Gofánu Mechanics

Fletcher R. Millmore, Mechanic

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So, what's a "Gofánu" anyway? Most cultures have, in their  mythology, a deity known generically as the "Smith". The Smith is the agent of interaction between the resources of the universe and the peoples’ needs, the communicator/transmuter of the value to the need. I feel that this is a function that should be explicitly recognized in our culture as well. Gofánu is my synthesis of the Irish and Welsh names of the Celtic Smith. I consider myself  to be a  “Mechanic”-- that is, a student, practitioner, and builder of mechanisms by which the materials and energies extant in the world are transformed into more “useful” states. I view the Mechanic as the descendant or disciple of the Smith.

The Smith has a number of functions that we can predict from our usual understanding of the name -- toolmaker, armorer, creator and maintainer of devices. However, he has another task, not so obvious -- to brew the Wine of Immortality: the elixir that keeps the Gods going, and exempts them from time. Now, anyone can brew ordinary wine; it seems that it is the knowledge, attitude, and methodology of the Smith that imparts special qualities to this brew.  Since the conferring of immortality could be considered as a matter of the repair and healing of the wear and tear of daily life, this function is not so far from the Smith's usual task after all; it does, however, add the more specific concept of "healing" to "repair".
The concept of immortality extends the human time frame beyond individual lifetimes; in turn, there arises a desire to transfer knowledge beyond mortality. This is effectively the development of culture, of which the prototypical agent is poetry. In fact, the Smith is sometimes explicitly recognized as having responsibility for creating and maintaining culture and civilization.
Thus we have a small constellation of terms, functions, and consequences associated with the Smith -- toolmaker, distiller of knowledge, producer of immortality and culture, time changer, healer, poet, mechanic. The terms "mechanic" and "poet" carry essentially the same meaning in Greek -- "builder"; in one Aramaic culture, the Smith is also the Poet. This characteristically multifaceted quality is explicitly recognized in Celtic mythology, in that many of the Celtic deities are portrayed as tripartite beings. In the deity Brigit, we have a demonstration that I am not far wrong in these ideas -- she is Goddess of Poetry, of  Healing, and of Smithcraft.

The term "mechanic" has widespread acceptance as denoting someone who works with or fixes hardware; I suggest that this meaning represents only an artifact of the true work of the Mechanic, and ignores both the essence and purpose of the calling. In my case, I come to this through automobiles and machine tools; but, I now see my occupation as the analysis and manipulation of systems and resources, driven by some desire to improve human knowledge and conditions. This is no grand vision of "changing the world", rather it is a matter of getting things going in the right direction, and ensuring that such actions as I may perform are for the better.

 Some Hasids,
 in a lost age,
used to say that
all our deeds give birth to angels -
- good angels and bad angels.
‘From half-hearted and confused deeds
which are without meaning or power,’
Martin Buber notes,
‘angels are born
with twisted limbs
or without a head
or hands
or feet’
For The Time Being -  Annie Dillard - Knopf 1999 -- Ch 6 p143

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Fletcher R. Millmore
15 Mar 2000