Athame & Bolline
The magic knife (or athame) has an ancient history. It isn't
used for cutting purposes in Wicca, but to direct the energy raised during
rites and spells. It is seldom used to invoke or call upon the Deities
for it is an instrument of commanding and power manipulation. We'd
rather invoke the Goddess and God.
The Knife is often dull, usually double-edged with a black or dark
handle. Black absorbs power. When the knife is
used in ritual to direct energy, some of this power is absorbed into the
handle - only a tiny amount - which can be called upon later. Then
again sometimes energy raised within the Wiccan ritual is channeled into
the knife for later use. The stories of Swords with Magical powers
and names are quite common in mythic literature (For example, Excalibur)
and swords are nothing more than large knives.
Some Wiccans engrave their knives with magic symbols, usually taken
from the Key of Solomon, but this isn't necessary. As with most magical
tools, the knife becomes powerful by your touch and usage. However,
if you so desire, scratch words, symbols or runes onto its blade or
A sword is sometimes used in Wicca, as it has all the properties of
the knife, but can be difficult for indoor rituals due to its size.
Because of the symbolism of the knife, which is a tool that causes
change, it is commonly linked with the element of Fire. It's phallic
nature links it with the God.
The white-handled knife (sometimes called a bolline) is simply a practical,
working knife as opposed to the purely ritualistic magic knife. It
is used to cut wands or sacred herbs, inscribe symbols onto candles or on
wood, clay or wax, and in cutting cords for use in magic. It is usually
white-handled to distinguish it from the magic knife (the athame).
Some Wiccan traditions dictate that the white-handled knife be used
only within the magic circle. This would, of course, limit it's usefulness.
It seems that using it solely for ritual purposes (such as harvesting
flowers from the garden to place on the altar during ritual) confirms the
tool's sacredness and so allows its use out of "sacred space".
Taken from, "Wicca A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" by Scott