Luis Ricardo Falero, Witches Going to Their Sabbath, 1878

As Christianity began to take hold of Europe in the late medieval era, wild stories of witches and their Sabbath rituals became popular. Often these stories implicated and scapegoated women who were easy targets, especially older women who were beyond child-bearing years and healers. At times a single spectral huntsman would be involved too. They would travel to their secret place in the woods and hold their coven, eat babies and fetuses, and copulate with the devil. They would ride a flying goat, the goat being an incarnation of the devil himself.
Falero gives us all the familiar symbols in this fantastical vision meant to titillate. The witches swirl and writhe in the stormy convoy, implying sexual frenzy. The witch at center stares at us and draws us into the scene, with both evil and lust in her eyes.

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