Witches' Rain-Making and Fertility Rites

[This is taken from Margaret Alice Murray's Witch Cult in Europe.]

1. General

IN common with many other religions of the Lower Culture, the witch-cult of Western Europe observed certain rites for rain-making and for causing or blasting fertility. This fact was recognized in the papal Bulls formulated against the witches who were denounced, not for moral offences, but for the destruction of fertility. The celebrated Decree of Innocent VIII, which in 1488 let loose the full force of the Church against the witches, says that 'they blight the marriage bed, destroy the births of women and the increase of cattle; they blast the corn on the ground, the grapes of the vineyard, the fruits of the trees, the grass and herbs of the field'. Adrian VI followed this up in 1521 with a Decretal Epistle, denouncing the witches 'as a Sect deviating from the Catholic Faith, denying their Baptism, and showing Contempt of the Ecclesiastical Sacraments, treading Crosses under their Feet, and, taking the Devil for their Lord, destroyed. the Fruits of the Earth by their Enchantments, Sorceries, and Superstitions'.

The charms used by the witches, the dances, the burning of the god and the broadcast scattering of his ashes, all point to the fact that this was a fertility cult; and this is the view taken also by those contemporary writers who give a more or less comprehensive account of the religion and ritual. Though most of the fertility or anti-fertility charms remaining to us were used by the witches either for their own benefit or to injure their enemies, enough remains to show that originally all these charms were to promote fertility in general and in particular. When the charm was for fertility in general, it was performed by the whole congregation together; but for the fertility of any particular woman, animal, or field, the ceremony was performed by one witch alone or by two at most.

The power which the witches claimed to possess over human fertility is shown in many of the trials. Jonet Clark was tried in Edinburgh in 1590 'for giving and taking away power from sundry men's Genital-members';[1] and in the same year and place Bessie Roy was accused of causing women's milk to dry up.[2] The number of midwives who practised witchcraft points also to this fact; they claimed to be able to cause and to prevent pregnancy, to cause and to prevent an easy delivery, to cast the labour-pains on an animal or a human being (husbands who were the victims are peculiarly incensed against these witches), and in every way to have power over the generative organs of both sexes. In short, it is possible to say that, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the better the midwife the better the witch.

The Red Book of Appin,[3] which was obtained from the Devil by a trick, is of great interest in this connexion. It was said to contain charms for the curing of diseases of cattle; among them must certainly have been some for promoting the fertility of the herds in general, and individual animals in particular. It is not unlikely that the charms as noted in the book were the result of many experiments, for we know that the witches were bound to give account to the Devil of all the magic they performed in the intervals between the Sabbaths, and he or his clerk recorded their doings. From this record the Devil instructed the witches. It is evident from the confessions and the evidence at the trials that the help of the witches was often required to promote fertility among human beings as well as among animals. The number of midwives who were also witches was very great, and the fact can hardly be accidental.

Witches were called in to perform incantations during the various events of a farm-yard. Margrat Og of Aberdeen, 1597, was 'indyttit as a manifest witche, in that, be the space of a yeirsyn or theirby, thy kow being in bulling, and James

[1. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 206; Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 301.

2. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 207.

3. J. G. Campbell, pp. 293-4. The book was in manuscript, and when last heard of was in the possession of the now-extinct Stewarts of Invernahyle.]

Farquhar, thy awin gude son haulding the kow, thow stuid on the ane syd of the kow, and thy dochter, Batrix Robbie, on the vther syd, and quhen the bull was lowping the kow, thow tuik a knyff and keist ower the kow, and thy dochter keapit the sam, and keist it over to the agane, and this ye did thryiss, quililk thou can nocht deny'.[1] At Auldearne the Coven, to which Isobel Gowdie belonged, performed a ceremony to obtain for themselves the benefit of a neighbour's crop. 'Befor Candlemas, we went be-east Kinlosse, and ther we yoaked an plewghe of paddokis. The Divell held the plewgh, and Johne Yownge in Mebestowne, our Officer, did drywe the plewghe. Paddokis did draw the plewgh as oxen; quickens wer sowmes, a riglen's horne was a cowter, and an piece of an riglen's horne was an sok. We went two seueral tymes abowt; and all we of the Coeven went still wp and downe with the plewghe, prayeing to the Divell for the fruit of that land, and that thistles and brieris might grow ther'.[2] Here the ploughing ceremony was to induce fertility for the benefit of the witches, while the draught animals and all the parts of the plough connoted barrenness for the owner of the soil.

