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Symbolism of the Athame

As an artist, I find that I can work better, and see what I am doing better, if I think about the symbolism inherent in the object I am making. That doesn't mean that you have to agree with me - you are, of course, welcome and expected to view the world in the way that best suites your nature. But, just for fun, here is the way I see it. These daggers are based on styles that were popular as fighting knives from about 1550 - 1700, so the symbolism revolves around that...

Blade - Ah yes. Let's start with the business end. The blade represents action - movement - the event that changes what comes after. The blade is the arrow that the will follows from the individual out into the world.

Quillon - The quillon or guard protects the hand from attack - contrary action - counter thrust. When one takes action in the other world, one lays one's self open to all kinds of nastiness. That world is no more a rose garden than this one, and the one who enters there must be prepared. When offense and defense are seen for what they truly are - two points on a single continuum - success is certain.

Wedding Band - The wedding band is a nice decorative element, but it is more than that. Just as a wedding band symbolizes a commitment to joining in the world of romance, it here symbolizes the connection or joining of the blade (action) to the hilt (the will). And just as two people who do not take the symbolism of the wedding band seriously are apt, despite their best intentions, to wander in contrary directions and be lost in the crowd, so to would the athame, without the symbolism of the wedding band loose the coordination of action and the will behind it.

Hilt - The hilt, or handle, represents the will - control - the conscious direction of energy toward a goal. The hand on the hilt directs the blade, joined by the wedding band, and protected by the quillon, even as the will directs the actions of the user. Direct your actions. Join intent to movement. Protect yourself from malevolent forces Follow the arrow. And surely that which you move desire must come to pass.

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Copyright 2010 B. de Corbin and Splendid Fish Studio