Athames are ritual daggers in Wicca. A lot of witches use them as well who practice traditional witchcraft but I don’t – generally. I used to have one when I was newer to the craft and I purchased it when I was intent on doing Wicca. It was part of what just didn’t work for me really about Wicca. I have no problem with knives, daggers, or athames in general it just didn’t feel right for me.
Athames are used to direct energy and to symbolize the male element of creation. The Great Rite is symbolized by inserting the blade into the chalice and all of that. Okay so aside from that I’m not Wiccan, if I want to do a Great Rite ceremony I prefer to keep it well… sex. Symbolic sex doesn’t have the same energy pull for me so I’ll just skip over it in lieu of the real deal or something else to draw and direct energy. As the athame is used to direct energy I believe it IS helpful sometimes to have a physical object to help direct energy when doing magic or a ritual: I use a wand. Not a huge wand, just a cute Harry Potter-esq wand. Corny maybe it it’s what works for me and besides, witches have been pictured with wands way more than ritual daggers. If I do need to actually cut something in a ritual, I’ll pull out that athame I bought years ago. This isn’t the same use for rituals daggers in Wicca but not necessarily unheard of. Sometimes I make pretty things or need to cut strings or cords whatever and I use the athame at these times. Then an athame comes in handy because I don’t have to break my concentration and use an ordinary object but have a consecrated ritual tool I’ve put years of energy into.
My experience with athmaes does bring up one thing I feel like anyone new to the craft should remember: if something doesn’t work for you, pay attention. When I was younger I did exactly what my teachers and books said to do. If my spells didn’t work I felt like I had failed. I hadn’t done it right, etc. If something felt stupid or wrong to me, I did not always think “well then I won’t do that”; instead I would try to insist that my teachers were correct. My unconscious however remained unconvinced and I wasted a lot of energy. Listen to your instincts. It’s perfectly fine to say “I don’t like that way, I want to do it this way.” This is especially true in magic because you want to alter your consciousness. I resisted doing what I felt was right to do for a long time because it wasn’t popular. It seemed too embarrassing but eventually I got over that. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut, even when your gut is super corny.