Blacksmiths and mythology

I just spent four days in a kind of crucible, an excellent “Story Masters” writing workshop with Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christopher Vogler. Vogler, author of the well-known The Writer’s Journey, led off the sessions by talking about myth, how myths are metaphors for universal mysteries.

Which got me thinking again about blacksmiths in mythology, a subject I had not visited since first launching this project. Back in the beginning, when trying to figure out the psyche of a blacksmith, I had looked into the Greek myth of the lame smith Hephaestus (Vulcan), who on Zeus’ orders created the beautiful, yet fateful, goddess Pandora. Zeus, his father, made him do it. In The Illustrated Book of Myths (Philip) I made a note about this additional story:

Zeus and Hephaestus: to cure Zeus of a terrible headache, his son, Hephaestus, struck him with an ax; Athena sprang, in full armor, from the cut in his head.

Ouch. Reminds me of the god Thor with his hefty hammer, how in one of the Norse myths Thor kept pounding it in the head of a sleeping giant. Today, I did some more exploring, which led me to this website: PANTHEON: ARCHETYPAL GODFORMS IN DAILY LIFE. Wow, a thesis and a half. I give you two excerpts:

Hephaistos, God of the Forge, is the personification of subterranean and terrestrial fire, including human lustiness. … His dominion over primal fire ranges from the wild force of volcanic activity to the harnessed fire of metallurgy. He is the archetypal mechanic or engineer. Technological man has inherited his legacy, and his woundedness, and in this regard Hephaestos shares something in common with Prometheus who stole “fire” from the Gods. The boon carries a bane inherent within its nature — for one thing, he is preoccupied, even obsessed, with details. We see this today in the obsessive loner techno-geek type.

I love how Miller concludes with the loner techno-geek. Below a whole lot of Tarot, Qabala, astrology, and Jungian thought, she lists additional 21st century professions that contain archetypal blacksmith characteristics.

I also happened upon a wealth of good blacksmith storytelling (for instance, The Blacksmith and the Devil) at Anvilfire! Enjoy.

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