“… She is the elevated High Priestess, and the ever-watchful Moon protects her and still bestows its powers on her but it sails just a little further away. Surrounded by forests, she demonstrates her connection to the natural world; the satyr she sits upon represents her mastery over it. She is the fertile and generative power of femininity with immense power to create not only through birth, but through witchcraft as well. All who gaze upon her do so with reverence and respect.”
— The Sabbath Tarot Compendium
The Mediterranean is an astonishingly beautiful place, with its azure seas, lush vibrant wilderness, and romantic cultures. But this is just one side of the coin. The other is the dark world of witches who steal away in the night to rouse corpses and scavenge graveyards and untamed forests for their ingredients to make their potions. Of all the Mediterranean one place was synonymous with witchcraft, and that place was the kingdom of Thessaly just north of Greece.
To the ancient Greek, the Plain of Thessaly was the location of the Titanomachy, the War of the Gods and Titans, imbuing the land with powerful energy. Because of its mythological history, and its geographic isolation, the Greeks saw Thessaly as a place on the outskirts of civilization, a place that was teaming with witches. This association is helped by the fact that Thessaly surrendered to the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars of 499-449 BCE. The Persians were known to be a culture of witches. The Persians, also known as the Chaldeans, practiced very ancient and very powerful witchcraft that has its roots in the very founding of civilization, the magic of ancient Babylonia.
The accounts of Thessalian witches are extremely detailed and vivid, none more explicit than the accounts in ‘The Golden Ass’ by the Roman poet Apuleius. In his work he describes the witch’s workshop, their occult practices, such as having the ability to draw down the Moon, as well as their talent for metamorphosis, transforming humans into animals. The witches of Thessaly were especially known to be able to transform into birds and course through the skies. They did this by performing a ritual very familiar to the modern witch: by rubbing ointment all over their bodies. With their grease they would suddenly adorn talons, then wings, becoming nocturnal creatures of flight, perhaps a precursor to the concept of witches flying on brooms after anointing themselves with the infamous flying ointment.
The Witch Queen celebrates the power of these ancient witches who laid the foundation of witchcraft today. She sits triumphantly on the back of a subdued devil whom she commands, and by her spells under the horns of the Moon she transforms to take to the skies on her nocturnal rides. She is powerful, and feared, able to dispense justice with a single word making men shrink into frogs, beavers who gnaw off their own members, and rams that butt their heads with madness. She holds the power of Nature, and is the balancing force that walks between the worlds.