Artifact Title: Magic is Afoot

Medium: Song

Song Title: God is Alive, Magic is Afoot

Year: 1969

Publisher: Vanguard Records

Creator: Buffy Sainte Marie

Album Title: Illuminations

Image Credit: Photograph by Hillary Kaell

TERA Curator: Judith Ellen Brunton

Magic is Afoot

Buffy Saint Marie released this song, “God is Alive/ Magic is Afoot” on her 1969 album Illuminations. The lyrics are from Leonard Cohen’s novel Beautiful Losers (1966) which is a mystical exploration into the relationships between characters, including Mohawk Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Saint Marie expands the meaning of the text in her song, communicating the mourning, anger, and awe of magic and God in the face of historical and contemporary abuse of power. As a theological text, this song suggests a magic/god that is entangled with human life and the natural world, craves connection, but is often misused or misunderstood. Magic and God, in this song endures despite this misuse, in part because the other structures built to provide meaning to people fail and because “Magic loves the hungry.”