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Why Witches use their Athame, Wand, Staff and Sword in Magic

I’ve talked about creating magical tools in “How to Make Rings, Amulets, Staffs and other Magical Items”, but now I’m going to cover a couple traditional magic Tools for Witches and Mages: The Wand, Athame, Staff and Sword.   This article skims the surface of each magic tool, covering the basics of how to use them and more importantly WHY...

Sticks (Fire) vs. Blades (Air)
Most Witches tend to use their Sticks or their Blades to alternating magical purposes.  I use my sticks (Wand and Staff) to gather, redirect and guide energy. I use my Blades (Athame / Ritual Knife and Sword) to focus my will and power to its purpose. However, some Witches reverse these roles. You can often tell by which Element they connect with the tool.   To me a wand is Fire, thus I see it as a tool for dealing with the expression of primal energy, and my Athame is a tool of air which deals with helping focus and express thoughts and will.  Phoenix sees his Athame as Fire and his Wand as Air… and uses them accordingly.  (Who is Phoenix?  You’ll know soon enough… *insert evil laughter*)

The Sword and Athame are basically the same magic tool at different scales. The smaller tool has more finesse, which the larger one sacrifices for more raw power (same with the Wand and Staff of course).

In the European 4 element magic system of Witches there are two more traditional Elements: Water which is almost always represented by a Cup or a Bowl, and Earth which Tends to be Represented by a Flat Piece of Stone/Crystal or a Clay/Metal Pentacle. I must admit I’ve done little Water and Earth Magic and the tools aren’t really ones I use heavily. *Makes a mental note to change this*

When used for general ritual, these magic tools are ALL foci. I have noticed that these Elemental magic Tools tend to have spirits within. You CAN have a very purpose focused tool: An Athame meant only for cutting out disease for example.  However, witches will tend to have a “general ritual” one as well.

Now WHY would they have these magic tools?
I have a 150lb stone I want you to move.  Are you going to walk over, pick it up and carry it or are you going to probably want a wheelbarrow?   Sure you have to figure out how to get the stone into the Wheelbarrow, but once you do your work is MUCH easier.   Yes the process is very different to move the stone when you use the wheelbarrow.  Using it doesn’t really prepare you for moving stones without it; however we have a situation in magic. Most witches want to see results NOW.

Magic has a LOT of foundation work before you are going to be able to reliably shape spells with consistent results using your mind, will and power without tools and careful ritual.  The tools and systems of ritual magic impart a nice amount of conceptual momentum into your spells.   I’ve literally seen witches walk around a circle gossiping with someone while their Athame cut the circle, even though they weren’t putting any effort into the task. Sure it was a crappy circle, but it was a circle.  The power of the ritual existed even without any focus or will added to it.

Wasting a Good Thing due to Laziness
THAT story is where stories of using a tool as a crutch come from by the way.  I know some New Age groups that focus on finding and developing more and more powerful tools and techniques, but they have a problem; they put all of the power into the technique and none in their training…

Look, a computer is an INSANELY POWERFUL tool.  However, you will NEVER experience the awesome heights that the tool empowers you to potentially reach, if you won’t study why it does certain things in certain ways or how you can mix your mind, ideas and experiences with it. You are either going to choose between high cost, easy, fast and moderate results in a specific area, or do a lot of study and training to achieve the more impressive results that most people couldn’t even dream of. Sometimes the right answer is using a specialized tool with little training.  I do this sometimes.  However there are times when mastering a tool is very useful…

Side Effects of Mastering a Tool
I am a violinist. While I don’t play much lately, I am probably 6 months of focused practice away from being ready to play in small city philharmonics.  That means I’m pretty good.

I can use the abilities I’ve learned about music while playing violin with completely new instruments.  I regularly pick up a new instrument that people have no clue how to play and start making music. Now I’m NOWHERE near as good with these new instruments as people who practice and play with it a lot, however I’m often better with it than people who’ve been playing it for a couple weeks; plus my learning curve is a LOT faster.  Within hours of practice I’m making very nice music.

