For many years now, I had the idea that I would make my own acupuncture needle out of a meteorite. In ancient times, before the technology of smelting had been discovered, meteorites were one of the only sources of high-purity iron that, through firing and pounding, could be made into steel. In ancient China, swords that were forged out of meteorite iron were considered to be not just functionally exceptional - harder, sharper, less apt to break in combat - but endowed with celestial powers as well. It is hard to believe that acupuncture needles, associated from the very beginning with stars and the cosmos, would not have been made from meteorites. The acupuncture points on the human body were regarded as a microcosm of the stars in the heavens. What better instrument to illuminate our corporeal stars than a sliver of condensed heavenly yang qi?
Last year I turned fifty, and as part of the year-long celebration, went on a camping trip with my old friend Andy McKenzie. I drove from Santa Cruz and he drove from Fort Worth, Texas, and we met up at Zion National Park in Utah. On a day trip to Bryce Canyon, we pulled into one of the many rock and mineral stores that dot the Southwest. Inside, I found small chunks of meteorite on sale, and thought, "Aha! Finally, the raw material for my needle!" and bought a couple.
Over the course of the year, I designed and built a little outdoor workshop and smithy where I could try to transform my meteorite into a needle. I figured that, since everything was on such a small scale, I could make a forge out of a blow torch and a fire brick or two. All that was left to do was to actually make the needle! So, the other day, I took advantage of the break in rain and got to work.
It took a day of firing and pounding, and another day of straightening and polishing, heat-treating and oil-quenching, and now... (keep reading)