Saturday, May 16, 2009

Messages from the Gods

I have a seed of an idea.....
It began a few weeks ago. My father was involved with a group of fishermen who took some veterans fishing through the Wounded Warrior Program. Then my student Jim had his accident. I discussed with his family the possibilities for metalworking, being his new passion, giving him goals through the physical therapy and regaining the use of his hands. It started my thinking about how many people in the last year have not only caught the bug of metalsmithing through my classes, but have also been transformed by its power both mentally and spiritually.
Art has long been seen to be therapeutic. But in our area there is a lack of organization around this field. There are very few schools where you can receive training over here on the east coast. There is only one organization here in Wilmington that even comes close to using art therapy (forgive me if I am ignorant of others) and I know one individual who's come to use it in her counseling of the grieving.

As I drove home from visiting Jim in the hospital I was visited by the gods.
I had an epiphany. The sad thing about it is I am only one person with limited recources in order to make my cockamamy idea happen. But I figure if I invest time and energy in it, little by little, it may grow. Step one is to give it life.
Here it is...this is a little scary....
The Hephaestus Foundation "Forging new lives through craftsmanship."
There I said it.
Some things just want to be born. But birth is never an easy process.

Who is Hephaestus?
He is the Greek god of the forge and the patron of artists and craftsmen. He was born deformed and was thrown out of heaven by his mother Hera and fell to earth for nine days. He was rescued by two sea nymphs one of them a Nereid, Thetis... (you may already now my fascination with these ladies). Some tales tell they nursed and healed him in a cave for nine years (Nine being a significant number in ancient tales and numerology- its 2009 BTW). Hephaestus transmutes his pain and suffered and plight into creation. He becomes the one they all go to for beautiful, magical creations, Hermes helmet and winged shoes, Achilles armor, Pandora's box. In fact he is asked by Zeus to make Pandora herself out of clay.
Hephaestus forges beauty out of adversity, creation out of smoke, fire and sadness. In the words of Martha Graham, "Fire is the making of gold, adversity the making of men."

What will this someday foundation do?
Offer outreach programs for victims of war, violence and poverty that involve metalsmithing, blacksmithing, jewelry making workshops as well as other fine crafts like bookmaking, art journalling, mixed media, sculpture and clay.
We will spearhead the building of community metals studios, forges, and art workshops.
We'll orchestrate workshops for Wounded Warriors, victims of domestic violence, the grieving, the clinically depressed, caregivers of the elderly and special needs children(for they need rejuvenation!) and anyone else in need of the transmutative properties of creation. We'll offer scholarships for those people and their children to get training as metalsmiths, blacksmiths, potters, sculptors, or art therapists.

This is from Hephaestus-The Lame Creative Hero an article by Yael Haft

"It transpires that when we accept ourselves both outwardly and inwardly as we are, because this is our personal universe, and are ready to encounter whatever befalls us with an inner courage and an authentic relationship towards ourselves and others, as well as learn to better our lives by utilizing whatever lies within us with inner respect - there is a possibility for development and transformation. Hephaestus, as an archetypal figure, can serve us as a model and a guide to relate differently to the inferior, different, injured, lame and rejected side that so many of us carry within us to a varying degree. Hephaestus knew to contain the emptiness, the lack and turn it into fullness. He was not a victim of the fire, not even of the fire burning within as anger, hate and blame, but knew how to transform and use this energy of fire as the melting and welding pot of his character and personality, as well as using it to build, create and utilize sustaining forces....Homer was right in saying that Hephaestus taught man to work. To work on himself and for his life."

Now I have to figure out how to make it so...
Especially when I have so many other irons in the fire!

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