The Magician as Artist - Inspiration and Creation

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     “Dali Atomicus” Philippe Halsman, “Escher Effect” Jim and Lynn Lemyre

“Dali Atomicus” Philippe Halsman, “Escher Effect” Jim and Lynn Lemyre

Inspire (v.) in Middle English was used to mean, "breathe or put life or spirit into the human body; impart reason to a human soul."  

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun”  Pablo Picasso

Magicians are artists and artists are magicians.  They manipulate the forms of everyday life into transcendental patterns.

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

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     Lascaux Cave Handprints, Michelangelo’s Birth of Adam, Sleight of Hand Card Trick

Lascaux Cave Handprints, Michelangelo’s Birth of Adam, Sleight of Hand Card Trick

From inspiration, with will and intention, comes creation.   The hand is the tool that directs the flow of energy, taming and shaping nature (earth, air, fire and water, symbolized in Tarot by coins, swords, wands and cups), putting its energies to our use.  Only with man’s conscious focus and action, grounded in physical reality, can it be shaped to human use so that we can receive value from it, like beautiful music instead of noise.  

However, putting energies to creative use does not always mean for the good of all.  There is a shadow side to the Magician.  The temptation to misuse power is a hidden aspect of any archetypal figure and the Magician is no exception. 

Prospero, in The Tempest, has a foot in each of two worlds, the natural and the supernatural, and through him and his magic island they are connected.  Anger and a desire for revenge cause him to behave very badly.

“I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By my so potent art.”

William Shakespeare, Prospero in The Tempest

(By the way, we highly recommend the 2010 Helen Mirren movie)

Maybe don't mess with the Magician - "So peace, stay off my back or I will attack and you don't want that"

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

That old sorcerer has vanished
And for once has gone away!
Spirits called by him, now banished,
My commands shall soon obey.
Every step and saying
That he used, I know,
And with sprites obeying
My arts I will show.

    Flow, flow onward
    Stretches many
    Spare not any
    Water rushing,
    Ever streaming fully downward
    Toward the pool in current gushing.

Come, old broomstick, you are needed,
Take these rags and wrap them round you!
Long my orders you have heeded,
By my wishes now I've bound you.
Have two legs and stand,
And a head for you.
Run, and in your hand
Hold a bucket too.

    Flow, flow onward
    Stretches many,
    Spare not any
    Water rushing,
    Ever streaming fully downward
    Toward the pool in current gushing.

See him, toward the shore he's racing
There, he's at the stream already,
Back like lightning he is chasing,
Pouring water fast and steady.
Once again he hastens!
How the water spills,
How the water basins
Brimming full he fills!

    Stop now, hear me!
    Ample measure
    Of your treasure
    We have gotten!
    Ah, I see it, dear me, dear me.
    Master's word I have forgotten!

Ah, the word with which the master
Makes the broom a broom once more!
Ah, he runs and fetches faster!
Be a broomstick as before!
Ever new the torrents
That by him are fed,
Ah, a hundred currents
Pour upon my head!

    No, no longer
    Can I please him,
    I will seize him!
    That is spiteful!
    My misgivings grow the stronger.
    What a mien, his eyes how frightful!

Brood of hell, you're not a mortal!
Shall the entire house go under?
Over threshold over portal
Streams of water rush and thunder.
Broom accurst and mean,
Who will have his will,
Stick that you have been,
Once again stand still!

    Can I never, Broom, appease you?
    I will seize you,
    Hold and whack you,
    And your ancient wood
    I'll sever,
    With a whetted axe I'll crack you.

He returns, more water dragging!
Now I'll throw myself upon you!
Soon, 0 goblin, you'll be sagging.
Crash! The sharp axe has undone you.
What a good blow, truly!
There, he's split, I see.
Hope now rises newly,
And my breathing's free.

    Woe betide me!
    Both halves scurry
    In a hurry,
    Rise like towers
    There beside me.
    Help me, help, eternal powers!

Off they run, till wet and wetter
Hall and steps immersed are lying.
What a flood that naught can fetter!
Lord and master, hear me crying! -
Ah, he comes excited.
Sir, my need is sore.
Spirits that I've cited
My commands ignore.

    "To the lonely
    Corner, broom!
    Hear your doom.
    As a spirit
    When he wills, your master only
    Calls you, then 'tis time to hear it."

 

 

 

 

 

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