Kind Magic and Crocuses
by Ruby Sara
“Why, life is short, and how many can I help or harm? I have my power at last, but the world is still too heavy for me to move, though my friend Lir might think otherwise.” And he laughed again in his dream, a little sadly.
The unicorn said, “That is true. You are a man, and men can do nothing that makes any difference.” But her voice was strangely slow and burdened. She asked, “Which will you choose?”
The magician laughed for a third time. “Oh , it will be the kind magic, undoubtedly, because you would like it more. I do not think that I will ever see you again, but I will try to do what would please you if you knew…”
-from The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
Friends and beloveds, the cold has returned to these silver streets in the heart of the fiercely wild urban midwest, but it can’t fool me. My heart holds fast to those few fleeting days when the wind brought snatches of spring song to my ears, and I know it intends to keep that promise. Somewhere, there is a clutch of crocuses opening their deep, purple and white cups, and somewhere a crabapple tree is trembling with anticipation. The intrepid spouse has brought me first tulips, and soon I will make my late February pilgrimage to my favorite city haunt to buy beeswax candles and hyacinths in honor of my Beloved Dionysos, who rushes into my life again every year around this fragile time. Poetry swells in our blood and we are filled with the salt and hum and thrust of spring, that matchless season.
Some time ago, when I read the passage above in my all-time no-question absolute favorite novel for possibly the millionth time, I thought to myself what a wonderful basis for an ethical system this might be. That Schmendrick would choose the kinder magic purely on the fact that the unicorn would like it more. It reminds me a bit of Brendan Myers’ assertion in The Other Side of Virtue regarding the individual’s encounter with Immensities, and how those encounters shape us ethically. In this case, Schmendrick’s Immensity is the Unicorn, and his response to her and the story he lives with her shapes him into a legendary magician and practitioner of “kind magic.”
So it is that we might look at our own Immensities – our own Unicorns – those things which are most wonderful, most beautiful, most numinous, most amazing, most life-changing…the most real things we may have ever known in our secret hearts…and do what would please them if they knew, the kind magics: the writing of poems, the singing of songs. Protest, art. Righteousness, the honeyed anger that reaches for justice. Rescuing cats from trees and healing wounds. Recognizing the Other, recognizing Self as Other. Discovering the genius that lives in the body of the Mama.
Because they would like it more.
Grok Earth, best beloveds. Pray without ceasing.