When is a Knife Just a Knife?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard of bolines and athames, otherwise known as the white knives and the black knives. They are apparently integral parts of Wicca and Witchcraft….and I don’t get it. Why is it necessary to have these two knives? Why not use one knife? Does it even have to be a special knife? Can I not just use a knife from the block in the kitchen?

Maybe it’s youthful ignorance, but I don’t understand why I’d need them. Or maybe it’s because I’m nineteen, unemployed, and therefore broke, and cannot afford such things. But in all seriousness, I’ve never used either. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t gotten incredibly serious up until now, but I still can’t see the need for them, since so far I’ve gotten along fine without them.

Cunningham and Buckland aren’t all that great at telling me why, specifically, I need them. I assume that I do not, since many books have told me I can use my fingers as the ‘knife’. But if I don’t really need them, then that means that the knives are only ritual theatre pieces….which could mean it’s the same for every other item I’ve been told I need.

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One thought on “When is a Knife Just a Knife?

  1. The historical and unromantic answer is: Because Gerald Gardner was basing Wicca’s rituals off of the Lesser Key of Solomon, a manual of Renaissance ceremonial magic, and there were two knives (and a sword) in the key, so there were two knives (and a sword) in Brit Trad Wicca. And since the rest of Wicca descends (at least in part) from BTW, there are two knives in a lot of trads.

    The Lesser Key makes the distinction because of a cultural assumption that things which were sacred/magical had to be kept apart from everyday use.

    Plenty of witches argue differently, pointing out that folk magic was often practiced by people who couldn’t afford to have a fancy set of cutlery for magical use only, and so they do just use kitchen knives.

    I once did ritual with a table knife and coffee cup stolen from the dorm cafeteria, and no one was eaten by dog-faced demons, so I guess it’s all right.

    Liked by 2 people

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