So I'm focusing on the use of the athame, because so many people who know me but don't KNOW me seem to think they are used for ritual sacrifice. This just gives me a total >.< moment. I got the following info from Wikipedia, since the information I wanted to convey was best expressed on there. Please remember, many Pagan religions mean many different rituals and meanings. Thank you.
This is my lovely athame, in its sheath.
The athame's primary use is to channel and direct psychic energy, generally conceived as etheric fire. If things such as herbs or cords need to be cut, another knife called a boline - a white-handled knife - is used. An exception is the "kitchen witchcraft" philosophy, which actively encourages the use of magical tools for mundane purposes to increase the witch's familiarity with them.
The ritual drawing of the boundary of the Magic circle - also known as "casting the circle" - is usually done with either a ritual sword or an athame, in traditional coven practice. For open rituals in public places, this is sometimes done with a ritual wand or staff instead, since there may be legal complications involved with swords and daggers in public places, even when the edges have been dulled. In most traditional covens, the athame is associated with the magical element of fire, so the circle is considered to be cast in etheric fire. This fire is traditionally envisioned as blue, indigo or violet; although it may equally well be envisioned as other colors. When the circle is ritually purified after being cast, that is traditionally done with the remaining three elements -- air (incense), water (salt-water), and earth (salt) -- because the element of fire has already been imbued into the circle during the casting, by the use of the athame.
After the casting, the athame is the tool traditionally used to invoke the elemental guardians of the four directions - also termed "calling the quarters" - typically by drawing elemental pentagrams at each quarter. This important traditional practice is one of the reasons often given for the requirement that the athame must be double-edged; because attempting to trace a pentagram in the air with a single-edged blade will require some awkward twisting of the hand and wrist, in order to keep the single cutting edge in the direction of motion.
As a masculine principle, the athame is often used in combination with the chalice, as feminine principle, evoking the act of procreation, as a symbol of universal creativity. The athame represents the magical element of fire, associated with the Sun and the Horned God; while the chalice represents the magical element of water, associated with the Moon and the Goddess. The union of the two then represents the union of God and Goddess, male and female, sun and moon, fire and water. The marriage of the Sun and Moon -- the union of opposites -- is an ancient idea in alchemy; and the hieros gamos or sacred marriage of god and goddess is an even more ancient idea in pagan religions. (For example, in ancient Greece - from whence the term "hieros gamos" comes.) This rite is done by dipping the athame into the chalice to bless the wine. This is a symbol of the Great Rite in Wiccan rituals. Some modern witchcraft traditions may prefer not to use iron blades, instead preferring alternatives such as copper, bronze or stone, such as obsidian. This is most common amongst traditions that have a particular fondness of the Sidhe, to whom iron is supposedly baneful.