Below is a fairly random collection of quotes I want to keep handy and also to share.
“Art is the conscious making of numinous phenomena. Many objects are just objects – inert, merely utilitarian. Many events are inconsequential, too banal to add anything to our experience of life. This is unfortunate, as one cannot grow except by having one’s spirit greatly stirred; and the spirit cannot be greatly stirred by spiritless things. Much of our very life is dead. For primitive man, this was not so. He made his own possessions, and shaped and decorated them with the aim of making them not merely useful, but powerful. He tried to infuse his weapons with the nature of the tiger, his cooking pots with the life of growing things; and he succeeded. Appearance, material, history, context, rarity – perhaps rarity most of all – combine to create, magically, the quality of soul. But we modern demiurges are prolific copyists; we give few things souls of their own. Locomotives, with their close resemblance to beasts, may be the great exception; but in nearly all else with which today’s poor humans are filling the world, I see a quelling of the numinous, an ashening of the fire of life. We are making an inert world; we are building a cemetery. And on the tombs, to remind us of life, we lay wreaths of poetry and bouquets of painting. You expressed this very condition, when you said that art beautifies life. No longer integral, the numinous has become optional, a luxury – one of which you, my dear friend, are fond, however unconsciously. You adorn yourself with the same instincts as the primitive who puts a frightening mask of clay and feathers on his head, and you comport yourself in an uncommonly calculated way – as do I. We thus make numinous phenomena of ourselves. No mean trick – to make oneself a rarity, in this overpopulated age.” (K.J. Bishop, The Etched City)
“I don’t think I’m like other people. I mean on some deep fundamental level. It’s not just being half a twin and reading a lot and seeing fairies. It’s not just being outside when they’re all inside. I used to be inside. I think there’s a way I stand aside and look backwards at things when they’re happening which isn’t normal. It’s a thing you need to do for doing magic.” (Among Others, Jo Walton)
“The truth about the world … is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.” (Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian)
“You’re walking down the street and you see a wounded bird in the grass. What’s your first thought? It’s vulnerable. I want to help it. My first thought is also that it’s vulnerable. And yet… I want to crush it. A primal rejection of weakness which is every bit as natural as the nurturing instinct. Of course, I wouldn’t crush it, but my first thought is to do just that…..Extreme acts of cruelty require a high level of empathy. The next time you have an instinct to help someone, you might consider crushing them instead. It might save you a great deal of trouble.” (Bedelia duMaurier, Hannibal)
“Some creatures hunt. Some creatures forage. The Shadder lurk. Sometimes, admittedly, they skulk. But mostly, they just lurk. The Shadder do not make webs. The world is their web. The Shadder do not dig pits. If you are here you have already fallen. There are animals that chase you down, run fast as the wind, tirelessly, to sink their fangs into you, to drag you down. The Shadder do not chase. They simply go to the place where you will be, when the chase is over, and they wait for you there, somewhere dark and indeterminate. They find the last place you would look, and abide there, as long as they need to abide, until it becomes the last place that you look and you see them. You cannot hide from the Shadder. They were there first. You cannot outrun the Shadder. They are waiting at your journey’s end. You cannot fight the Shadder, because they are patient, and they will tarry until the last day of all, the day that the fight has gone out of you, the day that you are done with fighting, the day the last punch has been thrown, the last knife-blow struck, the last cruel word spoken. Then, and only then, will the Shadder come out. They eat nothing that is not ready to be eaten. Look behind you.” (Neil Gaiman, “The Shadder”)
“When the wild god arrives at the door, you will probably fear him.” (Tom Hirons)
“He’d been right about the world, but he was wrong about himself. The world was a desert, but he was a magician, and to be a magician was to be a secret spring – a moving oasis. He wasn’t desolate, and he wasn’t empty. He was full of emotion, full of feelings, bursting with them, and when it came down to it that’s what being a magician was. They weren’t ordinary feelings – they weren’t the tame, domesticated kind. Magic was wild feelings, the kind that escaped out of you and into the world and changed things. There was a lot of skill to it, and a lot of learning, and a lot of work, but that was where the power began: the power to enchant the world.” (Lev Grossman, The Magician’s Land)
