C is for Crafting
I may go back and do a full post for B, but for now my poem for Bragi stands.
This week I am looking at crafting. So many cues from our culture came from crafting, from the fashioning of our tools, to the subtle make of jewelry, to the carving of God/Goddess poles. With the demise of many of these trades alongside our indigenous ways, it is no wonder we have had to reconstruct, as well as find new expressions to connect ourselves to our Gods, spirits and Ancestors. Crafting can show our place in the world, our political views, our religious views, and of course, simply express our creativity. We can express our relationship with the world, family, and our own Self.
I have recentlly begun woodworking. I have a good carving set, and a couple different sized sticks of seasoned wood. This craft, if nothing else, is teaching me patience. It can take me about two to three hours just to clean the bark off of an arm-length one inch branch. After a Saturday in which a friend worked with me on a tree spirit. Tree spirits in woodcarving are where you carve a face in a piece of wood; in my case I asked the branch to show me the face it wanted me to carve. I still need to do detail work. So after about eight hours of work there is still more to do to get it right. Perhaps someone back in my family line made woodcarvings. Perhaps they were wheelwrights or toymakers, furniture makers, tailors, or artisans of another sort. In putting my hands to work I can meditate, and I can reach back.
When I work with the tree spirit I can feel the life of the tree in the branch, can see the face it shows me. As I carve, as best I can, I am bringing out the face the tree’s branch has been showing me. The wood beneath my hands, while long separated from the tree, still carries a bit of the vitality the tree had within it. It is my hope, and my work to give that vitality a face I can see without that I see within. It is sacred work, long work, and something I am totally new at. My hope is that the spirit is honored by my work when I am finished.
I first got interested in woodcarving when I saw these amazing God Poles out at Cauldron Farms. To make one, if not many of these, is one of many projects I plan on doing once I am ready to do so. I pray to have the ability to give honor to the Gods whose Images I would be making. Working on this smaller scale with the branch is humbling in and of itself; I am giving my interpretation, my understanding of what this tree’s spirit has shown itself to me as. Doing the same with one of my Gods is daunting. I think of the God Poles, the Tibetan sand paintings, Lupa’s skin spirits, and hope that some day I can bring out such art that would honor my Gods in showing Them as I see Them, show my cosmology in vibrance and beauty, and/or honor the spirits with whom I work with a good home. I look at larger crafts that I have deep interest in, such as organic gardening, permaculture, and forms of biotecture, as not only needed for our survival, but sacred as well. Our outer expression in the world can be a sacred expression, and can take an infinite number of forms if we open ourselves up to it. We can allow the Sacred into every part of our lives, even if it is not as overt as a painting. The way we craft our lives, the way we live in the world can be that expression, our craft. It is my hope to be able to do that: to let the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors as many windows and expressions in my life as I can give Them.