III. ADMISSION CEREMONIES
1. GeneralIn the ceremonies for admission, as in all the other ceremonies of the cult, the essentials are the same in every community and country, though the details differ. The two points which are the essence of the ceremony are invariable: the first, that the candidates must join of their own free will and without compulsion; the second, that they devote themselves, body and soul, to the Master and his service.
The ceremonies of admission differed also according to whether the candidate were a child or an adult. The most complete record of the admission of children comes from the Basses-Pyrénées in 1609:
'Les Sorcieres luy offre[n]t des petits enfans le genoüil en terre, lui disant auec vne soubmission, Grand seigneur, lequel i'adore, ie vous ameine ce nouueau seruiteur, lequel estre perpetuellement vostre esclaue: Et le Diable en signe de remerciement & gratification leur respond, Approchez vous de moy: à quoy obeissant, elles en se trainant à genouil, le luy presentent, & luy receuant l'enfant entre ses bras, le rend a la Sorciere, la remercie, & puis luy recommande d'en auoir soing, leur disant par ce moyen sa troupe s'augmentera. Que si les enfans ayans attainct l'aage de neuf ans, par malheur se voüent au Diable sans estre forcez ny violentez d'aucun Sorcier, ils se prosternent par terre deuant Satan: lequel iettant du feu par les yeux, leur dit, Que demandez vous, voulez vous estre à moy? ils respondent qu'ouy, il leur dict, Venez vous de vostre bonne volonté? ils respondent qu'ouy, Faictes donc ce que ie veux, & ce que ie fay. Et alors la grande maistresse & Royne du Sabbat qui leur sert de pedagogue, dict à ce nouueau qui se presente, qu'il die à haute voix, Ie renie Dieu premierenment, puis Iesus Christ son Fils, le S. Esprit, la vierge, les Saincts, la Saincte Croix, le Chresme, le Baptesme, & la Foy que ie tiens, mes Parrain & Marraine, & me remets de tout poinct en ton pouuoir & entre tes mains, ne recognis autre Dieu: si bien que tu es mon Dieu & ie suis ton esclaue. Aprés on luy baille vn crapaud habillé auec son capot ou manteau, puis il commande qu'on I'adore; si bien qu'obeyssans & estants mis 'a genouil, ils baisent le Diable auprés de l'œil gauche, A la poitrine, la fesse, à la cuisse, & aux parties honteuses, puis leuant la queue ils luy baisent le derriere.'
The novice was then marked by a scratch from a sharp instrument, but was not admitted to the 'high mysteries' till about the age of twenty. As no further ceremonies are mentioned, it may be concluded that the initiation into these mysteries was performed by degrees and without any special rites.
At Lille, about the middle of the seventeenth century, Madame Bourignon founded a home for girls of the lowest classes, 'pauvres et mal-originées, la plus part si ignorantes au fait de leur salut qu'elles vivoient comme des bètes'. After a few years, in 1661, she discovered that thirty-two of these girls were worshippers of the Devil, and in the habit of going to the Witches' Sabbaths. They 'had all contracted this Mischief before they came into the House'. One of these girls named Bellot, aged fifteen, said 'that her Mother had taken her with her when she was very Young, and had even carried her in her Arms to the Witches Sabbaths'. Another girl of twelve had been in the habit of going to the Sabbath since she also was 'very Young'. As the girls seem to have been genuinely fond of Madame Bourignon, she obtained a considerable amount of information from them. They told her that all worshippers of the Devil 'are constrained to offer him their Children. When a child thus offered to the Devil by its Parents, comes to the use of Reason, the Devil then demands its Soul, and makes it deny God and renounce Baptism, and all relating to the Faith, promising Homage and Fealty to the Devil in manner of a Marriage, and instead of a Ring, the Devil gives them a Mark with an iron awl [aleine de fer] in some part of the Body.'
It is also clear that Marguerite Montvoisin in Paris had
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 398.
2. Id. ib., p. 145.
3. Bourignon, Vie, p. 201.
4. Id., Parole, p. 85; Hale, p. 26.
5. Id., Vie, p. 211; Hale, p. 29.
6. Id. ib., p. 223; Hale, p. 37.
7. Ravaisson (the years 1679-81).]
been instructed in witchcraft from an early age; but as the trial in which she figures was for the attempted poisoning of the king and not for witchcraft, no ceremonies of initiation or admission are recorded.
In Great Britain the ceremonies for the reception of children are not given in any detail, though it was generally acknowledged that the witches dedicated their children to the Devil as soon as born; and from the evidence it appears that in many cases the witches had belonged to that religion all their lives. It was sometimes sufficient evidence against a woman that her mother had been a witch, as it presupposed that she had been brought up as a worshipper of the Devil.
The Anderson children in Renfrewshire were all admitted to the society at an early age. Elizabeth Anderson was only seven when she was first asked to swear fealty to the 'black grim Man'. James Lindsay was under fourteen, and his little brother Thomas was still 'below pupillarity' at the time of the trial, where he declared that he had been bribed, by the promise of a red coat, to serve 'the Gentleman, whom he knew thereafter to be the Devil'. At Forfar in 1661 Jonet Howat was so young that when Isabel Syrie 'presented hir to the divell, the divell said, What shall I do with such a little bairn as she?' He accepted her, however, and she was evidently the pet of the community, the Devil calling her 'his bonny bird'. At Paisley, Annabil Stuart was fourteen when, at her mother's persuasion, she took the vows of fidelity to the Devil.
Elizabeth Frances at Chelmsford (tried in 1556) was about twelve years old when her grandmother first taught her the art of witchcraft. Elizabeth Demdike, the famous Lancashire witch, 'brought vp her owne Children, instructed her Graund-children, and tooke great care and paines to bring them to be Witches'. One of her granddaughters, Jennet Device, was aged nine at the time of the trial.
[1. Reg. Scot., Bk. II, p. 36 (quoting from C. Agrippa).
2. Narrative of the Sufferings of a Young Girle, p. xxxix.
3. Ib., pp. xi, xli.
4. Kinloch, pp. 124, 123.
5. Glanvil, ii, p. 291.
6. Philobiblon Society, viii, p. 24.
7. Potts, B 2.]
In Sweden the children were taken regularly to the assemblies, and in America also a child-witch is recorded in the person of Sarah Carrier, aged eight, who had made her vows two years before at her mother's instigation.
The ceremony for the admission of adults who were converts to the witch religion from Christianity follow certain main lines. These are (1) the free consent of the candidate, (2) the explicit denial and rejection of a previous religion, (3) the absolute and entire dedication of body and soul to the service and commands of the new Master and God.
The ceremonies being more startling and dramatic for adults than for children, they are recorded in Great Britain with the same careful detail as in France, and it is possible to trace the local variations; although in England, as is usual, the ceremonies had lost their significance to a far greater extent than in Scotland, and are described more shortly, probably because they were more curtailed.
