Halloween, Loneliness and Solitude

From Eugene Burger –

It is late September as I write these words. The temperature in Chicago has now begun to drop and the wind has definitely picked up. This is my favorite time of the year in the city. It is a time of transition from the warmth of Summer to the cold of Winter. As the leaves change, life changes as well — and one realizes that all this is a continuous process, a magical rhythm, and we are part of it.

Curiously, I have read that this time of the year in the United States, between Halloween and the New Year, this holiday time, is also a time of increased emotional difficulty for many people, a time when loneliness and even suicide rise in frequency.

My present brief time in Chicago is organized around three main things: my friends, my magic students and the Halloween show that I am working on. Last year, with Benjamin Barnes, Robert Charles and Jeanette Andrews of Magic Chicago, I presented a Halloween show titled “Fear and Fate.” We happily sold out two shows, and so this year, since Halloween is on a Sunday, we have decided to do three: Friday and Saturday at 11:00 pm and Sunday at 7:30 pm.

This year becomes especially challenging for me because I have decided that I only want to repeat two pieces from last year’s show — and both repeated pieces will be changed considerably from last year’s presentations. (For magicians, I want to repeat the Burned and Restored Thread and also my Spirit Slates.) I want the rest of the show to be different magically.

I suppose that I have always enjoyed putting shows together — and then performing them. It started when I was a small child and it has continued to this very day.

Eugene Burger on Austin City Limits

Last week, for example, I was in Austin, Texas (and had a truly wonderful time; I had the rare opportunity to perform and speak on the “Austin City Limits” television show stage). When I returned to Chicago, I had dinner with my friends Gale and Gordon Meyer. Thinking about the fact that I need really to focus on the Halloween show now that I am home, I said to them, “You know, if someone had told me thirty years ago that, when I was 71 years old, I would be putting together a new Halloween theater show, I would have laughed at them! I would never have believed it — and would probably have said, ‘No, at that age I’ll either be dead or drooling!’” Yet, here I am. And I am loving it!

Indeed, there is a part of me that deeply enjoys having different projects, many of which involve deadlines. When I look back upon my life, I see that such deadline-based projects have always been present — from school papers to chores around the house and later to work projects and then magic projects. Among other things, and at a deeper level, I think these many tasks and projects, while they have sometimes brought exhaustion, have also helped teach me the difference between loneliness and solitude.

Over the years, I have had friends who confided to me how lonely they felt. Who has not experienced such thoughts and times of loneliness? For myself, I feel that I have been definitely blessed because I seem always to have been able to move beyond the crippling thoughts of loneliness to action — to working on projects that deeply interested me. I think it is a blessing to have tasks and projects that we care about, that we want to accomplish, that can grasp our attention and interest.

When I was a child, being alone in my room was a time that I cherished. It was my opportunity to do what I wanted to do. I have always thought of these periods of aloneness not as times of loneliness but, rather, as periods of solitude. For me solitude is the opportunity be alone and pursue things and subjects that greatly interest us. I have often thought of those times, when I can be alone, as gifts and not as times for lamentation or despair. To my good fortune, I seem always to have had too many projects for me to become trapped in thoughts of loneliness but, instead, to experience the joys of solitude.

And so, as the leaves change and Autumn and then Winter appears, perhaps it is a good time to ask ourselves whether we need to give ourselves the gift of a new project, a project that deeply fascinates us to which we can devote our time and attention and love — a project that can transform our loneliness into solitude.

You are invited!

Friday October 22nd

WITCHES & WIZARD’S BALL — Doors Open at 9:00

Join us for an amazing community celebration. It happens only once a year…

Featuring music mixed by DJ Master Diaz, a special midnight ritual, and lots of astonishing wonders, including:

* The Mystery School All-Star Magicians
Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger and the faculty and students of the Magic and Mystery School

* Ritual of the Phoenix
… an interactive act installation. The Phoenix will be decorated during the course of the evening, and is a place for writing or drawing messages, prayers and blessings for our ancestors. The Phoenix will be ritually offered to the BoneDance fire the following evening in the desert.

* Costume Contest

* The amazing music and percussion genius of “That 1 Guy”
To take a sneak peek at what you’re in for, go tohttp://www.that1guy.com.

All this plus tarot readers, interactive close-up magic, bizarre magic and story-telling installation with Michael Fraughton, middle eastern food and full bar, and much, much more!!

If you are planning to attend, you MUST register online. Our event is being held in a public place, as a “Private Party,” and there will be a list of names at the door. All you have to do to get on the list is Register, so please do!


Our final event for the year will be Magic and Medicine, November, 4-7.

Yours in better magic.

Jeff McBride

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