At the Witches’ Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll, we hold the belief that if you give folks the chance to dig in, get their hands dirty and try something new (or very old), they will rise to the challenge. Or purpose is clear: to go out into the woods, to dance with the spirits, to please the gods, to honour our ancestors.
Held on the last weekend in May, this intensive weekend (casually known as “WS”) consists of rituals, discussions, workshops, group projects, a potluck feast, and much more. Together we build a relationship with the land, the gods, the spirits, and the ancestors. We create a stang for the main ritual, tell stories, walk moonlit trails, hang out around the fire, and most importantly: learn, share and grow as witches. The rituals last as long as the spirits that we work with need them to, which means we may be in ritual from dusk until dawn. There are also many hands-on learning opportunities, so expect to be tired by the end of weekend!
An “intensive weekend” is slightly different from a typical festival or gathering, just as a witches’ sabbat (or sabbath) can be different from a typical neo-pagan ritual. Here, we focus on ritual, magickal working, spirit work and the sharing of knowledge. While there will be some free time to socialize and relax, it is not the purpose of this intensive weekend to party late into the night, to dress up in costumes (unless ritually appropriate), or to tell tall tales about dragons. This weekend is for the serious practice and study of witchcraft. The time is also meant to provide a place where experienced practitioners can seek what lies beyond “Witchcraft 101.” While we welcome inexperienced practitioners and non-witches with opens arms, is it important to understand that this event is not one meant to teach the basics. There is an expectation that you will arrive with a decent foundation of practice under your belt. So if you are planning to attend please bone up on your basic witchcraft skills, such as; grounding, meditation, ritual etiquette, understanding energy, personal purification … all that stuff that can be found in any introductory book.
Each year we focus on a main theme chosen by the participants from the year before. For our first event in 2013, the theme was “The Horned Lord: Master of the Arte Magickal”. For 2014 it was “The Ancestors: Ancient Flame on Modern Hearth”. In 2015 our theme was “I Shall Go Into a Hare: The Fylgja, the Fetch and the Animal Within”. For 2016, the folks chose the theme “Curses! And Defense Against the Dark Arts”. For our 5th year (2017), our theme was “Tricksters and the Fool’s Journey”.
We also have a chosen herb or plant that we work and learn about with each year. In 2013 it was wormwood, for 2014 it was bog myrtle. For 2015, mugwort was chosen. In 2016, the herb was henbane. In 2017, we honoured mushrooms.
At the WS, all paths and traditions are automatically valid and we welcome all comers. It should be pointed out that at WS we practice non-initiatory witchcraft and we do not hold to any specific tradition or style. Members of initiatory, lineaged, mystery traditions are very much welcome at this event. As are solitary witches, interested non-witches, and everything in between. Anyone who attends this event is considered an equal, each with something to share and something to learn. We encourage you to come as a student, teacher, priest/ess, spirit worker, witch, or seeker. The only requirement is that you be open-minded, thoughtful, and serious. You will be judged by your level of commitment to the event, not the numbers of years of your practice.
The Sabbat is held at Raven’s Knoll (casually known as “RK” or “the Knoll”), a Pagan owned and operated events campground near Ottawa, Ontario. There is river front access, numerous sacred sites that have been built by the community, simple but cozy camping space, a private swimming hole that is skyclad friendly, various fire pits, showers, flushing toilets, as well as some beautiful forest to wander in. You will be “roughing it” a bit, so please prepare for being in the woods, subjected to the weather, and spending much time wandering dirt paths cut through the trees. Everything is held outside, and though workshops may be under simple shelters, our rituals are held in nature regardless of weather conditions.
A Witches’ Sabbat is a gathering of witches at any time, for any reason. Today, the term Sabbat is typically used when one speaks of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. However, the term Witches’ Sabbat (or sabbath) actually came to us courtesy of the propaganda of the “witch hunters”, claiming that witches gathered in secret to worship the devil. We know better.
Please note that this event is rated 18A. Children under 18 may not attend workshops or rituals.
WS is an event that welcomes all people and our organization has signed on to the Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance. At WS you will meet people from many different backgrounds.
We are currently prepping for 2018. Please join our Facebook Group for updates.
Theme – Our Lady of the Unseen & the Wild Hunt
Stang – A hawthorn branch adorned with a mare’s skull
Herb – TBA
Dates – May 25- 27 2017
Location – Raven’s Knoll Campground
Fee – $65 at the door, $60 for pre-payment online (online registration will open April 1st)