God is Alive, Magic is Afoot! | Leonard Cohen

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it yields a grand harvest.

― Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel According to John, 12:24.

What didn’t you do to bury me
But you forgot that I was a seed.

― Dinos Christianopoulos, ‘The Body and the Wormwood.’

The journey to our next Octave feels arduous right now for so many of us.

But when the principalities and powers bellow their death-dealing “No!”, I’m grateful that a different Note can be heard ― in the distance, in our innermost hearts ― singing us into a resounding “YES!”

Your new-life-from-the-dead might feel delayed in its arrival.

Or “contents may have shifted during delivery.”

If so, I resonate. Perhaps you’re exhausted, like I feel some days. If this is you, I invite you to hear these words from St. Leonard of Toronto:

Avoid the flourish.
Do not be afraid to be weak.
Do not be ashamed to be tired.
You look good when you’re tired.
You look like you could go on forever.
Now come into my arms.
You are the image of my beauty.

These are some of my favorite songs, celebrating the unexpected splendor of new life out of anticipated death. I hope they give you a few moments to reconnect to that quickening within yourself, and those you love.

Happy Easter, all you resurrection artists.

God is alive, magic is afoot
God is alive, magic is afoot
God is afoot, magic is alive
Alive is afoot, magic never died

God never sickened
Many poor men lied
Many sick men lied
Magic never weakened

Magic never hid
Magic always ruled
God is afoot
God never died

God was ruler
Though his funeral lengthened
Though his mourners thickened
Magic never fled

Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live
Though his words were twisted
The naked magic thrived

Though his death was published
Round and round the world
The heart did not believe

Many hurt men wondered
Many struck men bled
Magic never faltered
Magic always led

Many stones were rolled
But God would not lie down
Many wild men lied
Many fat men listened

Though they offered stones
Magic still was fed
Though they locked their coffers
God was always served

Magic is afoot, God rules
Alive is afoot, alive is in command
Many weak men hungered
Many strong men thrived

Though they boasted solitude
God was at their side
Nor the dreamer in his cell
Nor the captain on the hill

Magic is alive
Though his death was pardoned
Round and round the world
The heart did not believe

Though laws were carved in marble
They could not shelter men
Though altars built in parliaments
They could not order men

Police arrested magic
And magic went with them
For magic loves the hungry

But magic would not tarry
It moves from arm to arm
It would not stay with them
Magic is afoot

It cannot come to harm
It rests in an empty palm
It spawns in an empty mind
But magic is no instrument
Magic is the end

Many men drove magic
But Magic stayed behind
Many strong men lied
They only passed through magic
And out the other side

Many weak men lied
They came to God in secret
And though they left him nourished
They would not say who healed

Though mountains danced before them
They said that God was dead
Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live

This I mean to whisper to my mind
This I mean to laugh with in my mind
This I mean my mind to serve ’til
Service is but magic
Moving through the world

And mind itself is magic
Coursing through the flesh
And flesh itself is magic
Dancing on a clock
And time itself
The magic length of God

‘God is Alive, Magic is Afoot’

Originally published in the novel Beautiful Losers

Later collected as God is Alive, Magic is Afoot (illustrated)

and God is Alive, Magic is Afoot (illustrated, revised)

Recorded on Illuminations by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Read by Leonard Cohen, right here:


My friend Alana Levandoski recorded three mini concerts over this Easter Weekend for her Patreon patrons, and was moved to share them more widely. Her songwriting and craft are a real treat! To listen to the reflections and the songs, go here.

And finally, here are a couple perennial favorites for this season:

Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside…

The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus’ power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour
Joy to the world, he has risen — hallelujah!
Note: This was originally written on April 12, 2020. Updates were added on April 9, 2023.


  1. Resharing from Mike Morrell: Easter – Wordly Random - April 16, 2017

    […] via God is Alive, Magic is Afoot | Leonard Cohen — Mike Morrell […]

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