Remedies prescribed for those who are Bewitched by being Inflamed with Inordinate Love or Extraordinary Hatred.
Just as the generative faculty can be bewitched, so can inordinate love or hatred be caused in the human mind. First we shall consider the cause of this, and then, as far as possible, the remedies.
Philocaption, or inordinate love of one person for another, can be caused in three ways. Sometimes it is due merely to a lack of control over the eyes; sometimes to the temptation of devils; sometimes to the spells of necromancers and witches, with the help of devils.
The first is spoken of in S. James i. 14, 15: Every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured. Then when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: but sin, when it is completed, begetteth death. And so, when Shecham saw Dinah going out to see the daughters of the land, he loved her, and ravished her, and lay with her, and his soul clave unto her (Genesis xxxiv). And here the gloss says that this happened to an infirm spirit because she left her own concerns to inquire into those of other people; and such a soul is seduced by bad habits, and is led to consent to unlawful practices.
The second cause arises from the temptation of devils. In this way Amnon loved his beautiful sister Tamar, and was so vexed that he fell sick for love of her (II. Samuel xiii). For he could not have been so totally corrupt in his mind as to fall into so great a crime of incest unless he had been grievously tempted by the devil. The book of the Holy Fathers refers to this kind of love, where it says that even in their hermitages they were exposed to every temptation, including that of carnal desires; for some of them were at times tempted with the love of women more than it is possible to believe. S. Paul also says, in II. Corinthians xii: There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me: and the gloss explains this as referring to the temptation of lust.
But it is said that when a man does not give way to temptation he does not sin, but it is an exercise for his virtue; but this is to be understood of the temptation of the devil, not of that of the flesh; for this is a venial sin even if a man does not yield to it. Many examples of this are to be read.
As for the third cause, by which inordinate love proceeds from devils’ and witches’ works, the possibility of this sort of witchcraft has been exhaustively considered in the Questions of the First Part as to whether devils through the agency of witches can turn the minds of men to inordinate love or hatred, and it was proved by examples which had fallen within our own experience. Indeed this is the best known and most general form of witchcraft.
But the following question may be asked: Peter has been seized with an inordinate love of this description, but he does not know whether it is due to the first or the second or the third cause. It must be answered that it can be by the work of the devil that hatred is stirred up between married people so as to cause the crime of adultery. But when a man is so bound in the meshes of carnal lust and desire that he can be made to desist from it by no shame, words, blows or action; and when a man often puts away his beautiful wife to cleave to the most hideous of women, and when he cannot rest in the night, but is so demented that he must go by devious ways to his mistress; and when it is found that those of noblest birth, Governors, and other rich men, are the most miserably involved in this sin (for this age is dominated by women, and was foretold by S. Hildegard, as Vincent of Beauvais records in the Mirror of History, although he said it would note endure for as long as it already has); and when the world is now full of adultery, especially among the most highly born; when all this is considered, I say, of what use is it to speak of remedies to those who desire no remedy? Nevertheless, for the satisfaction of the pious reader, we will set down briefly some of the remedies for Philocaption when it is not due to witchcraft.
Avicenna mentions seven remedies which may be used when a man is made physically ill by this sort of love; but they are hardly relevant to our inquiry except in so far as they may be of service to the sickness of the soul. For he says, in Book III, that the root of the sickness may be discovered by feeling the pulse and uttering the name of the object of the patient’s love; and then, if the law permits, he may be cured by yielding to nature. Or certain medicines may be applied, concerning which he gives instructions. Or the sick man may be turned from his love by lawful remedies which will cause him to direct his love to a more worthy object. Or he may avoid her presence, and so distract his mind from her. Or, if he is open to correction, he may be admonished and expostulated with, to the effect that such love is the greatest misery. Or he may be directed to someone who, as far as he may with God’s truth, will vilify the body and disposition of his love, and so blacken her character that she may appear to him altogether base and deformed. Or, finally, he is to be set to arduous duties which may distract his thoughts.
