The Pagan Basics series is for those looking to find out more about the basic concepts, symbols and values of paganism. A series of short articles which give explanations to some of paganism’s most fundamental concepts, images and shared understandings.
The Boline is a counterpart to the athame, a knife or small sickle which is used exclusively for the task of herb or plant gathering in a ritual context. An example of this would be if you wanted to use a particular plant in a future ritual, you would use a boline to harvest it, as this can be seen as showing the proper respect to the plant, and the environment in wider context. The act of harvesting the plant for ritual use becomes part of your preparation for the ritual and ensures that your intent is clearly a reverent one.
Often with a white handle, purely to distinguish it from the black handle of the athame, they can look like a two edged dagger, a small knife or a small hand sickle:
Again boline’s can be plain or ornate, it’s your choice.
Blades are often steel, although some can be iron or another metal, as long as it fits the purpose of harvesting herbs without rendering them useless afterwards! Many plants and herbs have soft stems and can bruise easily, so if you choose to use one, make sure that it’s fit for purpose.