Queen of the Sabbat

Queen of the Sabbat

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In Pierre de Lancre's greatly detailed and highly imaginative illustration of a witches' sabbat, in his Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges (1612), he includes a fourhorned goat that presides over the proceedings from its throne. To the right of this goat, on an accompanying throne, sits the Witch Queen of the Sabbat. Margaret Murray suggests that the Queen was an official at the sabbats during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She notes that, in 1579, Elizabeth Stile of Windsor said, "Mother Seidre dwelling in the Almshouse, was the mistress Witch of all the rest." Murray also says that in France, in the early seventeenth century, the custom of acknowledging a Witch Queen seems to have been universal; "in each village was found a Queen of the Sabbat" who sat beside the representative of the God.

In Wicca there is no one Queen of all Witches (despite the claims of some). There are, however, a number of Witch Queens—High Priestesses who have more than one coven—in various traditions. In Gardnerian Witchcraft, for example, when a High Priestess raises another female Witch to the Third Degree, that Witch is encouraged to leave the mother coven to start her own. The original Priestess, who is available for help and advice, is known as a Witch Queen. As badges of office, the Queen wears a silver crown—a band of silver with a silver crescent moon at the front—and a garter. (In some traditions such a crown may be worn by other female witches, not just the Witch Queen.) The garter is of green snakeskin (see Garter and Order of the Garter) lined with blue silk; a large silver buckle represents the Queen's original coven, while smaller silver buckles represent the covens that were spawned from the original. Together with the High Priestess's bracelet and necklace, these accouterments are known as the Witch Queen's bigghes. When a High Priestess becomes a Witch Queen, or Queen of the Sabbat, she undergoes a coronation ceremony in which she is anointed from head to toe with consecrated oil. Her High Priest receives the honorary title of Magus. There is no such title as Witch King or King of the Witches in Wicca.

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The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.