Within modern Pagan Witchcraft and Wicca, the athame is the well-known black handled knife used to cast magic circles and to direct power in ceremonies. The athame is unique amongst the tools in being symbolic of the individual witch, and as such is also referred to as “the real witch’s weapon”. In a letter from the magical artist Austin Osman Spare to the magician, Kenneth Grant highlights the near-fanatical importance placed on magickal knives during the early development of Gerald Gardner’s witch cult which may have contributed to the fallacy held by some that Gardner introduced the use of daggers into Wicca – which is unfounded.
Daggers, swords and knives have a long and established use in magical ritual. This talk will draw on historical examples from magical grimoires, including the Key of Solomon, faery and other folk magic practices in Ireland and other parts of Europe, as well as older examples from Greek, Sumerian and Egyptian mythology. By exploring the historical uses and symbolism of magical weapons, we can improve our understanding and applications of them today.