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Horst says that the witch-prosecution at Mora in Sweden was the greatest and most frightful in Europe. The account exists in many Swedish and Latin documents; and Glanvil has introduced it to the English in his "Sadducæismus oder Atheismus Triumphans." There is something so monstrous, says Horst, in this prosecution, that we know not what to think of it, because Sweden at that time stood second to no nation in Europe in the science of legislation; and the trials in that country had never been so savage as in most other countries, and nearly all the public officers and clergy of Dalecarlia were present as members of the examinations.
The circumstance about to be related occurred in the year 1669, at Mora, in Dalecarlia, that province so celebrated through Gustavus Wasa and Gustavus III. Many children at this place fell at the same time into swoons, suffered violent attacks on their nerves, and cramps; their countenances became distorted, and they spoke and raved when they awoke of Blokula, and the witches there. Blokularenowned as the rendezvous of the Swedish witches, and also called Blakula-was a rock in the sea between Smoland and Eland, meaning literally, the Black Hill. According to Arnkiel, there was a sea-goddess Blakylla.
The affair made an extraordinary sensation. The cause was attributed to witchcraft, and strange rumours spread all over the province that the witches took the children with them to an unknown place called Blokula. The king dispatched a Commission to Mora, who, with the judges, and nearly the whole of the clergy of the province, constituted a public tribunal in order to investigate the affair on the spot. The whole population of Mora seemed actually gone mad on the subject; and the clergy and judges were strongly affected with the mania. The Inquiry, in which the rack was not the least convincing means, ended its labours by finally convicting of witchcraft sixty-two women and fifteen of the elder children, all of whom were condemned to death. Sixty-six others were condemned to severe punishments, and forty-seven other persons, involved in the course of the trials, were detained for further examination. Nearly all confessed the following absurdities:-"The place to which they had taken the children was called Blokula, and was only known to
them. Here the devil appeared in all sorts of shapes, but usually in a grey coat, red breeches, and stockings. He had a red beard, had a tall hat with various coloured ribbons (a Swedish fashion then), and the same ribbons adorned his breeches. They rode through the air to Blokula; but they were expected to take with them at least fifteen children, their own and others, whom they clandestinely carried off. If they failed in this the devil chastised them severely. They rode through the air on all kinds of animals, and sometimes on men, or on spits and staves. When they rode on he-goats and had many children with them, they thrust a pole through the goat behind, on which the children rode very conveniently. If they had brought many children with them, these were often in returning obliged to ease themselves in the air, and what fell from them was auroracoloured, and was often found in the cabbage garden (a moist fungus), and that is the true witch-butter. On Blokula every witch must cut her finger, and write her name in the devil's book with her blood. Then the devil cited a clergyman, and caused himself to be baptized. This done, he gave them a litttle purse containing the filings of church bells, and this they were to fling into the water, saying, g," As these filings will never come to the bell again, so may my soul never come to heaven." After which the banquet began; and the devil treated them to cabbage broth, bacon, oatmeal-porridge, milk, butter, and cheese (pure Swedish dishes). After the banquet there was a dance, in which there arose contentions and often blows. When the devil was in a right merry humour, he caused all the witches to ride about on poles; then he suddenly plucked the poles away from between their legs, and beat them on the back with them till they often went home with their backs all black and blue, at which he laughed till his sides shook. He sometimes also cudgelled the children at these merrymakings, so that they became miserable and sickly in conse quence. But sometimes the devil was very gracious, and played all kind of beautiful pieces on the harp, and took those witches with whom he was most pleased aside with him. All confessed to the same intercourse with the devil, and to having had children by him; but not real children, only lizards, snakes, and toads. Sometimes they said the devil was ill, and then the witches must open a vein for
him, and put on cupping-glasses. Yes, sometimes he was even at the point of death, on which there was great lamentation on Blokula."
Just as edifying were the questions of the judges,―for instance, whether they were quite certain that they were carried off by the devil; or whether he only appeared to them in swoons or dreams; and whether he went up the chimney or through the closed windows; to which the witches often gave admirably befitting answers.
The celebrated witch-trial at Marbois, in England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, may be cited as a parallel to that of Mora. In memory of this barbarous trial, there continued to be a sermon annually preached at Huntingdon against witchcraft, down to the eighteenth century. But England is the country, as we have already stated, where haunting spectres were always at home. Witches were equally prevalent, and transcended those of other countries no less in power than in folly. Thus the female sex was here, earlier than in other countries, dreaded on account of witchcraft. Before the coronation of Richard Cœur de Lion, it was proclaimed that neither Jews nor women should be present at it (see Hume's History of England). The Jews, undoubtedly, were forbidden, on account of their having crucified Christ; the women because they were suspected of witchcraft.
