So, I got a lot of really positive
feedback about my post about salt in witchcraft, so here’s another one just for
you about iron!
Iron, like salt, has been used for many
thousands of years as a potent tool in the practices of witchcraft. Iron is one
of the most abundant metals in our planet, and is also a really great metal for
making into tools. It’s tough, hard, ductile and with a high melting point that
makes it ideal for situations in which you might need a tool to work under
extremely hot conditions. It’s also one of only three ferromagnetic metals
(along with nickel and cobalt), making it an essential part of most magnets and
In astrophysics, iron is extremely
important in the life cycle of stars. Iron is one of the most atomically stable
substances in the universe, and it’s also unique because it’s the first element
in the periodic table to require more energy to MAKE it than it gives out from
atomic fusion. This is important, because when a star gets older and fuses
hydrogen to make helium, helium to make beryllium and all the rest, once it
starts fusing atoms to make iron, the star begins to die. So, iron is an
element that signals the death of stars, and any element that weighs MORE than
iron (atomically speaking) can only be made in supernovas - that is, the
explosion that takes place when a really BIG star dies.
In biology, iron is one of the most
important elements in mammalian, reptilian and avian blood, because it’s the
element that we use in the chemical haemoglobin. This is the chemical in our
blood cells that binds to oxygen and keeps us alive. Crustaceans like lobsters
don’t use iron - they use copper, and instead make haemocyanin, which makes
their blood blue! However, just like in stars, iron can mean death for humans
as well. If we overdose on iron, we suffer from iron heavy metal poisoning;
when we get crushed by a heavy object we can suffer a disease called traumatic
rhabdomyolysis or Crush Syndrome, caused by vast amounts of myoglobin (another iron-based
compound, found in muscles, which gives them extra oxygen to use) entering our kidneys and killing them, and as a
result killing us.
Iron in science is an element of life,
death, and of many points in between. But what about its uses in witchcraft?
Witchy Facts about Iron!
Iron is stable. Iron’s stability,
both atomically and magickally, makes it a fantastic magickal conductor, and
also means that magick doesn’t seem to affect iron very much. Enchantments on
iron are never as strong as on other metals, and even the best witches will
have difficulty making an enchantment or other spell anchor properly. However,
this has the advantage that iron doesn’t pick up negative magick from
background sources, and it’s extremely unlikely that there will be issues with
ritual or altar tools made from iron. Keeping your magickal supplies inside an
iron or steel box, or a box that’s been nailed together with iron nails, will
prevent them from leaking out and attracting spirits that might cause harm.
Iron is protective. Along with
silver and a few other little bits and bobs, negative spirits and fae folk
cannot touch iron lest it burn them and cause them pain. Additionally, negative
magicks targetted at someone wearing an iron pendant will be attracted into the
pendant and then dispelled. This makes it an ideal protective charm for
everyday carry or everyday wear. This is why horseshoes are considered
lucky - back in Medieval times, when protection
against negative spirits and magick was much more widely practiced, poor
families would often be unable to afford much iron. However, a horseshoe is
made of iron, and comes with holes already cast into it, which allow you to
nail one over your door easily, which keeps out harmful spirits, magick, and
fae, who might seek to hurt you or your family.
Iron is inconspicuous. Anyone can
carry an iron nail after all, and a little piece of iron wrought and twisted
into a small pendant is far from a traditional witch’s item. Those secret
witches who perhaps do not live with accepting families or within an accepting
community or country can find great solace in the use of iron as a protective
Iron is cheap. Iron nails, iron
rods and iron knifes are pretty easy to get hold of and relatively quite cheap.
They’re versatile and not especially likely to draw attention to you - after
all, nobody’s likely to question why someone has a couple of iron nails twisted
into a pendant, and if they do question it, why it’s just an artistic display!
And of course, easy to replace with $5 worth of string, iron and a hammer.
Iron is ancient. Iron is one of the
oldest protective charms out there, right up with salt and sage. It’s been used
for literally thousands of years to protect people against everything from
wolves to armies to poltergeists. That’s a pretty impressive history!
Iron is practical! The best
cookware I’ve ever used has always been my cast iron cookware set, which makes
better food than I’ve ever tasted, and it’s very easy to clean. It’s also
extremely hardwearing - I wholly expect to one day be able to pass on my cast
iron frying pan and wok to my grandchildren, and it was already been owned by
my mother and father before me. Iron knifes are sharper and cut cleaner than
almost anything except obsidian, and high-carbon steel (an alloy of iron and
carbon) is the best cutting edge known in bushcrafting circles, where all the
best knives are made from it
I hope this helps all you lovely witches and magick users out there!
In Fullmetal Alchemist we see that Ed and some other alchemists keep track of their research in travel-sized notebooks. Ed quotes the chemical makeup of the human body from his book, and it makes additional appearances periodically throughout the manga, in particular while taking notes on the Philosopher’s Stone, the Homunculi, and the Truth. (To protect his research, Ed uses a private code that looks like travelogues. Alphonse claims he cannot read Ed’s notes because of this.)
I decided to make my own copy of Edward’s journal for my cosplay of Edward Elric at Anime USA. While it’s still a work in progress, most of the most important pages have been transcribed in - including the Periodic Table of Elements as it appeared in 1906, the human transmutation circle + ingredient list, the Law of Equivalent Exchange, and Ed teaching himself to write left-handed after the loss of his right arm.