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Tools of the Trade – The Blade

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

The witch’s knife, often called the Athame or Blade, is generally considered the most important tool, or magical weapon, that any practitioner has. This is the black-handled double edged knife that is synonymous with the practice of magic. Let’s talk about this ubiquitous knife.

Used to direct energy and the witch’s Will, it is never used to cut anything. It is not a physical weapon and is NEVER to be used as such. Most would consider the use of an Athame for such a thing to be a corruption of it's purpose, rendering it useless as a magical tool. Indeed, most are blunt edged. In many, if not most, traditions they are considered to be so set-apart from everything and everyone else that no one but the owner may ever touch them once consecrated. I’ve known some people to consider an attempt to touch their blade to be a personal attack. Your blade can be used to draw symbols, direct energy, draw a magic circle, dedicate a piece of jewelry or talisman, and many other things. It’s incredibly versatile.

Here are some example of blades that might be used as an Athame, although only the black-handled blade is truly traditional. They can be purchased from many different sources and in many different styles: weapons stores, Army surplus or sporting good outlets. Some might go to a bladesmith to have their blade made of particular materials or of a certain shape or size.

A blade blank

Others may buy a blade blank, an unfinished blade where the metal portion is completed but has no grip attached, and then complete it by fashioning a grip to fit their hand and personal taste out of wood, leather, horn or other natural material. This way one can have materials that are suited to them, a particular type of wood, for example, and also have the opportunity to engrave a magical script or sigil that will be hidden from view. Even different scripts on the blade and on the grip. You could secret some herbs, a stone or talisman in a hollow on the inside of the grip where only you would know of its existence. The possibilities are unlimited. The blade blank pictured above can be found at Atlanta Cutlery at a very reasonable price, plus other blade blanks from which you can chose. There are many other places to buy such a blank but I've personally used Atlanta Cutlery blade blanks and always been very happy with them.

There’s some difference of opinion as to whether the Athame is consecrated to an element and if so, which one. Usually it’s a debate between Fire and Air. I’ve seen some serious arguments about which one it should be and I think there’s good points to both sides. I would say that it’s mostly a matter of your magical attitude, how you approach an alter or working. As Fire or as Air? Are you demanding and compelling or are you persuasive and convincing? You would want your blade to reflect you, your attitude and magical personality.

Besides, you would normally have the other element represented in your wand, the other major tool that is used to direct energy and Will. So if you have a Fire blade, you would have an Air wand. This maintains balance and gives you access to both modalities. I’ll speak of wands in a future post.

Here I’d like to say a few words about your sheath for your blade. Yes, you do want to have one and most blades that are purchased come with one. If you have made your blade from a blank it won’t come with one, an if you have yours custom-made it might not. In any case, you may want to consider making your own sheath. Why would you consider this choice? For the same reason that you may have chosen to build your blade from a blank: it can be made with the material you choose, and it can be loaded with magical scrips, talismans and loaded with herbs between layers. Plus leather is very absorbing of oils and thus a great way to use magical oils to add intent and purpose.

There are leathercraft hobby shops that can provide all of the materials, tools and know-how for you to create a powerful sheath that will protect and empower your Athame. Tandy Leather, for instance, is a national chain and can also be found online from anywhere. Making your own sheath is an option you may want to consider.

Many ceremonial lodges, such as the Golden Dawn, the O.T.O. or the A.A., also use a double-edged dagger in their rituals and theirs are all Air daggers, at least as far as I know. One difference between an Athame and such a ceremonial dagger is that the ceremonial dagger is very specifically consecrated to the element of Air and using it in another manner or element would be considered unwise if not useless. An Athame works in all elements albeit with the attitude of the element to which they were consecrated.

A ceremonial Golden Dawn Air Dagger

As shown in the illustration above, the ceremonial dagger has a yellow handle and is inscribed with Hebrew God-names and various sigils. These are available commercially but their orientation may make them less then an optimum choice for you.

The consecration of your Athame depends on the element to which you will be consecrating it, although there are some similarities in the preparation for the consecration. This consists of cleansing the dagger of all influences. Remember, your dagger has been handled by quite a few people before it came to you, so you want to remove those energies. And you want to do it well, as this is your most important tool.

Take your blade and wrap it in cotton cloth, preferably white. Then place it in a glass container and submerge it in salt (the cloth will protect the metal from the salt but allow the energy cleansing) and place it outside just after the height of the Full Moon in a place where the Moon will shine upon it. Allow it to stay there, in the Sun and the Moon, for 30 day, a full lunar cycle.

This will strip all energies from it and leave it ready to receive your consecration and personal energies. Once this is done, allow no one to touch it except you. This is important. If there will be some time after this cleansing before the consecration, the blade needs to be wrapped in black silk to prevent it from absorbing any random energies.

I’m going to leave this writing on your blade here, mostly because giving a consecration article would make this post far too big. If you’d like me to post such a ritual in another post, let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by and reading this post. I do appreciate it and remember, this blog is for YOU, not me. Let me know what you think of it, what you’d like to see next in these articles and if you’d like, subscribe down below to be notified of any new posts, events or anything else that goes on.

Blessed Be!

Sterling Knight


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