Boline or White-Handled Knife

The White-Handled Knife or Boline

Linoleum Knife as a White-handled Knife or BolineThe boline is more commonly called the white-handled knife. Sometimes spelled as boleen, bolleen or bolline, it was traditionally used for herb harvesting. It has a small curved blade and as you might expect from one of its names – a white handle.

The reason it has a white handle is very simply that that color differentiates it from the athame very easily for most practitioners. Of course, it is quite possible that you have an athame that has a white handle too in which case a little care may be needed if they are very similar.

Although still used by some for herb harvesting, the boline is used more often nowadays for other cutting and carving. Typically this includes such activities cutting branches for wands, trimming the shaft of a besom, cutting cords for cord magic, and the carving of symbols. It is ideal (provided you’re careful – knives are sharp!) wherever carving is required such as symbols on candles, wands, besoms, or anything else that you need.

Use the boline for any ritual function that requires the physical and ritual use of a knife. Cutting wood for wands, flowers for the altar, carving and so on. As long as it’s ritually involved it’s fine; so unless potatoes are part of one of your rituals, don’t use a boline to peel them!


Finding a White-Handled Knife

It is still possible to get a knife with a curved blade today from specialist sellers or even from major retailers such as Amazon. But it is not sacrosanct that it is purpose-made so there are alternatives. Fit for the purpose is much more important than “Made in China” and shiny!

Linoleum knives are nearly ideal for ritual use. I say “nearly” because it is not often that you will see one with a white handle. Red is common and so is plain wood, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. Painting it, wrapping it in white tape, just about any method with a resulting white handle will work!

Many do not use a curved blade at all but simply purchase a white handled knife with a straight edge instead of curved. As long as it still has a single cutting edge it will work.


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Featured Image Photograph Attribution: By [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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