Note: I posted this as part of a larger discussion on Pan Historia and also with an author friend of mine on the subject the other night. (Yes, Veronica, my darling friend, I am sending you the bits that I promised. Your help is so greatly appreciated!) It is posted here for those who might want to add their two cents.
I make no secret about the fact that for my entire life, I have had an interest in the occult. The mystical and Magic(k)al are both points of fascination and realms of study that have held my interest for my entire life. Writing, too, has had an incredible hold on my life and within these two artforms I have found and I make my home. I don’t claim to be a Master of either Art, but rather only a lifetime student of both.
“In the beginning there was the Word.”
This well-known biblical verse is really a truism, regardless of what particular religious persuasion you are. Religions and Traditions of Faith the world over recognise that within the written, spoken or even imagined ‘Word’ there is tremendous power. That Power is the Power of Creation. The Ancient Egyptians, according to Egyptologists, believed the word to be so sacred that the rituals were written down on both the walls of the Temple and on papyrus scrolls and were read rather than memorised. They wanted to take no chance of ‘taking the ritual into their own hands’. It was important. Both stone and papyrus were precious things. Words were considered heka or magic, and if you knew the proper name of something and how it was said, it was believed you had both the power to create and uncreate. Look at the metaphysical idea that says, “Thoughts are things.” They are things. Every single tangible thing you see and interact with was first created as a thought in someone’s mind. The ideas were conveyed and developed and out of something that many consider to be ‘nothing’, a more tangible object was created. By standards of the ancients and as little as fifty years ago, the world we live in is indeed quite magical.
Within writing, we still need to weave that sense of magic and Creation. We imagine worlds, create characters, beings and situations and we describe them for our readers so that in some sense they do ‘come alive.’ Like the Mage or the Witch, we are trained to go into that Otherworld or Between the Worlds and bring back to show to our peers or our communities that which we have ‘seen’ or interacted with or done. We weave it all together tangibly like a mystical cloak and we put it on and we can be seen as a great conjurer or a poor one, depending on how well we have done our jobs as writers. A Magician or Witch who does not plan well, does not keep focus within the Ritual and bring down and project out the Magick that they seek to weave is a poor operator indeed. So it is with those of us who write. If we do not plan, if we let ourselves be buffeted, not only by the winds and the emotions and reactions of others or are put off by the changing tides and storms that come up in life, we find ourselves unable to operate within any realm of existence effectively.
Writing and Magic are passions, compulsions and they both can lead to them becoming a profession. It takes skill in both to either not be labeled as a fraud, a sell-out or downright shallow. It takes a dedication toward integrity of one’s work to make ourselves as good as our Word. For within that word, be it done for the power of creation in Magic, or Writing, in the end it is the same. We use the subtle realms to construct a kind of reality.
What better way to connect us to the Power of Creation and the Creator?
It’s a heady experience when you have done a Ritual so well that it leaves you exhausted yet exhilarated. It’s the same way with writing. There is no better thrill than to know you have done a particularly good piece of writing. That the dialogue, the description, the situation moves and flows. You do either thing by focusing on the energy, moving it by your Will and going where it takes you. Those places are journeys to the Otherworld indeed and I personally would not trade them for anything.