“In the end what kills is not agony (for agony at least asks something of the soul) but everyday life.” (May Sarton)
“And it occurs to me that there is a proper balance between not asking enough of oneself and asking or expecting too much. It may be that I set my sights too high and so repeatedly end a day in depression. Not easy to find the balance, for if one does not have wild dreams of achievement, there is no spur even to get the dishes washed. One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.” (May Sarton)
“It seems that two qualities are necessary if a great artist is to remain creative to the end of a long life; he must on the one hand retain an abnormally keen awareness of life, he must never grow complacent, never be content with life, must always demand the impossible and when he cannot have it, must despair. The burden of the mystery must be with him day and night. He must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy. Many lesser poets have it only in their youth; some even of the greatest lose it in middle life…But more often the dynamic tensions are so powerful that they destroy the man before he reaches maturity.” (Humphry Trevelyan)
“….the poetry of the sane man vanishes into nothingness before that of the inspired madmen.” (Plato, Phaedrus)
“When your Daemon is in charge do not try to think consciously. Drift, wait and obey.” (Rudyard Kipling)
“….he fell into a Fairyland, which is sort of like going to a Mirror, only they’re really high Logic pretending to be high Nonsense, it’s quite unfair, there’s rules on rules on rules, and if you break one, wham….out you go, like last year’s garbage.” (Seanan McGuire, Every Heart a Doorway)
“In a way I miss being sick but during my convalescence a strange rage developed in me. It especially appears every night around 4am like a werewolf. I don’t know if it can be made to make something but it feels like raw wild power.” (Diane Arbus)
“Every time I see someone who gets all mushy about fairies, I want to remind them, ‘The fairies are not your friends, anymore than the coyotes are your friends.’ You can interact with them, but under other circumstances they would eat you. They are a different life form, and they are not All About Us.” (Chas S. Clifton)
“And the truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.” (Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea)
“But now, rising from the ashes of the old, we find a new glamourbombing taking her place. One no longer afraid of the power of magic, nor afraid to wield it. This glamourbombing is a true creature of Dream. A will-worker. A weaver of wonders. The tools of this new glamourbombing have changed as well. Glitter has been set aside in favor of the simple tools of chalk and marker. And sites are tagged not with cheap inspirational phrases but with empowered sigils…..This new glamourbombing creates fresh variations on prayer wheels, using them to spread fey energies and create new thin places. She attunes others to otherworldly energies and condenses such energies into objects of power. She invokes the otherworlds themselves, calling them into alignment with our own.” (“The Death and Rebirth of Glamourbombing”)
“Basically, I have understood that art and magic are precisely the same thing. This is not a way of saying that magic is a lesser thing, that it is ‘only’ art at the end of the day, but instead of saying that art is a far, far greater thing than its currently degraded state as a commodity or as simple time-filling commodity might lead us to suppose. If you happen to live within a worldview that supposes our entire neurological reality to be made up of words, and happen to believe that certain intense forms of language might therefore be capable of altering that neurological reality, then picking up a pen or sitting down at your keyboard feels like a very different proposition.” (Alan Moore)
“I will argue that Witchcraft is quintessentially wild, ambivalent, ambiguous, queer. It is not something that can be socialised, standing as it does in that liminal space between the seen and unseen worlds. Spatially the realm of witchcraft is the hedge, the crossroads, the dreaming point where the world of men and of spirits parlay through the penetrated body of someone who is outside of the normal rules of culture. (Peter Grey, “Rewilding Witchcraft“)
