This is not only the Witches principal working tool, but also a symbolic representation of their magical power. A Witch may have none of the other Magical tools, but they will always have a knife set aside for magical use, regardless of what material it is made out of.The term 'Athame' probably originated in Ceremonial Magick (see The Witches Way/The Witches Bible) from the word 'Arthana'. In Ritual Magick their are two knives; the black handled knife used for ritual within the circle and the white handled knife for actual cutting.It is from here that Gardner took the idea of the two knives which we find in Wicca today. Quite simply, they are imports from Ritual Magick, although the roots of the knife in Paganmagical practice are far older.
The knife as
a magical tool can be traced back to the dawn of mankind.
weapon was the first purpose made tool, initially by the knapping of
flint and later as early technology developed, made in metals such as
bronze and iron. It was an important tool, and still is, in a setting
where survival was dependant on being able to cut and scrape materials
from your immediate environment. It is not surprising that the knife
came to magically represent an individuals control of the elements when
you look at it from this perspective. The knife therefore became an
important symbolic tool in magical ritual.
For the above reasons the
element of Fire is traditionally attributed to the Athame. Principally
because of the use of Will in controlling the elements, but also
because it was forged by the Smith (amagical profession) in the
furnace. Event the original flint knaped blade can be associated with
this element - flint being an important tool in the production of fire.
Of course, not all Witches use metal Athames nowadays, and there has
been a fashion in recent years for ones made of sacred woods (in which
case an association with the element of Air is probably more fitting).
If you work with certain
energies you may want to choose a knife made of an appropriate
material. It is said, for instance, that 'iron scares away the fairy
folk'. So, obviously, if you intend to work with 'Fairy energies' you
may be better off with one made of wood or if your budget can stretch
to it, one of bronze or silver. We should point our that a wooden
Athame is used more like a wand, and is not an instrument of 'command'
in the same way that a metal Athame is. You may not find itas
contains a number of magical alphabets and symbols that you may find useful.
Many people use magical alphabets when engraving talismans. Many of these are
available as True Type Fonts at
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