Home » Writing » About Wicca » Metals, Makers, and Magic

Metals, Makers, and Magic

 

hematite-bubble

hematite iron ore

Iron. It’s the first metal that comes to mind for most folk. Hardly surprising—we humans developed iron smelting and tools contemporarily with the alphabetic writing that enabled the bulk of our earliest human histories, and consequently name that era of human proto-history the Iron Age—a macroscopic example of iron in human existence. There’s also the microscopic example of iron in human existence—blood chemistry. Iron and its affinity for oxygen form the foundation of animal life on our planet.

 

Lodestone, that natural variant of magnetite (a naturally occurring ore of iron) is innately magnetic; modern geologists believe lodestones, routinely unearthed close to the surface, to have been permanently magnetized by lightning. Lodestones are, by definition, magnets— drawing to themselves small iron objects, or clinging readily to large ones. It must be magic, this movement without aid…

lodestone-magnet

magnetite iron ore: lodestone

 

These days, it is well known that if you spin a magnet, you get electricity, and if you coil a wire running electric current, you get magnetism. The two are, in essence, dimensional aspects of the other. That’s modern knowledge. What first our ancestors knew, millennia ago, was that a lodestone indicated north, and thus gave guidance when neither sun nor stars provided any. Hence its name in Old English lode + stan = lodestone, the stone that guides the way, a parallel to lodestar, an ancient name for the pole star that guided seafarers. A most practical magic, this, the magic of iron and magnets and north…

 

BLADE

1992 hand-forged athamé with heavy leather sheath

Smith. Blacksmith, metal-worker, skilled crafter—each one a maker of ploughshares and swords, hasps and hinges. Early European tales feature smiths of myth and legend: Hæphestus of Attica and Vulcan of Ætna, Wayland of Albion  or Völund of Jutland, plying skills that created storied blades and magical armor and household wonders. Their work survives everywhere—

 

Rocam_durandal

replica Durandal in château wall

a medieval castle in France holds fast in its wall a sword reputed to be Wayland’s work that dates from Charlegmagne (7th century)—the sword Durandal (or a replica thereof).

 

 

 

1850sIronNails

square iron nails c. 1850

While still a teen, I recall picking out rusty old square nails doing garden work  (given that was northern California, I can be pretty sure they were 19th century, or late 18th). Ironmongery lasts; another magical quality…

 

Makers. The human ability to create, dream up, envision some thing…and then make that thing, create that object, that ability is magical. It is no wonder humans have long revered those of us who achieve those common miracles of making. Out of thin air!…and not all of those makers are human. Rooks and ravens, baboons and bonobos…for all I know, the cetaceæ. It’s all magic, this making.…

Magic. Somewhere in the Western “Enlightenment,” came a disdain for magic, a separation from those who worked the magic of science and observation and experiment, and those who worked the magic of tradition and tales and contagion. We of the twenty-first century struggle to bridge both magics…the whiles we discover the new magics of transisters and quanta and quarks, and feud about how we may weave the new magics into the old. So sad, that the “one true way”—which has never existed despite Abrahamic religious clams throughout the past 1500 years—prevents the simple magic of emotion, of community, of love, from being recognized by all those who prefer to make their own world, and make it better. Yet even Carl Sagan himself, that quintessential materialist, came to recognize the magic of the universe…

 

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