web analytics
Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

The right thingamajig for the job

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C1325529963/E20090101135156
Cross posted at www.teknopagan.com/files/TPY-Thingamajig090104.html

Simple tools and magick

The time has come for me to talk about something near and dear to my heart.


I do admit I have a fetish for tools. Nothing sexual, but certainly something Tim Allen or Pat McManus would understand. I may not grunt, but I hear a well made tool calling to me every time I pass it.

Usually when I have a belt on, I'm wearing my Number Two tool pouch. The latest version carries my Micro-Tech™ 8-in-1, my Utili-Key® 6-in-1, a Maglite Solitare, a London police whistle, and a dog whistle (more useful than you might think).

Of course my Number One tool pouch is usually close at hand, either in my computer case or my overalls pocket or in the tool chest next to my desk in the sanctum.

Usually about a third of the time, the Number Two pouch is enough for what I may need. About two thrids of the time, the Number One pouch would be enough.

But while the knife in the Utili-Key or the Leatherman works, it's not comfortable. It doesn't fit my hand, it's not balanced. Basically it's a tool in a pinch, not the best tool for the job. It's lousy for hunting, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work well for fighting.

Certainly there are times when you don't want your screwdriver to fold up.

Nothing in my tool pouches can do the job of a wrench or a hammer.

Ah yes, hammers.

You see, a five pound sledge, a geologist's tap hammer, a meat tenderizer, and a blacksmith's hammer are all technically hammers, but none will work well to hang drywall. For that, you need a carpenter's hammer, which wouldn't work terribly well for all those other things.

When I created my tool pouches, I selected tools that I would be likely to need in a wide variety of circumstances, but I didn't want to carry a complete tool case. They were almost good enough for everything. Now I wouldn't be able to hammer, I wouldn't be able to solder, and I wouldn't be able to sew up a hole in my sock. For that I needed other tools which I keep at home in their own places.

That's one of the tradeoffs I make. The tools I carry close at hand aren't "perfect," but they don't take up the space and aren't as heavy as the best tools would be. Almost-as-good in exchange for carrying capacity and flexibility. Not a bad trade.

Most engineering is made up a similar tradeoffs. And in some cases, those last couple of notches of utility can up the cost quite a bit. It's pretty easy to cost justify a decision if one wrench delivers 80% of what you need while the one that delivers 90% of what you need costs five times as much.

So here are the tool truths that we've come up with so far.

1). Tools concentrate your ability to work.

2). The wrong tool can be worse than no tool.

3). Tools are always a tradeoff among several factors.

Here's the big issue with tools. You personally can't make most of them.

Take our friend the hammer. I have only the vaguest idea of what metals are in hammers. I know you don't use pure steel because it can crack and chip. But I've no idea of the proportions. I've no way to produce the heat that forging a hammer would take. I've no way to handle the molten metal.

That gives me a choice. I can learn what it would take and acquire the forge and other tools to make the hammer. Or I can go to True Value. It's another trade off. For the time and money I spend learning to make a hammer, i could buy all the hammers I need, along with wrenches, screwdrivers, glass cutters, and almost anything else I could want. Plus I have a very good idea of the quality of tools I buy, and it would take many attempts by me to get close to that standard by making my own.

If I even could.

It's tied in with the distribution of labor. Some people make better hunters, others make better arrows, and still others sing the songs. I could spend the next few months learning to forge a hammer, or I borrow what someone else offers. And that brings us naturally to the next thing about tools.

4). Usually, someone else can make the tool better than you can.

So far I haven't talked about tools in the esoteric sense. This is where it gets a little complicated, so I am going to simplify.

In ceremonial and operative magick, you're creating a thought form. The tools are symbols, shorthand for thoughts and feelings that go into the thought form.

So why use tools at all? Because the best symbol is the thing itself.

Now I could tell you to use a hammer. Or you could feel the weight of the hammer in your hand, the hardness of the shaft, where the balance point is, the temperature of the metal, and hear the ring as the hammer strikes. Which is the better symbol?

If you are good enough, you don't need a physical hammer at all. But that's another trade off, it takes much less time and effort if you have one close at hand. Your thoughts can use the existing pattern.

Magick tools aren't for daily use, and they should be something unusual. Failing that, they should be a little difficult to get. It's the passion you're investing in the tool that will deliver when the tool is used.

For example, right now I am looking for a new athamé, something that can do double duty as a ceremonial sword if need be. At one point I was looking seriously at a reproduction of a Roman gladius, but now I am looking at something along the lines of a Arkansas toothpick. It's probably going to have to be custom made to get the black handle, the nickel silver fittings, and the blade etchings I want. While I can't make such a thing, there are those who can. And since it's not something I can pay $199.95 for at the local weaponsmith, it's going to require special effort on my part to get one.

That brings us to the next tool truth.

5). In magick, the best symbol is the tool itself when backed by your passion.

That's it's for simple tools. Join us next time when we get to Meet The Parts!

Posted: Sun - January 4, 2009 at 12:51 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

Sunfell Tech Mage Rede Nine Words Serve The Tech Mage Best Keep What Works Fix What’s Broke Ditch The Rest

A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

2019       2018       2017       2016       2015       2014       2011       2010       2009       2008       2007       2006       2005