Back at the forge after missing last week's class for Spring Break. We started the class with some free time while a few people caught up on the current project, and since I was already caught up on that particular project, I decided to work on a little something personal.
Yesterday at the Tempe Festival of the Arts (which I will be blogging about later) my girlfriend and I looked at some pendants which were basically hearts and spirals, simple shapes that looked like they had been forged. She remarked that the spiral was meaningful for her because it was a reiki symbol and asked if I could make something like that for her.
It looked straightforward enough, so I used the broken piece that resulted when I rushed a previous project. My first attempt didn't quite work out - the spiral came easily enough, but I didn't put enough thought into what I planned to do after I broke the piece off. There wasn't any way for me hold the piece and finish hammering it with the tools I had.
Instead I pulled out the scrap iron and started again, drawing out the metal into another thin, tapered piece. This time I eyeballed the length I wanted and shaped the opposite end the way I wanted it as well as twisting it up before I cut it loose. It still wasn't perfect - I ended up finishing it with the grinder instead of with the hammer because I still couldn't find a way to hold it - but the end result looked pretty good.
And I managed to get through class without burning myself for a change.
Afterward, I accompanied her to a yarn store and somehow got talked into learning how to knit. I've tried crochet a few times before and never gotten very far, but knitting seems to go a little easier for me.
I know a lot of people talk about learning skills because the gods direct them to. There's nothing wrong with this - Ilmarinen is 75% of the reason I'm taking the blacksmithing class, after all. But it's also nice to take a swing at a skill for the sheer value of learning something new, because it's interesting, because my girlfriend likes it and I have friends who like it and I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
While I believe in doing everything mindfully, and I can see doing everything with the gods in mind from that vantage point, I don't think that means everything needs to be done at the gods' direction. I've read several blogs where every craft and hobby seems to be at the behest of the gods, and I wonder what it is about these people's gods that they seem to have no activities untouched by divinity.
Of course, it's possible they just choose to blog only about religious hobbies and everything else gets left on the cutting room floor, as it were. But I believe in balance, both in my religious practice and in my blogging. Much of my writing about my metalwork lessons has been downright secular, and that's for good reason.
When I'm walking a bead, or playing with the plasma cutter, or even trying not to drop the hammer on my foot again (hooray Doc Martens) I'm not particularly thinking about the gods. I'm thinking about how to get the project I'm working on from Point A to Point B with minimal damage to myself. While some people exhort the value in living your faith at all times, I'm just not wired for it. I'm lucky if I feel my faith while I'm having an actual religious experience.
But I go in anyway. I keep doing what I need to do - whether it's at the behest of the gods, or just so I can pay the rent. I enjoy it where I can, and if anyone begrudges me that, they've never bothered to tell me. I don't know that I'd want to serve the god who did.