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but malicious, fortune-telling sorceresses: "Quæ nunc pessimam incantatricem et sagam notat,” says Keisler, * olim a radice Haegse, mulier sapiens erat, prudens ac ratione valens.'
The whole Christian world, from the sixteenth and seventeenth to the eighteenth century, was so sunk in the idea of witchcraft, that all ranks and classes may be regarded as actually bewitched; for whoever did not so deem himself was accused and denounced as being so; and
natural occurrence was the work of witches, -as lightning and hail, milk turning sour, the loss of swine, all sorts of diseases in men and cattle,-as cramps, lamenesses, swellings, impotence, etc. One especial kind of witchcraft was the appearance of all kinds of things in different parts of the body,--as thread and laces, worsted and yarn, potsherds, needles, and nails ; nay, even living things,-as lizards, toads and mice, worms and frogs, that were conjured into the stomach. The witches cooked their own broth, and prepared their own butter and salve, with which they made themselves invisible. They made the witch-butter,-cooperante diabolo,-from the aurora-coloured matter exuded from the bodies of children which they had stolen and carried off to the Blocksberg. The witches and wizards had among themselves a widely-spread secret confederation; they had a peculiar worship in solemn expeditions through the air, with lusty dances and merrymakings in remote places,particularly in deserts and on lofty mountains. The Blocksberg was in Germany the great place of assembly where the whole tribe congregated out of all Christendom, under the guidance of Beelzebub, with whom they made a pact, which they confirmed by writing their names in a book with their own blood, and then sealing it, and had even carnal intercourse with him. They had especial festival days, as Friday—the witches' Sabbath. They made their flight on sticks, broomsticks, or on he-goats, through wind and storm. As they foresaw the future, they knew all the secrets of rich men and of princes, and no one any longer doubted the truth when a reputed witch or wizard accused the most innocent person of sorcery, for they were supposed to have learned all in their nocturnal visions. Neither by the revival of learning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, nor through the Reformation, were these deeply-rooted opinions regarding witchcraft and the influence of evil spirits on nature and men extirpated; they continued in all countries rather amongst the Protestants than amongst Catholics; and at Clarus in Switzerland a witch was executed in 1780. The most enlightened scholars and natural philosophers were of no avail in disseminating the light, and in subduing the general madness; they could only prepare the way for gradually undermining the power which the belief in sorcery had attained, and for making it innoxious. There was, in fact, no longer, even amongst the learned and accomplished, any doubt of the influence of the devil.
“Man's highest strength, his noblest parts,
His learning, science, and his arts,
The professors of laws now collected assiduously all tales of sorcery, and the Collegium logicum became a Will-of-the wisp, and the philosopher stepped in and demonstrated that it must be so. In the year 1484 the witch-persecution was formally introduced into Germany by a bull of Pope Innocent VIII. ; and in the year 1489 appeared a publication under public authority, under the title, “MALLEUS MALEFICARUM,”—the Witch-hammer,—which became the code of action in the witch-prosecutions. There was, alas! no question as to the right which is born with us; reason became nonsense, benefaction a pestilence. The spirit of medicine is easy of comprehension; men studied the great and the little world through and through, in order to attain to an end. Celebrated physicians continued, even into the eighteenth century, to regard the so-called mischief of the evil-eye and of sorcery not as natural symptoms, nor as the reckless artifices of revengeful men-though plenty of these presented themselves on the witch-trials; but they pronounced them to be diseases immediately produced by the
They regarded the mulberry-marks found on the chest from nightmare, or on different parts of the body, sometimes in blue and yellow spots, and caused by cramps, to be certain signs of supernatural phenomena.
The highest law with the Theologians was that of Moses : “ Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exod. xxii. 18).
