Like the athame, the sword stands in the East of the circle as a tool of the Air element. Swords are the
suit symbol of Air in the Tarot and are also one of the Christian as well as the Celtic Grail treasures.
Each of the Tarot suits and the main elemental ritual items in magick, represented by these four suits,
is associated with one of the treasures of the Celts. The treasures belonged to the Celtic Father God,
Dagda, and are said to be guarded in the Otherworld by Merlin. There were 13 treasures in total, but
four have come into pre-eminence in magick and Tarot reading.
These four main sacred artefacts – swords, pentacles, wands and cups, or chalices – have parallels in
Christianity and were associated with the legendary quest of the knights of King Arthur, who
attempted to find them. The Grail Cup was the most famous of these. The Christian sword of King
David, identified in legend with Arthur’s sword Excalibur, appears in Celtic tradition as the sword of
Nuada whose hand was cut off in battle.
With a new hand fashioned from silver, he went on to lead his people to victory. According to one
account, the Christian treasures were brought in AD 64 to Glastonbury in England by Joseph of
Arimathea, the rich merchant who caught Christ’s blood in the chalice as He was on the cross and took
care of His burial after the crucifixion.
Some present-day, peace-loving witches, myself included, do not really like the concept of using
swords, even though they are pretty spectacular for drawing out a circle on a forest floor, and swords
are rarely used in home ritual magick. If you do want to use one, however, you can obtain reproduction
The sword is the male symbol to the female symbol of the cauldron, and plunging the swords into the
waters of the cauldron can be used in love rituals and for the union of male and female, god and
goddess energies as the culmination of any rite. However, the chalice and the athame, or wand, tend to
be used for the same purpose, unless it is a very grand ceremony.