what is magic?

When I was living in Santa Cruz, before I’d dropped out of college
I’d had some fun playing around with a divination deck
It was not Tarot, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the deck was called

At first, it seemed startlingly accurate

Supernaturally so, almost

But the more I experimented with it, and thought about the results, and what my brain was doing each time

I realized it was probably more like a handy tool to use for me, at the time, to flesh out what I already thought about a thing, on some level- but had not really clarified yet on a conscious level

Perhaps, given what I haven’t actually written about yet, but thought about last night (and will tag the channel here when I do get around to writing about it) regarding koans as concentration devices – perhaps, then, divination decks operate in similar ways.

I kept exploring that path, for a short time

Got a book that was basically witchcraft 101

I never finished reading it

I got sidetracked by the very first section and never traced my steps back to the book itself, maybe

In this first section, was a description of a class of spells called ‘quick spells’

The book, if I recall correctly, described them as, in practical terms- nearly instantaneous ways to get what we want that we think we can’t, right then.

Need more money? Running late for work and don’t think you can make it on time? Want to ace your upcoming interview?

Why, close your eyes and cast a Quick Spell!

I doubted magic was real, but I was open to being wrong. Quick Spells, though?

No fucking way!

I mean, if magic did work, you had to, like, work at it, right?

Chant under a full moon before dancing naked around a cauldron filled with all sorts of strange and bizarre plants and bodily fluids!

So I read that section very carefully

With the intention of following the instructions, exactly

To be comfortable in my dismissal of the concept, of course


The book directed the reader to find a position in which to hold their hands

Something memorable, but not otherwise used in day to day life

And to hold them in that way, eyes closed

While in your mind, you pictured a cabin, in great detail

I still remember odd details about the cabin I went to in my mind, then, and the meadow and forest around it

Inside, was a table

And  in order to cast a Quick Spell, wherever we were, we were to close our eyes with our hands held in that way, picture our cabin in our mind-

Walk into it. Sit at the table. And on the table, picture whatever thing you wanted to attain with the spell.


I tried it.

For maybe a week or two, I was pretty active in my mental cabin.

And it kept working.


This really threw me for a loop, and was a pretty constant subject of thought for me

I was SO sure it would not work

Could not work

But then

I started thinking about memory, in ways I haven’t talked much about yet, but that I’m sure everyone here is familiar with

And how there’s just so much information we’re exposed to, within even a single day

We just can’t hold all of it in our conscious brains, all the time, all at once

But a lot of it is still there


And maybe by using concentration devices, like my memory cabin (memory palace, anyone??), we give our subconscious greater latitude to seek solutions we wouldn’t have thought of with our conscious minds.

In the late to work example

Normally, I feel like, when I am running late, my internal process of running through options covers the main routes I’ve used previously to get to work

By car

But that effectively turns the question into “What route out of these three or four routes will get me to work fastest, in my car?”

But if the goal is how to get to work fastest, period-

Maybe taking the train is actually faster

And I just never think about it, because I always drive.
(Not in Redding, obviously, but you get the point, I hope!)

And with the job interview example

Maybe I overheard a story one time, while waiting in line somewhere

In which someone described a method of handling a job interview that would work really well for me

But I forgot about it immediately, or maybe even was only half listening in the first place

But somewhere, deep within my brain, that information was logged


I reduce my own ability to think as creatively as possible, when I am not conscious about my ultimate goals

the whys of the whats, maybe

If I don’t think it through, my brain is going to answer the question of “How can I be best prepared for this job interview, given these particular options?”

And not, simply, “How can I best prepare for this job interview?”

