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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in witches sabbat

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Charter: A Carmen Figuratum

 

St. Mark's Cathedral, Minneapolis.

Looking up from the hymnal,

I see him, sitting

cross-legged on the altar:

buck naked

(oh baby!),

antlers out to here,

grinning like a jack o' lantern.

I blink, and he is gone.

I stand there, thunder-struck;

though he spoke no words,

my heart is riven, riven through.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Social Imperative of the Sabbat

In the topsy-turvy world of the Sabbat, the witch returns to the Dreamtime, in which all social norms are overturned.

At the Sabbat, there are no distinctions of “race,” of sex, of class, of gender.

At the Sabbat, all are equal.

At the Sabbat, if nowhere else, we encounter full social equality.

The stories of those early American Sabbats tell of indigenous, colonial, and enslaved all coming together to dance as one: red, white, black, all equal.

The Sabbat dreams of a new world, a world (as in the beginning) of radical equality.

The Sabbat embodies this dream.

In fact, the Sabbat predicts it.

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All The World Is the Country of the Wise

It once so happened that, in their travels, a Greek, an Egyptian, and a Northman came to the far-famed Sabbat of the witches.

There, with the others, they danced for the Horned, drank his wine, and made love for the corn.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Will to Resist

 Witches' Sabbat, n. the ecstatic adoration of the embodied Horned Lord

 

Although it has analogues among the rites of antiquity, the Sabbat is not, in and of itself, an ancient ritual.

Viewed as a genre of ritual—like the Seder or the Mass—we can say quite specifically that the notion of the Witches' Sabbat first emerged at a particular time in a particular place: in fact, in the western Alps during the mid-15th century.

In his book Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath (1991), historian Carlo Ginzburg traces the socio-cultural forces that drove the rise of the Sabbat. What he does not document—how could he?—were the Sabbat's internal driving forces. What is the inner theological meaning of the Sabbat?


The Sabbat is the true paradise...where there is more joy than I can express. Those who go there find the time too short because of the pleasure and happiness they enjoy and, having once been there, they will long with a raging desire [un désire enragé] to go and be there again. So said French witch Jeanne Dibasson in 1630.

 

The Horned gave us the Sabbat as an earthly foretaste of the Witches' “Paradise,” where one experiences the simultaneous dissolution and expansion of self, the very state of being out of which we emerge and to which, in the end, we shall return.

Nor need we wait to die to partake of this joy; for by His Main and Mercy, we may join the Eternal Dance on the Sabbat-Field of the Goat, the Grand Sabbat of the atoms, here and now.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Beyond the Hedge

 I'm goin' to a meetin', do you want to come along?

I'm goin' to a meetin', do you want to come along?

I'm goin' to a meetin', do you want to come along?

We'll dance by the light of the Moon.

(Appalachian traditional)

 

We don't know whether or not the classic Witches' Sabbat—the Horned Lord enthroned on the altar, the frenzied dancing, the love-making in the shadows—ever existed anywhere but in the tortured imaginations of the witch-hunters.

But this much we do know: it exists now.

It doesn't much resemble what some call sabbats, safely indoors with their decorous quarter-candles.

The Sabbat-in-true is no indoor rite.

The Sabbat is a rite of the woods, the mountain, the island: what witches call the Outgarth.

And yes, there's the Horned Lord enthroned on the altar, and frenzied dancing, and love-making. It wouldn't be the Sabbat without them.

At the Sabbat, the firelight flash of a moving knife denotes no casting of circles.

It's the sacrificial blade, descending.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Triptych, with Horns

In India, on nights of the autumn full moon, the blue god Krishna stands in a clearing in the forest and plays his flute.

Hearing this, his worshipers—regardless of caste or marital status—cast social convention aside, and rush off to the woods for an ecstatic celebration, in which they dance wildly and have sex with their god.

This is called the rasa-lila, or "juice-play."

 ***

Among the Kalasha of what is now Pakistan, the only surviving Indo-European people who have practiced their ancestral religion continuously since ancient times, the presiding figure of the Prûn festival, the autumnal celebration which honors the grape-harvest and the return of the flocks from their summer pastures, is called the Budálak.

The Budalak is a virile young goat-herd who, dressed in goat-skins and horns, dances vigorously with the young women in wine-fueled, fire-lit nighttime celebrations, while—to the sound of drums and flutes—the old women sing his raunchy, raucous songs.

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Damnedest Thing

I tell you, it's the damnedest thing.

Every few years, the witches get together up on the ridge for one of their big shindigs.

Every few years, without any rhyme or reason to it.

Harvest time coming on, and suddenly they'll be up there, hooting and hollering and carrying on. All night they'll be at it, sun-down to sun-up.

Eeriest thing you ever heard. Hear the drums for miles, you can.

Funny, those are always bumper years: corn, apples, hay. Hens laying like crazy, and the cows! Seems like you never stop milking.

There's always good hunting, too, the falls of those years. Those are good venison years.

And here's something else: after the last one, in the spring, that's when Martha had the Twins. Nobody else in her family, or mine, ever had twins before.

Now, ain't that just the damnedest thing?

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