helpful

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Athames

August, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Athames

Athame rhymes with “a plane” not “ath harm eh”.

The black-handled knife, the witch’s blade, the athame: a ritual knife for casting and cutting energy and power. I’ve never been uncomfortable with knives (blame She-ra) from my pen-knife I got around 9 years old to the kitchen knives I used all the time from about 11 years of age, yet there is this anxiety about blades, more now than when I was younger most especially with some women.

Much in the same way I think everyone should know how to use a saw, axe, drill and spade (shovels are from moving stuff, spades are for digging) and knife, I believe all magickal practitioners need to learn how to use a magickal knife.

The athame is different from a boline (or white-handled knife) in that it doesn’t cut physical things. A good knife is worth its weight and mine is an old pairing or pruning knife. As an avid forager it’s a handy tool out and about and in circle.

My athame is not actually black-handled. It is hand turned pear wood, and has a hand forged blade. Where I keep my boline in my handbag or on a shelf my athame is covered and hidden. It doesn’t leave my home unless I’m doing ritual somewhere else.

To some it represents air, thought and focus, while for others it represents fire. Both have merit, a blade is after all usually formed of metal which is forged or at least heated to high temperatures, yet it is cool and sharp like a cold wind when formed. I’m in general not usually a fan of crystal knives. Mainly because they are not knife like enough. Made of soft, porous and delicate crystal I find it as useful and ridiculous as a glass hammer. There are exceptions, a friend has a family athame which is a jaw bone (I forget which animal) and a sharp slate blade. Flit, obsidian and other knapped or worked sharp stones are can be rather cool but require a LOT of skill to make and use.

This anxiety of using a knife, a cutting knife as a tool often steams from the same place as women whom are afraid of other “masculine” tools. Unless it is operated with your genitals it is just a tool. Female surgeons don’t shun scalpels as “too scary”. Cutting things away, letting them go, removing the unhealthy isn’t cruel it is necessary. When you are creating anything you must also be able to destroy or dissolve. A witch blade is also a lightning rod for power.

While a wand can and does bring that kind of power in circle it is more insulated, muted or defused. That is to say what it channels feels distinctively different than that of a metal blade. If the staff is warm and nurturing the blade crackles with potential.

I like to use my blade when casting and calling. It is empowering and when I salute after drawing my evocations it feels respectful and powerful. When used in the symbolic Great Rite it channels that powerful masculine presence into the cup or chalice. (You can’t do that with a selenite “blade”). When I release the circle I can cut away anything that shouldn’t be there. If I need to banish something I take my athame. Apparently there isn’t much scary than an irate ginger with a knife, even for dead and icky things. A witch’s blade is an extension of their power and connection to the Gods. To touch it of defile it is an act of spiritual desecration and great dishonour. This is why having a simple blade when you begin is not only acceptable but necessary. Better a cheap or simple athame that reflects where you are with your power and connection to the Gods than one that is fancy and unconnected. While precious it is a tool and we become better at handling tools with practice. Likewise you might want something small if you are in a smaller space on a regular basis or if that feel more comfortable in the hand. There is a tradition where you don’t haggling the price of an athame. I like this idea. You can buy vintage or exotic blades but some of these can have dark histories and I would never recommend military weapons, like WW2 daggers, however nice they look. These have most likely seen blood and even reproductions can have violent vibration. If you are going to buy second hand cleanse the fuck out of them (a full ritual is best) laying the blade within in a circle of salt and cleansing herbs and even clean with metal safe oils.

Another cool tradition I like about athames is naming them. It should represent itself (the essence of the thing) as well as what you hope it will become. Don’t use unknown languages to you, rather keep it crisp and simple. Fin, (some blades have fish scale patterns) Brink, Storm, Courage. Steel, Wolf’s Tooth, or whatever you and your Gods find appropriate. It is important to maintain your blade and its name secretly. Privately might be a better way of putting it. This is between you and the Divine.

An athame should never be used to draw blood and ones that have are considered “cursed” and most often destroyed rather than reused. (I worked in the largest pagan store in Manchester for a while and you would not believe the crazy shit I saw, including a husband who cut himself deliberately with his wife’s athame as she was leaving him).

My point about athames is this: since before we had fabric, we had blades. We are a tool making species. Drawing a shining blade from heating rocks was as magickal then as it is now. Knives first made from sharp stone, cooper, then bronze, then iron and then steel. Every adult used to own and carry their own knife. While they definitely have a “masculine” energy they are not evil, or inherently violent. They do require some skill and patience to use correctly. Athames are no different in this respect. They, like thoughts can be cutting or healing, kind or cruel. An athame can liberate and empower. It is a double edge one more witch’s should feel comfortable wielding.

Cords and censer, scourge and knife:

Power of the Witch’s blade;

Waken ye unto life,

Come ye as the charm is made!”

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

August, 2018

 

Hello Hello my lovely Broom Closeted Sisters & Brothers!

(Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash)

This is my third love letter to you all, slipped under your doors, and I thought I would cover the ever witchy herbs this month having covered flowers. Witches use herbs in all sorts or magick and mundane ways and you can, too, without anyone knowing you are using Magick!

As you may, or may not know yet, herbs have meanings, magickal, and healing. There are many great websites and books with this knowledge and I am not going to get into all the herbs out there and their meanings in this article. This article is to show you how you can use them on the down low in your everyday life.

