Moon Owl Observations

December 1st, 2011

The Athame


Even though knives, daggers and swords have been used in magic for a long time, we owe Gerald Gardner with the specifics and uses of the modern day athame. He first mentioned it in his writings in the 1950s and many people may not realize that he actually is the founder of the ceremonial dagger itself.

The athame is typically a short, black handled knife with a double edged blade. There are a large number of people that will dull down the tip of the blade so as not to accidentally cut something. Using the blade for self defence, drawing blood or cutting anything makes it null of any magical use. If you need to cut something, a white handled blade called a boline (bolline) should be used. Generally the athame represents Fire specifically because the blade itself is forged in flame. Some modern pagans will use an athame with a wooden blade, and when this is the case it should then be associated with Air. It is common practice to place symbols or inscriptions like your astrological sign on the athame to build up the magical link.

When choosing your athame, you should feel comfortable and confident while handling it. Never haggle over the price and remember the athame chooses you as much as you choose it. It should be considered as an extension of the users self. Once it is in your possession try to keep it within your aura for at least a month. This may be hard in some cases for security reasons so try to at a minimum keep it with you while you sleep. Once the athame is consecrated and a strong bond is formed the athame is connected to you and some pagans consider it to have it’s own soul and choose to name it.  You should always treat your athame with the greatest respect and it should be a necessary tool for your magic. When you are not using it, wrap it up and keep it with you or in a safe place.

The athame’s primary use is to channel and direct energy. It is traditionally used to invoke the elemental guardians, or calling the quarters and in covens, the athame can be used for initiation ceremonies. The athame has a masculine principle and so it is often used with the chalice(cup) as a feminine principle. This clearly evokes the art of universal creativity and the act of procreation.  This tool is important in magical ritual and even though it hasn’t been around for a long time, it has been adopted into ritual and magic since the revival in the 50’s.


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