Origin: The word "athame" possibly came into being through the Old French word "attame" (to cut) or the Latin "artavus" (quill knife). Ceremonial knives have been used in witchcraft since the middle ages, but the term 'athame' for this special knife seems to have come into wide usage after Wicca's revival in the 1950's. Athames appear prominently in Celtic mythology, implying strong tradition there.
- The athame is often used to invoke something or banish something from sacred space, such as inside a circle. Sometimes the circle itself is created with an athame.
- The knife is not meant to cut things on the mortal plane, and the use of the blade in self-defense is believed by many to void and negate its usage as magical object afterwards.
- The knife may be white or black handled, according to practitioner's preference or may be required for specific magic.
- Athames may also be used as part of an altar setting. Most often they are used to symbolize the element of fire.
- In each case, athame's are generally customized to the witch using them and should be chosen for a witch's connection with the knife for ease of channeling personal energy through it.
- A witch may choose to carve symbols or rub oils into their athame to facilitate the channeling process and deepen their connection with the object.
- Some strongly believe in making your athame by hand.
- Often when a new athame has been fashioned or adopted, a ritual is held to bless and consecrate the object. This ceremony serves as an induction into usage as magical item instead of a mortal tool.
Further reading on the history of the Athame:
- The Lansdowne Manuscript (1202): http://www.masonicdictionary.com/lansdowne.html
- The Sloane Manuscript (1307): http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/sl3847.htm
- The Key of Solomon: http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/ksol.htm