THE ARCHETYPE OF THE MAGICIAN
By John Granrose
Magic is afoot, God is alive.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Many have helped me during my studies at the Jung Institute and in the process of writing this thesis. In particular, I thank:
Gene Qualls, my first analyst, whose question "What would it mean to go 'first class'?" led to my coming to Zürich in 1984, and thus, indirectly, to my becoming a training candidate in 1987.
Mario Jacoby, my analyst and thesis advisor, for his help on so many different levels and over so many years.
Kathrin Asper and Urs Mehlin, for serving as readers and examiners of this thesis.
Verena Kast, with whom I discussed many of these ideas and who has taught me a great deal.
The staff of the Jung Institute, particularly Elena, Eli, Frances, Helga, Irene, and Lotti, for help and friendship.
My family in America: Karen, Bruce and Anthony; Kathy, Xavier and Daniel; Jonathan.
Those friends who have been especially close to me during the writing of this thesis: David, Dennis, Doris, Frederick, Jeanine, Peter, and Sterling. Magicians all.
My fellow members of the following groups, each of which provided inspiration for this thesis: The Athens Guild of Magicians, Club Zürcher Magier, the Gentlemen Songsters of Zürich, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Magic Circle (London), the Mystery School, the Psychic Entertainers' Association, the Society of American Magicians, and the Zürich Comedy Club.
My two mentors in things magical: Eugene Burger, for his writings, lectures, and friendship, and Sylvester Granrose, my father and first teacher of magic.
John Granrose, Zürich, January 6, 1996
"... magic as practiced in the Middle Ages and harking back to much remoter times has by no means died out, but still flourishes today as rampantly as it did centuries ago."
Magic is all around us. Sometimes we have the eyes to see it; sometimes we do not. It is the core of what we label as "the numinous" and so it is bound up with our religious experiences as well.
Humans have had what might be called "magico-religious" impulses through all of recorded history and presumably before. For example, one of the earliest images of a human being is the so-called "Sorcerer" in the paleolithic cave of Les Trois Fr res. We know that magicians flourished in ancient Egypt and Greece and the Middle East as well as in India and China. Such facts suggest the presence of what Jungians would call an "archetype. As a student at the Jung Institute and as a life-long student of philosophy, such aspects of human belief and practice interest me.1
My interest in magic and magicians, however, has more everyday roots as well.
Like most children, I began my life looking up to my father.2 It seemed as if he were magic somehow. Of course, like most children, I eventually came to understand that he was a fallible human being. In my case, however, there was something slightly different: my father was a magician. He was a long-standing member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and when I reached the age of ten he began to take me with him to local meetings of this group. Eventually, in my teenage years, we performed on stage together. Thus began my life-long fascination with magic.
In recent years, as my interest in Jungian thought developed, I became more concerned with symbols and archetypes as such. And it gradually dawned on me that "the archetype of the magician" would provide an ideal topic for this thesis.
At the risk of sounding overly superstitious, here is a dream which one of my analysands brought me just at the time I submitted my proposal for this thesis: I am on the way home from visiting a theater in a hotel in a medieval city. Suddenly I notice that I am barefoot (and the weather is rather cold). I am not freezing, however, and the streets are quite clean, and made of red bricks or paving stones. Then I am in the hotel room and I am looking for my shoes but don't find them. I ask the owner of the hotel. It is David Copperfield, the magician. He crawls under my bed and brings out a pair of shoes. At first they don't seem to be mine, but later I feel that they are actually mine after all.3 When we discussed this dream she said, "It would take a magician to help me find my 'footing. That's you you are the 'David Copperfield' in the dream. This interchange convinced me that my thesis topic was worth pursuing. Perhaps the reader will understand this.
At the outset it may be useful to mention some limitations in what I shall attempt in this thesis.
First, and most important, although the terms "archetype" and "magician" are the essential ones in my title, I shall not spend many words trying to define them or in defending my own views about them. As I shall mention (and footnote), many books and articles have been written about each term. What I shall write here is (mercifully) brief and is intended only to fix the center of each concept rather than to define its edges.
Second, although I shall offer examples of magicians, stories about them, and discussions of their major symbolic "tools," I shall not attempt a "history" of magic, nor shall I attempt to explore the details of its practice in any particular culture. Again, many books and articles have been devoted to this issue.4
Finally, I shall not attempt to resolve the issue of whether magic and its power is "real" as opposed to subjective. It is clear that people do experience "magic" and that rituals and magic words and the like do, in some sense, work. The focus in this thesis, however, will be on the psychological aspects of this process rather than the metaphysical. In other words, I take roughly the same stance toward the (important) question of the objective existence of magic as Jung did towards the objective existence of God.5 I leave the metaphysical status of "magic," "synchronicity" and the like as open questions. Others have written about them.6
Even limiting my scope in these ways, there is still much to be done. The thesis begins by briefly describing Jung's concept of an archetype. I then discuss the origin of the term "magician" and develop the concept by comparing it with those of mana personality, shaman, trickster, and fool. The middle sections of the thesis focus on four particular magicians and then on four of the magician's "tools. The last full chapter considers several ways in which the Jungian analyst can be understood as a type of magician. Finally, the circle is completed with a brief Conclusion, the Bibliography, some words about myself, and a parting thought from Leonard Cohen.
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