There is one more thing I have to share on Power and Magic. It is a personal story. When I was a young boy and had just about entered kindergarden I remember a night of bonfire. Families would meet in the yard of the kindergarden where a large fire had been prepared. Parents would come and gather in the dark, sit around the fire on stumps, eat, drink, and allow the children to stay up late and play with the flames under their watch. How much better does it get when you are a boy of six?
It was shortly before this night that my father had given me a pirate sabre for my collection of toy weapons. I still remember its bent black plastic blade and the golden hilt as if it was yesterday. It was all my pride and I had played nothing but pirate stories since he had given me this gift. No wonder I decided to take the sabre with me when we headed out to the bonfire in the deep of the night - which was probably around 8pm...
When we arrived the fire was just about being lid, neighbors and families gathered and I soon lost sight and thought of my parents. With a few friends we sat close the fire and watched the flames unfold. I don't recall what we were talking or bantering about, yet I do remember a moment when I was standing in front of two of my friends. Their faces have grown pale and nameless in the years that followed. I remember I wore my red pirate head scarf and held the powerful sabre in my hands and pointed it at my friends. I shouted something and swung the black blade at them. No one around the fire held a sabre but I! With the flames in my back my friends turned into shadows withdrawing into the dark...
It was in this moment that my father appeared. He appeared out of nowhere from behind my shoulder - and in a split second grabbed the sabre and took it from my hand. I still recall what he said while my friends were watching, returning from shadows to their human forms: "I haven't given you this sword to swing it at the faces of your friends. If you don't know how to handle it, times aren't right for you to hold it."
It's been thirty years since then and I never forgot this night. I didn't forget how I couldn't wait to get home that night. How I feared to see my friends again. But for all the despair, I learned something crucial that night: I learned that true power could not be held like a plastic sabre in my hand. For many years I didn't know where to find it instead. Yet, I did know that any power held in my hands could be taken out of them - as my father had done, the first sword-taker I ever met. It took me years to learn where to look for true power instead.
After all I thought I had found it beneath the skin of my hands. For as long as our power flows from the trophies, the symbols and images we surround us with it will remain fleeting. It might be with us one moment and gone the next. So I thought, the only place power can be confined to safely is within and not around us? It is myself, my body, my mind and soul that needed to turn into the sword I had lost.
Well, fast forward a few decades and I had been proven wrong once again. I had learned that even locked away within us our power is not safe of assaults and sword-takers... A stroke, a diagnosis of cancer, a midnight accident of our loved ones and so much of it is gone. Sad to say, but I guess the container of power that is immune to life does not exist? Life itself holds the only privilege to overstep all boundaries at any time. And to change our lives in a heartbeat.
So where does this leave us as magicians? For me it leaves right here: In front of the simple, plain truth that it is not for us to control. It is for us to inspire, to initiate, to transcend, to foster, to flourish, to support and sometimes to sustain. Yet most often not to decide or control. If we aim for true magic, for processes that require unimaginable amounts of power - and often time - we just don't want become the limiting factor in the equation?
In true magic we have to overcome the myth of Solomon. We neither rule nor do we judge or control. We are not kings but servants. We actually choose to serve and then we simply go to work.
It's only in hindsight I realize what kept me from doing true magic for decades. In addition to a considerable lack of experience it was the exact same desire that got me into magic in the first place: The desire to draw the pool of power from the black pirate sabre and inject it under my own skin, into my blood and into my heart. Wether I myself had to turn bent and black as the sabre in the process didn't matter back then - but power from within it had to be. Power that I thought no sword-taker could ever take from me.
It took years until I finally let go of this idea. I encountered many more sword-takers, I met them in life, in magic and in my dreams. And all of them took the sabre from my hands, just as swift and sudden as my father had done. All preparation, all shields and armour were nothing to them. Even when I had turned myself into almost nothing but armor, with blood of steel and thoughts of steel and a heart of steel even then did I lose my power again. I lost it in sicknesses, I lost it in broken dreams, I lost it in years of insomnia and in years of flight from what I couldn't accept to be. I guess I lost it in what we call growing up?
Only once fully exhausted, only once I had finally given up my search for power, my beautiful life as an adult began. I could have had this so much earlier... A life that takes time to experience rather than to control, a life that partakes rather than dominates, a life that co-creates rather than confines.
If I am powerful today I don't know. Another sword-taker might wait right around the next corner? Until then I will show up to work every day. Times of sorrow and happiness ebb and tide as they do for knights and pawns, kings and servants, fathers and sons alike. But I know it's my empty hands that stay with me - to grab the work ahead of me instead of pirate sabres.