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Author Topic: Athame vs. Wand  (Read 3117 times)

Freesia

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2014, 07:09:28 pm »
Quote from: Kylara;135033
I have a pretty large Amethyst point I use sometimes to cast with, as well as a piece of petrified wood (that one is more like a traditional wand, the point is only about 3 inches long).  I actually have quite a lot of tools that I will use to cast circle depending on the purpose of my circle.

 
Good to know.

SleepingCompass

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2014, 11:46:47 am »
Quote from: Rosa Morgana;129513
Does anyone have thoughts on the use of an athame vs a wand in spells and ritual?

I have both tools, each that I created myself, but I have been continuously drawn to the use of my athame exclusivley. I find that it is more effective in chanelling my energy. Perhaps I haven't figured out the perfect use for my wand?

I always understood them to be for similar purposes, but as I am a solitary practitioner, perhaps I have missed something in this regard.

Any thoughts or advice is welcome!

 
I started off using a wand; I jumped a fence in a local park and "borrowed" a branch from a willow tree. I poured some water for the tree and left some strands of my hair in thanks for the gift.  It was a really good wand and lasted me a long time before it got broken when I moved to my first dorm in college.  As I think I'm a bit old now to be jumping fences, I've pretty much stuck to athames since my wand broke.  

I have found that most of the super pretty athames that I have bought from occult stores aren't as powerful for me as ones I have found at other random places.  My current one is a folding, locking blade with a wood handle.  It doesn't have the double edge thing, but I find I like how portable and concealable it is.  

And sometimes I just don't use one at all and I just use visualization.  

I think whatever you are personally drawn too will work best for you, whether its an athame or a wand or just your mind.

Redfaery

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2014, 05:41:31 am »
Quote from: Jenett;129525
Generally, the reason we develop different tools is because they do sufficiently different things in at least some circumstances.

Maybe the best example here is that it's possible to eat quite a lot of foods with just a spoon, but there are reasons we've developed forks. (Which were, historically speaking, quite a late addition to our food customs.)

How people use wands and athames is one of those things that varies quite a bit based on other specifics of practice (for one thing, some traditions and paths associate the athame with air and the wand with fire, and others do it the other way around, and this makes a difference.)

In my practice (which is initiatory religious witchcraft), we use the athame for things that require not just directing energy, but also cutting it away or shaping it - it is used to scribe the circle, because part of the process of our circle casting is preparing a starting space that is clearly delineated. It's also used for things like cutting unwanted energy ties.

(Incidentally, I believe that an athame should be metal, should be inherently capable of physically cutting even if it's not kept fully sharp for other safety reasons, and should be double edged as a reminder that intellect and knowledge have both risks and benefits.)
 
The wand, in contrast, is a somewhat softer energy - maybe the best difference I can give is that where the athame is a single fine point pen, a wand is a brush. It is easier to produce a wave of energy. In some practices (including the group I trained in) it is not uncommon to have wands dedicated to very specific pieces of ritual energy: you might have one wand for each quarter, designed and attuned to the energy of that element, you might have a wand used only for invocation of a particular deity in a Drawing Down, etc.

This is partly because wands are generally a bit easier for most people to make themselves (blacksmithing requiring rather more tools and space than woodworking, especially if you are mostly working with things like sandpaper, paint, wire, simple wood carving tools, etc. rather than something like a lathe). But it's also partly, I think, the nature of the tool that lends itself to a wider range of variations.

In my practice, wands are used for quarter calls, for invocation (especially for Drawing Down, to focus the energy and direct it very specifically), and for a few very specific ritual practices where you want not to be handling sharp blades by their edges. (Bad for the blade, bad for your hands.)

 

I know this is an old thread, and I don't have much in particular to say, except that I found it (and this post especially:)) very interesting.

So I'll throw in my experience. I happen to have a knife, which I just call an athame, since that's what it is to me. I bought it at an occult shop. It was clearly made as a very utilitarian tool - it has sharp edges and came it a functional black sheath. In fact, it looked really menacing.

