Real Magic and the Mythkeepers of the World

This world we live in has a different ‘shape’ to the ‘shape’ we often think it as. By this I mean that the world is arranged in ways other than what we think we know. We block out what we don’t see because we either do not understand it, can’t countenance it, or have been swamped by a modern veneer that is an oil on our sights and skins. What we block out is magic. By this I don’t mean the Harry Potter type of ‘magic’, or the stage illusionist’s ‘magic’: I mean real magic.

For millennia humans have been storytellers. We used to embrace the mythical, the lore of the folk, the poetry of epic tales: we saw real magic in the world. The world was a wondrous and sometimes confounding and frightening place. There were phenomena beyond our comprehensions in the spaces where we lived, in the cycles of the planet, in the lights above our heads. Our ancestors could only gaze in awe at what they saw; give praise to invisible forces that filled the gaps in their understanding; accept that much of what happened around them happened in some vast ineffable space and dimension, far bigger than their collective comprehension or ability to control it all.

In the modern world we live with an inflated view of our selves as omniscient beings. We live behind our screens which shield us from sensory interactions with the planet and the stars. We do not, or will not, or cannot see the real magic of the world.

Some writers have been and are continuing to address this. What we label ourselves as isn’t so important: what is important is that there is magic in the world and awareness of it should be shared. The ‘magic (or magical) realist’ writers (depending on your persuasion) fused the fantastical elements of possible other dimensions, for example, into this world we see here (Márquez, for instance, wrote as the ghost of a long-dead child in Someone Has Been Disarranging These Roses (1952), published in his collection Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories; painters such as Mark Rothko recognised the myths and archetypes of our primal selves and incorporated this thinking into his work; religious texts make reference to inter-dimensional beings as very real in this ordinary world (the jinn of the Quran, for example).

Writing magic into one’s work isn’t simply a grafting on of fantasy elements (the reader knows this isn’t ‘real’ but will go along with the flow of fantasy in this way instead). Fantasy serves its purposes but the magic of the real is an acceptance, knowledge, that what some might see as fantastical is an ordinary part of this world. In illusion and fantasy we can suspend our disbelief to create the self-delusion; in the magic of the real we see that other ‘shape’ and way of the place we live in, and on, as true — in all its ordinary extraordinariness.

In the artistic embracement of myth and archetypes, we understand that we are a part of what Jung called the ‘collective unconscious’: we are linked entities, not merely limited-dimensional beings, behind our modern screens. From this we might see how we’re writer-mythkeepers and that we can all connect, with shamanic clarity, to the truth of the stories we’ve always told: to the ghosts and gods and goddesses, to the mesmerising hybrid creatures of the sea, to the dream visitations and other wondrous logics of spaces we breathe in. We can see objects infused with powers and energies, and we can make some sense of the way things play out because they do not play out according to the logic of what we’ve been taught. In seeing the real magic of the world we can find comfort in amongst some vast cosmic realm that’s far bigger than our imaginations can conceive.

For those of us who choose to accept the role, it is our duty as mythkeepers to uphold the lore of the folk, to keep alive the stories of the magic of the world. If we lose our connections to this magic, real magic, we lose our connections to each other, to those who’ve come before us, to where we live, and to what’s above and beyond us.

This post is part of a ‘magic realism blog hop’. Please also visit the other blogs in this specific community (see below):

What is Magic Realism? (Zoe Brooks)
Night Logic (Kirsty Fox)
Dragon’s Breath (Karen Wyld)
Magic Realism or Fantasy (Zoe Brooks)
Flying High with Magic Realism (Leigh Podgorski)
Magical Realism and a Floating Life (Tad Crawford)
Urban Fantasy and Magic Realism: a Matter of Agency (Lynne Cantwell)
Serendipity — Down the Rabbit Hole (Rebecca Davies)
Facts and Fiction: Historical Magical Realism (Evie Woolmore)
Magical Realism Blog Hop — Giveaways! (Edie Ramer)
White is for Witching (Laura at Curated Bookshelves)
Magic Realism in Movies (Christine Locke)
Every Little Thing I Read is Magic (Susan Bishop Crispell)
Everyday Magic(al Realism) (Jordan Rosenfeld)
What The Masters of Magic Realism Say (Muriellerites)
Magic Realism Blog-Hop: The Moon and Cannavaria (Children’s Fairy Tale Short) (Eilis Phillips)
Some Brief Descriptions of Magic Realism Books (Zoe Brooks)
Extract from Company of Shadows (Zoe Brooks)
The Unknown Storyteller (Karen Wyld)
Interview with Leigh Podgorski, author of Desert Chimera (Evie Woolmore)
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (Zoe Brooks)
The Bagman (by Rachael Rippon) Review (Jeridel)
Timeless Voice (Karen Wyld)
 
 

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22 thoughts on “Real Magic and the Mythkeepers of the World

  1. Karen Wyld says:

    Hi Joel, I loved this post. It fits well with some of my beliefs of magic realism and storytelling.
    It also speaks to where I am trying to be: i.e. to not be so critical of what is and isn’t magic realism.
    I am really looking forward to your contributions to this week’s magic realism blog-hop (I will be a fellow-hopper).

    All the best, Karen

    • joelseath says:

      Hi Karen

      Storytelling, I think, is an important aspect here. Yes, we can call ourselves this or that in whatever genre we choose to align ourselves, but ultimately we’re the tellers of the stories. I hope to be able to read as many of the other blog-hop contributions as I can in due course too. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Joel

  2. allonymbooks says:

    Super blog, Joel. I think you and I are on similar wavelengths when it comes to the foundations of our particular magic realism. Here’s my contribution to the bloghop: http://wp.me/p2phbU-cz
    Evie Woolmore, allonymbooks

  3. I especially loved this: “From this we might see how we’re writer-mythkeepers and that we can all connect, with shamanic clarity, to the truth of the stories we’ve always told: to the ghosts and gods and goddesses, to the mesmerising hybrid creatures of the sea, to the dream visitations and other wondrous logics of spaces we breathe in.”

    I too, believe in the power of myth and story. It’s a human need that entertainment culture has usurped.

    • joelseath says:

      Hi Jordan

      I thank you kindly for your reading and your comments. After writing this post a few days ago, I thought I’d heed my own advice, as it were, and go out into the hot night (as it was that night). I looked up and the moon had an electric blue halo around it, and the dark patches with clearly visible against the bright white. I stood and watched it for a while because it demanded the watching. You know?

      Joel

  4. Edie Ramer says:

    Ditto what Jordan said. It gives me chills. The good kind.

  5. […] Real Magic and the Mythkeepers of this World […]

  6. […] Cantwell – Murielle Cyr – Joel Seath – Edie Ramer – Laura at Curated […]

  7. […] Cantwell – Murielle Cyr (and this one )- Joel Seath – Edie Ramer – Laura at Curated […]

  8. wrtrdoll says:

    “we’re writer-mythkeepers and…we can all connect, with shamanic clarity, to the truth of the stories we’ve always told” Beautiful! I really enjoyed your post, Joel.

    • joelseath says:

      Thank you, Christine. Re: your own post, I hadn’t considered magic realism in terms of the visual art forms such as films before. That’s given me a new perspective.

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