visible. So first test - if you see this comment, please reply!

  4. Second, Sara wrote: Just wanted to thank you Lif and let you know I appreciate you posting early for me. And I loved this article, lots to ponder, in fact each time I go back and read them again I find a new little nugget:) Like a hidden secret I didnt see until just that moment. And you helped me grow Lif and I appreciate your time and knowledge you put into these articles. Peace and Love to you and yours Lif:)

    1. I'm glad you suggested changing the posting time, Sara, because more people are seeing that I posted! Great suggestion.

      I'm so glad you're finding these articles useful. Believe me, they're providing new little nuggets for me to think about, too.

  5. Now I'm going to see if I can figure out why the comments aren't appearing! If you submitted a comment and it didn't "take", either post at Mage Music on Facebook or try again here in a while. *Maybe* I'll find the glitch in the meantime!

    1. I tried to delete the duplicates. Heck I dunno maybe something is wrong with my puter. It is acting all crazy today. I saw something I posted on my facebook page only on Jimmy Page's page!!! Kinda trippy and I dont take drugs... LOL

    2. You did delete them. I think there's a lag time with the blog app, is all.