Fiddler’s Green magazine thinks we’re all a bit magical

Q&Aby Grace Wang in April 2018

From anxieties to fantasies, we all give into the fluctuations of illogical thinking and behaviours. Clint Marsh believes that to a certain extent, these spells we cast on ourselves makes magicians out of us all. Fiddler’s Green, his magazine of magic, myth and folklore landed on our desks recently, shimmering with copper ink and mind-arousing thought.

Inside, there’s a redemptive essay on self-reliance and healing through magic, as well as a thought-provoking piece on balancing wonderment with scientific inquiry. Fascinated by their ability to break down philosophical, esoteric ideas, I got in touch with Clint to find out more.

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Many of the articles in the magazine talk about magic in a rational, almost scientific, and really accessible way. What is Fiddler’s Green’s perspective?
Magic is for everyone. The experience of magic is one of the fundamental aspects of being human, and so Fiddler’s Green — being a magazine about magic — is as accessible and egalitarian as possible. Everyone has their own relationship to spirituality or the unknown, yet there are ways we can all talk about it. I think of Fiddler’s Green as “practical esoterica,” taking these obscure concepts and practices and making them relatable to everyday life.

Hand drawn icons and classical fonts… I love the way Fiddler’s Green looks. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the design?
At some point in the development of Fiddler’s Green I thought of the idea of “the peculiar parish,” a name for the community of people the magazine would bring together. With this in mind, I drew inspiration from parish magazines from the first half of the 20th century. Books and magazines from the Golden Age of Illustration (1880s through 1920s) have been influential, too, as well as the occultism publishing of that era. Having a strong, consistent design has helped Fiddler’s Green showcase the work of a broad range of contributors while remaining familiar and instantly recognisable.

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There’s also these great little bonus booklets, like one teaching readers how to understand their own superstitions. What was the thinking behind these?
After the first few issues of Fiddler’s Green sold through their print runs, I decided to start a second series to keep some of the essays in print. The Fiddler’s Green Leaflets are smaller pamphlets that reissue essays from Fiddler’s Green with new art from contemporary illustrators. I think people like the Leaflets because each one is so focused. So far we’ve published one on managing personal superstitions illustrated by Kelly Patton, one on mysticism in ‘The Wind in the Willows’ illustrated by Timothy Renner, and one on the effects tea drinking and pipe smoking can have on consciousness illustrated by Gerhard.

Can you share a favourite quote or learning from one of the features?
There are so many. Each article in Fiddler’s Green describes particular entry points to magic and spirituality in everyday life. There’s a great quote in Fiddler’s Green issue four, by Melissa Madara, speaking about witchcraft and self-reliance: “In a modern world that daily distracts us from spirituality and keeps us forever entrapped in dependence upon unjust systems, there can be no greater protest than belief in magic, nor a more radical witchcraft than self-reliance.”

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You’re now in your fifth issue — congratulations! What have you learned from the experience, and what has kept you going?
Thank you. The best lesson I’ve gained from publishing the series so far is that even though everyone experiences magic and spirituality in their own way, there’s something universal underlying it all. I had an inkling! But it’s been terrific to see it happen in the pages of Fiddler’s Green. This confirmation, and the readers themselves, motivate me greatly. But honestly, I’m having the time of my life publishing the magazine. I’ve been making zines for 25 years and I’ve never felt so at home as I do now.

At San Francisco Zine Fest until 6 today! 🍀📚📚 #sfzinefest2017

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