No need for a clock. Time to make shit up.

February is behind us now, but there was a time in human history when February was nowhere, nothing, never heard of it—until 2,731 years ago. Some of you are envious about Valentine’s Day not existing, but you know something? When you don’t have scarce restaurant reservations on an appointed day, you don’t have days either. Just a series of sunrises and sunsets beyond skeletal tree branches. Or unmeasured winter, according to the ancient Romans.

But this isn’t about the good and bad of January and February (good and bad are just inventions that never got trademarked). I want you to wake up and realize that you can turn nothing into something. Because if Numa Pompilius (who reigned in Rome from 715 to 673 B.C.E.) could invent February in an old calendar and get us to use it in Google Calendar more than 2,000 years later, well, fuck—why can’t you just invent whatever you want?

You might say, “I’m not a Roman king.”

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And I’d say, “You wouldn’t want to be. One king thought it was perfectly fine to abduct women from neighboring lands and turn them into wives for his countrymen.”

Be you instead. Make something only you would make. And make it because you truly and genuinely desire it in your own life. Like it would change the way you live. I’m talking fine art but also commercial products. This is how the CLIF BAR® was invented. Avoid making something just because it’s currently trending.

“I could have totally made that,” I sometimes hear when a person comments on a deceptively simple book idea, or a piece of contemporary art, or a patented product. The thing is: the commenter didn’t make it. And that’s what they have to get over—their ego —if they ever want to evolve and discover what wonderful creations they’re capable of. Creating is imperative for you, me, anyone.

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As writer Neil Gaiman said in The Guardian:

We all — adults and children, writers and readers — have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on. This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

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Some of you have imagined what you’d like to create. And some of you know that you do want to create but not so much what it might be. Start simply and genuinely: what brings you joy? You can brainstorm with a cookie.

You’ll find imagination can take you by surprise. You might look at a cloud and recognize a face in it. You’ll find that you can also take imagination by choice and play with it — just as the first 60 days of the year had no names, holidays, occasions, birthdays, or anniversaries until it was decided they would. It does not take a king to make such decisions but a person of any bloodline who dares to see things differently.

Do you dare?

— Q.D. from Culver City

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Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om

We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

Thor’s day is no pun at all

Maybe you’ve seen “Thor’s day” in memes starring Chris Hemsworth and accompanying puns like “Let’s get hammered.” Or maybe friends have wished you, “Happy Thor’s Day,” and you thought they were being silly.

Well, they were being silly (they’re your friends, aren’t they?) but also etymologically accurate.

Thor’s day is real.

Thor's hammer on the cover art for the book, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

Cover art for the book, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

As real as the Texan law that you can’t sell your eyeballs.

We’re not surprised your parents didn’t tell you this.

Good thing you have us — we know the power of names and are quite careful about safeguarding ours. Days of the week? Days of the solar system, more like it.

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Each day was named for a celestial body. And of those bodies, the planets were named after European gods and goddesses. The first two days, Sunday (for the sun) and Monday (for the moon), don’t hold divine drama like the other five:

  • Tuesday —  for Tīw, a Germanic god of war, similar to Mars whose name then got assigned to the red planet, perceived as bloody and warlike in the ancient world.
  • Wednesday — for Woden or Odin, Thor’s dad, who was equated with Mercury. Yup and then the planet was named after him. See? You’re getting it.
  • Thursday — for Thor, god of thunder, just like Zeus or Jove/Jupiter.
  • Friday — for Frigga, wife of Odin, goddess of love like Venus.
  • Saturday — for Saturn, often remembered for chewing up his kids.

There they are. Fun facts to dispel your next awkward silence. Holiday dinners aren’t that far away.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om

We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

March was named for war

You wouldn’t know it by glancing at the calendar though. You have to dive into etymology: March or Martius (Latin) was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. These four weeks of bloodshed were so important to the Romans they made it their first month for a while. Quite an easy thing to do when January and February hadn’t been invented yet. Winter in ancient Rome had no months, pumpkin spice promotions, or sales events. When the snow melted in March, Romans resumed killing, raping, enslaving people in war campaigns.

Three thousand years later, we no longer associate March with invading territories and large-scale human rights violations. We observe other traditions such as International Women’s Day (March 8), Pi Day (March 14), St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), March Madness (NCAA Basketball). The ancient god of war? And the planet named after him? They’re not on our minds during these 30 days. We have, in fact, reinvented this month. Some might say that’s magic. Some might say that names change meaning — despite their etymology.

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And we — who are obsessed with names, words, and their power — say that your name doesn’t define you. You were assigned a word to be called. And the way you live is the way that word is spoken and remembered.

Just saying.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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“A man in armor” (1655) by Rembrandt

Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om

We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

A man wearing a loincloth with magical energy centers glowing along his body; the four classical elements of alchemy are diagrammed on the right

The Art of Alchemy disappears in 3 days

We’re artists. We’re alchemists. We’re magicians. Playing drinking games with the elixir of life. Designing slingshots for the philosopher’s stone. Maybe you saw us walking through downtown LA on Saturday, January 21 for the Women’s March, or peering at medieval manuscripts at The Art of Alchemy, now on view at the Getty Center until February 12. The mind of separation says these two events are different — marching for equality and human rights vs. strolling through a museum exhibition. Mysticism says that they are not, that even you and the multiverse are the same.

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Does this mean in essence you are only doing one thing your entire life? We would say yes. You are living. But that is not for us to say — for you. You can answer that yourself. The questions keep us going, as they did for the alchemists of Europe, Egypt, and Asia who the Getty Research Institute says were driven “to transform and bend nature to the will of an industrious human imagination. For scientists, philosophers, and artists alike, alchemy seemed to hold the key to unlocking the secrets of creation.”

You have three days to see their written and illustrated works at the Getty Research Institute, if not for these philosophical concerns then simply for their art. You don’t need a background in art history, alchemy, anything. You just need to keep asking questions.

That’s the only thing we ask of you.

For now.

— Q.D. from Culver City

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Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om
We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.

the true meaning of 007

We use our initials instead of our names. MI6 uses three-digit codes for spies in the James Bond universe. “007” however predates the man invented by writer Ian Fleming. It was a code name 400 years ago for another person. Today on October 5, celebrate James Bond Day and watch our one-minute video connecting a Cold War character to Elizabethan England.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om

We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.