I remember reading The Grey King at school. It was the cover that attracted me – the evil wolves looking scary as hell. I remember being transported from my school library to the slopes of Cader Idris as Will and Bran fought the forces of the Dark. That was forty years ago… shit, where has the time gone?
I read the whole of The Dark is Rising sequence a few years ago and reacquainted myself with Susan Cooper and her five fantastic books. As an adult, I saw much that I had missed as a child, in particular the role of the wild magic.
The wild magic powered the desire of the Dark to dominate as well as the efforts of the Light to keep the world free. The wild magic wasn’t on anyone’s side – it just was.
The wild magic, the muse, fortuna, Lady Luck, fate, inspiration, divine revelation, genius, there is something in the human experience that makes us alive to the vibe. Whilst the muse has many lovers, she demands the faithfulness of her devotees. In 25 to Life Eminem spits out his conflicted feelings for Hip Hop, the ‘selfish bitch’ who has imprisoned him in a life of fame – the wild magic doesn’t care about genre, she just wants results.
Is she a she? I’m sure to many the muse is a he, or an it. Kavanagh writes, ‘surely my God is feminine,’ perhaps we are all looking for that missing part that makes us whole.
Lao Tzu writes in the Tao The Ching ‘The highest form of goodness is like water.’ In the Bhagavadgita, Krishna tells Arjuna, ‘I am the Spirit seated deep in every creature’s heart.’ Jesus teaches his disciples that they can tell God to go fuck himself, that they can disappear into the desert for a week or two of fornication and gambling – and they’ll be forgiven. But if they sin against the holy spirit then they are lost to life.
This energy, this spring of life, is the equals sign in the equation, connecting the X and the Y. The dynamic, change, evolution, becoming is what makes us human. Without it we are dead, our hearts hardened to the point of becoming impenetrable. With it we become poets or madmen. Because not everything the muse brings is joyful. There are men and women of genius who have pulled the trigger to still the wild magic inside of themselves.
For those of us living everyday lives, those of us whose creativity never reaches the oscillations explored by Van Gogh, Cobain, Cornell, and Bennington, are offered the wise advice of Boris Cyrulnik – to become protagonists rather than spectators in a consumer culture. George MacDonald writes in Phantastes; ‘I should be ill, if I did not live on the borders of the fairies’ country, and now and then eat of their food. and I see by your eyes that you are not quite free of the same need.’
And I guess that’s why I am sat upstairs typing this rubbish at 10.30 at night, instead of sitting downstairs watching TV with my family – because I should be ill if I do not feel the vibrant energy of the wild magic, even if it takes me to the borders of madness, because I’m married to her, because I need her. My love finds my rants and ramblings amusing, and I know that she’s not finished with me yet, because she wants to see what choice I will make at the end, what connection I make before the credits roll.
The minute I start thinking linearly, the moment I find certainty I know that she will desert me. I need to keep that little bit of crazy inside, that trace level of arsenic to keep my blood thin and my organs healthy.
We are all artists.
We all feel the wild magic.
Some of us feel it as love, others as pain.
Maybe we feel it as both at different times.
But we gotta follow the pattern, trace the weave.
Otherwise we are existentially fucked.