Well… I’m not too sure how I ended up in such a place at such an event, but this year I attended the first ever Witches’ Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll and I can surely say I enjoyed my time. You see, as a staunch Germanic Heathen of the reconstructionist kind, I have found over the years that I have lost any sort of connection to the ‘otherworld’ and anything remotely considered magical. I have buried my head in the research papers and have found myself coming up after each dive in gasping for air. Though the air I seem to be craving is not a mundane mix of Oxygen, Nitrogen and other such gasses, but rather the elements of mystery, enchantment, awe-like inspiration and dooming terror.
There seems to be something primal about being able to give yourself over – completely – to a pure ecstatic experience. This has been amiss in my life as I have been more focused on getting the logistics of ritual and heathen religiosity down to a science that I have cut off vital energy to the wow-zone of my brain. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read and rectify my heathen learning, as I feel it is indispensible to the growth of modern heathery. Though to imbibe in intoxicating herbals, ritual rhythmic drum-pulses and dancing wildly – that is primally – sans fin until a profound ecstatic trance overtakes you entirely is as ancient to humanity, or more so, than our relationships to our heathen gods.
Some of the first ritualistic and religious expressions were of the trance-dance nature. A carefully orchestrated array of sound, movement and ethnogeny is still used by some of the most ancient and indigenous peoples of the world as their means to gain revelation. It is also quite certain from an academic viewpoint that these religious customs are ancestral to all later developed religions as they began in prehistoric Africa and travelled with early humans who settled all corners of the globe… even through the Indo-European line which lead to the Germanic branch.
I myself did not let my self get in the way of myself. Thanks to the excellent guidance provided by Juniper Jeni and Angela Gray, I learned that it was ok to open myself up to new experiences, even if they are not documented in a book or to be shared with others. This is what I set out to do as my mantra as I ingested great amounts of wormwood and processed behind a stang (effigy) to the Horned Lord. Decked out in wonderful and personal garb and fitted with a red ochre-stained buck skull, this was a powerful vessel to an ancient being. Though the interpretation may not be the same, there have been cave paintings discovered which feature an anthropomorphic stag-man in France. I also got a tattoo of Cernunos as a young newly pagan 18 yr old years before learning about Heathenry. So I felt as though something was coming full circle and I had an important lesson to learn.
As the drums pounded, my heart raced and I ‘became’ the stag. I lived. I died. I was reborn the fawn. I learned much that evening as I tranced and idolized the stang… things that I could never share to anyone.
Review of the 2013 Witches’ Sabbat by Erik Lacharity for use by Juniper Jeni in media.