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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in witches sabbat
Murray Revisited, or Throwing Out the Baby with the Broth Water

Yeah, yeah, I've read the books, I've heard the arguments, I know all about flawed methodology and bogus historiography. Who takes Murray seriously these days, anyway?

An important element is missing here. People believed Murray's theories for years because they're convincing. They have the ring of likeliness to them.

OK, here we are, medieval peasants. Life is hard. We work our butts off sun-up to sun-down nearly every day, and in a good year we raise enough to get us through to the next harvest. Often enough, we don't, and then we starve. Even in good years, the seigneur and the priest have automatic authority over pretty much every aspect of our lives.

We grew up hearing fireside stories, half-remembered, about the Old Ways and the Guy with the Horns. Yeah, I know Father Guillemet says he's bad, but the priest doesn't know everything, anyone can see that. He's a priest, what does he know about real life?

What is more likely than that on the old days you'd go off to the bonfire in the woods, get drunk, dance and screw your neighbor's wife (or husband) in the bushes? Pleasure is rare enough in life, and you have to take it when you can get it. And part of the fun is poking fun at Authority, especially Authority—like the church—about which you really can't help but feel a certain amount of ambivalence. Mix bits and pieces of decayed paganism with the only rituals that you know—those of the church—and voilà: spontaneous folk-diabolism.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Amen!
  • Sylvie Kaos
    Sylvie Kaos says #
    My sentiments exactly!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In her 2004 novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke cites a proverb of her alternate-history 19th-century, Napoleonic Era England:

The priest plants wheat, the witch plants rye.

Clarke reads this as meaning that "Some people just can't agree on anything." But I think there's more to it than that.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yeah, white bread's for gentry, not for the likes of us wart-charmers. Wheat is finicky and has a long growing season; rye is basi
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    There was another factor involved, cost. For those that lived in town, wheat bread was more expensive than rye bread, and white br

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Grand Sabbat: Naming

The Horned One holds the baby in his arms.

He sits on the altar, cross-legged, shining in the firelight, each tine of his branching antlers tipped with its own delicate bud of flame. He holds the child to his chest, as if suckling him. Not everyone is privileged to drink from the breast of the witches' god. It is a promise, the ancient gesture of adoption.

He rises to his feet, towering—his horns reach up to heaven—and holds the infant out to the assembled people.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Old Worship

The morning after our first Grand Sabbat, a friend approached, a little hesitantly.

“That was you in the horns and the paint up on the altar last night?”

I pause, then smile and nod.

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