Totem’s are two parts.
Part one is the physical object. It can be anything, essentially, that will effectively carry and remember the meaning. I say remember because it doesn’t even have to really communicate the idea. In University level, gallery work style, say something important art, the object must carry an idea from you to the audience.
But that’s not the case with Totems.
I still try to connect, aesthetically and culturally, these designs to what they signify. But that’s not really needed. The importance of a Totem is that it carries the idea from your mind to your soul.
If a bundle of twigs tied with a sprig of cedar bark and some wax is enough for you, then it is enough for the metaphysical world.
My journey through fine jewelry has been an obsession more than a professional course. In fact, my life is a series of passionate obsessions. If we really tallied the score, most of those obsessions didn’t actually yield high level skill. Or any skill at all (At least not yet?). Sometime I’ll tell you about the multiple books I’ve read and dozens of pages of notes I have on Perfuming and Scent making. But to be clear,
I never set out to be the best at anything.
I’m an explorer, not a competitor. Much to the disappointment of my many male friends that want to compete for best shot, best jump, best girl, or best anything you can imagine. Boys will be boys.
No. My choices are driven by a down-to-the-bones need to experience more.
So, while I was discovering, struggling through, and frustratingly challenged by my obsession with metalsmithing, I was also exploring a seemingly completely different thing.
There are two definitions for this word. One is the scientific one, which many scientist will tell you is the “right” definition. Some day Science will figure out that if you’re the people studying and giving names to things it doesn’t mean your the best, first, or most right. That’s another blog post.
In this world metaphysics is essentially anything that is non physical, or beyond physical. Ideas instead of designs. Relationships instead of individuals. All of the non-tangible stuff that holds the tangible stuff together.
The other definition was coined in the early 1900s, which means it was probably said a number of times well before that. This time also by scientists; but scientists of a different sort.
Occult Science is the study of strange things -often called witchcraft, wizardry, and magic- by people that know the scientific method is a hell of a drug. Systematic exploration, recording, and testing is far easier to argue the validity of than psychedelic trips through far distant parallel realities with 126 eyeballs or stories of Astral projection.
So these folks set out to do just that.
Explore the nature of the astral worlds, out of body experiences, and clairvoyance in a way that was systematically tested. Which is to say that are only slightly less ridiculous than regular science.
But, the word stuck in my mind as a way to represent what it is I was doing. Because before I found the concept of “metaphysics” I was studying the occult. Studying mysticism. Studying Wicca, Buddhism, Taoism, Meditation, Shamanism both cultural and practiced. My obsessive exploration brought me through esoteric christianity, Masonry, and the crazy shit drempt up by the Knights Templar.
The rabbit hole is deep and outside of Polite Society there is a lot of weird shit.
I found and still find these studies fascinating because they explore a realm that is both trusted and lived in by many, but well outside of the scientific world to comprehend.
And being that Science is always right, these other realms are obviously nonsense.
There’s a bit of irony in the fact that Science, which has clearly demonstrated that anything observed is directly effected by the observation, would skeptically turn to esoteric occult systems and quickly decide they’re bullshit.
Double standards, anyone?
But even so, I also delved into the world of quantum physics, geometry, metallurgy, subatomic particles, astrodynamics, medicine, biology and physiology, psychology and traditional philosophy.
Needless to say, I am not just an occultist.
Nor can it be said that I am only a scientist.
If science is following in the Universe’s footsteps taking notes and attaching sticky-backed labels to everything, then mysticism is the fringe exploration of what’s possible without a need to prove it in a lab.
One is defined by defining. The other is shared through experience.
I always felt that to separate the two was akin to madness. I’ve always learned best by briefly reading about it before watching it done, and quickly trying it myself. Mimicry is a method we evolved with, why not put it to use?
So to exclude measured study,
Or to negate experiential detail,
Is to drop half of our humanity.
In that way Mysticism has informed my life, my reality, and the person I have become more than anything else. But there’s still a scientist in here.
I call myself a Metaphyst now because in more archaic times -which is to say times not polluted by hard science bias- the Metaphyst was someone who blended as many worlds as possible. Combined as many angles as they could grasp. Connected dots and created hybrids.
By the time I’d worked at the jewelry store long enough to professionally produce four or more pieces a day, I had also come to this realization around mysticism, science, and the spaces between.
But I wasn’t ready.
I was designing and making pieces that connected to powerful ideas and displayed them in physical form. Some sort of hybrid between gallery-artist communication, fine jewelry process, and my then-secret obsession with Mysticism.
But I couldn’t call them what they were.
And truth be told I didn’t really know the word ‘totem’ so accurately represented what I was doing. So they were art. And fun. And you could buy them at a price barely enough to cover my costs and pay myself minimum wage.
This is about the time that I got so fed up with what I was not doing well, business, that I took a break from being a Jeweler. I was still sketching, watching youtubes, studying, and thinking like a Jeweler. But I’d decided the entire thing was shit. That I’d never make it because I couldn’t bring myself to make any more generic bridal rings, and yet my conceptual but practical art wasn’t artsy enough to sit in a gallery.
Stuck in purgatory, I walked away…
And directly into the Personal Development industry…