The Best Ways to Get an Athame

FYI – there is a tradition surrounding the best way to obtain one of these things. I will list them in order of preference.

1. Find one in a long lost shrine after a terrible and dangerous journey through the wilderness. Look around for scrolls as long as you’re there. They often travel together with athames, and it would be a shame to have to make two trips. Beware of buying maps to long lost shrines from old men in bars who have voices like Tom Waites. There is a thriving black market trade in fakes.

2. Have a mysterious stranger give you one, preferably as you are standing at the crossroads. (NOTE: traditionally, the knife is given by a man to a woman. There are some who will argue that, since Wicca is a female-run thing, it is more appropriate for a woman to give it to a woman [some kind of sisterhood deal. Very modern and trendy, I’m sure]. Don’t curse me for this, but there is some important symbolism here – the athame is a male power symbol and the gift represents the willing handing over of a certain type of power for the woman’s use. [It has nothing to do with dominance. It’s about sharing, kids]. The great powers of the world always flow best between opposite poles. I suppose a woman can give it to a woman, or a man can give it to a man, but the whole symbolism thing then gets muddy. Use your own discretion).

3. Have one handed down to you through uncountable generations (this one might be number two. It’s a hard call. Depends on your family).

4. Have someone unexpectedly and for no apparent reason give you one (NOTE: Ladies, this should not be your boyfriend. There is almost always a reason why he gives you a gift, even if he insists it’s “just because.”).

5. Receive one as an initiation gift, or as a gift showing great respect and/or gratitude. Please do be careful here. I’d recommend that you read Machiavelli before you try this one. People aren’t always as grateful or respectful as they oughtta be. Usually it’s easier to just scare the crap out of them, or break their arm or something. But then they don’t give you athames. Hmm… Difficult problem…

6. Make your own (I am working on a page with instructions if you wish to try making one. It's still in the works, though). In case you haven’t gotten the idea yet, the two ways to get one of these are actually getting real lucky or doing work. If you get real lucky, it means you are meant to have it. If you work for it, it means you deserve it. On the other hand, if you aren’t meant to have one and you don’t deserve one, there is number 7…

7. Buy one for yourself. I shouldn’t tell you this, what with me tumbling into the business of selling these and all, but this is the worst way to get one. It involves neither luck nor direct labor. You will need to make some kind of sacrifice if you buy one for yourself. Don’t go killing the neighbor’s dog, though. That’s not a sacrifice because it doesn’t hurt you. It hurts the dog, it hurts the neighbor, but there’s no pain for you. No pain, no sacrifice. Try fasting for two or three weeks, or donate your time to community service without being ordered by the court to do so. And no, getting a tattoo doesn’t count, unless you don’t want one…

8. Steal one (oddly enough, this often turns out to be the best way to get one. The stolen athames tends to be very powerful. Unfortunately, there is usually a long period of horrendous penance involved before it pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t pay off for several lifetimes or generations, and then they almost always end up in a lost shrine somewhere anyhow. Personally, I’d just make my own, but that’s just me. I’m a maker by nature).

Other methods of obtaining anthames which happen so rarely that they can’t be accurately categorized:

1. Be born holding one. If you’re reading this, it is probably too late for this method. I’ve only heard of this happening once. Mom did not survive. I do not recommend it.

2. Find one still hot and steaming in a meteor crater. This one requires a certain amount of luck.

3. Dream of one, then wake up and discover it in your hand. Hopefully you are sleeping alone at the time or it could be a little messy.

4. Find it in the stomach of a huge fish or shark. If you find that you also have been swallowed, do not despair. Finding an athame inside there with you is a sure sign that you will, somehow, escape.

5. Dig one out of the grave of a famous witch. This one is not very polite. If she wanted you to have it, she would not have been buried with it. She would have put it in a lost shrine somewhere, or designated some shadowy representative to get it to you (see “Have a mysterious stranger give you one …”). If you really must have her athame, try planting an acorn on the grave and come back in 800 years after a big storm (see number 7 below).

6. An arm, clothed in white samite, rises from the center of a lake and hands it to you. The last time this happened it was a transfer from a female arm to a male hand. However, the cycles have flipped and energy is flowing in the opposite direction once again. “The next one will be a Lady.” See Malory.

7. Find one entangled in the roots of an ancient oak tree after it comes down in a violent storm. Every spring I plant lots of acorns. I figure that the more oak trees there are, the better the chance there is of this happening seven or eight hundred years from now. It pays to plan ahead.

8. Help a poor old lady with some mundane household task after your two older sisters have already refused her. If she pats you on the head and says “You’re a deary” you’re two thirds of the way there. Don’t forget to curtsy. Old ladies imbued with magic are crazy about curtsying.

9. Find one in the secret room you discover in the old mansion which you inherit from a distant relative living in a remote area of a foreign country (generally the Carpatian Mountains). Again, this one depends on your family connections. Dost thou know from whence thou hast come, and whence thou art going?

10. Pray for one. The deities with which you are dealing believe that you are at your best when you take an active part in the control of your own destiny (“the gods help those who help themselves”). Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask, as long as you don’t expect all the magic to occur behind the scenes while you are sitting on the couch watching T.V.


Copyright 2010 B. de Corbin and Splendid Fish Studio