On Magic

There’s a reason the supernatural has such a wide and dedicated following. It holds a fascination for us because, for most people, “real life” is not enough. Some of us are on a quest for deeper meaning and understanding the higher mysteries of life; others are seeking nothing more than an entertaining escape – one more complete, more imaginative than the average soap-opera. Most of us are looking for something else, though: the illusion of power.

You ever have a bully you couldn’t escape? Ever trapped in a dead-end job or an overpriced lease with a crooked landlord? Ever have a town cop that just loves pulling you over every chance he gets? Are you terrified of the IRS? Paralyzed by the mere thought of talking to an attractive woman?

If you’ve been in these situations, you know the need for power. You understand fantasizing an impossible (but vastly satisfying) solution to an insoluble problem, and dreaming the way to get it. And some of you dreamt of magic.

The need is the first ingredient. The dream is the second.

But of course that’s not enough. Even the strongest emotions, the deepest passions, aren’t enough to fuel magic. Otherwise, very few of us would survive rush hour traffic; the heart and brain are such fragile organs. The tiniest mote of power could easily end a human life. The amount of hate generated by a left exit across four lanes of asphalt could melt rock; rush hour on the Capitol Beltway could boil the Atlantic dry.

A lot of people think adding structure and ritual are the last components to making magic. If that were so, the Catholic church would have a corner on the miracle market. Beethoven’s Ninth would elevate you to a new plane of being. A revival of “Cats” would bring societal change.

Okay; so some of you are picking up on it. There are thousands of documented cases where faith has cured sickness; look at the pilgrimages to the shrine at Lourdes. And anyone that can’t find the magic in the Ode To Joy is tone deaf or brain dead or both. And… well, by all accounts, Andrew Lloyd Webber is pretty well-off; if money isn’t power, it’s the next best thing.

See, if you’re looking for magic, you don’t have to look far. It’s all around you.

Yeah; I know. That’s cheating. Like every second-rate poet carping on the beauty of a sunset, a flower, a tree; like every preacher making hay from the miracle of a butterfly or a baby’s birth, it’s transparent. We can see right through it. In short, it’s not magic if you can get your head around it, right?

Sherlock Holmes could tell a person’s occupation from their shirt-cuff, the pads of their fingers, the condition of their teeth. He could measure a man from his footprint and get a name from a speck of cigar ash. And yet, whenever he troubled to explain how he performed these amazing feats of deduction, nobody was amazed but Doctor Watson. It’s the reason a stage magician won’t show you how his tricks work – once you understand it, it’s no longer magic.

You want a taste of magic? Go to church. Listen to a symphony. Don’t just eat something; dine, for a change. Or read a book; that’s as magical as it gets.

Don’t go trying your hand at summoning a demon, chanting a ritual, or trying to become a vampire. Trust me; you wouldn’t enjoy it.

Note:  Image is from the show “Supernatural”.  Watch it; you’d like it.  The first couple of seasons, anyway; after that it gets kinda weird.

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