n. A ceremonial double-edged dagger, used in Wicca and related neopagan religions.
An Athame or Athamé (, or ) is a ceremonial blade, generally with a black handle. It is the main ritual implement or magical tool among several used in the religion of Wicca, and is also used in various other neopagan witchcraft traditions. A black-handled knife called an athame appears in certain versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire originating in the Middle Ages.
The athame is mentioned in the writings of Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, who claimed to have been initiated into a surviving tradition of Witchcraft, the New Forest Coven. The athame was their most important ritual tool, with many uses, but was not to be used for actual physical cutting.
There has been speculation that Gardner's interest and expertise in antique swords and knives, and in particular the kris knives of Malaysia and Indonesia, may have contributed to the tool's central importance in modern Wicca.
On the other hand, the athame stands as one of the four elemental tools in Wicca; traditionally standing for fire, as does the ritual sword. (From the known origins of Wicca, with Gardner's own Book of Shadows, the athame represents fire; where the wand corresponds to air. Other varieties of Wiccan practice may switch those two around.) The other three elemental tools are the wand, the pentacle, and the cup or chalice. These four magical tools correspond to four 'weapons' of significance in Celtic myth - the sword, the spear, the shield, and the cauldron (and/or grail). The same four ritual tools also appear in the magical practices of the western hermetic tradition, derived from The Golden Dawn; and they appear in tarot decks as the four card suits: swords, cups, wands, and pentacles. The athame is an individual ritual tool, while the sword is more appropriate as a coven tool, or the personal tool of the high priest or high priestess. There are obvious risks associated with an entire group of people all wielding swords, while confined within a small ritual circle space nine feet in diameter; this safety factor, as well as ease of use, may explain why the emphasis within Wicca is more on each witch's personal athame, rather than the ritual sword.
Usage examples of "athame".
He could see the blurred texture of the soil through the athame, as though it was a sheet of mica.
She began to murmur an incantation, her ruddy copper athame dipping and rising above each syllable in turn.
She tried to slide her athame back under her sash, but the effort of her art had robbed her of the necessary coordination.
He chanted in time to the motions of his ivory athame, but his words of power were muted by the distance.
Alecto was proceeding in the same fashion, gripping her athame by the end of the blade with a careful gap between the edge and the heel of her hand.
His athame continued to beat a fixed rhythm in the air, but his mouth smiled triumphantly as he looked up at the arc of spectators.
The wizard sat cross-legged, his athame dipping and rising to the rhythm of the spell.
Now he moved the oil lamp into the center of the figure and took the athame from under his sash.
He held the sapphire ring between his left thumb and forefinger, then dipped the athame in his other hand over the words written about the circle.
He held the vole in his left hand as he scribed on the soil with the athame in his right.
He pointed his bloody athame at a spiky shrub and spoke a word unheard in the chaos.
He held his copper athame and his mouth contorted with the spells he shouted inaudibly into the wind.
Meder held his athame in one hand and flailed his left arm sideways for balance as though he were trying to swim through the humid air.
Meder punched him with the butt of the athame, then held the point to his throat.
The fresh vine shoot the wizard used for an athame bobbed with the words the women spoke alternately.