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nalsa's awesomeosity - let me show you it!

For at least the last twelve years of my life - possibly slightly longer - I have worn, every single day, the pendant shown below:

If you have ever met me IRL, you'll have seen it. Or if you didn't, it will only have been because I was wearing a high-necked top and it was tucked underneath. I will have been wearing it - I guarantee.

It wasn't initially bought with the intention of becoming deeply personally significant. At the time, I had a variety of pendants which I would wear interchangeably, including a winged scarab beetle and a Gene Simmons head (complete with protruding tongue). But both of those were heavy, and liable to whack me unpleasantly in the face when I was dancing in clubs. So one day, I spotted this one in a glass case in The Oasis, going for the princely sum of £3. It was affordable, pretty, light-weight, and tapped very nicely into a world of magic and Egyptiana I was already very familiar with (yes, I may have been slightly Gothic at that stage of my life). I bought it, and it quickly became my regular pendant.

Since that day, I've imbued it with a kind of superstitious symbolism, which has grown stronger every single day I've worn it, and now means that it is almost (note: almost) impossible for me to wear anything else. A succession of well-meaning friends and relatives have gradually discovered that it is a catastrophically bad idea ever to buy me jewellery as a present, because I wear that pendant (and a pair of small star stud ear-rings) every day - and nothing else, however wonderful, stands any chance of supplanting either. Very occasionally, I'll wear something slightly different for an evening out: e.g. dangly ear-rings if I'm going out for dinner and have my hair up. But day-in, day-out, I get up in the morning, put on the same Eye of Horus pendant and star stud ear-rings, and feel safe, confident, protected and ready to face the world.

The symbolism comes partly from the design of the jewellery. The Eye of Horus (or wadjet) represents the sun, and also protection. The Egyptians believed that it helped to keep people safe, and helped them pass successfully into the afterlife; while an eye-symbol of some kind appears in a lot of western cultures, associated with the basic belief that it will 'keep the Evil Eye off', presumably by staring it down or something. It's painted on the boat which brings Sergeant Howie to shore in The Wicker Man, for instance - allegedly in imitation of real fishermen's boats in Malta with the same symbol on them. Meanwhile, the star stud ear-rings stand for a general belief in my 'lucky star' (something I picked up at the age of 15 from Oscar Wilde, who apparently had his painted on his bedroom ceiling), as well as a love of all the things stars represent - fantasy and imagination and unknown worlds.

So that's all fine, but a touch teenage and hokey. Once you start wearing a piece of jewellery every single day, though, it begins to acquire a far more personal kind of symbolism. That Eye of Horus has been the single most permanent fixed feature in my life now, for the past twelve years. More so even than any of my body-piercing jewellery, since although I had my belly-button pierced at the age of 18, and I never remove the bar I have in it, nonetheless I have replaced that occasionally, so that the one I'm wearing now has only been there for a paltry nine years (and I think the star stud ear-rings have only clocked up about eight, too). My pendant has witnessed some great moments in my life - and some truly dismal ones, too. And no matter how rational you are, over that length of time and experience, it becomes hard not to believe that my essence is not now somehow written into its very molecules. It knows me, it works with me, it looks after me.

Nothing lasts forever, though, does it? Once, walking to the bus-stop with mr_flay after an evening in the pub, I realised that the chain I'd been wearing it on had come undone, and that the pendant had gone. I stood there, grimly trying to come to terms with a future without it, and discussing with him what sort of pendant I might be able to wear instead, when sexy_sophia came up to me, and held it out in her hand, saying "Isn't this yours? I found it on the floor in the pub". I hope she knows how grateful I still am for that. A few days later, I bought a decent-quality silver chain from Argenteus, for a cost of £18 (i.e. six times the price of the original pendant, and Really Quite A Lot when you're a student) - and that has kept it safely around my neck ever since.

A few months ago, though, I was fiddling with it (as is my wont) during a departmental seminar, when the little loop which holds the pendant onto the chain broke open, and the pendant came free - this time, luckily, straight into my hand. I sent it to a friend of my Mum's who does jewellery-making to have it soldered back together, and she did it, but said that what she'd done could only really be seen as a temporary measure. Both the loop itself and the hole in the top of the pendant which it went through were very worn, and could break irreparably at any time. I looked at them closely, and could see that she was right. It was time to pension that pendant off, before I lost it altogether.

Now, regular readers can hardly have failed to notice that I've been watching a very great deal of Doctor Who since January - and often enjoying a nostalgic voyage into my own childhood as I've done so. I've been concentrating mainly on the Tom Baker era, and one prop that features quite heavily in his first couple of seasons is the key to the TARDIS - something he'd inherited from his previous incarnation as Jon Pertwee. It's not like the current key, used by David Tennant. Rather, it's a flat, shield-shaped object, with abstract shapes on the front of it, and a star-map of the constellation of Kasterborous (location of Gallifrey) on the back:

(Sorry, I don't have a cap of the back).

I quickly became fascinated with this. I mean, think about what it represents. It's the key to that whole world - the TARDIS, and the Doctor, and the whole infinity of space and time. Those unknown worlds out there in the stars; those mystical societies; and of course, best of all, our own past, which I spend so much of my time 'travelling' to as part of my job. Plus, since it came from episodes in what I identify as 'my' era of Doctor Who, it works like a key to my own personal past, too.

