Archive for ritual knife

Knives, and such

Posted in History, Musings, Projects with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by manxwytch

A little over three years ago I decided it was time to make myself a new ritual knife. The one I had been using I made decades ago as a teen; it was the first ritual knife I had made from scratch – a bar of steel, a stick of red oak and a piece of bronze came together in a wheat/corn/grain/sacrifice-inspired design. The measurements were carefully proportioned for my personal use, and I duly painted the handle black and inscribed on it the traditional grimoiric sigils for an athame.

I was inspired to design a new knife when I found a chunk of meteorite for sale in British Columbia, Canada while I was working at the Olympic Games there. The meteorite was authenticated to contain 92% iron, 6%nickel and traces of two elements not native to this planet. I have always been inspired by bronze and early iron age symbols and art, and I wanted to make a knife of the earliest materials humans learned to work. It is alleged that the earliest iron tools would have been made from meteoric iron, as these tools predate the development of the smelting process to purify iron from terrestrial ore. That was the original seed for the design.

In traditional Manx witchcraft they weren’t terribly concerned about the specific design of ritual tools. There were few who could make them and they used what they could lay their hands on. The colour of the handles wasn’t fixed and what was inscribed thereon was a matter of personal resonance rather than Goetic or grimoiric specification. Certainly there where those who were inspired to use Goetic and angelic sigils, but just as many weren’t, and weren’t thought any less of because of it. I’ve seen Manx blades made of different metals, and handles of wood, bone, hoof or antler, painted, stained or left their natural colour.  I have also seen one athame made entirely of bronze.   Borrowed tools were as good as one’s own, and indeed, for a Manx witch to lend you a knife or sword for ritual was a powerful privilege! I have used tools belonging to ancestors of my lineage, other coveners’ tools, &c, particularly when crossing international borders.

Now, three years later, (I tend to work in what I describe as an arboreal timescale – think about it one year, gather materials and  start building the next year, get something close to finished a year later – at least for my own tools), I have a hand forged blade of meteoric iron with a handle carved of bone. The blade is left a little rough to reveal the marks of its forging, and the handle remains white, in honour of the stars from which the blade came and in truth to the sacrifice required of the material. I have decorated it with ancient stellar and solar symbols from Neolithic carved stones I have visited. These marks are as old as human consciousness, and are powerful in both meaning and meaninglessness.

Presently, I have yet to finalize the design of the guard and pommel, but I know there are going to be caps of apple wood at top and bottom to separate the bone from metal. The blade is the size that the amount of metal would allow, rather than being proportioned to me personally; a little larger than the blade of my previous athame, but this is not a blade just for my personal use, it will be handed down through my line after I am done with it, to be used as I have used the tools of my ancestors.