Pronounced "Uh-THAH-meh" or "AH-thuh-meh", the Athame or ceremonial knife is the first of the four major Working Tools. These are considered very sacred, and are symbolic to many of the Wiccan religion. The Athame represents the Element of Air in it's connotation of Thought or Decision. It represents the moment of first creation and symbolizes the God as son and brother of the Goddess, Lord of Manifestation. It is also called the Sword of Art, and represents the Phallus of the God.
More properly termed "Arthame," the Athame is used in modern Wicca for a variety of purposes, most notably to cast the Magic Circle. The Magic Circle, or Circle of Art, is used to contain and focus the energy raised during a ritual. This is one of the central acts of Wiccan religious practice. You will learn more about the Circle of Art in LESSON VI.
At one time several different sorts of ritual knife were in use, which were differentiated by the color of their hilts. Most common were the Athame which had a black hilt, and the Boleen or Burin, which had a white hilt. The Athame was used to cast the circle, cut herbs, etc. The Boleen was used in the creation of magical artifacts. The Athame was sacred to the Goddess, while the Boleen was sacred to the God. This custom however is not in general use today. Today the term Athame is used to describe any ceremonial knife, and a single blade can serve all purposes. The color of the hilt is no longer necessarily black, but may be and often is of any color. Today Athame's often have hilts of wood or horn, while others have hilts of metal set with gem stones. In choosing an Athame, select one that appeals to YOU, and makes you feel "magical" to use.
You will mainly use your Athame to create the Magic Circle. The Magic Circle can be used in personal workings, as well as group workings. It is not necessary for everything you will do, but it can be helpful. You will learn how to cast the Circle of Art, or Magic Circle, in LESSON VI.
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