The most detailed account of a charm for human fertility is given in the confession of the Abbé Guibourg, who appears to have been the Devil of the Paris witches. The ceremony took place at the house of a witch-midwife named Voisin or Montvoisin, and according to the editor was for the benefit of Louis XIV or Charles II, two of the most notorious libertines of their age.

'Il a fait chez la Voisin, revêtu d'aube, d'étole et de manipule, une conjuration en présence de la Des Oeillets [attendant of Madame de Montespan], qui prétendait faire un charme pour le (Roi) et qui était accompagnée d'un homme qui lui donna la conjuration, et comme il était nécessaire d'avoir du sperme des deux sexes, Des Oeillets ayant ses mois n'en put donner mais versa dans le calice de ses menstrues et l'homme qui l'accompagnait, ayant passé dans la ruelle du lit avec lui Guibourg, versa de son sperme dans le calice. Sur

[1. Spalding Club. Misc., i, p. 143.

2. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603. 'Toads did draw the plough as oxen, couch-grass was the harness and trace-chains, a gelded animal's horn was the Coulter, and a piece of a gelded animal's horn was the sock.']

le tout, la Des Oeillets et l'homme mirent chacun d'une poudre de sang de chauve-souris et de la farine pour donner un corps plus ferme à toute la composition et aprés qu'iI eut récité la conjuration il tira le tout du calice qui fut mis dans un petit vaisseau que la Des Oeillets ou l'homme emporta.'[1]

The ecclesiastical robes and the use of the chalice point to this being a ceremony of a religious character, and should be compared with the child-sacrifices performed by the same priest or Devil (see pp. 150, 157).

An anti-fertility rite, which in its simplicity hardly deserves the name of a ceremony, took place at Crook of Devon in Kinross-shire. Bessie Henderson 'lykeways confessed and declared that Janet Paton was with you at ane meeting when they trampit down Thos. White's rie in the beginning of harvest, 1661, and that she had broad soals and trampit down more nor any of the rest'.[2]

2. Rain-making

The rain-making powers of the witches have hardly been noted by writers on the subject, for by the time the records were made the witches were credited with the blasting of fertility rather than its increase. Yet from what remains it is evident that the original meaning of much of the ritual was for the production of fertilizing rain, though both judges and witnesses believed that it was for storms and hail.

One of the earliest accounts of such powers is given in the story quoted by Reginald Scot from the Malleus Maleficarum, written in 1487, a century before Scot's own book:

'A little girle walking abroad with hir father in his land, heard him complaine of drought, wishing for raine, etc. Whie father (quoth the child) 'can make it raine or haile, when and where I list: He asked where she learned it. She said, of hir mother, who forbad hir to tell anie bodie thereof. He asked hir how hir mother taught hir? She answered, that hir mother committed hir to a maister, who would at anie time doo anie thing for hir. Whie then (said he) make it raine but onlie in my field. And so she went to the streame, and threw vp water in hir maisters name, and made it raine presentlie. And proceeding further with hir father, she made it haile in

[1. Ravaisson, 1679-81, p. 336.

2. Burns Begg, p. 224.]

another field, at hir father's request. Herevpon he accused his wife, and caused hir to be burned; and then he new christened his child againe.'[1]

Scot also gives 'certaine impossible actions' of witches when he ridicules the belief

'that the elements are obedient to witches, and at their commandement; or that they may at their pleasure send raine, haile, tempests, thunder, lightening; when she being but an old doting woman, casteth a flint stone ouer hir left shoulder, towards the west, or hurleth a little sea sand vp into the element, or wetteth a broome sprig in water, and sprinkleth the same in the aire; or diggeth a pit in the earth, and putting water therein, stirreth it about with hir finger; or boileth hogs bristles; or laieth sticks acrosse vpon a banke, where neuer a drop of water is; or burieth sage till it be rotten; all which things are confessed by witches, and affirmed by writers to be the meanes that witches vse to mooue extraordinarie tempests and raine'.[2]

More quotes Wierus to the same effect: 'Casting of Flint-Stones behind their backs towards the West, or flinging a little Sand in the Air, or striking a River with a Broom, and so sprinkling the Wet of it toward Heaven, the stirring of Urine or Water with their finger in a Hole in the ground, or boyling of Hogs Bristles in a Pot.'[3]

The throwing of stones as a fertility rite is found in the trial of Jonet Wischert, one of the chief witches at Aberdeen, and is there combined with a nudity rite. 'In hervest last bypast, Mr. William Raves huikes [saw thee at] the heid of thi awin gudmannis croft, and saw the tak all thi claiss about thi heid, and thow beand naikit from the middill down, tuik ane gryte number of steynis, and thi self gangand baklenis, keist ane pairt behind the our thi heid, and ane wther pairt fordward.'[4]

3. Fertility

Every contemporary writer who gives a general view of the religion and ritual observes the witches' powers over human fertility. Boguet says, 'Ils font encor cacher & retirer les

[1. Reg. Scot, Bk. III, p. 60.