The legal aspect of the admission ceremonies is welt expressed by Sir George Mackenzie, writing in 1699 on the Scotch laws relating to witchcraft in the seventeenth century:
'As to the relevancy of this Crime, the first Article useth to be, paction to serve the Devil, which is certainly relevant, per se, without any addition. . . Paction with the Devil is divided by Lawyers, in expressum, & tacitum, an express and tacit Paction. Express Paction is performed either by a formal Promise given to the Devil then present, or by presenting, a Supplication to him, or by giving the promise to a Proxie or Commissioner impowered by the Devil for that effect, which is used by some who dare not see himself. The Formula set down by Delrio, is, I deny God Creator of Heaven and Earth, and I adhere to thee, and believe in thee. But by the journal Books it appears, that the ordinary Form of express Paction confest by our Witness, is a simple Promise to serve him. Tacit Paction is either when a person who hath made no express Paction, useth the Words or Signs which Sorcerers use, knowing them to be such ... Renouncing of Baptism is by Delrio made an effect of Paction, yet with us it is relevant, per se . . . and the Solemnity confest by our Witches, is the putting one hand to the crown of the Head, and another to
[1. Horneck, pt. ii., pp. 317-2o.
2. Howell, vi, 669; J. Hutchinson, Hist of Massachusetts, ii, p. 44.]
the sole of the Foot, renouncing their Baptism in that posture. Delrio tells us, that the Devil useth to Baptize them of new, and to wipe off their Brow the old Baptism: And our Witches confess always the giving them new Names . . . The Devil's Mark useth to be a great Article with us, but it is not per se found relevant, except it be confest by them, that they got that Mark with their own consent; quo casu, it is equivalent to a Paction. This Mark is given them, as is alledg'd, by a Nip in any part of the body, and it is blew.'
Reginald Scot, writing considerably earlier, gives a somewhat similar account of the English witches, though couched in less legal phraseology:
'The order of their bargaine or profession is double; the one solemne and publike; the other secret and priuate. That which is called solemne or publike, is where witches come togither at certeine assemblies, at the times prefixed, and doo not onelie see the diuell in visible forme; but confer and talke familiarlie with him. In which conference the diuell exhorteth them to obserue their fidelitie vnto him, promising them long life and prosperitie. Then the witches assembled, commend a new disciple (whom they call a nouice) vnto him: and if the diuell find that yoong witch apt and forward in renunciation of christian faith, in despising anie of the seuen sacraments, in treading upon crosses, in spetting at the time of eleuation, in breaking their fast on fasting daies, and fasting on sundaies; then the diuell giueth foorth his hand, and the nouice joining hand in hand with him, promiseth to obserue and keepe all the diuell's commandements. This done, the diuell beginneth to be more bold with hir, telling hir plainlie that all this will not serue his turne; and therefore requireth homage at hir hands: yea, he also telleth hir, that she must grant him both hir bodie and soule to be tormented in euerlasting fire: which she yeeldeth vnto. Then he chargeth hir, to procure as manie men, women, and children also, as she can, to enter into this societie . . . Sometimes their homage with their oth and bargaine is receiued for a certeine terme of yeares; sometimes for euer. Sometimes it consisteth in the deniall of the whole faith, sometimes in part. The first is, when the soule is absolutelie yeelded to the diuell and hell-fier: the other is, when they haue but bargained not to obserue certeine ceremonies and statutes of the church; as to conceale faults at shrift, to fast on sundaies, etc. And this is doone either by oth, protestation of words, or by obligation in writing, sometimes sealed with wax, sometimes signed with bloud.'
[1. Mackenzie, Title x, pp. 47, 48.
2. Reginald Scot, Bk. III, pp. 40-2.]
Forbes says that
'an express Covenant is entred into betwixt a Witch, and the Devil appearing in some visible Shape. Whereby the former renounceth God and his Baptism, engages to serve the Devil, and do all the Mischief he can as Occasion offers, and leaves Soul and Body to his Disposal after Death. The Devil on his part articles with such Proselytes, concerning the Shape he is to appear to them in, the Services they are to expect from him, upon the Performance of certain Charms or ceremonious Rites. This League is made verbally, if the Party cannot write. And such as can write, sign a written Covenant with their Blood.'
The general order of the ceremony of admission can be gathered from the evidence given at the trials, though no one trial gives the order in its entirety. The ceremony might take place privately, at a local meeting, or in full Sabbath; it was the same for either sex, except that the men were not usually introduced, the women were sometimes introduced, sometimes not. If there were any sort of introduction, it was by some one who was acquainted with the candidate; usually the person who had induced her to join. She was brought before the Devil, who asked her if she would be his faithful servant, and if she would renounce her previous religion, and dedicate herself to his service, taking him as her God. After the renunciation and vows, the Devil baptized her in his own great name, and among the Scotch witches gave her a new name by which she was known afterwards at the Sabbaths and other meetings. The ceremony concluded by (riving the witch a mark or 'flesh-brand' on some part of the body.
2. The Introduction.It is not clear whether the introduction of a candidate by a member of the society was an early or a late detail. It is quite possible that it was early, the introducer standing in the same relation to the candidate as the Christian sponsors stand to a candidate for baptism. On the other hand, it is quite comprehensible that, when the witch religion became an object of persecution, no new member could be admitted unless
[1. W. Forbes, ii, 33, ed. 1730.]
vouched for by some trustworthy person. In the cases where the first meetings with the Devil are recorded, both systems are apparently in vogue. Occasionally, however, the accounts show a confusion on the part of the recorder. Thus Anne Chattox said that Mother Demdike introduced her to the Devil in Mother Demdike's own house, and that she there yielded her soul to him; and in another place she is reported as saying that 'a thing like a Christian man, for foure yeares togeather, did sundry, times come to this Examinate, and requested this Examinate to giue him her Soule: And in the end, this Examinate was contented to giue him her sayd Soule, shee being then in her owne house, in the Forrest of Pendle.' The two statements are not inconsistent if we conclude that in her own house she consented to join the society, and in Mother Demdike's presence she took the vows. As a rule the men seem to have joined at the direct invitation of the Devil himself, especially when they came of witch families.
3. The Renunciation and VowsThe renunciation of previous errors of faith and the vows of fidelity to the new belief are part of the ceremony of admission of any convert to a new religion. The renunciation by the witches was explicit, but the records are apt to pass it over in a few words, e.g. 'I denied my baptism,' 'I forsook God and Christ,' 'Ils renient Dieu, la Vierge, et le reste,' 'Vne renonciation expresse à Iesu-Christ & à la foy'; but occasionally the words are given in full. Mackenzie, quoting from Del Rio, gives the formula thus: 'I deny God Creator of Heaven and Earth, and I adhere to thee, and believe in thee.' The actual formula is still extant in the case of the priest Louis Gaufredy, tried before the Parliament of Aix in 1611:
'le Louys Gaufredy renonce à tous les biens tant spirituels que corporels qui me pourroyent estre conferez de la part de Dieu, de la vierge Marie & de tous les Saincts de Paradis, pareillement de mon patron S. Iean Baptiste, S. Pierre, S. Paul, & S. François, & de me donner de corps & d'ame à Lucifer
[1. Potts, B 4, D 3.
