The Blade Collection Expands Yet Again

Nearly my entire collection of magical knives through the years.

Nearly my entire collection of magical blades through the years.  My very first athame was one like this.  I never cared for it, barely used it in ritual, and I’m pretty sure it ended up in the box of stuff I gave Natalie to donate to Pagan Pride Day raffles when I moved from Indiana to Oregon.

At this point, I’m starting to feel like I acquire ritual tools the way some women acquire shoes, and this is something I have mixed emotions about.  The 2005 me was very adamant that a witch should hold off on acquiring a tool until he or she found the right tool, and then they should hang onto it for life.  The 2015 me still feels that way, but seems to be crying out “bring on the stuff!” in a horrendous case of hypocrisy.  Since I began journaling here (almost 7 years ago!), I went from eschewing the use of blades to using a modified butter knife as an athame.  Then I acquired Candle once I realized the energy wasn’t quite jiving and that I should treat myself to a “grown up blade”.  I was so pleased with Candle, I acquired a boline, Crooked, soon thereafter from the same smith.  Of course, using a curved knife makes most things short of cutting plants rather difficult, so I bought a paring knife with a light handle, Olive, to use as my white-handled knife.  And now, I’ve cycled through to another set.

I began looking to replace my athame, Candle, because it is not a traditional blade and I am starting to investigate inter-coven work, and there are plenty of Gardnerians who strongly hold that athame’s should be sharp, ferrous, double-edged, black-hilted daggers with magical sigils carved into the handle.  My dull, copper, single-edged Candle hardly meets that mark, though it does have a lovely black handle.  Interestingly, the adherence to these standards seem fairly new to the community.  There’s evidence that, at least in 1970s America, making your blade by hand was far more important than the materials the blade was made from, and a fair number of witches ran around with athames they’d made by cutting craft-store copper sheeting into blade shape.  Going back further, there’s evidence that witches who worked with Gardner used single-edged blades for their athames (though there’s less evidence they used those blades while they worked with Gardner).  One thing that has been consistent, though, is that there is a strong preference for sharp blades in the community.

When I began pondering inter-coven work, I thought long and hard about what to do about my athame.  I considered sharpening Candle for the sake of community appeasement, but ultimately I love Candle just the way it is and couldn’t bring myself to do it.  With far more sadness than I would have thought myself capable of, I decided to get another knife and make it my primary athame.  I rationalized this decision by telling myself this wasn’t close redundancy.  After all, you can’t use a ferrous blade to work with the fey and nature spirits (though a wand does just as well), and I would be able to use Candle at public gatherings where I wouldn’t be able to use a sharp knife.  So I went shopping.

My new white handled knife and athame.

My new athame and white-handled knife.  I’m toying with the idea of naming them Chakra and Scion, largely because the patterning on the athame blade looks like it has chakra centers and the white knife feels like a “chip of the old block” when I see the two together.

I tried contacting local bladesmiths and pagan smiths, but I wasn’t able to make anything work.  Many of the smiths I knew were scaling down their operations and not taking custom work, and much of their stock was a bit too embellished for my tastes.  Others had a wait list that numbered in years to order completion.  Consequently, I found myself researching out new sources.  During an Etsy binge, I happened across Poshland Knives, which also operates their own site.  They are a dealer based out of London, but with prices like theirs, I knew they were having the blades made in Pakistan (which was confirmed when I received a custom knife).  I wasn’t overly thrilled with the prospect of going global for my blades, and knife-heads commonly put down the quality that comes out of Pakistan, but I sincerely doubted I would actually put my athame to any stress tests, so I decided to take the risk and ordered one of their stock blades.  When it arrived, I quite fell in love with it.  The rosewood handle is a little lighter than pictured above–the first picture is more true to life.  A knife aficionado friend of mind pointed out the blade has a slight lean to it, but even he said the quality far surpassed what he was anticipating.  After working with the new athame in circle, I decided I wanted to work with Poshland again to create a complementary white-handled knife.

IMG_1359_2

My white-handled knife…and its evil twin.

This customization experience is really what endeared me to Poshland, because they very much messed up my order and were very kind about correcting it.  The gentleman who runs it, Uzzy, is not a native English speaker, and he read my customization request very literally.  I had requested only one deviation from their standard BC 61-40 knife, and that was to replace their colored bone handle with white bone or horn.  Uzzy did not realize that an adjective can modify all nouns that follow it, so I received a horn handled knife, bull horn to be precise, and bull horn is naturally black. Once the misunderstanding was cleared up, Uzzy graciously offered me a discount on a new knife and I sold the mistake to my knife aficionado friend.  Truthfully, I rather like the black knife more.  As you can see, its handle is slightly thinner, which makes it easier for me to grip and use.  It is also significantly lighter and actually balances, and I’m partial to its damascene patterning.  If only it were white!  I should not complain; the knife I ended up with is still a very pretty knife, and it gets the job done quite admirably.  The 4.5 inch blade is long enough and wide enough to tackle larger jobs, but small enough to carve candles without a problem.  And I very much appreciate how my white-handled knife and my athame look like they belong together without being exactly matched.

