PART II., QUESTION I.
How Witches Impede and Prevent the Power of Procreation.
Concerning the method by which they obstruct the procreant function both in
men and animals, and in both sexes, the reader my consult that which has
been written already on the question, Whether devils can through witches
turn the minds of men to love or hatred. There, after the solutions of the
arguments, a specific declaration is made relating to the method by which,
with God's permission, they can obstruct the procreant function.
But it must be noted that such obstruction is caused both intrinsically and
extrinsically. Intrinsically they cause it in two ways. First, when they
directly prevent the erection of the member which is accomodated to
fructification. And this need not seem impossible, when it is considered
that they are able to vitiate the natural use of any member. Secondly, when
they prevent the flow of the vital essences to the members in which resides
the motive force, closing up the seminal ducts so that it does not reach
the generative vessels, or so that it cannot be ejaculated, or is
Extrinsically they cause it at times by means of images, or by the eating of
herbs; sometimes by other external means, such as cocks' testicles. But it
must not be thought that it is by the virtue of these things that a man is
made impotent, but by the occult power of devils' illusions witches by this
means procure such impotence, namely, that they cause man to be unable to
copulate, or a woman to conceive.
And the reason for this is that God allows them more power over this act,
by which the first sin was disseminated, than over other human actions.
Similarly they have more power over serpents, which are the most subject
to the influence of incantations, than over other animals. Wherefore it has
often been found by us and other Inquisitors that they have caused this
obstruction by means of serpents or some such things.
For a certain wizard who had been arrested confessed that for many years he
had by witchcraft brought sterility upon all the men and animals which
inhabited a certain house. Moreover, Nider tells of a wizard named
Stadlin who was taken in the diocese of
Lausanne, and confessed that in a certain house where a man and his wife
were loving, he had by his witchcraft successively killed in the woman's
womb seven children, so that for many years the woman always miscarried. And
that, in the same way, he had caused that all the pregnant cattle and
animals of the house were during those years unable to give birth to any
live issue. And when he was questioned as to how he had done this, and what
manner of charge should be preferred against him, he discovered his crime,
saying: I put a serpent under the threshold of the outer door of the house;
and if this is removed, fecundity will be restored to the inhabitants. And
it was as he said; for though the serpent was not found, having been
reduced to dust, the whole piece of ground was removed, and in the same year
fecundity was restored to the wife and to all the animals.
Another instance occurred hardly four years ago in Reichshofen. There was a
most notorious witch, who could at all times and by a mere touch bewitch
women and cause an abortion. Now the wife of a certain nobleman in that
place had become pregnant and had engaged a midwife to take care of her, and
had been warned by the midwife not to go out of the castle, and above all to
be careful not to hold any speech or conversation with that witch. After
some weeks, unmindful of that warning, she went out of the castle to visit
some women who were met together on some festive occasion; and when she had
sat down for a little, the witch came, and, as if for the purpose of
saluting her, placed both her hands on her stomach; and suddenly she felt
the child moving in pain. Frightened by this, she returned home and told the
midwife what had happened. Then the midwife exclaimed: Alas! you have
already lost your child. And so it proved when her time came; for she
gave birth, not to an entire abortion, but little by little to separate
fragments of its head and feet and hands. And the great affliction was
permitted by God to punish her husband, whose duty it was to bring witches
to justice and avenge their injuries to the Creator.
And there was in the town of Mersburg in the diocese of Constance a certain
young man who was bewitched in such a way that he could never perform the
carnal act with any woman except one. And many have heard him tell that he
had often wished to refuse that woman, and take flight to other lands; but
that hitherto he had been compelled to rise up in the night and to come very
quickly back, sometimes over land, and sometimes through the air as if he
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Question I, Chapter VII
This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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