It is a week before Christmas, and I’m almost *knock on wood* caught up with everything I absolutely, positively must have finished and out the door before the shop closes for the holidays on December 24th. I’ve been thinking lately about my craft and art (the one I do for a living at least) and how it intersects with magic, *my* magic, and what that has to do with my Path in general. Here are some snippets of thought –
The whorls of my fingers, and beneath my fingernails, are dirty with polishing compound even after I’ve washed my hands and scrubbed the nails with a brush; especially this time of year, but pretty regularly in general. If the shop is busy and I need to go downstairs and talk to customers, I’ll wash and scrub my hands quickly, but they are not immaculate. Here I am, wearing a patterned silk blouse, a gold necklace hung with colored gems, projecting a certain level of ‘professionality,’ (though there is no dress code here and I can wear whatever I like) – and the tips of my fingers are marked by grime.
You’d like to talk to the jeweler? To the person who will be doing the work you are inquiring about having done? It’s me, I will be the one. My badge is here in the grime in the whorls of my fingers, in the surface of my nails, polished smooth by the buffing wheel, in my necklace hung with colored gems that I set with my own hand.
I’ve never had anyone be taken aback by my less than perfect hands (at least not so much that they said anything), but if they were, they really aren’t the kind of person who would be my shop’s sort of customer anyway.
If my lifeless body were to be examined, I would be found to have tiny, yet measurable quantities of gold (and silver too, probably) in the inner whorls of my ears, and nesting in the recesses of my lungs. Here too is a badge, in that the materials I work with have marked me, are within me always.
Gold: Once a customer brought us a thing that was found in a desk drawer when they were dealing with the estate of a family member. It was about three inches long, an inch and a half tall, heavy, dark yellow in color, and stamped .999 on its surface. Was it a bar of gold? My boss (the shop’s owner; he whose name is on the door) picked up the brick and turned it over in his hands. He hefted it thoughtfully. Then, he held it to his nose and smelled it.
No, he said. It’s not gold. It doesn’t smell right.
It didn’t. it smelled like brass. Gold doesn’t have a smell. The brick wasn’t heavy enough to be gold, the color was wrong. But, yes, gold can be told by smell (or lack of it), just ask the Wyrms who burrow in the deep under-the-earth and seek it always, hidden though it may lie.
Gold has a ringing-ness to it like nothing else; an unwavering note to its energy that can be felt faint and pure like a sustained sweet note of voice. After a while you can tell quite often, just holding something, if it is gold. Of course we acid test any metals brought to us for identification, but one does develop a feel for it – as you develop a feel for what the metal *desires to do* under your hands, as you develop a sense of the unheard-yet-audible groan of a diamond as it comes under almost too much pressure when being set.
Silver: Silver one tells by sound. If you have a coin produced before 1965 (when U.S. coinage still was made of a silver alloy) take it and drop it on a tile floor. Then do the same with a modern coin. The note is much different – the sound of silver is higher, and rings out more. It feels a certain way too, cool and heavy, sinuous somehow, with a certain energy to it that marks it out.
Sterling silver is an alloy of fine silver and of copper, and it tarnishes black over time. Some people’s body chemistry is such that if they wear silver, they will blacken it in a matter of days.
When I complete a fiddly bit of work (usually setting a delicate stone) I will say under my breath ‘hail the might of Weland, hail the skill of the master of smiths.’ It only seems polite. He is the patron of my craft, after all, First among Smiths, and though I do not forge iron, a smith I am.
The files I use most often have names. I will call out to them with a whisper as I need them. There is The File’s Sister and The File’s Brother (two small rat-tail files, one very finely toothed, the other less so), there is Triangle File and Round File. Each is skillful and a helpmeet.
When I blow out the flame of my alcohol lamp, I say under my breath ‘thank you, flame.’
For all that I work with fire daily, I have not really done much work with the Element of Fire. It’s Earth that is my natural strength, but Fire is a tool of mine and I should get to know it better from an esoteric standpoint. The Serpent and the Salamander are emblems of my craft, what do they know of fire and what would they teach?
Once I made a trance-Journey to Swartalfheim, and I met a Dwarven craftsman there. He showed me – not gold or forges or the might of his kingdom. We sat down at a small table in a room where I could hear the ringing of hammers in the distance. He laid papers out before me. Blueprints – a series of isometric drawings for the design and crafting of a fibula brooch in the shape of a swan (a nod to the swan-wife of Weland?). An honor it was, to be shown such.
So, not that my job is a magical wonderland or anything – it can be exacting and stressful and difficult, but there is a fair bit of personal woo wound up in there, it seems.
For I am of the kin of Weland,
And of Alfar-kind.
I am among the makers,
By Will and Hand is it done,
By Might and Main is wrought.
Here is the Work – shown forth into the World.