In the year 1303 a bishop of Coventry was accused at Rome of a series of crimes, and amongst others, "quod diabolo homagium fecerat et eum fuerit osculatus in tergo." Boniface VIII. acquitted him. The same accusation was made against the later witches. James I. was so devoted to the devil and to witchcraft that he wrote a Demonology, in which he stood forward as the defender of witches against one of his own subjects, Reginald Scott, and against Joh. Wier. This royal production is in form and contents very like the Witch-hammer. A witch had given him instruction, for which he gave her her life; and witchcraft was, therefore, quite the mode at his court. The witch-trial at Marlborough was, for the most part, a consequence of this. The Incubus and Succubus then had a king for their champion, who proved the reality of such things from the Scriptures. In respect to the amorous devils,
there were many names for them,-fairies, fays, peri, and elves. According to Sir Walter Scott, they retained these names all the longer because they had a mixture of Greek, oriental, and Teutonic ideas in them, and because the Witchhammer was not able then to reduce them all to one repulsive form, as in Germany. Yet even the fairies did not fail to kindle fires at the stake. Thus, according to Hippert, in his History of Spiritual Life, a plethorically sick woman had probably continual visions both sleeping and waking, in which she associated with the queen of the elves and with the good neighbours. In such visions she saw her cousin Simpson, whom the elves had carried away into the mountains. received an ointment from the elves which healed every disease; and the Bishop of St. Andrew's did not despise the emolument from it. In the criminal indictment against her, it is stated, that as she and some other persons had been ill, and had lain in bed, a man clothed in green came to them (green is the colour of fairies and elves), who promised her a cure in return for her fidelity to him. She cried out, however, four times, but as no one came, she declared her acquiescence, on the assurance that he came in God's name ; on which he took his leave. Another time, it was said, he came as a jolly fellow, in company with men and women; but she crossed herself, and remained with them, and was entertained with music and feasting. She had seen the Good Neighbours prepare the ointment over the fire. This woman was ultimately burnt as a witch.
The Deasil of the English is celebrated from antiquity. Like the magic circle of the Druids. The Deasil was a circle in which a person with certain solemn ceremonies ran three times round, following the course of the sun. By this circumgyration it happened, as with the Schamans, that the performer fell into ecstasy, and foretold hidden things. Second-sight was also communicated to others by Deasil running, especially when it took place in haunted ground, or in a mystic mood of mind.
One of the most remarkable witch-trials in Denmark was at Kioge, where one of the most singular inquiries, amongst others, was about the "membrum virile diaboli." In Germany great witch-prosecutions were introduced into Trier, Cologne, Baden, Bamberg, in various places of Upper
Germany; in the dominions of the Princes and Counts, and also into the free cities. But the reader must pardon passing over many things with which he is already acquainted. refer him for more details to Hauber and Horst.
The last trial in Germany was that of the nun, Maria Renata, at Würzburg, in 1749. The last witch was executed at Clarus. I will shortly relate the history of this tragedy from "The Christian Address at the burning of Maria Renata, of the convent of Unterzell, who was burnt on the 21st of June, 1749; which address was delivered to a numerous multitude, and afterwards printed by command of the authorities."
Maria Renata was born at Munich, and as a child of six or seven years old went into the neighbourhood of Linz, and was seduced to witchcraft by an officer, in whom the devil was probably embodied; and as hell cannot endure the name of Maria, she was called Emma Renata,—my newborn one. At twelve years old she had reached such a pitch, that she took the first rank at the assemblies of the prince of darkness. At the age of nineteen, probably against her will, she was placed in the convent of Unterzell near Würzburg, celebrated for its good discipline, where, on account of her apparent piety, she was placed over the other nuns as sub-prioress. Renata passed fifty years in the convent, during which time, by the special providence of God, she was prevented, according to her own communications, from injuring the souls of any of the sisters. Satan, therefore, enraged, tormented the bodies of these ladies, and they suffered in that convent, as in most others, especially from Renata endeavoured to heal four of the nuns, T partly by magical breathing on them, and partly by roots and herbs of magic power. She, however, bewitched several infernal spirits into five other, together with a lay-sister. On account of all these circumstances, Renata was arrested and examined by the spiritual power. She was then delivered over to the secular arm, and condemned to death. Through the clemency of the prince she was permitted to be first beheaded, and afterwards her lifeless body burnt to ashes, so that no trace of it should remain, and that her memory might perish with her ashes.
For the text of this witch-sermon the preacher took, of