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The Great Craft Debate: Tools of the Trade

In the last post, I mentioned how much I love writing spells and ceremonies and rituals. I’ve always loved wordsmithery. However, present me with a selection of physical materials and ask me to produce something even vaguely serviceable and I’m afraid you’re going to be left thoroughly disappointed (or at least highly amused – my high school tech and home economics teachers always were!) It’s created a bit of a predicament for me over the years, particularly when met with the muted horror from certain corners at the proposition that you bought something you could have just made for yourself. Or, more to the point, should have made for yourself.

“I was told I have to…”

I hear it a lot in the shop, and it’s one of the (few?) things almost guaranteed to make me physically cringe. “Someone said I should only get this particular tarot deck” or “I was told I must read that particular book” and, frequently, “how do I learn to do this because I was told I have to do it myself”. It’s been a massive personal predicament for me over the years because when I was starting out (and there was a lot less info generally available anyway) I read endless amounts on things I had to have for my craft usually alongside the edict that the ‘best’ way was to make it yourself – buying it or acquiring it would never be ‘the same’, or ‘as good’. Some were helpful enough to outline how to go about this – patterns, recipes, instructions – and over the years I’ve made numerous well-intentioned forays into various crafts but it has rarely ended successfully and has resulted in a wake of disintegrating amulets, splodgy herbal soaps and odd smelling tinctures. It left me very much exposed once again to the ‘not a proper pagan’ worry – I might be magic with colour-coded spreadsheets and a walking reference library, but what use was that if I couldn’t whittle a wand without serious risk to life and limb?

What Goes Around

Of course I could spend months, years, decades (and potentially a lot of money, and loss of blood [seriously, I’m that clumsy]) to become a master tailor, potter, carpenter, blacksmith, herbalist, cook, chandler and gardener to craft all the things I should have and should be making myself. I’m not convinced I’d take particular pleasure in the pursuit – it’s simply not where my passion lies. Then again I’m fortunate enough to know plenty of people in the community who are creative and talented and who, at the end of the day, can actually make something beautiful and serviceable and absolutely fit for purpose (which is kind of a major consideration at the end of it all). Who are passionate about producing it (another big deal). And I think that’s what a community ideally is about – recognising the talents and contributions in others and supporting that and, perhaps even more importantly, recognising and valuing your own contributions.  Not feeling like you have to be all things to all people, that you have to take everything on yourself, that you should do something because you read it in a book or an article or a blog somewhere, or someone else (however well intentioned) told you that you have to. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of areas in our lives where there are obligations and responsibilities, things we genuinely ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do, but I don’t think it has much of a role to play in our spirituality. There are so many paths, so many options, so much information and inspiration to absorb and consider to end up trapped in the cycle of ‘should’.