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Donnerstag, 2. Juli 2015

After-work hike

 After work the other day the woods were calling again. No words did they utter, and did not scream. It was just the memory of light and the light rustling of leaves, as fine a touch as by a feather; and so I hitched the bus and went out into their loving embrace. Of course, there is a chance you find that boring, and it is very difficult to find words that suit the experience, or pictures. But in my book, exactly this is the culprit. We love to read something spectacularily new, especially on the internet. We are hunters and gatherers, only that what we hunt and gather does not feed us in any way. We pile heaps on heaps of gleaming crap into the corners of our minds. There´s always some new flash and dash and the latest run-of-the mill. Heard about that scandal? This one or the next?

The woods actually DO change. But they change according to their own devices, and bend and bow to the laws of nature, not to the constant debts and vicious cycles we love so much that we compose our very lives out of them. Our culture keeps us low when we should be vibrantly flaming. Put your noses to the grindstone, or you won´t belong. I have personally come to the decision that I´d rather die than belong, for then my death would be according to my own devices. It is not out of depression, but out of joy that I come to this conclusion.

How come?

I have decided to live. I want to truly live, not a masquerade, but a life that somehow fits into the world. And to experience joy, I have to accept grief and pain. To live I must accept death.

There can be no security in this life. Our culture tries to sell us this, and charges a lot of fees for it, but all the promises it makes are rendered absurd by contemporary developments. World-wide terrorism, economical instability, a world on the threshold of world war IV (yap, did not recognize we still got World War III, do you? Lost track myself....). And if we all are honest, it has always been that way. There can be no certainities. Everyone can die at any instant, everywhere, and in spite of any promises of national security and whatnot.

So what? Quit whining! Any tree can fall, any wild piglet be killed by a wolf. They do not complain. They do not change that much. Oh, I hear those high priests of economy complain, what, humans are far aloft from animals and even trees, how can that outcast state we have anything in common? I hear priests and imams damn me for being heretic and infidel, for we should dominate, not care.

But this is not how I understood Economy Report, Bible, Koran, Vedas, Pillars of Insight or whatnots. We must care for our fellows in creation. It is a fallacy if anyone says otherwise, for we can witness in our days that such a behaviour leads ultimately to the extinction of man. This cannot be a goal for neither Christians, Muslims, Mammonists (...erm, maybe...).

But theology and philosophy is not subject to the woods, either. It is a common mistake that we all tend to project our humanity onto trees and wildlife. They simply do not "think" that way. And it is not thinking they do in any way we can understand. This makes us not superior to them in the least, not at all.

A dolphin does not need clothes or a computer. Why should it develop them, then? And dolphins are not cute, in fact they bite off their victims´heads and give the rump a fucking, excuse my language, but this makes it clear. Wolves are not nice, or free or wild. They just are. All those are human attributes, illusions at best.

This does not mean we should quit telling tales. It is human to tell tales, and good fun. But we have forgotten that there´s always a secret truth hidden behind; a glimpse behind the mirror, a look into the face behind the mask.
 Oh, no, I do not belong. I have long trodden another trail. It did make me lonely, but no more. I have looked behind my own failure, and I can now smile. I have experienced no mercy from my fellow humans, and they can expect no mercy from me. I would never want to voluntarily hurt anyone. Walking barefoot teaches you to avoid treading on snails, however disgusting they might look;-). But I am amazed that I have lost my mercy for humans complaining about the mess they created in the first place. They have taught me that; for if I make any mistake, they would laugh at me and kick my head instead of helping me up. I´d never kick them, and offer my hand whenever I can. If they don´t take it it´s no longer my business. I am amazed because this is what I have also learned this in the woods: If you allow yourself freedoms and make mistakes, you are in trouble. There´d be no whining and postponing or paying by instalments. If you don´t find a solution, you are fucked.