Which are not always the same thing

And the potentials here might be vast:

I had one test, during this time

That I had not even read the material for

The night before, I had read nothing

And I figured, hey, I’m either definitely fucked

Or I’m just probably definitely fucked

Which is better, though admittedly only by a very tiny margin

So I decided to experiment

And I sat in my room

Held my hands, like so

Pictured my cabin, in my mind

Walked inside

Sat at the table

And envisioned my textbook in front of me

And then I would open my eyes

And I would look at each page of the chapter, one after the other

For long enough to feel like I was taking a mental snapshot

Not actually reading anything – just, looking

My eyes were almost glazed over, but not quite

Just….absorbing the image
Of each page

and then I’d close my eyes again, and imagine that page in the book on the table in my cabin

I felt completely ridiculous

And I was sure it wouldn’t work

But I had nothing else I could possibly try, at that point
So, anyway

I went to class the next day

And quietly put my hands in that pose under my desk
Closed my eyes
Walked to my cabin
Sat at my table
Opened my book
And fucking read the chapter in my mind as I took the test – page by page.

It was so incredibly cool and awesome and I have never done anything like it since!
Heh. It was a lot of work, and took using that particular brain tool of the memory cabin frequently enough that my brain was able to do something like that when I went there, and I haven’t had the motivation, and therefore the discipline to that again, since.

I think I’ve often, throughout my life, been far more motivated to prove things wrong that I don’t like, than to try out things I think are probably right (that’s a topic for another day, though!)

Anyway. That was magic, then.
And now?

Finding the science behind the magic does nothing to reduce the wonder in life, to me.

In fact, it increases it

If there is science behind it, does that make it any less exciting? Change the nature of the thing, in some way? No, I don’t think so.
(And I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, but this server is intended to one day reach my friends who are not science geeks, also!)


Magic, to me, is a thing to be found

A thing present, always

If I but take the time to look for it
Like in fabricating fortune

Magic is a feeling

Of wonder




Magic, to me, is the feeling of being surprised

By myself

By my friends

By humanity

Magic is what I feel when I hug someone
When someone reaches out, from me, or towards me- even through computer screens

And between those two pairs of eyes

Separated by whatever distance
Is communicated something like
“I see you.”

I’m still not following my own rules!

This is an endless back and forth dance, with myself, my selves- of infinite complexity

I think I probably could have done this channel, communicated this thought, much better, had I done so when it felt Right

As it stands
It’s maybe a little interesting

But honestly a little contrived – and not very focused. 
It’s true, as far as my truth goes

But it could have been communicated better

More efficiently, in the context of sharing things that have meaning to my life, now

I think what may have happened in my brain, was a little bit like: “Oh! Someone’s here! It’s working! I should keep talking!”

But that has never worked

That’s why I made the server to do list
So that I could return to topics I want to talk about

when I feel inspired to do so

If anything is going to work here, eventually, I do believe it will be that, and nothing else
But I wasn’t sure
I thought maybe, if it was a topic I wanted to talk about eventually, why not do it now?
Now I know why not.
And, luckily, I found out now
When making mistakes is not such a big deal
Because it is early in the growth of this project
And I care enough about it

To not let making mistakes
Stop me from experimenting

In ways that might occasionally be of use
I’m about to work for a bit, but I just filmed another little song video

I will share it when it finishes backing up
It is about the feeling of magic, which metavore reminded me of this morning

But I want to say
That nothing I film is meant to good

Like, good as videos, or good as whatever
They are meant to communicate, I think?
I don’t know, honestly.
I am terribly embarrassed, still, to be sharing videos of me singing and dancing, publicly
I hardly ever sang when anyone could hear me, or even very often by myself- before the past year or so
Same with dancing
I just feel stuff pretty strongly, now
So strongly it makes me want to sing, to express it
To dance it out, dance along with it

And that is what I’m trying to share with others, now
The words are one of the tools I’m using
But they aren’t enough

And, for what it’s worth-
I don’t expect anyone to agree with all or even any of what I say here

I find out that I’m wrong about stuff


And, even for the things that are right
They may just be right for me
And no one else

What I mostly want, I think, is to share how I’ve found a way to be comfortable in my own skin

In the hopes that maybe
Something I say
Or dance
Or whatever-


Something I communicate

May, one day, help another human being
Find their own ways
To feel comfortable in their own skin, too

Because this feeling is worth having
Worth sharing
Worth all the embarrassing mistakes and blunders and wide eyed stupidity


The way I feel, right now

is worth it all




I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

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