Today I am so pleased to welcome Edmond Manning to Joyfully Jay. Edmond has come to talk to us about his latest release, King John (The Lost and Founds Book 4). He has also brought along a copy of the book to give away. Please join me in giving Edmond a big welcome!
When Magicians Dance
Vin Vanbly, the kicked-dog hero of my series The Lost and Founds, can be described as manipulative, cunning, shadowy, sad, lost, and—in some ways—the ultimate trickster. He plays, cavorts, dances, misleads, surprises, and cajoles in his quest to expose men’s long-buried secrets, the ones blocking their access to the great power of kingship. The lengths he will go to serve the men he “kings” borders on mentally ill.
Perhaps mentally ill should be added to the list describing Vin.
Through his actions, it’s hard to determine whether his particular flavor of mental illness is otherworldly genius, a disturbing sexual fetish, or the cryptic rebellion of a troubled adult. All of the above, perhaps.
Vin is a difficult man to trust.
Yet in the stories, men trust him, deeply, with their most vulnerable hearts and their very lives.
Why on earth would a man trust someone known as manipulative, cunning, shadowy…
Because they instinctively recognize something inside Vin. They see something. He is a catalyst. He brings transformation.
He’s a magician.
As terrifying as it is for anyone to trust a magician, it is sometimes necessary.
In masculine psychology, four archetypes dominate the psyche: lover, warrior, magician, and (surprise, surprise) king. Each man who walks the earth carries all four archetypes inside. How he lives those archetypes, whether he trusts the power they offer and acts on it, is his choice. (Women’s psychology offers parallel constructs: the lover, the amazon, the crone, and the queen.)
The complexity of archetypes and the powerful gifts offered through each one are not to be underestimated. Men who are disconnected from this power often feel a deep yearning, but cannot articulate what’s “off.” For more than a decade, I participated (and still do) in men’s work—transformational retreat weekends. I cannot begin to count the many times I’ve heard men say, “My life is good…it’s good. I love my wife/husband and kids, and my job is okay…so what’s wrong?”
I cannot speak for women’s experience, but I would assume this yearning holds true on the other side of the fence.
At the very beginning of King Perry, Perry shares a deep secret with Vin at an art gallery. “I can’t cry. I used to be able to, but I can’t now.” Perry can’t access his lover.
In King Mai, a small-town farmer, Mai Kearns, represented an angry warrior, isolated and lonely, fighting battles he could not possibly win. He definitely felt the power of the shadow warrior but he did not know how to access the golden warrior: a man who lives in mission, surrounded by community. A man who takes action. A man who asks for help and builds a kingdom.
In The Butterfly King, Terrance Altham represented a man who acted as a king while simultaneously refusing the power in that role.
Reclaiming archetype power could happen a thousand ways. The birth of his first child may help a man feel his true kingship, his responsibility to his family, his community, his world. A horrible divorce may help an estranged man decide, “I’m not living without real love any longer.” He decides to embrace the lover inside him so that he might experience it in the outside world. Life conspires to deliver lessons to open our hearts—or close them down—depending on how we respond.
One of the fastest, surest routes to restoring archetypal power is to follow a magician, one who can lead you back to the place where you always belonged.
For example, in the movie, The Lion King, young-adult Simba encounters a magician in the form of the wise gibbon who plays, cavorts, dances, misleads, surprises, and cajoles in his quest to expose Simba’s forgotten kingship. He knocks Simba on the head with a stick. He berates him and throws confusing paradoxes at him. He dares the young lion to face a pond’s reflection and witness the one true king.
On a tangled path, littered with both deception and deep truth, the magician leads. The other man follows to the best of his ability. Well, unless he is strong in his magician archetype as well, creating a powerful battle of magician wills.
In King John, Vin attempts to lead another magician—a man like himself—back to the kingdom.
When two magicians dance, the results are powerful and sometimes catastrophic. Who is leading whom? Who is “playing” whom? How does one magician outmaneuver the other? In the short excerpt below, Vin and his weekend guest, Alistair Robertson, just finished an exciting ride on a replica pirate ship called “La Contessa,” while at Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock desert
Alistair and I watch while La Contessa fires up her engine and peels away, faster than you’d think a school bus could move, covering us in clouds of pirate dust. We wave the dust away from our faces, as if that would do any good.
When the dust settles, I say, “I thought we could stop by my tent to stock up on water and food, and change clothes. We definitely have to slather ourselves with sunscreen, even if we wear our Arab robes all day. We don’t have to wear those, I suppose. We could stash them. But you have to admit, they work—”
“You’re not going to say anything about what just happened?”
I look at the retreating ship. “What just happened?”
“The captain of that ship just asked you about the secret kings of Burning Man. You don’t think that deserves some explanation, some…”
“I don’t know. Something. Something.”
“What’s there to explain?”
“I don’t know,” Alistair says, shaking his head. “I don’t know what the fuck is happening anymore. But I am catching on.”
Okay. This is new, this almost smug quality on his face. What changed?
I’m not going to answer him.
I say, “Let’s get some water. I’m already parched.”
Alistair looks wistfully at the retreating pirate ship.
Quietly, he exhales the words like dust, “Well played.”
Vin refuses to answer Alistair’s question about a new mystery. Alistair begins to appreciate just how deeply he’s being manipulated. Vin notices and chooses to ignore it. Magicians dance around each other’s questions, sometimes unwilling (or unable) to reveal their secrets in the middle of a spell they’re building. These two magicians are headed for an inevitable breakdown, a breakdown of trust and a breakdown of respect.
When two magicians destroy each other, what kind of magic is necessary to restore harmony? How do they find their way back to the golden version of that masculine archetype? Short answer: love. The lover energy. In King John, the answer is a mystery bigger than either Vin or Alistair can comprehend, a flash of the universe’s true powerful nature.
But will they survive it?
Magicians don’t always survive. And when two magicians dance…
English attorney Alistair Robertson can’t quite believe an astonishing tale of kingship and transformation he hears at Burning Man, the annual counter-culture art festival in the Black Rock desert. Who are the Found Kings? Is “being kinged” as magical as it sounds?
Determined to find the mysterious garage mechanic named Vin who helps men “remember who they were always meant to be,” Alistair catches his quarry amid the extravagant sculptures, fire worshipers, mutant cars, and lavish costumes. After searching for three years, he’ll finally get to ask the question burning inside him: “Will you king me?”
Wandering together through the desert, Vin Vanbly and Alistair explore Burning Man’s gifting culture and exotic traditions, where they meet the best and worst of their fellow burners. Alistair’s overconfidence in Vin’s manipulative power collides with Vin’s obsessive need to save a sixteen-year-old runaway from a nightmarish fate, and the two men spiral in uncontrollable, explosive directions.
In this fourth adventure of The Lost and Founds, beneath the sweltering summer sun and the six billion midnight stars, one truth emerges, searing itself on their hearts: in the desert, everything burns.
Edmond Manning is the author of the romance series, The Lost and Founds. The books in this series include King Perry, King Mai (a 2014 Lambda Literary finalist), The Butterfly King, and King John. King John takes place at Burning Man.
Edmond has brought a copy of King John to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, September 25th at 11:59 pm EST.
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