QUESTION I. CHAPTER I
Of the several Methods by which Devils through Witches Entice and Allure
the Innocent to the Increase of that Horrid Craft and Company.
There are three methods above all by which devils, through the agency of
witches, subvert the innocent, and by which that perfidy is continually
being increased. And the first is through weariness, through inflicting
grievous losses in their temporal possessions. For, as S. Gregory says: The
devil often tempts us to give way from very weariness. And it is to be
understood that it is within the power of a man to resist such temptation;
but that God permits it as a warning to us not to give way to sloth. And in
this sense is Judges ii to be understood, where it says that God did
not destroy those nations, that through them He might prove the people of
Israel; and it speaks of the neighbouring nations of the Canaanites,
Jebusites, and others. And in our time the Hussites and other Heretics are
permitted, so that they cannot be destroyed. Devils, therefore, by means of
witches, so afflict their innocent neighbours with temporal losses, that
they are to beg the suffrages of witches, and at length to submit themselves
to their counsels; as many experiences have taught us.
We know a stranger in the diocese of Augsburg, who before he was forty-four
years old lost all his horses in succession through witchcraft. His wife,
being afflicted with weariness by reason of this, consulted with witches,
and after following their counsels, unwholesome as they were, all the horses
which he bought after that (for he was a carrier) were preserved from
And how many women have complained to us in our capacity of Inquisitors,
that when their cows have been injured by being deprived of their milk, or
in any other way, they have consulted with suspected witches, and even been
given remedies by them, on condition that they would promise something to
some spirit; and when they asked what they would have to promise, the
witches answered that it was only a small thing, that they should agree to
execute the instructions of that master with regard to certain observances
during the Holy Offices of the Church, or to observe some silent reservations
in their confessions to priests.
Here it is to be noted that, as has already been hinted, this iniquity has
small and scant beginnings, as that of the time of the elevation of the Body
of Christ they spit on the ground, or shut their eyes, or mutter some vain
words. We know a woman who yet lives, protected by the secular law, who,
when the priest at the celebration of the Mass blesses the people, saying,
Dominus uobiscum, always adds to herself these words in the vulgar
tongue Kehr mir die Zung im Arss umb. Or they even say some
such thing at confession after they have received absolution, or do not
confess everything, especially mortal sins, and so by slow degrees are led
to a total abnegation of the Faith, and to the abominable profession of
This, or something like it, is the method which witches use towards honest
matrons who are little given to carnal vices but concerned for worldly
profit. But towards young girls, more given to bodily lusts and pleasures,
they observe a different method, working through their carnal desires and
the pleasures of the flesh.
Here it is to be noted that the devil is more eager and keen to tempt the
good than the wicked, although in actual practice he tempts the wicked more
than the good, because more aptitude for being tempted is found in the
wicked than in the good. Therefore the devil tries all the harder to seduce
all the more saintly virgins and girls; and there is reason in this, besides
many examples of it.
For since he already possesses the wicked, but not the good, he tries the
harder to seduce into his power the good whom he does not, than the wicked
whom he does, possess. Similarly any earthly prince takes up arms against
those who do not acknowledge his rule rather than those who do not oppose
And here is an example. Two witches were burned in Ratisbon, as we shall
tell later where we treat of their methods of raising tempests. And one of
them, who was a bath-woman, had confessed among other things the following:
that she had suffered much injury from the devil for this reason. There was
a certain devout virgin, the daughter of a very rich man whom there is no
need to name, since the girl is now dead in the disposition of Divine mercy,
and we would not that his thought should be perverted by evil; and the witch
was ordered to seduce her by inviting her to her house on some Feast Day, in
order that the devil himself, in the form of a young man, might speak with
her. And although she had tried very often to accomplish this, yet whenever
she had spoken to the young girl, she had protected herself with the sign of
the Holy Cross. And no one can doubt that she did this at the instigation of
a holy Angel, to repel the works of the devil.
Another virgin living in the diocese of Strasburg confessed to one of us
that she was alone on a certain Sunday in her father's house, when an old
woman of that town came to visit here and, among other scurrilous words,
made the following proposition; that, if she liked, she would take her to a
place where there were some young men unknown to all the townsmen. And when,
said the virgin, I consented, and followed her to her house, the old woman
said, See, we go upstairs to an upper room where the young men are;
but take care not to make the sign of the Cross. I gave her my
promise not to do so, and as she was going up before me and I was going up
the stairs, I secretly crossed myself. At the top of the stairs, when we
were both standing outside the room, the hag turned angrily upon me with a
horrible countenance, and looking at me said, Curse you! Why did you
cross yourself? Go away from here. Depart in the name of the devil.
And so I returned unharmed to my home.