2. Id., Bk. III, p. 60.

3. More, p. 168.

4. Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 93.]

parties viriles, et puis les font ressortir quand il leur plait. Ils empeschent aussi tantost la copulation charnelle de l'hom[m]e & de la femme, en retirant les nerfs, & ostant la roideur du membre; et tantost la procreation en destournant ou bouchant les conduicts de la semence, pour empescher qu'elle ne descende aux vases de la generation.'[1] Scot, who quotes generally without any acknowledgement and often inaccurately, translates this statement, 'They also affirme that the vertue of generation is impeached by witches, both inwardlie, and outwardlie: for intrinsecallie they represse the courage, and they stop the passage of the mans seed, so as it may not descend to the vessels of generation: also they hurt extrinsecallie, with images, hearbs, &c.'[2] Bodin also remarks that witches, whether male or female, can affect only the generative organs.[3] Madame Bourignon says that the girls, whom she befriended,

'told me, that Persons who were thus engaged to the Devil by a precise Contract, will allow no other God but him, and therefore offer him whatsoever is dearest to them; nay, are constrained to offer him their Children, or else the Devil would Beat them, and contrive that they should never arrive to the State of Marriage, and so should have no Children, by reason that the Devil hath power by his Adherents, to hinder both the one and the other . . . So soon as they come to be able to beget Children, the Devil makes them offer the desire which they have of Marrying, to his Honor: And with this all the Fruit that may proceed from their Marriage. This they promise voluntarily, to the end that they may accomplish their Designs: For otherwise the Devil threatens to hinder them by all manner of means, that they shall not Marry, nor have Children.'[4]

Glanvil, writing on the Scotch trials of 1590, speaks of some Effects, Kinds, or Circumstances of Witchcraft, such as the giving and taking away power from sundry men's Genital-members. For which Jannet Clark was accused.'[5] In the official record Jonet Clark was tried and condemned for 'gewing of ane secreit member to Iohnne Coutis; and gewing and taking of power fra sindrie mennis memberis. Item, fylit of taking Iohnne Wattis secreit member fra him.'[6]

[1. Boguet, p. 211.

2. R. Scot, p. 77.

3. Bodin, pp. 125-7.

4. Bourignon, Vie, pp. 222-3; Hale, pp. 37-8.

5. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 301.

6. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 206.]

Sexual ritual occurs in many religions of the Lower Culture and has always horrified members of the higher religions both in ancient and modern times. In fertility cults it is one of the chief features, not only symbolizing the fertilizing power in the whole animate world, but, in the belief of the actors, actually assisting it and promoting its effects.

Such fertility rites are governed by certain rules, which vary in different countries, particularly as to the age of girls, i.e. whether they are over or under puberty. Among the witches there appears to have been a definite rule that no girl under puberty had sexual intercourse with the Devil. This is even stated as a fact by so great an authority as Bodin: 'Les diables ne font point de paction expresse auec les enfans, qui leurs sont vouëz, s'ils n'ont attaint l'aage de puberté.'[1] The details of the trials show that this statement is accurate. 'Magdalene de la Croix, Abbesse des Moniales de Cordoüe en Espaigne, confessa que Satan n'eust point copulation, ny cognoissance d'elle, qu'elle n'eust douze ans.'[2] Bodin and De Lancre both cite the case of Jeanne Hervillier of Verbery in Compiègne; she was a woman of fifty-two at the time of her trial in 1578, She 'confessa qu'à l'aage de douze ans sa mere la presenta au diable, en forme d'vn grand homme noir, & vestu de noir, botté, esperonné, auec vne espée an costé, et vn cheual noir à la porte, auquel la mere dit: Voicy ma fille que ie vous ay promise: Et à la fille, Voicy vostre amy, qui vous fera bien heureuse, et deslors qu'elle renonça à Dieu, & à la religion, & puis coucha auec elle charnellement, en la mesme sorte & maniere que' font les hommes auec les femmes.'[3] De Lancre also emphasizes the age: 'Ieanne Haruillier depose qu'encore sa mere l'eust voüée à Satan dés sa naissance, neantmoins qu'il ne la cognut charnellement qu'elle n'eust attainct l'aage de douze ans.'[4] De Lancre's own experience points in the same direction; he found that the children were not treated in the same way as

[1. Bodin, p. 465.

