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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Art: The Never Explored Ritual

When most of think of performing a ritual or rite, we gather together our thoughts, we ground, and we pull out our tools: the broom, the wand, the censer, the cauldron, the boline, the cup, and the book of shadows. But what of other ritual magic and tools?


The beading droplets of rain pound against the window, tinkle on the metal gutter outside and follow the ditch down into the street and the sewers. Music softly adds an atmosphere, the smell of sandalwood rises into the air in softly curling plumes of smoke before the mirror. I inhale, eyes closed in serene meditation, and thoughts swirl like in a gale storm against the blackness of my mind. Images come and go, fleeting, like deer on the run. Graceful lines, teasing glimpses of an outstretched arm, colors ebb and recede on a distant tide. 

It is hard to quiet the mind when the hunt begins, hard to pick a prey. And sometimes boundaries are crossed between realms, and other things come to visit or to haunt. Things of simple beauty, of dark desires, of terrible splendor. 

There is never a focus, but there is an idea. It's a matter of locating it, and being quick at your craft to capture at least a small part of it. 


There is the mirror, which reflects the image of an artist, a candle set a few paces off to her right casts a glow and throws her features into shadows. In her lap lies a different sort of book of shadows, a large bound sketchbook or a watercolor block. In her hand to channel the energy is a brush or a pencil. Her eyes gaze into the mirror, seeking, looking at the figure and willing her hand to begin weaving her spell. 


The magic is never tapped into. Like the concept of energy it is neither created nor destroyed, but always alive and always in existence within all beings. Art is an extension of the self, an intimate magic, something that touches upon every person who experiences it. 
So as soon as it becomes apparent that I will make something the magic is spilling forth from the cup: the artist. 

I sit and lines begin to emerge on the page, loose and full of energy, testing, seeking guidance from Dread Muse's hand. And yet there is an underlying confidence in the practice and repetition of such a ritual, come from steady patience and study for well over a year and a day. And still now in ritual it is all experimenting, still adventure, still a search for something that only the artist is aware of.... sometimes. 

The image is now fully captured in lines, the faintest touch of shadows and lights are there upon the form. Not a battle for good or evil or to conquer, but each serving its purpose in coexisting peacefully, one melding into the next. 

Brush is applied to the paint, and paint is smeared across the surface. To an outside view people might think why would someone spend a lifetime shut away in a room spreading paint onto boards? But to the artist it is a breath of life breathed onto the page, birthing a subject in a long and arduous labor. It is fueling magic, feeding it; creating another world a kin to the one we all share. It is a window through the self to other times, other places, events, and persons. Like the bards who sing their tales and sorrows, or the writers who speak of dreams and wonders. 


Why is it that we are drawn not only to the final piece of rendered work but the process of it being made? We spin our craft in a way that sometimes we are at a loss to describe, because we are taken in the moment, only pausing when needed to examine, to reflect, to take a break. We ourselves are fascinated with the ritual work of others like ourselves, watching a blank sheet of paper transform into something tangible. And we watch, and we try to reason, but it is like watching a flower bloom in time. 

And here is another type of magic enchantment or charm work that we often overlook in our time trying to render our idea and bring it to life. That we are able to spellbind our audience as they watch us working. 


The doors to another world are left open wide in our wake, allowing others to follow behind. Dreamscapes stretch into the distance, disappearing beyond tree lines, beyond waves crashing on rocky crags, beyond sandy dunes, and arctic ravines. Sometimes footprints leave a trail, inviting one to follow. Sometimes figures emerge in the distance, or play around us like fairies dancing among reeds. 

There is the thought of the artists, the intention in mind, the story spun out. But not only one path exists, the one intended to be trodden. The artist is aware of other journeys, of other quests to be found within this place they have created. 

The illusion stands, ready to be taken, to be believed in. It can change your world for as long a time as you chose; offer you a chance to explore the environment, the denizens, and other emotions. 


All things have their price. Often I find it is leaving behind a piece of who we are, sometimes in exchange for other things, sometimes for naught. Sometimes it is in sharing, giving away part of us, part of our magic to someone else. 

But more often than not it is destruction. Power comes with prices, and for each it is different. Sometimes paper tears between my fingers, denizens of that other world scream in silence and die. Dread Muse laughs knowing that like a drug you seek her out. 

And sometimes she is kind, and allows you a lapse of happiness. 

After all, there are no wards in our craft. No sacred salt circles to keep madness at bay, only to provide blooms in watercolor. But it is our way of magic, an extension of ourselves.... and we offer it to you, the viewer. 

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