Tag Archives: altar

‘3. Witchy tools: athame

-LittleCityWitch (Tumblr)

Now, as if I never left this blog to the metaphorical dust bunnies for two years, I’m picking up where I left off: LittleCityWitch’s questionnaire. I’m saddened to learn that the original poster, and even the poster who had brought this whole thing to  my attention, have both been lost to the blog fogs (that’s a thing now, I’m making it a thing.) Here’s hoping they find their way, and even if it’s not back onto the interwebs, then at least to a Goddess-guided journey.

So. Athames. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never had an altar, and therefore have had no use nor any inclination towards procuring an athame.

I think of altars like I think of cars. Either one can be tricked out with all the bells and whistles, books and candles (that’s an example of my sense of humor, you’ve been warned), a full-out, in-your-face, chest-thumping declaration of who you are and where you are in terms of your mid-life crisis. I’ve seen the Lamborghini and Ferrari equivalent of altars, no expense spared in the quest for maximum witchiness. Bling it on, crystal ball!

It may be alright for some, and if they’ve got the cash, then they can splurge all they want. But for others who are new to this whole pagan or Wiccan lifestyle, it can be a little overwhelming. When I was younger, I was definitely one of those- I didn’t even have enough spare change for a dollar bag of assorted tumbled rocks, much less any of the trappings I just had to have to be a ‘true witch’. I was a headstrong teen, and I was instantly repelled by such instruction. I could be a witch in my own right, I said to myself, I’d show everyone!

Now that I’m older, I have less patience with both the ‘must-have’ mentality and the ‘rebel-without-applause’ mentality. I’m acknowledging the need for a sacred place, even if it’s just a corner of the bedroom, and there’s nothing wrong with showing off my (hard won) tumbled rocks. On the other hand, I may add a few more spices to the grocery list, maybe an essential oil or two, but in the interest of frugality and my own sanity, that’s pretty much the limit. If I had an altar (or a car), it would be a Volkswagen Beetle.  And not the new models either.

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And so we come back to the subject of altars, and specifically today, the athame. So, what is that, exactly?

A few seconds of Wiki-fu will tell you that an ‘athame’ is a ceremonial tool used in Wicca and other Neo-pagan religions, representing fire and male energy. What its used for after that depends on your traditions: you can use it for cutting magical ingredients, or only for cutting a door in the circle because you’re in the middle of a working and you forgot the Sprite you were supposed to use in place of wine. It can be double-edged or single-edged; sharp or blunt; black-handled or a handmade one; made from iron or any number of metals. It all depends on you.

Personally, as a former chef and a self-professed foodie, I don’t see any point in having a knife that’s not going to be used for cutting all the things. I could use it to mark candles, cut yarn to make voodoo doll hair, slice ingredients for a kitchen spell. I would buy a good knife and let it soak up the moon’s rays and use it only for working magic.

What do you think? Should an athame be used purely for ceremony, or should you be able to get some practical use out of it as well?