Mystic Magic: On the Origin
Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief
It has been pointed out to me via the people I follow on TikTok and Instagram that, while I have been doing extensive research into different aspects of my craft, I do not always look deeply into why they are a part of my craft, or how they came to be.
For instance, take the term “Book of Shadows.” These days, it is common to hear a grimoire referred to as a Book of Shadows, and generally the two terms are interchangeable. Did you know, though, that the term Book of Shadows was used by a Kashmiri Palmist named Mir Bashir about a Sanskrit text that teaches you how to use shadows for divination. The article Bashir wrote was in 1949, and Gerald Gardner, the father of Wicca, saw it and added it to his practice.
See, what a lot of folks do not understand is that Wicca, and in extension a lot of new-age witchcraft, is simply someone like Gardner seeing something he liked and taking it. There are a lot of problems with appropriation in Wicca because Gardner did not listen to people who told him certain practices were closed, and took from them anyway.
Another thing that did not particularly exist before Gardnerian Wicca are the sabbats, the eight witchy holidays celebrated on the wheel of the year. The term “sabbat” comes from a German word, hexensabbat, which Gardner saw and decided to adopt for the holidays.
The problem extends from the origin of hexensabbat, or witch’s sabbath, because it was used to describe what Christians thought Jews were doing on their Seders, namely lots of ritual sacrifices and things they were definitely not doing. In short, hexensabbat is an antisemitic term that Gardner may or may not have known the history of, but regardless…
This is why it is important to research not only how to do something correctly, but also the origin behind it. Both of these facts I learned because I follow a Jewish witch on TikTok and Instagram who cites their sources. I made sure to diversify the people I follow and my research, because getting something all from one source leads to misinformation or ignorance.
There is not really a replacement term for sabbat, unfortunately, besides maybe pagan holiday. Many are deciding to reclaim the term sabbat, since it has of course changed meanings since it was first used, but it is still good to know where the word comes from.
One of the Jewish witches I follow, Z, is on TikTok and Instagram under jewitches or kittenqueen. They also run a blog, www.jewitches.com, that puts out articles weekly.