PART II., QUESTION I.
How they are Transported from Place to Place.
And now we must consider their ceremonies and in what manner they proceed in
their operations, first in respect of their actions towards themselves and
in their own persons. And among their chief operations are being bodily
transported from place to place, and to practise carnal connexion with
Incubus devils, which we shall treat of separately, beginning with their
bodily vectification. But here it must be noted that this transvection
offers a difficulty, which has often been mentioned, arising from one single
authority, where it is said: It cannot be admitted as true that certain
wicked women, perverted by Satan and seduced by the illusions and
phantasms of devils, do actually, as they believe and profess, ride in the
night-time on certain beasts with Diana, a goddess of the Pagans, or with
Herodias and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the untimely silence
of night pass over immense tracts of land, and have to obey her in all
things as their Mistress, etc. Wherefore the priest of God ought to preach
to the people that this is altogether false, and that such phantasms are
sent not by God, but by an evil Spirit to confuse the minds of the faithful.
For Satan himself transforms himself into various shapes and forms; and by
deluding in dreams the mind which he holds captive, leads it through devious
And there are those who, taking their example from S. Germain and a certain
other man who kept watch over his daughter to determine this matter,
sometimes preach that this is an altogether impossible thing; and that it is
indiscreet to ascribe to witches and their operations such levitations, as
well as the injuries which happen to men, animals, and the fruits of the
earth; since just as they are the victims of phantasy in their transvections,
so also are they deluded in the matter of the harm they wreak on living
But this opinion was refuted as heretical in the First Question; for it
leaves out of account the Divine permission with regard to the devil's
power, which extends to even greater things than this: and it is contrary
to the meaning of Sacred Scripture, and has caused intolerable damage to
Holy Church, since now for many years, thanks to this pestiferous doctrine,
witches have remained unpunished, because the secular courts have lost their
power to punish them. Therefore the diligent reader will consider what was
there set down for the stamping out of that opinion, and will for the
present note how they are transported, and in what ways this is possible, of
which some examples will be adduced.
It is shown in various ways that they can be bodily transported; and first,
from the operations of other Magicians. For if they could not be transported,
it would either be because God does not permit it, or because the devil
cannot do this since it is contrary to nature. It cannot be for the first
reason, for both greater and less things can be done by the permission of
God; and greater things are often done both to children and men, even to
just men confirmed in grace.
For when it is asked whether substitutions of children can be affected by
the work of devils, and whether the devil can carry a man from place to
place even against his will; to the first question the answer is, Yes. For
William of Paris says in the last part of his De Uniuerso:
Substitutions of children are, with God's permission, possible, so that the
devil can affect a change of the child or even a transformation. For such
children are always miserable and crying; and although four or five mothers
could hardly support enough milk for them, they never grow fat, yet are
heavy beyond the ordinary. But this should neither be affirmed nor denied to
women, on account of the great fear which it may cause them, but they should
be instructed to ask the opinion of learned men. For God permits this on
account of the sins of the parents, in that sometimes men curse their
pregnant wives, saying, May you be carrying a devil! or some such thing. In
the same way impatient women often say something of the sort. And many
examples have been given by other men, some of them pious men.
For Vincent of Beauvais (Spec. Hist., XXVI, 43) related a story told
by S. Peter Damian of a five-year-old son of
a nobleman, who was for the time living in a monastery; and one night he
was carried out of the monastery into a locked mill, where he was found in
the morning. And when he was questioned, he said that he had been carried by
some men to a great feast and bidden to eat; and afterwards he was put into
the mill through the roof.
And what of those Magicians whom we generally call Necromancers, who are
often carried through the air by devils for long distances? And sometimes
they even persuade others to go with them on a horse, which is not really a
horse but a devil in that form, and, as they say, thus warn their companions
not to make the sign of the Cross.
