This is part 4 of a series. Here are Part 1 & Part 2 &Part 3


Last week I promised I’d teach you how to pull a rabbit out of a hat, and I will, but first, here’s a question:

Are we having fun yet? Have you been playing with the exercises I’ve suggested, embracing them just for fun?

Because that’s the essence of learning, right there. It’s the essence behind the scientific method, which forms the bedrock of your entire world. It’s the essence behind any true intellectual and physical pursuit – the spirit of playful enquiry, the inquisitive eye of the child. Children are like sponges – they pick things up without even us noticing, take their cues from us and their environment.

Think about it – in a few short years, they learn a fluency with language and motion which, if they really thought about it, would astonish anyone. They go from squalling babes to beings that can use communication to make their wishes known. They learn to walk, to ride a bike, to use a pen and paintbrush; they constantly ask questions, curious, hungry to know about what catches their interest.

Then we stick them in school, and teach them that they need the right answer to gain praise – that not knowing is a bad thing – instead of the thing that inspires curiosity.

We’ve all had problems, difficulties even, in getting to grips with something – unless you’re lucky enough to be a genius, in which case I’ll come back to you! We’ve all struggled, thought we were ‘never going to get it’, and yet with hard work, we managed it.

Learning can be hard work, when you’re not a sponge. When you’re not capable of just sucking it in, soaking it up, absorbing everything, then things can get frustrating, right?

Except, you were a child, weren’t you? We all were. At one time, we were those sponges, we learnt like lightning. So what happened to that faculty of learning? We call kids innocent and carefree, right?

Both of those words boil down to a single concept:

To be free from sorrow, guilt or grief.

To be free from caring what happens.

Magicians talk about ‘lust of result’. You become so fixated on obtaining a particular thing that your operation at best falls over and doesn’t work, and at worst, burns your house down, so to speak.

(And sometimes literally – just ask a friend of mine about that.)

Children play for play’s sake. At the beginning, they learn for learning’s sake. They don’t do it to get good grades, to get good jobs and fat pay-cheques. So I’ll ask again – when did it stop being that way, for you?

If it never did, then congratulations, because you will find these ideas even easier to click with than the rest of us. And note that I said even easier there, because they are very easily clicked with and understood by you, even if you don’t realise it yet, for one simple reason.

That reason is really undeniable – because you’re still you. Because you still remember being a child, and because you know that at one point you didn’t know how to read, and now you do. Now you’re reading this, and there was a time when you didn’t know how – and you didn’t quite know how awesome the things you are still – as we speak – discovering by the written word would be, right?

Think about the how it felt as a child, to play, and how absorbing it was. Think about how you may get absorbed in books, films, tv, music – or even something so simple as washing the dishes. You are still capable of absorption, are you not?

Still capable of being that sponge, because you can still play. So keep that in mind, as we go on, because it’s important and we’re not quite geniuses yet.

Now, since this series is on Practical Storytelling & Sorcery, let’s ask ourselves, first and foremost, what kind of genius would be involved in that?

What kind of genius is that particular genius – the storytelling sorcerer who instinctively knows how to make those bare bones connect together, to breathe life where there was none before, to make them dance? The kind of being who is capable of spinning their tales, weaving their spells and changing worlds, minds and souls?

Do you remember Orpheus? The poet and musician who improved on a technology invented by a god? Do you not wonder what spirit moved him, what his voice sounded like as he delivered his charms?

How would it feel, to hear that song, to be charmed and ensorcelled by it – to be carried off, transported to another way of being?

A genius is capable of something wonderful – something amazing which places them in a class of their own.

So here’s where we get our hands dirty with the guts of language again – because well, just look:

genius (n.)

late 14c., “tutelary god (classical or pagan),” from Latin genius “guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation, wit, talent;” also “prophetic skill,” originally “generative power,” from root of gignere “beget, produce” (see kin), from PIE root *gen- “produce.” Sense of “characteristic disposition” is from 1580s. Meaning “person of natural intelligence or talent” and that of “natural ability” are first recorded 1640s.

