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Sabbath
Witch Image
General Information
Episode

The Vow

Location

Salem, Massachusetts

Participants

The Essex Hive

Description

Ceremony to honor the Devil


One, two, three, and four. Raise the Devil to our door. Call the Pig, the Wolf, the Ram. Come to the circle, all who can. Make him walk on floor to roof. Drink to him with horn and hoof. One, two, three, and four. The devil is here. Now sleep no more
— Tituba in The Vow

The Sabbath is a ceremony that Witches held in special nights, usually with the full moon or the new moon, to celebrate the Devil and practicing their more dangerous spells, such as the Grand Rite.

Description

The Witches' Sabbath, also spelled Sabbat or Sabba, is a ceremony that can be considered religious or blasphemous depending on the observer in question. Implemented under cover of darkness in remote and solitary places like a forest, the witches gather around a fire to honor their Master. Bare, sometimes covered with blood or hell-pitch, they dance invoking the Devil so that he realizes their pleas. The Sabbath is also an opportunity to make the most important liturgical rituals, just as to start the Grand Rite with the necessary sacrifices. According to Reverend Cotton Mather, Sabbath are orgiastic meetings in which the witches give vent to their wickedness. On a tree near the clearing where the witches perform their Sabbath, John Alden and Isaac Walton found the skeletons of children hanging on the branches, "unborn children offered to the Devil himself" in the words of Isaac. If the skeletons are warnings or simple offers is not known; However, the Seer of the hive unleashes his familiars around the place of the ceremony because they act as guardians, warning the witches in case of intruders.

Undercover witches

I can't see their faces. Like there's these heads of animals like a stag, a pig and a wolf!
— Mercy Lewis to Cotton Mather
TheSabbath WitchesMasksin ThevowS01E01

"Call the Pig, the Wolf, the Ram..."

Witchcraft, punishable by death, was practiced by members of all social classes so it was necessary not to be recognizable, although precisely this confidence to show one's own identity to the other witches can be considered an act of trust toward the hive, especially to the Samhain who's responsible for protecting the witches of her hive. The masks wear in the ceremony, however, have also a ritual significance; the heads of animals sacred to witchcraft and Paganism as wolf, deer or pig are worn by those who appear to be the most important witches of the hive like Mary Sibley or John Hale, and are the same animals mentioned in Tituba's spell to fly to the Sabbath.

Phases of the moon

And now here we are, night of full hunter's moon.
The final sacrifice image

The Hunter's moon

The Moon plays a very profound role when it comes to spell casting, as a witch can enhance the power of her/his spells by becoming acquainted with all the phases of the Moon, and how to apply them. In Western culture, the four principal lunar phases are: first quarter, full moon, last quarter (also known as third quarter), and new moon. In a year there are thirteen full moons, to which the various traditions and cultures of the world have attributed significant and several names. The full moon is traditionally associated with witches and in traditional witchcraft Sabbath took place during full moon nights.

  • Hunter's moon: also known as Harvest Moon, is the full moons occurring during late summer and in the autumn, and in Salem's mythology is the night when the thirteenth victim must be sacrificed in order to complete the first step of the Grand Rite.

In History

Image Sabba quadro di Goya

Francisco Goya's Witches' Sabbath, 1797-98.

Witches' sabbath is a recurring motif throughout the Middle Ages and the European Renaissance, borrowing pre-Christian beliefs such as descriptions of brutal raids and orgies of witches and demons according to the Greek-Roman beliefs but later also by the legends and beliefs of Northern Europe and the Anglo-Saxon territories, such as the Wild Hunt, as soon as Christianity began to spread in these territories. Basically these satanic meetings were used as a scapegoat by the inquisitors to satisfy their morbid interests of a sexual nature, although historically it is possible to find minor similarities between the Sabbat of medieval witches and ancient pagan fertility cults. Such gathering of witches were believed to be a blasphemous imitation of the Holy Mass, in which the worshipers of the devil were making the most wicked acts from the sacrifice of children and cannibalism, to orgies and curses to damage the fields and public health.

The same term Sabbath was a Christian demonization of Judaism's day of rest, appropriately called Shabbat.

Throughout the Salem series

In The Vow, Mary Sibley begins the Grand Rite heading to Sabbath through astral projection. Her servant Tituba, in fact, sprinkles on her face and body with an ointment and then leads her to climax with a phallic object. Mary then reaches the Sabbath where she participate with other Witches to perform the Grand Rite. Each major witches wearing an animal mask(Mary, for example, has the face of a deer), while other witches dance in a pool of black pitch, defined by Cotton Mather, "Hell's fire".

In Lies, Mercy Lewis attempts with her followers Charlotte, Susanna, Charity, Emily and Dollie a sort of Sabbath, dancing and touching each other around a bonfire in the woods, calling the Devil until Mary Sibley appears offering Mercy the possibility to become a proper witch.


Gallery

Trivia

  • The word Sabbath comes from the demonization of the sacred day of the Hebrew religion, on Saturday precisely [1]
  • Many Neo-Pagan religions, such as Wicca, indicate with the term Sabbath the eight sacred festivals of the Wheel of the Year: Samhain, Yule, Imbolcg, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh and Mabon whose origins are to be found in ancient pagan festivals of various European areas.
  • According to some academic scholars such as Margaret Murray and Carlo Ginzburg, the Sabbath was not only an occasion for celebration, but also served to witches to discuss their misdeeds and were judged by the Devil or by older witches coven if they didn't completed their tasks. The Sabbath was an occasion where the witches who lived too far away met with each other. It then makes a distinction between the Great Sabbat (for holidays) and the Lesser Sabbat (to discuss the tasks). The Lesser Sabbat is also known as Esbat, which is held traditionally during full moon.
  • A Sabbath is also shown in Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" where Brown finds a meeting of Devil worshipers from Salem village.

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