Fire is the element of choice for this week’s Harrow card, The Forge. We see a dwarf blacksmith beating mightily on an anvil. Molten materials pour out of a large pipe in the background. The blacksmith himself is being observed by two small, winged fire spirits who may be helping or hindering him.
The meaning of The Forge might seem quite apparent just based on the image on the card, but it has a surprising depth to it. The Forge is about surviving adversity to emerge into something new. Quite simply, we are the item on the anvil, and the forge is the difficulties of life. This isn’t a new metaphor, but it takes on a new life in the context of the Harrow Deck’s structure and imagery.
The Forge is aligned Lawful Neutral, which should not come as a surprise. The Forge is a tool and a process, and as such has no inherent positive or negative morality to it. The card belongs to the suit of Hammers, which is the suit of physical and practical Strength, which is also not a surprise. Combined, though, they speak of a process that imposes on us real, tangible demands and real, tangible stakes. Its Lawful nature comes from these demands, since The Forge cares only for its own process, not for our response to it. We either reshape ourselves or we break, but that outcome isn’t a concern for The Forge itself.
This is further exemplified by the fire spirits hovering around the dwarf craftsman. They are elemental beings known as mephits, and while they are often capricious and mischievous, they are like The Forge not inherently good or evil. We may perceive them as either because of how they impact our lives, but that doesn’t change their nature.
That’s the true lesson of The Forge. The Forge simply is. It is our reaction to it that determines its worth. Do we bend and become something new, or do we shatter under the pressure? That decision is solely in our hands, not those of The Forge. The Forge is a literal trial-by-fire, and the trial itself does not determine the outcome. In other words, our circumstances don’t define us, but our reactions to them do. By recognizing this fact, we can become true masters of our destiny.
Of all the stones, shungite may be one of the best to help us survive the trials of the Forge. Shungite itself was forged by volcanic heat billions of years ago, so just as it is, the stone is a symbol of how something can survive the demanding fires of creation. It is not a subtle stone at all, but it is an excellent aid for purifying and clearing away negativity in order for us to accept the energy that will help us grow, transform, and evolve. Sheen obsidian, another survivor of volcanic heat, can similarly help us clear away the blocks that might make us shatter under The Forge’s power. While it tends to work more gently than shungite, it is just as effective at helping us survive the difficult quest for transformation.
Bright blessings, and may the cards be in your favor.
The Harrow deck is part of the Pathfinder RPG and is a fun alternative to a traditional tarot deck both for those familiar with the game, or those looking for a different framework for divination.