The athame, or ritual knife, is one tool used by many witches and Pagans when creating spells and performing rituals. By tradition the athame’s hilt is black and the blade is kept dull and, depending upon the traditions you follow, can represent either the element of air or the element of fire.
Athame can be pronounced AH-thu-may (ah as in father, th as in thing), or A-thu-may (a as is fast). I generally pronounce it Nife.
In rituals that I lead, the athame represents the element of Air. I use it for forming the ritual circle, and taking down the circle afterwards.
Some use the athame as well for creating doorways in the ritual circle, a place where people can enter and leave the circle without breaking the integrity of the circle.
I don’t do this because I create the circle as a flexible thing. When someone moves away from the ritual circle, it extends with them. Okay, I’ve not tested this flexibility to extremes, but certainly someone can move the length of a room away and back again and still feel the energetic heat generated within the circle.
This particular ritual knife, pictured here, is the one I use in shamanic healing work when doing cord cutting. Another reason for keeping its blade honed.
I am also of the opinion that a dull knife is a dangerous knife. My athame has a sharpened edge. It is a constant reminder for me that this is a tool, and not a toy. Mind you I don’t keep the athame as sharp as I do the knives I use in the kitchen. This is because I use those for cutting more often. Any of those knives though could in a pinch substitute for the ritual knife I keep on the altar.
If I didn’t have access to any knives at all, I could use my pointed finger. Or, paraphrase the words of my favourite witch, Mistress Weatherwax, I could use an apple corer.
This is because the athame is a tool. Nice to have, but not necessary. That’s right, I can do ritual and cast spells without an athame. And so can you.
Do you use an athame for ritual or spell work? Disagree with me? Use it differently? Share your views in the comments.
(Play nice, and I reserve the right to delete any comment I think is being rude or judgemental)
- Witchcraft: Law & Order…Athame (juliangreigh.wordpress.com)
- Witchy Wednesday: Witchy Tools – Athame (pixiecraft.wordpress.com)
- WW: Tools – Athame (paganperspectives.wordpress.com)