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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sabbat

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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Flame Between the Horns

In Old Craft iconography, the Old Master is sometimes depicted as a horned (or antlered) skull with a flame between its horns. He is thus the Flammifer, the líht-bera, the Lucifer.

The image takes its origin from Continental trials; French witches frequently deposed that the Devil appeared at the sabbat in the form of a He-Goat with a candle burning between his horns. This is how Jeanne Bosdeau saw him at the Puy de Dôme in 1594. The witches would then light their own tapers or torches (as we still do) from the god's fire: the Lord of the Sabbat giving illumination to his people.

The witch-fire is the power of life that burns in each of us. It is said to be threefold: the fire in the head, the fire in the heart, and the fire in the loins.

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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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

         In Western Minnesota, there's a big ridge of Sioux quartzite that rises abruptly out of the prairie. (If it were in England, they'd call it a tor.) It's a local landmark, called Blue Mound because the red rock is covered with blue-green lichen. Over the shoulder of the mound is a stone row of unknown age that points to equinoctial sunrise and sunset. At the highest point of the ridge is a tall outcropping called Eagle Rock.

         Once when I hopped besom and flew off to the dream sabbat, I followed the sunset westwards and ended up at Blue Mound. There was a big fire burning at the foot of Eagle Rock, with lots of different people dancing around it: red, white, black folks all together. (They say that the sabbat is the great equalizer.)

         Sitting there cross-legged on top of Eagle Rock was, of course, the Old Buck himself, Mr. Splitfoot mon amour. Out east here, he mostly wears antlers, but there on the prairie he had, as one would expect, the shaggy red head of a buffalo bull.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Our Sabbats provide a framework of meditation and insight that can deepen and transform our lives if we pay them any serious mind.  Wiccan Sabbats have three dimensions, one links us to the universal cycles of the sun, another to our being people of the earth, and both take us to the experience of our own lives. Yule, Ostara, Midsummer (or Litha), and Mabon are our solar Sabbats. Brigid or Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain are our Sabbats rooted in the earth. They reflect the agricultural cycles of Celtic lands and so immerse us in the experience and blessings of living in this world.

As light and darkness and the changing of the seasons form parts of an eternal cycle within which life takes place, so life itself repeats this cycle with birth followed by childhood, the vigor of adulthood, the slow decline of old age, and finally death, to be repeated again.  In the process beauty, love, and delight are brought into being and repeat themselves in endless variety. 

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  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Thank you Rose. I liked it. It somehow reminded me of an adaptation of my favorite scene from Disney's second Fantasia. I do not
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Very nice! I shared your response with Glenys. I think she'll like it.
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Gus: I think yon may enjoy Glenys' work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mRiI2Nz2go a Pagaian ritual from Down Under.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The time of Lughnasadh, or Lammas, is nigh. The basic Wiccan definition tells us that this is the celebration of the first harvest, so that the Solar God (Lugh, in this instance), Who has been waning since Litha, is now sacrificed as embodiment of the grain we humans depend upon. The theme is, as all harvest festivals, gratitude for the bounty of Mother Earth and Father Sun.

Because my path is Earth-centered, I believe it is less important to hold to the "traditional" meaning of the sabbats than it is to attune to the energy of the place where you actually live, where (hopefully) your own food is grown. The seasons of Ireland are a far cry from the seasons of the Ozark Mountains. Here, gardens and farms are in the fullness of activity and production (Goddess willing). We have been harvesting many crops for weeks now - including the native Three Sisters: corn, beans and summer squash. August, while indeed a time to harvest, is also a time for planting the fall short-season crops. Therefore, my "locavore" version of Lughnasadh recognizes that this is also a time for renewal: strengthened by the warm soil and full bounty, we can plant new seeds in our lives and communities.

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