Lesson Six Sabbats

As I mentioned in the last lesson, there are eight Sabbats in the course of a year. These are times to celebrate; to rejoice with the gods and have a good time. No work (magick) is done at a Sabbat, unless there is some emergency such as a healing desperately needed. But there is much feasting and merriment.

In the old days, before the persecutions, many different covens would come together to celebrate. There might be as many as several hundred Witches, from widely scattered covens, all congregating in one place to give thanks to the gods and to celebrate the Sabbat. In these modern times I have seen similar gatherings—though not for a specific Sabbat—such as the "Pan Pagan Festival" held in Michigan in 1981, where nearly eight hundred Witches and pagans were in attendance. But whether you can join forces with others or you celebrate as a single coven—or even as a Solitary Witch (more on this later)—the keyword is "celebration".

As the Goddess is honored with the phases of the moon, so is the God at certain of the phases of the sun. These are the "Lesser Sabbats" that occur at the Summer and Winter Solstice and the Spring and Autumn Equinox. The four "Greater Sabbats" are more in the nature of seasonal, rather than specifically solar, festivals and are therefore times for general celebration with both God and Goddess duly honored.

Janet and Stewart Farrar, in their book Eight Sabbats for Witches (Robert Hale, London, 1981), suggest a deeper leit motif for the Horned God, with a duality which they term the Oak King and the Holly King.* Although I see much merit in this, I am going to "stick to basics", as it were, and leave you to elaborate as the spirit moves you.

In simple terms, we can think of the God pre dominating in the winter (the "Dark Half' of the year) and the Goddess predominating in the summer (the "Light Half" of the year). This, of course, goes back to what I outlined in the first lesson—originating with the reliance on success in the hunt in the winter and nourishment of the crops in the summer. But there is more to it than that, even without getting into the complexities of Oak and Holly kings. In neither half of the year should you think of the one deity being supreme— being there without his or her partner. The key word is predominant. In other words, the emphasis is on the one but not to the total exclusion of the other. It should also be remembered, of course, that each deity—as with every individual—bears the attributes of both male and female.

Sabbats start, as do all Circle rituals, with the Erecting the Temple rite. You should follow this with a Full or New Moon ritual, if appropriate for the Sabbat date (if the sabbat falls at a quarter point, then omit this). Then comes the particular sabbat ritual, which leads to Cakes and Ale. This is then followed by games and/or entertainment and feasting.

In the suggested greater Sabbat rituals that I give below, you will find a general pattern which you may want to follow when writing your own rituals. It starts with a PROCESSIONAL. Then comes a HYMN to the deity. Next is an ENACTMENT of the seasonal motif, followed by a DECLARATION (these two segments give you wide scope for expression. The enactment can take many forms, from a solo performance to full coven participation in a mini-play, mime or dance). Since the Declaration is, in effect, an explanation of the meaning and significance of the particular sabbat, then it is possible to combine it with the Enactment, as

'This is an excellent bookand should be studied bolh for this interesting theory of theirs, on a duality of 1he Homed God, and for the structuring and composition of sabbat rituals as a whole.

in the form of a mime or dance accompanied by narration. Then comes the LITANY—a lead-and-response—followed by DANCE/SONG/CHANT. If OFFERINGS are appropriate (as at harvest time) then they should come before Cakes and Ale.

Since we think of the God predominating in the dark half of the year and the Goddess in the light half of the year, then the change-overs from one to the other should be included as a significant part of the rites, occuring at Samhain and at Beltane. Here, then, are suggested rituals for the four Greater Sabbats, starting with Samhain. The four Lesser will be given next lesson.

Note:

It is nice to "dress up" the altar and Circle for sabbats. Should you choose to use an altar cloth at these times, it should be of the same color as the candles or, alternatively, use the altar cloth in the color indicated but with white candles.

SAMHAIN—Greater Sabbat

This is the time of year for getting rid of weaknesses (in the old days the cattle least likely to make it through the winter would be cut from the herd and slaughtered). Coveners should bring into the Circle with them a small piece of parchment on which they have written down weaknesses or bad habits they would like to lose.

The outer edge of the Circle may be decorated with autumnal flowers, branches, pine-cones, small pumpkins, etc.. There should be flowers on the altar. The altar cloth/candles should be orange. The Horned Helmet rests beside the altar. In the north quarter stands a cauldron containing material for a fire (regular kindling, if the Circle is outside, or a candle or a Sterno* burner, if meeting inside).

