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

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Black Phillip: The Real Story Behind the Breakout Goat From 'The Witch'


Once we dwelt in the fertile plains. Beef was our food, the milk of cows our drink.

Then we were driven out.

Into the rocky, unfertile hills we fled, which cannot sustain a cow.

We became a people of the goat, for whom the Horned wears caprine horns and hide.


Like goats, we witches are survivors.

That's why it can't help but seem to me something of a moral failing that I don't like goat's milk.

Oh, I've tried. “This chèvre has a nice, lemony tang to it,” I say hopefully.

But in my heart, I understand that it's really myself that I'm trying to talk around.


Maybe it's just a matter of what I'm used to.

Maybe I'm secretly longing for those fat days of our onetime freedom.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The Ghent Altarpiece: Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, detail of the Lamb with  kneeling Angels - Hubert and Jan Van Eyck — Google Arts & Culture


If I told you that one of the greatest masterpieces of Christian art is actually at heart a depiction of the Witches' Sabbat, would you believe me?

While the imagery of the central and focal panel of Hubert and Jan van Eyck's monumental polyptych the Ghent Altarpiece (completed 1432), known to art historians as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, is impeccably Biblical and orthodox, the painting has a haunting and frankly disturbing quality that reads as anything but.

It depicts the worship of the Animal God.

In an idealized landscape, worshipers converge from all directions on a central altar. The altar is encircled by kneeling winged adorants. On the altar itself stands a hornless Ram, white and shining. The god himself gazes outwards, meeting the eyes of the viewer. From his head shines light.

(By the way, that's not actually an extremely pendulous scrotum hanging between his legs, though it sure does look like one: it's his tail.)

Yeah, yeah, the Lamb of God. Yeah, yeah, angels, virgin martyrs, confessors, knights of Christ. Yeah, sure.

They're worshiping a Ram.

Any witch that's ever been to the Sabbat recognizes this scene, though she may not tell you so. The Horned on the altar, surrounded by his coven, with every witchly eye turned towards him. This is the Eternal Sabbat, the witch's true Paradise. We know, because we've been there.

No, I'm not suggesting that van Eyck was a secret member of what Margaret Murray called the “Witch cult.” (It sure would make an interesting story, though, if not a novel.) It is interesting to note, though, that in fact Adoration of the Mystic Lamb was painted at exactly the time—and near to the geographic locus from which—the concept of the Witches' Sabbat, as an iconic counter-worship, first emerged.

No, I'm suggesting something deeper: that van Eyck's mystic painting embodies, under the guise of Christian orthodoxy, an atavistic longing of the human heart, something that will never change because it is intrinsic to who we are.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    If so, sign me up for one!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I know it's flippant of me and betrays my degree in Art History but I wonder if anyone has made a Jigsaw puzzle version of The Ado

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Flight to the Sabbat

Full Wolf Moon: coven flying night.

The ointment makes the rounds; those who wish to, partake.

We lay down and Fly.


I am at the Sabbat in the firelit woods, kneeling at the altar.

I take His hand and kiss it. I tell Him I love Him. (I won't say there are no tears.) I lay my head in His lap. I speak the secret fears.

After a time, He takes His hand from my head and raises me up. His smile sears my soul.

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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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