“Hermes has no temple, because he’s in every temple; he has no rites, because he’s in all rites; he has no expertise, because he’s an expert in everything. Hermes is the go-between that leads us on in anything and everything; he is the road between destinations, but is not the destinations themselves. He only leads us along the roads, but the road is where we spend most of our lives and times. The presence of Hermes is required by man to work with any god, and is required to communicate to man from the gods.” (The Digital Ambler)
“….men and fairies both contain within them a faculty of reason and a faculty of magic. In men reason is strong and magic is weak. With fairies it is the other way round: magic comes very naturally to them, but by human standards they are barely sane.” (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susana Clarke)
“This time the tincture affected him quite differently. He was not assailed by any peculiar beliefs or fears. Indeed in many ways he felt better than he had in a long time: cooler, calmer, less troubled. He found that he no longer cared very much about magic. Doors slammed in his mind and he went wandering off into rooms and hallways inside himself that he had not visited in years. For the first ten minutes or so he became the man he had been at twenty or twenty-two; after that he was someone else entirely – someone he had always had the power to be, but for various reasons had never actually become.” (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susana Clarke)
“And we’re stupid, and the memory plays tricks, and we remember the elves for their beauty and the way they move, and forget what they were. We’re like mice saying, ‘Say what you like, cats have got real style.’”(Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett)
“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder. Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels. Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies. Elves are glamorous. They project glamour. Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment. Elves are terrific. They beget terror. The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning. No one ever said elves are nice. Elves are bad.” (Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett)
“‘You make us want what we can’t have and what you give us is worth nothing and what you take is everything and all there is left for us is the cold hillside, and emptiness, and the laughter of the elves.’” (Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett)
“There was only one room in the little house, with a huge brick oven at one end, and a table laden with all good things: with candied fruits, with cakes and pies and cookies, with breads and with biscuits. There was no meat, though, and the old woman apologized, explaining that she was old, and her eyes were not what they had been when she was young, and she was no longer up to catching the beasts of the forests, as once she had been. Now, she told the children, she baited her snare and she waited, and often no game would come to her trap from one year to another, and what she did catch was too scrawny to eat and needed to be fattened up first. ‘Still,’ she said, ‘you children give me hope, and I think it is lucky that you have come. Perhaps now there will be meat once again.’” (Hansel & Gretel, Neil Gaiman)
“My dear, labyrinths ensnare and entangle; they draw one inexorably inward – but it would not be much of a labyrinth if you waited in line with a ticket to get in and the door was clearly marked, like some country-harvest hay maze. All underworlds are labyrinths, in the end. Perhaps all the sunlit lands, too. A labyrinth, when it is big enough, is just the world.” (The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne Valente)
“Striving for full awareness of your Faerie Co-Walker, is a dangerous path to walk. I’m not talking here about the dainty, gossamer-winged creatures of Victorian fancy. I am talking about the primal, ancient beings that would steal your baby from it’s crib, lure you to your doom in the fog, forests or wetlands, the powerful subterranean-dwellers who live according to their own laws, that can (and will) rip your face off. I jest you not. These beings should be approached with the utmost care, diligence and respect; a healthy dose of fear would not go amiss either. As a misstep could cost you your sanity, or your life….They will demand a lot from you, sometimes more than you are prepared to give (and they will take by force what you do not give willingly), and in return you will see very little at first, maybe ever. Their thoughts on exchange don’t always meet our own, and in their minds they may have already bestowed great bounty upon you just by revealing their presence….Do not be fooled that you ever have the upper hand with these beings, no matter how many times you convene, for they can surely cut you down a peg or two. And cut you down they will.” (Sarah-Jayne Farrer, In the Chimehours)
