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One of the most personal and perhaps most misunderstood of the Four Tools of Magick, the Athame represents the element Fire, transformation and the direction of South. It is the symbol of the magickal Will and life force. It is used to cut through and direct energy, never for actual physical cutting. Most Witches will have a second knife known as the White Handled Knife or Bolline for use in cutting herbs or carving symbols. Most often, the Athame is made from metal, but I have seen obsidian Athames as well. It is most traditional to have a double sided blade although I have seen single sided blades used occasionally. The Athame is used to draw the Magickal Circle wherein ritual and ceremony is performed, creating a space between the worlds where all energy is balanced and concentrated for the rite. For this act, the Athame is held in the stronger hand (the one you write with) with the blade tip facing out as the magickian focuses his or her energies on sending flaming energy out the tip of the blade as s/he walks in a circle, drawing a line to mark the outer circumference of the circle. This creates a space to work within which is then purified before the working begins. The space is consecrated with salt, water and incense smoke to purify and balance the space and then the elemental quarters are activated by drawing an invoking Pentagram in the air with the Athame of each element in its appropriate quarter. Traditionally the elements are seen as Earth/North; Air/East; Fire/South and Water/West. The circle is taken down at the end of the rite by going to each quarter and drawing a banishing Pentagram in the air with the Athame, thus dissipating the energies.
The Athame is also used very effectively in aura cleansings to rid the individual of any imbalanced energies and cutting any links to negativity that he or she may have. This is accomplished by focusing fire energy in the blade of the Athame and running the blade slowly 3 to 4 inches above the body in the auric field. You need to go slowly so that you can feel carefully for any attachments which need to be cut or burnt away in the aura as well as for gaps in the body’s energy field. If gaps are found, after the aura has been cleansed and all attachments or links have been taken care of, fill the Athame with force and fill in the gaps. Finish by sealing the area that you have fill by passing the Athame over the area in an upward stroke. Cleansing of objects can be accomplished in the same fashion by concentrating fiery energy in the blade and running the energy through the auric field of the object to cut away any attachments while cleansing the aura as a whole.
Once you have found your Athame, you will want to cleanse and consecrate it to your personal magickal use. In keeping with the elemental energies of this tool, the consecration would best be performed at the Full Moon when the moon was in a Fire sign – Aries, Leo or Sagittarius.
© Copyright 1980-2006 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.