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The Witches' Sabbats

The Witches' Sabbats

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The Witches' Sabbats

4.5/5 (6 valoraciones)
188 página
2 horas
Sep 1, 2005


This informative guide discusses the history, myths, customs, lore, and traditions associated with the eight Pagan holidays. More than merely a listing of activities for each holiday, this examination explains the origins and symbolism of the Sabbats and why they are celebrated. The literary quality of the essays, coupled with the comprehensive knowledge of folklore, has made this book a perennial favorite.
Sep 1, 2005

Sobre el autor

Mike Nichols was born on the North Side three blocks from the stockyards, grew up on the East Side and now lives in southwest Fort Worth. He worked for twenty-three years as a reporter, copy editor, columnist and travel writer for the hometown newspaper, the "Star-Telegram." He is the author of "Balaam Gimble's Gumption" and "Live from the Boneyard" and blogs about Fort Worth at www.hometownbyhandlebar.com.

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The Witches' Sabbats - Mike Nichols

Praise for The Witches’ Sabbats

An excellent collection of essays with a treasure trove of information coupled by the strong backdrop of Mike Nichols thirty-six plus years of involvement in the Midwestern Pagan community … You’ll love his personable writing style, the well-researched information, and his bold and interesting theories.

—Silver Ravenwolf, author of To Ride a Silver Broomstick, Halloween, and HedgeWitch

One of the best books on the Wheel of the Year.

—Christopher Penczak, author of The Living Temple of Witchcraft

You couldn’t ask for a better explanation of what the holidays are all about.

—Robin Wood, author/creator of The Robin Wood Tarot

Mike’s articles provoke thought, make you consider how and why you do the things you do. Be prepared, however, to have your brain cells exercised.

—Ellen Cannon Reed, author/creator of The Witches Tarot and The Witches Qabala

Mike Nichols is one of those unique scholars that has the unique ability to make historical and advanced information accessible to everyone.

—Kristin Madden, author of Magickal Crafts

Arguably the finest Sabbats writing in the modern Craft today.

—Fritz Jung, The Witches’ Voice"

A worthy addition to any pagan’s bookshelf.

—new Witch magazine

Mike Nichols holds a wealth of knowledge and lore."

—M. Macha NightMare, coauthor with Starhawk of The Pagan Book of Living and Dying

His work is at once both traditional and innovative…the perfect alchemy for a Witch of true power.

—Storm Faerywolf, author of The Stars Within the Earth

Written in a gently accessible style which can be enjoyed by everyone from the newbie to the seasoned Witch, and which can educate them all.

—Valerie Walker, author of The Dustbunnies Big Damn Handbook, Volume One

Mike’s good humor and clear writing style, as well as his solid scholarship, make these articles the benchmarks that many strive to achieve.

—Daven’s Journal

"Recommended Reading."

—Publishers Weekly, All Faiths Calendar (Nov. ’05 - Jan. ’06)

Many of Mike’s articles — including his beloved essays on the Pagan holidays — have by now reached and influenced a worldwide readership.

—Dallas Heltzell, online news editor-producer, The Denver Post

"The sine qua non of any Craft library…erudite, thoughtful, and clear elucidations of the Holy Days of Wicca."

—Judith Hawkins-Tillirson, New Leaf Distributing

Published by Acorn Guild Press, LLC

4207 SE Woodstock Blvd # 168

Portland, OR 97206-6267

© 1986, 1995, 2005, 2010 Mike Nichols. All rights reserved.

Kindle edition: 2011

This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without written permission from the publisher and author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review; nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other, without written permission from the publisher and author. For specific exceptions to this copyright notice, see Mike Nichols’ Web site, The Witches’ Sabbats, http://www.witchessabbats.com

ISBN 978-0-9710050-9-9

Print ISBN 978-0-9710050-2-0

Cover illustration: Heather Lloyd

Cover parchment: courtesy of istockphoto.com

Chapter illustrations: Heather Lloyd

Chapter Eleven diagrams: Jim Schuette

Layout: Jim Schuette

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Nichols, Mike, 1952-

  The witches’ sabbats / by Mike Nichols; foreword by Wren Walker.— 1st ed.

      p. cm.

  Includes bibliographical references and index.

  ISBN 0-9710050-2-8 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Sabbat. I. Title.

BF1572.S28N53 2005



To Kristi and Colin


List of Illustrations

Foreword by Wren Walker

Preface: Counting the Days



Introduction to the Sabbats

CHAPTER ONE: All Hallow’s Eve

CHAPTER TWO: Midwinter’s Eve: Yule

CHAPTER THREE: Candlemas: The Light Returns

CHAPTER FOUR: Lady Day: The Vernal Equinox

CHAPTER FIVE: A Celebration of May Day

CHAPTER SIX: A Midsummer’s Celebration

CHAPTER SEVEN: Lammas: The First Harvest



CHAPTER NINE: The Death of Llew: A Seasonal Interpretation

CHAPTER TEN: The Ever-Widening Circle: A New Pattern Glimpsed in the Holidays

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Marking the Sabbats: An Exercise in Dodmanship

CHAPTER TWELVE: Rethinking the Watchtowers


CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Two Witches: A Modern Craft Fairy Tale