“Life – her own life anyway, Sophie had come to think, as it grew longer – was like one of those many-storied houses of dreams she had once been able to build, where the dreamer, with a slow or sudden rush of understanding like a wash of cool water, knows himself to have been merely asleep and dreaming, to have merely invented the pointless task, the grim hotel, the flight of stairs; they go away, tattered and unreal; the dreamer awakes relieved in his own bed (though the bed for a reason he can’t quite remember is laid in a busy street or afloat in a calm sea), and rises yawning, and has odd adventures, which go on until (with a slow or sudden rush of understanding) he awakes, he had only fallen asleep here in this desert place (Oh I remember) or (Oh I see) in this palace antechamber, and it’s time to be up and about life’s business; and so on and on: her life had been of that kind.” (Little, Big, John Crowley)
“They live near crossroads, or at bridges, where things have a choice to them, and where the veil between what is and what is not grows worn and threadbare, rending easily.” (Alan Moore, Voice of the Fire)
“Yet the gods are not linear. Do we negotiate with the gods, pray to the gods, in our limited perspective while the gods themselves laugh and say, ‘Yes, my love. You can have this now, because I know you will earn it later…’” (Ariadne in Exile)
“The thing about witchcraft, is that it’s not like school at all. FIRST you get the test, and then afterward you spend years findin’ out how you passed it.” (Terry Pratchett, Wee Free Men)
“It seems to me that the desire to make art produces an ongoing experience of longing….Always there seems something ahead, the next poem or story, visible, at least, apprehensible, but unreachable. To perceive it at all is to be haunted by it; some sound, some tone, becomes a torment – the poem embodying that sound seems to exist somewhere already finished. It’s like a lighthouse, except that, as one swims towards it, it backs away.” (Louise Glück)
“You can almost always find chains of coincidence to disprove magic. That’s because it doesn’t happen the way it does in books. It makes those chains of coincidence. That’s what it is. It’s like if you snapped your fingers and produced a rose but it was because someone in an aeroplane had dropped a rose at just the right time for it to land in your hand. There was a real person and a real aeroplane and a real rose, but that doesn’t mean the reason you have the rose in your hand isn’t because you did the magic.” (Among Others, Jo Walton)
“Think of [taking psychedelic mushrooms] as a neurological experiment where your mind unravels and then puts itself back together again – only with extra parts.” (character on Bad Samaritans)
“I believe that if we surround ourselves with that which we find beautiful, then the air in our homes will hum with our unique magic, a magic that is smelt by visitors and which is ours alone…..In stretching yourself out as far as your walls, you are making a place which affirms your vision whenever you sit in it.” (Rima Staines)
“Initiation is not a ritual. It is a process. it begins long before any ritual that might mark its passing. The ritual is the least part of any initiatory cycle. One can have a very powerful initiation without there being any type of ritual and likewise one may undergo all the rituals in the world without ever achieving an initiatory state.” (Galina Krasskova)
“I was seeking something unknown, unknowable. I knew the names of it – I had read a thousand books describing it – but the beast itself roamed out beyond the edge and in the deep centre of things. Yes, in the Fire of fire and the Water of water. Eventually, I knew. I had to let myself become so mad that to be in civilisation would destroy me, so feral and lost and essential that only the wildest places of moor could sustain me. I walked up the long hill into the wild of nettles and ignored the screaming animals of my addictions and dreams and desires. Civilisation fell off my back like dust and lies – I felt as if I’d been hunched against a wind all my life, my fists clenched, my eyes screwed tight. Now, the moor and the nettles and my madness told me: enough.” (“Nettle-Eater” by Tom Hirons)
