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

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


How if I told you that there is a place—not Narnia, not Oz, but a real, truly live place—where animals talk?

How if I told you that you could talk—really talk, face-to-face talk—with the Beast-Lord, King of Animals, Himself?

Now, through the spiritual technology of the ancestors, you can.


All over the world, people tell stories about talking animals. All over the world, people remember a time when we could speak with the animals. Then, say the stories, something terrible befell, the Great Rupture, and now we no longer can.

It is, perhaps, the most poignant longing-dream of the human heart: to undo that terrible divide between the other animals and ourselves.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Well, I was wrong.

I just got back from the 2021 Midwest Grand Sabbat, the first post-pandemic theedish (tribal) gathering of the Midwest Tribe of Witches. I had fully expected that, after being bottled up for a year and a half, the Sabbat would be explosive, like a bottle popping its own cork.

So much for my powers of prediction.

I'd expected wild ecstasis, but what I found was something far other. One after another, people laid their heads in the lap of the Horned, some of them (I'm not sure that I wasn't one myself) sobbing.

("I can actually lay my head in my god's lap. Literally," said a friend of mine later, shaking his head, his voice full of wonder. "And he would bend his head over theirs," added another, "cradling them in his antlers." )

After a year of plague, with all its losses, what we wanted was not ecstasy, but emotional catharsis. (I'm guessing that the first Grand Sabbat after the Black Death was probably the same.) Each Grand Sabbat takes on its own individual character in my memory; after a year of tears, I will always remember this year's as the Sabbat of Tears.

So we shed our tears in the lap of our god, of Him who quenched the fires of Hell with his own tears of sorrow for the suffering of his beloved people.

“Come to me, my people, for I love you,” he called to us from the altar.

And come to him we did.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs European Paganism (9780415474634): Dowden, Ken: Books

Hey N,

I'm absolutely delighted that you'll be joining us for this year's Midwest Grand Sabbat, and the enthusiasm with which you've taken on the preparations moves me deeply. The Sabbat really is the witch's true paradise, as anyone who has been there can tell you, but there's no denying that what you get out of it is very much proportional to what you put in.

I hope that you're enjoying Dowden's European Paganism. It's so much better than nearly anything else out there: a veritable hoard of pagan/heathen practice. It's definitely one of the Thirteen Books that I'd take to the desert island.

If you really want to understand the inner workings of the Grand Sabbat, pay close attention to Chapter 14. Cowan reviewers have felt that Dowden oversteps the evidence in his claims here, but the truly amazing thing is that he could well be describing our Sabbat—the whole tribe gathering in the tribal territory's central sacred place to enact the terrible sacrifice that renews the life of the people—even though the entire structure of the Grand Sabbat and its "time-stead" were already fully in place well before I had ever read Dowden.

This is one of the things that gives me hope for the future of the whole pagan project. Spontaneously we regenerate old practices and structures, not because they're historical—although they may be—but because they're practical ways to accomplish what we want, inherent in how we—as heathens/pagans, as human beings—do things together. There are large conclusions to be drawn here, and in a matter of weeks we'll be fully immersed in them. Gods, what's better than that?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Apple Apples Fruit - Free photo on Pixabay


In 1991, Ohio's Lady Lhianna Sidhe worked an act of audacious magic: she conjured a Tribe of Witches into being.

Weary of the entry-level orientation of the pagan festival circuit, and the demographic swamping of experienced practitioners that invariably ensued, she dreamed of an invitational gathering of magical family with deep and long-time commitment to the Craft.

And so it was.

For 13 years in the nineties and early naughts, the mists would part and the Midwest elders of the Craft would meet on the holy isle of Avalon. Friendships, covens, and marriages were made. There was held (O happy Night!) the first Old-Time Witches' Sabbat—the “ecstatic adoration of the embodied Horned Lord”—of modern times. (Shining with firelight, He stood on the altar in all His naked male beauty, constellations wheeling between His antlers....) And indeed, the Midwest Grand Sabbat continues to work its weird, uncanny magic in the world, as it has ever since: the next will take place later this summer.

Witches being witches, along with the serious work—and no festival ever had inspired such a collective sense of momentum as Return to Avalon—much satire also ensued. Here are fragments of a song that some of us would regularly chant, there beyond the mists.

You already know the tune.


This is Avalon

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs




To reclaim a term, it's a Sabbatical year.

As we've been doing since the end of the last Ice Age—if not before—the Midwest Tribe of Witches will foregather later this summer in immemorial Grand Sabbat.

From all eight directions, the Latter-Day Hwicce will converge to enact the grand rite that recreates the People and, with it, the world.

For the most part, this will be an ingathering of the regional Younger Witchery—this is, after all, a meeting of the Midwest Tribe—but, as always, friends, family, and guests of the Tribe will be coming from farther afield.

This morning, in fact, I heard from a dear friend from the Bay Area who, Lady be praised, will be coming in to join us this year.

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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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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    What a great method, and it takes a burden off the planners too, in a way.

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