Artisans of Arcane Arte
In a recent article I expanded upon the idea of Witches’ Relics, or occult artifacts of a most sacred nature. I differentiated relics of the craft from typical day-to-day tools and items that are mass produced. Some of these manufactured items are necessary, and it is not always practical to use hand-made items, however in the case of spiritual artifacts akin to the sacred relics of other religious traditions that are passed on through the generations are those made with the utmost care and attention. These items are not always man made when it comes to the artifacts of witchcraft, the sorcerous power manifest in natural objects is often the vessel for spirits familiar to our arte. The practice of magical artifice adds a third layer to the category of witches’ relics. Artifice is the arcane practice of a creative art merged with spirit congress so that the artwork and/or artifacts produced have a hidden spiritual quality. The hand-made items of Artes and Craft are quintessential examples of the arcane arts of woodworking and blacksmithing, just one of the facets of artifice that they specialize in.
The Proprietors of Artes and Craft
As you can see from the photo above, the individuals at Artes and Craft are not only proficient in metal working and wood carving, they are also longtime practitioners of Paganism and witchcraft. They were awarded the Best Witchcraft Shop Award of 2017, and are looking to create a community center for Michiana Pagans. In addition to this project they also run the long-lived and well-known Moonfire Coven, which is still located in southwest Michigan. Paul Barbary and Pat Camarena Rose Barbary are the owners and operators of Artes and Craft, they are both ordained and experienced ministers and practitioners. Their store has the areas largest selection of everyday ritual items, plus those that are specialist and difficult to obtain.
With their experience in various magical practices and past travels around the world, they are able to offer a wide range of items from traditional witchcraft, ceremonial and grimoiric traditions as well as Santeria, Yoruba, Voudun and Asatru. I have personally shopped some of their selection when they attended Fort Wayne Pagan Pride Day 2017, and I can attest to the quality and variety of their wares.
“Our store will focus on that which is not ‘everyday’ or ‘common garden’ (Artes and Craft) is a bazaar of the very best gathered from places such as the wonderfully esoteric Glastonbury, Cornwall, los mercados de brujos in Mexico and also the coasts of the U.S.”
Featuring Michigan Artisans
The shop owners promise not to sell mass manufactured items from China and India, unless where absolutely necessary, but to source local products from Michigan artists. They also have an on-site forge and wood working shop that they use to create many of their custom tools. Artes and Craft houses the wares of 40 different vendors from the local Pagan community. They also provide one of the largest ritual and workshop spaces in the area that is free to use for local groups. Artes and Craft seeks to bring together various alternative spiritual traditions so that we may learn from one another. These are just a few of the great works happening at the shop.
After corresponding with Mr. Barbary co-owner of Artes and Craft and resident blade-smith, I have a new respect for hand-made tools and the benefits of purchasing one from a skilled artisan. I believe there is power in creating one’s own magical tools when possible, but I also see the added power when the tool is made by an experienced master with an understanding of the occult correspondences and rituals necessary to create a relic of arte.
“In practice I trance out and the blade forms as it wills to do. I am just there to guide its manifestation.” Barbary
Both the blade and the handle are made by a detailed process that starts by selecting the appropriate material based on traditional occult correspondences. The handle is hand-carved from woods that are ritually harvested including English Rowan, Whitethorn and Blackthorn. When selecting branches to use they look for those that have a particularly “witchy look” about them. Most of the blades at double sided to represent the blade of justice and duality. Each blade is crafted with a traditional “tang” not often found on mass-produced knives. The tang is a small extension at the base of the blade that penetrates into the base of the handle. The handle is fitted with a copper ring, and copper being the metal of Venus, represents the feminine principle, which is combined with the masculine principle in the tang. This creates a symbolic alchemy of masculine and ‘feminine dynamics, true creative and generative power within this tool.
Chanting as he hammers, each blade is imbued with magical force and will which is worked into the hot metal. Serpents, stilettos, wide, round and curved blades are some of the different shapes that manifest in the metal as it takes form. These tools are created with the aid of spirits coming together to create a pristine artifact of both human and spirit genius. The signature of the Artes and Craft athames is the “Luna” finish that is achieved using various round tipped ball hammers which creates pits and craters on the surface. These blades are truly unique tools of arte and would make long lived heirlooms for a coven or family tradition, both the wood and metal are hand polished and protected using traditional oils instead of man made varnishes. These traditionally crafted tools are gorgeous works of art, and fall into the category of what I consider witches’ relics; long lasting sacred artifacts of the craft, created by magical artisans often with the aid of spirits. These artifacts will survive for many years because of their craftsmanship and of their indwelling spirit.
***Since I want to give these works of art the attention they deserve, I have decided to split this into two separate articles. The next article will focus on the various wands, staves and other wooden artifacts of Artes and Craft.