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Catalog: The Witches' Sabbats

The Witches' Sabbats Photo

As featured in Circle Magazine

by Mike Nichols
Foreword by Wren Walker
Illustrations by Heather Lloyd

Body/Mind/Spirit, Spirituality
ISBN 978-0-9710050-2-0
Trade paper, 160 pages, 21 illustrations
List Price: $14.00

The Ultimate Guide to the Pagan Holidays

While the true believers and their critics may rage at one another about just how old Witchcraft or Wicca really is, one thing cannot be disputed: our holidays are the oldest in the world."
—Mike Nichols, The Witches' Sabbats

This informative guide by celebrated American Pagan pioneer Mike Nichols discusses the history, myths, customs, lore, and traditions associated with the eight Pagan holidays. Beautifully illustrated by Heather Lloyd, The Witches' Sabbats includes:

  • A new preface, "Counting the Days"
  • A new, never-before published essay, "Marking the Sabbats";
  • A new bibliography and index;
  • Two recent articles;
  • Plus four additional thought-provoking essays!

Most books on the wheel of the year tell you what to do on each holiday; whereas, The Witches' Sabbats explains the origins and symbolism of the Sabbats—or why Pagans celebrate the old holidays. The literary quality of Nichols' essays, coupled with his comprehensive knowledge of folklore, has made The Witches' Sabbats a perennial favorite.

Mike Nichols has taught classes in Wicca for more than twenty years, and was the first Wiccan representative on the Kansas City Interfaith Council. He has been a featured speaker on National Public Radio, Blog Talk Radio, and the Eclectic Pagan podcast. He continues to write and teach extensively and guest lecture at Pagan festivals.

Endorsements

Recommended Reading.
Publishers Weekly, "All Faiths Calendar" (Nov. '05 - Jan. '06)

The sine qua non of any Craft library...erudite, thoughtful, and clear elucidations of the Holy Days of Wicca.
—Judith Hawkins-Tillirson, New Leaf Distributing

The sine qua non of any Craft library...erudite, thoughtful, and clear elucidations of the Holy Days of Wicca. Readers—from student to Priest/ess—will find their knowledge of the very axis of Witchcraft deepened as well as widened—and will be entertained as well!

Many of Mike's articles — including his beloved essays on the Pagan holidays — have by now reached and influenced a worldwide readership.
—Dallas Heltzell, online news editor-producer, The Denver Post

"Mike has been an important and respected figure in the midwestern Pagan community for over 25 years. His influence on many of the people now active in Paganism was primarily transmitted through the 20 years of Witchcraft classes he taught in Columbia and Kansas City, MO, through his bookstore, The Magick Lantern, which was a haven for those interested in Paganism during the eighties, and through his publication, "The Lantern's Light," which was an excellent example of Pagan writing and editing.

"Mike's abilities as researcher, writer, and teacher have included his studies and publications in such fields as psychical research, the occult, theology, mythology, folklore and music, as well as Witchcraft and Paganism. His talents in song writing, music recording and mixing, and computers round out his amazing resume.

"Many of Mike's articles — including his beloved essays on the Pagan holidays — have been available in the file areas of various Pagan computer bulletin boards since 1988, and have by now reached and influenced a worldwide readership."

A treasure trove of information ... You'll love his personable writing style, the well-researched information, and his bold and interesting theories.
—Silver Ravenwolf, author of To Ride a Silver Broomstick, Halloween, and HedgeWitch

An excellent collection of essays with a treasure trove of information coupled by the strong backdrop of Mike Nichols' thirty-plus years of involvement in the Midwestern Pagan community. You don't get our living history better than this! Whether you are a new student or a seasoned practitioner, you'll love his personable writing style, the well-researched information, and his bold and interesting theories.

One of the best books on the Wheel of the Year.
—Christopher Penczak, author of The Living Temple of Witchcraft

Mike Nichols holds a wealth of knowledge and lore.
—M. Macha NightMare, author of Pagan Pride and coauthor with Starhawk of The Pagan Book of Living and Dying

Mike Nichols is a rare treasure in our emerging Pagan community. His feet are firmly placed on the terra firma of tradition and he holds a wealth of knowledge and lore, while at the same time he embraces our evolution, and the new people who join us, with an open mind and an open heart.

Mike Nichols is one of those unique scholars that has the ability to make historical and advanced information accessible to everyone."
—Kristin Madden, author of Magickal Crafts

Mike Nichols is one of those unique scholars that has the ability to make historical and advanced information accessible to everyone - and he makes it all great fun to learn. Over the years, I have turned to Mike's articles for ideas about Sabbat celebrations. I trust his information and value his insights. His musings provide a wealth of topics for adult discussion as well as for teaching children.

