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Given in Speech by Daniel Watson
Edited by Jeremy Liebbe and Shawn Rizzo

Food, is nutrition for the body. Without the proper quantity, quality, and variety, the body withers and diminishes. Learning, in it’s myriad forms: new experiences, new ideas, concepts; is nutrition for the mind. It also takes quantity, quality, and variety, without which, the mind withers and diminishes. We know lots of people like that, don’t we?

I propose that art is also a form of nutrition. Art has been present throughout the existence of man, from early pre-history, art has been there. Why? It would not continue to exist unless it fulfilled a function. Unless it fulfilled a true need. I propose that art is nutrition for the spirit. It helps get in it, and we need quality, quantity and variety. To have the enthusiasm, the passion, the je ne sais quoi (laughs). All that, the drive, the love, the passion, the enthusiasm, the get up and go; the things that makes us rich inside. That is the purpose of art, to nourish us in that field.

Then I add culture, I believe our current culture in the US downplays that need and tries to get us to subsist on the twinkie wonder of art; television, or even movies. But it’s quality, quantity, and variety. You can exist with ‘something’, you can eat just beans and, well, might be gaseous, but the same thing is true. You will get malnourished without the quality, quantity, and variety.

With learning it’s the same thing, nourishing the mind. You have to be active and learning, in several different fields of life, your mind narrows, withers, and you don’t get the ideas. Where do those ideas come from? Those ideas that in, those flashes that we get, that come from those moments where our mind makes connections and takes this idea and that idea and connects them to get something new out of it. So we have to have multiple phases of learning for the mind to be healthy.

When is art, art? This moves into the next one, which is the difference between art and crap. Skilled craftsmanship is necessary for art. But there is a lot of skilled craftsmanship that is not art. When I go to a museum or an art gallery, I watch myself for certain emotional response. Not just is it beautiful, not just is it well done? But how do I respond to it emotionally. “Wow, that hits me.” Yeah? Such a purpose of art, the art has to move us emotionally, for that to happen, the artist has to put emotions into the piece. Otherwise it’s still just craftsmanship.

Unless he’s putting his fire, his emotions, his, flavor; that moment even, where if he, in that instant, into what he is creating, then it’s just going to still be craftsmanship. There are certain things that will move different people. There’s some things that move more broadly, one of my favorite paintings is ‘Sunflowers’ by Vincent van Gough.  These things look like they are writhing, alive with flames, and if those things look sizzling hot, is isn’t just “oh, well executed”, and then there are other pieces that maybe show greater craftsmanship but that’s the one that to me...sizzles. I might also be very taken by a certain oriental, Chinese brush painting. Some of it is very simple, just a few strokes, but, the mood that is captured in that very little can be enormous.

I try to do some of the same thing with these pieces.  Some pieces are major paintings, and there are pieces that are just a charcoal sketch. It just takes the best, basic outline to get the idea…here’s the sketch. But is that charcoal sketch invalid?  I bet it could be quite valid. Some of the bright knights are simple pieces. But to capture a beautiful essence with just a few basic strokes, yeah? As long as those strokes are, exactly where you want to go with it. Cause you could put a lot of things together that it just doesn’t work, yeah? So you can’t just, throw it together, because….then it isn’t. I used to do a lot of watercolor paintings, one of the pieces that I liked best of all the pieces that I did, was a very larger watercolor, it was only three strokes. It was a tree trunk, a twig, and a blossom. Yeah? First stroke was dry-brush, very large brush, dry, where it took the very gnarled texture of the tree bark and you could see the roundness in the sunlight, and the shadow. It was all gnarly and moving. The second stroke, was a solid-black, shooting, springing line you could see this, fresh, green, rapid movement and growth. Third stroke, was…the color was vermilion, and I loaded the brush differentially, a little bit damp, very light color, basic brush, and a heavy color material, then did a little roll on the brush so you could see, a flower opening with that one brush, and the graduations in color. With the whole thing you know in actual strokes…well, less than two minutes. In time sitting, contemplating, getting it right…maybe three hours until I knew that those strokes…cause I could not be in a rush to get it….repeatable? Not a chance. So there were other pieces, I tried to do it because it took a lot more work cause it didn’t come out right. So it ended up having to be many more strokes, cause I had to keep drawing…so to get something right in a charcoal sketch, with very few strokes, or in a very simple elegant sword, sometimes is more difficult than to do a beautiful, elaborate sword.

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