I’m not sure if I wrote this before, but I was born in a very small village, isolated in the mountains of Portugal. I lived there the first twenty years of my life. Time enough to learned the traditions and beliefs of a people whose lives depended on the agriculture and cattle raising.
For myself, one of the most interesting aspects of living in there was to be able connect with their own religious practices. They fused, somehow, the established christianity with an inherent and unaware paganism.
My childhood and adolescence was richly fulfilled by a mystical, fervent imagination that are the essence of my actual artistic work. As I left my village to dive into the big city, many of these marvellous memoirs were transformed by the “civilised” skepticism. I almost lost my essence, adapting to a new world ruled by scientific certitude. Creatively speaking, I learned a lot with the new experiences and different artistic proposals but my inspiration was entering in a cycle of boredom.
As we started the Credo quia Absurdum, I committed myself to bring back the folklore that shaped me as a young man. I don’t care about the veracity of the facts or the lack of scientific explanation, I just want to embrace it as an important part of myself.
This introduction served to contextualise our version of the Witches’s Sabbath, from which we heard many descriptions from our roots.
The “Coven” is a very recent term, used pretty much to define an assembly of witches. This gathering aims to celebrate the so-called “Black Mass”, where the participants perform a dark ritual , directed by the Devil himself.
It is said that in certain nights of Saturday, eight times a year (following the pagan system), some women (mostly) were irresistibly attracted to a secret place in the woods. Through desolate paths and crossroads or through the most fantastic and frenetic flights, they all meet the master in the agreed location.
Arriving the place, the newcomers immediately join the rest of the participants, penetrating in frenzy dances and crying out loud.
In many cultures, to dance and scream is part of the ritual of self-expressions, liberating the dark and stagnated energy from our inner selves, very much like an artistic therapy.
The ceremony, of course, was forbidden to unwanted views or non-members. For those caught spying the rites, there were severe punishments or threats, in some cases they were forced to join the assembly. To entering the Sabbath, everyone had to renounce to God and christian faith, being subject to a new satanic baptism and other formalities – such as the popular Satan’s anus kissing.
According to the Cristian vision, the Witches’s Sabbath invited every kind of debauchery and cruelty imaginable to the party. The people involved practiced the dirtiest orgies and they sacrificed animals and children in the name of Satan, cannibalising them as the next step.
The witch-hunters, torturing the women accused of witchcraft, forced them to tell the most disgusting things about the diabolic mass. It is known that they told the hunters what they wanted to hear to avoid more torture and pain.
And that’s is how the myth of the Coven born.
At the middle of the picture, a bull is prepared to a sacrifice, just like in many other traditions – the usually called “Taurobolium”. This practice was normally performed in late March, matching the Sabbath’s ritual of the Spring Equinox and providing details about the date of this particular episode.
The “Taurobolium” objective was generally the same: to obtain the god/goddess blessing, as a measure for the welfare of the self and the community.
The central figure, as we unveiled already, assumes himself as the great evil master, the enemy of the light, the Devil. Here, we portray him as the traditional He-goat, specially linked to the paganism and the physical representations of the satyr-god Pan.
“Unlike the other Olympian gods, Pan lived in the Earth and it developed some attributes related to sexuality and fertility. His typical goat-like features recall the most conventional depictions of the Devil and the fact could be related to the neopagan cults associated, many times, to witchcraft. The image of Pan that survived all these centuries as a god of fertility in the Earth was considered by the christians as a terrifying manifestation of Satan and the women that worshiped him were brutally hunted. Pan’s earthly aspects moved him away from the sacred aspects of christianity and he turned into an icon for our sinful desires.” Terra Volatile Tarot – the Devil.
This Devil was erotically depicted, assuming with pride his sexual urges. He is very much like a porno-movie director, conducting the lascivious symphony. The magical symbols on his hands, secretly promote sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, etc. Everything counts to satisfy his/ their appetites, revealing a moment to be sexually free, without prejudices. He can be seen as a symbol of liberation.
His human disciples, by joining his “black flock” received great achievements in life. Most of the people who married him, looked for selfish accomplishments, such as money or power; others just wanted to survive poverty or to cure a very will familiar member, generally a small child.
Looking to the ceremonies and cults of the classical gods and goddesses, such as Diana, Bacchus, Priapus or Pan; we find evident associations. They were all deities of Fertility, and their cults celebrated the Mother Earth and the harvest. Some of them still live these days.
As we know, these “pagan” celebrations that used elements as horns and pelts or the exaltation of the naked bodies were seen as diabolical.
The inquisition turned the richness of our cultural heritage and relation with the nature into forbidden practices, just like the unethical politic propaganda does.
The Witches’s Assembly ended when the roster announced the morning and the members dispersed to return to their normal lives.