Mike really is a legend in his own right. I have met very few pagans that have not enjoyed his articles and benefited from his research. He has had a tremendous influence over the pagan community and has forced a great many of us to think outside the box of what we were taught or read in a book.

No matter how long or how short of a timespan you have been practicing, you will definitely learn something new -- and you will probably also re-examine some of the ideas you may already hold.
—Raine Hill, author of Growing Up Pagan: A Workbook for Wiccan Families

Mike Nichols has put together quite a collection of insightful articles and essays in 'The Witches' Sabbats'. No matter how long or how short of a timespan you have been practicing, you will definitely learn something new -- and you will probably also re-examine some of the ideas you may already hold. After years of reading the same '101' material regurgitated over and over again, his views are fresh and inspiring.

Arguably the finest Sabbats writing in the modern Craft today.
—Fritz Jung, The Witches' Voice

Multi-decade, Craft Veteran Mike Nichols's work on the Pagan Holidays is quickly becoming the standard on the subject.
—Wren Walker, The Witches' Voice

Reviews

A worthy addition to any pagan’s bookshelf.
newWitch magazine

A state-of-the-art handbook for practitioners.
—Chas Clifton, editor of Pomegranate and Llewellyn's Witchcraft Today series

An excellent tool for those seeking a good understanding of how modern Wiccans conceive their holidays.
—Jason Pitzl-Waters, The Wild Hunt Weblog and columnist, newWitch magazine

Nichols is famous for his writings on the Witches' Sabbats which have recently been collected as a book for the first time. I find Nichols' reminiscences about the early days of American modern Paganism highly enlightening. It shows a very different view of 'Pagan community' than we experience now... This new book should be an excellent tool for those seeking a good understanding of how modern Wiccans conceive their holidays.

His work is at once both traditional and innovative...the perfect alchemy for a Witch of true power.
—Storm Faerywolf, editor of Witch Eye magazine and author of The Stars Within the Earth

To say that the works of Mike Nichols are of tremendous value to the modern Pagan movement is somewhat of an understatement. Especially now when it seems that so many Pagan authors are merely repackaging the same old (and often ill thought-out) ideas and concepts of our magic and our practice, Nichols strives to examine the reasons why we do the things we do… and in doing so he often challenges those notions by exposing the shaky foundations upon which they are built. His work is at once both traditional and innovative… the perfect alchemy for a Witch of true power.

Mike's articles provoke thought, make you consider how and why you do the things you do. Be prepared, however, to have your brain cells exercised.
—Ellen Cannon Reed, creator/author of The Witches Tarot and The Witches Qabala

As is true of many Pagan folk, I am a constant collector of information... When I discovered the world of computer bulletin boards many years ago, I found my sources of information and opportunities for learning had increased a hundredfold.

In collecting those files, I met Mike Nichols. It was years before we actually corresponded, but I had come to respect him and his work long before that. While my own tradition is not Celtic, his articles on the sabbats helped give me a greater understanding of the depth of possible meanings for them. I have handed out more copies of his 'Reflections on Old Guard Paganism' than I care to count. His article on the ethics of love spells has provided an excellent jumping off place for discussions of ethics with my students. His article on the Watchtowers and reasons Air should be in the North made me consider carefully the reasons for the correspondences I use.

That's one of the things I find most valuable about Mike's articles. They provoke thought, make you consider how and why you do the things you do. Be prepared, however, to have your brain cells exercised. You might end up changing. You might not; but you will have gone through your ideas, shaken them up, held them to the light, and learned about the why's and wherefore's of the way you practice your paganism.

You'll be the richer for it, believe me.

You couldn't ask for a better explanation of what the holidays are all about."
—Robin Wood, creator of The Robin Wood Tarot

Mike's essays and articles are not only carefully researched and highly readable; they are extremely thought-provoking. Not only does he give the reader permission to think about traditional things in new ways, he practically demands it. As someone who's been advocating 'keeping your brain with you at all times' for many years, I find such an attitude both refreshing and exciting!

For those new to the Craft, read these essays. You couldn't ask for a better explanation of what the holidays are all about. For those who have been walking this path for many years, read these essays. You may agree with everything Mike says, or you may disagree. But you are almost sure to learn something, and to find yourself thinking about these oh-so-familiar topics in new ways.

Mike Nichols's sabbat essays should be required reading for anyone pursuing the Pagan path.
—Tom Little, coauthor with Mary K. Greer of Understanding the Tarot Court

Much of the material available today on Paganism and Wicca is a disappointment, consisting mostly of unreflective repetition of familiar ideas. Mike Nichols's essays are a refreshing departure from that pattern. Well researched and carefully articulated, they blend sober historical awareness with a deep personal understanding of Pagan practice and sensibility. The sabbat essays should be required reading for anyone pursuing the Pagan path.

A wonderfully streamlined book that will be an excellent addition to both beginning and experienced pagans’ libraries.
—Lupa, author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone and A Field Guide to Otherkin

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 seem 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... 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....