Indeed, just as the animal nature of man may be cured by such remedies, so may they all be of use in reforming his inner spirit. Let a man obey the law of his intellect rather than that of nature, let him turn his love to safe pleasures, let him remember how momentary is the fruition of lust and how eternal the punishment, let him seek his pleasure in that life where joys begin never to end, and let him consider that if he cleaves to this earthly love, that will be his sole reward, but he will lose the bliss of Heaven, and be condemned to eternal fire: behold! the three irrevocable losses which proceed from inordinate lust.
With regard to Philocaption caused by witchcraft, the remedies detailed in the preceding chapter may not inconveniently be applied here also; especially the exorcisms by sacred words which the bewitched person can himself use. Let him daily invoke the Guardian Angel deputed to him by God, let him use confession and frequent the shrines of the Saints, especially of the Blessed Virgin, and without doubt he will be delivered.
But how abject are those strong men who, discarding their natural gifts and the armour of virtue, cease to defend themselves; whereas the girls themselves in their invincible frailty use those very rejected weapons to repel this kind of witchcraft. We give one out of many examples in their praise.
There was in a country village near Lindau in the diocese of Constance a grown maid fair to see and of even more elegant behaviour, at sight of whom a certain man of loose principles, a cleric in sooth, but not a priest, was smitten with violent pangs of love. And being unable to conceal the wound in his heart any longer, he went to the place where the girl was working, and with fair words showed that he was in the net of the devil, beginning by venturing in words only to persuade the girl to grant him her love. She, perceiving by Divine instinct his meaning, and being chaste in mind and body, bravely answered him: Master, do not come to my house with such words, for modesty itself forbids. To this he replied: Although you will not be persuaded by gentle words to love me, yet I promise you that soon you will be compelled by my deeds to love me. Now that man was a suspected enchanter and wizard. The maiden considered his words as but empty air, and until then felt in herself no spark of carnal love for him; but after a short time she began to have amorous thoughts. Perceiving this, and being inspired by God, she sought the protection of the Mother of Mercy, and devoutly implored Her to intercede with Her Son to help her. Anxious, moreover, she went on a pilgrimage to a hermitage, where there was a church miraculously consecrated in that diocese to the Mother of God. There she confessed her sins, so that no evil spirit could enter her, and after her prayers to the Mother of Pity all the devil’s machinations against her ceased, so that these evil crafts thenceforth never afflicted her.
None the less there are still some strong men cruelly enticed by witches to this sort of love, so that it would seem that they could never restrain themselves from their inordinate lust for them, yet these often most manfully resist the temptation of lewd and filthy enticements, and by the aforesaid defences overcome all the wiles of the devil.
A rich young man in the town of Innsbruck provides us with a notable pattern of this sort of struggle. He was so importuned by witches that it is hardly possible for pen to describe his strivings, but he always kept a brave heart, and escaped by means of the remedies we have mentioned. Therefore it may justly be concluded that these remedies are infallible against this disease, and that they who use such weapons will most surely be delivered.
And it must be understood that what we have said concerning inordinate love applies also to inordinate hatred, since the same discipline is of benefit for the two opposite extremes. But though the degree of witchcraft is equal in each, yet there is this difference in the case of hatred; the person who is hated must seek another remedy. For the man who hates his wife and puts her out of his heart will not easily, if he is an adulterer, be turned back again to his wife, even though he go on many a pilgrimage.
Now it has been learned from witches that they cause this spell of hatred by means of serpents; for the serpent was the first instrument of the devil, and by reason of its curse inherits a hatred of women; therefore they cause such spells by placing the skin or head of a serpent under the threshold of a room or house. For this reason all the nooks and corners of the house where such a woman lives are to be closely examined and reconstructed as far as possible; or else she must be lodged in the houses of others.
And when it is said the bewitched men can exorcise themselves, it is to be understood that they can wear the sacred words or benedictions of incantations round their necks, if they are unable to read or pronounce the benedictions; but it will be shown later in what way this should be done.