Magic and Music

Note: This post was originally written on April 3, 2012 for my old blog. I have edited it and cleaned it up for a repost here as many of the thoughts I write about here are things I still mull on today: the nature of magic; what kinds of magics there are; how magic was first explored; and what qualifies as magic.

Last summer, while at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I overheard a man say that cooking was the first magic. That it was filled with intent, that it was transforming one thing into something else, and thus it was magic.

Today, when we cook, there’s little we think about, in this regard. If we enjoy the process of cooking, perhaps it’s a different story. Even then, though, it’s rare that most folks have the time to put together a full meal on a day-to-day basis, let alone three or more a day.

But think back to our oldest ancestors, back to the furthest stretches of human history. Think on this idea of cooking in its most basic form, filled with the intent of its maker, shared with your family, your tribe. Perhaps that is why many modern Pagans have such a deep connection to our food, its handling, its growth, its preparation.

As I was driving today, listening to “Tam Lin” by Tricky Pixie, I got to thinking about this idea of “the first magic.” And I began to wonder, what might the others be?

Speech is one. This idea of throwing out sounds in a coherent manner so that others of your species (and even other species) understand you. So I am not ruling out animals here, either, as I firmly believe they have their own mysteries. (Thinking otherwise would just be nonsense.)

But if you apply speech to a rhythm, a beat, a sense of sound, what do you get?

A song.

If we liken speech to food, the instruments and their sounds to spice and herbs, then how is creating music any different than cooking? How is it any different than this “first magic” that man spoke of?

There are many PPRWs that utilize music in their rituals and practice. Chants, songs, dances, music without words. All of these are used, and all of them have power. Some traditions use songs or chants to call in the various aspects of a circle, if not cast the circle itself; others use them to call upon the gods, to sing their praises – literally. How are we to argue with that?

Music has power. It can create joy or sorrow, elate or depress. It can make you want to get up and dance, or so lethargic you cannot move. It can do all of this and so much more. There must be something in music that strikes us, strikes deep within our inner core down to the depths of our soul. It is necessary to us, else why would it have lasted for so many centuries? It is as necessary to our survival as food, or we would have given it up long, long ago.

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