Why is midnight considered the “Witching Hour”?

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Hand of the Night

Silhouette Of The Night
Witching hour is upon us
Dusky clouds, falling, swirling
Obscuring the crescent moon
Skeleton fingered branches
Beckoning me in the wind
As I creep past the grave stones
To my final resting place

By Jan Allison

Dance my darlings for the Witching Hour is here. A time of witchcraft and devils, of magic and mystery; but what, exactly, is the Witching Hour and more importantly when is it?

12am vs 3am
The Witching Hour is various described as being between the hours of Midnight and 1am or the hours of 3am to first light depending on who you are taking to. Both of these two times are significant to Pagan and modern spiritualists, and to Christians as well, but the names they are given and the importance and association vary based on belief. By and large the periof of time between midnight an 1am is known as the Witching Hour whilst 3am to first light is know as the Devils Hour. The latter is a designation more associated with Christianity however the significance of the time period is recognised by many modern pagans and spiritualists, if not the name.

Between the Tick and the Tock – The Witching Hour
Whilst we Witches can be Witches at any time of the day or night some hold the midnight hour of particular significance. This is the time between times, the point where tomorrow becomes today and today is but yesterday. Many modern Pagans see this time as a time when the veil between world’s is weakest and therefore facilitating the best level of communication between the material world and the Otherworld regardless of the season.

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The modern significance of the Witching Hour lies in new beginnings and the veil between world’s however the original significance may have more to do with secrecy than anything else. The cover of darkness, moonlit or otherwise, allows those who wish to move unseen the cover to do so. Those who practice witchcraft have not always been accepted and stealth was once the order of the day.

Christians also refer to this period of time as the Witching Hour for similar reasons. Midnight was a time for nefarious acts, where only those who wished to hide from the eyes of God and man would walk. This was the time when Witches would gather to prepare to summon their demonic familiars and masters, if not perform the deed itself, and when god fearing Christians were most at risk from their evil eye.

It is in the Christian interpretation of the Witching Hour that we find a link to the Devils Hour, the time at witch demonic forces stalk the world.

The Darkest Hour is before Dawn – The Devils Hour 
If midnight is the hour of the minion then 3am is the time of the Master. There is a believe amongst some Christians that holds that Jesus died on the cross at 3pm, making this a most holy hour. Standing in opposition to Christ is Satan and his hour of domimence is placed in the opposing hour of 3am. This, some Christians hold, is when Satan and his demon subjects may be summoned by their earthly agents; Witches. Demons, ghouls and ghosts were supposed to stalk the land, released in the hour of the devil to wander until the light of day drove them back once again.

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The Sorceress, 1626
Engraving by Jan van de Velde II

3am is considered by some to be the darkest hour before the dawn so is makes a certain amount of sense that this time would be associated with paranormal and supernatural forces. It is suggested that between 3 and 4am is the best time to go hunting ghosts because activity is greater. It’s also anecdotally recognised that you are most likely to die between these hours and I have spoken to medical professionals who share this opinion in the past.

Modern Witches and Pagans do not hold any particular opinion about the Devils Hour in fact most would reject the name outright as being contrary to their beliefs. I am unaware at this time of any group or individual which particularly practices or holds strong beliefs about this time period that do not coincide with modern spiritualist belief.

So When to Do What
So you maybe sat there thinking “so what should I be doing when”, well the simple answer is: whatever you want.

If you are interested in experiencing what effect the Witching or Devils may have on your craft then you should experiment by performing ritual at these times.  Both would be appropriate times for work concerning the ancestors and Otherworld and connecting with hidden energies. The Witching Hour may be a good time for works concerning new beginnings whilst the Devils Hour more appropriate to baneful magics. Through experimentation you may find other connections, or you may find that these times are no more or less effective that any other time of the day and night.

Speaking personally I rarely have enough spoons left at the end of the day to contemplate staying up until midnight for any reasons. Although my preference is to perform rituals after dark the reality of the summer months is that this not always possible and ritials are performed in the daylight hours and I do not find them less effective as a result. Darkness and association certainly lend something to the atmosphere, particularly when working as part of a group, but as a Witch alone there is no reason not to consider the practicalities.

Image Credits
Hand of the Night
Between the Tick and the Tock
The Sorceress, Engraving by Jan van de Velde II

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About knotmagick

Weaving Magick and Crochet in the madhouse I call home. I am a devotee of Hekate and a follower of Pan.
This entry was posted in Defining My Craft, Magick, Witchcraft and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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