A supposed meeting of those who practice witchcraft
and other rites.
In Europe during the Burning Times
of the Early Modern Period, the mass paranoia
of the times fed the belief that witches, at special times of the year, flew to these secret meetings/ festivities held in remote areas, typically in the forest or in the mountains (places like Brocken
or Bald Mountain
). The popular imagination envisioned a secret society that turned every moral norm of mainstream society on its head.
At the witches sabbath, Satan was supposed to have presided over the congregation and initiated new witches in a face-to-face pact. The Sabbath
was imagined to begin with a mockery
of Christian rites and "baptism" with new satanic names, building into an orgy
of naked dancing, sex with demon
s (including Satan himself), and glutton
ous feasting on the flesh of human infants.