Before I relay what transpires here, let me start by saying that I tend to regard with some cynicism any ‘love and light’ story of people’s personal encounters with Deity. I realize that everyone’s path is different, but all that “and then The Goddess wrapped me in her loving arms” stuff just seems… like hopeful, starry eyed wish fulfillment?
Which made what follows quite surprising.
December 16th 2014 –
Before lying down for bed, I had burned a little frankincense stick incense, and rubbed dream oil (mugwort and lavender) onto the joints of my arms and the back of my neck. I wanted to do… *something,* to put myself into a mental space to reach out into the realm that lies between wakefulness and sleep, and see where it led.
Earlier the same evening I had written a short essay about my job as a jeweler and how that related to the lore and craft of metal smiths, and to Weland Smith himself.
I thought about meditating upon Weland Smith and maybe Journeying to see if I could make contact. It seemed like a tall order though. While I honor several deities, I have never felt that I could just ‘show up and chat.’ In fact, though Weland is the patron of my craft and I honor him as such, I have never spoken to him; never received messages, never sought him out for any help. He is a Force I nod my head to, and a statue upon my shrine.
(In fact, I have come to realize that I half-purposefully never ask the Gods for *anything,* unless I am desperate to the point of please please please just this once I promise…)
I closed my eyes, and centered myself, and breathed.
I am in the mouth of a rough stone tunnel that looks like a cave or a mine. Looking over my shoulder I can see that it is night, and the sky is awash with stars. I stand for a moment in consideration, and say out loud, to no one in particular, “I will not travel without a light before me as a guide.” I take a torch from the wall and kneel down. I have a bundle of fluff for tinder and I strike a spark into it – the ancient way, striking flint on iron, and light the torch from this flame. The tinder bundle itself flares and burns to ash. I wait for it to burn completely before turning back to the tunnel.
The stairs in the cave are incredibly steep and uneven, and seem to go a long way down. They get steeper and more craggedy as I look at them. I am suddenly reminded of an SCP foundation story I read awhile back, about a set of stairs that goes down and down, never ending, and all the while a faint voice calls for help from down below. No, I say firmly to myself. These stairs aren’t a creature’s throat, haha. As I think this, I turn and sure enough, the following mask from the story is there, only it doesn’t exude the aura of fear that the ‘real’ one does. Nope, not real! I say to myself, and bat it out of the way.
But I still don’t like the look of the stairs, and I don’t want to go down them. I will reach Weland some other way.
Now I am outside near the cave mouth. I struggle through the branches of a tangled hedgerow and am standing beside a narrow dirt road. In the distance I see a high bare hill with a bonfire burning at the summit. That must be the way! I realize I need a steed for the journey I am about to take.
I am on the road now, astride a dark grey dappled horse with pale opaline eyes. I turn the horses head toward the distant hill… but it seems too far, too much trouble to get all the way to where the far off fire burns.
Finally I stop trying to traverse the landscape I find myself in and just stand still, imagining myself in complete darkness. I close my eyes and hold the still-burning torch before me. I repeat softly “I will know the way for me to seek, I will be in the place where he and I may meet.”
As I say these words to myself I feel a firm pressure across my eyes, as if someone is standing behind me and holding their hands over my face like a mask.
I am in a warm, close room. There is a banked fire for a forge, and a large anvil before me. The room is lit only dimly by the light of the coals. A huge man is crouching in the corner, seated on a stool and mostly hidden in shadow. He is enormous. Hagrid-big. Huge hands and sooty, sweaty skin and tangled long-ish hair. His face is half hidden by the hair, and I never get a really good look at his features, save for the impression of a serious, even grim visage and gleaming dark eyes.
I realize I have brought no offerings with me, so after reaching in my pockets and coming up only with lint (which I briefly consider transmuting into silver, but since it would be only a glamour, and considering in whose presence I am, probably not a good plan), I just hold out my own grimy hands, and step forward into the light a little so he can see my soot-smeared face.
He reaches out and takes my hand, and I realize I am utterly terrified of him. I tell him so. I suddenly start crying, both standing at the forge, and laying in my own bed.
He steps back from me and considers my words for a moment.
