Creative Work For Others


Scroll of Power
Originally uploaded by anselm23

I’ve had much more success lately at doing interesting and useful work for others, than for myself. A few months ago, I was asked to assist in doing some prosperity work involving a fountain dedicated to Jupiter at a local shop — which, as near as I can tell, worked. Odd, that. What was odder still was that the fountain broke after a few months, right after a major repair to the shop’s infrastructure was required. The owner had the money to pay for the repairs, but then the fountain broke. And one of the employees there has been asking me to do something new.

It’s been my experience that magic, like design, never quite works the same way the second time around. It’s part of the reason Apple never recycles its hardware cases from one design to the next: they design a completely new case or frame to go around a redesigned machine for a reason, and that reason has a lot to do with the dream and hope of the “new and improved”.

So, it’s a little early to tell if this is going to work for the shop in the way that they, and I, want. She only got it this morning, after all. But, it feels good to do work for someone else, and provide them with a tangible object of material benefit.

What’s the relationship between magic, and Design Thinking? It’s a harder question to answer. The late-Medieval/early-Renaissance author Henry Cornelius Agrippa states that the magician’s power lies in knowing the three-fold virtues of the universe, namely the virtues of plants and stones and woods; the virtues of measurements and patterns rooted in mathematics; and finally the realm of spirits and spiritual qualities. I’m paraphrasing, but I think that there’s a powerful relevance to design, and to design thinking. If a magician’s job is to know the three-fold virtues of the universe, then a designer’s job is likewise to know the three-fold virtues of the universe — because the designer, like the magician, is tasked with the duty of taking real-world materials and tools, measuring them and parcelling them out in the proper ways according to rules of mathematics and science, and making something to excite the human spirit with love and wonder.

Increasingly I think of myself as a designer rather than as a teacher, or a magician. But I don’t think I could have been a designer without being a teacher or a magician first. I needed to wrestle with the core concepts of those three-fold virtues of the universe before I could see that Design Thinking involves using real-world tools and materials to excite the human spirit.

The exciting thing, of course, is how much excitement I get out of being a designer-magician. I may not be any good at it, but it certainly delights my soul and my spirit to be a creator of things, above and beyond what mystical benefits accrue to the present owner of this scroll of power.  And it’s another way to bring more diversity into the world, which I think is A-OK.

Via Flickr:
A friend of mine runs a shop, and has been experiencing some of the ups and downs of the current economy. We tried doing some magical work to keep her shop running a while ago, using the energies of Jupiter — bringer of generosity. The earlier work was some Jupiter sigils attached to a fountain; that worked surprisingly well. But, then the fountain broke; the parts to the fountain have been sitting in a back room of her shop for a while.

So, last Thursday I started this scroll of the Orphic Hymn to Jupiter. I finished it last night, and gave it to her this morning — charged with Jovian, Solar and Lunar energies. For my first major piece of “calligraphy” (with a Sharpie pen!), I think it turned out rather well. Jupiter’s face is a little off-balance and crazy, but on the whole it turned out pretty well.

I didn’t use the traditional “medieval” page-layout that I’ve been experimenting with for this particular page, but there is an underlying geometry behind it, particularly on the illumination in the lower-right. All in all, it obeys Henry Cornelius Agrippa’s model of the three-fold virtues.

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