Swords in Magic

The sword has held a place of power and ritual since it first started being made and used. The first swords were made of bronze and while a big step up from stone and flint weapons were not the powerful weapons that steel swords are. The making of a steel sword that is suitable for combat takes a highly trained specialist. The average village black smith will not have the knowledge to make a sword that will last a life time much less be a weapon to be passed down through the generations. To get an idea of what it takes to make a truly powerful sword in a traditional manner I recommend watching the NOVA episode “Secrets of the Viking Sword”.

In both the Greek/Roman mythology and Norse/German tribal traditions stories are told of a great mythical smith. The Greek god Hephaestus (Roman-Vulcan) was the god of metal work. It is said he was so ugly that when born his mother Hera hurled him off of Mt Olympus and exiled him to never return. It was due to this early trauma that his leg was injured. He walked ever afterward with a limp. In the Roman tradition he lives under Mt Etna, a large volcano on the island of Sicily.

In the northern European traditions there is also a magical smith called Weyland the Smith who becomes lame when he is held captive by the King of Sweden who cuts the tendons in his legs so he can not escape. Weyland ultimately seduces the kings’ daughter and with her help builds a set of magic wings that allow him to escape by flying away to return to his wife in Alf-heim (home of the elves in Norse mythology). Weyland is said to have made many of the magical swords used by heroes in Norse and Germanic folklore.

In modern magical traditions the sword is used for many of the same purposes as an athame. While an athame is a personal magical tool the sword is usually owned/used by the entire coven or ritual group. In this case the sword is used for highly formal rituals.

Different traditions give the sword different aspects. In Tarot it is associated with the element Air and represents action, force, change, and power.

In other traditions the sword, like the athame, represents the element Fire.

The sword comes to modern magic from British ceremonial magic. It is not part of most witchcraft traditions. When a sword is used in such traditions it is often worn to represent the male aspect and is worn by the member of the coven who is taking the part of the male in the ritual as many covens have only female members.

In traditions where the sword is often used it is sometimes named with its magical name inscribed in runes or other magic script on the handle or blade.

If you or a group want to use a sword in rituals you will be doing you will want to consecrate the sword first. Here is one example I found of a consecration ceremony. I am sure others can be found as well.  nhwicca.org/consecration.html

A properly made and sharpened sword is a powerful weapon that can easily hurt those in the ritual if not handled properly. Some groups prefer to use a ceremonial sword. Others argue that only a true sword should be used as this makes the magic more powerful. Treat any sword as a dangerous weapon and use it with discretion and proper decorum.

In some highly ceremonial traditions the sword is used to challenge a new inductee by placing the point against his chest and asking him to state his intentions before he is allowed to enter the ritual space to continue with the ceremony.

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Thank you for joining us for this discussion.  The material presented is originally from Wands and Swords, a White Oak Grove CUUPS discussion with Allen Reed originally held on January 8, 2017.  ©2017 Allen Reed

Sources of Information

  • teenwitch.com
  • biddytarot.com
  • powerofwisdom.com
  • britannica.com
  • greekmythology.com