It can be seen from this how craftily that old enemy labours in the
seduction of souls. For it was in this way that the bath-woman whom we have
mentioned, and who was burned, confessed that she had been seduced by some
old women. A different method, however, was used in the case of her
companion witch, who had met the devil in human form on the road while she
herself was going to visit her lover for the purpose of fornication. And
when the Incubus devil had seen her, and has asked her whether she
recognized him, and she had said that she did not, he had answered" I
am the devil; and if you wish, I will always be ready at your pleasure, and
will not fail you in any necessity. And when she had consented, she
continued for eighteen years, up to the end of her life, to practise
diabolical filthiness with him, together with a total abnegation of the
Faith as a necessary condition.
There is also a third method of temptation through the way of sadness and
poverty. For when girls have been corrupted, and have been scorned by their
lovers after they have immodestly copulated with them in the hope and
promise of marriage with them, and have found themselves disappointed in all
their hopes and everywhere despised, they turn to the help and protection of
devils; either for the sake of vengeance by bewitching those lovers or the
wives they have married, or for the sake of giving themselves up to every
sort of lechery. Alas! experience tells us that there is no number to such
girls, and consequently the witches that spring from this class are
innumerable. Let us give a few out of many examples.
There is a place in the diocese of Brixen where a young man deposed the
following facts concerning the bewitchment of his wife.
In the time of my youth I loved a girl who importuned me to marry her;
but I refused her and married another girl from another country. But wishing
for friendship's sake to please her, I invited her to the wedding. She came,
and while the other honest women were wishing us luck and offering gifts,
she raised her hand and, in the hearing of the other women who were standing
round, said, You will have few days of health after to-day. My bride was
frightened, since she did not know her (for, as I have said, I had married
her from another country), and asked the bystanders who she was who had
threatened her in that way; and they said that she was a loose and vagrom
woman. None the less, it happened just as she had said. For after a few days
my wife was so bewitched that she lost the use of all her limbs, and even
now, after ten years, the effects of witchcraft can be seen on her body.
If we were to collect all the similar instances which have occurred in one
town of that diocese, it would take a whole book; but they are written and
preserved at the house of the Bishop of Brixen, who still lives to testify
to their truth, astounding and unheard-of though they are.
But we must not pass over in silence one unheard-of and astonishing instance.
A certain high-born Count in the ward of Westerich, in the diocese of
Strasburg, married a noble girl of equal birth; but after he had celebrated
the wedding, he was for three years unable to know her carnally, on account,
as the event proved, of a certain charm which prevented him. In great
anxiety, and not knowing what to do, he called loudly on the Saints of God.
It happened that he went to the State of Metz to negotiate some business;
and while he was talking about the streets and squares of the city, attended
by his servants and domiciles, he met a certain women who had formerly been
his mistress. Seeing her, and not at all thinking of the spell that was on
him, he spontaneously addressed her kindly for the sake of their old
friendship, asking her how she did, and whether she was well. And she,
seeing the Count's gentleness, in her turn asked very particularly after his
health and affairs; and when he answered that he was well, and that
everything prospered with him, she was astonished and was silent for a time.
The Count, seeing her thus astonished, again spoke kindly to her, inviting
her to converse with him. So she inquired after his wife, and received a
similar reply, that she was in all respects well. Then she asked if he had
any children; and the Count said he had three sons, one born in each year.
At that she was more astonished, and was again silent for a while. And the
Count asked her, Why, my dear, do you make such careful inquiries? I am sure
that you congratulate my on my happiness. Then she answered, Certainly I
congratulate you; but curse that old woman who said she would bewitch your
body so that you could not have connexion with your wife! And in proof of
this, there is a pot in the well in the middle of your yard containing
certain objects evilly bewitched, and this was placed there in order that,
as long as its contents were preserved intact, for so long you would be
unable to cohabit. But see! it is all in vain, and I am glad, etc. On his
return home the Count did not delay to have the well drained; and, finding
the pot, burned its contents and all, whereupon he immediately recovered the
virility which he had lost. Wherefore the Countess again invited all the
nobility to a fresh wedding celebration, saying that she was now the Lady of
that castle and estate, after having for so long remained a virgin. For the
sake of the Count's reputation it is not expedient to name that castle and
estate; but we have related this story in order that the truth of the matter
may be known, to bring so great a crime into open detestation.
From this it is clear that witches use various methods to increase their
numbers. For the above-mentioned woman, because she had been supplanted by
the Count's wife, case that spell upon the Count with the help of another
witches; and this is how one witchcraft brings innumerable others in its
Page 1 of 1
Question I, Chapter II
This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
HTML Scripting Copyright ©
1998-2000 by the Windhaven Network, Inc..
All Rights Reserved.