“A knife placed under the bed while giving birth is said to ease the pain. A knife stuck into the headboard of a cradle is said to protect a baby. As early as 1646 reference is made to a superstition of laying a knife across another piece of cutlery being a sign of witchcraft, which is probably the reason it is advised not to cross knives on a table, for fear of a quarrel. Sharpening knives after sundown is cause for bad luck -a pinch of salt in the churn keeps the witches out. Knives were included in some Anglo-Saxon burial rites, so the dead would not be defenseless in the underworld. In Greece, a black-handled knife placed under the pillow is used to keep away nightmares.
Drop a knife and a man will visit, and change your luck to good or bad.
A common belief is that if a knife is given as a gift, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed. Something such as a small coin, dove or a valuable item is exchanged for the gift, rendering "payment."
Last Saturday, a woman described to me the various romantic entanglements of the French nobility of the 1300s. This stemmed from a conversation on Lenoir’s miniature of Christ’s side wound, one of the striking illuminations found in the Bonne of Luxembourg, Duchess of Normandy’s prayer book. An illustration that famously resembles a cunt more than a wound. “One can pre suppose that the Duchess’s attachment to the wound might be inspired by her experience with childbirth”, she said, “while others believe it to be a sign of her own infidelities.”
A few days prior a friend sat on my couch, removing a plastic cast-off of one of his feet. His heel, shattered from a fall, had recently been operated on. He insisted I look at the wound, in the process of healing. I dramatically fained disgust. A childlike reaction - like when little kids scream at the mention of genitalia. Truthfully, I wanted to peer at the stitches. And had it not been on his foot, I would have probably wanted to press my mouth onto it.”
Knife Kit was presented as part of Calliope Readings at Pangée in October 2023.