sabbat(h), witches'

sabbat(h), witches'
   In many parts of Europe from about 1400 onwards it was thought that on certain nights witches gathered to worship Satan, with feasting and obscene orgies, and to plan their evil deeds. Such assemblies were called 'synagogues' or 'sabbaths', since Jews supposedly worshipped the Devil. These ideas barely touched England; only half a dozen references have been found - three in Lancashire (two in 1612, one in 1633), and one each in Yorkshire (1622), Devon (1638), and Northumberland (1673) (Sharpe, 1996: 76-8, 278-80). Two of the Lancashire sabbaths were said to have been held on a *Good Friday, 'one constant day for a yearly generall meetinge of witches' - a dramatic reversal of Christian ritual, by feasting on a fast-day. The Devon sabbath was set on *Mid-summer Eve; for the others no date is given.
   These English accounts mention no sexual orgies, but the *Devil is usually said to be present, and in the Devon account he licks the witches, leaving a black mark; one Lancashire teenager said she had seen witches dig up and eat a dead baby. However, there are also fantasies drawn from folk traditions, especially in the statements from the boy Edmund Robinson in Lancashire in 1633 and from Anne Armstrong in Northumberland in 1673. Both claimed to have been turned into horses and ridden to a house where witches pulled on ropes hanging from the rafters, whereupon roast meat, milk, butter, cheese, and wine fell from the air for their feast.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • sabbat — [sab′ət] n. [Fr, SABBATH] [sometimes S ] WITCHES SABBATH …   English World dictionary

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  • witches' sabbat — /ˌwɪtʃəz ˈsæbæt/ (say .wichuhz sabat) noun → sabbat (def. 2) …   Australian English dictionary

  • witches' Sabbath — noun A supposed meeting of witches at midnight to practice sorcery or to take part in a demonic orgy. Syn: sabbat …   Wiktionary