The earliest ideas about Wedic gatherings point to night flights of witches through the air to cause thunderstorms and showers, to hide the sun, moon, stars.
Such night trips are described by the Edda, where witches are called queldridha (Abendreiterin – night riders).
In Slavic folklore, witches, flying through the air at night, shine with bright lights, that is, lightning. Russian witches and Baba Yaga rush through the air in an iron or wooden mortar, driving with a pestle or a stick and covering the trail with a broomstick, and the earth groans, the winds howl, and the unclean spirits utter wild cries.
Sometimes she can be found driving around on small matters and on a pig, which, incidentally, is not uncommon for others. Like the Scandinavian gods, Thor riding on goats, Freya – on cats, witches make their flights on their favorite animals – on wolves, bridled and chased by snakes, on hogs (remember Bulgakov’s maid Margarita), goats, bears.
Before the flight, witches smear themselves with magic ointments from witchcraft plants, sprinkle water boiled together with the ashes of the Kupala fire, and create conspiracies.
The witches of Africa, in order to fly at night on the backs of hyenas or anteaters, rubbed their hands and face with white mushonga ointment, and in the Kaguru tribe, witches tied themselves to the belly of hyenas for this purpose.
The witches of the South Pacific Ocean fly into the underworld, bathe and rub themselves with ointments, after which they shine like the birds of paradise, by whose name they are called.
Then they go to the tree, climb up the trunk and disappear into the distance, in order to get from the underworld first of all the seeds of huyowana, that is, “happiness.”
In recent centuries, the broom has been considered the main more modern means of transportation for witches.
Sitting astride a broomstick, the witch soars into the air at incredible speed. There are various theories as to why the broom is associated with a witch.
According to the most believable of them, the broom is a symbol of the female household, the working tool of every woman, and witches, for the most part, are women.
In the old days, a woman used to prop up the door from the outside with a broom or stick it into the chimney, as a sign to neighbors and guests that she was not at home.
It is only one step from here to the idea that witches who can fly use their most familiar weapon and, sitting on it, fly out through the pipe.
Another theory claims that the connection between the witch and the broom dates back to antiquity, when pagans performed fertility rituals to ensure that crops would yield a rich harvest.
They would sit on brooms, poles, and pitchforks and ride them, dancing and jumping high into the air.
The location of the rods on the broom has changed over time.
At first, the rods were at the back so that the witch could cover her tracks in the sky, but at the end of the 17th century, witches are often depicted sitting on a broomstick, the rods of which are directed forward and upward. A candle is fixed in the rods to illuminate the road.
Sometimes it was believed that the devil gives each newly ordained witch a broom and a special ointment. According to other legends, he endowed them only with weak witches in need of help.
Sorcerers, like witches, also flew on brooms, although in the drawings men are often depicted astride a pitchfork.
It is known that there are a myriad of supplies that can be used for flight, but their exact compositions are, of course, known only to those who fly.
In one of the minutes of the Wedic process of 1596 in the case of a certain Agnes Gerhard and her friends, who flew at night on the “dantz” (dance), it sounds that they “rubbed the soles of their feet with ointment”, and Agnes herself “took fern, hellebore, hazel and I boiled all this together with one egg in oil to get an ointment. “
Note that flying to the Sabbath was by no means always a safe pastime.
For example, the famous demonologist Martin Antoine Del Rio (1551-1608) wrote that:
In 1587, a soldier on guard shot into a dark cloud, and, just think, a woman fell at his feet. Now, what will those who deny that witches go to meetings say? They will say they don’t believe it. Let them remain unbelievers, because they do not believe the eyewitnesses that I can imagine in abundance.
In the dark times of the Inquisition, judges confiscated brooms, pitchforks, sticks, spears as evidence. Especially looking for pots of ointment.
It’s a pity that the ointment, having fallen into the hands of justice, lost its magical power, and the damn powders ceased to be poisonous.
The defendants made excuses that the investigation had taken possession of not poison at all, but, say, starch flour, but the tribunals rarely believed the excuses. Some witches tried to make an alibi for themselves because the chimney in their house is too small even for a cat.
“It doesn’t matter,” argued the judges. – Demon, this wondrous artisan with incomprehensible speed moves apart the bricks in the chimney at the moment of departure, and then pushes them back.
Married women made the excuse that they spent the whole night in bed with their husband. Husbands confirmed that it was so.
Then the judges explained to them – the dull ones – that every witch can grease her husband’s ear and back with a magic ointment, and he will sleep until morning, hugging a pillow or a bundle of straw. In the morning, she will go back to bed and snuggle up to her husband.
During nightly witches’ gatherings, such as Walpurgis Night, townspeople would often exhibit sickles and scythes to kill witches who fell from their brooms.
In addition, they rang church bells, which had the power to throw brooms and witches on the ground.