St. Agnes Eve

St. Agnes Eve

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

St. Agnes Eve is the night of January 20. It was the traditional time for Witches to perform love magic and spells. According to H. Pomeroy Brewster, "next to the Evangelists and Apostles there is no saint whose effigy is older" than St. Agnes. Barbara Walker states that Agnes is associated with the Roman-Jewish Agna, virgin incarnation of the ewe-goddess Rachel. At thirteen, Agnes was put to death for renouncing the love of Sempronius, a Roman officer. Sempronius's father was a prefect, and he directed that Agnes become a vestal virgin. When she refused, the prefect sent her into the streets naked. It is said that onlookers shouted, "Burn the Witch!" She was taken into custody and placed on a pyre, but the flames died down and went out. She was then beheaded.

Agnes's true nature, according to Walker, was as an orgiastic priestess-heroine. Bollandus's Acts of the Saints claims that Agnes founded her nunnery in a house of sacred prostitutes. She was supposed to have appeared a week after her execution, carrying a lamb in her arms. Today, on her feast, two white lambs are blessed by the Pope, and their wool is used by nuns to make the pallia of Western Archbishops.

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