Posted in Fantasy, fiction, Guest Post on August 13, 2013




In this special piece for Storeybook Reviews, Joscelyn Godwin, co-author of The Forbidden Book, shares his thoughts on weaving of magic and reality in his  books — and in our universe.

Except for The Forbidden Book, all my books are non-fiction, but magic and reality are woven into every one of them. I have always chosen subjects and characters that have something magical about them. Some, like Robert Fludd, dabbled in the occult (people always seem to “dabble”; few get in up to the neck). Others discovered the real truth about the Egyptian hieroglyphs (Athanasius Kircher), universal harmony (Hans Kayser), alchemy (Michael Maier), or where Atlantis was (too many to name). Some of my favorites rode in a UFO (George Adamski), took an out-of-the body trip to the hollow earth (Saint-Yves d’Alveydre), or found a Golden Bible (Joseph Smith). Not one of them, I hasten to add, was mad. They were just people to whom magical things happened, and such people always have the best stories to tell.

Non-fiction, to me, is just as much about telling stories as fiction. It deserves the same attention to style and language, the same irony and subtle humor, the same love of one’s characters whether good or bad. I think of my work as like a restaurateur’s. The diners don’t need to grow the vegetables, kill the livestock, cellar the wine, or slave away in the kitchen. The scholar’s job is to get the ingredients together, cook them, and serve them up in a meal worth savoring. The result: an expansion of the mental waistline and something to promote a good night’s sleep. This is not the way most academics think, but I’m a musician, and I know that some of the most profound thoughts can take the form of entertainment.

Do I think that magic exists in our universe, you ask. Let’s not try to define magic, but how about defining “existence,” “our,” and “universe,” for a start. If your universe is that of materialistic science, there is no magic in it. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, you know better: they’re victims of irrational belief systems. But wait: why are you so sure that the universe is “ours,” i.e., an objective reality that all conscious beings share? Some would hold the contrary: that every conscious being projects its own reality, which it takes to be universal. Its universe depends on what it is: ask the ant, or the angel. Humans perhaps have more choice: they inhabit the reality of whatever their world-views permit, and if it allows for magic, then that is on the menu.

Such is the case with The Forbidden Book. It is written from a world-view that permits prophetic dreams, action at a distance, and clairvoyance to exist. In this view, which is shared by esotericists of every age and clime, magic and reality are not separate domains: reality is magical through and through. Does that mean that the authors dabble in the occult? Heaven forbid! How many mystery writers dabble in murder? None that I know of. They use their imaginations to describe it and to enter the mind of the murderer, but they have no doubt that murders occur, hopefully at a safe distance.

The Forbidden Book
by Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro
Disinformation Books; April 1, 2012




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