A Weapons Problem

I love knives. Swords, too, but mostly knives. I love them for their place in religious practice, their role in magickal workings, and their daily mundane uses.

Two knives.

The knife at the bottom of this picture was “My Precious”, a birthday gift from my friend Kirk Everrit. It seems like a silly thing to miss a Buck knife, I know, but I do.

For many years I would carry at least one knife all the time. A folding utility knife is good for a million little things, but a solid fixed blade is a godsend when you are out in the wild.

When I lived in an Idaho forest for a summer, I used my favourite knife — an SOG Seal Pup Elite affectionately named “Silly Ol’ Grandma” — for everything from wild-harvesting herbs to cutting rope, cutting meat for cooking, and even cutting a circle for ritual. That knife got stolen while it was in storage while travelling overseas.

A couple years ago I had another cheap folding knife that I used to take with me whenever I went exploring wild places. I went out once without it and had a beast of a time harvesting nettles. I never forgot my knife on a walk like that again. And then there was the knife I dubbed “My Precious” because it was given to me on my birthday by a friend who understands how important a good fixed blade is.

I still carry my Swiss Army knife most of the time, either in my purse or my backpack. That’s the only knife I have now. It’s a very useful knife and has several much-used tools, but it’s never felt much like a magickal tool. All tools are magickal tools, but if you’ve done any magickal practice yourself, you probably understand what I mean. Some tools just feel more apt for the purpose of cutting a circle or directing energy.

Some people prefer a blunt edged blade for directing energy. That’s never been my case. Since I first started using a blade in my work, I eschewed the traditional athame in favour of a solid fixed blade knife that would also be used for ordinary work. For me, this dual purpose supports the magickal work and improves the mundane results, too. This has been my personal experience, though I recognize that other people feel exactly the opposite.

Now I have a problem of place. The kinds of knives that I enjoy tossing in my backpack for a weekend of camping or clipping to my front pocket for every day use are all illegal in Scotland. The fact that I see these tools as religious items because of the fact that I use them for cutting magickal and medicinal ingredients and for directing energy during ritual might be, in some lucky circumstance, enough to argue for my right to carry such a blade, but it’s not all that likely that a cop or a judge would really go along with that.

I’d love to have an argument with a politician about the uselessness of a law that allows me to carry a 2.5″ folding blade as long as its not a locking knife, and the actual crime statistics that haven’t improved since passing these laws and providing stricter interpretations of them, but that isn’t going to do me any good. I’m not actually Scottish. I have no voice, and even if I did, I’d just sound like an American arguing for MOAR WEAPONS!

So, I need to adapt. Back before I started carrying Silly Ol’ Grandma, before I spent a whole summer in the forest with my 3 kids, I used my favourite kitchen knife for all my magickal work. I used it in the back yard to cut circles for rituals. I used it in the kitchen to chop ingredients for lotions, tisanes, syrups and pastilles. And of course, I used it for ordinary cooking.

I just realized, just now, while writing this, that the last time I used a kitchen knife as my main magickal blade was the last time I felt like I had a home. All this time I’ve been hyper-nomadic, I’ve needed a different kind of blade to fit my life. Maybe its time for me to buy myself a good kitchen knife cut a ritual circle with it, and declare myself settled again. Maybe in February when I move here for good.

About Sterling

When Sterling was 3 years old, her parents packed everything they owned into storage, put a roof rack on their ‘66 VW Bug and spent three months driving with her across the US and Canada. She’s been a nomad ever since. She’s lived in El Salvador, Guatemala, Canada, England, Scotland, Israel and several states in the US. Every place is a new spirit to get acquainted with, fall in love with, or struggle with. Her path within Druidry is a spiritual dance of learning the relationships of all the people, human and otherwise, in the context of place. She has a collection of short stories, The Imaginary City and Other Places, which you can read on Kindle or in paperback.

  • epredota

    The Pagan Federation Scotland and the Sikh community complained long and hard about this legislation when it was originally being discussed a few years ago, but sadly it didn’t make any difference.

    That’s a very interesting observation about home and blades you came to, though. I love it when that kind of knowledge settles.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    According to UK law, you can carry a knife in public without good reason – unless it is a knife with a folding blade (non locking) of three inches or less.

    Good reasons include the knife being used for religious reasons (such as the Sikh Kirpan).

    If you cannot demonstrate a good reason, then I would suggest the Svord Peasant knife. It is a folding, non locking knife, available in a variety of sizes. When I got mine for my EDC, they only had the 3″ model which, when measures was actually 1/8″ above the legal max, so I reprofiled the blade to a drop-point shape of 2 7/8″.

    However, I would argue that there are those who can demonstrate a religious reason to carry a fixed blade.

    The most obvious example would be Arthur Uther Pendragon, prominent English Druid. He is notable for wearing his sword in court and even swearing oath on it.

    Beyond that, I would strongly argue that any Heathen that acknowledges Hávamál as being a valid source of how to live should also never leave home without a weapon of some kind:

    38.
    Let a man never stir on his road a step
    without his weapons of war;
    for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise
    of a spear on the way without.


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