magical weapon can mean two things:
- A weapon that was turned into a magickal item to enhance it's function, or add special abilities, or any magickal item intended for use as a weapon
- Any item that was magickaly charged or is intended for ritual use only
This may cause confusion. But actually, magical weapon is one of the least awqward names for the latter category, so it's often used.
Often there is no clear distinction between the two. Swords and Daggers (see also: Athame) for example are clearly weapons, but they have many ritual uses which have nothing to do with fighting or defense at all.
Magical weapons for fighting
The idea of weapons as magical objects, status symbols and such seems to date back till the stone age, and is part of most modern magickal traditions as well.
Magical weapons exist in various guises depending on their target and purpose. Weapons have either a magical and physical side or just a magical side. For instance a sword enchanted to stay sharp is a legitimate magical weapon, but so is a purely psychic tank.
Magical weapons have various levels of independent consciousness, the sword in the previous example is probably non-sentient since the enchantment on it requires no autonomy. The tank on the other hand is likely to be capable of fighting by itself with little more than targeting in the most general sense being done by its operator.
The most important thing to remember when one crafts a magical weapon is that you must have some way to ensure that it does no harm other than it is required to by its user. This is very similar to a kill switch in servitors. There's no point in building a spirit spear that once thrown will pierce any shield if it shreds your own shields on the way out. Beware of 'smart' weapons such that their consciousness which is designed only to fight will improve itself and can rapidly become more powerful than its operator.
Weapons of the Four Elements
Physical representations of these weapons are used in the rituals of various traditions.
These weapons can be seen as aspects of self required by a magician. The pentacle being understanding and joy in the material world. The sword being the ability to divide this from that, the intellect and the ability to communicate to others. The cup is compassion and intuiton, to be able to work by being passive. The wand is will and creativity of the magician, to be able to work by being active.
It is relatively obvious that there is something phallic about the sword and wand, and yonic about the cup and pentacle. (Phallic means looks like mens sexual organs, yonic the same for womans). The sexual organs are often considered symbolic the same things as wands and cups (I'm not sure about swords and pentacles..)
Of course, these weapons can take on several forms. Wands can also be staffs. Sometimes they evolve into heaviely adorned things reminiscent of american-indian totem posts or peace pipes.
Cups can be bowls, chalices, cauldrons, Koffee mugs or whatever suits the practitioner's fancy.
Many people like to use stones, pebbles or similar found objects as earth weapon instead of pentacles or coins. This may be a less abstract representation, and sometimes one with less negative connotations (That is, if you see money as negative).
Swords are often a problem for modern practitioners, because it is still widely believed that magical weapons should be made by the magicckian himself or herself. Working metal needs special equipment and is difficult, so they are often bought anyway, or replaced by sybolic objects made of other material.