Sabbatic Witchcraft

"Lucientes" by Franisco de Goya

Sabbatic Witchcraft as a path within Traditional Witchcraft is an unintentional byproduct of Andrew Chumbley’s tradition, the Cultus Sabbati.  His writings inspired a whole new generation of witches as well as the magic they practice, those witches who are influenced not only by Chumbley, but also by Robert Cochrane, Nigel Jackson, Nigel Pennick, Michael Howard, and Robin Artisson. Witches who are not members of the Cultus Sabbati, but identify with the group’s beliefs and practices label their path as “Sabbatic Witchcraft”. Sabbatic Witchcraft as a path is more on the ceremonial or high magic side and, in my opinion, attracts the wealthy academic British witch, mainly male, but women are starting to become more vocal about their interest of both sabbatic witchcraft and the Cultus Sabbati.

Andrew Chumbley on Traditional Craft:

The Traditional Craft is the Nameless Way of the Arte Magical. It is the Path of Wytcha, the heart’s calling of avocation to Cunning Man and Wise Woman; it is the Hidden Circle of Initiates constituting the living body of the Elder Faith. Its ritual is the Sabbat of Dream-made-Flesh. Its mystery lies in the Land, below the feet of Those who tread the crooked track of Elphame. Its scripture is the way of wort-cunning and Beast-charming, the treasury of lore re-membered by Those who revere the Spirits; it is the gramarye of ear-whispered knowledge, beloved of Those who hold sacred the secrets of the dead and entrusted to They who look ever onward… If any ask about the Traditional Craft, their answers lie in its native land: the Circle of the Arte of Artes!

Andrew Chumbley (1967-2004) was the magister of the Cultus Sabbati and author of several books on Sabbatic Witchcraft, the first of which being The Azoetia which he wrote when he was nineteen. His books were published by his own company Xoanon and the copyrights for all his works are still owned by the publishing house. He has also had numerous articles published in chaos magic and witchcraft periodicals over the years. Chumbley claimed that his writings and knowledge came from two lines of traditional witchcraft from England and Wales, both of which Ronald Hutton concluded predate Wicca. According to Chumbley, Sabbatic Witchcraft “describes the way in which elements of witch-lore, Sabbath mythology and imagery were being employed in the cunning-craft tradition into which I was originally inducted”. Some of Chumbley’s occult influences included Austin Osman Spare, Kenneth Grant, Robert Cochrane, Paul Huson, as well as ancient and modern grimoire authors. Magical systems that inspired him included Chaos magic, Ceremonial magic, Hermeticism, Thelema, Goetia, Golden Dawn, Enochian magic and the Kabbalah. Some people believe that he created Sabbatic Craft based on these influences while others believe that he was a genuine initiate of traditional witchcraft. Ronald Hutton was convinced of the latter and wrote about Chumbley in Chapter 16 of Triumph of the Moon. Andrew Chumbley died on September 15, 2004 on his birthday of a severe asthma attack. After his death, Daniel Schulke took over as magister of the Cultus Sabbati. Since then Schulke has written his own books on Sabbatic Craft and some of Chumbley’s books have been re-released as special editions.

Disambiguation

Chumbley’s Sabbatic Witchcraft is not to be confused with the writings of Michael W. Ford. Ford’s books and articles are better classified as Left Hand Path, Chaos Magic, and Satanism albeit influenced by Chumbley as well as Paul Huson.

Resources

For anyone who is interested in the Cultus Sabbati, Chumbley’s books are all high-quality limited editions by his independent publishing company. Even though they were all published fairly recently, they are rare and hard to find. Copies of some of his books go for $1000 each on Ebay – which is ridiculous and not supported by Xoanon. If you want to buy Chumbley’s books for a reasonable price get on Xoanon’s or Field’s mailing lists and stay far away from the second-hand book market. Some of Chumbley’s works were privately published as well as privately distributed and are not available to find for sale, but luckily a few will soon see the light of day when they are reprinted by Xoanon’s sister company Three Hands Press.