2. Id., p. 465. The trial was in 1545, Magdalene being then forty-two. See also Pleasant Treatise, p. 6.

3. Id., p. 227.

4. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 183.]

adults, nor were they permitted to join in all the ceremonies until after they had passed childhood.[1]

The same rule appears to have held good in Scotland, for when little Jonet Howat was presented to the Devil, he said, 'What shall I do with such a little bairn as she?'[2] It is, however, rare to find child-witches in Great Britain, therefore the rules concerning them are difficult to discover.

Another rule appears to have been that there was no sexual connexion with a pregnant woman. In the case of Isobel Elliot, the Devil 'offered to lie with her, but forbore because she was with child; that after she was kirked the Devil often met her, and had carnal copulation with her'.[3]

Since the days of Reginald Scot it has been the fashion of all those writers who disbelieved in the magical powers of witches to point to the details of the sexual intercourse between the Devil and the witches as proof positive of hysteria and hallucination. This is not the attitude of mind of the recorders who heard the evidence at the trials. 'Les confessions des Sorciers, que i'ay eu en main, me font croire qu'il en est quelque chose: dautant qu'ils ont tous recogneu, qu'ils auoient esté couplez auec le Diable, et que la semence qu'il iettoit estoit fort froide; Ce qui est conforme à ce qu'en rapporte Paul Grilland, et les Inquisiteurs de la foy.'[4] It pleaseth their new Maister oftentimes to offer himselfe familiarly vnto them, to dally and lye with them, in token of their more neere coniunction, and as it were marriage vnto him.'[5] 'Witches confessing, so frequently as they do, that the Devil lies with them, and withal complaining of his tedious and offensive coldness, it is a shrewd presumption that he doth lie with them indeed, and that it is not a meer Dream.'[6]

It is this statement of the physical coldness of the Devil which modern writers adduce to prove their contention that the witches suffered from hallucination. I have shown above (pp. 61 seq.) that the Devil was often masked and his whole person covered with a disguise, which accounts for part of the evidence but not for all, and certainly not for the most important item. For in trial after trial, in places far removed from

[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 145, 398. Kinloch, p. 124.

2. Arnot, p. 360.

3. Boguet, p. 68.

4. Cooper, p. 92.

5. More, p. 241.]

one another and at periods more than a century apart, the same fact is vouched for with just the small variation of detail which shows the actuality of the event. This is that, when the woman admitted having had sexual intercourse with the Devil, in a large proportion of cases she added, 'The Devil was cold and his seed likewise.' These were women of every class and every age, from just above puberty to old women of over seventy, unmarried, married, and widows. It is unscientific to disbelieve everything, as Scot does, and it is equally unscientific to label all the phenomena as the imagination of hysterical women. By the nature of things the whole of this evidence rests only on the word of the women, but I have shown above (pp. 63-5) that there were cases in which the men found the Devil cold, and cases in which the women found other parts of the Devil's person to be cold also. Such a mass of evidence cannot be ignored, and in any other subject would obtain credence at once. But the hallucination-theory, being the easiest, appears to have obsessed the minds of many writers, to the exclusion of any attempt at explanation from an unbiassed point of view.

Students of comparative and primitive religion have explained the custom of sacred marriages as an attempt to influence the course of nature by magic, the people who practise the rite believing that thereby all crops and herds as well as the women were rendered fertile, and that barrenness was averted. This accounts very well for the occurrence of 'obscene rites' among the witches, but fails when it touches the question of the Devil's coldness. I offer here an explanation which I believe to be the true one, for it accounts for all the facts; those facts which the women confessed voluntarily and without torture or fear of punishment, like Isobel Gowdie, or adhered to as the truth even at the stake amid the flames, like Jane Bosdeau.

