The Wiccan Athame as Magical Tool

by Joanne E. Brannan
The Wiccan athame is a knife, dagger or sword that is used in magic spells, and also to declare a magic circle in some Wiccan traditions.

Materials and Construction of the Athame

Traditionally the athame has a black handle and a double blade, but this is not strictly respected in all Wiccan traditions.

A handle of a natural material such as wood is to be preferred, and steel is a popular choice of metal for the blade. Some witches like to inscribe symbols onto the handle or blade of their athame, while others prefer a simple design without ornament.

Symbolism of the Athame

The athame does not have a sharp blade as no physical cutting is performed; any transformation achieved with the athame occurs on a higher plane.

The symbolism of mythical swords with mysterious powers is closely linked to the athame. In each ritual or spell, a little of the energy wielded is absorbed into the handle. In this way the athame slowly accumulates power, making it increasingly effective in Wiccan spellwork.

The Athame Represents the Masculine

The athame represents the masculine in the same way that the Wiccan chalice represents the feminine. Wicca is not a tradition that shies away from sexual imagery!

Arather graphic, but very moving, ritual involves the tip of the athame being dipped into sacred wine held in the chalice. This very literal representation of the union of the God and the Goddess sweeps away inhibitions and celebrates the innocence and the intuition that is a key element on the Wiccan path.

How to Use an Athame

The use of the athame is similar to that of the Wiccan wand; the primary difference between the two being that while the wand is used to manifest change on the physical plane, the athame is used to effect change on the higher planes. Of course the physical and higher realms are interrelated, and this is where the judgment and intuition of the witch should be used when selecting the correct tool for a particular magical intention.

When a spell with a particular magical intention concerning the higher realms has been performed, hold the athame outwards and visualize the spell’s energy being channeled along the blade and on to its eventual destination, bringing about the desired change in this way.

The athame is an essential tool for any Wiccan altar, a powerful and archetypal aid to visualization and spell work.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham.
Simple Wicca by Michelle Morgan.
A Wiccan Bible: Exploring the Mysteries of the Craft from Birth to Summerland by A. J. Drew


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