Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Looking for magic...

I suppose it's something I always knew, but sitting on the couch in my family room yesterday morning, basking in the winter sun, coffee in hand, just day dreaming a occurred to me that what I'm looking for, what I've always been looking for, is magic.  Not wriggle-your-nose-turn-into-a-toad magic, but some indefinable quality of beauty, mystery and wonder.  At first it dawned on me that that was the quality I looked for in a house.  That what I wanted in a home when I was ten years old, is still what I want in a home today, what I've tried to create.  Some special spot where magic might happen: a secret nook, a twisted drooping tree, a lovely window, a climbing rose over a pergola, a corner of a room even, where something wonderful could happen.  The house I spent most of my childhood in didn't have much magic actually in it.  A long brown brick box with a verandah, built in 1974, on a concrete pad, one story only (2 story houses being something rare and therefore very magical that only appeared in the books I read), with its fair share of bad 70s wallpaper and bathroom tiles.  But I managed to conjure a little in my own room, with its green walls and pictures of fairytale castles and Cornish villages cut from travel brochures and stuck to my brown built-in wardrobe doors.  And my small bookcase (built by my dad) that held my precious Narnia books, and others of a similar vein.

Outside in the garden there were places under the grapevine, and the frangipani and the May.  There was the moss covered old log at my friend's house, their old overgrown orchard and the huge pine tree at the bottom of their very large garden.  And a little further away, there was a magical valley with a stream running through it, where I played and dammed the creek and tried to catch tadpoles and jilgies, where huge granite outcrops stood like sentinels facing the setting sun, tall gum trees waved in the wind and magpies sang their warbling songs and cheekily expected tit-bits.  It even had a magical name...'Whistlepipe Gully'.  In the last house at the end of the road before Whistlepipe began, lived an old lady who had once been an art teacher.  Who knows if she might have been a kindly old wise-woman as well.

I told myself stories about this place, invented characters and names for the stones, a language for it, and a whole array of scribbled ideas about the different kinds of magic that existed there, what creatures were aligned with each, and charms and spells to use for protection in encounters with them.  I think I still carry this with me now, and I go looking for it all, that sense of otherworldly-ness, in my mundane life.  And so I realise that houses that I like and dislike are judged on their potential for magical possibilities.  This is why, I can now see, modern glass, chrome and steel boxes hold little attraction for me, and old, rustic, slightly decrepit houses made of wood (especially wood framed windows) always do.

The house my parents moved into when I was 22 (and me with them...late to leave the nest) definitely had magic.  The house itself had some (wooden windows for a start).  But it was the garden that truly captured my imagination.  It was the garden I'd always wanted.  Big, and green, with real full-size trees including, most magical of all, an oak tree.  I was married beneath that tree.  Sadly it is no longer standing, the house gone with it, victims of 'developers'.

But it isn't just houses.  As I thought about this, I realised that I do this with almost everything.  Clothes, furnishings, jewellery, music, shoes...everything needs to have a touch of magical potential.  How odd I think now, to decide between two kitchen implements on the basis of which one seems to have more magic in it (new wooden spoons win over cheap new stainless steel, but an old metal spoon found in a dusty Op Shop's back shelves would win over both).  Silver jewellery is almost always more magical that gold.  Green velvet and suede.  Boots.  Red Hair.  Long skirts.  Old tea cups with roses and gold edging.  Second-hand books with scribbles in the margins.  Sea-glass.  Feathers.  Shells.  Rocks with holes in them.  Every time I pick something up, there's a little voice in the back of my mind, the voice of a child steeped in Narnia and Faeries and Green Men and Hobbits, that asks "but is it MAGIC!?"

One forest faery outfit finished, and a happy newly six year old faery!


Sarah Jean said...

Now that I've read your post, I realize I've been doing the same thing my whole life! I live in a kind of awkward neighborhood - some parts are decidedly old and countryish, some parts are remnants from the first flight to the suburbs, and some parts are new, ugly developments - but I can always find the little corners of magic in the most unexpected places. The mysterious lantern hanging from a tree in the woods behind my house, the way dappled light falls through the leaves in autumn, or the chipped paint on a picket fence. When I was little I imagined a whole society of fae folk who lived in my yard and its surrounding woods, down do the clothes they wore and their practices of trade! Even now that I live in Boston, a big city, I'm still looking for bits of magic; I never walk by Boston Common at night without seeing the glowing orbs of all the lights and thinking, "That must be where the faeries live here!" :)

Valerianna said...

