Temperance

Tonight I am thinking about temperance. In witchcraft it is the connecting point between passion and wisdom.* In smithcraft it is the strengthening of steel, by folding and heating and hammering and cooling in water and heating again.

In humans, well.. in this human anyway, it is happening in work. It is happening in love. It is happening in parenting.

I am always the blacksmith, I am always the steel.

I am not always the hammer… Sometimes I have guest hammers! Always at my invitation, though sometimes I do forget that.

Temperance. Trial and relief. Challenge and sanctuary.

I looked it up in the OED, of course. Here’s the oldest reference:

Venym he tok, and tempred hit wit wyn.

Don’t those old words look so beautiful?

I am translating that as: Venom he took, and tempered it with wine. This from sometime in the 12th century.

(OK it wasn't actually the oldest. There is a Latin reference from 1000. But clearly Latin doesn't count, because, and also round numbers are so much less poetic, don't you think?)

Temperance, which alters steel, but also wax, medicine, clay, musical instruments, and over and over, humans. 

Venym he tok, and tempred hit wit wyn.

Yup.I think I was looking for temperance on Friday night, but instead I took some tequila flavored venom and then tempered it with ¾ of a bottle of red wine.

This is not, by the way, Brigids idea of temperance… She’s the original blacksmith, mama swordmaker, goddess of smithcraft and poetry, who tries women's souls in hot forges and cold rivers, and amazing work and amazing love.

Which are, of course, both trial and refuge, both challenge and sanctuary.

I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining. I'm not. But I do have to figure out how to keep moving, without the tequila. Keep folding and exposing my new edges to these sometimes extreme sensations without giving in to the temptation to numb.

I do know how, when I remember what I know: to walk every day. Write every day. Sleep. Water…

(I drink less water when I am trying not to feel something. I drink more wine.) 

The next day, Saturday, was a horrible day. Toxic self-recrimination all day as that Sauza venom slowly left my veins.

Yesterday was much better. Today better still.

I remembered to know what I know for a little while, this morning, when my colleague needed me.

I remembered to know what I know for a little while, this afternoon, as I walked up the steep hill, heat rising from my skin as it began to rain.

I remembered to know what I know tonight, as my son made a short appearance as guest hammer... began his homework session with so much whining that I almost offered him some cheese to go with it, but instead I waited him out. I out-calmed him, did not give into brittleness, but became my own refuge and then watched as his bright mind and good nature returned and he came up with so very very many ways to measure his dinosaur.

 

*I believe credit for Temperance as the connector between Iron Pentacle's Passion and Pearl Pentacle's Wisdom goes to the amazing Dawn Isadora.