We exist in a web of connections with all things, some of these links are strong and powerful, some are like filaments, and their effect is subtle. For a long time I thought “love” was merely an attitude, a way of feeling about someone or something, with no effect on the physical world we choose to call reality.
My science-based education had no place for metaphysics, but as time passed I noticed there were various phenomena that had no scientific explanation, and were dismissed as ‘coincidence’, or simply disregarded altogether because there was no rational explanation.
Some were minor, everyday occurrences, like suddenly thinking of someone I hadn’t thought of for years, then the phone would ring and it would be that person. Less frequently there were similar but more significant events. One night I had a remarkably vivid dream, playing in a field of golden wheat with one of my best friends. For some reason she kept holding my hands and telling me, wordlessly, “I’m really happy. Everything’s okay.” The following evening I had a phone call telling me my friend had killed herself two days before. For me, knowing her spirit had stopped in to say goodbye allowed me to eventually resolve all the conflicting emotions of grief, anger, guilt and fear.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I formed a working hypothesis about how this stuff works. Before the nature of light, radio and other electromagnetic radiation was better understood, it was thought the energy travelled through an undiscovered medium, called ether. My model of how these ’emotional’ fields manifest their effects is similar (and quite possibly equally mistaken), and I call this metaphysical ether the ios.
The nature of entropy tells us that in time the universe will cool down, becoming uniform in temperature, mass and energy. This law of physics can be seen in the orbits of the planets as they dissipate their rotational energy in a slow spiral into the sun, and in the tendency of my clothes to distribute themselves on the floor of my room, apparently randomly but eventually hiding the last visible patch of carpet.
Flying in the face of this trend towards random chaos, we have our existence. Again on the astronomical scale, we live on a beautifully presented sphere circling the sun at just the right distance, that has maintained an improbably thin volume of gas, liquid and solid in the right proportions, and at the right temperature and pressure to support life. This unexpected situation has pertained for over a billion years.
On the smaller human scale, I was working at my computer one day, and just at the moment I noticed a sensation called ‘feeling peckish’, my girlfriend brought me a turkey sandwich. Why would she do a thing like that? It takes time, effort, intention. It creates a higher form of organisation, the sandwich, from disparate ingredients. It flows against the trend of entropy (although the turkey might disagree). She did it because of something called love.

The Earth that supports life, and a turkey sandwich – just two examples of the millions of things happening every second against the natural flow of energy from a higher to a lower state of order. I call it magic, both in the sense of my tatty paperback dictionary: “… any agency, power or action that has astonishing results.”, and in the sense that I find it all quite delightful. The medium through which these magical forces exert their influence is ios, hence ios – the fabric of magic.

Footnote: It was only long after defining the word ios for my own benefit that my best friend Sarah came across an almost pristine 1933 Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (with thumb index). This mighty tome now has pride of place on my reference shelf, and in it I found the definition of io, an exultant shout or song, an exclamation of joy or triumph. The idea of a world filled with exclamations of joy, singing and exultation fitted rather nicely with the kind of magic I’d defined.

There is also an island in the Aegean Sea called Ios, and I’m sure it’s just as magical as all the Greek islands.

Last modified: Friday, 19 July, 1996 2:38 pm