Magicking [verb]: to transform or produce by or as if by magic
Learning to read tarot cards was a struggle. I started with the standard Rider-Waite deck, because that was the only deck I had and because the internet hadn’t been invented yet and even if it had been there was no worldwide marketplace and most tarot decks you see today also hadn’t been invented yet.
The Rider-Waite cards are loaded with symbolism, much of it deeper and more convoluted than any of us will ever comprehend. I had the little booklet that came with the deck as my only guide. I tried again and again to make sense of tarot, and failed again and again.
And then, as if by magic, a catalog arrived in my mailbox and among the many lovely items offered by whatever company sent it, was the Connolly Tarot. There was a picture of one of the major arcana cards from the deck, and that card was meant for me. The character depicted on the card looked exactly like someone I was familiar with, and that someone was the epitome of the card. Just like that, tarot made sense.
I wrote a check, put it in a stamped envelope, and sent my order by Pony Express. When the Connolly Deck arrived in my mailbox, it lived up to my hopes; its artwork seemed to be drawn from my own life and circle of friends. Mind you, serious tarot students pooh-pooh this deck because of its lack of symbolism. I’m telling you, though, that the symbolism is there if you know the right people.
The Magician card, for example, is so clearly Macgyver. The real Macgyver, the one played by a very young Richard Dean Anderson. Macgyver’s greatest and most useful talent is being able to create something from seemingly nothing. In the first episode of the tv series, he carries a bag that isn’t full of equipment for the mission, but for carrying whatever he finds along the way. Spoiler alert: he uses a chocolate candy bar to stop an acid leak.
The Connolly Magician has his tools spread out before him, ready to work. He’s inviting magic to enter through his raised right hand—that is, he’s open to spirit, to inspiration, and he invites it to travel through him and become transformed into a gift for the physical plane. The Magician doesn’t create the wonder, but he knows how to invite it to visit him and he allows it to use him in order to manifest in the daily world.
Writers are magicians, too, of course. We create people, lives, entire worlds. Just like the Magician, writers are vessels. On a good day, that is. You know what I mean. Sometimes inspiration takes hold of your body and mind, and before you know it—abracadabra! You’ve turned out words that you never could have written by yourself, and sometimes you don’t remember writing them at all, and you’re a little bit amazed that it happened, but by the gods, you’re gonna claim it for yourself because if you tell anyone that some higher power took control of your pencil or your keyboard and spewed that brilliance onto the page they’ll think you’re raving and so it’s just best to say that you have a writing ritual that requires you to churn out a minimum number of pages per day but that never ever involves luck or coincidence or magic.
It doesn’t happen very often, though. Not for most of us. And why is that? Maybe because it scares us when creative spirit veers from our personal script. Maybe because we want to be in control of our art. Maybe because there are rules for writing and we mustn’t break the rules.
Maybe magic is born from broken rules.
I was pondering magic while on a First Day Hike with friends (and wishing I’d brought along a chocolate bar because it was a long hike and there were no vending machines on the trail), when a feather caught my eye. It was the brightest thing in the woods that day, and it may as well have jumped up and down and screamed, “Hey! I’m a bit of magic here!” I’ve been watching for magic ever since, and I’ve found magic every day: the lingering scent of pine in holiday decorations even after their best-by date, the dream of an eagle landing on my head, the roar of a winter wind that shakes the house while I’m safe and cozy in my bed, a nuthatch making use of a bluebird house, twinkle lights in the darkness, the spice and comfort of a wood fire taking hold.
What? These don’t sound like magic to you? A month ago I wouldn’t have called any of that magic, either, but I had the thought that I can define magic for myself. Magic can be discovered, invoked, or created. And who’s to say our every breath isn’t magic? The more I ponder and watch for magic, the more of it I find.
Here’s what I know of magic so far:
- No one ever created magic—or anything else of value—by saying “I can’t” or “that won’t work” without even trying.
- Magic goes where it’s welcomed/appreciated.
- Magic is unexpected, so look toward the opposite of ordinary. Baffle your enemies by being kind to them. Admit that your political opponents may be right about some things. Give when you could have taken. Smile at all the reasons you don’t have for crying.
- It’s not what we carry. It’s what we find along the way.
GO WRITE SOMETHING
- Find a list of writing rules. Break each one. Here’s a place to start: How to Write Good.
- Make up your own definition of magic. Write a blog post about it. Alt: write a poem, story, essay, memo, or novel about it.
- Close your eyes. Raise your non-dominant hand. Notice what comes in and is transformed. Write it down. Then close your eyes, raise your dominant hand, and wait to see what form the magic takes this time.
You can read previous issues of b.read.crumbs here.
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