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Gods and Contrails: The "Horned One's Farewell"

Paul Rucker's evocative photo, “Horned One's Farewell,” which accompanied my post Grand Sabbat: Final Blessing, has occasioned so much comment on Facebook that I'd like to offer a little more context for the image.

For the past 25 years or so, here in the Upper Midwestern US, we've been holding—at the requisite irregular intervals—Grand Sabbats in the Grand Old Style: the Horned Man up on the altar, the oaths made crouching, the sacrifice, the wild dancing, the love-making in the woods afterward. Just like in the woodcuts, as they say.

Last year's Grand Sabbat was a four-day event that took place in late July among the hollow hills of southwestern Wisconsin's Driftless region, with the Sabbat itself on Saturday night. Over the course of the four days, we saw Old Hornie (as my friend and colleague Keith Ward remarked at the time) in several different characters: as He Who Hears the voice of His people, Bringer-of-Fire, as the Black Buck of the Sabbat, between Whose Antlers constellations wheel, as the sun-dappled Lord of Field and Forest.

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