In ancient times the Sacred Marriage took place usually once a year; but besides this ceremony there were other sexual rites which were not celebrated at a fixed season, but might be performed in the precincts of the temple of a god or goddess at any time, the males being often the priests or temple officials. These are established facts, and it is not too much to suppose that the witches' ceremonies were similar. But if the women believed that sexual intercourse with the priests would increase fertility, how much more would they believe in the efficacy of such intercourse with the incarnate God of fertility himself. They would insist upon it as their right, and it probably became compulsory at certain seasons, such as the breeding periods of the herds or the sowing and reaping periods of the crops. Yet as the population and therefore the number of worshippers in each 'congregation' increased, it would become increasingly difficult and finally impossible for one man to comply with the requirements of so many women.[1] The problem then was that on the one hand there were a number of women demanding what was in their eyes a thing essential for themselves and their families, and on the other a man physically unable to satisfy all the calls upon him. The obvious solution of the problem is that the intercourse between the Chief and the women was by artificial means, and the evidence in the trials points clearly to this solution.

Artificial phalli are well known in the remains of ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt it was not uncommon to have statues of which the phallus was of a different material from the figure, and so made that it could be removed from its place and carried in procession. The earliest of such statues are the colossal limestone figures of the fertility-god Min found at Koptos, dating to the first dynasty, perhaps B.C. 5500.[2] But similar figures are found at every period of Egyptian history, and a legend was current at the time of Plutarch to account for this usage as well as for the festival of the Phallephoria.[3] Unless the phallus itself were the object of adoration there would be no reason to carry it in procession as a religious ceremony, and it is easily understandable that such a cult would commend itself chiefly to women.[4]

[1. The Deuill your maister, beand in liknes of ane beist, haid carnall [deal] with ilk ane of you.'-Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 149.

2. Petrie pp. 7-9; Capart, p. 223.

3. Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, xviii, 5.

4. On the other hand, the female generative organs were also adored, and presumably by men. This suggestion is borne out by the figures of women with the pudenda exposed and often exaggerated in size. Such figures are found in Egypt, where they were called Baubo, and a legend was invented to account for the attitude; and similar figures were actually known in ancient Christian churches (Payne Knight, Discourse on the Worship of Priapus).]

The phallus of a divine statue was not always merely for adoration and carrying in procession; the Roman bride sacrificed her virginity to the god Priapus as a sacred rite. This is probably the remains of a still more ancient custom when the god was personated by a man and not by an image. The same custom remained in other parts of the world as the jus primae noctis, which was held as an inalienable right by certain kings and other divine personages. As might be expected, this custom obtained also among the witches.

'Le Diable faict des mariages au Sabbat entre les Sorciers & Sorcieres, & leur joignant les mains, il leur dict hautement

Esta es buena parati
Esta parati lo toma.

Mais auant qu'ils couchent ensemble, il s'accouple auec elles, oste la virginité des filles.'--Ieannette d'Abadie, aged sixteen, 's'accusoit elle mesme d'auoir esté depucellee par Satan.'[1]

The occasional descriptions of the Devil's phallus show without question its artificial character:

In 1598 in Lorraine 'es sagte die Alexia Dragaea, ihre Bulschafft hätte einen [Glied] so starcken etc allezeit gehabt, wenn ihm gestanden, und so gross als ein Ofengabel-Stiel, dessgleichen sie zugegen zeigte, denn ohngefehr eine Gabel zugegen war, sagte auch wie sie kein Geleuth weder Hoden noch Beutel daran gemerckt hat'.[2]

'Iaquema Paget adioustoit, qu'elle auoit empoigné plusieurs fois auec la main le membre du Demon, qui la cognoissoit, et que le membre estoit froid comme glace, long d'vn bon doigt, & moindre en grosseur que celuy d'vn homme. Tieuenne Paget et Antoine Tornier adioustoient aussi, que le membre de leurs Demons estoit long et gros, comme l'vn de leurs doigts.'[3] 'Il a au deuant son membre tiré et pendant, & le monstre tousiours long d'vn coudée.--Le membre du Demon est faict à escailles comme vn poisson.--Le membre du Diable

[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 132, 404.

