A Strange and Frustrating Day
Today was a very frustrating day, for reasons that I’m about to go into. I’ve spent hours searching online for a dollhouse. There is a blessing charm for a home that I learned years ago, that involves a dollhouse and a bit of sympathetic magic. For all that it sounds simplistic, it is surprisingly organic, creative and enjoyable to work, and very, very difficult to break. I’ve been wanting to make one of these for friends of mine who just moved into their first home for some time now. I thought it would be simple (if somewhat expensive) to find the perfect dollhouse and get to work. I was so very wrong.
Now I had a dollhouse when I was a child. When I was seven or eight, my parents took me to a local craftsman’s shop, one who specialized in custom built dollhouses and I got one made to my specifications (within reason and my parents’ budget.). It’s only now that I’m an adult that I realize just what a gift that was. My parents never had much cash to burn. It was a rare indulgence. I loved that dollhouse though and it was my first introduction to world-building. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that I learned to work magic through the medium of this structure. If I had children, I’d be absolutely sure they had the same opportunity to develop this type of spatial creativity. (Plus, it kept my overly curious ass out of trouble, which was no bad thing lol).
So, anyway, I’ve been collecting small miniatures that I planned to use in this charm for some time now so I figured it was high time I got the house and started putting it all together. It’s a type of hands-on magic I enjoy but rarely get to use. How hard could finding a dollhouse be? Well, holy shit. For one thing, 95% of the dollhouses I found were for kits. One even opined, “Have you always wanted to build your own house?” No fucker. I haven’t. This is what I pay craftsmen for. Die in a fire, thank you. (Though granted, had one the skill, making this type of thing from the ground up would be a very, very powerful addition to the overall charm). So that was annoying, but not what I found really upsetting and aggravating.
Almost all the finished houses I found (on specialty sites, etsy, ebay, etc.) were utter trash. They were cheap, poorly made, often garish, and ugly. They were, essentially, disposable. I’m not sure what bothered me more, the fact they were ugly or the fact they were poorly made. I’ve seen this with a particular relative’s children the first time I visited them: their toys were all mass-produced garbage. They treated it that way too and I realized not ever having something made with care and craft, these kids weren’t learning to take care of nice things. I wonder what their lives will be like as that attitude takes root and grows. Far better to have one thing well and properly made than a dozen pieces of trash.
I realized, talking with my husband and our housemate that part of what was being triggered in me was a series of Duergar related taboos I picked up from my adopted mother. My housemate, a Freya’s woman, was likewise triggered (not surprisingly since Freya has a strong connection to the Duergar and to good craftsmanship). As we were talking this out, I realized that buying shoddy, cheaply made items, mass-produced items, represented the destruction of individual livelihoods, of artisans, artists, and craftsmen. It breaks the essential relationships upon which proper, healthy communities should be built and it ingrains in us a lack of caring for the beauty around us. It takes away the pride in having something well made, making something well, and the ability of the crafter to take pride in his or her labor. There’s a huge difference between mass production and creation. No wonder I ended up having so many problems with this today. On top of that, it’s not enough to have something well made. It has to be the appropriate, proper item for a task too.
Trying to help me out, a friend of mine this morning found a lovely, hand-made dollhouse for me and brought it over. He’d found it on craigslist, a lovely Victorian cottage made in 1920 by a man for his daughter. It didn’t look like what I wanted (for this type of charm, it’s helpful for the house to look as close as possible to the actual environment that it’s to represent) but I figured it was hand-made and had been much loved and I might as well use it, even though my first, gut response had been, “Nooo that’s nice but not right for this.” I should have listened to my gut. Always, listen to your gut! Instead, I started spinning out the magic. Several hours later I was about ready to tear someone’s head off. I was aggravated, irritated, achy, and starting to get a bad headache, not a migraine, but the type of headache I get when magic is going awry. When my husband came in, we spoke about it and I realized that the house just wasn’t right so I took everything out of it, undid the charm, asked the ancestors for help and put things away. I’m still doing cleansings. Tomorrow, I’m probably going to see if my next-door neighbor, who has a small child, would like the house for her kid and then I’ll just give it to her. It’s a beautiful dollhouse, but just wasn’t right for my purposes.
I remember last year I went down the rabbit hole on youtube one day and ended up watching something like eight hours of a BBC show on the Edwardian Farm. Three archaeologists live like Edwardian farmers in a recreated village setting for a full year, following the rhythms of the seasons and introducing the viewer to what life was like in Edwardian England (they did a whole series of these and they’re awesome). One thing that struck me was how interconnected the entire village would have been. The baker gets yeast from the brewer, who gets xyz from the farmer, who relies on someone else for certain goods. It was an interconnected web of existence and interdependence. There was individuality and craftsmanship, a respect for well-made tools that honors the thing itself and the spirit of the thing. With the coming of industrialization (and eventually mass production) that web was broken. Look at our world today and one can easily see the results.
We learn as children how to move in our world through play. We learn to value and respect the connections we make, and to appreciate beauty and art, craftsmanship and care. If that is lacking our world can be a very uneasy, fractured place. If all we are ever exposed to is cheap garbage, what is that teaching us? Far better to support our local craftsmen or our community craftsmen when we can.