2. Mackenzie, p. 47, ed. 1699.]
icy present auec tous les biens que ie feray à iamais: excepté la valeur du Sacrement pour le regard de ceux qui le recevront: Et ainsi le signe et atteste.'
Jeannette d'Abadie, aged sixteen, said that she was made to 'renoncer & renier son Createur, la saincte Vierge, les Saincts, le Baptesme, pere, mere, parens, le ciel, la terre & tout ce qui est au monde'. The irrevocability of this renunciation was impressed upon the Swedish witches in a very dramatic manner: 'The Devil gave them a Purse, wherein there were shavings of Clocks with a Stone tied to it, which they threw into the water, and then were forced to speak these words: As these Shavings of the Clock do never return lo the Clock from which they are taken, so may my Soul never return to Heaven.'
The vows to the new God were as explicit as the renunciation of the old. Danaeus says, 'He commaundeth them to forswere God theyr creator and all his power, promising perpetually to obey and worship him, who there standeth in their presence.' The English witches merely took the vow of fealty and obedience, devoting themselves body and soul to him; sometimes only the soul, however, is mentioned: but the Scotch witches of both sexes laid one hand on the crown of the head, the other on the sole of the foot, and dedicated all that was between the two hands to the service of the Master. There is a slight variation of this ceremony at Dalkeith in 1661, where the Devil laid his hand upon Jonet Watson's head, 'and bad her "give all ower to him that was vnder his hand", and shoe did so'.
In Southern France the candidates, after renouncing their old faith, 'prennent Satan pour leur pere et protecteur, & la Diablesse pour leur mere'. At Lille the children called the ceremony the Dedication, showing that the same rite obtained there.
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 182.
2. Id. ib., p. 131.
3. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 322.
4. Danaeus, ch. ii, E 1.
5. Lord Fountainhall mentions a case where a pregnant woman excepted the unborn child, at which the devil was very angry. Decisions, i, p. 14.
6. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.
7. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
8. Bourinon, Vie, p. 214; Hale, p. 31.]
4. The CovenantThe signing of a covenant does not occur in every case and was probably a late introduction. Forbes, as quoted above, gives the contract between the Devil and his follower, with the part which each engages to perform. In Somerset the witches signed whether they could write or not, those who could not write putting a cross or circle as their mark.'
The free consent of the candidate is a point always insisted on, and by the confessions of the witches themselves the consent was often not merely freely but actually willingly given. Isobel Crawford of the Irvine Coven in 1618 was accused that the devil 'come to hir awin dur in similitud of ane blak man, and prommeist, gif sche wold be his servand, sche sould have geir aneuch, and sould not want. Quhairunto sche was ever reddy to accord.' Little Jonet Howat said that the Devil 'bade her renounce her God, and she answered, Marry, shall I.' In the dittay against Christian Grieve, it is stated that 'Sathan desired you to be his servant whilk ye willingly granted to be . . . And sicklike the minister posing you upon the foresaid particulars especially anent the renunciation of your Baptism, ye answered that Sathan speired at you if ye would do it and ye answered "I warrand did I."' Bessie Henderson and Janet Brugh, of the same Coven, acknowledged the same. To the former 'the Devil appeared and asked you gif you would be his servant whilk ye freely and instantly accepted and granted thereto'. Janet Brugh was rather more emphatic: 'Sathan desired you to be his servant whilk ye willingly promised to be and likeways desired you to renounce your baptism whilk ye willingly did.'
The written contract appealed very strongly to the legal minds of the judges and magistrates, and it is therefore often mentioned, but in Great Britain there is no record of the actual wording of any individual covenant; the Devil seems to have kept the parchment, paper, or book in his own custody. In France, however, such contracts occasionally fell into the
[1. Glanvil, ii, pp. 136,148.
2. Isobel Inch, p. 16.
3. Kinloch, p. 125. Spelling modernized.
4. Burns Begg, p. 239.
5. Id., pp. 223-4.
6. Id., p. 237.]
hands of the authorities; the earliest case being in 1453, when Guillaume Edeline, Prior of St. Germain-en-Laye, signed a compact with the Devil, which compact was afterwards found upon his person.' The witch Stevenote de Audebert, who was burnt in January 1619, showed de Lancre 'le pacte & conuention qu'elle auoit faict auec le Diable, escrite en sang de menstruës, & si horrible qu'on auoit horreur de la regarder'.
The contract was said to be signed always in the blood of the witch, and here we come to a confusion between the mark made on the person and the mark made by the person. It seems clear that part of the ceremony of initiation was the cutting of the skin of the candidate to the effusion of blood. This is the early rite, and it seems probable that when the written contract came into vogue the blood was found to be a convenient writing-fluid, or was offered to the Devil in the form of a signature. This signing of a book plays a great part in the New England trials.
The contract was usually for the term of the witch's life, but sometimes it was for a term of years, the number of which varies considerably. As Scot says, 'Sometimes their homage with their oth and bargaine is receiued for a certeine terme of yeares; sometimes for ever.' Popular belief assigns seven years as the length of time, at the end of which period the Devil was supposed to kill his votary. The tradition seems to be founded on fact, but there is also a certain amount of evidence that the witch was at liberty to discontinue or renew the contract at the end of the allotted term. Such a renewal seems also to have been made on the appointment of a new Chief. In France, England, and New England the term of years is mentioned; in Scotland it is mentioned by the legal authorities, but from the fact that it occurs seldom, if ever, in the trials it would seem that the contract of the Scotch witches was for life.
Magdalene de la Croix, Abbess of a religious house in Cordova in 1545, made a contract 'for the space of thirty years', she being then a girl of twelve. In Paris in 1571 'il
[1. Lea, iii, p. 536.
2. De Lancre, L'Incredulité, p. 38.
3. Reg. Scot, Bk. III, p. 41.
4. Pleasant Treatise, p. 88.]
y eut vn aduocat lequel confessa qu'il auoit passé l'obligation au Diable renonceant à Dieu, & icelle signee de son propre sang. Encores s'est it verifié par plusieurs procez, que l'obligation reciproque entre le diable, & le sorcier, contient quelquesfois le terme d'vn an, deux ans, ou autre temps." At Faversham in 1645 Joan Williford said 'that the Devil promised to be her servant about twenty yeeres, and that the time is now almost expired'. In Huntingdonshire in 1646 Elizabeth Weed of Great Catworth confessed that 'the Devill then offer'd her, that hee would doe what mischiefe she should require him; and said she must covenant with him that he must have her soule at the end of one and twenty years, which she granted'. In 1652 Giles Fenderlin of Leaven Heath was tried for that when he was a soldier at Bell in Flanders he made a five-years' covenant with a Jesuit; 'after the said five years was expired, in 1643 he renew'd the said Covenant with the Jesuit for 14 years longer: whereupon he drew a Covenant for him with the Devil, pricking the two fore-fingers of his right hand with an needle, and drew bloud, wherewith he writ his name with his own bloud, and then covenanted with the Devil, That if he should be safely protected during the space Of 14 years aforesaid, while such time as it expired, that then he was to take away, both body and soul as his own right and interest.' At Lille in 1661 Madame Bourignon's girls indicate the renewal of the contract: 'The Devil gives them a Mark, which Marks they renew as often as those Persons have any desire to quit him. The Devil reproves them then more severely and obligeth them to new Promises, making them also new Marks for assurance or pledge, that those Persons should continue faithful to him.', In Somerset in 1664 Elizabeth Style said that the Devil 'promised her Mony, and that she should live gallantly, and have the pleasure of the World for Twelve years, if she would with her Blood sign his Paper, which was to give her Soul to him'.' At Groton in New England in 1671, according to Elizabeth Knap, 'the terme of time agreed upon with him was for 7 yeers; one yeere shee
[1. Bodin, Fléau, p. 172.
