Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Shelg

Beads and awl
I went to the flea market the other day and found some fun pretties to turn into tools.  First was a strand of white quartz and onyx beads which I'll be re-stringing into a witch's ladder.  The other tool I found was a rusty awl.

I've transformed the awl into a nice little shelg.  I've been getting questions lately on what a shelg is, and I thought this would be a nice time to clear that up, in addition to showing off my new tool.

The shelg is the (secret!) red handled knife of the witches. Just as the black handled knife, or athame, is used to cut and direct energy, and the white handled knife is used for cutting and carving in a material sense, so the red handled knife has its own particular uses. The shelg is used for blood magic and sacrifice. It may be used to open a small wound in the flesh in order to produce blood for oath-taking or binding links. It is also used during the housle to activate the Red Meal as a true sacrifice.

The shelg is a tool of the third realm and relates to the Red God of the Forge, Tubal Qayin.  Although sterile lancets are often used in place of the Shelg for safe bloodletting in small amounts, the shelg is still symbolically passed over the wound to seal the link to Qayin.

So, the shelg is a kind of bloodletting knife or, in this case, burin.  The word "shelg" comes from an old Manx word for a hunting knife.

I got the idea for using an awl rather than a blade from this amazing example at the Witch of Forest Grove's blog.  She refers to her tool as a "Thumb Pricker" from the famous witches from Macbeth:

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes… 

Here are some photos of my shelg in progress.
Sanded and sharpened. Look, ma, no rust!

Pyrography of an owl and the stang rune, or witch's foot.

Stained with red ochre oil paint and ready to taste blood!

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