The Witches’ Sabbats – Mike Nichols

The Witches’ Sabbats
Mike Nichols
Acorn Guild Press, 2005
132 pages (not including preface, etc.)

It’s been a good long while since I’ve read anything specifically pertaining to witchcraft; most of my studies and practice in the past few years have been less about religion, and more about practical and metamorphic magic, as well as smatterings of shamanism. But I’d heard some good stuff about this book, and decided to snag a copy for myself.

If you need a really good resource on the history of the eight sabbats, this is your book! I’ve seen a number of books published in recent years on specific sabbats, but they always seme to be stuffed full of prefabricated rituals. This is a wonderfully streamlined book that will be an excellent addition to both beginning and experienced pagans’ libraries; beginners will get a good overview of the origins of the sabbats, while more experienced folk can breeze past the books of pre-written rituals and use the information in The Witches’ Sabbats as inspiration to create their own rituals from scratch.

I won’t fault the book for not having in-text citations because the earliest drafts were written nearly 40 years ago. However, the lengthy bibliography promises many wonderful book hunts, and is additionally a cornucopia of nonfluffy sources. Much of the material in the book originated from essays that may still be found online (including Mike’s own website). However, there is some unique material here. Additionally, for those of us raised on books rather than computers, and whose optical systems are thus conditioned for the visual setup of paper rather than a very long webpage, this is an ideal format. And it won’t run out of power, doesn’t need to be turned on, and is a heck of a lot easier to carry around.

Oh, and for those of you who are in the habit of skipping the foreword and preface? Don’t, especially not with this book–there are some really good pieces of information in them.

My only little bitty quibble is that it’s occasionally quite evident that the chapters were written individually. It’s mentioned a number of times that the Celts started their celebrations the sundown before the big day, something that probably only needs to be mentioned once at the beginning; and he occasionally also refers to something “in another esay” or somesuch.

Still, this is only a tiny complaint, and overall I think this is an awesome book. I can definitely see why the writings are considered classics in the realm of neopaganism, and this is a great way to not only have a convenient, easy-to-navigate, portable version of these writings, but to also give something back to the guy who did all that hard work and who often goes uncredited.

Five celebratory pawprints out of five.

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1 Comment

  1. Riva said,

    September 23, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Possibly THE Witches’ Bible! Kidding a great reference book for any Pagan/Neo-Pagan.
    Wonderful writing style and humorous. Two things I often look for in a book.
    History made interesting again!


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