“If one day I see a small bird and recognize it, a thin thread will form between me and that bird. If I just see it but don’t really recognize it, there is no thin thread. If I go out tomorrow and see and really recognize that same individual small bird again, the thread will thicken and strengthen just a little. Every time I see and recognize that bird, the thread strengthens. Eventually it will grow into a string, then a cord, and finally a rope. This is what it means to be a Bushman. We make ropes with all aspects of the creation in this way.” (unnamed San Bushman, as quoted in What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young)
“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.” (Vincent Van Gogh)
“The tendency to imagine drugs at the centre of a variety of ancient religions says rather more about us, and our inability to countenance religious ecstasy without the use of psychoactives, than it does about the religions concerned.” (Andy Letcher, Shroom)
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” (Edgar Allan Poe)
“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger than reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” (Anaïs Nin)
“Each prayer has its own proper meaning, and it is therefore a specific key to a door in the divine, but a broken heart is an axe which opens all the gates.” (Rabbi Israel Shem-Tov)
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” (Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God)
“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” (Sylvia Plath)
“She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to herself ‘which way? which way?’ and laid her hand on the top of her head to feel which way it was growing, and was quite surprised to find that she remained the same size: to be sure this is what generally happens when one eats cake, but Alice had got into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, and it seemed quite dull and stupid for things to go on in the common way. So she set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures under Ground)
“A Sibyl is a door shaped like a girl.” (Catherynne Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There)
“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.” (Chuck Palahniuk, Choke)
“The Paris Situationists used to call this sort of thing a dérive – drifting aimlessly through the city, making it new and strange. You don’t think this is any less real than the world you left, do you? Everything that ever happened to you is real, even your dreams. Them, most of all. People look at us and see the poor and the mad, but they’re looking at us through the bars of their cages. There’s a palace in your head, boy. Learn to live in it always.” (Mad Tom O’Bedlam in Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles)
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open….No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” (Martha Graham)
Tex felt like crying or actually cried – without a physical body the distinction was hard to draw – and he felt royally ripped off and he raged and swore & cetera. The memory of that Place or that Level of Consciousness (for which, of course, no known word would do) would not leave him; yet however he tried he could not get any nearer to the feeling of what being There had been like. He felt stripped and cast out and inconsolable.
“This is where ideas come from.”
“This?” said Tex, looking around. Seeing nothing. Well, the darkness.
Beale said, “Here. Now. After you have left. While you can remember. In the moments when you suspect you have found a way back. Even a dream in which you seem to be back. In this place, these moments, ideas are born.”
“Yes. Of course yes. Why is it that fresh new ideas invariably seem so familiar? Why do we recognize them by their beauty? Why do the people most blessed with creativity tend so oddly often to go mad? Because the moments when the channel opens are not easy to bear.” (Tex and Molly in the Afterlife by Richard Grant)
“The task of spirituality is to construct and maintain a doorway between the realm harbinged by dreams, and this surface-world. It is an enormously difficult task, because this surface-world has a tendency to reify itself, to declare the film that forms upon its surface as the only reality, and a narrow materialism or empiricism, which only affirms that reality which appears to the senses, rather than to the intuition and dreams, dangerously denies any depth at all to experience and the world….[T]he surface-world does everything in its power to keep the door shut. You can paint the door, you can sprinkle holy water on the door, you can bow down and worship the door, but the last thing the reified social-surface-world wants you to do is to actually open the door and peek through.” (Siegfried Goodfellow)
“‘I’m burning up! I don’t have the capacity for this suffering.’
The Presence says, ‘I keep you for the sake of just this.’
He says, ‘O Lord, but I’m burning up! What do You want from this servant?’
He says, ‘Exactly this—that you burn.'”
