Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Ritual Knife


That is my ritual knife. It is made from Damascus (or rather, pattern welded) steel, with an antler and brass handle. The sheath is leather. It's not a large blade, only measuring a little over three inches before the handle. It is, however, kept sharp.

The knife doesn't just serve a ceremonial function in my practice, but a practical one as well. It's a knife, it cuts. Now I don't just use it to go cutting any old thing (nothing against those who do, your tools, your practice, your business), it is still a ritual knife after all. I use it to gather herbs and plants, making charms from wood or bone, carving symbols onto candles, and so on. In my mind, it's only fitting that the ritual knife be used to gather and craft items for ritual use.

So for me the knife holds this dual purpose.... It is used in the more ceremonial functions, such as blessing, but it also a tool that has a more practical uses. If both can overlap (e.g. carving a symbol while blessing it), and they often do, so much the better. Symbolically I associate the knife with fire, due to how the metal is forged, and the feelings and associations the blade holds. My knife is dedicated to Artemis - so on the rare occasion that the blade is serving no other function, I can temporarily commission it to act as a symbol of Her on the altar/ in the working space.

I take great care in storing my knife. When returning back to the home from the yard/woods with my knife, I gently wash the blade and dry it thoroughly. I then coat the blade in a very thin layer of mineral oil, and wrap it in a small bit of cling wrap. The blade and the sheath then go into a wooden box stored under my home shrine. It is not advised to actually store a knife in a leather sheath, as this can promote rusting of the blade as leather can absorb and hold on to moisture from the air.

The ritual knife was one of my first tools. I've only used two in all my time as a pagan. The first was given to me by my Grandfather, just a plain black dagger, quite a bit larger than my current one. My current knife is my second, bought just this year in fact. After so many years I felt it was time to retire my old knife - this has been a year of many fresh starts as new aspects of my path keep unfolding, so it only felt right to reflect that in my tools as well.

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