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Comments

No Responses to “Sabbatic Witchcraft”

  1. Cory says:

    Good gracious I adore you Sarah! Thank you for this outline of the CS and their offshoots. I know that I can’t be the only one who has seen their members discussing esoteric topics and gone “huh?” so this is very helpful. Now I know a little bit more of where they’re coming from. Muchas gracias!

  2. Sarah says:

    Thanks Cory! I wrote it quite objectively and I’m proud of my snarky self. If someone wishes to get to the same conclusions and practices as a sabbatic witch without all the arcane flowery language and secret societies, just check out the mysteries of hermeticism when combined with those of Robert Cochrane and throw in a dash of Eastern mysticism for fun – Zoroaster and all that… For me sabbatic witchcraft is essentially traditional British witchcraft and the practices of cunning folk mixed with the Grimoiric traditions stemming from Greece, Egypt and the Middle East.

    Also, I didn’t know where to put this in the resources, but Treadwell’s and Fulgur have come together to create a new magazine of interest to those who identify with or want to learn more about sabbat witchcraft. It is called ABRAXAS: An International Journal of Esoteric Studies and the first issue for the Autumn Equinox is out now. For those in London, there will be a launch party for it at Treadwell’s Bookshop on Samhuinn.

    Slàinte!
    Sarah

  3. Anthony says:

    hey Sarah,

    I have admired your blog for sometime now, always love the things you have created by hand, especially your wands, runes and well…everything. I make my own stuff too…wands, runes, charms, wild crafted incense and the like. Was interested to read about the CS..I have been intending to purchase Shulke’s “Ars Philtron”, I have always felt the desire to brew potions, but have never found very satisfactory info on what seem like such a specialized area of magical herbalism. I have read some good material on the shamanic approach to plants, but nothing within the english Witchcraft arena. Can you point to any sources? I have a journal in which I record what the plant tell me, but would be nice to have some more potion-focused material to read.

    keep on writing and creating,
    Blessings

    Anthony

  4. Sarah says:

    Hi Anthony! Have you heard of Dale Pendell’s Pharmako series? There are three books and I believe they are just what you’re looking for. I also recommend anything by Draja Mickaharic for practical books of recipes and methods and I would also recommend Paul Huson’s classic Mastering Herbalism for herbalism and recipes from a more traditional witchcraft perspective. And for full instructions on how to ingest/inhale certain herbs and concoctions for magical purposes, there is also Richard Alan Millers two works: The Magical & Ritual Use of Aphrodisiacs and The Magical & Ritual Use of Herbs – ignore the bad cover art, these are quite in depth well-researched titles. Lol, sounds like a lot doesn’t it! I hope you find one that works for you in my suggestions.

    Slàinte!
    Sarah

  5. Anthony says:

    Hey thanks Sarah…think i will have to get the three Pharmako books…have heard them praised before, so thanks for your recomendations. By the way, what is this Luciferian Witchcraft you speak of…I am from a strong Christian Background, and while I dont relate well to whatever Satanism is, I can get on board with Lucifer as the morning star, bringer of light…so whats it all about?…hope you dont mind the question…look forward to your response when you get time. look forward to seeing more of your creations and informative essays.

    Many thanks
    anthony

  6. Sarah says:

    Coincidentally I was working on a Luciferian Witchcraft article the day before your reply! It’s now posted on the blog. I’d love to know your thoughts ;)

    Slàinte!
    Sarah

  7. Mike Howard says:

    As a member of the Cultus Sabbati and a friend and magical colleague of the late Andrew Chumbley I would like to point out that Andrew never claimed to be a “hereditary witch” and he did not belong to any so-called “family tradition.” As he stated in articles published in magazines in the 1990s he obtained his initiations into the Old Craft from traditional sources in Buckinghamshire and West Wales.

    Perhaps you would like to correct your misinformation.