You can, of course, buy your very own TARDIS key, and I did:

But it's big and heavy and made of pewter, and as such doesn't look terribly feminine or sophisticated. I mean, it's fun to wear and pretend you're a Time Lord - but there was never any question of it directly replacing my Eye of Horus pendant. Besides, it isn't actually a terribly good copy of the on-screen version, anyway. Even from the dodgy, weird-angled screencap above, you can see that on the 'real' version, the arms are the same width as the shield, and the shapes on the front are clustered into the centre, rather than going right up to the edge.

But I liked the idea of the key very much, and I began to feel that a smaller, more feminine version of the same thing, made nicely out of proper silver, would actually be a very worthy replacement for my old Eye of Horus. And this is where nalsa comes into the story.

You see, nalsa has recently taken up jewellery-making. And over lunch with him and dakegra, around late February or early March, I think, I found myself showing him the pewter commercial TARDIS pendant, and asking whether he knew anyone through his jewellery-making contacts who might be able to make a smaller silver version of it as a commission piece. I didn't actually ask him if he could do it himself, because he'd only been taking the classes for a month or so then, and I had no idea how easy or difficult it would be to do. But in fact, he turned it over in his hands, had a really good look at it, and announced that he could see exactly how to do it - and what's more would be glad to! I provided pictures of the pewter version, plus the screencap above, and he went to work.

This week, the project was completed, and in a cafe opposite the University, I placed nalsa's finished pendant around my neck for the first time:

('Fraid I couldn't get a good scan of the back, so two bad ones will have to do).

It is, quite frankly, awesome. It's just exactly what I wanted - light-weight, and feminine, and in fact able to pass quite readily as a piece of interesting abstract jewellery to anyone who didn't know what it actually was. I can wear it to conferences, I can wear it to teach in, I can wear it out to dinner. But to me, and to anyone else who's geeky enough, it is in fact also a compelling emblem of fantasy, and adventure, and one man's quiet battle to make the Universe a better place. If I can trust any small piece of metal to keep me safe, help me access the past, help me journey on into my future, and help me find my way back home again if I ever get lost - then this is it.

The history and experience I've written into my old pendant can't just be thrown aside lightly, though. Perhaps there are some things it's witnessed that it's best to leave behind now, and stop carrying around with me. It may be time anyway, even if it weren't for the worn old silver, to move forwards, and let the new pendant receive an impression of the present and future me. But the present me has been forged by the past me, and for that reason I need to keep my connection with the old pendant, too.

So, right now, downstairs in my fire-place a candle is burning, and in front of it the two pendants lie, back-to-back - one facing into the past, and one facing into the future, just like the god Janus (see icon). Once the candle burns down, the 'transfer' will be complete, and I'll be able to leave the old pendant behind and move into the future with the new one. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with the old one after that - but as glitzfrau said the other night in the pub, the right thing will come to me.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
That's lovely. And that was a fascinating post to read.
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you, on both counts.
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
God, what a brilliant post. Thank you. (I love the transfer ritual, too! Though I lose things a lot more than I wear them out...)
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
Bless you! And hell - thanks for reading my long, self-indulgent spiel.

Me, I really don't lose things at all. Not even biros. Which has its advantages of course; but I think has some disadvantages, too.
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Perhaps you could mount it on black velvet, frame it and put it next to your bed (or somewhere else you'll see it every day?)
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it might end up being something like that. I want to keep it around in some way, I think.
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
That's lovely. The transfer ritual is really interesting.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
Hee, no problem! And thank you. :-)
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
Hurray, I'm so glad it's finished and that I've been lucky enough to see it IRL already.
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Ah, you only saw the un-polished version! It is much shinier now. :-)
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
There needs to be another LLJLC soon, so I can see the shiny!
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this :-)
I hope that you have love and luck and everything else that is good.
Jun. 14th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I appreciate your wishes. I hope you do, too.
(no subject) - dragophelion - Jun. 14th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 14th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear about your dragon pendant, too. We are not alone!

The pewter TARDIS key I got is about two inches tall and one and a half wide, and about half a centimetre thick. So it's fairly chunky, but it depends what sort of jewellery you're used to wearing.

And yeah, I am definitely very lucky here!
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm embarrassed now, but tremendously happy that you like it so much.


Interesting thoughts on the transfer ritual, too. I like the symbolism.
Jun. 14th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
Hehe - that's suddenly a very appropriate 'blush' icon! ;-)
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
What a lovely item, and a fascinating post about it. I'm also intrigued by the transfer ritual: where does the idea come from, or was it your own? I've always been interested in ways of 'hallowing' the everyday world from within my own framework, and I can imagine it being especially useful for people who are sensitive to places, times and things - though not everyone is, of course.
Jun. 14th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
where does the idea come from, or was it your own?

I just it made it up myself according to what seemed appropriate for the situation at hand - which is my basic approach for most of my religious practice. :-)
Jun. 14th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
A fantastic history. And a fantastic TARDIS key too :-)
Jun. 14th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Cheers! I shall proudly show it off next time I see you - the back especially is really not done justice to by the above scans.
Jun. 14th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
What a lovely post to read. And I know what you mean about pendants. I had one I wore for years until it decided it no longer wished to be worn and disappeared. I now oscilate between two pendants which I wear all of the time. The silver TARDIS key looks fantastic.
Jun. 15th, 2008 09:57 am (UTC)
That's a fabulous pendant! And nalsa has been jewellery-making for a month? Wow.
Jun. 15th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
cor, I remember seeing the original at the lunch!

The new one looks ace. Well done, that nalsa!
Jun. 15th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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