2. Remigius, pt. i, p. 19.

3. Boguet, pp. 68-9.]

s'il estoit estendu est long enuiron d'vne aulne, mais il le tient entortillé et sinueux en forme de serpent.--Le Diable, soit qu'il ayt la forme d'homme, on qu'il soit en forme de Bouc, a tousiours vn membre de mulet, ayant choisy en imitation celuy de cet animal comme le mieux pourueu. Il l'a long et gros comme le bras.--Le membre du Diable est long enuiron la moitié d'vne aulne, de mediocre grosseur, rouge, obscur, & tortu, fort rude & comme piquant.--Ce mauuais Demon ait son membre myparty, moitié de fer, moitié de chair tout de son long, & de mesme les genitoires. Il tient tousiours son membre dehors.--Le Diable a le membre faict de corne, ou pour le moins il en a I'apparence: c'est pourquoy il faict tant crier les femmes.--Jeannette d'Abadie dit qu'elle n'a iamais senty, qu'il eust aucune semence, sauf quand il la depucella qu'elle la sentit froide, mais que celle des autres hommes qui l'ont cognue, est naturelle.'[1]

Sylvine de la Plaine, 1616, confessed 'qu'il a le membre faict comme vn cheual, en entrant est froid comme glace, iette la semence fort froide, & en sortant la brusle comme si c'estoit du feu'.[1] In 1662 Isobel Gowdie said, 'His memberis ar exceiding great and long; no man's memberis ar so bigg as they ar.'[3].

The artificial phallus will account as nothing else can for the pain suffered by many of the women; and that they suffered voluntarily, and even gladly, can only be understood by realizing that they endured it for motives other than physical satisfaction and pleasure. 'There appeared a great Black Goal with a Candle between his Horns . . . He had carnal knowledge of her which was with great pain." 'Presque toutes les Sorcieres rapportent que cet accouplement leur est le plus souuent des-agreable, tant pour la laideur & deformité de Satan, que pour ce qu'elles y ont vne extreme douleur.'[5] 'Elle fuyoit l'accouplement du Diable, à cause qu'ayant son membre faict en escailles il fait souffrir vne extresme douleur.'[6] At the Sabbath in the Basses Pyrénées, the Devil took the women behind some sort of screen, and the children 'les oyent crier comme personnes qui souffrent vne grande douleur, et ils les voyent aussi tost reuenir au Sabbat

[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 68, 224-6.

2. Id., L'Incredulité, p. 808.

3. Pitcairn, iii, p. 610.

4. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essays, p. 47.

5. Boguet, p. 69.

6. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 132.]

toutes sanglantes'.[1] As regards brides, 'En cet accouplement il leur faict perdre vne infinité de sang, et leur faict souffrit mille douleurs.'[2] Widow Bush of Barton said that the Devil, who came to her as a young black man, 'was colder than man, and heavier, and could not performe nature as man.'[3]

The physical coldness of the Devil is vouched for in all parts of Europe.'[4]

Toutes les Sorcieres s'accordent en cela, que la semence, qu'elles reçoiuent du Diable, est froide comme glace: Spranger & les Inquisiteurs, qui en ont veu. vne infinité, l'escriuent ainsi. Remy, qui a fait le procez à plus de deux milles Sorciers, en porte vn tesmoignage irrefragable. Ie puis asseurer au semblable, que celles, qui me sont passées par les mains, en ont confessé tout autant. Que si la semence est ainsi froide, il s'ensuit qu'elle est destituée de ses esprits vitaux, & ainsi qu'elle ne peut estre cause d'aucune generation.'[5]

Isobel Gowdie and Janet Breadheid of Auldearne both said that the Devil was 'a meikle, blak, roch man, werie cold; and I fand his nature als cold within me as spring-well-water'. Isobel continues, 'He is abler for ws that way than any man can be, onlie he ves heavie lyk a malt-sek; a hudg nature, verie cold, as yce.'[6]

Another point which goes to prove that the intercourse was by artificial means was that pregnancy did not follow, except by special consent of the woman. Jeannette d'Abadie, aged sixteen, said, 'Elle fuyoit l'accouplement du Diable, à cause qu'ayant son membre faict en escailles il fait souffrir vne extresme douleur; outre que la semence est extresmement froide, si bien qu'elle n'engrosse iamais, ni celle des autres hommes au

[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 219.

2. Id. ib., p. 404.

3. Stearne, p. 29. The following references are in chronological order, and are only a few out of the many trials in which this coldness of the Devil is noted: 1565, Cannaert, p. 54; 1567, De Lancre, Tableau, p. 132; 1578, Bodin, Fléau, p. 227; 1590, Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 219; 1598, Boguet, op. cit., pp. 8, 412, 1645, Stearne, p. 29; 1649, Pitcairn, iii, p. 599; 1652, Van Elven, La Tradition 1891, V, p. 215; 1661, Kinloch and Baxter, p. 132; 1662, Pitcairn, iii, pp. 603, 611, 617; 1662, Burns Begg, x, pp. 222, 224, 231-2, 234; 1678, Fountainhall, i, p. 14; 1682, Howell, Viii, 1032; 170r, Trials of Elinor Shaw, p. 6.