 

Growing Them

(Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash)

Growing herbs is a great way to learn how to work with herbs. Many people grow their own herbs to cook with. There are many kits out on the market today that help you grow your own small herbal gardens to make it easier for you to learn. Even kids kits help to begin to learn. I start with children’s kits, and single pots. I find them easiest, since I have a black thumb, rather than a green one. They come with a tiny pot, seeds for your herb, and a dirt disk that needs to be soaked. You can find them in many stores or online. I have even found mine at the dollar store. But you do not have to start or stop there. If you are an experienced gardener, have at it! Go crazy, grow all your witch supplies!

 

Cooking Magick

(Culinary Blends Sample Pack from Inked Goddess Creations Magickal Mail Boxes and Products Site. Product reviewed here in the column Worth the Witch.)

The first, most obvious way to use herbal magick is by Cooking. Did you know you can impart your intent in your meals and baked goods? If you look at the picture above you can see how the bottles labels say things like Money, Protection, Love… These are all magickal workings you can work into your food. The herbs you choose to place into your food can have a magickal effect on you and others. Be sure to look up ingredients you use. Or look up the ingredients in recipes to see what they mean. Then as you cook, concentrate your energy and your purpose to your cause. Or you can buy magickal culinary blends like the ones pictured above that are simply delicious. If you read the review of the blends in the article Worth the Witch you will see how I baked some love cookies using one of the blends. They filled my house with love, laughter, and happiness! They were also delicious! This is a great way to perform magick because no one is usually with us in the kitchen and a lot of the time the spells can be performed in our heads. Drop in your herbs. Stir your pot (cauldron) and cast in your mind!

 

Wearing Your Herbs

Did you ever think about wearing your herbs? I’m not talking about oils, though that is a great way to wear your herbal scents, as well. I’m talking about on your clothing. Sachets are a way to keep your clothing smelling lovely but also bestowing them with purpose. Lavender keeps you calm, magickally and medically, so add some lavender to sachets in your drawers or on your hangers in your closets with a quick chant about keeping you calm and anxiety free. Then as you go through your day you have the scent of peace about you. Take a nice sniff to remind yourself daily. For happiness try sweetpea, for love jasmine, or musk for courage. Whatever you feel you need more of, you can make up for in herbal scents. Everyone will just think you smell great!

 

Teas

(Photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash)

Ahhhh nothing like a relaxing cup of herbal tea! Between the magickal and medical correspondences of the herbs in tea the benefits are out of this world. But did you know that the types of tea themselves have correspondences?

Rooibos:

  • Fire Element
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Determination
  • Steadfastness
  • Patience
  • Controlling (Personal) Emotions
  • Love
  • Romance

White:

  • Water Element
  • Air Element
  • Serenity
  • Purity
  • Purification
  • Calming
  • Creativity
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Psychic / Paranormal Abilities
  • Astral / Otherworldly

Green:

  • Earth Element
  • Growth
  • Luck
  • Healing
  • Prosperity
  • Protection
  • Joy
  • Success
  • Friendship
  • Good Fortune
  • Abundance

Black:

  • Spirit Element
  • Binding
  • Cursing
  • Hexing
  • Curse / Hex Breaking
  • Banishing
  • Exorcism
  • Sexuality
  • Lust

and yes, Coffee:

  • Fire Element
  • Spirit Element
  • Energy
  • Mental Clarity
  • Summoning
  • Enhancement
  • Power Boost
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Travel
  • Exorcism

(Information from: https://green-tea-in-the-cauldron.tumblr.com/post/149522774366/tea-correspondences-in-magic)

So now we can drink with purpose & a small chant in our heads!

 

Dream Pillows

Dream Pillows are handmade, small, herb stuffed pillows to help you sleep or have good dreams. Some people put little stones in them, also. They are really fun to hand sew up and fill with a little stuffing and some herbs. Kids love them. You should be careful as to what herbs you put in them, because some can have an unpleasant odor. Mixing some pleasing smelling herbs with some more pungent ones helps. Here are some mixes that may help:

 

For A Stress-Reducing Rest

Sweet Hops

Mugwort

Sweet Marjoram

 

Sensual Dreams

Rose Petals

Rosemary

Lavender Flowers

Mint

Ground Cloves

Chili Powder

Lemon Verbena Leaves, Crushed

Piece Cinnamon Bark, 1 inch long, broken up

 

Natural Remedies

(Pic from eatyourselfskinny.com)

Homeopathic remedies are no longer thought of as wisewoman traditions anymore, so it is safe for us to use our natural remedies in public. So get out your herbs to help in healing yourself. A good way to heal a headache is lavender. You can find a lovely recipe for Lavender Lemonade on Eat Yourself Skinny. On a hot summer’s day, when your find yourself battling a headache, why not cool down with this helpful drink recipe?

 

Garden Magick

Growing certain herbs for their properties and placement in your garden can be very beneficial to your household. Placement of potted plants can be as, well. Like a nice Rosemary by a kitchen door for Protection to keep the baddies out. Did you know that planting Lemongrass, Lavender, Lemon balm, Basil, or Catnip can help keep mosquitoes away? So try to plant these around your outdoor gardens in abundance.

 

Well, my loves, I’m going to lay out some herbal Pot Pourri for a house blessing, throw some Basil in my pocket for some money luck while I head out the door, and say Toodles for now.

 

Until Next Month…

Stay Witchie, even if it’s just between you and me -xoxo

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is simply a Witch. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMag.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way & trying to make the world a better place with her family.