Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Wizard Is Seasoned

A wizard is not all-knowing. A wizard is seasoned. A wizard has had hands in the soil, knows the feel of the dirt, has grubbed and dug roots. All-knowing is a facade for knowing little, or nothing. Even Odin does not know all. True wisdom is hard won, through long struggle, over many years, getting to know one little thing thoroughly, and then moving on to the next, being tested by life, figuring out more intelligent ways to maneuvre, slipping and falling and getting back up again. You never gain it unless you're willing to take the slip, and immerse in the problematic. Plunge into the problematic, find your complexity, stay where the troubles are and see what mettle you can add to the equation. A wizard, like any craftsman, works with his or her hands. You have to feel out the world, and test it, even as it tests you. You have to know how to say "no", and you have to know how to say "yes", and know the difference between. You have to have sinew and twist, know the codger within and the laughter therefrom, and savor the taste of life's tasty fruits and berries. A wizard knows the flavor in his mouth, has tasted dirt, is familiar with tart and bitter, aromatic and salty, never forgets the sweet, but tempers it with all the more subtle flavors. A wizard knows recipe-books, keeps notebooks, tries formulas out ; fails, goes back, tweeks, lovingly assesses, works with what is and discovers the wyrd in all things. No, not "all" things -- that's back to "all-knowing". No. Each thing. The wizard discovers thing by thing by thing, seeking the whole in each pattern. Through knowing a few good things, you come to really know, and with any luck, and a little skill, and a lot of work, you may be able to apply those lessons to new curveballs life throws at you. A wizard seeks wisdom where it may be found. Techniques and menus have been probed, are piled in the messy laboratory, located perhaps in an old greenhouse, where plants grow on the farm, or a basement, or maybe a dusty attic. Or it could just be a plain old room or shack where you do your work. Grimoires, treatises, whereever wisdom is hinted at, the wizard investigates, tries, experiments. And summons.

Conjuring is a wizard's tale, a task, imperative. To conjure perhaps defines wizarding. Summoning up, calling out and up the old spirits. Declaring. Adjuring. Inventing. Yes, a wizard invents, says it's so, and then it is, and follows up the inspired pretense with hard work of investigation and realization. That is to say, a wizard improvises. You work with life as it comes, bricolage, but also ex nihilo and fiat. You invent yourself. You discover your wizardry through your own imagination. And then life, the world, experience, tests to see if you've got the mettle. You fail a lot, and one sees if you keep getting back up and trying a new tack, till you get it right. You have faith in your own bullshit-artistry, and follow it up with facts. Bullshitting is sometimes a hair's breadth away from conjuring, and sometimes you really do summon. Be intrepid in summoning. There's a creative genius necessary for wizarding, so go on the jazz, go out on a limb. Then pull back and get real focused, do the work, work the material. That's how it's done.

A wizard draws power of deep imagination, but for all that, is real, is ordinary, extraordinary in the ordinariness. A true wizard is an advantage and a half or more over a would-be guru*. The wizard does not know everything. The wizard is not all-wise. The wizard knows how to investigate questions --- most of the time. The wizard is willing to do foot-work to find out who knows if he or she doesn't know, and go there and get what answers may be had. Most importantly, when those answers come back partial, as they always do, the wizard knows how to improvise with that mix to allow something real to happen. It may be a humble magic, but if it works real magic, and magic is the art of entering into life's ordinary miraculous with grace and with wonder, then it is an authentic gift and a foundation for new possibilities.

We're relearning how to wizard in the West. We're making it up as we go along, learning, trying, stumbling, laughing. Laughing most especially at ourselves and the world. Laughing and crying, licking our wounds, studying, going to the herbs, going to the tree trunks, placing our hands in the soil, consulting the farmer, the doctor, the merchant, and the shaman, and taking what works. Not out of appropriation, not as an introjection, but as a true awakening of what already lives within us, and just ancestral waits for some awakening. A little of this, a little of that. Something arouses, something perks up its ears. A recipe man, an extemporaneous thinker, a seeker who runs thick to the beings of this world to wake up and learn a little maturity. We know how to listen. We trust the deep processes, and play with the dangerous, learning caution as we go, knowing our fidelity to deep play will lead the way, even through the perilous, if we are mindful and watch our luck carefully.

We're grounded. We've seen the con-games. Our weathered faces subtly sneer at the charlatans, if you look long at the lines on our slowly wrinkling countenance. We once had the trickster as friend, we know his tricks. We've seen his fall. We've come too close ourselves, but something guided us, something grounded us, something kept us, in the heart of chaos, close to the good, and we knew, above all, that was to be trusted. We've talked with beings more cynical than you can imagine, and laughed at their excess. We've seen dangerous forces declare that carnage and domination is the way of the world, and we've taken aback, look askance, and marked carefully in the memory such forces to be reckoned with, and kept in place. We've heard trolls scoff at the good, bitter in their lonesome rejection of hope and ideals, and watched them pathetic burrow into a place more monstrous, though comfortable for them. We've seen all this, and come too close, and some of it rubbed off, and we have the scars to show for it, but somehow, somehow we made it through, and got better when we were made ill, or, awakened to where we are still ill and never knew it, still full of holes and withered hollows filled with white pus and fester, work our cleaning, and ask the worts to help us whole. And we are all the wiser for it. Wise not as in "all knowing". Wise as in, "you better wise up", and that is where we show some particular skill, even where we are still fools. We trust the foolish, but tend it on towards its goal and its completion. There it finds its grace, and we find our seasoned laughter. The world still holds many wonders. Mysteries are like a succulent fruit to us, though buried in a rind or nut, or covered in thorns or thickets.

We've got our licks, have the scars to show it, don't brag, but sometimes do. We still trust in the good. Oh, it's wild and full of weather, a tough old weed in a windy world, but for all the scoff and guffaw, it's real nonetheless. A birth, a sunset, a child drinking wonder daily show its simple prevalence. The broken wolves are not to be believed. There is much good remains in hard world to be midwifed, nurtured, fostered, warded. It's not naive, although it could be in the wrong hands. You don't have to fall into the abyss (at least more than once), and make your home there in the pit, simply because life has its knocks and beats you blue sometimes. Find your foot, and learn to dance the hard dance. It gets fun. You still may take a licking, but get smarter.

Don't trust someone who claims they're wise and wants you to compromise what you know best. Move along, and keep the search. Real wizards and grounded and will work with what you present, if you show yourself sincere to do the hard work of growth. They won't bother, nonetheless, with poseurs and those who pretend they're ready when they're not, won't waste a second of their time with those still dallying far from the plate. Step up. Trust your gut, and don't let the wily sell you as wise. Wise puts you in your place, the place where you belong. A wizard is not all-knowing. A wizard is seasoned.

*Without prejudice towards those Hindu wizards who've earned a good name of guru ; we in the West have seen many charlatans and pompous hypocrites setting themselves up as pedestals, yet quick to abuse and call it "opportunity".


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