Monday, August 25, 2014

Blacksmith Gods (a book review)

Blacksmith Gods  (link to the Amazon page for the book)

I have been fascinated with blacksmiths since I read a novel about the Aurthurian legends (“In the Shadow of the Oak King” by Courtway Jones). It features blacksmithing as a major theme of the book and really sparked my interest in the subject.

Blacksmith Gods was really interesting to read. I thought it did a great job of not only examining Blacksmithing as a phenomenon, but also looking specifically at how different cultures acknowledged it in their deities.

The book starts off with a general look at blacksmithing, which I think helps put it in perspective. Blacksmithing isn't something that is as common today as it has been in the past. Most of us don't know a professional blacksmith, or even someone who has any experience with smithing. Much of the metal we use in our daily life is mass-produced: stamped out and cut by machines instead of molded into shape by a smith.

And yet, as Pagans, we can be quite strongly drawn to the practice of smithing. I have read quite a lot of books that highly recommend taking a class in smithing or working for a time as an apprentice smith, in order to forge your own blades for magical work. I haven't pursued this myself, although I would love to! I definitely think there is something to be said about making one's own tools, and typically the blade is one of the tools that is the hardest for the average person to create for themselves.

The bulk of the book is divided into sections by location, so deities from a particular area are grouped together. This let me grasp the themes that a culture associated with smithing better. Many of the deity descriptions include stories or legends involving that deity and smithing. I always love reading legends, I think that in many ways it makes things more real for me than just reading a description. Also included are stories about smiths or smithing that don't feature a specific deity. These I think are very powerful for expressing the essence of the smith as a person and great for helping us to get in touch with the heart of what smithing is.

I also really enjoyed the suggestions for how to take a fondness for smithing or blacksmith deities and transform it into part of your practice. I think that sometimes it can be hard, especially for something that you may not be able to actually do as part of your regular life (like blacksmithing) to find a way to honor the practice and work with it in more symbolic terms.

If, like me, you are enchanted by blacksmithing or the image of the smith, this is a wonderful book to read. I was introduced to many new deities, some I had never heard of. I also got to read stories about deities I was already familiar with, deepening my understanding of them.

If you don't know much about blacksmithing, but think it might be interesting, this book is a great starting point that can spark your interest and give you ideas about where you might like to learn more. It will definitely give you a broad base for relating to deities that deal with blacksmithing, and an insight into the mystery that is smithing.

No comments:

Post a Comment