It’s raining here. A rare occurrence but a lovely one on a Saturday morning when you have nothing planned other than to do some writing. I woke up to an email about the Faire we put on twice a year and some ideas for changing it for the better. It’s coming up soon so if we are going to implement any of it we will have to move fast.
One of the ideas one of my grove sisters came up with was mini workshops and one of the subjects started my mind going, silver smithing and magic. Since this idea was probably directed at me since I’m the only smith in LBWS it made my mind start to churn with thoughts. I have given a mini thing in a ritual about Brighid and smithing and it there was a performance piece I did as part of a performance art night we did once called “My Mother’s Pictures” that was on the tarot. My card was Strength so I did smithcraft.
That’s been over 10 years ago and my life has changed enormously since I did that piece of performance art so I know it would be a lot different now so…I’m thinking.
I rarely get the chance now to do silver-smithing. Silver is too expensive. When I was working with it all the time I was employed for a decent wage and silver was $9 an ounce for my favourite wire sizes. I still have several lengths I have been saving and I have my Grandmother’s silver stash too. One of the many reasons I got into silver-smithing was because she had been a smith and then after I started and we were closing down my parent’s house when my dad died we found her tools and all her silver. Nice thing about silver is that 40 years after her death, it’s no different than it ever was and the purer the silver the less the tarnish which before you start smithing is neither here nor there.
So… I’m thinking. All art is at least about a small change. Some arts are more about change than others. Photography is about capturing a moment in time before it changes but in rendering it into 2 dimensions you have changed it at least in a small way. But smithing is about total change and is why smiths from the beginning of time have been regarded as doing powerful magic. It’s why some of the first gods in pantheons were smiths, Haephestus, Vulcan, Brighid, Goibhniu, all deities of change.
But smithing is about controlled change and the disabilities Haephestus bears are a warning to all who attempt to live in that realm. You can get hurt and you have to respect the metal or materials you are working with. In a way glasscraft is smithing too so I always think of them together.
It is magic to have an idea in your head and have it come out of your hands if you have the skill to make it do so. It is magic to take a raw lump of rock and transform it under heat and pressure into something gleaming and beautiful but to the smith the process is beautiful too and you are changed too each time you work the metal. It is a marriage of human and non human that is a magical space.
I’m not wiling to say metal isn’t a being anymore than a firefighter would say fire isn’t a being. It responds to touch and heat and pressure in a way that is hard to explain if you haven’t done it. And for me the best word is magic.
Humans are also changed by heat and pressure. We grow from raw lumps and our experience changes us into something the universe or the divine however you express it can change into something useable. We are just as malleable as any metal. Some are more like silver or copper, fairly easy to enforce change on and strong and resilient when done right. We become brittle if worked too hard or long and either have to be submitted to the heat again or thrown in the scrap pile as unusable. Some are more like working niobium. Niobium wire is harder than silver and takes more physical strength. It’s like trying to bend bed springs, not easy but it does something so magical it’s well worth the strength. When subjected to high voltage electricity in water it changes to brilliant colour depending on the amount of current it is subjected to determines the colours it changes too. Another magical moment for the smith. When it is the wrong voltage amount you get an ugly brown mess so it takes a light touch and a light heart to get it to go the way you want and some times it’s fun to just play and see what comes out. Experimentation is also in the soul of a smith.
Some are brittle and hard like platinum and are precious because of the skill and hardness when they make it through.
Smithing is in the soul and of the smith. It is an agreement that everything worth it in the world can change for the better. And once you get to that acceptance you change too. My soul has been subjected all my life to heat and pressure and I hope each time I go through the fire I am transformed into a better person. I started out in life with disabilities, I learned to live and grow with them. I, through my own actions in life have acquired disabilities not unlike Haephestus, I am the sum of those activities and the reminders of those mistakes and triumphs are part of the very fabric of my body, soul and mind.
Smithing is part of my Goddess path. It’s part of my spiritual life. I am the embodiment of change and I accept that just as I’m the creator of change in other beings and I accept that too because we change or “Smith” each other in life. I wish for all of us that it is good pressure but it isn’t always and we must accept that too. And there are the unasked or and unwelcome pressures like living with cancer or long term disease and we have to learn from an accept those heats and pressures. Accidents and the unlooked for happen and they are often the hardest heats and pressures to bear but if we don’t learn to accept those changes too when we don’t make it through the fire and something great can be lost.
Living a magical life, prepares us for change, to be the change and survive the change. Are you up to being changed?