2 Examination of Joan Williford, p. 4.
3. Davenport, p. 1.
4. Mrs. Joan Peterson, p. 4.
5. Bourignon, Vie, p. 223; Hale, p. 37.
6. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 136.]
was to be faithfull in his service, and then ye other six hee would serve her, and make her a witch'. At Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1673 Ann Armstrong 'deposeth that Ann Drydon had a lease for fifty yeares of the divill, whereof ten ar expired, Ann Forster had a lease of her life for 47 yeares, whereof seaven are yet to come. Lucy Thompson had a lease of two and forty, whereof two are yet to come, and, her lease being near out, they would have perswaded this informer to have taken a lease of three score yeares or upwards.' In New England some of the 'afflicted' said of Goodwife C. that 'she had Covenanted with the Devil for ten Years, six of them were gone, and four more to come'. In modern France the belief in the contract for a term of years is recorded, but nothing is said of the renewal of the contract or of the fate of the witch who refuses such a contract. In the department of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse the full method of entering on such a contract is known: 'Si vous voulez venir au bois avec moi, vous verrez un homme venir à vous. Cest le chef. Il vous demandera si vous voulez vous engager dans la société. Si vous acceptez, le terme d'engagement est de sept ans et vous gagnerez une plaquette par jour.' Among the Walloons the neophyte takes with him a black hen, which the Devil buys, and then ratifies the contract, 'le pacte est fait pour une durée de sept ans.'
5. The BaptismRecords of the baptism of candidates are rare, the rite being possibly copied from the Christian ceremony and therefore of later date. It does not seem to occur in England and hardly at all in Scotland. The earliest mention is in the Basses-Pyrénées (1609), where Jeannette d'Abadie stated 'qu'elle a veu souuent baptiser des enfans au sabbat, qu'elle nous expliqua estre des enfans des sorcieres & non autres, lesquelles ont accoutumé faire plustost baptiser leurs enfans au sabbat qu'en l'Eglise'. The rite, however, was practised in Bute in 1662: Margret NcLevine confessed--
[1. Green, p. 14.
2. Surtees Soc., xl, p. 196.
3. Increase Mather, p. 205.
4. Lemoine, La Tradition, vi (1892), p. 106.
5. Monseur, p. 84,
6. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 131.]
'that being in a litle chamber in Balichtarach the devill came to her in the lyknes of a man and deseired hir to goe with him, and that she refusing he said I will not [blank] and she gave him [blank] she never saw afterward and that she knew it was the devill and after he went that he came bak and asked hir to give him hir hand quhich she refusing to doe he took hir by the midle finger of the rycht hand quhich he had almost cutt off hir and therwith left hir. Her finger was so sorely pained for the space of a moneth ther after that ther was no pain comparable to it, as also took her by the right leg quhich was sorly pained likewayes as also be the devill. Item he came to her againe as she was shaking straw in the barne of Ardroscidell in a very ugly shape and that there he desired hir to goe with him and she refusing he said to her I will either have thy self or then thy heart. Item that he healed her sore foot and finger quhich finger is yet be nummed. Item that before he haled her that she made a covenant with him and promised to doe him any service that he wold imploy hir in. Item that he asked quhat was her name. She answered him Margret the name that God gave me, and he said to her I baptise the Jonet.'
Isobell NcNicoll 'confessed that as she was in her owne house her alone drawing acquavittie the devill came to her in the lyknes of a young man and desyred her to goe with him and confesses that she made a covenant with him quhairin he promised that she should not want meanes enough and she promised to be his servand. Item that he baptised her and gave her a new name and called her Caterine. Item that about a moneth therafter in the night as she went out of her own back dore she met with the devill and spok with him.'--Jonet McNicoll 'confesses with remorse that about hallowday as she was in Mary Moore's house that there appeared to her two men the on a gross copperfaced man and the other a wele favored young man and that the copperfaced man quhom she knew to be ane evil spirit bade her goe with him. Item confesses that she made a covenant with him, and he promised that she wold not want meines eneugh and she promised to serve him and that he gave her a new name saying I baptise the Mary.'--Jonet Morisoune
[1. Highland Papers, vol. iii, p. 6.
2. Ib., vol. iii, p. 12.
3. 1b., vol. iii, p. 13.]
'traysted with the divill at the Knockanrioch, being the second tyme of her meeting with him, that shee made covenant with the devill . . . quairin she promised to be his servant etc. that shee asked quhat was his name his answer was my name is Klareanough and he asked quhat was her name and she answered Jonet Morisoun, the name that God gave me, and he said belive not in Christ bot belive in me. I baptise the Margarat.' The Swedish witches (1669) were also baptized; 'they added, that he caused them to be baptized too by such Priests as he had there, and made them confirm their Baptism with dreadful Oaths and Imprecations.' Curiously enough the most detailed account comes from New England (1692). Mary Osgood, wife of Captain Osgood, went 'to five mile pond, where she was baptized by the devil, who dipped her face in the water, and made her renounce her former baptism, and told her she must be his, soul and body for ever, and that she must serve him, which she promised to do. She says, the renouncing her first baptism was after her dipping.' The account of Goody Lacey's experience is given in the form of question and answer:
'Q. Goody Lacey! how many years since they were baptized? A. Three or four years ago, I suppose. Q. Who baptized them? A. The old serpent. Q. How did he do it? A. He dipped their heads in the water, saying, that they were his and that he had power over them. Q. Where was this? A. At Fall's River. Q. How many were baptized that day? A. Some of the chief; I think they were six baptized. Q. Name them. A. I think they were of the higher powers.'
A near approach to the ceremony of baptism is the bloodrite at Auldearne, described by Isobel Gowdie and Janet Breadheid. The Devil marked Isobel on the shoulder, 'and suked owt my blood at that mark, and spowted it in his hand, and, sprinkling it on my head, said, "I baptise the, Janet, in my awin name."' The Devil marked Janet Breadheid in the same way on the shoulder, 'and suked out my
[1. Highland Papers, vol. iii, p. 22.
2. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 321.
3. Howell, vi, 660; J. Hutchinson, ii, p. 31.
4. J. Hutchinson, ii, p. 36.]
blood with his mowth, at that place; he spowted it in his hand, and sprinkled it on my head. He baptised me thairvith in his awin nam, "Christian."'