The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon rite, if appropriate. Bell is then rung three times by a covener acting as SUMMONER.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait!

We're off to the Sabbat, so don't be late!" Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!" All: "To the Sabbat!"

With PRIEST and PRIESTESS leading, the coven moves deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing as each feels moved. It is appropriate to carry small drums or tambourines, to give a beat. Coven circles as many times as they wish. At some point, as they move around, PRIEST/ESS should start singing a hymn to the gods (this can be anything from a simple repetitive chanting of the names of the gods to a spontaneous song of praise, or can be one of the songs or chants given in Appendix D). All can join in as the procession continues. If it is preferred, the coven can circle a number of times then come to a halt and start the singing while standing in place.

Priest: "Now is a time of change. Now do we leave the light and

"Dance and song, as an essential part of the religious hunting ceremony, is almost universal even today. The Yakuts of Siberia, for instance, and many American Indian and Eskimo tribes, always dance before hunting. Dance/rhythm is the _ first step to ekstasis— the 'getting out of oneself. When the dance is for the increase of food, the dancers _ frequently imitate the movements of the animals, or the growing of the plants, which they are trying to influence. ...the Masked Dancer at Four-neaudu Diabk Dordogne, is depicted playing some ^ form of musical instrument. This might indicate a ritual similar to that of the primitive Semang, of the Malayan jungle, who today enact the hunting of the coconut-ape through an action-song. It is performed partly for entertainment but mainly for magickal influence over the ape in the future hunt. The performance goes through the stalking of the ape to the actual killing, by blowpipe. An interesting point, however, is the inclusion in the song ofthe ape's feelings and the reactions of its f family to its death."

Witchcraft from the Inside RaymondBuckland, Llewellyn, MNI97I

enter the darkness. Yet do we do so gladly, for we know it to be but the turning of the mighty Wheel of the Year." Priestess: "At this time of the year the gates between the worlds are open. We call upon our ancestors, our loved ones, to pass through and join with us at this time. We invite them to delight in celebration with those they love."

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif. This can vary greatly and may be based on any of a number of themes, including local beliefs and practices. Here are some examples: life—death—new life; death of the old king and crowning of the new; the turning wheel of the year; the killing-off of those animals (cattle) that would not survive the winter; return of the dead to rejoice, briefly, with the living; gathering of the harvest and storing for the winter; the creation of the world, with chaos transformed to order. This enactment can take the form of a play, mime or dance. At the end of the enactment, the bell is rung seven times. Then one of the coveners speaks:

Covener: "We are at the crack of time, for this day belongs neither to the old year nor to the new. And as there is no distinction between the years, so is there no distinction between the worlds. Those we have known and loved, in ages past, are free to return to us here in this meeting place. Reach out, each and every one of you, in your own way, and feel the presence of one you have known and thought lost. From this reuniting gather strength. Know, all of you, that there is no end and no beginning. All is a continuous turning, a spiralling dance that goes and returns, yet moves ever on. In that turning, Samhain is the sacred festival marking the end of the summer and the beginning of winter: a time to celebrate; a time to welcome the God as he starts his journey down the tunnel of darkness that bears the light of our Lady at its end." Priest/ess: "The Old Year ends." All: "The New Year begins."

Priest/ess: "The Wheel turns." All: "And turns again."

Priest/ess: "Farewell to Our Lady."

All: "Welcome to Our Lord." Priest/ess: "Goddess-Summer draws to a close." All: "God-Winter sets his foot upon the path." Priest/ess: "Hail and farewell!" All: "Hail and farewell!"

PRIEST and PRIESTESS lead coven in a dance around the Circle. This may be followed, or accompanied, by a song or chant (see Lesson Twelve and Appendix D for dances, songs and chants). PRIESTESS takes up Homed Helmet and stands before altar.

Priestess: "Gracious Goddess, we thank thee for the joys of summer. We thank thee for all thy bounty; The fruits, the crops, the harvest. Return again as the Wheel turns And be with us once more. Even as our Lord accepts the mantle, Walk with him through the darkness, To come again into the light."

PRIEST stands and faces Priestess. SHE holds Helmet high over his head. A Covener stands by the cauldron, with fire ready.

Priestess: "Here do I display the symbol of our Lord: He who rules Death and that which comes after;

The Dweller in the Darkness; The Husband/Brother of the light. May he guard us and guide us in all that we do,

Within and without this Circle. With our Lady at his side, may he lead us through hardship And bring us, with hope, into the light."

PRIESTESS places Horned Helmet on Priest's head. As she does, COVENER lights the cauldron fire.

Covener: "Now is our Lord among us.

Speak, for we are your children." Priest: "Behold, I am he who is at the beginning and at the end of time. I am in the heat of the sun and the coolness of the breeze. The spark of life is within me, as is the darkness of death.

For I am he who is the Gatekeeper at the end of time. Lord-dweller in the sea, You hear the thunder of my hooves upon the shore

And see the fleck of foam as I pass by. My strength is such that I might lift the world itself to touch the stars. Yet gentle am I, ever, as the lover. I am he whom all must face at the appointed hour, Yet am I not to be feared, for I am brother, lover, son. Death is but the beginning of Life, And I am he who turns the key."

PRIESTESS salutes Priest. One by one other COVEN-ERS move around. If they wish to, they may place an offering on the altar or before it. They then embrace and/or kiss the Priest and move on back to their places. As they pass the burning cauldron, they throw into it their piece of parchment listing their weakness. PRIEST stands for a moment and meditates on his position for the coming half year. He then removes the Helmet and replaces it beside the altar. Bell is rung nine times.

Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Clearing the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar, if desired). The evening concludes with a feast (usually a potluck affair, with dishes brought by the coveners).

BELTANE—Greater Sabbat

The outer edge of the Circle, and the altar, may be decorated with flowers. The altar cloth and candles should be dark green. A crown lies beside the altar. This may be a crown of flowers or it may be a silver crown decorated with silver crescent moons or similar. In the north quarter stands a cauldron containing material for a fire (regular kindling or a candle or a Sterno® burner). In the east quarter is a Maypole—the Circle may be drawn extra large to accommodate it.

The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon Rite, if appropriate. The bell is rung three times by a Covener acting as Summoner.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait!

We're off to the Sabbat, so don't be late!" Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!" All: "To the Sabbat!"

With PRIEST and PRIESTESS leading, the COVEN move deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing as each feels fit, with small drums or tambourines giving a beat. Circle as many times as you wish. PRIEST and PRIESTESS start singing a hymn to the gods and all join in. Eventually all halt and singing ends.

Priest: "The Lord has reached the end of his journey." Priestess: "The Lady sets her foot upon the path."

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif (e.g. triumphant return of the Goddess from the world between lives; creativity/reproduction; start of one of the breeding seasons for animals, both wild and domestic; dancing about the Maypole; driving of cattle between two fires to ensure a good milk yield). Bell is rung seven times.

Covener: "The gates swing back and forth and all may freely pass through. Our Lord has reached the ending of his journey, To find the Lady awaiting him, with warmth and comfort. This is a time for joy and a time for sharing. The richness of the soil accepts the seed; And now is the time that seeds should be spilled. Togetherness brings joy and abundance fills the earth. Let us celebrate the planting of abundance; The turning of the Wheel; The season of the Lady. Let us say farewell to the darkness And cry greetings to the Light. Lord and Lady become Lady and Lord As the Wheel turns and we move ever on."

Priest: "The Wheel turns." All: "Without ceasing."

Priestess: "The Wheel turns." All: "And turns again." Priest: "Farewell to our Lord."

All: "Welcome to the Lady."

Priestess: "God-Winter ends his reign." All: "As Goddess-Summer turns to face the light."

Priestess: "Hail and Farewell!" All: "Hail and Farewell!"

PRIEST and PRIESTESS lead coven in a dance about the Circle leading to the Maypole. Each of the COVEN-ERS takes a ribbon and dances around the pole with it, intertwining one with another. This is continued till all ribbons are tied around the pole, symbolizing the union of male and female; the joining of all together. A suitable chant/song to sing while dancing is found in the Gardnerian book. It is Gerald Gardner's version of a Rudyard Kipling poem:

"Oh, do not tell the priests of our Art For they would call it sin. But we shall be in the woods all night A-conjuring Summer in. And we bring you good news, by word of mouth,

For women, cattle and corn; Now is the sun come up from the south, With oak and ash and thorn."

PRIEST and PRIESTESS return to the altar. PRIESTESS stands with head bowed and arms crossed on her breast. PRIEST takes up the crown and holds it over her head.

Priest: "Our Lord, with the lady at his side,

Has brought us through the Darkness to the light.

It was a long journey that was not easy.

Yet did the gods show strength

And, through them, did we all grow and prosper. Now may they both continue. Now may the Lady, with her Lord at her side,

Move on down the path, Spreading her Light and driving out Darkness."

PRIESTESS moves to stand with legs astride and arms up and outstretched. PRIEST lowers the crown onto her head. As he does so the cauldron fire is lit by one of the coveners.

Covener: "Now is our Lady among us.

Speak, Lady, for we are your children."

PRIESTESS lowers her arms and spreads them wide to her coveners.

Priestess: "I am she who turns the Wheel, Bringing new life into the world And beckoning those who pass along the ways. In the coolness of the breeze you hear my sighs;

My heart is in the rushing of the wind. When you thirst, let my tears fall upon you as gentle rain; When you tire, pause to rest upon the earth that is my breast. Warmth and comfort do I give thee And ask for nothing in return Save that you love all things even as yourself.

Know that Love is the spark of Life. It is always there; always with you if you but see it. Yet you need not seek afar, for love is the inner spark; The light that burns without flicker; The amber glow within. Love is the beginning and the end of all things... And I am Love."

PRIEST kisses Priestess. One by one COVENERS move around to kiss Priestess and to lay their offerings on the altar. When all have returned to their places, PRIEST and PRIESTESS join hands and lead them in a dance (as singles or couples) around the Circle. As they come to the cauldron, they jump over it. After several times around they halt. The bell is rung three times. Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Clearing the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar if desired). The evening concludes with a feast.

IMBOLC—Greater Sabbat

This is the "Feast of Lights". It is another fire festival, so there is again a cauldron containing the makings of a fire standing in the north quarter. Beside it lies a besom (broomstick). This is the mid-point of the dark half of the year; the halfway point in the God's pre-dominence. But although it is in that segment of the year's cycle, yet it is very much a festival of the Goddess (particularly Brigid, Brigantia, Bride and other variations).

Beside the altar rests a "crown of light"—a circlet of candles*. The altar cloth and candles should be brown.

The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon Rite, if appro-riate. Bell is rung three times by Covener acting as Summoner.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait!

We're off to the Sabbat, so don't be late!" Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!" All: "To the Sabbat!"

With PRIEST and PRIESTESS leading, the COVEN moves deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing. Circle as many times as you wish. PRIEST/ESS starts a hymn to the gods and all join in. Finally, all halt and stop singing.

"Now has our Lord reached the zenith of his

Covener:

journey."

^ "Now does he turn to face the Lady." Covener: , , ,,

Priest: Though apart they are one."

n.. J 'They are both the shadow and the light." Priestess: J °

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif (e.g. the midpoint in the sun's winter journey; sweeping out the old and starting anew; the running of the priests of the Lupercalia, at the ancient Roman festival; the preparation of seed-grain for growing in the spring; the inviting of the Goddess of Fertility to enter into the house and lodge therein). Bell is rung seven times.

Covener: "Our Lord now has reached mid-journey.

Ahead he sees the light of our Lady, And the start of Life anew, after this period of rest. This was the first festival of the Keltic year. This is the time when spring lambs are born

And ewes come into milk. Spring itself is scented in the distance And thoughts are on the Goddess as much as on the God. Burn, now, the evergreens—the ivy, mistletoe and holly; The rosemary and the bay. Clear out the old, that the new may enter in."

Priest/ess: "Light to dark." All: "Darkness to light."

Priest/ess: "Light to dark." All: "Darkness to light."

Priest/ess: "Farewell Lady; welcome Lord." All: "Farewell Lord and welcome Lady."

Priest/ess: "All hail!" I

All: "Farewell!" Priest/ess: "Farewell!" All: "All hail!"

PRIEST and PRIESTESS lead coven in a dance about the Circle. This may be followed, or accompanied, by a chant or song.

PRIESTESS stands before the altar, with arms crossed on her breast. PRIEST kneels before her and kisses her feet. He then takes up the crown, stands, and places the crown on her head. He then dances deosil around the Circle three times. As he passes the cauldron on the second circuit, a covener lights the kindling (candle, or whatever). As PRIEST comes to the cauldron on his third circuit, he jumps over it. He then comes on around and stops before the Priestess. With a taper, from the altar candle, he lights the candles on the Priestess's crown. PRIESTESS opens her arms and stands with legs apart and arms raised high.

Priest: "All hail, Our Lady of Light!" All: "All hail, Our Lady of Light!"

Covener: "Welcome, thrice welcome, Triple God dess of Life."

Covener: "Mother of the Sun, we welcome thee." Covener: "Goddess of Fire, we invite thee in."

PRIEST and PRIESTESS move round to the cauldron. COVENER hands besom to the Priestess. She hands besom to the Priest, with a kiss. PRIEST goes deosil around the Circle, "sweeping out" that which is no longer needed. When he returns to the north, he

"Care must be taken with this. There is not only the danger of setting fire to the Priestess's hair, but also of burning her with hot wax. Miniature cake candles, or cut-down tapers, are best, with carefully designed, cupped holders. Thirteen candles fthe number of moons in the year) is the number to have.

returns the besom to the Priestess, with a kiss. She then gives it to the first Covener, with a kiss. COVENER sweeps around the Circle. This is repeated with all Coveners. When all have done, PRIEST and PRIESTESS return to altar. Bell is rung three times. Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Clearing the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar if desired). The evening concludes with a feast.

LUGHNASADH—Greater Sabbat

Summer flowers are on the altar and around the Circle. The altar cloth and candles should be yellow. The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon Rite, if appropriate. The Bell is rung three times by Covener acting as Summoner.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait!

We're off to the Sabbat so don't be late!" Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!" All: "To the Sabbat!"

With PRIEST and PRIESTESS leading, the coven move deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing. Circle as many times as you wish. PRIEST/ESS starts a hymn to the gods and all join in. Finally all halt and stop singing.

Covener. "The powers of life and death are held by the gods."

Covener: "Great is the power of the Mighty Ones." Covener: "God is old yet young." Covener: "And the power is his."

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif (e.g. Death and rebirth of the god, leading to a great harvest; thinning of plants, toward a better harvest; strength and testing; killing of older god by younger god, with funeral games to honor the dead one). Bell is rung seven times.

Covener: "In the midst of our Lady's rule do we remember her brother/lover/husband. Great is his power through his union with the Goddess. And through his death and rebirth, as the younger son, Is the harvest assured and the power passed on, To grow and spread wide to all he loves. Remember the Lord, yet in him ever see the Lady. Praise the Lady and, through her, the Lord."

Priest: "Blessed be the Lady of the Circle."

All: "And blessed be her Lord."

Priestess: "May the surplus be drawn from the land."

All: "That the body may be filled with strength."

Priest: "Power to the Lord."

All: "And power to the Lady."

Priestess: "Let the old wane."

All: "That the young may wax anew."

Priest: "Ever turns the Wheel."

All: "Ever onward."

PRIEST and PRIESTESS lead the coven in a dance about the Circle. This may be followed, or accompanied, by a song or chant.

ALL, except Priest and one male Covener, sit. PRIEST then dances around, deosil, between the seated coveners and the line of the Circle. MALE COVENER dances around widdershins, between the coveners and the altar (in other words, one outside the ring, going clockwise, and one inside, going counter-clockwise). As they pass each other they strike hands over the coveners' heads. Coveners may, if they wish, clap the beat for them to dance to, shouting "Lugh!" at the striking of hands. They circle and strike hands twelve times. At the twelfth strike the PRIEST drops to the ground and COVENER jumps over the seated ones to run once around the circle, deosil now, along the Priest's path. Returning to the Priest, he helps him to his feet and they embrace. All cheer and come to their feet.

Priest: "Lady and Lord, we thank thee,

For all that has been raised from the soil. May it grow in strength from now till harvest. We thank thee for this promise of fruits to come. Let the power of our Lord Be in each and every one of us At this time and throughout the year." All: "So Mote it be."

The bell is rung three times. Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Cleaming of the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar if desired). The evening concludes with a feast.

NOW ANSWER THE EXAMINATION QUESTIONS FOR THIS LESSON IN APPENDIX B

1. The Sabbats are holidays, a time to celebrate and rejoice with the Gods. List the eight Sabbats and the dates they fall on this year. Describe what each Sabbat commemorates and relate how you celebrated each one.

2. Make up (create, write) a hymn or song appropriate for a ritual/occasion of your choice.

3. Create your own version of a favorite ritual.

4. Describe your Enactment of a seasonal motif and the Declaration from a favorite Sabbat ritual.

Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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