Witchcraft, Blacksmithing, and “Flashiness.”

One of the Wicca I know has studied the historical practices of various crafts. Most notably, he’s studied the craft of blacksmithing, and under the right circumstances, he can talk about the practice at some length.

Most interesting about his knowledge of and love for the smith’s art, however, is a particular pet peev he’s expressed a few times. And that’s his pet peev about how some perceive the blacksmith’s trade. You see, most people (myself included, I’m afraid) who start thinking about the art of ironwork immediately think of images of swords burning in teh furnace and being pounded out to strong, cutting blades between the anvil and hammer. Or they see the creation of shields, armor, or other instruments of war. However, after listening to talk of such image, B always manages to remind us to keep perspective. As he rightfully points at, the craft of armor and weapons has historically been a tiny part of the smith’s trade. Much more of his time was spent forging daily items that one would need for their lives. The smith would build far more iron cooking utensils, nails, and other such daily necessities in a month than the number of swords and breastplates he’d pound out in years. Isn’t it funny how we tend to forget things like that? We focus on the weapons and armor because we find the “flashy” or “fantastic,” while forgetting the real work — the work that most likely kept him fed on a regular basis — of the blacksmith.

As I thought about this memory today at lunch, it occurred to me that Pagans on the whole (and here I go stereotyping again) tend to do this with more than the blacksmith’s craft. We spend a lot of time looking at the “goodies” of our religion while ignoring the “daily necessities.” How often do we talk about the spells we do or know, yet don’t talk about the daily devotion or self-discipline that we place upon ourselves? How often do we speak of our Sabbats, and yet never discuss the careful planning, preparation, and other work that we endure before and after that make them so great? How often do we focus on the fantastic — such as the experience we had when we came into contact with a spirit that one day — while completely ignoring the changes in diet, exercise, and our general lifestyles that we need to make to better prepare our bodies for such experiences?

I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m doing my best when I have those “flash in the pan” kinds of experiences. I get on a spiritual high and I can do all kinds of things. And yet, I have yet to manage to get my meditation schedule to be as regular as I feel it should be. And my daily religious devotion needs a lot of work, there’s no denying it.

I think that’s what I like about the Wicca I know. They’re so down to earth. I have sat in some of their homes and had incredibly ordinary discussions. Oh sure, we have our discussions that involve “witch stuff.” But it’s interspersed with discussions about pets, work, politics, and the fact that they need to clean and winterize the pool out back. And none of these discussion topics are treated as particularly more “special” than the others. It’s a completely different attitude that I don’t always see elsewhere, even in my own life.

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