Though baptism is rare, the giving of a new name on admission is peculiar to Scotland. The names seem to have been usually nicknames derived from various sources; personal peculiarities such as 'Weill dancing Janet', or 'Able and stout'; contractions of the proper name, as 'Naip' for Barbara Napier; or a title such as 'Rob the Rowar', for Robert Grierson, who kept the rows or rolls. Most of the other names appear to have been ordinary Christian names arbitrarily bestowed. There is nothing to throw any light on the reason for the change. In 1590 at North Berwick the witch-name was considered of the highest importance.
'Robert Griersoune being namit, thay ran all hirdie-girdie and wer angrie; for it wes promesit, that he sould be callit "Rot the Comptroller alias Rob the Rowar" for expreming of his name.--Effie McCalzane, Robert Griersoune, and the said Barbara, hapnit to be nameit thair; quhilk offendit all the cumpany: And that they sould nocht haif bene nameit with thair awin names; Robert Griersoun, to haif bene callit Rob the rowar; Effie to be callit Cane; and the said Barbara, to be callit Naip.'
Later, the change of name was of so little value that at Crook of Devon several of the witches could not remember what they had been called; Bessie Henderson appears to have recollected the name after a time, for it is inserted towards the end of the confession; Robert Wilson could remember the Devil's name but not his own; Agnes Brugh and Christian Grieve could remember neither the Devil's nor their own.
The so-called 'christening', i. e. naming, of animals, comes rather under the head of 'sacrifice' than of baptism, for the ceremony appears to have been purificatory.
[1. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 603, 617.
2. Id., i, pt. ii, pp. 239, 246.
3. Burns Begg, x, pp. 224, 227, 232, 239.]
6. The MarkThe Witches' Mark, or Devil's Mark, as it is indifferently called, is one of the most important points in the indentification of a witch, as the infliction of it was often the final rite in the admission ceremonies. The fact that any person bore such a mark was taken as incontrovertible proof that the bearer was a witch.
There were two kinds of marks, which should be carefully differentiated, one of which was clearly natural, the other probably artificial. Both were said to be insensible to pain and not to bleed when pricked or pierced. Local anaesthesia is vouched for in much of the evidence, which suggests that there is a substratum of truth in the statements, but I can at present offer no solution of this problem.
The writers on witchcraft, particularly the legal authorities, recognize the value of the Mark as proof of witchcraft, and some differentiate between the two forms; the witches themselves made a distinction between the two, the natural being considered inferior to the artificial.
Reginald Scot in 1584 summarizes the evidence in a few words: 'The Diuell giveth to euerie nouice a marke, either with his teeth or with his clawes." The Lawes against Witches and Conivration, published 'by authority' in 1645, state that 'their said Familiar hath some big or little Teat upon their body, wher he sucketh them: and besides their sucking, the Devil leaveth other markes upon their bodies, sometimes like a Blew-spot, or Red-spot like a flea-biting'. Sir George Mackenzie, the famous Scotch lawyer, describing in 1699 what did and did not legally constitute a witch, says:
'The Devils Mark useth to be a great Article with us, but it is not per se found relevant, except it be confest by them, that they got that Mark with their own consent; quo casu, it is equivalent to a Paction. This Mark is given to them, as is alledg'd, by a Nip in any part of the Body, and it is blew. Delrio calls it Stigma, or Character, and alledges that it is sometimes like the impression of a Hare's foot, or the Foot of a Rat or Spider.'
[1. Scot, Bk. III, p. 43; see also Danaeus, ch. iii.
2. Mackenzie, title x, p. 48.]
Forbes, writing in 1730, says:
'On the meaner Proselytes the Devil fixes in some secret Part of their Bodies a Mark, as his Seal to know his own by; which is like a Flea Bite or blew Spot, or sometimes resembles a little Teat, and the Part so stamped doth ever after remain insensible, and doth not bleed, tho' never so much nipped or pricked by thrusting a Pin, Awl or Bodkin into it; but if the Covenanter be of better Rank, the Devil only draws Blood of the Party, or touches him or her in some Part of the Body without any visible Mark remaining.'
The Mark proper appears to have been the coloured spot or design which followed the infliction of a prick or nip by the claws or teeth of the Devil on the person of the neophyte. The red mark is described as being like a flea-bite, i. e. small and circular; the blue mark seems to have been larger and more elaborate, apparently in some kind of design. From the evidence five facts are clear: (1) that the mark was coloured, (2) that it was permanent, (3) that it was caused by the pricking or tearing of the skin, (4) that the operator passed his hand or fingers over the place, (5) that the pain could be severe and might last a considerable time. Put together in this way, the facts suggest tattooing.
Among the Aberdeen witches in 1597 Andro Man was accused that 'Christsunday [the Devil] bit a mark in the third finger of thy right hand, whilk thou has yet to show'; and Christen Mitchell also was accused that 'the Devil gave thee a nip on the back of thy right hand, for a mark that thou was one of his number'. According to Boguet, writing in 1398, the witches of Eastern France were usually marked on the left shoulder, and the mark was in the, shape of the foot or footprint of a hare, but he also gives some exceptional cases:
'L'epaule gauche est l'endroit, où plus ordinairement il marque les Sorciers. La marque des Sorciers est tantost come vne piste ou pied de lieure, & tantost d'autre façon. On en a veu vne, qui auoit vne figure rapportant en grandeur à vn petit denier, du centre de laquelle s'estendoient plusieurs filamens vers la circonference. La marque de la Belcuenotte, qui a esté brulée à Besançon, estoit au dessus de sa nature, vn
[1. Forbes, ii, p. 33.
2 Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 120, 165. Spelling modernized.]
peu plus bas que le nombril. Celle, dont Guillauma Proby d'Anchay se trouua marquée au col du costé droit, estoit de mesme de la grandeur d'vn petit denier, tirant sur le brun. Iean de Vaux auoit la sieñe an doz, & ressembloit à vn petit chien noir.'
De Lancre in 1609 says that in the Basses-Pyrénées 'comme le Diable faict sa marque, on sent vn peu de chaleur, qui penetre plus on moins profondement la chair, que plus ou moins il pince le lieu qu'il touche'. As regards the position of the mark he says:
'Il les egratigne tons auec le bras gauche, & les ongles de la main senestre. Et tout aussi tost prenant vne espingle d'or faux, il les marque le plus souuent dans le bla[n]c de 1'œil gauche, & leur imprime vne marque qui semble vn petit crapaud'] [elsewhere he says 'vne patte de crapaud']; 'par fois dans l'epaule & costé gauche, ou dans la cuisse, leur rompant & dechirant la peau & la chair iusques à effusio[n] de sang; si bien que pendant trois mois ils ont de tres grandes douleurs.'
Isobel Crawford of Irvine in 1618 had 'the devill's mark, quhilk was lyk ane braid dyn spott, in the inner syd of hir left thie, about ane handbraid under her lisk'. The Lancashire witch, Margaret Johnson, in 1633, 'saith, that such Witches as have sharpe bones given them by the devill to pricke them, have no papps nor duggs, but their devil receiveth blood from the place, pricked with the bone, which witches are more grand witches than any that have marks '. The Yarmouth witch, tried in 1644, saw a tall black man standing in the moonlight at her door: 'he told her, he must first see her Hand; and then taking out something like a Pen-knife, he gave it a little Scratch, so that Blood followed, and the Mark remained to that time." Rebecca Jones, an Essex witch tried in 1645, confessed that 'there came one morning one to the doore and knocked, and that this examinant going to the dore, shee saw there a very handsome young man, as shee then thought but now shee thinkes it was the devill; who asked this examinant how shee
[1. Boguet, pp. 315, 316, 317
2. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 195, 399.