“Un tigre ne proclame pas sa tigritude, il saute sur sa proie (A tiger doesn’t proclaim its tigerness; it jumps on its prey).” (Wole Soyinka)
“At times, the puppet shares with the mask a power to give form to gods and demons, to the spirits of the dead….In such cases the manipulator, even the puppet itself, can take on the guise of a priest or shaman.” (Kenneth Gross, Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life)
“Puppet theatre is a highly refined art, but depends on something like a child’s, a clown’s, or a mad person’s relation to objects…They are dead things that belong to a different kind of life.” (Kenneth Gross, Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life)
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” (Phillips Brooks, US Episcopal bishop 1835 – 1893)
“The mask is constantly changing. Behind the mask is nothing. You are headless.” (Sannion)
“I walk everywhere, rejecting the internal combustion engine as an effete surrender to laziness and the ignoble advantage of convenience.” (Guy Davenport)
“Mysticism and exaggeration go together. A mystic must not fear ridicule if he is to push all the way to the limits of humility or the limits of delight.” (Milan Kundera)
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” (Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart)
“More conservative minds deprive coincidence of meaning by treating it as background noise or garbage, but the shape-shifting mind pesters the distinction between accident and essence and remakes this world out of whatever happens. At its obsessive extreme such attention is the beginning of paranoia (all coincidence makes ‘too much sense’), but in a more capacious mind it is a kind of happy genius, ready to make music out of other people’s noise.” (Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World)
“Again and again the shaman has to free himself from a deep depression by a creative act. By action he has to bind the disintegrating elements of his psyche into a unity by means of a synthesis, a mysterious psychic activity.” (Andreas Lommel, Shamanism, The Beginnings of Art)
“By communicating (through their propitiations and their chants, through their dances and ecstatic trances) with plants, with other animals, and with the visible and invisible elements, the medicine persons’ craft ensured that the boundary between the human and more-than-human worlds stayed, itself, permeable – that that boundary never hardened into a barrier, but remained a porous membrane across which nourishment flowed steadily in both directions.” (David Abram, Becoming Animal)
“The observation by indigenous peoples that there exist particular individuals – among other animals as among our own two-legged kind – who are in a strangely different league from their peers has led some native traditions to posit that there exists an entirely different species to which such individuals belong, a class of entities who are able to cross between diverse species, taking on the ways of various animals as needed – able to trade wings for antlers, or to forsake paws for scaly fins or even fingered hands. This is the class of those who are recognized, when they’re in human form, as shamans – as magicians or sorcerers. But most contemporary persons, lacking regular contact with the wild in its multiform weirdness, have forgotten that such shamans are to be found in every species, that in truth they are a kind of cross- or trans-species creature, and hence a species unto themselves.” (David Abram, Becoming Animal)
“You might suppose that supernatural beings of this kind are being visualised as if they were mediaeval aristocrats, but I sometimes wonder if the imitation was not the other way round. Traditions of the Wild Hunt and its congeners are so universal that it may have been the mortal kings who first went hunting because they wanted to take on themselves the magic of the fairy ride.” (Jeremy Harte, “Under the Greenwood Tree”)
“You know, I think if people stay somewhere long enough – even white people – the spirits will begin to speak to them. It’s the power of the spirits coming up from the land. The spirits and the old powers aren’t lost, they just need people to be around long enough and the spirits will begin to influence them.” (Crow elder, as reported by poet Gary Snyder, quoted from Nature and the English Diaspora by Thomas R. Dunlap)
“Life is short
And pleasures few
And holed the ship
And drowned the crew
But o! But o!
How very blue
the sea is.”
(Clive Barker, Abarat)
“I’d lived so long apart from others that I’d marveled when I saw a group passing on the road. Now my world was quickly filling, but with souls, not the living. While the idea of it felt sharp, even cold in my chest, it rested easy, as if it were simply a new fit.” (The Keening, A. LaFaye)
“When the Universe seems to confirm our fictions as opposed to our supposed theories, then this suggests a strange relationship between fiction, mind, perception, and cosmos that is far more gripping than simply solving a whodunit.” (Alan Moore)
“If what we do cannot be properly considered as science or religion, would it be provocative to tender the suggestion that we think of magic as an art? Or even The Art, if you like? It’s not as if the notion were entirely without precedent. It might even be seen as a return to our shamanic origins, when magic was expressed in masques and mimes and marks on walls, the pictograms that gave us written language so that language could in turn allow us consciousness.” (Alan Moore, Fossil Angels)
“Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore.” (Neil Gaiman)
“However, this has always been the real schism in any religion or spiritual community….not between those who believe and those who don’t, or between two different sets of beliefs, but between those who follow what’s written down or taught because they have no other experience, and those who the Gods and spirits bother and pester, and who take their beliefs from that. Mystics have always been the real troublemakers, even more so than infidels.” (Raven Kaldera)
“Stone: do you stand on the grave of Charidas?
The son of Arimmas of Cyrene? He lies here.
Charidas: what’s it like down there?
Dark, all dark.
And do the dead come back?
Lies, all lies.
A myth, no more.
