Fascination with the Blade

This is going to be a series of articles on my fascination with bladed weapons. Just something that has been part of not only my life, but is part of our everyday lives. We all have a kitchen and we all have knifes. We also use pen knifes and multi-tools.

Main difference between a tool and a weapon is how the tool is used. A lot of ancient weapons started off as tools with a specific purpose in mind.

The Vikings, for example, used axes as a tool to cut and shape wood, but these are also just as affective against an enemy. Eventually, some of these tools became more specialised as weapons. The Viking axe evolved a bearded drop to the blade which was much more affective at hooking the shield of an enemy and pulling it down, allowing for a fellow warrior to then launch a counter attack.

My fascination with the blade, comes from my dads influence as a child. The first movie I ever remember watching with him was the 1986 movie Highlander. I remember asking about it and he told me they can only die with swords. He also had his own fascination with blades. He had his own pair of curved swords. I also use multi-tools when the occasion calls for them – mainly the pliers or screwdriver function, but occasionally the knife comes in handy.

I will confess that I am also a movie buff and love movies like Lord of the Rings, Conan (original 2 and remake), Alita Battle Angel, Thundercats cartoon and, of course, Highlander (original, not TV series or sequels and don’t get me started on the shit-show that was Highlander 2).

The fact is that we cannot get away from blades. They are part of our daily life and also our culture. Take a look at Lady Justice – scales in one hand and the sword in the other. Even Star Wars features a futuristic version of the sword in the form of the lightsabre.

Away from these areas, we also have Stanley knifes (box cutters), multi-tools and off course, shaving razors. Lets face it – bladed tools are everywhere and there is simply no getting away from them.

In my early 20s I developed an interest in Medieval history, specially the 12th – 13th Centuries and, as you can guess, I have always had a fascination with some of the weapons that may have been used by the Knights or Lords of the middle-ages. I have went to museums and looked at some of the swords in the display cases and wondered who owned them? What did they feel like to wield? How many battles have they been in and how many lives have they taken? How many times did they save the life of their owner?

They were made and used during a time, hundreds of years ago, and in whose footsteps we still follow. Some street layouts and names have remained the same for centuries and have their names given from historical buildings that once stood in that locale.

I live in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. Every day I pass a castle that was build by a Knight (Sir John de Courcy) in 1177. This imposing structure still stands to this day and still has scars from its battles throughout history. The town centre still has its original medieval layout, including a local restaurant that was built in at least 1200CE.

With all this history on my doorstep, I often wonder that I am walking in the footprints of history. How many battles took place here?

To get a better idea, I joined a local history and re-enactment group; whilst my membership was short-lived, for reasons I will not go into, it allowed me to experience a part of living history that was otherwise inaccessable.

I have read books about the history of swords and other weapons, but books can only teach so much. Each item of clothing, tool, weapon etc can teach an individual a personal experience that would be impossible otherwise.

When I held a sword in my hand for the first time…it felt wonderful. When I first began to withdraw it from its scabbard, I was able to experience how long the sword was and I just about cleared it. Then there was the weight. Whilst it only weighted little over 1kg, it felt a little heavy and (I am only slightly built) and so I was able to experience a lot of muscle in my forearm working, when I was swinging the sword about. I was also able to figure out how to do that fancy swirly swing that is common in movies when showing off their swords.

To be continued…

Mind Map

Mind Maps are something I came across whilst studying for my GCSEs and they have stayed with me since then.
My English teacher, Mrs Morby, told us that before we begin writing a story, we need to plan it out in our heads and visually before we begin writing as it would help us provide structure.
For example, when I was writing the Titanic poem, there were certain areas I wanted to cover such as:

  • Origins
  • Why was it going so fast
  • Something about the people boarding it
  • Collision
  • Recent history

This helped me keep on topic and gave me different areas which I wanted to cover.
But Mind Maps have also helped me when it has felt like I have too much going through my head to even think straight. It has helped me visually see connections to different things that were going through my head and which I couldn’t understand.
I approach Mind Maps in relation to Mental Health as though it was a spiders web.

11697-H8-831 W10

At the centre of the web is me. My life. And from it there are branches that go off into different areas of my life. The big areas from which everything else is connected. E.g. Work, Health, Home etc.

