I wanted to share the making of what I humbly refer to as ‘The Blade’. I have made several knives, athames, daggers, spear tips and the like over the years. Mostly for others to do their
Work. I do have a simple knife that I made years ago for personal use. Nothing fancy, more utilitarian. Honestly, I never had the desire or felt the need to make one. Until recently.
As it happens from time to time, I got that ‘ping’. Those that know me well, know I refer to it as a ‘polite suggestion.’ Anyway, what I got was, ‘I want a blade.’ My first reaction was, ‘no ya don’t’. I didn’t say it was a smart one, just the first one. Ok then, ‘what kind of blade do you want?’ Nothing. So, I started rummaging through selections of metal. I start with feeling some new shiny tool steel that I have. I mean, it is for Her right? Nope, not it. I wander over to a bucket that has an assortment of ‘junk’ metal. In it were several old rusty files, lawn mower blades, bush hog blades, horse bridle bits, old tiller tines and other miscellaneous metal. ‘This!’ is what I felt as I handled one of the tines.
A little side story about the tiller tines. When we purchased our home four years ago, it had been abandoned for at least a year before we moved in. And this place was not well taken care of before then. There were two ‘dump’ sites on this property. Not legal ones. We have been cleaning them up as we go. I have referred to them as my personal hardware store. If I need something, I just go plunder through them and I will find an item that will work. One of the days that I was pulling out trash to take to the land fill, I ran across theses tiller blades still attached to the shaft. I did what I always do, I set them aside. You never know when you might need those. As it just so happens, years later.
Back to the current story. I picked it up and looked at it. I have made bearded axes out of these, never a ‘blade’. This is going to have some size to it. Now before I forget, it was also ‘suggested’ that I have this done before the Morrigan’s Call Retreat (MCR). At the time, I had no idea why. There was no way I was selling it. Still not sure why to this day, although I do have my suspicions. So off to Work I go. ‘A blade huh?’ as I get a good feel of it. Passing it from hand to hand and flipping it around. Still all rusty and dirty. Interesting I thought. Morrigan, daughter of Ernmas, the ‘she farmer.’ Tiller tine, I can dig it!
I spent a few days with the tine. Thinking of the stories it had. How was the work that it did to the land that helped feed someone’s family? How many years? Was it excited about its next adventure? This is the start of our relationship. Me and the Blade. It is important that I get to know the metal I am working with. It is important that it, the metal, wants to be what I need it to be. To give you a general timeline of this process, I started around the first of May.
On about the 5th of May, I start working on the blade shape. I set my space and container,
start the forge and go to Work. Simply focusing on what it wants to look like and become. At this point in the endeavor, I am just an active spectator. Within mere hours the blade takes shape. I am surprised at the speed and ease this happens, yet not. If that makes sense.
I now have a rough forged blade. Now what? I know, I have this beautiful black walnut that I can use for the handles. No, metal. Wait, what? Metal! Ok, um, Houston, we have a problem. I had planned on using copper for the hand guard. But handles are supposed to be wood. Or so I thought.
Another side story. It goes back to when The Cottage was dedicated to Her. I created a
plaque for it. It was made of steel, copper and bronze. It felt ‘Through the Ages’. The copper age, the bronze age, and the iron age (steel is iron with 2% or less carbon. This is the simplified version). She has been here, through the ages. I now have a series of pendants that I make for those that are dedicated to Her. The collection is called, literally, “Through the Ages.” Each one is unique to the wearer and yet all are made of copper, bronze and iron (steel). I say this to give you some sort of feel of what was transpiring in my head as I went through this process of figuring out my next steps.
I have a copper hand guard. The next logical step is to make the handle out of bronze. All three metals. Problem solved. Nope. I admit, I felt good about going with the bronze for the handles. Not great. You see, I can’t forge bronze. Bronze is a cast metal. I think it is better for me to say, I haven’t figured out a way to forge with it yet. I use it for accents to special items. The bronze I have is not wide enough to fit the shape of the handle. I had to hammer out sections to widen it. I had to be easy with it. Too much and it will crack and split. It is tough metal. It just doesn't take kindly to making it change shape. One side done! That wasn’t so bad. This is moving right along. Started working on the other side. You probably guessed it. Crack!
Now what? At this point I’m thinking to myself, I should have just stayed with the black walnut. I’d be done by now and it would be lovely. No! METAL!
I have now found myself in a bit of a pickle. I have a copper handguard and half a handle of bronze. The rest of the bronze I have won’t work for the other side, it’s the wrong thickness, way too thin. It is in times like this, I find it best to listen. Really listen. I grabbed the blade and down to the Cottage I went. I find it easier for me to listen sometimes when I am down there. Everything becomes less complicated. And sure enough, there it was. Copper. I had been so hung up on the hand guard being copper that I wasn’t open to the idea of copper ALSO being on the handle as well. The trick now would be to find some that matched the size and shape of the bronze side. Spoiler Alert! I found it. A perfect match. Extraordinarily little work needed to be done to get it to fit right on there.
Another little side story. The bronze I have been mentioning, is the very same bronze piece
that I made my Beloveds Ogham set out of. Nifty huh? What’s even more nifty is that the copper piece I used for the other side of the handle, I made my own Ogham set out of. If that ain’t some next level magic afoot-ness, I don’t know what is!
Everything was downhill now. When I started out on this journey, I had a name for this blade firmly in mind. It was Ecin. Which in Irish translates to Indeed if I am not mistaken. I figured this was a grand name. Has the Morrigan vibe all over it. Well, as things happen, that is not the name it chose. It decided on another name. Afraigid! Which has now been chiseled into the copper side of the handle. This word is from Her incitement poem found in Cath Maige Tuired [the Second Battle of Moytura]. It translates roughly to Arise! This obviously also has a very Morrigan vibe to it. So there!
Another thing that might make you go hmmm. As I was finishing it all up, I was thinking, this thing is going to be all wonky. All that metal is going to make it all off balance and uncomfortable to hold. Oh nay nay. It’s perfect. I could not have planned it better. (LOL)
I started this undertaking around the first of May as I mentioned earlier. I finished assembling The Blade, by around the 18th. It took me several weeks to complete. And was done in time to get to know it for a week or so before taking it to the MCR. It was not dedicated before leaving to attend. I had not even made a sheath for it yet. I had it just wrapped up in a big section of leather.
I am not going into a lot of detail as to the adventures of the blade while at the MCR. I feel most of those things are private and should remain so. I will say it had the honor of not only bearing witness to a handfasting, it also was a part of guarding the temple in the evening. There was a significant reason for it to be there. Not just to be in attendance, to be in action, in service. Doing its Work. It now has new stories. And it is just the beginning!
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