If you happen to be in the market for magical blades, you could do worse than Poshland.  They do good work at incredibly reasonable prices for the quality, and customization is easy provided you are very careful in your descriptions!  It’s also surprisingly inexpensive:  customization on my white handled knife was only £10 (about $15) more than the price of the standard knife.  They will also do completely custom blades, though pricing would definitely be commensurate.

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9 thoughts on “The Blade Collection Expands Yet Again

  1. I’ve been talking myself out of one of their blades for a while now. They are so beautiful, I’m not sure I could bring myself to sand down and refinish the handle myself. Stalemate!

    • Hey Veles!

      The blades are gorgeous, but having one customized was ridiculously easy and very cost effective. If you wanted a wooden handle, but one stained black, I’m sure they would do that without a problem and for probably very little money. And, as I discovered, bull horn is naturally black. (And very, very “God Energy”. It was almost comical how masculine the mistake knife felt.) I figured I would sand down the handle of the athame I bought and stain it…but it’s so pretty I just can’t bring myself to do it! It’s “mostly black”, I tell myself.

  2. I’m glad to hear you’re not getting rid of Candle – I agree with you on the wand/air blade/fire association (at least outside of a tarot deck) and I love how Candle fits the fire imagery, and aesthetically with Crooked.
    I can understand why you’d want to get new blades though, and the pattern-welding on your new athame and white-handled knife are gorgeous. If it wasn’t for my boline and athame suiting my needs perfectly, I’d be tempted to buy Poshland blades as well…

  3. Very informative post. Thank you for sharing. I was wondering whether there is any noted connection in your tradition or others that you know of, between certain planets and certain metals in ritual implements?

  4. “I’m starting to feel like I acquire ritual tools the way some women acquire shoes”. Man I know the feeling. In our temple I have a closet of two floor to ceiling shelves that are filled with tools. :/

  5. I’ve been trawling your blog for more than a year now, and I can’t believe I never came across this post before now. My athame is actually from Poshland! Although I purchased it on Amazon. It’s delightful. I had originally gotten one of the crappy ten-dollar athames available in stock on just about every online store, but I absolutely loathed the thing. The blade was asymmetrical, the brass on the guard was scuffed, and the tang of the blade didn’t even fit into the hilt properly. After that experience, I realized that I needed an athame that was actually a well-made blade. I splurged on a dagger from Poshland (I think I spent about $100 total) and stained the hilt black myself.

    I had some minor issues with rusting, because New York during the summer gets humid as high hell (and there may or may not have been a cleaning fiasco where I tried to get the rust off and almost completely ruined the steel with white vinegar). Now I just coat the whole thing in a quarter-inch layer of Vaseline any time I’m not in ritual. Not the most elegant or magical solution, but it gets the job done. And aside from that one small detail, my athame is absolutely perfect.

    As always, thanks for running such an awesome blog.

    • Aw, thanks for the compliments! And boy, do I hear you about the rusting. A few weeks after my white-handled knife came in, I packed up to move cross-country. That knife was only in its sheath for about 5 days–it was one of the last things I packed and one of the first I unpacked–but the area where it clipped into the sheath rusted pretty badly. There’s still a lighter mark where I removed the rust from.

      I am learning that Damascus rusts pretty badly, especially if salt water hits it…and that’s certain to happen during ritual. I have my own mini-ritual for blade care after Circle, which is keeping things nice. And I’ve actually done pretty well at keeping rust at bay by applying a coating of furniture wax to the steel and wooden hilt every few months. I’m using Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax, which is mostly beeswax and carnauba wax with a solvent to make it a bit more fluid. Something really similar was used for ages to help protect swords and stuff, though now people who want to keep things museum-worth use Renaissance Wax. I guess in the long term (like, really long term), beeswax is slightly acidic. But I’m not expecting my athame to be tenderly treasured 700 years from now. It’s a very, very thin coat, and it works beautifully. It should eliminate the need to schedule de-Vaselining into your pre-ritual plans.

      I was actually going to formulate a recipe similar to MMS’s wax and make it a bit witchy. When I get around to it, I’ll write up a post about it here for you!

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