YOU can do the same with Magical Tools.  By focusing on learning to use your Athame in your magics you will learn a LOT about magic and Athame type tools. These concepts will help you to pick up and learn other issues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an AH-HA moment in one area change my practices in another.

A Story: Finding Ley Lines
Early in my magical studies, I was using my staff to channel energy into a friend to heal him. I reached out to gather energy and drew it in from the street in front of my apartment, reached over to a nearby park and drew some more, moved to a different part of the park and…

all of a sudden it was like I plugged into a wall socket. Whereas before I was gathering power in droplets, suddenly it was like I had access to a huge river of power. I channeled the energy I needed through to him and we were VERY quickly finished.   Later I did something “looking,” learned that Ley Lines are not just a storybook concept and began studying them. If I hadn’t been using a staff I likely wouldn’t have been able to transfer energy fast enough to recognize the Ley Line; I might not have even noticed it!

These Tools aren’t Temporary or “Training Wheels”
Believing the “magical crutch” theory, I literally gave up my staff at one point. It was my main tool and I felt I was too reliant on it.   So I “let it go.” I freed the Spirit in the staff and soon afterwards the staff had split up the middle. It was dead and gone.

For years afterwards I worked to build my ability to recreate the level of power I experienced with it. I’d mastered a trick where I could “thump” the staff against the ground and a burst of power that even “mundanes” (people who don’t believe in magic)  would stop and turn to recognize.   I’d tested; it wasn’t even that loud, it was literally the blast of energy.   I spent those years working to build toward these and similar goals using my body, energy and will.

In the course of writing this article I learned something.    In a ritual over a year ago, the original spirit of my first staff returned into a new body after doing some learning of his own. However, I hadn’t been using it.   I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with some of my readers in Real Life and BaconBitz in particular has been pushing me to “practice what I preach…”   So for the sake of the article I picked up the staff and started doing some comparison work.

In the almost 7 years since giving up my first staff I’ve worked HARD to become stronger and I definitely have. However, in testing, from 6 feet away, if I projected energy from to BaconBitz by myself, he had to open up to notice anything happening. When I used my staff for the same thing he was literally pushed back.

Back to the Wheelbarrow
If I’d spent 7 years eschewing use of a wheel barrow because I wanted to learn to move rocks faster without it I might have gained some pretty impressive skills. However, it would be fair to argue that I will still be much faster moving rocks if I use the damn thing.

So take heed and learn.  It is AWESOME if you choose to learn and grow.  It’s cool being able to do without tools, but as I’ve learned, you are downright silly if you think the “path to true power” declines to use tools. A Wheelbarrow is not a crutch.  Neither are your magical tools. These are the core tools of the trade.

A Carpenter wouldn’t try to ply his trade without a hammer or a saw, and you’re silly to regularly practice magic without your Athame, Sword, Wand, Staff, Tarot Deck, Herbs, Book of Shadows, Incenses, Cauldron, Salt, Crystals, Pendulum, Mirror, Runes, Bones, Altar, Statues, Candles, Oils and all of the other things people have used for magic for centuries.

The work writing this article is changing things for me.  My tools have been kept rather haphazardly over the years, but that is going to change. Many of my tools will be going into a centralized Location with a backpack prepared nearby.   My tools will be available quickly and easily. If I did carpentry my toolbelt would be prepared and quickly available. I do magic… My tool kit should be similarly prepared and available.

I will work on other articles to go into greater details aiding your learning of each of these tools; however, for now pick one up. Start with the concepts that you should use your wand whenever you want to move energy, and use your Athame whenever you want to magickally cut or guide (It’s amazing how often magical cutting is valuable).

Practice doing these basics.  As you grow, be creative as to other ways to use these features. Magic is VERY undocumented.  There is a LOT that you can re-invent fast. Heck, be generous, come back here and post your findings in the forums, so others can learn from your mistakes and successes!

Good Spelling,
Power Before Wisdom

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© Scott Reimers 2014