Forge Working


HP: “This is the Snow Moon, the Horning Moon, the moon that is both Crone and Maiden, the moon of the silent depths of winter. This is a time of rest, a time of stasis. The Earth slumbers beneath a blanket of snow. The Lady rests, gathering Her strength after the birth of the God. It is a time of stasis, but also a time of transformation. Deep beneath the white cloak of winter, new life stirs into wakefulness. It is a time of transition, and ever have transitions been regarded as things of power. Not wholly of what was, nor of what will be, but partaking of both. A place between places, a time between times, a Gate between Worlds. Defined by no single thing, from whence all things are possible. No thing, yet all things, for upon the Wheel of Life no thing may stand alone. What was partakes of what may be, as what may be is forged of what was. All that was, both the light and the dark, is the ore from which the future is forged in the eternal fires of the Gods. Thus we gather here together on this magical night, this night of transition and transformation. Dancers together of the spiral dance, fellow travelers upon the sacred path. Each one of us brings to this Circle all of what was in our own lives, all of what makes each one of us the unique individuals that we are. For each one of us is the product of our own past, the product of joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy, pain and ecstasy, dark and light. All of this, each one of us brings here tonight, to lay upon the forge of the Gods, the raw material from which to forge what will be. For tonight you yourself are the ore, raw metal and dross mixed inexorably together, that you bring to the smithy door. The forge fire roars, and it is your hand that pumps the bellows. Raw ore melts in the crucible, black dross sinking into the very atoms of the metal or burning away in spiraling smoke, and it is you yourself who are transformed. All that was, all that has gone before, that has made you what you are today, you will transform under your own hand and will to mold what you will become. For this is the essence of the Craft, that your life is a tool of your own forging, for good or for ill. The hammer rings against the anvil, shaping and transforming glowing metal, and it is your arm that swings the hammer. Arm and hand, striking with the skill of a craftsman and the power to transform worlds. And it is your will that guides them, your vision that forms the final shape. It is up to you.”

Guided meditation

HP: “As you sit with your eyes closed, you breathe deeply, reaching simultaneously inward and outward in the personal ritual of grounding and centering that is so comfortable and so familiar. Gently, gradually, the room fades from around you, and slowly you begin to become aware that you are sitting with your back against a rough stone. Next, you begin to feel the wind, cold, raw, as cold as the dark between the stars, yet strangely familiar, laced with the scents of salt and heather. It whispers to you, whispers of times gone by and times yet to come. Secrets, also, it seems to whisper, secrets of Earth and sky, of things that care little for mortal man. Faintly, far away, the sea booms monotonously against the cliff face, as it has done since the beginning of the world. Slowly, very slowly, you open your eyes. The stone at your back, gray, gritty, and cold, towers over you, a massive, rectangular slab of granite that seems to reach from the Earth to the stars. As your eyes slowly become accustomed to the darkness around you and the flickering firelight, you begin to realize that you are not alone, that other stones stand with yours on the heath, forming a great ring. Above you, the clear dark sky blazes with stars — with constellations strange and brilliant, yet hauntingly familiar.

In the center of the circle burns a huge, roaring baelfire. A low, blocky stone shape, half lost beyond the glare of the fire, betokens an ancient altar. Beyond it, anonymous in robe and shadowed cowl, stands a lone figure, half seen, half unseen. Across the fire from the altar, a single huge monolith, even taller and more massive than the standing stones of the ring, rears against the night sky. The leaping, dancing, flames of the baelfire cast flickering shadows across the hard, dry ground. The enormous monolith of the kingstone casts a long shadow toward the edge of the circle. The hooded figure beyond the altar seems to be chanting softly in a language that you cannot quite understand. The fire dances moving, twisting shadows on and about the kingstone. After a long moment, you become slowly aware that the shawled figure of an old woman is standing, half-hidden by the dancing firelight, in the shadow of the kingstone. You sense dimly from the figure a feeling of unknowable age, and yet of preternatural alertness. The crone speaks no word, makes no sign, yet you sense suddenly that you have been summoned. You lift yourself from the ground, muscles protesting from cold and inaction, to follow that inexorable summons. But the shadowy figure of the crone is — gone. Still, you know where you last saw her, she cannot have gone far. One — two — three — five more steps carry you into the shadow of the kingstone, and your eyes, dazzled by the baelfire's glare, are suddenly plunged into blackness. Almost by reflex, you put out a hand to touch the ancient stone, surely no more than a foot or two away — to touch nothing. Caught off guard, you stumble blindly forward. The massive, brooding bulk of the kingstone seems, unaccountably, to have vanished. Instead, the ground slopes gently downward beneath your feet, and you get the sudden impression not of the open, barren expanse of the heath around you, but of rock. It is as if the standing stone had become, somehow, a tunnel. The wind is gone, not stilled but cut off, and the air is dry, still, and cold. The force that first summoned you remains and, almost without conscious volition, you follow it, trusting that whatever power brought you here will guide your feet.


