The Robed Initiation

Since the ceremony takes place during the Sabbat, the circle itself will already have been erected and consecrated by watchtower, with a small ceramic chafing dish glowing on top of the altar should it be indoors, or a balefire blazing in the centre should it be outdoors. All the magical witch implements should be present. Both masculine and feminine aspects of power will have been invoked, perhaps by the Eko Azarak formula and the Hertha chant. The grand master will be wearing his horned helmet or animal mask, with the torch or candle blazing at its crown. He and the rest of the coven should be standing within the circle. The candidate should be led by the officer, or summoner, to the northern perimeter, already robed and fully blindfolded or "hoodwinked" and divested of all metal artifacts. At this point, one of the coven, previously selected, should with the point of his or her Athame or coven sword touch the candidate upon the breast and challenge him with appropriate words. The challenge is issued from the point of view of the guardian of the watchtower of the north, the realm of the element earth.

The words may take the following form: Challenger. Whence come you?

Candidate. From the north, the place of greatest darkness. Challenger. Whither goest thou? Candidate. I travel east in search of light.

Challenger. What passwords dost thou bring?

Candidate. Perfect love and perfect trust.

Challenger. I, the guardian of the watchtower of the north forbid thee entrance. Thou canst not enter this holy place from the north, save thou first be purified and consecrated. Who vouches for you?

Summoner. I, Guide of Souls, so do.

Challenger. Child of Darkness, approach thou the watchtower of the north and receive of me the bonds of death and blessing of earth!

The candidate now has his hands tied behind his back with a witches' cingulum, which is drawn up and tied around his neck, with the free end hanging down in front of him as a lead or "cable-tow." Similarly, a short piece of red cord is also bound around his right and left ankles, loose enough to allow him to walk and leaving his feet "neither bond nor free." Finally, a few grains of consecrated salt are sprinkled on his forehead, and a coin symbolic of the earth pentacle placed between his lips. He is then led by the summoner deosil an entire circuit around the outside perimeter of the circle and brought to a halt at the west, where, after the coin is removed from his lips, a similar challenge is issued by the watchtower representative of that quarter. In answer to the first query, however, the candidate should now respond. "From the north, the gate of death." Likewise, in the challenger's reply, in place of the word, "north," "west" is now used, and the guardian of the west subsequently administers the "cup of memory," a draught of pure water from the chalice, and the "purification of water," a few drops upon the forehead.

The candidate is then led on another clockwise circuit of the periphery, and ends up in the south, where he is again challenged, this time by the representative of fire, who, by laying the flat of his sword, or Athame, on the candidate's right shoulder and censing him thrice with Cernunnos Incense, bestows upon him the sword of power and the consecration of fire.

Finally, on being led circuitously to the east of the circle, the candidate is challenged by the representative of air, who, by breathing on his head thrice, bestows on him the breath of life, and the gift of light by subsequent removal of the blindfold. The first sight which should greet the candidate's eyes must be the grand master in his blazing mask: Lucifer, the Sun at Midnight.

Having been purified and consecrated by the four elements of the wise, the candidate is now actually conducted into the circle at the north. His hands are then unbound; the grand master extends the blade of his sword, or Athame, to the candidate, who, kneeling before him and placing his right hand upon the blade, repeats the words of the ceremonial oath:

I [Witch name] in the presence of all there assembled, man or god, living or dead, do of my own free will most solemnly swear that I shall ever keep secret those things entrusted to my ears alone by this coven, except it be to a proper person, properly prepared, within such a circle as I am now in; And that I shall never deny the secrets to such a person should he be properly vouched for by a fellow member of this coven. All this I swear upon my life, now and hereafter, and may those powers I possess, now or hereafter, turn against me should I break this most solemn oath! So mote it be!

At this point, the coven workbook, Book of Ceremonies (or Book of Shadows, as it is called in some covens) is produced, and the candidate signs his witch name in the register section and dates it. Some covens also measure the height of the candidate and record it by the name, the traditional process of "taking the measure." Likewise a drop of the candidate's blood taken with a sterilized needle or, alternatively, a few hairs of the candidate's head, are requested, and either placed in the register by the name or filed away separately. These are both tokens of the bond now existing between coven entity and candidate, but also underlying it is the threat of magical reprisals in the event of his breaking his oath.

The grand master should now lay his hands upon the kneeling candidate's head, and call down the blessing and acceptance of the coven on the new initiate. He then invites him with his "charged" coven witch jewel - pendant, garter, bracelet, necklace, or ring - and salutes him as a new member. Some covens also include a consecration by Sabbat oil and wine at this point.

The new initiate now rises and is presented to all the other members in turn by witch name. Finally, the coven's working tools, sword, chalice, lamps, et al., are presented in turn to the candidate.

The Sabbat festivities and ceremonies such as the feast of cakes and wine then continue as usual.

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