Saturday, March 23, 2013

Passion Play

Mage Music 45: Passion Play
Redlining the passion gauge
“…years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.”
  ~ Ramble On

Mage Music 45

Back in the day when hot cars were as all-consuming as the new music brought to us courtesy of such guitar marvels as Jimmy Page, we talked about redlining.  It had nothing to do with smarmy financial practices and everything to do with living on the edge.

The term redline comes from the red bars that are displayed at the high end of a car’s tachometer.  If you were drag racing, street racing or just getting off the stoplight fast because you felt like it, you wanted those RPMs to be high to deliver the most power.  Winding the engine up to the red line got you the maximum possible from the engine at the risk of blowing it up.  It was dangerous, it could be costly.

It was worth it.  We couldn't help ourselves - we were passionate about the cars and the music and pushing the envelope.

On the emotional tachometer, passion is the human redline.  It’s not something that can ever be truly satisfied because it’s not like a desire for ice cream that goes away after you've had a banana split.  Passion is enduring and powerful - and when you mess with passion, you are in a handle-with-care state of being.

If you're a Mage, though, you can't avoid passion - it is actually two-thirds of the process of Magick.  

Desire can range from mild thoughts to an all-consuming lust for something.  Will - the drive to do something about that desire – can range from barely there to an unrelenting force.  When combined desire and will are at the high end of the emotional range, they earn the label of passion. 

You don't have to be a Mage to intuitively understand that any ritual of Magick needs to have some oomph behind it.  No one would expect a ritual to amount to much if the Mage only kinda-sorta wanted to, and only more-or-less felt like doing it.  With a car, high octane fuel provides more compression before detonating. Passion is high octane fuel for Magick.

But like with a car engine, redlining passion is risky.  Powerful surges of emotion are like powerful surges of adrenaline or high octane car fuel – they have to be burned off before they blow up the engine.  With adrenaline you have to take physical action.  With powerful emotion at the level of passion you have to feel it, surrender to it and let it take you where it will because if you try to control it you risk blowing up. 

Here's the tricky part:  The powerful surges of passion are barely controllable, and yet a Mage must channel passion through the ritual, the controlled component of Magick.  The Mage must have the technical ability to do justice to the music, and that ability must live in muscle memory so it doesn't constrict the flow of passion.  The skill (technique) must be such that the Mage doesn't think about the musical instrument as much as let it be played directly by the passion.

Mage Music: The Hands of a Mage
It's simple but...
If Magick was easy, everyone would be a Mage.  If channeling passion through a musical instrument was easy, everyone would be a Mage Musician. Magick is simple but it is not easy.

"That's my lifetime achievement - that people would be inspired by the music."
~ Jimmy Page, Echo music award 2013

Mage Music and music lovers everywhere congratulate Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin on receiving the Echo music award.  Believe me, we're inspired.


  1. Brilliant explanation! I have never been able to pinpoint that concept into words. The virtuoso can play with abandon and passion because the technical skills are second nature and virtually unconscious. That is inspiring!
    Neil Young also sends me swooning with his almost out of control, loose guitar- yet impeccable technique is his playing's foundation. The license to go wild!
    Thanks again- Kimberley Christie

  2. You're welcome Kimberley. Impeccable technique is a starting point from which a musician may deviate - allowing the abandon and passion to be brought through - because he knows what can be tossed away in the interests of exploration and what is crucial for the music that must be kept. You don't get there by accident! You have to want it badly, and have the will to put in the massive time and effort to get there. And you have to want it to the exclusion of much of everything else in life.

    To put that much into the work and not have people receive it as intended would be crushing. So in that sense Jimmy Page and others of his caliber benefit by us as we benefit by them, and hence the reason Mr. Page said what he said about the Echo music award.

    1. Yes that really is how he is- so kind to his fans. His guitar playing expresses so much of human emotion

    2. <3<3<3<3 OH, MY LOVE 'JIMMY PAGE ' <3<3<3<3<3<3