Is it because men’s blood is upon my hands? He asks. He holds out his huge, gnarled hands, and I see that for a moment they are slick with blood. No, I’m not scared because of that, I answer.
Is it because I am damaged, deformed? He asks, and shifts his leg so I can see one lower limb is crisscrossed by ropes of scar tissue. No, I say, I do not fear you for that.
He looks at me, and I tell him.
I am afraid because you are big and powerful, and because you are a man. Only that. As I say this I realize how utterly and completely True it is, and how much I hadn’t realized the depth of it before. I cry harder as I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face. I am sobbing as I stand at the forge, so afraid of him and so ashamed to be afraid. He tentatively takes my hand again while I stand there at the anvil crying, racked by sobs. He feels the fingers of my right hand as one would feel a horse’s legs for strength, gently but with purpose. He feels the palm of my hand, and rests his fingers one by one on the calluses.
Somewhere in here I also admit that I’m not even sure if I am worthy to be here in the first place, all my buried self-loathing and shame bubbling up to the surface. I feel as though I am not worthy of protection and guidance by the Powers; I have erred too much, done too many wrong things, made too many mistakes, surely I am beyond hope…
His enormous hand holding mine reminds me of being a small child, holding the hand of an adult. I think of my early childhood and of the unyielding hands of my father, hard as steel and just as unforgiving. I say to the Smith,
I am terrified because you remind me of my father and his hardness. I don’t want to be afraid of you, You whose skill and craft I admire, and whom I strive to emulate in my art. But I don’t know how.
Will I need to be forged and shaped anew? I wonder. Will I have to undergo difficult trials? I try to steel myself for whatever he is going to tell me, whatever difficult or painful tasks I must undertake, but I can only cry and cry, and I feel as if I am loosening the grip of some terrible guilt or secret shame.
He gently takes my forearms and feels the muscles, then my upper arms and shoulders. He grasps my shoulders and holds them for a moment.
Then he turns and reaches into the banked fire of His forge with a pair of tongs, and brings forth a glowing coal.
He either tells me directly, mind to mind – or I suddenly Know: This is a spark from Your anvil, a coal of Your forge – You who first struck hammer to metal and showered sparks as meteors of celestial iron to earth, You who first fanned flame for Making; and for the Craft of the Wise.
This is a mote of the Cunning Fire.
(With this realization I also at the same time understand/am given to understand that the Cunning Fire that sparks the witch’s magic and the maker’s creativity is/was birthed at the Beginning of the World from those sparks that flew from the Smith’s Anvil.)
He nods, and holds it out to me, and I take the naked flame in my cupped hands.
What do I do with it? Do I need to take it into myself somehow? If so, then how? Do I keep it with me? What do I do? I ask, panicked. I’m afraid that if I do something wrong I will lose this most precious gift forever.
He says, without words, to ask of the flame itself. So I ask – shard of the cunning fire, how will you quicken in me? How do I take you in? And the fire leaps immediately into my chest, with a little mote of it going also into my mouth as I breathe in.
I realize I have stopped crying, and that I am no longer terrified and ashamed to be in his presence. I feel a pressure on my chest, as if I am being gripped gently but firmly by huge unseen hands.*
I am humbled by what I have been shown, and grateful for what I have been given. I didn’t expect any of this at all, at all. Never did I expect this *kindness,* this *patient understanding.*
O Mighty Weland, patron of my craft, first among Smiths, What offerings can I give you, what honor shall I do you in return for this gift? I ask. The reply comes to my mind clear and firm –
When you kindle a fire, do so in My name.
When you blacken your hands, do so in My name.
Also, if you wish (though it is not necessary) you can make a talisman marked with this symbol to wear in My honor (I didn’t quite see what the symbol was or how the talisman should be made – further inquiry is required).
Thank you, I said. Even though I know I have nothing to apologize for in being myself, I am ashamed to have been so afraid.
The vision faded, and I wiped the remaining tears from my face, got out of bed, and wrote it all down.
*I am reminded of once a couple of years ago when I asked a friend, while she sat in oracular trance, to tell me about Weland and my relationship with Him and she had a vision of these impossibly huge hands holding me, guiding me, shaping me. I was polished and refined from the waist up in her vision, but my legs and feet were crude looking or covered in bark or moss, as if unfinished.