There were actually two of them in the case, but the owner let me examine them both, and this one had a little wear on the crosspiece, and also seemed to "buzz" a bit. My goddess accepted it pretty readily. She moved me to purify it in a unique way. I censed it as per usual, but then I noticed the light drizzle outside and just felt moved to go outside and....play. So I jumped, twirled, danced, and generally acted like a playful child. Then I faced North and plunged it in the Earth. I use it for the exorcism of negative and impure energies.

I also recently acquired a wand purely by chance. A tree in my apartment complex dropped it during a storm, right near my usual space (to be fair, I wasn't parked in it at the time) I was so amazed at seeing this perfect little stick that I knew right away what it was for. I picked it up and rapped it against the sidewalk - a lot of times, I see perfect sticks like that, and they just crumble as soon as they're picked up. It's perfectly sound. I forgot to thank the tree since I was so surprised, though since I didn't actively cut the wand, and I haven't used it yet, I don't think it's urgent. I'll do something this morning.

To be fair, I don't have much opportunity to use either a wand or an athame, since I don't cast circles; I've never had the need to, because I don't do magic or elaborate rituals. Most of what I do is what I guess you'd call "enhanced meditation." I use crystals to clear my mind and rid myself of negativity. Sometimes I channel excess energy into the athame, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet.
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Siren

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2014, 09:12:27 am »
Quote from: Rosa Morgana;129513
Does anyone have thoughts on the use of an athame vs a wand in spells and ritual?

I have both tools, each that I created myself, but I have been continuously drawn to the use of my athame exclusivley. I find that it is more effective in chanelling my energy. Perhaps I haven't figured out the perfect use for my wand?

I always understood them to be for similar purposes, but as I am a solitary practitioner, perhaps I have missed something in this regard.

Any thoughts or advice is welcome!


I have both, but don't really use either one very much. I'll use my athame to cast a circle if I want to go Big High Ceremony for one of my rituals or if I'm worried something I'm doing might be dangerous, and I've used it in defensive spells. But I don't cast a circle most of the time I do ritual work, if I'm just honoring the Gods without trying to cast anything, which is the majority of the time. It also doesn't help that I've never quite settled on an athame. I've had several, and none of them seem quite right, and I'm not Wiccan enough to be really upset about that. The latest one is the closest to "right" I've found.

My wand, I don't use much in ritual but I like to have it around. I made it from a branch from a rosebush I loved at my old cottage, three moves ago, and that rosebush was destroyed in a really senseless and stupid fashion by someone else, and now the wand is all there is of it. I feel like my rosebush is still with me as long as I have my wand.

Snowdrop

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2014, 07:36:54 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;129525
(for one thing, some traditions and paths associate the athame with air and the wand with fire, and others do it the other way around, and this makes a difference.)

 
Sorry to pick up something you said months ago, but can you elaborate on this?

Jenett

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2014, 09:09:42 pm »
Quote from: Snowdrop;142581
Sorry to pick up something you said months ago, but can you elaborate on this?

Quite possibly, but not on weekends in which I am helping run a convention?

(Which is to say: I am travelling, cannot easily save posts to reply to on Monday when I have more time, but if you nudge me on Monday or on Friday, I will have more time to reply then. Tuesday through Thursday, I will be playing catchup from travel.)

Someone else may also be able to do it, mind :)
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Holdasown

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2014, 11:18:28 am »
Quote from: Rosa Morgana;129513
Does anyone have thoughts on the use of an athame vs a wand in spells and ritual?

I have both tools, each that I created myself, but I have been continuously drawn to the use of my athame exclusivley. I find that it is more effective in chanelling my energy. Perhaps I haven't figured out the perfect use for my wand?

I always understood them to be for similar purposes, but as I am a solitary practitioner, perhaps I have missed something in this regard.

