Detail from the Witches' Sabbat on the Brocken. From the Douce Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

The witches' sabbath or sabbat was, according to European tradition, a meeting of devil worshipers that occurred late at night and went on until dawn. The meeting could include blasphemous parodies of Christian rites (a Black Mass), licentious orgies, initiation rites for new members in a coven, or secret conspiracies against established law and order--all assisted by the Evil One, Satan or the Devil. Often depicted as orgies of gluttony and lust, sabbats were nightmarish events attended by all manner of hellish creatures and demons. The Devil often appeared as a goat or a ram, if not a mysterious “black man.”
(courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA) close window
citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/images/fullpageimage.php?name=MMD1861