At work, I had a funny conversation the other day I had several times in my career already. A business man stated he believed in a "might makes right" justice. Okay I said, since we were standing together in a one-to-one situation and no one to witness, how much money´s in your purse? He replied and told me the amount. So, I said, give it to me, plus the keys of your car, and make no fuss. He looked at me, not quite sure if I was serious. I donned an air of menace and stepped closer. He looked at me in terror. Then I stepped back and explained to him that this was exactly what he believed in. For I could have beaten him up with two fingers only. He was a bit thoughtful afterwards. Of course I did not do any harm to him, and never would, and I´d never recommend this. I just could do this because I have a very good reputation amongst those business partners. He even gave me his thanks afterwards. What disgusts me, however, is, that he would not change anything, and no one would. But, if life - as a normal and necessary consequence of their behaviour - gets the better end of them, they start whining and complaining and expect others to help them out.

In nature, this can prove fatal. And it is always interesting to see indigenous woodsmen of all cultures act in contrast to many so-called survival gurus. Seldom if ever, for instance, would a Saami be caught so unawares in nature that he´d call for a survival situation. Instead, indigenous people tend to be much more careful und prepare every step with caution so as to avoid saying "survival" in the first place. These people try to remain as self-sustained as possible, while on the other hand they would help anyone in a bad situation according to a very strict cultural code of conduct. The behaviour of white men is often called insane, and I would not argue with them.     

 I am not a survivalist. I love the woods and hope the love is -keeping in mind it´s not that possible at all ;-)- mutual, in that I will be sustained by them due to my respect and knowledge. When I walk along the creek, I not only think about how to make the water drinkeable but also feel the lovely song and soothing sound it provides. It keeps me sane to walk the woods that way. If you quit lying to yourself and actually think your thoughts and feel your feelings, there is an infinite wealth to be harvested. It´s not free, for to get the heart of the woods you have to pay dearly with the blood of your own heart and life. But this will give you so much back in turn that you would pay any price for it.

The new path I am on is fascinating me, and, oh, yes, I will continue, for the one who lived once, lived in fear and debt and self-neglect, is dead.

And I smiled.

Mittwoch, 1. Juli 2015

What the term "soul ride" means to me-long overdue solitary ride to the hills

 It is a bit difficult to me at the moment. I had to move out of the smithy again, so no blacksmithing at the moment. I had been betrayed by people I thought were friends and for whom I had done my share of work. In my mountainbike team there is a strong aversion against me, for my opinions are alien to zee aylienz (pun intended), and I still speak my word. Mountainbikers cannot understand that I sympathize with hikers, equestrians and, oh how frivolous, even hunters. Many of them are only interested in "bigger is better" and "progression", in building illegal trails and many of them shit on trail etiquette. There are times when I do not even touch my bike and shun it in disgust. It is just like you feel disgusted by a body part to me, for I have been riding mountainbikes for 29 years now, and before that did exactly the same with a modified BMX bike with gears.

But it´s not in the bike or the sport. It´s in the people. They might all be decent enough, but I simply cannot stand their crazed gibberish, the nervous talk that all is well and all will be well and always has been. There are exceptions, of course, but I cannot stand the superficial focus on a surrogate activity without so much of a single thought spared about what lies behind. Philosophy, ecology, politics, emotions simply are topics left out. Instead one rants about what fork what stunt and whatsitsname bikepark.

I have realized that I have always been an outcast and will always be. It´s a simple fact: I always was happiest with few people around. I could do what I ever could to be accepted, I could work for them, I could create and give them a context, such as a club, a smithing community, a promotion club, in the long run I am always mobbed out. Don´t know why this is so. People who must know (psychologists, priests, druids, philosophers) tell me they can´t say why this is so, either. Others say I am "too good" for this world. Excuse me, I am not good. I have a lot of grave shortcomings. And - can anyone be too good, because he´s no bastard?

The answer is, yes. Yes, in a world of bastards, you are too good if you don´t get rid of your neighbour by cunning and shrewdness.

