Wiccan Ritual Tools: The Athame
The Athame (pronounced a-tham-ay), or black-handled knife as it is otherwise known, is another of the most important Wiccan ritual tools. It is used in ritual to direct energy and even to draw the magic circle in some Wiccan traditions. The Athame is not used for cutting or carving. These humble tasks fall to the Boline. The Athame is a sacred tool used for working with energy in Wiccan ritual and magic.
The Athame is a dull knife, often with a double edge and black handle. Of course these are not necessary for a working Athame but they are traditions in Wicca. When the Athame is used to direct energy during a Wiccan ritual, some of the energy may be stored in the handle of the knife to be used again at a later time. We have all heard the stories of Excalibur and other magic swords in popular mythic literature and the Athame is no more than a small sword.
The Athame is associated with the element of fire and often takes a place on the Wiccan altar near the symbol of the God. It is linked with the God because of its phallic shape and nature. In ritual it may be plunged into water or salt to represent the joining of the Wiccan God and Goddess.
Some followers of Wicca choose to carve magical symbols into the Athame handle such as their magical name, runes or God symbols. This is never necessary but may be done at the discretion of the practitioner. I have a small symbol of the horned God carved into the handle of my Athame as decoration. It may help you feel as though you are infusing the Athame with more power by doing this. However, the real power of the Athame comes from its use in Wiccan ritual and magical practices. The more it is used for the direction of energy, the more powerful the tool will become.
You may choose to purchase your Athame or if you are very ambitious, you might try to make your own. Making a knife can take considerable time and effort but it can be done. If you are like me and don't want to take on such an endeavor, you can purchase an Athame from numerous Wicca supply shops. However, you don't have to buy a knife that is specifically termed an "Athame". You can buy any black-handled, double edged knife that captures your fancy and make use of it as your Athame in Wiccan ritual and magic. What is most important is that it feels comfortable to you.
Once you have selected a suitable knife to use as your Athame, make sure you consecrate it for use in Wiccan ritual and magic. This is especially true in the case that you purchase the knife from an unknown origin. Write your own consecration ritual or use one of the many beautiful published rituals. Make sure that you dedicate it for use in Wiccan ritual and magic and use it for no other purpose. You wouldn't want to use a kitchen knife to direct energy and then go make dinner with it. Wiccan ritual tools are holy items and the Athame is one of the most sacred.