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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Midwest Tribe of Witches

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
“Just Like the Woodcuts”

We don't know whether or not the “orgiastic” witch's sabbat of the witch-hunters ever existed anywhere but in their sordid, sex-starved imaginations. But this much we do know: it exists now.

It exists because we made it.

In our day, the Grand Old-Time Witch's Sabbat, with all its blood, grit, and semen, rises again. Those old medieval tropes retrovert very nicely into Pagan, we've found. Anyone who has ever been there can tell you that's it's the real thing.

“Just like the woodcuts,” I was once told, the morning after.

But the Sabbat is not for everyone.

At the Midwest Grand Sabbat just past, a friend was telling me about some folks that she'd spoken with who had attended a previous Sabbat and found it not to their taste.

“Too intense,” they told her. “Too culturally immersive.”

Well, you can't fault their conclusions. Those of us who have been there know full well its unremitting, gut-wrenching emotionality, and the four days of the Sabbat weekend constitute a crash course in deep Witch culture. To those accustomed to the undemanding eclecticism of most pagan festivals, the Real Deal might well seem overwhelming.

For the witch-hunters were right about this much at least: the Sabbat demands everything. The Sabbat demands your soul.

For those of us of the Tribe of Witches, it's a price joyfully paid.

No, the Sabbat is not for everyone. But I couldn't help but grin when I heard my friend's words.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Function of Focus

On the last morning of this year's Grand Sabbat gathering, a friend—a priestess of many years' experience—came to me, distraught.

“The campers!” she said. “They have to be moved! They'll ruin the sightlines!”

The campers and caravans were parked on the edge of the meadow through which the Horned departs in the final rite of farewell. We follow him up out of the woods and watch as he walks up the hill and off into the sky.

I could readily understand my friend's concern. The sight of the Antlered disappearing over the horizon is an image of such searing purity and beauty that nothing must interfere with it, nothing.

“Don't worry,” I tell her. “The god will make the campers disappear. You won't even see them.”

And so, indeed, it was.

When the rite was ended, and the tears dried, my friend came to me, wondering.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What the Bones Said

The last official action of each Grand Sabbat is to throw the bones to determine when the next Sabbat will take place.

The Midwest Grand Sabbat has convened regularly, at intervals of one to three years, for the last 30 years. "Regularly, at irregular intervals," I always say.

Here is the logic of the irregular intervals. If the Sabbat took place every year, wonderful as it is, people would eventually begin to take it for granted. (The Sabbat is always a gift, the True Gift of the Horned to his True People, his to him.) It is, nonetheless, the tribal gathering of the Tribe of Witches which, by its power, recreates the tribe ab initio; therefore, it needs to be repeated with relative frequency lest the tribe should suffer for it. The uncertainly beforehand about when the next will be keeps keen the hunger for the Sabbat, which is indeed—as Jeanne Dibasson said in 1678, and which anyone who has ever been there can tell you—the “witch's true paradise."

This year, a young priestess-in-training (12 years old) asked me how I read the bones.

So I'll tell you.

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  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    What a great method, and it takes a burden off the planners too, in a way.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
From: Invitation to the Grand Sabbat

This is a tribal gathering; as such, we operate as a tribe, under tribal thew (custom, law). If you attend, you are either a member, or a guest, of the tribe. This fact has certain implications. Everyone is expected to act responsibly at all times.

We police ourselves. If a situation arises, handle it. If you can't handle it, find someone that can.

There are many people in a tribe. Some you will like; some you may not. (Witches, of course, tend to be people with a lot of jagged edges, anyway.) It nonetheless remains everyone's responsibility to maintain the sacred moot-frith, the peace of the gathering, at all times. If you can't treat others with civility and respect, then you don't belong here.

At the heart of tribal democracy lies personal responsibility. If you don't like something that someone else is doing, it's up to you to say: Please stop. If someone asks you to stop what you're doing, please think seriously before continuing.

Note also that our people respect the power of intoxicants and regard them as sacred. If you're going to use, use in a sacred way.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Praise of Tribalism

Among the chattering classes on both the Left and the Right, it's become fashionable to decry what they call “Tribalism,” meaning solipsistic hyper-partisanship.

You'll notice that none of those doing the decrying actually belong to a tribe.

Those of us who do know that, in fact, they're wrong.

Tribalism is not the problem. Tribalism is the answer.

It's the lack of true tribe that is the problem.

Human beings are tribal animals. We're born with a need to belong: to be part of the life of an ongoing people, a group larger than a family but smaller than a nation. This provides us with a sense of belonging that nothing else can satisfy.

Since the longing to belong is inherent, when we don't have it, we seek it out. The tribe-substitutes that we end up with instead are all too often either something destructive—like a gang, or the Party—or something ephemeral and utterly trivial, like the Game, or the Concert.

Pagans, I would contend, are an emergent tribe, at least in potentia. Thou mayst not be a pagan alone. All pagan religions are tribal religions: they come with an inherent affiliation to a particular people. A paganism without a people is an incomplete paganism.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What the Bones Said

At the end of each tribal conclave, we throw the bones to see when our next Grand Sabbat will be.

When a given event happens every year, people begin to take it for granted. That's why the Grand Sabbat—the great ritual gathering of the clans of the Witch-tribe—takes place regularly at irregular intervals.

The last was three years ago. Three years was far too long to wait between Sabbats. But that's what the bones said, and the full longing of those too-many years between, their course finally run, swept us together into a vast wave of fiery consummation.

In the usual way of things, one generally goes into the throwing of the bones with a plan: next year, or the year after.

But if you throw the bones, you have to listen to what they say. Sometimes they agree with you, and sometimes they don't. In the end, the bones have final say.

Well, the bones have spoken.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    The Grand Sabbat is a private, invitation-only tribal gathering held regularly at irregular intervals in the matchless Driftless C
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    I would like to learn more about this gathering. Who can go and where is it?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Witches' Paradise

“Mister, you want something that'll change your life?”

I've stopped to grab some take-out on my way home from the 2018 Midwest Grand Sabbat. My heart is so full, it hurts. If it weren't for the beauty, who could possibly bear the pain?

I look at the sad little man asking me his sad little question.

He's no way cool enough to be dealing, so I presume he's pimping for some religion or other. I wonder if his religion gives him anything like what mine gives me. Just that morning I had watched the Stag That Walks on Two Legs, clothed in white fire, step into the sky.

I hope for his sake that it does. Looking at him, though, I rather doubt it.

I smile, a little sadly.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm bug-bit, exhausted, and sun-fried, and everything that I own is covered with red ocher. I couldn't be happier! Love you longti
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I was thinking about you and this Grand Sabbat all weekend. xo

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