The beating of your own heart is loud in your ears, as though reflected and magnified by the still unseen tunnel walls. Slowly you begin to realize that the darkness about you is no longer absolute, that a dim, sullen red light glows in the midst of blackness, far in front of you. Still you walk, the dim, red light swelling slowly, very slowly, before you. The beating of your heart grows louder in your ears, louder and more solid, with a deep, ominous, almost metallic ring to it.


As the light grows ever so slowly brighter, you become aware of other figures around you. Most notable, silhouetted against the slowly growing light, is the shawled, shadowy figure of the crone. The light grows brighter, and the deep, steady, booming beat in your ears grows louder. The air is growing hotter, as well. The dry cold of the heath is gone, along with the tang of salt and heather. Now the scent in the warming darkness is that of smoke and of heated metal.


The glow before you has grown now, so that you can make out the shape of the tunnel mouth limned against the blackness. Just beyond it, the figure of the crone stands to one side, silhouetted against the glow. Once so far away, the end of the tunnel is upon you with startling suddenness, and you stop abruptly in the opening. Heat beats against your exposed skin — the heat of a huge forge — as the beat of hammer upon anvil rings in your ears. Silhouetted against the red-yellow glow of the forge, a glow that fills the cavernous room with sullen light, stands a huge, burly figure, perhaps half again your own height.


Shadow against shadow, the two figures face each other across the great cavern of the smithy. For a long, slow moment they regard each other, still as statues, silent as the tomb, the beating of your heart deafening in your ears.

The coiling tension in the still air wrings sweat from your palms, and blasting waves of forge heat rip it away again.”


Crone: “I have come.”

God: “Why have you come, old crone?”

Crone: “As death and change must come to all, so I.”

God: “Here is no death, only the change, the refining of the raw.”

Crone: “There is slight difference, one from the other. The turning Wheel rules all things. I serve that Wheel, even as you do.”

God: “Not all that is mined is worthy of my fire, the purest ore the finest weapons make.”

Crone: “Aye, pure gold is perfect and yet a thing of clay without the strength it gains from the dross. Yea, and copper also of itself complete will hold no edge, lest leavened it be. For copper and tin become more than either one alone. So too the purest iron, unless alloyed with coal, will ne'er be steel.”

God: “To other I leave the swords that cleave the skull, part soul from body, my hammer shapes a finer blade.”

Crone: “Even the spirits that you refashion benefit by their flaws, are strengthened by the darker side of their nature. Know then that light and dark so wed, so forged, so joined one to the other make the whole as day and night complete the wheel of life.”

(Long pause)

God: “So mote it be.

Once again the hammer strikes against the anvil, a blow that could shatter worlds. The forge fire flares — and explodes — and the world is lost in a blast of white fire. The stone floor beneath your feet burns away in an instant, and you are falling — falling into the heart of the fire. White heat boils around you, burning away all it touches, until naught is left but the fire and the endless beat of the hammer — beating against the molten core that is you.


Falling, falling, and still the heat increases, the fire beating against you in wave after endless wave. The beat of the hammer vibrates through every fiber of your being; wringing, changing, melding, transforming with every stroke. Smoke writhes now through the white fire, the smoke of things that once were and are no more. The smoke coils through you as well now, absorbed into your substance, for you are the molten metal, and the ashes of the past are a part of you, now and forever. One and inseparable, now and forever, they are a part of you and a part of your strength, for without them you would be less than you are.


The forge fire burns brighter yet, brightness beyond light, until at last it burns black, with the smoke twining in glowing threads of red-gold fire against it.


Hammer crashes against anvil once more, this time within your own mind, and black fire vanishes in an instant into deeper blackness, searing fire quenched in a shock of icy sea water. The beat of the hammer is now the booming of storm-lashed surf against a craggy shore. The sea explodes skyward in a blast of wind-driven fury, driving up, up, high into the sky, only to crash back down across the headlands at the top of the cliffs. The water drains away and is gone, and as your sight clears you behold the stone circle once again, a dark, shawled figure half-hidden in the fire-cast shadow of the kingstone. The figure nods silently to you, as if in salute, and vanishes into the shadows. Your eyes close, seemingly almost of their own volition. The wind dies, the feeling of the stone at your back fades, and the rough grass and coarse ground beneath you become once again hard floor and even carpet. You have returned from a long and a most strange journey.”

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