"There will be a merry company in the forest; and I wellnigh promised the Black Man that the comely Hester Prynne should make one"
Witches going to their Sabbath (1878)
Public DomainWitches going to their Sabbath (1878) - Credit: Luis Ricardo Falero
 
 
 

Witches’ Sabbaths have been part of Christian lore since the mid-fourteenth century. According to popular belief, thousands of witches would fly — either by applying a magical ointment to their bodies or on the backs of goats or dogs — to congregate in remote forests or mountains. Here they would participate in diabolical revels, mocking the church through subverted enactments of its sacraments and trampling on the cross. Throwing their clothes to the wind, they feasted, danced and took part in sprawling orgies. The devil too was present, appearing in the form of a goat or satyr, and the merrymakers would take it in turns to kiss him on his bottom (a ritual greeting known as osculum infame — the kiss of shame) and to copulate with him. 

Watch a recreation of a witches' Sabbath from the 1922 Swedish film, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages. Afficianados might be interested in watching the whole film, narrated here by William Burroughs.