4. Boguet, p. 92.

5. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 603, 611, 617.]

sabbat, bien qu'elle soit naturelle.'[1] Boguet remarks, 'Il me souuient, qu'Antoinette Tornier, & Antoinette Gandillon, estans interroguées, si elles craignoient point de deuenir enceintes des œuures du Diable; l'vne respondit qu'elle estoit trop vieille; l'autre que Dieu ne le vouloit pas permettre.'[2] According to Jeanne Hervillier, the Devil 'coucha auec elle charnellement, en la mesme sorte & maniere que font les hommes auec les femmes, horsmis que la semence estoit froide. Cele dit elle continua tous les huict ou quinze iours. . . . Et vn iour le diable luy demanda, si elle vouloit estre enceinte de luy, ce qu'elle ne voulut pas.'[3] But when the witch was willing to have a child, it is noticeable that there is then no complaint of the Devil's coldness. At Maidstone in 1652 'Anne Ashby, Anne Martyn, and one other of their Associates, pleaded that they were with child pregnant, but confessed it was not by any man, but by the Divell. . . . Anne Ashby and Anne Martyn confessed that the Divell had known them carnally, and that they had no hurt by it.'[4]

The Devil appears to have donned or doffed his disguise in the presence of his worshippers, and this was often the case at the time of the sexual rites, whether public or private:

'Il cognoist les Sorcieres tantost en forme d'homme tout noir, & tantost en forme de beste, comme d'vn chien, d'vn chat, d'vn bouc, d'vn mouton. Il cognoissoit Thieuenne Paget, & Antoine Tornier en forme d'vn homme noir: Et lors qu'il accouploit auec Iaquema Paget, & Antoine Gandillon, il prenoit la figure d'vn mouton noir, portant des cornes. Françoise Secretain a dit que son Demon se mettoit tantost en chien, tantost en chat, et tantost en poule, quand il la vouloit cognoistre charnellement. Or tout cecy me fait de tant mieux asseurer l'accouplement reel du Sorcier, & de la Sorciere auec le Demon.'[5]

In the Basses-Pyrénées Marie d'Aspilcouette 'disoit le mesme, pour ce qui est du membre en escailles, mais elle deposoit, que lors qu'il les vouloit cognoistre, il quitoit la forme de Bouc, & prenoit celle d'homme'.[6] 'Il entra dans sa chambre en forme d'ung chat et se changea en la posture d'un

[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 132.

2. Boguet, p. 78.

3. Bodin, p. 227.

4. A Prodigious and Tragicall Historie, pp. 4, 5.

5. Boguet, p. 70.

6. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 225.]

home vestu de rouge.'[1] At an attempt to wreck a ship in a great storm 'the devil was there present with them all, in the shape of a great horse. . . . They returned all in the same like. ness as of before, except that the devil was in the shape of a man.'[2] 'The Deivill apeired vnto her, in the liknes of ane prettie boy in grein clothes. . . . And at that tyme the Deivil gaive hir his markis; and went away from her in the liknes of ane blak doug.'[3] 'He wold haw carnall dealling with ws in the shap of a deir, or in any vther shap, now and then. Somtym he vold be lyk a stirk, a bull, a deir, a rae, or a dowg, etc., and haw dealling with ws.'[4] 'Yow the said Margaret Hamilton, relict of James Pullwart . . . had carnall cowpulatiown with the devil in the lyknes of ane man, bot he removed from yow in the lyknes of ane black dowg.'[5] The most important instance is in Boguet's description of the religious ceremony at the Sabbath: 'Finalement Satan apres auoir prins la figure d'vn Bouc, se consume en feu, & reduit en cendre.'[6]

The witches' habit of speaking of every person of the other sex with whom they had sexual intercourse at the Sabbath as a 'devil' has led to much confusion in the accounts. The confusion has been accentuated by the fact that both male and female witches often used a disguise, or were at least veiled. 'Et pource que les hommes ne cedent guieres aux femmes en lubricité, c'est pourquoy le Demon se met aussi en femme ou Succube. . . . Ce qu'il fait principalement au Sabbat, selon que l'ont rapporté Pierre Gandillon, & George Gandillon, pere & fils, & les autres, lesquels disent tout vnanimement, qu'en leurs assemblées il y a plusieurs Demons, & que les vns exercent le mestier de l'homme pour les femmes, & les autres le mestier des femmes pour les hommes.'[7] 'The Incubus's in the shapes of proper men satisfy the desires of the Witches, and the Succubus's serve for Whores to the Wizards.'[8] Margaret

[1. H. G. van Elveu, La Tradition, 1891, v, p. 215. Place and names not given.

