Broken pots

Freyja does turn up in unexpected places sometimes. Or rather, more accurately, Freyja turns up when I’m not expecting Her. So far She’s shown up in an unknown-to-me tarot deck I was perusing, and on my Facebook feed, and most recently in a post by one of the bloggers I follow. The tarot deck I’m planning on talking about another time, but the Facebook and blog posts are linked. I’m posting this on Freyja’s day, but the trigger for the writing happened way back in January after I’d got back from work, cancelled my plans to meet up with a friend because I was utterly knackered, and had sat down with a Kitkat Chunky to catch up on recent posts on the blogs I follow. It’s just taken quite a while for me to get the words to work properly. The post in question is one of Varian’s, where he talks about his old beliefs about devotion – that it meant being broken by the gods one was working with, and that one’s love of them should be ‘a savage, dark thing’ – and about how his Beloveds are helping him reassess these toxic views. The bit that really resonated with me, and provided the whole raison d’être for this post, was the beginning, where Varian posted an excerpt from his journal:

He [the Madman) showed me a vision involving pottery, in order to explain this [his hatred of gods breaking people, especially for the “greater good] better.

“There’s a difference,” he said to me, “between taking a pot and adding more clay, to fill in the cracks, and a bit of glaze, so it blends in and is smoothed out….” He gently set the first pot aside.

He suddenly grabbed the second pot and hurled it down on the floor, and the sound of the clay shattering made me jump.

“And taking something so you can break it,“ he said, “fill the cracks in with gold, and claim that you made it better, because look there, those golden scars are yours.”

So how did my reading this turn into a Church and Circle blog post? Well, back in early November of last year I spent a few minutes scrolling through my Facebook feed (which happens maybe three-four times a week) when I saw this, which one of my friends had shared from the ‘Word Porn’ page:

kintsukuroi

And it felt like my world just stopped. Like someone had pressed ‘pause’ or something. I looked at the gold-mended bowl, and read the words over several times, and felt… I think ‘comforted’ is the closest word, or possibly ‘reassured’ – the feeling that I’m going to be ok. See, in certain respects I am oh so incredibly broken, which is why Freyja came into my life in the first place. Between things like being followed home from school several times when I was thirteen by a guy in his mid-twenties, and an abusive boyfriend when I was in my mid-twenties (among many other things that I’m not going to go into here) I’ve taken a lot of damage over the years, which has led to a lot of issues and problems with not only relationships but the sexual side of relationships as well.

So when I discovered that Freyja was actually trying to get my attention I pretty much knew why. Partly through the pings I got when I first read the description of my Freyja cord on Wytch of the North, partly through having followed the blogs of other Freyja devotees which gave me an insight as to how She most often shows Herself to people these days, and partly through some of the things that started to click in my mind in the weeks following the ‘so She was trying to get my attention then’ realisation. Since that moment in early February ’16 I’ve often said that Freyja came into my life to help fix me, because I am all of the broken. But it was only when I saw that kintsukuroi image that I knew how, if that makes sense.

The stuff I’ve been through I’m never going to fully heal from – nothing is going to make it as if it all never happened, not Freyja, not therapy, not time, not finding The Perfect Someone to have a relationship with. No matter what kind of adhesive, no matter how carefully you reattach the pieces, that pot will never be as it was before it shattered. There will be hairline cracks, tiny chips missing, the glaze won’t be perfectly smooth. It will look mended, and be more fragile because of it – those mended cracks will act like the fault-lines in the Earth’s crust should the pot be dropped again – they will always be weak points.

A mended pot will never look as good as one that hasn’t been broken, and it will never be as valuable either – any antiques show on TV will demonstrate that. But most pottery is mended with glue or occasionally metal staples, not gold. If mended with gold, any value lost from breakage is redeemed, if not exceeded. If mended with gold, all the fault-lines and chips are highlighted, true, but they shine with a warmth and brightness that the pot didn’t possess before. If mended with gold, the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. It doesn’t matter why the pot shattered, what matters is that someone cared enough to put it back together. The damage isn’t being hidden, but it’s not being celebrated either – with kintsukuroi the whole point is the act of mending: this pot is beautiful because it is now whole when once it was broken, and the cracks will shine out to show that it has been mended. Kintsukuroi doesn’t try and make pottery look good-as-new like glue and added clay and fresh glaze do, it makes broken pots celebrate their wholeness after being broken. It’s a small, but, I feel, important difference.

Going back to the first part of Varian’s post, the breaks and cracks in me are there because of what other people have done, but while those people may own the damage, they don’t own the mending. Just because the scars they made will eventually be golden, doesn’t mean those same people caused me to become beautiful by breaking me. As a piece of pottery, I was beautiful before I was broken. As a kintsukuroi pot, I am beautiful in spite of being broken. With kintsukuroi, the use of a pot or bowl doesn’t end when it is damaged – it becomes merely an event in that item’s history. Similarly, my value as a woman, as a human being, while decreased by the damage I’ve sustained (in eyes other than just mine – see ‘stuff I’m not going to go into’ above), does not mean I will never be worth something to someone ever again. A kintsukuroi pot is defined by its damage and repair – it would not be kintsukuroi otherwise. But it is worlds apart from the shattered pieces I dig up on a regular basis at work from rubbish pits and occupation layers. Likewise, my damage may define me but I won’t let it control or ruin me. And one day I will rise above it all like a glittering fucking phoenix.

Freyja is the gold lacquer in my life – She is helping me put myself back together, and showing me that I am, after all, beautiful. I may always be damaged, but I won’t always be broken.

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