Knifemaking: reaction, the sacred pause, and the Querencia

“In bullfighting there is an interesting parallel to what I call the art of pausing, as a place of refuge and renewal. It is believed that in the midst of a fight, a bull can find his own particular area of safety in the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called his querencia. As long as the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is in charge. Yet when he finds querencia, he gathers his strength and loses his fear. From the matador’s perspective, at this point the bull is truly dangerous, for he has tapped into his power.”

Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance

Up until this point I noticed my knives were relatively polite and concise.  Maybe there was a reaction to some imagined expectation of what this undertaking should be.  Sometimes we might restrain ourselves for fear of how others may react to us.  It could manifest itself in muting our truest selves or limiting our potential so we don’t have to deal with any unpleasantness that may arise from this.  We build ourselves around others’ expectations of us and brace ourselves for negative reactions when we inevitably fail to meet those expectations.  It continues in a cycle.  This is no way to live.

This is where the sacred pause comes in.  Where you are in a position to just observe everything you are doing to hold yourself back.  I like to think of this as creating some space- and this is what I’ve found meditation to be helpful with, however you choose to approach meditation.  You take a step back and survey everything.  At first it’s a bit painful and the tendency may be to freak out but once you get past those waves you can start to find yourself.

In this space I gave myself permission to be wild, large and maybe a bit scary.  In this blade I wanted something a bit more unbuttoned, unbridled.

With this blade I also wanted to capture the essence of a being that has come out of his reactionary rage, found his power, and become something shining and beautiful.  A being that is no longer dangerous and unpredictable but a force to be reckoned with.  These are things I’ve looked for in myself.  This is the lesson of the Querencia.

I ordered a thicker gauge of steel.  It’s much wider as well.

I wanted something bull-like with a forward momentum.  Muscle in the front end and a set of horns.  This is what I came up with:  

  Full flat grind and it took a long time…
  Flattening the blade with some draw filing

Heat treat…

 Lovely mesquite wood, milled by my cousin from Texas…
In keeping with the idea of letting oneself shine, I picked up some brass for a golden lining:

My lovely millwork…  After grinding off the excess, this was revealed:

  He got rather warm whilst trimming the brass and I was afraid the epoxy would lose it’s bond or worse, the blade would lose its temper.  So we took a sandwich break to cool off….


 Sometimes you have to take a break from everything before you can find yourself, your real self.  Take all the time you need.  This is the lesson of the Querencia.

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