I’ve no hope left.
I speak the truth. But I can tell you good news, too: Meat is cheap, down here.” (Callimachus)
“Divination is a means of discovering information which cannot be obtained by ordinary means or in an ordinary state of mind.” (Piers Vitebsky, The Shaman)
“What you describe is how it happens to everyone: magic does slide through you, and disappear, and come back later looking like something else. And I’m sorry to tell you this, but where your magic lives will always be a great dark space with scraps you fumble for. You must learn to sniff them out in the dark.” (Robin McKinley)
“The thing that is closest to your soul is the thing you’re going to avoid the most. The thing that will tap into the part of you that has not yet come to the fore but wants to be expressed, but you’re so afraid of it – you will absolutely find every single thing in your life to avoid doing that. And that… there is no trick about that. You just need to be aware of that. I think the awareness is somewhat curative and if you’re really aware that the things you’re going to avoid the most are the things that are going to scare you the most, that you might actually have to show up if that thing actually worked… That’s only going to be addressed by your willingness to step up to the plate.” (David Allen)
“Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more necessary, than to speak of certain things whose existence is neither demonstrable nor probable. The very fact that serious and conscientious men treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to existence and to the possibility of being born.” (Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi)
“For those who have shifted into the Otherworld, the transition back becomes hard, if not impossible, after a certain point; a number of folktales throughout Scandinavia mention that those who have wholly gone into the Otherworld for a time and been returned are never entirely happy with life in the Middle-Garth.” (Kvedulf Gundarsson, Elves, Wights and Trolls)
“The Nightmage was the first of them for Anna,” he continued, “and he gave her the Sight to see the rest. Under his influence, Anna began to paint the paintings in this house. It is the best work she’s ever done; true work……But what she didn’t understand is that they have artists among them too. They call them mages. And for some of them, we are the materials they use. Our lives are their raw canvas; our emotions are the paints. We’re the clay: they push a little here, they prod a little there, till the work is done. If they drive a man or woman insane in the process, it matters little to them. They are amoral beings, Anna told me. They are neither good nor bad; those concepts mean nothing at all to them. The Nightmage was an artist, like Anna. And she was the work that he was creating. When she was strong in herself and in her art, the work they created of each other was good. But later, when Anna was frightened, and a bit unstable… then it all went wrong.” (Terry Windling, The Wood Wife)
“No man wishes to be weak. Yet my weakness is also my gift. What is commonplace in one world may be a source of terror in the other. A closed door, the baying of a hound. And yet, what is a mystery in this place becomes clear and simple in that other. It is image and reflection, reality and vision, world and Otherworld.” (Son of the Shadows, Juliet Marillier)
“The world is absurd. Ugly absurd. To repair ugly absurdity, you can’t just be normal. You need an alternative absurdity. A beautiful absurdity. We call it ‘divine madness.'” (Tzvi Freeman)
“The land remembers. Men dance and chant, they fight with sticks, and one rides among them on a hobbyhorse, striking them with a bladder filled with pebbles…. we don’t forget, we just forget why. There is no magic left in the festive practices of Oxford, or Grimley, or wherever – the Morrismen and Mummers – no magic unless the mind that enacts the festival has a gate opened to the first forest.” (Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock)
“Knowledge that lies outside the range of understanding can only be gained in a state that also lies outside this range.” (Philipp Vandenberg, The Mystery of the Oracles)
“A holy theatre not only presents the invisible but also offers conditions that make the perception possible.” (Peter Brook, quoted in Susceptible to the Sacred by Bani Shorter)
“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein)
“If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let god consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn.” (Donna Tartt, The Secret History)
“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)
“The only difference between a seiðman and an ordinary man is that the seiðman operates in a world with all the doors and windows open, and the ordinary man doesn’t know that the windows and doors even exist.” (Bil Linzie)
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.” (Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”)
“There is in the world not a single human who can speak my language; or, more simply, not a single human who can speak; or, even more simply, not a single human.” (Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading)