Prior to attending Sabbat, preferably even before leaving home, anoint yourself with Sabbat oil. A traditional recipe for this is as follows:
Wild parsley root Celery root
Poplar leaves (balm of Gilead)
Or a more complicated, post-Columbian variety:
Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria)
Ideally, the herbs should be freshly cut with the Athame while the moon is waxing, but this is not always possible. At least they should be crushed and steeped in purified vegetable oil during the waxing moon. The oil should subsequently be strained through a thin muslin cloth to remove all the impurities and solid matter.
Or, alternatively, the crushed leaves can be steeped in pure alcohol, which is then mixed in later with the oil.
Most modern witches tend to bypass these two recipes, however, in view of the baneful herbs involved, and employ a more popular variety which is composed by the same maceration procedure but uses the following herbs instead:
Balm of Gilead (poplar leaves)
Many witches will also use vervain by itself, or even garden mint as a standby, although as far as I have been able to find out, this latter is quite untraditional.
To all of these may be added the following essences for increased effect:
Musk Civet a suspicion of ambergris patchouli or cassia
A few drops of your Cernunnos perfume, in fact. It is quite a heady mixture as you will find out, and you only need the smallest drop. Should you wish to increase the texture of the oil and compose a cream or ointment, mix it with a little finely ground oatmeal or orris powder. An oil should be kept in a small, well-stoppered phial, while the traditional receptacle for an ointment is one made out of an animal's horn. When you anoint, place a dab of the oil on the soles of your feet, the perineum, wrists, and temples, chanting these quaint witch words as you do:
Emen Hetan! Emen Hetan! I am of thee and thou art mine, I have nothing which is not thine.
In thy name [god's name if you are male; goddess, if female]
Behold thy servant [Witch name]anointing herself/ himself; I should some day be great like thee! Thout a thout, thouht, throughout and about!
This is, in fact, a simple form of identification with a witch deity, and an affirmation of your aspiration to power, wisdom, or love, whatever your chosen path.
You must organize your Sabbat so that the lighting of the balefire occurs at the hour of midnight. This you should determine precisely beforehand, halving the hours between the '• time the sun actually sets on the eve and when it rises the following day. Midnight, in fact, will not always occur at 12 P.M., depending on the time of the year.
Having exchanged the customary witch greetings of "Merry meet," the Sabbat begins with the casting of the circle. This should be the nine-foot inner diameter variety, using the largest measurements on your cingulum as a compass cord. Or, if you have the space, a special eighteen-foot one can be constructed, as is done when several covens meet. If you are working indoors, it will take the form of your regular taped circle with the four lamps of art, unlit, placed outside at the four quarters. On the other hand, the traditional form of circle for an outside meeting is a narrow, shallow furrow, or trench, dug deosil with the sword, or Athame; however, to do this, you must stand outside the perimeter as you dig. The reason for this will be apparent shortly.
The triple tracings and fire and water exorcisms remain the same in form, but again they must be performed from outside the circle. The thurible fumigation should be Sabbat Incense (see the end of chapter for this). The northern segment of the circle is now regarded as the entrance and exit for the Sabbat participants, and is referred to simply as the "gateway" or more explicitly as the "way between the worlds."
All the coven members should pass into the circle through this gateway, but not, however, before divesting themselves of all metal implements, witch jewels, or insignia. Even the magister's or high priestess' metal headpieces must remain outside; the cup, the sword, Athame, everything and anything of a metal nature must do likewise. This is most important. Only after the balefire is well and truly alight, when the circle can be crossed and recrossed time and again without impairing its magical efficacy, can the metallic implements be brought in again, and your witch jewels reassumed.
The reasons for this step are threefold. The magical one is that which you are already acquainted with namely, the jamming effect of metals on certain delicate vibrations which are going to be initiated during the ritual. The second, more traditional one, having to do with ideas of ritual purity and poverty, is that on coming into the presence of the gods, you divest yourself of all worldly valuables, and any metals, of course, were recognized as the earliest form of currency. Third, it refers back to ancient Prytanic "elvish" custom.
Thus, having cast the circle, purified it by fire and water, and removed all metals, the time will have come to prepare the balefire itself. This is the ritual Sabbat fire which is lit in the centre of the circle. It is the unmoving pivot of the eight-spoked witches' wheel, the Wheel of Fortune, or Solar Wheel of Life. It represents, among other things, the constant rotation of the elemental tides, the ebb and flow of life itself.
The balefire itself must be composed of nine different varieties of wood. The choice of which species you select is up to you. But they must be nine distinct genera. It is best to choose from those which burn well. Good indications of these are given in the old Dartmoor verse:
Oak logs will warm you well, That are old and dry. Logs of pine will sweetly smell But the sparks will fly.
Birch logs will burn too fast,
Chestnut scarce at all; Hawthorn logs are good to last -Cut them in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax, You may burn them green; Elm logs like smouldering flax, No flame to be seen.
Beech logs for winter time, Yew logs as well; Green elder logs it is a crime For any man to sell.
Pear logs and apple logs, They will scent your room; Cherry logs across the dogs Smell like flower of broom.
Ash logs, smooth and grey, Burn them green or old, Buy up all that come your way -Worth their weight in gold.