2. Kinloch, pp. 122, 123.

3. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.

4. Id., iii, pp. 611, 613.

5. Scots Magazine, 1817, p. 201.

6. Boguet, p. 141.

7. Id., p. 65.

8. Pleasant Treatise of Witches, p. 6. The remembrance of the numerous male devils at the Sabbath survives in the Samalsain dance in the Basses-Pyrénées, where the male attendants on the King and Queen of the dance are still called Satans. Moret, Mystères Ègyptiens, p. 247.]

Johnson said the same: 'Their spirittes vsuallie have knowledge of theire bodies . . . Shee also saith, that men Witches usualie have woemen spirittes and woemen witches men spirittes.'[1] The girls under Madame Bourignon's charge 'declared that they had daily carnal Cohabitation with the Devil; that they went to the Sabbaths or Meetings, where they Eat, Drank, Danc'd, and committed other Whoredom and Sensualities. Every one had her Devil in form of a Man; and the Men had their Devils in the form of a Woman. . . . They had not the least design of changing, to quit these abominable Pleasures, as one of them of Twenty-two Years old one day told me. No, said she, I will not be other than I am; I find too much content in my Condition; I am always Caressed." One girl of twelve said definitely that she knew the Devil very well, 'that he was a Boy a little bigger than her self; and that he was her Love, and lay with her every Night'; and another girl named Bellot, aged fifteen, 'said her Mother had taken her with her [to the Sabbath] when she was very Young, and that being a little Wench, this Man-Devil was then a little Boy too, and grew up as she did, having been always her Love, and Caressed her Day and Night.'[3] Such connexions sometimes resulted in marriage. Gaule mentions this fact in his general account: 'Oft times he marries them ere they part, either to himselfe, or their Familiar, or to one another; and that by the Book of Common Prayer (as a pretender to witchfinding lately told me in the Audience of many).'[4] This statement is borne out in the trials: 'Agnes Theobalda sagte, sie sey selbst zugegen auff der Hochzeit gewesen, da Cathalina, und Engel von Hudlingen, ihren Beelzebub zur Ehe genommen haben.'[5] The Devil of Isobel Ramsay's Coven was clearly her husband,[6] but there is nothing to show whether the marriage took place before she became

[1. Baines, i, pp. 607-8, note.

2. Bourignon, Parole, pp. 86, 87; Hale, pp. 26, 27.

3. Id., Vie, p. 214, 211; Hale, pp. 29, 31.

4. Gaule, p. 63.

5. Remigius, p. 131.

6. Record of Trial in the Edinburgh Justiciary Court.]

a witch, as in the case of Janet Breadheid of Auldearne, whose husband 'enticed her into that craft'.[1] I have quoted above (p. 179) the ceremony at the marriage of witches in the Basses-Pyrénées. Rebecca Weste, daughter of a witch, married the Devil by what may be a primitive rite; he came to her 'as shee was going to bed, and told her, he would marry her, and that shee could not deny him; shee said he kissed her, but was as cold as clay, and married her that night, in this manner; he tooke her by the hand and lead her about the chamber, and promised to be her loving husband till death, and to avenge her of her enemies; and that then shee promised him to be his obedient wife till death, and to deny God, and Christ Jesus.'[2] At Edinburgh in 1658 a young woman called Anderson was tried: 'her confessioun was, that scho did marry the devill.'[3] The Swedish witches in 1670 confessed that at Blockula 'the Devil had Sons and Daughters which he did marry together'.[4] Giraldus Cambrensis gives an account of a 'spirit' in the, form of a red-haired young man, called Simon, who 'was begotten upon the wife of a rustic in that parish, by a demon, in the shape of her husband, naming the man, and his father-in-law, then dead, and his mother, still alive; the truth of which the woman upon examination openly avowed'.[5]

[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 616.

2. Howell, iv, 842.

3. Nicoll's Diary, p. 212. Bannatyne Club.

4. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 323.

5. Davies, p. 183. Cp. also the birth of Merlin. Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerary, Bk. I, xii, 91 b.]




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