And though we are two who write this book, one of us has very often seen and
known such men. For there is a man who was once a scholar, and is now
believed to be a priest in the diocese of Freising, who used to say that at
one time he had been bodily carried through the air by a devil, and taken to
the most remote parts.
There lives another priest in Oberdorf, a town near Landshut, who was at
that time a friend of that one of us, who saw with his own eyes such a
transportation, and tells how the man was borne on high with arms stretched
out, shouting but not whimpering. And the cause, as he tells it, was as
follows. A number of scholars had met together to drink beer, and they all
agreed that the one who fetched the beer should not have to pay anything.
And so one of them was going to fetch the beer, and on opening the door saw
a thick cloud before the grunsel, and returning in terror told his
companions why he would not go for the drink. Then that one of them who was
carried away said angrily: Even if the devil were there, I shall
fetch the drink. And, going out, he was carried through the air in
the sight of all the others.
And indeed it must be confessed that such things can happen not only to
those who are awake, but also to men who are asleep; namely, they can be
bodily transported through the air while they are fast asleep.
This is clear in the case of certain men who walk in their sleep on the
roofs of houses and over the highest buildings, and no one can oppose their
progress either on high or below. And if they are called by their own names
by the other bystanders, they immediately fall crashing to the ground.
Many think, and not without reason, that this is devils' work. For devils
are of many different kinds, and some, who fell from the lower choir of
Angels, are tortured as if for smaller sins with lighter punishments as well
as the punishment of damnation which they must suffer eternally. And these
cannot hurt anybody, at least not seriously, but for the most part carry out
only practical jokes. And others are Incubi or Succubi, who punish men in
the night, defiling them in the sin of lechery. It is not wonderful if they
are given also to horse-play such as this.
The truth can be deduced from the words of Cassian, Collationes I,
where he says that there is no doubt that there are as many different
unclean spirits as there are different desires in men. For it is manifest
that some of them, which the common people call Fauns, and we call Trolls,
which abound in Norway, are such buffoons and jokers that they haunt certain
places and roads and, without being able to do any hurt to those who pass
by, are content with mocking and deluding them, and try to weary them rather
than hurt them. And some of them only visit men with harmless nightmares. But
others are so furious and truculent that they are not content to afflict
with an atrocious dilation the bodies of those whom they inflate, but even
come rushing from on high and hasten to strike them with the most savage
blows. Our author means that they do not only possess men, but torture them
horribly, as did those which are described in S. Matthew viii.
From this we can conclude, first that it must not be said that witches
cannot be locally transported because God does not permit it. For if He
permits it in the case of the just and innocent, and of other Magicians,
how should He not in the case of those who are totally dedicated to the
devil? And we say with all reverence: Did not the devil take up Our Saviour,
and carry Him up to a high place, as the Gospel testifies?
Neither can the second argument of our opponents be conceded, that the devil
cannot do this thing. For it has already been shown that he has so great
natural power, exceeding all corporeal power, that there is no earthly
power that can be compared with him; as it is said: There is no
power on earth that can be compared with him, etc. Indeed the natural
power or virtue which is in Lucifer is so great that there is none greater
among the good Angels in Heaven. For just as he excelled all the Angels in
his nature, and not his nature, but only his grace, was diminished by his
Fall, so that nature still remains in him, although it is darkened and bound.
Wherefore the gloss on that There is no power on earth says:
Although he excels all things, yet he is subject to the merits of the
Two objections which someone may bring forward are not valid. First, that
man's soul could resist him, and that the text seems to speak of one devil
in particular, since it speaks in the singular, namely Lucifer. And because
it was he who tempted Christ in the wilderness, and seduced the first man,
he is now bound in chains. And the other Angels are not so powerful, since
he excels them all. Therefore the other spirits cannot transport wicked men
through the air from place to place.
These arguments have no force. For, to consider the Angels first, even the
least Angel is incomparably superior to all human power, as can be proved in
many ways. First, a spiritual is stronger than a corporeal power, and so is
the power of an Angel, or even of the soul, greater than that of the body.
