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Athame. The Witches Dagger

(pronounced Atha-may)

This is usually the first “official” tool that you will be asked to obtain. In our coven, obtaining an athame is a part of the initiation process and as such is a first-degree tool. One of the interesting things about tools is that they will often present themselves to us. There is no need to go on a long search/hunt to find the perfect tool. When the time is right it will simply come into your life.

As this is a significant part of the initiation process, please do not rush out and purchase one. To have a tool before you have the training to use it is like trying to run before you have even mastered how to crawl.

The athame is the traditional ritual dagger of the witch. It is seen as an extension of your will. It is a consecrated tool and holds great significance to its owner. Traditionally it is used to cast a circle, consecrate the holy water and wine, as well as acting as a key to open a door in a fully cast circle.

Commonly it has a black handle made of wood, bone, crystal or metal. The blade must be double edged so that it can cut both ways. It is never used as a mundane knife for cutting purposes, and is used strictly for magical purposes.

It can be hand made or store bought, what ever feels right as long as it is made from natural materials (This is an Earth based religion after-all!). The only real rule when choosing your athame is that one must not haggle over the price. If you don’t like the price, don’t buy it! If the handle is not black it will need to be painted, stained or covered to make it black. And it should be free of all ornaments and engravings. Traditionally the blade should be no longer than the length of your hand, however this is not always possible.

Every tool in the craft has meaning to its owner and carries with it an inherent symbolism. Each tool is also assigned a quarter that it is then a representative of. Depending on the coven, the athame can be a tool of the air element or a tool of the fire element; (both are masculine). In our coven it is considered a tool of the element of fire.

There is a wide diversity in athame’s available and the choices can appear endless, however when you see it, you will know the right one for you. Just be aware that if you are buying one from a website it can be a problem getting it in through customs.