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What Is An Athame?

An Athame is a ritual knife used primarily in Wiccan circles, though present also in other forms of magical tradition. Its purpose is purely metaphysical, most often set aside for cutting only non-corporeal things, or setting up magical barriers.

Its typical design is a short double-edged dagger set into a black pommel. Beyond that it’s design is almost purely aesthetic, reflecting the personality of the owner. The Athame has a long history, tracing back to multiple historical forms of practice, coming forward into the modern age.

As mentioned above, the Athame is primarily used in non-material practices. When preparing to perform a ritual ceremony of any kind, the Athame is used to draw a protective circle around those participating. This is typically done by visualizing a beam of bluish-white light emanating from the tip of the blade, and leaving a trail of blue fire behind it where the light touches the ground.

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It is believed that the circle serves as a space that is not a space. Neither in this world, nor the spirit world, but a kind of quasi-dimension between the two.

We are still capable of crossing the barrier into our world, but it prevents anything from coming through from the other side into ours. However, this is typically best done with the assistance of another.

Should someone need to depart the circle, it is also used to cut a hole in the barrier permitting egress into the mortal realm. This is done to prevent creating a weakness in a circle.

This is caused by the passage of a being primarily of the physical realm, while still having spiritual elements. While most beings one may deal with would not be able to make use of such a subtle weakening, it’s better safe than sorry.

Another purpose the athame is often put to would be closing the circle at the ritual’s end. In the same way that one draws a circle, one disperses it.

Pointing the athame at the circle’s edge, one would slowly turn, visualizing the fire extinguishing and the light dissipating, severing the connection between this world and the next, and banishing the sacred space safely.

The athame also serves as the representation of the male principle in circle, it’s similarity to the phallus being used in conjunction with the chalice to show the bonding of the male and female principles.

athame black
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The athame, after being charged during the invocation of the male deity being called to ritual, is descended into a similarly charged chalice representing the female deity, representing that most obvious of coming together of the sexes.

The last most common purpose an athame is put to is casting a blessing. The athame is used to draw an upright pentacle, reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s man, around the individual in that same visualized blue light. This is done in many circumstances, but most prevalently during a ritual initiating a new member of a coven.

Athames are used in many magical traditions, and have a history ranging back into the earliest religious practices, and spreading across many cultures. Should you have need to make your own, be sure, as with every tool, to add your own particular twist to it.

Choose crystals and stones that match your personality, and if you are to wrap it in wire, be sure to use silver, in color if not in fact.  This can be one of the most beautiful tools of your collection, make it yours!