    Mike Howard

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for the clarification. Not being a CS adherent myself and those articles no longer being available I can only use what sources I have access to. I’ve double checked my sources to be sure and realized I’d obviously confused him with another trad crafter who claimed both a family tradition and to be an initiate of a pre-Wiccan tradition and have edited the post accordingly. Perhaps a little friendliness in future correspondence?

  8. Mike Howard says:

    Sorry if I seem unfriendly. I just get fed up with having to correct misinformation about Andrew and the Cultus.

    I was amused that we are supposed to be “wealthy academics” as I am not wealthy or an academic! Despite what some people think, the Cultus is not all-male and some of the most important people in it are women. They just prefer to keep ‘behind the scenes’ and it is the male members (ooh missus!) who just happen to have a public profile at the moment. This may change in the future.

    As to what ‘Sabbatic Craft’ is. It was a term created by Andrew to describe a modern form of traditional witchcraft based on the symbolism and mythos of the historical Witches Sabbath and the Wild Hunt. It is true that, like all modern occultists, Andrew drew on many differint esoteric sources. However the basis of his beliefs and teachings, and those of the Cultus Sabbati today,are firmly based on the core material he received from his teachers and his initiations into the Old Craft.

    • Sarah says:

      I would count you as an academic. I don’t think it necessarily means one with a degree, but one with a background of research and being well-educated as an authority in one or more subjects – just because one is not funded by an institution doesn’t make them less of an academic in my eyes.

      Perhaps a public page with a general overview on sabbatic craft would prevent misinformation in the future? I found there are very few sources available to draw upon that don’t involve serious coin or serious digging. It could be the reason for the misunderstandings.

      Slàinte,
      Sarah

  9. Mike Howard says:

    The Cultus does not have a specific website on the Internet and there are no plans to have one. However there is an essay by Andrew Chumbley about the Sabbatic Craft and the Cultus Sabbati on the Xoanon Publishing website. If you asked Xoanon that might let you reproduce it here.

    Also both Daniel A. Shulke, the present Magister of the Cultus Sabbati, and Robert Fitzgerald, an initiate of the Cultus, write articles for my magazine ‘The Cauldron’ on the Sabbatic Craft and related matters pertaining to traditional witchcraft.

    Also if people sign up to Xoanon and its associate company Three Hands Press subscibers mailing lists they will get advance news of publications by Cultus initiates. They will then be able to purchase their books from source at reasonable prices for high-quality limited editions, rather than being ripped off by second-hand sources trying to make a quick profit.

    Therefore there is quite a lot of genuine information avaliable out there ‘ from the horse’s mouth’ about the Sabbatic Craft as taught by Andrew Chumbley and practised today by the Cultus Sabbati.

    • Sarah says:

      I’m sure that information will help quite a few curious people and though it still requires serious effort on one’s part I’m sure those truly desirous will follow your suggestions.

      I have read said article before and, despite it’s length, it really does not say much that couldn’t be condensed into one short paragraph and it barely goes into depth about what the CS is about. Even though I’ve read some of Chumbley’s works it is still unclear and his combining of different culture’s and practices’ words and terminologies easily confuses the origin behind and the intended meaning of the material. His prose is lovely, however, and I’ve enjoyed his works for that reason alone.

      Thank you for your responses and clarifications.

  10. SoulFire says:

    “Witches are consummate leg-pullers; they are taught it as part of their stock-in-trade.”–Gerald Gardner

  11. Basir says:

    Though Im not of the CS, I am from a very old fam trad of the late Lady Circe here in the U.S. I have studied the material of the Azoetia, Qtube, The Ars Philtron and The Golden Toad for years now. Much of the criptic text I believe is to weed out those that are not truly interested or ready to study this material. Its ment to be studied first, then worked, and its not for everyone. To truly understand the material, may I suggest to anyone interested to study the Sufi, or as I did, take Arabic. Some words are in part Arabic and Greek. Its great fun studying this and when you have had your fill, you have accomplished a great deal, and enlarged your tool box of magic! Cheers!!!