The dragon woke up! Having a high standard is lovely. … Being a perfectionist isn’t lovely.
A few years ago, I had to cut back a wild rosebush because it was threatening the wiring on a utility pole. I seasoned some of the wood, for talismans.
The other day, I looked at a crooked stick of wood from that culling and saw a dragon.
After I cut the dragon away from the rest of the stick, I sanded that magical creature till some of it was smooth as sin. I couldn’t get every last part that way. Perhaps someday I’ll have that skill. But all parts were nicely sanded.
Examining what I’d done, I saw a few nicks on the dragon’s belly and the underside of the neck. The imperfections were barely noticeable, but I removed them anyway. That meant starting the sanding all over again with a heavy grade of sandpaper and working my way through to the finest sandpaper again. And that’s when the dragon came alive, thanking me for stroking its neck and rubbing its belly. Wow. Alive. I knew it was alive, but hadn’t experienced it yet, at least not in this way. Having a high standard is lovely.
Another time, it might’ve been good to leave the flaws in, if doing otherwise would have constituted a crazy-making fit of perfectionism. Perfectionism can keep you from noticing the dragon, even if it’s purring at you.
But this time, the dragon loved the results of my polishing away the flaws, and so do I. I might even try to figure out how to make every last bit of this like glass. … No, trying that would be the perfectionist crazy-making moment because this item, just as it is, feels perfect in my hand, a tactile delight, I can’t stop fondling it. I don’t want to destroy that. Sometimes trying to make something perfect ruins it. Besides, supposed flaws can make an item better, and knowing when that’s the case is part of both craftsmanship and the magic of talisman-making.
I intended the dragon to be used as an ancestor meditation. It’ll be great to handle when contemplating ancestral matters. If I sanded it more, perhaps I wouldn’t enjoy holding/touching it as much. I love it the way it is, so I’ll keep it as is, at least for now. Dragon is happy with the way it is, too.
When I first started working on this piece, I thought I might add pyrography, envisioning scales and swirls and other wild dragon-y lines. (Pyrography is the art of burning designs into wood. A lot of the wood talismans I make have pyrography. The photo below shows a pyrography example. It is on the rest of the stick from which the dragon was cut. I did pyrography on the straight part to make a talisman to protect and bless a home.)
Much as I love that vision, I’ll add no pyrography, at least for now. The dragon is complete. Pyrography might make the wood not as amazing to touch. Yes, the dragon is alive, good—not to mention happy—exactly as it is.
And my vision? The scales and swirls and other lines remain in my mind’s eye, always part of my dragon friend. They needn’t be visible to the mundane eye. (Dragons like their secrets. And my vision will eventually end up on another piece of wood, probably.) Living fully, loving well, craftsmanship, and good talisman-making all require honoring a vision but knowing how to follow through on it.
Hello, dear dragon. Thank you for coming into my life. You’ll tell me if you ever decide you want pyrography or further sanding, I’m sure.
Hello, dear dragon, thank you being a link to my Fey ancestors.
Dear reader, I don’t know how long I’ll do it, but right now I’m crafting one-of-a-kind wood talisman sets available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers. This is part of a shamanic journey I am on. If you don’t subscribe to the newsletter yet, click here for a free subscription: https://www.outlawbunny.com/newsletter/.
Written Oct 2018.