Satanic feminism, esoteric influences on high fashion and celebrating the darker side of being a woman: just a few things to be spellbound by in biannual magazine Sabat.
Fusing witchcraft and feminism over 198 pages, Sabat just dropped its second issue just in time for the autumn equinox. Its first, 'The Maiden', encouraged teen witches to harness their powers within. This time around, 'The Mother' explores the relationship we have with our mothers in all its complex, dark and unsentimental glory.
Interspersed with brooding and atmospheric black and white photography, Sabat reinvents witchcraft for a contemporary audience. Though it draws on witchcraft's pop-cultural heyday in the 90s – Charmed, Buffy,The Craft – there are no cauldrons in sight.
We caught up with editor and creative director Elisabeth Krohn to delve more into what to expect from Sabat's latest issue, the changing face of witchcraft and why it's time to join the coven.
VICE: What made you want to create Sabat?
Elisabeth Krohn: I started a zine about teen witches for my first project at London College of Fashion. With the 90s and feminist resurgence, it seemed like a fun thing to do. I got more into it and started looking at the way we engage in rituals in our lives and how so many young women today are interested in spirituality in a post-religion sort of way. I thought, why not try and do something in real life with it and publish it?
How would you describe Sabat?
It's looking at the darker side of femininity. It is about witchcraft, rituals and spirituality. I wanted it to be multi-layered - on the surface about 90s witchcraft, something fun, that you just play with in passing. But on a deeper level, empower women to not shy away from their more complex, darker urges.
Witches today have adopted Instagram as their social network of choice. Why did you decide to launch in print rather than digital?
I'm a print enthusiast. I like objects, to have something that's something more tactile, a physical thing that you can maybe have as a keepsake.
Why did you choose the name?
I was thinking of the witches' sabbath and I thought the magazine could be this place for women to feast on the witchier sides of themselves, to feast on dark femininity.
Why do you think many young women are so into witchcraft right now?
We live in this world where we're moving away from traditional religion. So I think there's a hole where maybe you want to fill your life with some kind of ritual or spirituality that doesn't really exist in young people's lives anymore. Witchcraft is this really great way to engage with spirituality because it's something that you very much define yourself, it's very individual. It correlates with a lot of values that are appealing to people today: veganism, vegetarianism, caring about the earth. You can be yourself, it's quite feminist in its nature, it's open to many types of sexualities. It's a very self-creative religious space.
Witchcraft has always celebrated women. Some people could argue that many mainstream religions don't do the same. Do you think it can be a welcome alternative?
Definitely. It's very suited to a modern woman's spirituality. It's very free and it's very focused on cultivating your feminine powers in whatever way you like. A lot of people feel disempowered by big structures. Trump coming into power, you want to hex him!
Who's the team behind Sabat? Are any of them also witches?
My graphic designer and art director lives in Brazil so we've actually never met! But I found his portfolio and it really stood out. We have contributors from the US, there's a big community there. I have people helping me out in London. I don't know if they're witches on a personal level, but I know they engage in the culture around it.
Could you tell us more about the first issue?
It looks at the maiden archetype, young female witch or woman coming into her powers in society and finding your sexuality as well. It explores that journey and phase of having so much potential but maybe not knowing what to do with. It's all about latent energy and latent potential.
And how about the latest one?
It's looking at mother as creation and destruction, the ultimate life force. It's a little less 90s. It's a bit darker, less sexy and flirty.
There seems to be so many definitions of what a witch is. What do you think makes a modern day witch?
It's very much about finding this energy within yourself and using it in some kind of way that's constructive for your own life. The core of witchcraft is what you make of it for yourself.
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