Praxis: Bringing the Old into the Now

Todays… thing is not what I imagine most of you think it is. What I am talking about today is how well do instructions from the past convert to the limitations and/or lack thereof of the present day.

This one came to me yesterday when I was reading through the book that I spoke about. I was going through the staves and something stuck out at me. A lot of the instructions included materials or things that are not easily procured nowadays. For example, how many of you have easy or even hard access to the skin of a cows first calf? Or the re-smelted silver of a dead man’s coffin lining? These are just two of the ingredients that the manuscripts describe as being needed for certain staves. While such things were undoubtedly, relatively, common place 200 plus years ago, they are decidedly harder today.

It was at the point that I was wondering just how much trouble it would be to get my hands on a seal’s shoulder blade, that I started wondering what exactly made the items required important to the stave use. is it some trans-mundane relationship between the stave structure, the materials and the manner in which it is carved? Or do the materials have some intrinsic symbolic power that is lost on someone who doesn’t come from the time and place that the stave was used? Or are the materials and their relationship psychometric, given power and thus the capacity to channel it, by the meaning that the materials have to the stave carver?

All these things are what a Pagan and/or Heathen needs to consider when practicing things such as stave carving; is the silver important because of its symbolic and/or psychometric qualities, its trans-mundane essences and power, or is its only importance in what it represents? Can it be substituted for some thing that is equivalent in any of these areas?


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