3. Isobel Inch, p. 16.
4. Whitaker, p. 216.
5. Hale, p. 46.]
did, and desired to see her left wrist, which shee shewed unto him: and he then tooke a pin from this examinant's owne sleeve, and pricked her wrist twice, and there came out a drop of bloud, which he took off with the top of his finger, and so departed'. The child-witch, Jonet Howat of Forfar, tried in 1661, said that 'the devil kist hir and niped hir vpon one of hir shoulders, so as shoe hade great paine for some tyme therafter'; later he came to her, and 'calling hir his bony bird did kisse hir, and straiked her shoulder (quhich was niped) with his hand, and that presently after that shoe was eased of hir former paine'. Elspet Alexander, of the same Coven, was also marked on the shoulder; four weeks later 'the divill straiked hir shoulder with his fingers, and after that shoe hade ease in the place formerly niped by the devill'. The witch girls at Lille in 1661 stated that 'le Diable leur fait quelque marque comme avec une aleine de fer en quelque partie du corps'. Marie Lamont of Innerkip in 1662 confessed voluntarily that 'the devill nipit her upon the right syd, qlk was very painful for a tym, but yairefter he straikit it with his hand, and healed it; this she confesses to be his mark'. In Bute in 1662 'Margaret NcWilliarn was tryed for the merk there was 3 merks fund, one up her left leg, next hard be the shine bone, another betwixt her shoulders a 3° ane uthyr up her hensh, blew . . . Kat Moore was tried, and it was found undernethe her richt shoulder a little whyt unsensible spott'. The Somerset witches, in 1664, were marked on the fingers; it was stated of Elizabeth Style that the Devil 'prickt the fourth Finger of hir right hand, between the middle and upper joynt (where the sign at the Examination remained)'; of Alice Duke, that 'the Devil prickt the fourth finger of her right hand between the middle and upper joynt (where the mark is yet to be seen)'; and of Christian Green, that 'the Man in black prickt the fourth finger of her Right-hand between the middle and upper joints, where the sign yet remains'. At Paisley in 1678 Annabil Stuart confessed 'that the Devil took her by the Hand and nipped her Arm, which continued to be
[1. Howell, iv, 854-5.
2. Kinloch, pp. 124-6.
3. Bourignon, Vie, p. 223.
4. Sharpe, p. 132.
5. Highland Papers, iii, p. 17.
6. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 136, 148, 156.]
sore for half an hour'. At Borrowstowness the Devil took Margaret Pringle 'by the right hand, whereby it was for eight days grievowslie pained; bot having it twitched of new againe, it imediatelie becam haill'. Of the Renfrewshire Coven in 1696 little Thomas Lindsay received 'a Nip on the Neck which continued sore for Ten days'; and John Reid had, a Bite or Nipp in his Loyn, which he found painfull for a Fortnight'. At Pittenweem in 1704 the 'young lass', Isobel Adams, confessed that the Devil 'put his mark in her flesh which was very painful'.
The other form of the Devil's Mark was the 'little Teat'. It occurred on various parts of the body; was said to secrete milk and to give suck to the familiars, both human and animal; and was sometimes cut off by the witch before being searched. The descriptions of the 'teat' point to its being that natural phenomenon, the supernumerary nipple. Cases of polymastia or supernumerary breasts, and of polythelia or supernumerary nipples, are constantly recorded by modern medical observers. 'These accessory structures are usually situated on the chest wall, the upper part of the abdominal wall, or in the axillae, but they have been met with on the shoulder, the buttock, the thigh, and other extraordinary positions. As a rule they are functionless."' Polythelia occurs in both sexes; according to Bruce, 'Of 315 individuals taken indiscriminately and in succession, 7.619 per cent. presented supernumerary nipple; 9.11 per cent. of 207 men examined in succession presented supernumerary nipple; and 4.807 per cent. of 104 women.' He concludes that, 'according to present observations at least, supernumerary nipples occur much more frequently in the male than in the female.'; Cameron tabulates the positions of the supernumerary nipple in 105 cases: 196 were situated in thorax, 5 in axilla, 2 in back, 1 on shoulder, 1 outside of thigh.' All writers on the subject agree that the phenomenon is of more common occurrence than is usually supposed, but that many cases pass
[1. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 291.
2. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 200.
3. Narrative of the Sufferings, pp. xli, xliv.
4. Sinclair, p. 259.
5. Thompson and Miles, ii, p. 341.
6. Journal of Anatomy, xiii, pp. 436, 447.
7. Id., xiii, p. 153.]
unnoticed unless well marked when in men or causing discomfort by functioning when in women. This view is supported by the fact that, during the recent unparalleled opportunity for the physical examination of large numbers of men, many cases have been published in the British Medial Journal for 1917 as occurring among recruits for the army. The supernumerary nipple is usually very much smaller than the normal; like the normal, it is a modification of cutaneous tissue and is not attached to muscular tissue; its removal is a simple operation, in fact it would be quite possible for an unskilled operator to cut it off with a sharp knife. In women the supernumerary nipple is observed to increase at the time of the periods; in some cases during lactation so much milk is secreted as to make it a matter of indifference whether the child is suckled at the normal nipples or at the supernumerary one. In cases of polymastia the nipple is not always formed; the milk, when secreted, issuing from a small opening. Though the nipple is congenital, the supernumerary breast may develop, or at any rate become noticeable, later; the theory being that the ducts carrying the secretion from the supernumerary to the normal breast become blocked in some way, and that the milk is thus exuded through the pore in the supernumerary breast. The change in the case quoted by Cameron, as well as in the case of the witch Rose Cullender, seems to have been caused by a strain.
Making allowance for the unscientific language of the recorders of the witch trials, it will be seen that the descriptions of the 'witch-pap' or 'little Teat' exactly coincide with these anatomical facts. I give the evidence below, the trials being in chronological order. It will be observed that the cases are from England and New England only; if the phenomena of polymastia and polythelia occurred in France and Scotland, there are no records of the fact in the witch-trials of those countries.
Alice Gooderidge and her mother, Elizabeth Wright, of Stapenhill near Burton-on-Trent, were tried in 1597:
'The old woman they stript, and found behind tier right sholder a thing much like the vdder of an ewe that giueth sucke with two teates, like vnto two great wartes, the one behinde vnder her armehole, the other a hand off towardes the top of her shoulder. Being demanded how long she had those teates, she aunswered she was borne so. Then did they search Alice Gooderige, and found vpon her belly, a hole of the bignesse of two pence, fresh and bloudy, as though some great wart had beene cut off the place.'