Poplar, cornel (dogwood), sandalwood, cedar, and juniper are also worth considering, the first two being highly traditional.
The sticks themselves should be set crossways on top of one another: "cross them, cross them, cross them," the old rune says. In order to facilitate lighting, a spirit such as alcohol may be sprinkled on them, or a bed of quick-lighting charcoal laid underneath. In order to light the balefire, you are going to employ what is variously known as need fire, wildfire, elf fire or living fire. This is a flame produced either by friction of wood on wood or from the flame of a taper lit by the rays of the sun, concentrated by a burning glass or concave mirror. However, many witches nowadays simply use matches, going on the assumption that the main thing to avoid is the use of metal, as would have been the case in the old days of tinder-boxes and flints. The fire seen to be resident in nonmetallic substances or the sun is what is required
So now you have your coven assembled, the circle drawn the balefire laid out but not lit, and finally all metals including your witch jewels removed from the area. Now, exactly at midnight, the hour of greatest darkness, extinguish all lamps or lights in the vicinity. If the Sabbat is performed indoors, turn out all the lights in the rest of the house.
You stand at the end of the old season; the elemental tides are about to change, the old quarter gives place to the new and the Wheel of Life is turning another quadrant. You are about to invoke the descent of a new influx of power to renew and regenerate the fire of your body corporate, the coven entity.
The coven members should remain silently standing, kneeling, or sitting in a circle facing inwards, clasping hands. The magister must pass to the east of the circle and bow down nine times eastward. An unlit taper should now be placed in his right hand by the summoner, and he must slowly and powerfully chant a solar invocation such as the following:
Eastward stand I!
For favours I pray!
I pray thee, Mighty Prince of Light!
I pray thee, Holy Keeper of the Sky!
Up to Heaven I pray and down to Earth I call thee!
The assembled coven should now reiterate the chant in unison:
Eastward he stands,
For favours we pray.
We pray thee, Great One!
We pray thee, Mighty Prince of Light!
We pray thee, Holy Keeper of the Sky!
Up to heaven we pray and down to Earth we call thee!
The assembled coven must now exert all its witch power in visualizing elemental power descending upon the taper as the summoner lights it, a great flake of fire or triple tongue of light floating down from the dark sky! The leader should apply the flame to the balefire. As it blazes up, the coven should chant the following words, visualizing the coven symbol as a coruscating, living form burning in its centre!
IO EVOHE! [pronounced "EEE-OOO, AAH VOH AIEE"] Blessed be!
The leader must then circle the balefire three times south-ways, halting again in the east. At this point, the high priestess should prostrate herself to the west upon the ground. She must pound with her flat hand thrice three times upon the earth (thrice for each utterance of the goddess' name) as she chants the invocation of the earth:
Hertha! (three blows)
Hertha! (three blows)
Hertha! (three blows)
Mother of Mankind, hail to thee, Great Mother!
Be fruitful in god's embrace!
Be filled with food for the use of men!
The coven should likewise repeat this chant, feeling the answering earth tremble beneath them as they beat upon it. While they do this, the high priestess should crumble a Sabbat cake in her hand, and cast it in the circle furrow at the west, or upon the circle boundary line if it be an indoor Sabbat.
Now, having consecrated the Sabbat ground and balefire, all the ritual metal implements, including personal witch insignia, may be brought into the circle from the north. The leaders assume their headdresses, and the taper upon the master's headdress is lit from the balefire. He is the direct representative of the solar force within the coven. The coven members should also now assume their individual witch jewels. The magister, who should be standing in the east facing west with his arms crossed upon his breast, is then saluted as the "Sun at Midnight" by the assembled coven. The traditional gesture for this is the horned hand, right hand raised, fingers clenched, thumbs and little finger extended.
Likewise, on the other side of the circle in the west the high priestess stands, with her feet apart and her arms raised in a wide crescent, representing the goddess, Our Lady of the Moon.
As both sun and moon are now "standing in their signs of power," both magister and high priestess should be seeking at this moment to place their personalities in abeyance, and "bring through" the god-personae. This act of dissociation will have taken considerable previous practice on their parts, by way of meditation and visualization exercises, the constant building up of the traditional god-forms within an imagined "temple" or appropriate landscape, and the subsequent fantasy identification with them. The sun and moon have to be effectively magically "drawn down."
The high priestess is likewise saluted by the coven with the horned hand, but as Our Lady of the Moon.
The gesture of the magister, arms crossed upon the breast, is of course none other than the sign of death and rebirth used in your necromancy ritual. It signifies many things. Primarily it is the sign of Osiris, seen as synonymous with Hades, Dis, and the Horned One as God of Death. It also represents the skull and crossbones itself, and finally the erect phallus flanked by twin testes below.
The gesture of the high priestess is the mirror image of the magister's. It represents both the lunar crescent, the womb of space, and the horns of Hathor, all of which are symbols pertaining to Isis, the great Egyptian Mother Goddess and consort of Osiris. As such, the magister and high priestess are the human representatives of the two great archetypal poles of life, whether you conceive of them as Isis and Osiris, summer and winter, life and death, or yin and yang.
Having called down the two powers, such magical operations as required by the coven, if any, are now performed. The initiation of new members follows this, in order that the new initiates may be able to join in the ceremonial dances afterwards.
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