Secondly, as to the soul; every bodily shape owes its individuality to
matter, and, in the case of human beings, to the fact that a soul informs
it; but immaterial forms are absolute intelligences, and therefore have an
absolute and more universal power. For this reason, the soul when joined to
the body cannot in this way suddenly transfer its body locally or raise it
up in the air; although it could easily do so, with God's permission, if it
were separate from its body. Much more, then, is this possible to an
entirely immaterial spirit, such as a good or bad Angel. For a good Angel
transported Habacuc in a moment from Judaea
to Chaldaea. And for this reason it is concluded that those who by night
are carried in their sleep over high buildings are not carried by their own
souls, nor by the influence of the stars, but by some mightier power, as was
Thirdly, it is the nature of the body to be moved, as to place, directly by
a spiritual nature; and, as Aristotle says, Physics, VIII, local
motion is the first of bodily motions; and he proves this by saying that
local motion is not intrinsically in the power of any body as such, but is
due to some exterior force.
Wherefore it is concluded, not so much from the holy Doctors as from the
Philosophers, that the highest bodies, that is, the stars, are moved by
spiritual essences, and by separate Intelligences which are good both by
nature and in intention. For we see that the soul is the prime and chief
cause of local motion in the body.
It must be said, therefore, that neither in its physical capacity nor in
that of its soul can the human body resist being suddenly transported from
place to place, with God's permission, by a spiritual essence good both in
intention and by nature, when the good, who are confirmed in grace, are
transported; or by an essence good by nature, but not good in intention,
when the wicked are transported. Any who wish may refer to S. Thomas in
three articles in Part I, question 90, and again in his question concerning
Sin, and also in the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 7, on the power
of devils over bodily effects.
Now the following is their method of being transported. They take the
unguent which, as we have said, they make at
the devil's instruction from the limbs of children, particularly of those
whom they have killed before baptism, and anoint with it a chair or a
broomstick; whereupon they are immediately carried up into the air, either
by day or by night, and either visibly or, if they wish, invisibly; for the
devil can conceal a body by the interposition of some other substance, as
was shown in the First Part of the treatise where we spoke of the glamours
and illusions caused by the devil. And although the devil for the most part
performs this by means of this unguent, to the end that children should be
deprived of the grace of baptism and of salvation, yet he often seems to
affect the same transvection without its use. For at times he transports
the witches on animals, which are not true animals but devils in that form;
and sometimes even without any exterior help they are visibly carried solely
by the operation of the devil's power.
Here is an instance of a visible transportation in the day-time. In the town
of Waldshut on the Rhine, in the diocese of Constance, there was a certain
witch who was so detested by the townsfolk that she was not invited to the
celebration of a wedding which, however, nearly all the other townsfolk were
present. Being indignant because of this, and wishing to be revenged, she
summoned a devil and, telling him the cause of her vexation, asked him to
raise a hailstorm and drive all the wedding guests from their dancing; and
the devil agreed, and raising her up, carried her through the air to a hill
near the town, in the sight of some shepherds. And since, as she afterwards
confessed, she had no water to pour into the trench (for this, as we shall
show, is the method they use to raise hailstorms), she made a small trench
and filled it with her urine instead of water, and stirred it with her
finger, after their custom, with the devil standing by. Then the devil
suddenly raised that liquid up and sent a violent storm of hailstones which
fell only on the dancers and townsfolk. And when they had dispersed and were
discussing among themselves the cause of that storm, the witch shortly
afterwards entered the town; and this greatly aroused their suspicions. But
when the shepherds had told what they had seen, their suspicions became
almost a certainty. So she was arrested, and confessed that she had done
this thing because she had not been invited to the wedding: and for this,
and for many other witchcrafts which she had perpetrated, she was burned.
Page 1 of 2
Question I, Chapter III Continued . . . .
This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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