The witch of Edmonton, tried in 1621
'The Bench commanded three women to search the body of Elizabeth Sawyer. They all three said, that they a little aboue the Fundiment of Elizabeth Sawyer found a thing like a Teate the bignesse of the little finger, and the length of half a finger, which was branched at the top like a teate, and seemed as though one had suckt it, and that the bottome thereof was blew, and the top of it was redde.'
The greatest number of cases recorded in one place is in Essex during the trials before Sir Matthew Hale in 1645:
Anne Leech said 'that her imps did usually suck those teats which were found about the privie parts of her body. [Two women searched Mary Greenleife], and found that the said Mary had bigges or teates in her secret parts, not like emerods, nor in those places where women use to be troubled with them. The examinant, being asked how she came by those teats which were discovered in her secret parts, she saith she knows not unlesse she was born with them: but she never knew she had any such untill this time. [A woman searched Margaret Moone], she found three long teates or bigges in her secret parts, which seemed to have been lately sucked; and that they were not like pyles, for this informant knows well what they are, having been troubled with them herself. Upon the searching of her daughters, this informant found that two of them had biggs in their privy parts as the said Margaret their mother had. [Several women] were required to search Sarah Hating, the wife of William Hating; Elizabeth Harvy widow, and Marian Hocket widow, and upon her said search (being a midwife) found such marks or bigges, that she never saw in other women: for Sarah Hating had foure teats or bigges in those parts, almost an inch long, and as bigge as this informant's little finger: That the said Elizabeth Harvy had three such biggs, and about the same canting: And that the said Marian Hocket had no such bigges; but was found. in the same parts not like other honest women. Sarah Barton, the sister of the said Marian Hocket (also suspected of being a witch) said the said Marian had cut
[1. Alse Gooderidge, pp. 8, 9.
2. Elizabeth Sawyer, B 3, obv. and rev.]
off her bigs, whereby she might have been suspected to have been a witch, and laid plaisters to those places." 'Another Evidence deposed that she once heard the said Margaret [Landish] say, that her Imps did usually suck two Teats near the privy parts.'
In Huntingdonshire in 1646 John Clarke junior, a labourer, was tried for witchcraft; John Browne, a tailor, deposed that he met Clarke on the road, Clarke 'said he was in haste; for his Father and Mother were accused for Witches, and that hee himselfe had beene searched: and this Informant answered, and so have I. Then Clarke asked this Informant, whether any thing were found about him, or not? he (this Informant) answered, that they said there were marks: Clarke said againe, had you no more wit but to have your marks found? I cut off mine three dayes before I was searched.' John Palmer of St. Albans (1649) confessed that I upon his compact with the Divel, hee received a flesh brand, or mark, upon his side, which gave suck to two familiars'. There were several cases in Yorkshire: In 1649 'they searched the body of the saide Mary Sikes, and founde upon the side of her seate a redd lumpe about the biggnes of a nutt, being wett, and that, when they wrung it with theire fingers, moisture came out of it like lee. And they founde upon her left side neare her arme a litle lumpe like a wart, and being puld out it stretcht about halfe an inch. And they further say that they never sawe the like upon anie other weomen.' In 1650 Frances Ward 'saith that she was one of the fower that searched Margaret Morton, and found upon her two black spotts between her thigh and her body; they were like a wart, but it was none. And the other was black on both sides, an inch bread, and blew in the middest.' At Scarborough in 1651.
'Margery Ffish, widdow, beinge commanded to searche the bodye of Anne Hunnam, otherwise Marchant, who was accused for witchcraft; she, this informante, and Elizabeth Jackson,
[1. Howell, iv, 838, 843, 848, 849, 850, 85 1.
2. Four Notorious Witches at Worcester, p. 4. The place is wrongly given: it should be Essex, not Worcester.
3. Davenport, p. 15.
4. Gerish, The Divel's Delusions, p. 12.
5. Surtees Soc., xl p. 30.
6. Id., xl, p. 38.]
and Eliz. Dale, did accordingly scarche the body of the saide Anne Hunnam, otherwise Marchant, and did finde a little blue spott upon her left side, into which spott this informant did thrust a pinne att which the sd. Ann Hunnam never moved or seemed to feel it, which spott grows, out of her ffleshe or skin at her waste of a great bignesse. Elizabeth Dale informeth upon oath, that she did, together with Margery Ffish, searche Ann Hunnam, otherwise Marchant, her bodye and saith that their was found on her left buttock a blue spott growing out of her fleshe or skin like a greate warte.'
The Kentish witch, Mary Read of Lenham, in 1652, I had a visible Teat, under her tongue, and did show it to many, and it was likewise seen by this Observator.' In the case of the Salisbury witch, Anne Bodenham, in 1652, 'Women searched the Witch in the Gaol, and they delivered on their oaths at the Assises, that they found on her shoulder a certain mark or Teat, about the length and bignesse of the Niple of a Womans breast, and hollow and soft as a Niple, with a hole on the top of it: And searching further, they likewise found in her secret place another Teat, soft, and like the former on her shoulder.' In Yorkshire again, in 1654, Katherine Earle was accused, 'and the said Katherine hathe beene searched, and a marke founde upon her in the likenesse of a papp'. At St. Albans, about 1660, there was a man-witch, who 'had like a Breast on his side'. In the same year at Kidderminster a widow, her two daughters, and a man were brought to trial; 'the man had five teats, the mother three, and the eldest daughter one. When they went to search the woman, none were visible; one advised to lay them on their backs, and keep open their mouths, and they would appear; and so they presently appeared in sight.' Alice Huson, of Burton Agnes, Yorks, in 1664, stated that 'I have, I confess, a Witch-pap, which is sucked by the Unclean Spirit'. Abre Grinset, of Dunwich, Suffolk, in 1665, said, 'The Devil did appear in the form of a Pretty handsom Young Man first, and since Appeareth to her in the form of a blackish Gray Cat or Kitling, that it sucketh of a Tett (which Searchers
[1. Country Folklore, ii, p. 139.
2. Prod. and Trag. Hist., p. 6.
3. Bower, p. 28.
4. Surtees Soc., xl, p. 69.
5. Gerish, Relation of Mary Hall, p. 24.
6. Howell, iv, 827 note.
7. Hale, p. 58.]
since saw in the place She mentioned).' In the same year, also in Suffolk, Rose Cullender was tried for witchcraft:
'The searchers [six women] began at her head, and so stript her naked, and in the lower part of her belly they found a thing like a teat of an inch long, they questioned her about it, and she said, that she had got a strain by carrying of water which caused that excrescence. But upon narrower search, they found in her privy parts three more excrescencies or teats, but smaller than the former: this deponent farther saith, that in the long teat at the end thereof there was a little hole, and it appeared unto them as if it had been lately sucked, and upon the straining of it there issued out white milky matter.'
