Lately I’ve been thinking, where did the magic go? The thought became increasingly intrusive, spurred on by the crappy news cycle we’ve been listening to for the past two years. To help process this thought I began freewriting, which led me to recollect Herman Hesse’s book, Magister Ludi, a book of parallel lives and spiritual insight published in 1943. Following my recall of Hesse, I promptly Googled “Herman Hesse quotes” and on the first page of my search were the words, “in all beginnings lies a magic force”. That was interesting, magic occurs by just doing it. Nike had it right.
Unlike Siddhartha, the main character of Hesse’s classic book, I didn’t have the patience to sit under the Bodhi Tree, but I did resonate with Siddhartha’s spiritual journey. Hesse’s writing spoke to the children of the 60’s who were engaged in the counterculture. There was a derisive backlash, however, from those who thought he was spiritually soft rather than the forerunner of enlightenment. Yet, you couldn’t read Hesse without being drawn further into your own introspective enlightenment. If you’ve ever sang along to the anthem “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, you may be surprised to know that the band’s name came from Hesse’s book of the same name.
Hesse inspired a generation of nonconformists and future leaders to take the next step into authentic expression rather than giving into untamed impulses and charismatic leaders. He pushed forward on the barrier of our conscious evolution. He acknowledged the magic that resides in the inertia of thought being moved and challenged. In Hesse’s estimation, magic is created, it’s not bestowed upon us. At its core, magic is practical and personal, inspired by our own stories and the courage that it takes to reach out and begin something new. My good friend, Barbara Dillenger, had a license plate that read “Mage 5”. It was to remind her of the magic of being alive. Mage comes from the Latin word magice, meaning magic or sorcery. But how do we find the magic? According to Hesse, we find it within ourselves. We create our own future through the magic of cause following cause, one step at a time, in any direction.
The ripples of magic we produce through this action influences our life’s path through conscious intent, rather than drifting through life taking only as much as it gives. It’s born from an incompleteness we feel and a discomfort with what we see around us. We all have ideas of our own that we ignore for a variety of different reasons. For me, out of nowhere, came an impulse to think about magic. I don’t know why exactly, but I do know that it was my own voice that came from within me. No one was asking me to think about magic. It wasn’t a requirement. I could have ignored it as I do many other self-generated thoughts, but this time I listened. I listened, and out of nothing came Magister Ludi, Herman Hesse, Mage 5 and magic. Not that this piece is magical, but rather sitting down to write it was a tribute to that very magic. It was a beginning, and in all beginnings lie a magic force.
My message to you in the New Year is to begin something so the magic can appear. Not just anything though; do the things that inspire you and speak to you. Listen to what comes from within, maybe something you’ve been putting off, or something that brings you a sense of comfort and fulfillment. We’re all born a little bit incomplete, searching for something to make us more comfortable. Like a scientist searching for a cure, or a plumber looking for a leak, we’re always trying to solve our life’s problems. Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, spent her time searching to get back to Kansas, guided by Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, who finally tells her, “You always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself”. We too have our own inner guidance and power. All we have to do is listen, acknowledge, and begin, so that the magic will follow. It’s not as easy as clicking our heels together three times, but it gets the job done. Just like Glinda the Good Witch and Herman Hesse, Simone de Beauvoir, the existential French philosopher, says that creativity must come from within and not through the agency of an outside force or authority. It’s in the freedom to choose and to act that we find our own unique magic. Our true nature flows from within, so don’t be shy, and in this New Year, just begin.