According to the Witch-hammer, the theological-juridical commentary of the criminal code of the Sorcery-Bill, the belief in the paramour-devils, and in their participation with the witch-host in all kinds of vice and lewdness, was an indisputable axiom, and the death by fire an unassailable right and command. The universal superstition contributed decidedly to make the imagination, already excited by stories, by religious fanaticism, by delusion of the senses, and disease, completely mad; and in the Inquisition it was often observed in the confession during witch-trials, that a partially fixed idea became confirmed during the inquiry. The bewitchment of the senses in such an excited condition of mind was by no means difficult, in order to convert the delusions of appearance into reality, or to give to reality the impression of illusion. For illusion becomes permanent although at first it may be known to be mere deception, where any one repeatedly treats it as reality, or where even any one simulates or firmly maintains a deception; as Mengs has remarked, that figures put themselves into motion if you continue to look at them for a long time. Therefore, the confession of visions and of appearances of men, animals, and devils, is easy of solution; the journeys through the air, so frequently related, find analogous scenes amongst the magnetic and other visions, and the spiritual intercourse, and all circumstances of fear and of fancy, with their results, originate in the same causes. As to the disconnected images and representations of the metamorphoses of beasts and men,-ghosts and blood-sucking vampires, who were the objects of the grossest superstition, especially in Hungary and Servia, -witch-worship, dances, and feasts, -it is less to be wondered at that such creatures of fantasy should be conceived, than that people should universally believe them, when, at least, in the beginning, the accused denied their existence, and suffered no tortures to extort a confession from them. There were, however, all sorts of books and writings which taught how people might be brought into intercourse with spirits; there were also witchpowders and salves which produced a kind of somnambuIism in which stupifying herbs, as aconite, which, according to Cardan, produces a sensation of flying; hyoscyamus, taxus, hypericum, and assafætida, sulphur, and glass of antimony, were used. They rubbed themselves in various parts of the body with the salve, in which narcotics, garlic, etc., were used; and nymphomania, hysteria, and somnambulić visions were the consequences. For behind the curtains of magic and miraculous works lay concealed the unclean spirits in the natural flesh, which were not restrained. According to Jung Stilling, in “ Theobald, or the Fanatic,' vol. i. p. 244, the religious excitement often flows from a very impure source; and he states that a fanatic society appeared in the thirtieth year of the last century, in which such transports followed the rubbing and kneading of the body in a magnetic manner, and those in whom these took place were said to be new-born. It, therefore, depended entirely on the explanation whether in these scenes of excited feeling and of the life of the imagination, the result should be held to be a witch-exploit and dealing with the devil, or a vision of holiness; for the former were not always engrafted on sinful propensities and low desires, nor were the latter always the fruits of a pure mind and of genuine love. Spasms and all sorts of convulsive appearances accompanied invariably both exhibitions, which, however, in witchcraft terms were only attributed to the power of hell; and on that account, as Moses formerly, they believed themselves called upon to drive forth the devil and all his host with fire and sword.
There were very frequently such unusual appearances connected with those spasms, as are now often witnessed in magnetism, and which people in that dark time were not in a condition to treat as the consequences of abnormal processes of nature, but attributed to the evil principle ; believing the spasms and accompanying phenomena to be the work of the devil, and those who suffered under them as possessed by him. Thus we read in the witch-trials that during the most horrible convulsions of the limbs, visions were seen revealing secrets of so deep a nature that the devil only knew them ; that those who were considered to be bewitched (as those afflicted with St. Vitus's dance, epilepsy, or in the most terrible agitations of madness) not only fell to the ground, but sprung up walls, and climbed up on high, were carried up into the air, and danced, leaped, and made evolutions of the body which were inconceivable and impossible to men in health ; and that such persons ran here and there, and turned about at a surprising rate without any injury. So, also, under the torture, those accused of witchcraft, as in a state of catalepsy, were partially insensible to every agony, to stab and blow, to pinching and burning, and even fell asleep under the most terrific attempts at torture, feeling no pain whatever. As in hysterical cases, their bodies were now blown up like a barrel, without bursting; then again were drawn in as if they were totally gone, and as suddenly again puffed up like a pair of bellows, and with the loudest noises, as if struck, moved up and down, sunk and swelled again. From the different parts of the bodies of the bewitched all sorts of materials and working implements made their way: as worms, egg-shells, hairs, cloth, yarn, pins, needles, glass, etc.; whilst others, on the contrary, for long periods took no nourishment, and yet retained the strength and fulness of their bodies.
The natural causes of these phenomena we see as clearly from the accounts of the witch-prosecutions,—those terrible spectacles of blindness, -as out of the individual biographies and the reports of the stout assailants of the witchfaith. As that of Tartarelli in “Del congresso notturno delle lamie, Lib. tre S'aggiungono due dissertazione sopra l'arte magica, Roveredo, 1750." “ A Short Epitome of the Crimes of Witchcraft with the Actis Magicis of Johann Reichen, 1703." "Maffei dell' Ossa, Balthazar Becker, die bezauberte Welt, Amsterdam, 1693." " Christian Thomasius de crimine magiæ, 1701.” “De origine et progressu inquisitionis contra sagas, 1712." Also in German, “ Enquiry into the origin and progress of the prosecutions of the Inquisition against witches." "Free thoughts, or monthly conversations,-the history of wisdom and folly." Wier, de Prestigiis dæmonum." “Reginald Scott, Discovery of Witchcraft, London, 1602.” “ Nicolai de magicus artibus, tractatus singularis philosophico-theologicus et historicus, 1649." “ Fried. Spee, Cautio criminalis, sive de processibus contra sagas, liber ad magistratus Germaniæ vox tempore necessarius, etc. Rintel, 1631. In German, " The Book of conscience on the trials against the witches." It first showed the physiological foundation of the false pictures of imagination. All these showed and described the natural ground and cause of those phenomena to be the Satanic