Sword is Doreen Valientes ritual sword. Hexagon were responsible for archiving the Doreen Valiente collection in 2000 and produced the late Doreens last publication Charge of the Goddess.
Picture copyright Hexagon/Hoopix
The sword is an optional Witchcraft tool. The use of the sword comes mostly from British ceremonial magick and isnt part of most Witchcraft traditions.
safety warning: Everything you learned about knife safety applies to a sword. A sword is sharp and dangerous. Always practice sword safety. Some Witches use a ceremonial sword (made of plastic or wood or some other material) that doesnt have an actual cutting edge. If you use a sword, make sure to keep it hidden when it isnt in use, because boys tend to find swords completely irrresistable and want to play with them (and can hurt themselves or someone else).
correspondences of a sword
There is honest disagreement among Witches as to which element the sword corresponds with. Some Witches believe that the sword corresponds to the element fire. Some Witches believe the sword corresponds with the element air. Experiment and see which works best for you personally, but honor the right for other Witches to honestly have a different choice.
The sword is considered to be a phallic tool and therefore of masculine element and male energy. The sword corresponds with the planet Mars.
A sword can be used for most of the same purposes as an athame, but is more formal. Witches that use a sword reserve the use of the sword for highly formal occassions. The sword is not an ordinary, everyday Witchcraft tool.
purification of a sword
You will want to purify and consecrate a sword before you use it for ritual or ceremonial purposes.
If you purchase a used sword you will want to purify the sword of any bad karma or negative vibrations from previous unknown owners. One easy method is to expose the sword to direct sunlight for at least one hour a day for the full cycle of the moon, usually starting at Full Moon or New Moon. This can be by placing the sword inside a window (to prevent possible theft). Other purification methods include water, alchohol, salt, crystals, and herbal smudgings.
Some Witches believe that an athame should never be purchased, that either you must make your own tools or receive them as gifts. That probably worked fine in ancient times, but how many people know how to make their own swords nowadays?
A gift sword is considered a great honor. The sword will have all the energy of years of use by the previous owner. That energy can help guide and empower your own magick, merging your magickal energy with the magickal energy of the Witch who gave the gift. Obviously you dont cleanse out the previous energy from a gift sword (in this case, you want that energy to stay in the sword).
Once the sword has been purified (you can skip this step if you or someone you know has owned the sword for years or if you purchase a new sword), you may have a consecration ceremony.
consecration of an sword
Consecration: When you finish choosing or making a sword, you will want to dedicate it to magickal work. You may create your own little ceremony that dedicates the sword for sacred use and transforms it from an ordinary sword into a magickal tool. The ritual should be short and simple: place the tool on the altar, cast a circle, and perform a shrt ritual to consecrate the tool.
A brief ceremonial purification and cleansing of previous mundane uses migh involve mixing a small amount of salt and water in a chalice or bowl and then sprinkling the tool. This is just ceremonial purification. If the tool needs a complete purification, then this should be done before the consecration ritual.
You will probably also want to recite a short poem about the mundane sword being transformed into a magickal tool. One, two, three, or four lines are plenty. It doesnt have to rhyme unless you want it to. Some Witches directly speak to sword.
Janet and Stewart Farrar suggest the simple phrase With this sword in my hands, I am the ruler of the circle.
If you have a permanent altar, you might leave your sword on your altar for 24 hours after your ceremony before making use of your new sword. Any of the Sabbats or New Moon or Full Moon are particularly appropriate times to dedicate a new sword.
Feel free to submit JPEGs of your personal sword. Indicate the materials, symbols, deity, Witchcraft tradition, or other special information that may help understand your sword.
In some traditions (especially Nordic, Teutonic, or Germanic) the sword is given a ceremonial name. Sometimes this ceremonial name is carved into the handle in runes or magick writing system. There are many examples of European weapons inscribed with runic names by shamans of Odin. You may optionally invoke the name of Odin or any male deity to empower the consecration.
The earliest writings tell of sword names. The ancient Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf describes a sword named Hrunting:
Not the least or worst of his weaponry
Was the sword Hrothgars herald lent him
In his hour of need name Hrunting
An ancient heirloom, trusty and tested;
Its blade was made of iron, with engraved design
Tempered in the blood of many battles
Never in combat had it failed the hand
That drew it, risking the dangers of war,
The enemys onslaught. Not the first time then
That its edge must be ventured in deeds of valour.
Sword names reflect the quality of the weapon on both a physical and magikcal level. The meanings of some ancient sword names have been lost.
The sword owned by two kings named Offa was called Skrep and the sword was the symbol of Saxon and Mercian kingship.
The Norse saga Magnus Barefoots Saga says that King Magnus was girded with a sword called Leggbitr [Leg-biter]. Its guards were of walrus ivory, and its hilt was sheathed with gold. It was one of the best weapons.
Egils Saga, about the Battle of Brunanburgh in northern England in 937 describes some sword names: Thorolf has a wide and thick shield, a very strong helmet on his head and a sword which he called Lang [Long One], a large and good weapons Egil had the same equipment as Throlf, he had a sword which he called Nadr [Adder], which he had obtained from Kurland; it was an excellent wqeapon
Kormacs Saga describes the misuse of the famous sword named Sköfnung.
Some other sword names recorded in the Nordic sagas include: the Battle-Fire, the Byrnies Fear, the Dog of the Helmet, the Fire of the Shields, Harmer of War-Knittings, the Ice of Battle, Odins Flame, the Sea-Kings Fire, Serpent of the Wound, Snake of the Byrnie, Tongue of the Scabbard, and Torch of the Blood.
uses of a sword
Uses: Most Witches do not use a sword. The sword is used for many of the same purposes as an athame, but is more formal.
A sword is used for the ritual of Invoking the Lords of the Watchtowers.
A sword is used for ruling the circle (in important rituals, such as initiating a new member into a coven).
The sword can be used for making formal salutations.
When a woman straps on a sword, she symbollically becomes male for the ritual. Because some rituals call for a male participant, but Witches were traditionally mostly women, one of the women would strap on a sword to invoke the male role.
Some Witches believe that the sword should only be used inside a circle. During the Burning Times, Witches had to hide their Witchcraft tools in plain sight (which is why every Witchcraft tool other than a sword looks like an ordinary kitchen utensil).
You want to be careful about who else touches or handles your sword. Magickal tools are sensitive and will absorb the energy of anyone who touches them. Some Witches dont let anyone else touch their sword. Some Witches will allow member of their coven, their family, and close friends to touch their sword.
If someone touches your sword, you can smudge it with sage. Light a sage leaf on fire, then gently blow out the flame, leaving a bright red burning ember. Wave your sword through the sage smoke. This will cleanse out the energy from the unwanted touching without driving out all of the positive magickal energy youve built up in your sword (a complete purification would get rid of your magickal energy as well). You can also sprinkle a small amount of salt and water, as described in the consecration ritual above.
If a sword has ever drawn blood, it must be purified before it can be consecrated for magick. If you ever accidently cut yourself with your sword, you will want to smudge with sage, sprinkle with salt water, or otherwise symbollically purify it (many Witches use ceremonial swords that dont have a cutting edge).
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