Probably one of the first magickal tools that a new pagan will want to acquire is that which is most often called the athame(a-thAYm-AY) . The personal knife is used in some form in almost all magickal paths, with some exceptions in the Dianic groups. These groups generally prefer to cast the circle with a flower or feather instead of using a weapon.
The athame is usually a double sided blade, made of steel, copper, bronze, or iron, with magickal symbols such as the pentagram, carved into the wooden handle or etched into the blade itself. the knife, may sometimes be made completely of carved wood, but being entirely out of wood, could be termed more closely with the wand. Still there are people who use a finger quite well, in place of the athame. If it makes you uncomfortable, don't do it(opinion, again).
In most practices of High Magick, and many Pagan paths, the athame is a must, as it is used to represent the element of Air and the direction of East, if one doesn't already have a sword. (The association of the blade relating to the direction of East and of the element of Air is not necessarily the case in more traditional Witchcraft(before Wicca).
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Pentacle©Robin Wood 1997
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