A Traditional Story from the Ga people of Ghana


Three magicians were traveling together and came to the bank of a rushing stream. There was no bridge, nor was there a boat. So the first magician spun a fine thread that he cast with an arching motion over the stream. Stepping lightly onto the thread, barely wetting his sandals in the process, he tiptoed to the other side.


The second magician didn’t quite trust the thread. Instead, he dipped a crystal flask into the stream. Lo and behold, the entire river rushed into that little bottle and stayed. Having walked across on dry land, the second magician turned around and emptied out his flask, whereupon the  river ran as merrily as before.


Left alone on the near side, the third magician stood fuming. From each of his fingers, scorching fire flamed. A stretch of the stream evaporated in the heat. Striding through the momentary opening, he rejoined his companions.


Which of the three was the greatest magician? Which magician do you like?


Author’s note: The first crossed over creatively, by means of imagination. The second used the crystal flask of intellect, which takes things in - and lets them go again. The third flamed with willpower, concentration, and emotional force. We’re talking about three different sorts of magic. The first belongs to dreamers and artists. The second belongs to professors and priests. The third belongs to performers and warriors.


From “The Timeless Myths”

Alexander Eliot

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