Nov 18, 2015

Posted by in Athame, Occult Studies, Tools | 0 Comments

The Athamé

The Athame is a ritual knife used in the witch...

The Athame is a ritual knife used in the witchcraft religion of Wicca. This one was made by the owner from bog oak, steel, silver and gold. The image on the hilt is of the Triple Moon (waxing, full and waning). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In at least one post, I’ve made passing references to the athamé, so I thought it would be a good idea to write about it now. The athamé is a ritual knife. No, it’s not a sacrificial knife out of some ancient religious text or lurid fantasy novel. This knife is a conduit for magical energy. How that energy is used depends on the particular tradition a practitioner follows.

For many traditions, the athamé is the tool for casting circles, drawing magical diagrams, and banishing negative energies. If the tradition is derived from Ceremonial Magick, the athamé will most likely symbolize the element of Air. If not, then the athamé will symbolize either Air or Fire. Very old school traditions insist that the blade be double edged, made of steel, and come to a point, while the hilt should be made of wood, rubber, or some other natural material. Most of these old school traditions also insist that the handle be black, the reason being that black absorbs energy. Less formal traditions still insist that the athamé be made of natural materials, but have no preference as to the color of the handle or even the number of edges.

There are traditions in which a sword is used instead of an athamé. For some traditions, the athamé is completely interchangeable with the wand. For others, which tool is used is entirely dependent on the purpose of the magic being performed. If, for example, you are casting a major league protective spell against a planned psychic attack, then an athamé or a sword might be the logical choice. On the other hand, if you are casting a spell to create new job opportunities, then a wand might be more appropriate.

If all of this seems contradictory, it might be helpful to know that practitioners in all of these traditions have made their magic work. When I first began studying magic almost thirty years ago, the only texts available to me were of the old school variety. I remember despairing that I would never be a real witch,, because I couldn’t afford a proper athamé, and didn’t have the skills to make one. Then one day a friend took me to a renaissance fair, and I fell in love with a dagger that had metal hilt of carved twin dragons. The merchant was also the artist, and immediately reduced the dagger’s price because I appreciated it so much. That dagger has been my athamé ever since, and it works!

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