Any thoughts or advice is welcome!


I have never been interested in wands. I have an athame but I use mine with a Heathen perspective in mind. I keep it sharp and cut with it. Only for spiritual stuff but I use like a regular knife. He does have a name as well. I have felt like getting wooden spoons and marking them with runes for cooking. I have seem people talk about them and have gotten really keen on the idea. I guess they could be almost like a wand.

Jenett

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2014, 04:26:27 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;129525

How people use wands and athames is one of those things that varies quite a bit based on other specifics of practice (for one thing, some traditions and paths associate the athame with air and the wand with fire, and others do it the other way around, and this makes a difference.)


Snowdrop did ping me, and it's taken a couple of days to wrangle my brain enough, so if this is incoherent, a) please, other people feel free to chime in and b) please ask specific questions which are usually a bit easier for me to wrangle than "explain all the things."

The short version of this is that the answer involves condensing a century or more of ceremonial magic theory. Of the four primary magical tools (athame, wand, chalice, and pentacle), the last two are pretty clear cut in terms of elemental associations (water and earth, respectively.)

It's the last two that are tricky.

If you look at the actual tools, there's a couple of different ways you can see them mapping. Some people point out that metal is forged in fire, and that wood - for wands - grows upwards into the air. Some people point out that if the athame is intellect and discernment, then that's an air association, rather than the consuming pressure of fire. And, at the same time, some people point out that one of the common visualisations for the use of the athame (or sword) is etheric fire, while the visualisation for a wand is often more diffuse (airy)  

Gardner associated the athame with fire, but there's other associations floating around out there. Some people have theorised that the Golden Dawn assocations are what was referred to as a 'blind' - an intentional error meant to make the workings ineffective until you applied the appropriate corrections. (These were common in a number of esoteric traditions and groups, not just the GD.)

(I am not a ceremonial magician, nor more than moderately familiar with the public material of those traditions, so I can't answer the question of what's accurate here, just reporting common theories. In digging around for links, I found this blog post that quotes from Deborah Lipp's retelling of the history.)

Anyway, both associations are fairly widely used in the modern esoteric community - you'll see this particularly with Tarot decks, and for some people, it's a big reason to choose one deck over another.

In ritual practice, there's a bit more variation (partly because it depends on what the underpinnings of your ritual associations are, partly because there are practices that, say, have a wand for each quarter or for other specific uses like invocation of a particular deity, so the elemental association of the general tool is a bit more flexible or less directly relevant.)

The biggest thing to consider is what other associations change - for example, if you have a system that maps the tools to elements, the elements to directions, and those directions to other points (i.e. times of day, times of year, the witch's pyramid) then changing one association can upset a whole bunch of others.

There's also some magical polarity things - for example, in the Great Rite in symbol, you have the athame and the chalice, and if the athame is fire, you have the polarity model of fire and water. Air and water doesn't have the same kind of creative friction behind it.

That's the summary version, anyway - you can see that once you get into specific practices or traditions, it can get more complicated, because you also end up tracing where that particular practice got *its* information from, and whether a particular interpretation is heavily embedded in other parts of its ritual structure.
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Snowdrop

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Re: Athame vs. Wand
« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2014, 03:59:45 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;143427

 
Thanks!  The way I learned it was wand = air and athame = fire, and when I first heard the idea of the athame as air because it's the cutting, discerning intellect, it made sense, but somehow the concept of the wand as fire is something I have difficulty wrapping my mind around.  

I think the big issue for me is the resonance between the element and the tool, if that makes sense.  I feel like if I say the wand is air, that implies I'm focusing more on the "light," associative, persuading aspects of air, while if I say the athame is air, it means I am perceiving air as more forceful and pointed.  

I hadn't even considered the Great Rite symbolism, but you're right, that is a fairly big consideration, at least in traditions that have that.  

Do you think there's a "right" set of tool-element correspondences, or do you think anything is doable as long as it has its own internal logic?

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