Watches over from birth, indeed!

The bones is yours, dad. They came from you!”Part 2

Gordon has a lovely piece up on Twilight Language. You should read it all, but I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting a few lines:

‘In twilight language, the medium is the message. The sheer act of communication, of transmission, is what is important. Taken individually, or even taken by somebody else, the symbols are incomprehensible. If synchronicity is when the universe notices you noticing it, twilight language is how it says “hello, there!” immediately after.’

Children are adept at learning languages – they play with sounds, they babble, and they laugh. You did it, I did it. Everyone did it. In a sense, that play, that primordial experimentation, is the ur-tongue. That’s the pre-Adamic state – antediluvian innocence before we’re told we were naked, and should cover the hell up for morality’s sake.

Think about it – how many young children have you seen running about in your life, naked and uncaring. Maybe at the beach or or the swimming pool or somewhere, yes?

Which brings us to pulling rabbits out of hats, because I promised.

Previously, we’ve examined embodied concepts, and how that relates to the voice. You’ve made funny noises and played with funny postures, paying attention to how they feel. Now we get into the really interesting bits.

In order to pull a rabbit out of a hat, there must be a hat, a rabbit, and a you. The magic is in pulling a rabbit from an empty hat. Something from nothing, yes?

So, imagine yourself to be a magician, or even an ordinary person who has come across a magic hat. Really imagine it – see the brim and the fabric and the colour and the texture. Then, bow to the audience if you feel like it, and put your hand in the hat. Then, describe to your audience, imaginary or otherwise, how it feels to have suddenly found the rabbit in a hat.

Describe its warmth, the texture of its fur, the weight of it – and do this out loud and don’t stop. No matter what comes into your mind about this rabbit, you have to say it. You have to speak it into existence.


Describe it as if you were the only one to know this rabbit exists, until you can feel it there beneath your hand, continually describing this damn rabbit and what it’s doing.

Then, when you’re ready, still talking, still describing, draw the rabbit out of the hat and put it beside the hat. Keep talking, keep speaking, keep describing whatever that rabbit does, in as much detail as you can.

It doesn’t matter if the rabbit pees on the table, or pulls out a carrot and says “What’s Up Doc?”, you have to keep talking – one word in front of another, no matter how ridiculous. Once again:


If you stop talking, the rabbit ceases to be, and you’ll have to start all over again. Poor rabbit – you can stop talking whenever you like, but it depends on you to exist!

The key is, as ever, to keep talking. If you do this exercise several times, you’’l begin to notice certain things – they vary from person to person, but can include things like the words losing their meaning, or becoming aware of the underlying rhythm of your voice, or the rabbit acting differently than you expected – perhaps acting in unexpected ways, maybe even un-rabbit-like ways!

Once you’re enjoying exploring this, try something new – have that magic hat there, but begin describing the hat, putting your hand in etc, one word after the other as before. But instead of reaching for a rabbit, you’re going to pull something else out, and even you don’t know what it is!

Start from first principles – One thing, then the next, then the next. Don’t think about it, just feel it, just describe it. Again:


The key with these exercises is to get used to speaking out loud, to disengaging the critical faculty here.

It doesn’t matter if you pull out multiple objects one after the other – you are like the magic hat. You can create anything. You’re like a child, just playing for the sake of it.

Again, it doesn’t matter what you produce, solely that you get used to the act of creation. To just letting go and seeing what happens, babbling happily on like a child, mucking around with raw clay and voice and breath.

Above all, the medium is the message as it were – none of this means anything. It simply is.

And it’s that isness, that raw essence, which is the material on which we work.

So we’ve touched on play, on learning, and the raw technical exercises I’ve outlined. By now you’ve probably noticed the metaphors and loops which will be propelling us on into next weeks post.

Maybe you’re beginning to feel the connections? Or maybe you’re what’s happened to our seeker and the storyteller whom we left back in Part 2?

Never fear – either way, I’ll see you next week.

On Wednesday.