Saturday, June 1, 2013


“…knowing the notes isn't enough. You have to know how to play them.”
~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

Mage Music 55
Mage Music: Symbols of Ritual 1

Designing ritual is like building a skyscraper, as I discussed in the last post.  Both require solving one finite component of a complex issue at a time.  Both ideally begin with a strong foundation upon which a sturdy framework and solid layers are constructed, and only at the end is the ornamentation added.  Of course, neither ritual nor a skyscraper must absolutely be constructed that way, but if they're going to support any real weight at all for any length of time, it's best to start from the bottom up and do it right.

A structural engineer or architect works from specifications that can be generally known in advance. The specs for location, materials and the construction methods can be codified, and there will thus be similarity in basic construction from one skyscraper to the next if they are constructed within the same time period.

The challenge for a Mage, however, is that the components of ritual will not be known well enough for specifications to exist, and rituals with similar goals may not be similar in appearance at all. This is because rituals are generated from and are an extension of the Mage and the components have meaning of personal rather than external significance.

Ritual objects

Ritual should not be confused with ceremony, which is a series of acts performed according to a traditional form. Ritual of Magick must be new in essence every time it is performed because all facets of the world in which the manifestation is to occur are constantly changing. Owning the ritual - generating the symbolism personally - is key to successful Magick. This means that simply adopting the use of symbolic objects and acts from other rituals that have no personal meaning for the Mage most likely will not generate the intended result.

When it comes to ritual - and Magick in general - one Mage's truth does not have to be truth for the next. Furthermore, what the rest of the world believes to be true doesn't have to be truth for a Mage's either. Good thing, since much of the world won't even admit that Magick exists other than as stage tricks.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell defined a symbol as an energy evoking and directing agent. He said that symbols have three aspects: that of the thinking mind, of the unconscious mind, and of the "ineffable of the absolutely unknowable". The first aspect can be consciously known by the Mage, the second can be felt through emotion, and the third is known only indirectly as a Mage's connection with the energy of the universe.

As a symbol, the physical specifications of a ritual object are not as important as how pure, personally meaningful and emotionally loaded the object is for the Mage. While anything will do, obviously some objects will not work in a ritual - either because they don't have physical form or because the physical form is inconvenient or perhaps doesn't even exist. No matter, because it's the meaning of the symbol to the Mage that is the important thing.  Unfortunately, not only does meaning have many layers, it is a squirrely thing that can't exist nakedly on its own in the human universe. With the meaning changing as the Mage changes and the reality of the world changing as it will, it's obvious why the old adage of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) applies. The successful Mage has to develop symbols that he is attracted to and that he can manipulate without losing the meaning of as the ritual progresses.

Mage Music: Symbols of Ritual 2  jimmypagemusic.blogspot.comThis is why a Mage who works through music needs to own the music - ownership not in terms of the law of man but in terms of the law of Magick.  It's not enough to simply know the notes and to play them well.  A Mage musician has to know the notes as he knows his own soul, and to perform them each in a place made sacred by intent, without error of desire or will, and freely offered to the Universe.

Here are links to two versions of the same song, When The Levee Breaks, yet with so different a sound they could be different songs. Of course, part of the explanation for the difference is that the kind of music Led Zeppelin was doing wasn't invented yet - but what's more important is how Led Zeppelin made this song their own. This is how the Magick comes.
When the Levee Breaks, Memphis Minnie (1929)
When the Levee Breaks, Led Zeppelin  (1971)


  1. Every week I am understanding more. If you tried to tell me all these layers the first week of postings I would have rolled my eyes and scoffed. But now I am a believer. A true believer and I am building my own ritual. I have had to start over a few times but it is getting stronger. Thank you Life you are an amazing writer:)

    1. I am so glad you are ingesting this the right way! Just as with Magick and ritual, learning complex things is best achieved by starting at the base and building on top of knowledge. Gaps in knowledge have a sneaky way of collapsing on you at precisely the wrong time.

  2. Your blog is so dark, such an interesting place where music alchemists and occultist trainee can find what they like most. It's every time more similar to an occult magazine, amazing. I really enjoyed how the owning of magick, of music and of rituals could be referred to Jimmy Page, the most powerful music Mage of all times. But this topic made me think about a question, similar to the one i wrote in the previous post. Can a Mage own the magic without be aware of doing it? Or is just because of his particular being?

    1. Okay, okay - I promise to address your questions next Saturday!

    2. Thank you, i can't wait to read it!

  3. If there are other questions, please post them here or on the Mage Music Facebook page by Friday so I can see if I have answers for the next post here on Saturday.

    1. PS - no guarantees I WILL have answers but I'll give it a go!