The Web pt2

From here I can break things down even more into the image you can see above. I can then see the bigger picture of what is going through my head and from here I can make connections. E.g. I enjoy outdoor photography so I can make a connection between it and my physical health as it means I have to get out and walk, which has a positive impact on my life.
At the same time I can create a box relating to my PTSD and draw connections to anywhere else in my life that it can be connected.

Connections
Suddenly this nice spiders web is no longer orderly and structured, but has connections that link different areas and it becomes quite messy.
But it does help me see those connections and through self-awareness I can either challenge those beliefs or I can pick an area to work on improving.
E.g. Coping = self-harm = physical pain = impact on my physical health as it takes time for my injuries to heal and I feel I need a way to justify them to people who may query them.
In the past I have had to do a web, such as that for my PTSD, in other areas of my life to see what the relationships are between the different groups and where those connections not only are but where they also lead.
So in the end I have an overall picture but also a more detailed picture of each specific area of my life.
Doing it this way has shown me just how complex mental health can be and how it can drastically affect different areas of my life which were seemingly unconnected. But that PTSD has its tendrils linked to every aspect of my life and personality. It’s impossible to untangle it without completely changing the person whom I am today.
In fact, the only way to remove it is to go back in time and stop my dad from being murdered; then I would be a completely different person and we delve into the realms of “what ifs” and that road only leads to pure speculation without any concrete evidence or impact on my life today.
These diagrams are just examples and simplifications of what my life is like.
Any questions, just ask 🙂

Just a Thought…

analysis blackboard board bubble
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After a long dry period of warm sunshine during which time we spend many a day going for walks or laying about and basking in the heat when we get the chance, it is easy to forget the cleansing affect a downpour can have, especially early in the morning just after sun rise.

The leaves on the trees open up and the air feels fresher and is filled with the smells of nature, as if the earth has just awoken from a slumber and is now stretching and readying for the day ahead.

As I drive towards my place of work I see a layer of cloud resting on Cave Hill like a veil, partially cloaking the mountain from view. The memory of a once occupied ancient fort perched atop and now in ruins, returns to my consciousness and I can’t help but wonder about the thoughts of the former inhabitants of this ancient land and what it would have been like to be amongst them on a morning such as this, overlooking what would become Belfast.

Looking out to the shore as I drive along continuing my journey, the high tide of the sea is filled with hundreds of seabirds all resting on the gentle movements of an otherwise apparently calm sea.

Occasionally I catch a glimpse of an upturned bird seconds before it disappears below the surface of the water in search of a tasty marine meal before resurfacing like a bobbing cork.

The sound of the rain against my windscreen pulls my thoughts out of their daydream and, with a rush, all the sounds of traffic associated with modern life rush to greet my ears.

This entire time, which may only have been a few seconds, my eyes have been staying alert to the possible dangers of the road which accompany 21st Century living.

When I have a few quiet moments at work to reflect on today’s car journey, my thoughts once again return to the past.

The Norman Castle which has stood ever vigilant over the Lough for nearly 800 years now stands out amidst the modern world. It’s presence never waning and constantly serving as a reminder of where we came from and with closer thought, of battles fought and won. Brave warriors throughout the centuries fighting to survive countless savage and bloody battles.

I often wonder what it would have been like to have lived during the time of its construction. How different would Carrickfergus have been and looked. What remains today of that ancient landscape that is still recognisable today? Some of the town streets have barely altered their path from the Medieval period during which they were first marked out. The town walls still stand just as imposing as ever, though now the threat has passed and their defensive purpose now rendered obsolete; they remind us of a more violent time during which they were very much needed and actively used.

Along the Marine Highway still stands the original sea wall marking a shoreline that was still in existence 100yrs ago. The main road and associated gardens now occupy land that was once owned by the sea and reclaimed at the hand of man in an effort to keep up with the ever changing and evolving society in which we now live.

The full moon and stars of our own galaxy would shine like billions of fairy lights hung high in the night’s curtain, brighter and more startling in ways that there are few opportunities to observe in today’s world of light pollution, which shields their glory from view.

Still, we must carry on the traditions of old laid down by our ancestors, in the best manner appropriate for the outcome that we seek to achieve.

We find ways to incorporate our love of the Goddess and God into our everyday life and each environment in which we find ourselves.

And all we have to do to reconnect with nature is to go for a walk and feel the same wind, sun and rain upon our bodies as did our ancestors before us and become at one with them and with the spirits of the earth and sky.