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Bring Back The Magic

Throughout history, magic has always been there, performed by hobgoblins and leprechauns, fairies and other mythical creatures. In olden times it was a convenient way of explaining the inexplicable, strange events that seemed to have no logical reason for happening. Without the science of modern medicine to diagnose an aneurism, an apparently healthy person who dropped down dead on the spot might well have been the suspected victim of a curse. Imagine someone arguing with that man or woman moments before and pointing an accusatory finger at them. They would probably have risen in status to become the resident witch, feared for the harm they could do, also revered for the benefits they might bring; all because the villagers found it necessary to believe in a power beyond understanding for the continuing safety and prosperity of the community. It sounds like mass hysteria, but when you consider the subservient lifestyle of the majority in those days, they had little enough going for them and could be forgiven for taking advantage of any magic that was on offer.

That mentality, of course, has gradually faded as humanity nurtured a science which can explain almost everything. Thanks to this knowledge, life has become predictable and things which go bump in the night are no longer to be feared. Magic has no place in modern life because we don't need it any more; or do we? The wonder of the unexpected continues to thrill. Take a look at the so-called reality TV shows. A person returns home after a brief period away to discover that their modest home or overgrown garden has been transformed by a bunch of strangers. A workaholic who hasn't had a vacation in years is suddenly told that one has been organised for them with a well-known personality as their host and companion. Every day and throughout the world, surprises galore are presented at events like milestone anniversaries and birthdays. None of these are anything to do with magic, but the recipients of them react as if they were, and the buzz felt by those who have made the occasion happen must be similar to a magician's satisfaction on casting a spell that actually works. Classic fairy tales are modernised and re-invented as series or movies, not to mention comic-book heroes. We can't get enough of them because we identify with the weak and helpless and have a need to ride with them as they conquer adversity. Sometimes magic is the only way to achieve that and, ridiculous though it might sound, we expect it to be used in the context of the story and would dearly love to borrow some of it for our own use.

The problem with finding isn't easy because, apparently, it doesn't actually exist. Despite this, many have tried and are still trying. Opium dens used to be the favourite of those searching either for oblivion, or an answer to their problems that normality fell short of providing. Were the sorry individuals who frequented them merely numbing the effects of reality, or hoping to escape from it in an alternative, magical world? The same must be wondered about those who take other drugs, both hard and party-types. Even LSD has re-appeared in a copycat form, and magic mushrooms are still popular. Ingesting any of these hallucinogens can prove fatal, not only for the damage that they can do to the body, but particularly in the way that they are said to distort the mind, causing the subject to believe in the impossible. Not having tried any of them, I can only imagine the amazing, sometimes frightening places the users find themselves in; but I don't think the drug itself is the instigator of the hallucinations: it is merely the key which unlocks that part of the mind where they are stored. They might be childhood memories, nightmares, spooky movies seen recently or long ago, anything that made an impression and has subsequently been forgotten or deliberately suppressed for some reason. We all have the makings of fantasies, our own source of personal magic buried deep inside our heads, and we may, from time to time, benefit by giving them an airing; yet not all of us need narcotics to release them.

LSD was the in-thing of the 60's, but many who had never experienced its effects were carried away on a magic carpet which was not a drug at all. It was a concept called flower-power. From accountants, to shop-assistants and probably even police officers, ordinary people throughout London and eventually the World willingly embraced a way of thinking that required only one prerequisite: the fervent belief in something which ought to be the right of everyone, but very few experienced - peace. It was a truly magic word that had people feeling warm inside and accepting that everything was beautiful, and love was everything. Some wore outrageous, brightly coloured clothes, while others remained in their conservative attire, and no-one cared because they were all one, all together. And that togetherness did something that had never been done before - it stopped a war. For a brief period in our turbulent history, we were thinking the same way, believing in the same magic; and it worked!

What's the point of all this? Well, in truth, it's whatever you want to make it. You can be someone who has to touch and feel something before you can admit to it's existence; or you can simply believe that it will appear for you whenever you need it. That's trust, optimism; it's people praying, wishing, dreaming; it's knowing you can win Lotto, even with the odds stacked against you; it's not looking for a reason, or an explanation, just accepting that sometimes things happen as if by magic; and believing that they actually do. Life truly is better that way.

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