Yup, I'm with you on creating magic.... and the faery outfit ROCKS! I hope that as you are finishing the next one you are also working on your own, amazing tutu!!!

Many magical blessings!

Emerald Window said...

Oh Dear One, We are SUCH kindred spirits. I also look for magic and create it on occasion. My mantra is "If it's old it's sacred, if it's new, it's suspect". I feel like I am alive when I am around magic nature and dead when I am stuck in an office.
Love the fairy outfit. We used to have a "Mid-Summer's Eve Feast" every year where all of the nieghborhood would come to our garden and feast and play and everyone dressed up in period clothing and ALL of the kids (all 40+ of them) were dressed as fairies, pixies, elves and such.

Emerald Window said...

If you are looking for some more magic, check out this link. Should be fun.

mermaiden said...

More kin here ;]
For me, creating is an exercise in magic. I find the polarity of weird beauty fascinating, as well as the combination of things dark and light.

What wonderful memories you keep!

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Beautiful post, Mermaid. Such deep magic is elusive, but it is there if we take the time to look for it. What a marvelous forest faery. Perfect.

Ashley Ashbee said...

It seems most important to you that your surroundings are magical. Many people grow up with a strong connection to a place and this strength of connection is usually attributed to a particular land and culture. Here, you make it clear that something as simple as a house can be magical and a world of its own.

I think it's just as important to feel magical as it is to observe magic. In 2002, I starred in a scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream as Puck, a fairy. I wore a silver spandex body suit with a pink veil thing on top. I was covered in make up and glitter. My hair included. It was a lot of fun.

Two years later I starred in a full production as Bottom, but part of me wanted to be Puck again. Just for the magic.

the wild magnolia said...

Magic keeps us from going insane.

Thanks for sharing!

KeLLy aNN said...

We were lucky to have a treehouse in the huge oak that grew in the middle of our yard.
And my grandmother had these twin beds that were high off the ground.
The blankets touched the floor so it naturally became a hidey place.
Great story.

Jo Potter said...

This is a very magical post and you can find magic in the most unusual places...
Your family room looks very inviting for fairies to visit for tea!
I see you already have a cute fairy living with you, wearing her special green outfit! :-)

Many blessings.

Raven Moon Magic said...

Im peeking out of hibernation and your is the first world I come to and I can see why, its like coming home, and home to magic. what a beautiful thought provoking post, I get lost sometimes with the whole house thing. its not till you stop and look around that you feel so greatful for the magical cave you have created. all i ever wanted to do was leave home and buy a house so i could do whatever i wanted to whenever i wanted to. you forget that this is your life space, where you have chosen to spend your time on this journey, in this life so maybe its time to get a little house crazy and do something wild and creative.
Im so dead inside I cant even write a post so you have given me inspiration for what to do.
thankyou Christina, by not blogging its people like you I miss the most.
love the fairy out fit, and one that fits winter! perfect!

hope your all well
love your work


Ruthie Redden said...

dear christina, beautiful words indeed, you say perfectly what i have always felt deep in my heart. I have always been drawn to those magic places & feel that i live with one foot in another world, it is wonderful to know a kindred spirit x your wee house fae is so sweet, i adore the costumes !!!

Karen said...

A wonderful post and I feel exactly the same!
It's wonderful to know there are many who think alike and that the computer a very 'unmagical' looking tool leads us to kindred spirits, opens doorways and leads us down many a magical path.

Mischa said...

Dear Christina
It's been a moment now that I started to visit your blog, I don't even remember how I found you...
When I read your post, I realised I do the same thing : looking for magic.
Everything about you is magic !

I hope you're ok.


Nancy said...

I just came upon this post and ...well...I love your definition of magic! I have always said I hate magic, but that is the magic as in Tricks as in make me feel dumb. But, secret nooks, rocks with stripes or holes and so on...that is magic I can live with :)
Thank you for verbalizing something I didn't even realize I was doing/feeling.

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