Selected Bibliography


About the Author



1. Compass Star

2. Jack-o’-Lantern

3. Mistletoe

4. Lantern

5. Hare

6. Maypole

7. Green Man

8. Catherine Wheel

9. Corn Dolly

10. Cauldron and Spear

11. Quartered Circle

12. Long Man of Wilmington

13. Raincloud and Sun

14. Bonfire

15. Goddess Masks


FIGURE I Earth’s Orbit Around the Sun

FIGURE II Two Alignments

FIGURE III Four Alignments

FIGURE IV Five Alignments

FIGURE V Chevron Alignment

FIGURE VI Kansas City, MO Temple


The old that is strong does not wither.…

—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

When we decided several years ago to add a Basics of Witchcraft section to The Witches’ Voice Web site, we knew that information on what is commonly referred to as the eight Sabbats or the wheel of the year would be a major part of that plan. We began our research with great enthusiasm and several pads of sticky notes. After all, we naively thought, we already had dozens of Pagan-related books that the two of us had individually collected in the years before we merged both our personal and professional lives, so how hard could it be to come up with a concise, detailed, and yet still spiritually inspirational collection of Pagan holiday traditions and lore? Well, we were soon to find out.

First of all, possessing such an extensive traditional library proved to be more of a hindrance than help. Although we did manage to weed out duplicate—and sometimes triplicate (now, how did that happen?)—copies of the usual Pagan classics, we quickly found ourselves forced to navigate through stacks of evermore-tipsy hardcover and paperback pylons marked Beltane, Solstice, and Overview.

Complicating matters even more, one of the cats was then going through her terrible twos, and in the big golden eyes of little Ruby our sacred research library was magically transformed into one fine feline racetrack.

After a few weeks of sorting references and flipping pages, we began to imagine that those sticky-note bookmarks were sticking their little paper tongues out at us whenever we left the room.

So we did then what we should have done at the start—and what so many other Pagans have done so many times since—we went to the Internet.

Let’s type in Samhain. Ah, here is a piece by someone named Mike Nichols that looks good. (Bookmark that!) Let’s see what can we find on Beltane. Well, it seems as though this very same Mike Nichols has also written a nice in-depth essay on that one, too. (Already bookmarked!)

Yule? Mike Nichols. Midsummer? Yes, we should have known…Mike Nichols. So who is this Mike Nichols guy and how did he manage to corner—or perhaps more aptly, cover—the entire essayist’s free market on the Witches’ holidays?

Drawing upon his twenty-five-plus years in the Pagan/Witchcraft community, Mike Nichols initially set to paper an overview of the major and minor Sabbats as a gentle guide for those who might wish to rekindle the celebration of the ongoing cycles of life as reflected in the rhythms of nature. And this they are.

But as these things so often do, the essays that you are about to read and enjoy have evolved into something much more than a straightforward how-to manual. They have a life of their own. It is as if a once-forgotten muse, reawakened, pours forth her wisdom as rain upon a shriveling and thirsty world.

And she is not done speaking yet. Even as these very essays were written over a span of many years, the magick behind them and within them shall continue to expand and to grow. We dare say that Mike would never claim that they are a final product. They are meant rather to open a spiritual doorway by which one might enter and begin to recover what has been lost.

For as Tolkien goes on to say, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. / From the ashes a fire shall be woken, / A light from the shadows shall spring.

Mike, in his premiere series of essays on the Pagan holidays, tapped into these roots, followed underground currents, and now, within his words, the old ways of honoring the Earth cycles live again. And in future years, others shall likewise come forth to perpetuate the traditions, and that, too, is as it should be.

Hundreds of Wiccan, Witch, and Pagan Web sites today feature the Mike Nichols holiday series. Thousands of people have read them. Authors and scholars have quoted from them, and unknown numbers of people from the myriad Pagan paths have used his extensive and sensitive renderings in the planning of their own individual and group celebrations.

The Circle continues.

Part of the reason that these articles have been so popular lies in the essence of the subject matter itself. As Mike explains in his Introduction to the Sabbats:

The most important thing to understand about the eight Witchcraft Sabbats is that they are not man-made.… The reason these holidays are so old is because they are a basic part of how the Earth works. Consequently, these holidays are not of history; they are of nature.

Nichols rightly identifies the innate appeal in following nature’s calendar. It just feels, well…natural. All peoples of the world identify with the course of the sun and of the moon and the lengthening and shortening of days. Before humankind had any glimmer of what we would eventually identify as religion, the day and the night, the growing seasons and the harvests, the migration of herds, and the heat and the chill established natural patterns to which man/woman also responded.

As our distant ancestors began to conjugate spiritual forces, spirits, ghosts, and Gods in order to explain cosmological or environmental events, their desire to appease or communicate with these entities was met through individual, familial, or tribal rituals. That people would use what was locally available or in season as offerings is certainly no stretch to imagine, and Nichols provides a concise lexicon of the traditions and folklore associated with each holiday.

As time progressed, these rituals became codified within the local families. As the formerly isolated families came together to form tribes, they perhaps shared and merged the different ways of connecting with nature and the spirits or Gods. Patterns were formed, names were given to the spirits and to the Gods, myths were born, and the holidays came to be honored or celebrated year after year.

In The Death of Llew and Harvest Home, Mike Nichols details some of the more complex myths and legends that emerged as humanity itself became more sophisticated in both belief and practice. In The Ever-Widening Circle and his latest chapter, Marking the Sabbats, he expands on these themes and their relevance in our modern age.

In the former, in fact, he reveals a profound and thought-provoking theory, one that connects the holidays and the Circle in an organic way that many Pagans and magickal practitioners might find particularly satisfying.

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