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Basic Information

A athame is a ritual tool used in ceremonial magic in the shape of a knife. For reasons explained below it is not normally an effective knife as knives go and, according to some authorities, need not necessarily be made of metal1.

For those who care about such things it is said to be aligned to the element of fire and to represent the will of the caster and, in traditions that care about such things the "male principle"2 (as opposed to the "female principle" of the chalice).

In general the athame is blunt and used for drawing wards and for directing the user's will against summoned spirits. Few, if any, traditions use the athame for cutting or chopping (hence the bluntness) and some suggest that using it for such mundane purposes (even as part of a ritual) will desecrate it for ritual purposes.

It is also emphatically not a sacrificial dagger - if a tradition practices any kind of blood sacrifice, that will generally be done with a seperate tool. Some (usually Wiccan) traditions consider that an athame will be permanently ruined by contact with blood of any kind.

In some traditions a ritual sword will serve as a lesser tool as the group aspect of the athame - whilst each individual worker has his own athame, the group as a whole uses the sword to direct a group working. Unlike the athame, these swords are not necessarily blunt.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Although an athame is emphatically not a weapon in anything but appearance, given its role in compelling spirits, it might be effective against incorporal opponents.
    • The sword even more so - a magical weapon, wielded against a supernatural foe and channeling the power of a whole circle of magicians? Might work…
  • Traditionally really hard to explain to law enforcement, even after they discover that it's as blunt as a drill pig.
  • Amusing in RPGs with players more used to … certain traditional fRPGs … who will consider it a "magic dagger" until faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
  • Often used as a synonym for "magic dagger" by people who did not do the research.
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