Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.
-H.W. Longfellow, ‘The Village Blacksmith’
This is the Feast Day of Creation, according to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and possibly the Old European tribes. Specifically, a day to honor the creations of Smithing. At one time, a Smith, or Blacksmith – literally, a “Black Striker” – was considered a divine entity, able to transform base metals into wondrous objects.
In Ireland, Goibniu (pro: gov-new) was not only a famous Smith, but quite possibly a triple aspect; something signifying divine attributes. Goibniu is credited with creating Nuada a new harm after he lost it in battle. A metal and mechanical hand that was said to function better than the one he was born with. Likewise, he is said to routinely host the gods, offering elaborate feast with overflowing mead. Which was perhaps made all the more plentiful in that he owned Glas Gaibhuenn, the magical cow of abundance.
The very idea of magic being part of Smithing dates to Hindu mythology; so the lineage begins with Tvastar, to Hephaestus/Vulcan, to Goibniu, to Wayland the Smith, to Ilmarinen. Akin to Goibniu, Wayland was also a triple aspect; he and his ‘three brothers’ lived with three Valkyries (shield maidens / warrior women). So famous was Wayland that his tale, and depiction, was carved onto the Franks Casket – a whale bone relic created sometime in the 7th century CE.
While on my Megalithic Walkabout I made a point to visit Weyland’s Smith in Berkshire Downs. Though the mound predates the tale, it has a long association with Smiths and Smithing. I paid my respects by leaving a solid silver coin and singing a Galdr.
On this Tenth Night of Yule, be mindful of those ordinary objects made magical or poignant. Think of fire and its role in the creative process. Carl Jung wrote of the ‘coherent expressions of human energy’, such as the ‘mother’ and ‘father’, the ‘healer’ and ‘teacher’, and the ‘creator / ismith’. This energy pattern then is one of practical knowledge derived from the physical world to bring about comfort and prosperity. And that is a good thing to consider in one’s daily life.
Top: Ardre Image Stone, Gotland, Sweden, 8-11th century CE
Bottom: Wayland’s Smithy, a Neolithic long barrow and chamber tomb, Oxfordshire, England, 4500-3500 BCE