Thanks to pierceheart
for starting this one in a comment he made in Wicca
regarding Cold Iron.
There’s an ongoing discussion of how much Cold Iron
influences magic (and the Fey). I’d like to get more opinions on this and welcome further discussions.
made the assertion that the first documented information he could find regarding Cold Iron was Kipling’s Cold Iron
I checked Brand’s Observations of Popular Antiquities
(1900); it has an extensive section on “Fairy Mythology” but never mentions Cold Iron (or any other type of metal) as a problem for Fairies. Later sources make the statement but provide no citations; e.g., An Encyclopedia of Faries
(Briggs, 1976) merely states “Cold iron repels fairies.” Of course, her next line is “A knife, or cross of iron, are sovereign protections against witchcraft and evil magic of all kinds.” (so much for most of my athames *grin*.)
- Does anyone know of anything older than the Kipling?
- Does anyone know of a pre-1900 non-fiction reference to Cold Iron and Magic or the Fey?
Lots of problems here.
Many claim it must be “pure” iron, yet early metallurgy skills were primitive; most iron ores were contaminated with other elements and most early iron working had various and sundry containments; non were ‘pure’ iron. The purest iron ore was reserved for weapons; what was left for general use (e.g., in a house, or for the nails that Kipling so roundly denounces) were lower quality with more impurities. See, for example:
— De Re Metallica
(Hoover & Hoover, 1912, 1950)
— The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649: A History of its Technology
(Williams & de Reuck, 1995)
— The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England
Some claim it was not worked (whilst never really defining the meaning of ‘worked’); yet Kipling states: “‘And what did you see?’ ‘A smith forging something or other out of Cold Iron. When it was finished, he weighed it in his hand (his back was towards me), and tossed it from him a longish quoit-throw down the valley. I saw Cold Iron flash in the sun, but I couldn’t quite make out where it fell.’”
This implies it was Cold Iron both before and after hammer forging – a process that very definitely ‘works’ the iron. And most forging introduces some level of carbon into the iron, making it closer to steel. Kipling doesn’t seem to make a differentiation between forged and unforged; thus, worked metals (and steel) seem to be just as valid.
- Any other sources?
- Other differentiators between worked and unworked, or levels of working?
woolyswxposted to wiccan