But there is little I can change about that, and I know this full well. So I guess, I will continue to care for my fellow human beings, and, to rekindle my fire, I need an outing from time to time. Then I go for a hike, or sit on a stump, or saddle my steed and ride out to the hills.
 And this I did. Oh, no spectacular stunts. Not that technical a trail. To most of those rookie riders the trails I rode would have been outright boring. But there was silence, and solitude, and the cry of the buzzard, the rustle of the wind and the vista that showed me I was far away from the city. This is a historical site and the top of the world of my hometown.
 In the late medieval age and early modernity, there was the "iron trading road" running along those hills, the Hellweg, an important trade route in those times. There are still many remnants, old buildings, rests of old tax points and the like. I imagined those two-wheeled carts slowly working through the woods. I saw the pictures of those truckers of these days after a long day of 25 km of wheeling along through dense and murky woods finally coming in to a wayside inn and feasting on what was available, meeting each other, trading wares and stories and one or the other song. I imagined wanderers and pilgrims on the way, keeping closely together in fear of robbers and rovers and the terrors that had no name and many. And in the evening, by the fireside in the inn, they told stories of werewolves and robbers and white women, of the mannekens grisebaort (greybearded little-men) and dwarves and druds and witches. Of course, they were too brave to believe those stories... but how come they were so glad to sit beside the fire with an ale and their tobacco pipe near? The iron and coal they brought from the Siegerland as far as Cologne found its way to many a smithy in the vicinity, and in Hagen and Breckerfeld the bladesmiths knew how to process it to a most excellent steel that became legendary throughout Europe. Still one can see a trace of the mastery of these smiths when looking at the works of their offspring in Zlatoust and St. Petersburg. In those ancient days the Brakkersfelders Knopmetz had a similar nimbus to those works of art Zlatoust now produces and was far renowned throughout the world.

But it was not just iron that those ancient truckers transported. Corn and meal, ale and wine, cloth and works of art, sugar, salt and coffee, cocoa and spices they transported over these hills.

I imagine sometimes one or the other did halt his wagon, and standing where I was, enjoyed a moment of rest while looking down into the valley.
 On I followed the winding trail, down into the valley, and after a slightly technical session came to a most ancient friend of mine: The priorlinde, a famed and ancient linden tree in the valley.
 By storm and lightning it had been ravaged, and yet it stands still strong after more than thousand years, silently, slowly swaying in the breeze of spring and summer, in the thunderstorms and autumn´s chill winds; in the frost of winter and in the coming spring again, year after year of slowly growing, sprouting, where limbs were severed, regenerating, reverberating the silent thrum of the dark soil below.
 It grew around the mesh and poles of iron. It grew through rock and stone and soil.
 Into the light it grows, into the green and golden sky, upwards and upwards with the ferocity of stone-hard roots and branch and stem dancing lightly.

 It keeps a light within its crown, a secret therein.

 I touched the bark and silently smiled.

None of my fellow mountainbike riders would understand this, and I am glad for it. They will never know the secret.

 On I rode to the site of one of the sustainability centres in the vicinity. There is this hall of willow trees, another special place. Yes, it is man-made, and one could argue about the necessity, but the trees prosper no less for all the steel that binds them.
 The trees form a golden spiral, and the atmosphere is overwhelmingly serene.
 It is as if you are contained within this place.
 Peace filled my heart, and I lay down to rest and meditated a good hour away.

I drank deep from the cauldron of the rich, green fire again. And, again, as I remounted my bike, I felt as if resurrected by creation. Oh, no, it´s nothing special.

It was just a solitary ride to the hills. Without gibberish.;-)

New mocassins

Summer´s well here and I thought I´d get myself some new mocassins. Except for the sole, I made them from recycling leather from old couches and handbags. The sole is 3mm vegetable tanned oxhide leather and self-soling repair rubber which is simply glued on. Due to the sole taking shape of your foot this is not THAT ideal. After a recent 25 km-hike I had to reglue them, because the movement of the muscles on the soles of your feet makes them come apart, so I have to come up with another solution... but I have some cooking up at the moment.

So... again... stay tuned!;-)

