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Sunday 3 April 2016

50 Knife Superstitions

I'm not, by nature, a superstitious person although there are a few rituals I abide by like asking the elder before taking her flowers or never bringing blackthorn blossom into the house, but when it comes to blade-lore I'm very superstitious and I think a lot of knife users are just the same.
I've collated some of my favourite adages about knives, some are simply common sense, some are proper knife etiquette (which a lot of knife users no longer practice and it's a sad sight to see) some are purely folklore but all I find very interesting..
Some knife superstitions are, unusually, very similar in different cultures around the world whereas some are country specific but all should teach us good manners and respect for our favourite cutting tool.
Although I haven't placed them in any specific order the first one is, I believe, the single most important superstition in all blade-lore.

1. NEVER ever ask for a loan of some one else's knife.
2. A knife, according to a woodsman, never cuts, it bites.
3. A knife never truly belongs to you until it has drawn your blood.
4. A knife with a black handle keeps away fairies and bad spirits.
5. A knife, given from a lover, means the relationship will soon be over.
6. If someone gives you a knife a coin should be offered in return, in Ireland this is usually a copper coin.
7. If you drop a knife someone else should pick it up otherwise it's bad luck.
8. Never leave a knife sitting with the edge facing upwards or the fairies will cut their feet when they land on it.
9. If a knife falls and lands on it's left side a woman is coming to visit, if it's the right side it will be a man.
10. It is bad luck to stir a soup or stew with a knife 'stir with a knife, stir up strife.'
11. Never cross your knife with another piece of cutlery at the table, it is bad etiquette.
12. A knife under the pillow of a pregnant woman will ease the pain of labour.
13. A knife under the marital bed will produce a son, a skillet will produce a daughter.
14. Never close a folding knife unless you are the one who opened it.
15. If someone willingly passes you their knife they are also passing their soul and the knife must be returned just as it was given.
16. Sharpen a knife by the light of a full moon and it will never go dull.
17. If, while using someone else's knife, it bites you, quickly wipe the blood from the blade and whisper a charm or the knife will cut everyone who uses it afterwards.
18. If a knife cuts you 3 times in a row it must be washed in real spring water to wash away the evil.
19. To pass a knife to a friend, lie it on the table then let them pick it up, it should be returned this way too.. that is proper knife etiquette.
20. Tap a horseshoe with the blade of a knife 3 times to make the knife lucky.
21. A knife stuck in the mast of a sailing ship portended good luck, fair winds and a safe journey.
22. A bride and groom use a knife to sever old ties, past relationships and create a clean break to ensure a long life together.
23. A knife stuck in the lintel of a door offers protection to those within.
24. Never lick food from the blade of a knife as it's an insult to the cook.
25. If a knife is leant to a woman she must kiss the blade or lie it against her bosom as a thank you otherwise it will bring you bad luck.
26. A knife forged in fire is pure, a knife ground in water is soul-less.
27. To make a knife oneself then offer it to a friend to keep is to offer a true and eternal friendship.
28. A knife drawn from a leather sheath must always cut something before being re-sheathed.
29. In Ireland, a knife used to cut a fairy thorn must be destroyed as the blade then contains the anger of the fairies.
30. A broken knife should never be repaired it should be buried so the steel can rust and it can return to the earth from whence it came.
31. Tap a knife 3 times on a church door to bless it.
32. Tap a knife 3 times on a gravestone to curse it.
33. If you find a knife it must be cleansed from the previous owners essence by washing it in rain water or bathing it in moonlight.
34. A knifeless man is a lifeless man.
35. If you no longer want a knife never pass it on as this passes on the feelings of resentment, always bury it.
36. A knife that does not hold it's edge should be left in a hawthorn hedge for the hedgewitch to take.
37. A knife should always be sharpened by it's owner, if someone else sharpens it the knife will seek to be owned by that person.
38. A knife made of animal bone will give the maker the attributes of that animal.
39. When you have finished using your knife always re-sheath it, never leave it on the ground or stick it in a tree as this will bring misfortune.
40. A Knife made from steel from the earth should be sharpened with a stone from the earth.
41. Casting a knife into a stormy sea will cause the storm to abate.
42. If you carve the spoon you eat with, with the knife you own, you will never be hungry.
43. If you drop a knife and there is no one else there to pick it up, you must tap it 3 times on the heel of your shoe to knock out the bad luck.
44. A different knife should be used for different tasks, as per this rhyme:
Knife for flesh
Knife for wood
Knife for bone
Knife for food.
45. A knife thrown in the air can be stolen by the fairies before it hits the ground.
46. Loan your knife,
loaned is your life,
returned is the blade,
a friendship is made.
47. Leaving a knife unsheathed all night will bring the owner bad luck.
48. To cut someone else with a knife either accidently or on purpose is to bring a curse on your family.
49. A knife placed in a coffin will ensure the departed rests peacefully.
50. According to the Sami people brass should always be used in a knife to bring good luck.

I hope you found this interesting and if you know of any stories, rhymes or lore that I've missed please drop me a line and let me know.


  1. I've heard of a few of them, but not most!

  2. I'm sure there's lots more I haven't heard either Gorges!