... 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.

Written in a gently accessible style which can be enjoyed by everyone from the newbie to the seasoned Witch, and which can educate them all.
—Valerie Walker, author of The Dustbunnies Big Damn Handbook, Volume One

Mike Nichols is not only a longtime and well-respected writer on Pagan subjects, he is also a thinker who induces thinking in his readers. His elemental attribution of the directions may be controversial to some, as may his view of the appropriate names for the Greater and Lesser Sabbats. But he makes these statements with a sweet reasonableness that invites discussion rather than conflict (an unfortunately rare occurrence in Pagan discussion). One gets the feeling that Nichols is not ego-involved in pushing a particular view of the Craft, simply a man deeply in love with it, who is sharing his discoveries with his Craften sisters and brothers. His essays are written in a gently accessible style which can be enjoyed by everyone from the newbie to the seasoned Witch, and which can educate them all.

The Witchcraft Community has been truly blessed with his profound thoughts and writings on many subjects.
—Starrfire Price, author of The Journey Into Witchcraft

Mike Nichols is not only a extraordinary writer but a most valuable resource for texts relating to many Pagan/Witchcraft Based Studies... I have yet to find any of his works that were less than exceptional. I have referenced to his materials many times within my classes, my books and my websites. The Witchcraft Community has been truly blessed with his profound thoughts and writings on many subjects.

"Mike does not repackage the ever growing dogma that has become the norm, instead he writes from his own experiences and his heart which sets him apart from many of the more whitewashed writings I see today.

"Mike Nichols is a remarkable man, writer and friend. I am so pleased to see his writings being placed into print. His works are most definately a blessing and inspiration for all who read them.

A must-read, and should be on the required-reading list for training covens. The additional materials alone are worth the price of the book.
—Ben Gruagach, author of The Wiccan Mystic

Mike’s essays are considered the classic historical explanation of the Wiccan wheel of the year... There are quite a few other books available today that examine the Wiccan sabbats. Most of them owe a debt of gratitude to Mike Nichols and his original sabbat essays, which started the journey for so many. The Witches’ Sabbats by Mike Nichols is a must-read for anyone involved in Wicca, and should be on the required-reading list for training covens... The additional materials alone are worth the price of the book.

This is the mark of a good author, one who has withstood the test of time.
—Boudica, The Wiccan/Pagan Times

Mike Nichols approach to the pagan/witch holidays, his way of writing about it so anyone could understand or connect to the pagan calendar was unique and well thought out and put together. So much so that many websites, including our own TWPT, linked back to his site, referenced it and rather than being redundant and trying to repeat an already well researched offering, used Mike's site as the standard.

Mike has finally put out a book that covers his original material. He has done an excellent job defining, tracing the history, and giving both the beginner and the experienced pagan a good resource for the Wheel of the Year outside the Internet experience....

... The nice thing is that this material does not run on and one, but does a very effective job in a minimal amount of space ... The book, while focusing on the Sabbats, has some hidden gems. The second part of the book covers other associated material ... he didn’t include in the Wheel of the Year. Some really good observations, and worth the read....

As Mike was when we first found him on the web, so he is today in print: a wonderful teacher, a man who has some interesting insights, musings worth sharing and does his homework. He also spells it out and makes it clear so anyone can understand. This is the mark of a good author, one who has withstood the test of time, and he is now available to those who have never wandered into cyberspace, or touched the magical mouse.

Mike's good humor and clear writing style, as well as his solid scholarship, make these articles the benchmarks that many strive to achieve.
—Daven, Daven's Journal

Throughout my time writing and teaching on the Internet and in real life, I have referenced Mike's works multiple times. His articles are among those I recommend to everyone I teach, without exception. His good humor and clear writing style, as well as his solid scholarship, make these articles the benchmarks that many strive to achieve. Articles such as 'Rethinking the Watchtowers' and 'The Death of Llew' give the reader pause to reconsider much of the standard teachings of many groups in a new light. I'm glad to see this resource published so that a new generation of Wiccans can find Mike's excellent work of use in their life.

The Witches’ Sabbats is the perfect work to use as reference.
—Pagan Bookworm, Books and Media Reviews for the Magical Masses

The research that Mike Nichols puts into his articles is amazing - the information is compiled from well-known and respected works on folklore and mythology. If you are looking to get a better or fuller understanding of the individual significance of each Sabbat as well as they why and how behind each festival’s celebration, The Witches’ Sabbats is the perfect work to use as reference. ... It’s a wonderful compilation and the articles work well as chapters of a whole book. I personally thoroughly enjoy Mike Nichols' writing style, he ranges from being incredibly informative and detailed to being poeticly fluid in his writing. This is a both a great introductory and reference book, good for both old guard and new witch.