Progress on my semi-integral bush barong

 This is somewhat of a special knife to me. It´s made from a piece of my first sword, a claymore I forged together with the folks of Clan Mac Laren. This is a piece from the tang originally that turned out to be leftover, so I thought I´d try out something new with it. A lot of thought  went into the construction. I wanted a knife with a sturdy yet nimble feel and at the same time an able chopper, slasher and slicer. The handle thusly should be offset, a bit like a pistol grip, to aid in chopping. To aid in cutting, it is not too thick in the spine and has a very high convex bevel. When I thought about it, it was when a problem occurred to me: The offset helps a lot in cutting, slashing and chopping freehand, but when preparing food you often cut on a board, and an offset handle like this one always compromises this. To aid in counteracting this effect, the contour of the handle follows a more or less s-shape, but what helps most is the barong style sage-leaf blade. This way the hindmost part of the blade might not get in contact with the board, but get into effect when you perform a drawing cut. Then the sausage or onion you want to slice is somewhat "gathered up", just like a recurve edge line would. For pressure cuts you can still use the tip area of the blade.
 The blade is tapering from 8-1,5 mm presenting a "bearing of equal load" layout. This means, a branch is always thickest at the stem of a tree making for an ideal stress distribution. A distal taper is always able to bear the equal load of a straight bearing double its size or more, depending on the material. The quench line is a progressive edge temper, meaning, the hardness gradually fades towards the spine and is not just selective. That way the blade can be much thinner than a traditional uniform or standard edge-quench temper because it has somewhat spring-like characteristics.
The blade is some 115mm long. I fitted it with olive wood scales and mosaic pins.

I look forward to use and test it. In the hand (while it still has to see some polishing) it feels well comfy and the balance point is right on the index finger. It cuts as aggressively as intended.

But I´m in for some serious testing still... watch out;-).

Mittwoch, 24. Juni 2015

Some more thoughts on "skóggángr"

I write this while sitting in a café near a highly frequented road. The sheer noise is overwhelming, cars driving by with blaring subwoofers with drivers who might as well use the bass reflexes to propel them forward. Just over the square I could see junkies and drunks dozing their lives away murmuring to themselves. On my way to the café I had seen five mentally challenges persons screaming at no one in particular. Each and every person I have seen on my way wore a drastic frown that would have been an indication of a serious mental illness just five years ago. Three guys with ragged clothes had an argument and whacked the shit out of each other until the police came by.
Hell, one  might say. Hell on earth, everywhere.
But as I passed by the railway station, I saw a girl with well-worn Salwar pants of green colour, with a shaggy mane of dreadlocks walking barefoot and happily eating an ice lolly. Her feet were ...
?muddy? She ?smiled? the whole time? She bid me a nice day? And meant it (I guess)?
I did not ask her where she´d come from.   

But I like to think that she came from a place that makes me happy, too. The still vibrant, living, lovely woods, where I can walk with dirty feet and feel the mud between my toes. Where I can smell the strong earth and the rich scent of soil and the bark of trees and the perfume of blossom and, yes, decay. A place where all still makes sense. A place not far in kilometres from the hell we have made, but that cannot be farther in actual. These days I tend to flee my fellow humans more and more. I cannot help them, for they want their life that way, and while I often crawl to the silence and go to hidden places, I do this as I always did. I know the magic sword from the lake is not offered just like a muffin at the baker´s, and while the grey rock will not open to grant me access to the realm of dwarves, where they will provide me with magical weapons to fight the world, I still have gained  treasures beyond description there.

The art of stealth and stalking for the joy of it. Laughing deep and full of joy. Lust and dance and death. Moving in and out the branches of a tree, more nimble than I could before. Some people say there´s a light in my eyes they cannot explain and a star upon my brow. I don´t tell them. But it is the forest in my heart.

Now you have read about this on my blog, and chance is, you get this impression that I rant about the same thing over and over. If I do, I do this, because it is constantly filling me with awe. It is constantly growing, and I am becoming something very different to man. Nothing special, either.
There´s nothing mysterious about the things I do there, and some of you might find this childish at best. I walk. I sit on tree stumps and sip my tea. I climb over fallen trees and try to outrun deer. I do try handstands at a tree and tumbles down a slope. I thread through the thicket and drink from the sunlight. I shoot my sling or my arrows at rotten trees (and fail to hit still;-)) and hit the soil with my hands and fists. I do my pushups and situps and "yoga" positions and do them for the fun and joy of it. I run until I am exhausted and simply lie on my back to watch the leaves dance in the sun. It makes me strangely happy. None of this I do for any purpose, and I concentrate on the joy that fills me when I do a movement according to, well, what feels right, you know? I could draw this in a whiplash line, but only because the fern grows that way, the spring flows that way and the cat jumps that way.
I do this all in a feeling that... well... cannot be intelligently described, but that simply feels the way. I watch the owl at dawn hunting and the buzzard kill its prey. I watch the deer running and the hare exploding from the thicket, jumping farther than any human would expect for such a small and harmless creature. I watch the adder in its camouflage and the spider weave its web. They all teach me an art that is far removed from just being "martial", that has no name any human could pronounce, no positions or lectures given.
I still write this blog. This is presumeably the only reason I feel the urge to call it anything. And I want to create a myth for myself, and give hope to others. One drop of filth can poison a million gallons of clear water. And there is a lot of filth in our world.

