The Athame Overview
An athame is a witch ceremonial knife that is used in wiccan, pagan, and various other witchcraft religions and belief systems. While in most cases the athame is meant to have a black handle, a white colored handle is also commonly used by high ranking priests and priestesses to reflect their purity or the pureness of their energies in rituals and spell work.
The athame is not meant to be used as weapon in anyway, shape, or form and it is strictly meant to be used as a tool for channeling energy as well as to represent the male element in ceremonies and rituals. The athame can be used similar to a wand, and many people choose to replace a wand with an athame if a wand is not available to them.
Although athames are traditionally daggers, almost anything can be used that is similar to an athame is size, shape, and composition. For example, a letter opener can be used, a butter knife, and even sharpened stick can be used to represent the athame in a ritual or ceremony. Most traditionalists prefer an actual athame however, and many people can become quite attached to their blades.
The athame in Wicca is traditionally a male symbol, that represents the phallus of the Horned God who mated and impregnated the Goddess Gia to give bith to the Earth and Nature. This of course is only one version of where the athame comes from, there may be different versions from tradition to tradition.
The athame is one of the most common but also very important tool in spell casting and ritual work within witchcraft and wicca, yet it is also one of the most misunderstood items. Many see a blade attached to wicca and witchcraft and automatically assume that it is meant for sacrifices and to draw blood in ceremonies and rituals. This could not be further from the truth as it is strictly forbidden within the craft to use the athame as a tool to do harm to another. The athame may also be used to cut herbs or string, maybe even to carve symbols in candles, but again it can never spill blood or take a life.
The blade is used during a ritual or ceremony to command, direct, and manipulate power that is raised within the circle through energy that is summoned while meditating. The black handle that could be used for an athame is traditionally meant to "absorb" negative energy that may arise from the ritual or ceremony, but a black handle is not necessary if other precautions have been put in place to safeguard and protect from negative energies.
The blade is meant to be double - edged to remind the user that there are two sides of everything. One edge is meant to represent Life and positive energies while the other side is meant to reflect Death and negative energies. Both sides together represent that we are all the masters of our own destiny and that the user chooses to practice positively or negatively. Remember balance is important in witchcraft, and the balance of positive and negative is one of the most important.
A double edged athame is NOT required, but again is traditional. The decision to use a double edge or a single edge is made by the individual as it is more a matter of preference and whether or not one wants to stays traditional or not.
The blade of an athame is typically about 6 to 8 inches in length. This is the length of most dagger blades, so looking for this size is fairly easy. The reason for the size is because a dagger is good to use while in confine spaces which may be where witchcraft is typically practiced because smaller places usually mean more isolation and solitude, though a larger blade can be used if that is what the user prefers...again, this is a matter of prefrence
The main purpose of the athame is to provide protection for the witch and gain the support of the elements and the deities so the ritual will succeed.
The athame has other functions as well:
1. The athame attracts energy to the circle that acts like a beacon. The more energy that is attracted, the more energy is put into the ritual or ceremony and the chance of success increases dramatically.
2. The athame can attract the attention of deities that the user wants to invokes by drawing that deities energies to the circle that is cast.The invitation by the user as the circle is being cast is to get the attention of the deities, and the athame is a place for them to place power and guide the ritual.
3. Athames can banish negative energies and other unwanted entities that may be in a cast circle or around the user. In this instance, the athame being used a weapon for protection is accepted because it is protecting the user from negative energies and NOT spilling blood of a living individual or animal.
4. Sometimes used to cast circles instead of the wand. This practice is mostly done when the ritual or spell is one of protection or banishment, two of the strengths of the athame.
The athame is often doing two jobs at once. It calls those things that are positive to the circle, while it is protecting and banishing what is negative. It is working with complete opposites at the same time. That is important to remember and think about when using the athame and calling on it for its powers and abilities. The better a witch understands its capabilities the more effective and positive use they will get out of the athame and their other tools.
The athame is used during ritual to: Cast the circle Open the circle if needed Invoke the god and goddess Symbolize male energies Direct magickal energy to a specific place or in a specific direction
The athame has associations with the following among the many Trads of witchcraft:
Gender: Male, phallic, used to represent the God
If planning to use the athame in public ceremonies make sure the local city, county, and state laws allow for such an instance. Some laws forbid any knife to be seen or used in public, no matter what capacity it is being used in. Be informed and educated about law, the court system and police expect people to know the law and will not make exceptions for religious freedoms unless permits and permissions have been approved, and please be safe while practicing your craft.
Athame Consecration Ritual
Unlike most other ritual tool consecrations, the one for the athame should be performed during the waning moon. The ritual is also somewhat more complex and takes longer to complete.
- You will need three cups of boiling water, one teaspoon of chili powder, poppy seed, Dragon's blood, henbane, and rue. You will also need three drops of your own blood (you can get a lancet from the pharmacy - don't use anything else as it's not only unsanitary but you risk contaminating the blood), a wooden spoon, a charcoal/coal fire (charcoal in a barbecue grill is suggested), an oven glove, incense of your choice, a bowl of water, and a magnet.
- When ready to begin, boil the three cups of water, add all the herbs along with all the drops of blood. Stir well, cover and put to one side to cool.
- Prepare and light the fire. Once the charcoal is hot light the incense from it. Pass the athame through the smoke and say: By power of air light and free I cleanse you of negativity.
- Sprinkle the athame with water and say: By power of water clear and pure I cleanse you of energies past and obscure.
- Put on the oven glove and heat the blade until it is red hot and say: By power of fire, be cleansed and free from your past life of mundanity.
- Plunge the blade three times into the herbal infusion you had put aside and say with each: Tool of steel, your orders be to banish all things I ask of thee.
- Throw the herbal infusion onto the fire and dowse it thoroughly with water until it is definitely out.
- Get your magnet and use it to stroke each side of the athame blade (in order to magnetize it) while saying: Tool of steel, your orders be to invoke all things I ask of thee.
- Continue this process until the blade is capable of picking up small nails or paper clips etc. This process may take quite some time (though it's usually quicker than you might think) and it won't hurt to take a break.
- Once the blade is magnetized you need to decide how it is to be decorated. If you wish to carve (or paint) runes or other symbols on it then do it now. Else wait until after the next stage.
- Dig a hole in the ground that is deep enough to bury the athame point down. Cover the athame with earth and as you do, say: Grounded you are with the power of earth, absorb its stability, richness and mirth.
- The athame should be left buried for sevent-two hours and then dug up.
- Wash and clean the athame thoroughly with soap and water. Dry it well.
- Finish decorating if necessary.
- Wrap it in a black cloth or sheath until you are ready to use it.
How to Use an Athame
Moon's Light Magic-Wiccan Supplies
Athame Consecration Video
Where to Buy Athames
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Hermes Hamblok on February 08, 2015:
Am i the only non-wicca person here looking at the Athames like
moonslight (author) from Roselle IL on May 14, 2013:
Mackenzie Sage Wright on January 24, 2013:
Good intro to athames. Nice photos as well.