A couple of recent experiences has moved me to return to discussing “real” magic. One was a trip to southern Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The other took place much closer to home.

Earlier today, I was sitting in the dogwood meadow of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden ( No one else was around, the sky was a light gray overcast. A slight breeze blew through the surrounding trees, some of whose leaves had turned their fall colors. Beautiful, peaceful spot.

I’m not a very religious person but I knew there was a presence there, a power, an unseen, mystical resonance that was all-encompassing. Even though the sun was mostly obscured and there was a slight chill in the air, I felt as if I was in another world.

It was real magic.

It was like the powerful sense I got when visiting Stonehenge and Avebury Circle in England and sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon at twilight. More recently, I felt the same sort of supernatural force, if you will, at the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado and the Native American ruins at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. The landscape of that part of the country is so defining, so monumental, so elemental, that it takes the breath away. And, despite civilization’s encroachment, its brutal and ruthless intrusion, the magic still exists there. I could feel it all around me.

Oh, I know the idea of magic being displaced by non-belief and modern culture has been batted around countless times before. And I certainly can’t write as eloquently as John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, or Tony Hillerman when they describe their natural worlds. Yet, here’s how I felt

Simplistic as it sounds, what I’m saying is one’s mind has to be kept open, the smart-phones put away, the preconceptions buried. You have to turn yourself into a “receiver” in order to detect and pick up on the forces of nature, the cosmos, the supernatural, of magic, whatever you want to call it.

It’s all there. I’m not saying we should all abandon our lives and “go back to nature” but there’s absolutely a place for every one of us to think and feel like we’re really a part of the energy that holds everything together. We all just have to find it and those places are closer than you think. Humankind hasn’t destroyed everything yet.

In my novel, The Sixth Precept (, medieval Japan evokes spiritual and supernatural elements with its religions, myth, and culture. I tried to get that as correct as I could, to bring out those mystical forces, to make them characters in the book themselves.

In my upcoming new novel, Blood of the Daxas (, the secondary world of the Imperium is attuned to magic, its lands soaked in it. There exists different kinds of magic in this world and different kinds of magic-wielders–magic of the mind, of nature, of religion, of blood.

But a new “magic” has arisen to challenge those–technology. In an ultimate battle, which of those types of magic will survive?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s