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The Athame: The Dagger You Shouldn’t Be Scared Of

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The athame, pronounced as a-tha-may, is a double-edged dagger. Wiccans use it for ceremonies and rituals. It is one of the most widely recognized altar tools in witchcraft and Wicca. No, don’t let the image of a witch carrying a dagger scare you! Its sharp blade is never intended for harming. That is why it is dulled to prevent any accidents while using it as a ritual tool.

Traditional witches were very particular about their athame. It had to have a double-sided blade and a black wooden handle. And on that handle, inscriptions and talismans are made.

The Key of Solomon Manuscript

So where did the athame originate? There have been mentions of it in variations in the Key of Solomon grimoire. It was probably derived from the French translation’s artave, arthane, andarthame. Most of which are garbled words of the Latin artavus, a medieval penknife. The Key of Solomon manuscript has drawings of a knife-looking sickle. Gerald Gardner must have taken the word athame from one of the many words they used to call a knife in the manuscript.

Gerald Gardner’s Athame

The word “athame” was first used in Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today. Gardner had a deep interest in knives and antique swords. According to him, the athame is the most important ritual tool there is. He would often refer to it as the witch’s knife.

The Athame as an Altar Tool

As I said, the athame as a ritual tool is not intended to cause physical harm. Its use is for magickal purposes only, like drawing a circle, directing energy, cutting and re-sealing of a door in a circle, charging and consecrating objects, and banishing negative energy.

On the altar, the athame is one of the four most important elemental tools in Wicca. Along with the chalice, wand, and the pentacle. The athame represents either the element of Fire or the element of Air. It represents the element of Air, for the sound it makes when you slice it through the air. It represents Fire, for you need the flame in creating and shaping knives.

Tips for the First Time User

Don’t haggle over the price of an athame. And once you have it, make sure to cleanse and consecrate before using it. Also, be careful about touching another witch’s athame. It is like an invasion of that witch’s personal space.


Do you have an athame in your life? 

What’s it like? I’d like to hear about it!

Please share in the comments section below.

  • I have an Athame I just love and hold dear. Though known for not being a huge sentimental gal, this knife was handed down to me.
    My grandfather had it carved by a native in Africa when my grandparents went on Safari about 40 yrs ago.
    The handle is black, a native African warrior’s head hand carved and connected to a double edged, dull blade in steel.
    The steel blade has a hollow center in the shape of lightening bolt.
    The sheath is pure leather with a loop for wearing on your belt.

    Very impressive and I hold it dear, as my grandparents, of whom were also my best friends in the whole world, have since passed.
    Their presence and loving, positive and protecting energies can be felt whenever I hold this Athame!

    Thank you for allowing me to share this story.
    As well as posting this interesting and educating article regarding the use and significant purpose of The Athame in Witchcraft!

    Blessed Be!