I have decided that I do not want the filth that much. Most everything is rotten. We eat shit and chemicals, wear special waste as clothing and tie our body down with strange clothes like to webbing load restraint assemblies. Most of the work we do is ridiculous and futile. Ah yes, I have to bend to those circumstances, too.

But I asked the forest. If you are gentle and polite, you are welcome there. He waits for you to shut up and be happy and fierce.

Donnerstag, 18. Juni 2015

Clipper sheath for a bushcraft knife I made some time ago

This knife you might be aquainted to-it´s the bushcraft proto I made and tested some months ago.

Since I seldom wear belts these days, I decided to make a clipper sheath. I had  some old cellphone cases lying around and salvaged the clips from them. The sheath is top-grain naturally tanned leather, wet-formed and hot-waxed around the knife.

Dangler sheath for the new puukko style knife

 Since there´s no smithing to date, I have time to do other projects.
This is a dangler clip sheath. Wet formed, hot waxed with a mixture of violin finish and beeswax. I use natural tanned leather.

Dienstag, 9. Juni 2015

Those twilight realms I tread

 It is funny. No really, it is.

Again, life found it in itself to give me a right kicking up the spine. Again I relied on human beings. Again I was going awry. Again I felt like an old rag doll kicked into the corner. Nothing new, business as usual. Again I thought friends would be friends. Again I packed my things and went away, not willing to become the monster within.

This time something was different, however. It took quite a long time until I found my way to the woods again. To me it is a sign I have to be vigilant. A sign that my energy is running out.

But there is a grain of light in my soul, of adamantine countenance. It is not my own, but that above all human beings. Call it as you like, but it gave me a kicking in its own right, and so I packed my gear and went out into the one place where the deceiver does not reign. Where there is war, and peace, and love and fury... and the light is dim and calm. There´s no paradise in the woods. There is fighting, and fierce fights that lead to death. There is love also, and everything fits into each other like key to keyhole.
 The woods were filled with the vibrant light I love so well. I trod carefully, silently breathing. I encountered wild rams and Sika deer and red deer. Two hares chased each other down the hillside and almost ran full-tilt into me. A buzzard bore down upon an old tree stump and looked into my eyes, just some five to ten metres away from me.
 Fierce. Savage. And...small.
 And oh so great the trees still grow shadowy leaves that danced in a gentle wind.
 Strong and gnarled are their roots and work their way even through the grey stone.
 Crushing, smashing rock and stone by year after year of forceful growing.
 These halls have an answer not given, a lock without a key.

 The place beside the well where I can hide away and sink my roots into the ground, drinking thirstily from the green fire that feeds my soul...
 That place has never changed, for it has never been or will ever-and yet, it is there. he who has to ask, will get no answer from a lock without a key, he who knows, need not ask.

And thus I drank deep from the cauldron of green fire.

The joke about it all is that those who want to rid of me will never succeed. And still they try and exhaust their life upon a wall of rock.

Even if they would lay low all the forests in the world (what they certainly would like to do), these pictures I will keep within my heart of hearts and they will never be lost.

But also funny is that I nearly forgot. Let that be a warning to you:

Never forget the woods. If they bear hard down upon you with the weight of their desire, smile.

And remember what is your right and heirloom: To run with the wolves and crush the rocks with gnarled and scarred roots. To drink deep from the green cauldron of the force beyond the yoke.


New knife for beating around the bush;-)

 This one is for all those fuckers who want the better of me... eat dirt! You won´t stop me doing what I love.

This is a new knife from very old steel I found in the woods, leaf spring steel from an old carriage or something, selective temper, high convex bevel, copper ferrule, stag antler from the flea market and a citrate fit into the pommel.
 The spine gradually tapers towards the tip.
The pommel.

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