Sgian dubh

from Wikipedia

In The Two Drovers by Walter Scott, an Englishman thumps a Scot. The Scot’s honour is impugned, so he gets his black knife (so called because it is hidden) and stabs his friend to death. If we all carried knives in our socks, in the six o’clock commute on the Tube, packed like sardines, perhaps no-one would get out alive. Yet in Rob Roy, set in 1715, Scott shows the elaborate courtesy of the Highlanders, necessary in a society where every man carries a blade; and the contempt they have for the lowlanders who have no blades, or fighting skill.

When I presented male, and wore a kilt for country dancing, I carried a sgian dubh with no thought of self-defence, and indeed we have seemed to get this civilisation thing, living together in conurbations of ten million with surprisingly few murders. And yet we still have anger and hatred, which we exorcise vicariously through sporting contests, or by “kicking the cat”, picking on a safe target where the true object of our rage is too frightening to contemplate.

All that energy, dissipated; or turned inwards to self-hatred and depression; or turned outwards, to the effusion of blood. I want to use that energy, constructively, in my own interests (which are pacific- connection, creation, love). A good step forward is seeking not to be so frightened of it.

8 thoughts on “Sgian dubh

  1. Dear Clare, I like your latest post, very much. It leads to the next question, “How do we stop being frightened of our negative energy?” You know, I am going to try and answer that, by saying, perhaps by slowing down, until our feelings catch up with us, and we can feel something honestly. When we feel whatever it is honestly, and allow the feeling acknowlegement as part of us, then – surprise, surprise – it goes away again, soon enough. Rather like resisting a thing, if we resist a thing, we are feeding it with the energy of our attention. When we withdraw our energy from a thing, by Accepting it, it stops bothering us.

    Come to think of it, perhaps what people are most scared of is not what they feel – since we feel things all the time, evidently – but the silence that follows our acceptance of the The Way We Feel or The Way Things Are. We wonder, what is in that space beyond us? Is it empty? Silent? Am I alone? The answer is, that we are never alone, and there is never anything to fear. And that our negative emotions are telling us that we are moving away, as our positive emotions are telling us we are movng closer towards, the resolutions and the answers that we seek. Simple, no?


  2. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and where there is perfect love, fear is cast aside. The perfect love of God is the only perfect love. If we are alive in Christ (God) we have no fear but step out in His strength. Gosh I’m turning into a preacher, sorry. I’m not sure what negative energy is supposed to mean but I take it that it is meant as a fear of ourselves or in ourselves to lead a positive life, frightened to deal with our fears and feelings or making too much of things instead of just living.
    Shirley Anne xxx


  3. After recent events I know I’ve got that potential in me whenever I’m faced with bigoted idiots. I don’t know that it’s necessarily a bad thing.

    I was looking for your post a few weeks ago about walking down a street in Valletta, but couldn’t find it. I spent some happy years in Malta when I was young. I lived on Guardiamangia Road up from Msida Harbor.

    I doubt that I’ll ever get back, but it’s my favorite island.



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