An Athame, also known as Arthame, is a double edged knife, traditionally with a black handle. It is considered the masculine tool (phallic) and so it is used for commanding, as opposed to the Chalice that is used for inviting or invocation of spirits. The Athame’s primary use is to direct energy. It is not used, however, to physically cut items like herbs or cords, a Boline, a knife with a white handle is used for that purpose.
An Athame is used for marking a magick circle or pentagram for evocation and banishing spells. Rituals involving drawing lines, either visually or physically are best done with an Athame. If you are in a coven or group magick ceremony, you can cut a doorway in the circle you have created so someone can leave the circle without damaging it.
Athames are also used when mixing is necessary for casting a real spell. Some rituals require mixing potions or salt with water. The tip of an Athame can be used to measure the proper proportions and to stir the mixture. Athames are useful for charging or empowering magickal objects like amulets, talismans or poppets (magickal dolls).
Should your Athame be sharp or dull?
Some say that because this is a knife, even if ceremonial, it should still have an edge. It is okay if the edge is dulled for safety concerns but then it would be a stick, not a knife.
What should your Athame be made of?
Some use iron, copper, bronze, steel, pewter or wood. The handle should be black because black absorbs energy, but you can really use any color handle that works for you.
Should I buy or make my Athame?
Well if you have the means to make the blade and handle yourself, that would, of course, be best. You can put all your own energy into the Athame. However, most people in modern times, do not have access to knife making tools. So it is best to either purchase your Athame or receive it as a gift. It is important that if you buy an Athame, do not haggle over the price, as this brings negative energy on to your magickal tool. Many practitioners believe that receiving an Athame as a gift creates a more powerful tool then purchasing it. It is considered a great honor to receive an Athame as a gift. The giver’s energy, from years of use of the Athame, will transfer for the receiver’s use in their own magick works. It is best NOT to do a purifying ceremony on a gift Athame, as it would be an insult to the magickal tool. Plus it would cleanse the Athame of the precious energy of the previous owner and dampen the over all energy within the Athame.
What if I buy a used Athame?
If you are purchasing a used Athame, it is important that you purify the tool of any negative energies left by the previous unknown owners. One simple method to purify your Athame, is to leave the tool exposed to the sun, at least one hour a day, for the full cycle of the moon, either beginning at a new moon or full moon. You can place the tool inside a window to prevent theft. There are other methods such as using water, alcohol or even salt, crystals, and herbal smudging.
What if I want to use a knife that I already own for my Athame?
If you want to use a knife that you already own, you need to consecrate it. You can create your own ceremony to consecrate your Athame for sacred use. This will transform the tool from the ordinary to the magickal. The ceremony does not need to be long. A short poem will do. Place the Athame on your altar, cast your magick circle and perform a short ritual, with your poem, to consecrate the tool. For added benefit, leave your Athame on the altar for a full day before using it.
Should I decorate my Athame?
ike all magickal tools, an Athame will absorb the energy of anyone who touches it so it is considered rude and invasive to touch someone’s Athame without their permission.
You can name your Athame too if you wish. Many ancient traditions including Nordic, Germanic and Teutonic give ceremonial names to an Athame thus invoking certain powers into it. This ceremonial name can be carved into the handle of the Athame using runes or other appropriate magickal writing system.
Since an Athame is a knife, can I use it as a weapon for defense?
It is not recommended that you take your Athame around town with you. In many places, it is illegal to carry double bladed knives and is considered carrying a concealed weapon. Carrying your Athame around with you for defense is like a Catholic priest taking the communion chalice down to a bar for a beer. Plus, a knife that has drawn blood, even your own, should not be used as an Athame, until it has been purified and consecrated. If you accidentally cut yourself with your Athame, you need to purify it with sage smudging or sprinkling with salt water.
What element is the Athame associated?
For most spell casters and Wiccans, the Athame is associate with Air or thought, the element of the East. There are some, however that associate the Athame with the Warrior, the element of Fire, to the South. But either one that works best for you. It is important to remember that it is a masculine tool due to it’s phallic nature and needs to be honored as such.