Temperance Lloyd, a Devon witch, was tried in 1682: 'Upon search of her body this informant did find in her, secret parts, two teats hanging nigh together like unto a piece of flesh that a child had suckt. And each of the said teats was about an inch in length." Bridget Bishop, one of the New England witches, was tried in 1692: 'A jury of Women found a preternatural Teat upon her Body: But upon a second search, within 3 or 4 hours, there was no such thing to be seen.' Elizabeth Horner, another Devon witch, tried in 1696, I had something like a Nipple on her Shoulder, which the Children [who gave evidence] said was sucked by a Toad'. Widow Coman, an Essex witch, died a natural death in 1699: 'Upon her death I requested Becke the midwife to search her body in the presence of some sober women, which she did and assured me she never saw the like in her life that her fundament was open like a mouse-hole and that in it were two long bigges out of which being pressed issued blood that they were neither piles nor emrods for she knew both but excrescencies like to biggs with nipples which seemed as if they had been frequently sucked.', Elinor Shaw and Mary Phillips were executed in Northampton in 1704 for witchcraft: 'The Infernal Imps did Nightly Suck each of them a large Teat, or pieces of red Flesh in their Privy Parts.'
The positions of the marks are worth noting. Of the
[1. Petto, p. 18.
2. Howell, vi, 696.
3. Id., viii, 1022.
4. Mather, p. 137.
5. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 62.
6. Gilbert, p. 6.
7 Witches of Northamptonshire, p. 6.]
coloured mark it will be seen from the evidence given above that there were certain well-defined positions, which is in itself a strong suggestion of the artificial character of this mark. In France the usual position was the left shoulder; in the Basses-Pyrénées the left eye, the left side, and the thigh were also commonly marked; the variations given by Boguet are the abdomen, the back, and the right side of the neck. In England it seems that only the hand and wrist were marked; in Somerset the exact position was between the upper and middle joints of the fourth finger of the right hand, probably the 'ring-finger', but whether on the outer or inner surface is not recorded. In Scotland the position is very varied, the right hand, the right side, the shoulder, the back, the neck, and the loin; at Aberdeen the position on the right hand is still further defined as being on the back and on the third finger, i.e. the 'ring-finger'.
Reginald Scot does not distinguish between the two kinds of marks, when he says that if the witch 'have anie privie marke under hir arme pokes, under hir haire, under hir lip, or in her buttocke, or in her privities; it is a presumption sufficient for the judge to proceed to give sentence of death upon her'. But from the positions in which supernumerary nipples are known to occur, it would seem that he is speaking of the 'little Teat' and not of the coloured mark. In six out of the thirty-two cases of supernumerary nipple cited above, the number of nipples is not given; though from the context it would appear that more than one was often found on each of the accused. If, therefore, we allow two apiece for those cases not definitely specified, there were sixty-three such nipples, an average roughly of two to each person; the number varying, however, from one to five (this last being a man). The position of the nipple on the body is given in forty-five out of the sixty-three cases: abdomen 2, axilla 1, buttock 1, fundament 3, groin 2, pudenda 30, shoulder 3, side 3, under tongue 1. In writing of supernumerary nipples and mammae erraticae Williams quotes cases recorded by modern observers, in which the accessory organ occurred on the abdomen, axilla, inguinal region, outer side of thigh, shoulder, and face.'
[1. R. Scot, Bk. II, ch. 5.
2. Journal of Anatomy, xxv, 225 seq.]
IV. THE ASSEMBLIESTHERE were two kinds of assemblies; the one, known as the Sabbath, was the General Meeting of all the members of the religion; the other, to which I give-on the authority of Estebène de Cambrue--the name of Esbat, was only for the special and limited number who carried out the rites and practices of the cult, and was not for the general public.
The derivation of the word Sabbath in this connexion is quite unknown. It has clearly nothing to do with the number seven, and equally clearly it is not connected with the Jewish ceremonial. It is possibly a derivative of s'esbattre, 'to frolic'; a very suitable description of the joyous gaiety of the meetings.
1. SabbathLocomotion.-The method of going to the meetings varied according to the distance to be traversed. In an immense majority of cases the means of locomotion are not even mentioned, presumably therefore the witches went on foot, as would naturally be the case in going to the local meeting or Esbat, which was attended only by those who lived near. There are, however, a few instances where it was thought worth while to mention that the worshippers walked to the meeting. Boguet (1598), who yields to none in his accounts of magical means of going to the Sabbath, says, 'les Sorciers nea[n]tmoins vont quelquefois de pied au Sabbat, ce qui leur aduient principalement, lors que le lieu, où ils font leur assemblée, n'est pas guieres eslongné de leur habitation', and rites in confirmation the evidence of George and Antoinette Gandillon and their father Pierre, Clauda Ianprost, Clauda Ian-guillaume, Iaquema Paget, Gros Iaques, the two brothers Claude and Claude Charloz, Pierre Willermoz, l'Aranthon, Pernette Molard, Ianne Platet, and Clauda Paget. Iaquema Paget's account of how she and Antoine Tornier went to a
[1. Boguet, pp. 106-7.]
meeting on their way home. from the harvest field (see p. 121), proves that they were on foot. The Lang-Niddry witches (1608) clearly walked, they 'convenit thame selffis at Deanefute of Lang-Niddry . . . thaireffir thay past altogidder to the said Beigis hous in Lang-Nydry [where they drank]; and thaireftir come with all thair speid to Seaton-thorne be-north the zet; quhair the Devill. callit for the said Christiane Tod, and past to Robert Smartis house, and brocht hir out.... And thay thaireftir past altogidder, with the Devill, to the irne zet of Seatoun . . . And thaireftir come all bak agane to the Deane-fute, quhair first thai convenit.' The distance from Lang Niddry to Seaton Castle is under a mile. Isaac de Queyran (1609), a young fellow of twenty-five, told de Lancre that those living at a distance flew home through the air, the near ones returned on foot. Berthélemy Minguet of Brécy was tried in 1616: 'Enquis, de quelle façon sa femme fut au Sabbat la premiere fois. Respond, qu'elle y fut transportée par le Diable, lequel la rapporta apres le Sabbat, & que la seconde fois qu'elle y a esté, elle y fut de son pied avec luy, & s'en retourna de son pied, & qu'elle n'y a iamais esté que ces deux fois.' Helen Guthrie of Forfar (1661) said that 'herselfe, Isobell Shyrie, and Elspet Alexander, did meit togither at ane aile house near to Barrie, a litle befor sunsett, efter they bade stayed in the said house about the spaice of ane houre drinking of thrie pintis of ale togidder, they went foorth to the sandis, and ther thrie other women met them, and the divell wes there present with them all . . . and they parted so late that night that she could get no lodging, but wes forced to lye at ane dyk syde all night'. Christian Grieve, of Crook of Devon (1662), acknowledged I that ye came to the foresaid meeting immediately after your goodman and the rest went to bed, and that ye locked the door and put the key under the same, and that ye and the said Margaret Young your neighbor came foot for foot to the foresaid meeting and that ye stayed at the foresaid meeting about the space of two hours and came back again on your foot, and the foresaid Margaret Young
[1. Pitcairn, ii, pp. 542-3.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 148.
3. Id., L'Incredulité. P. 808.
4. Kinloch, pp. 122-3.]
with you, and found the key of the door in that same place where you left it, and declared that neither your husband nor any other in the house was waking at your return'. At Lille (1661) the girl Bellot, then aged fifteen, said that 'her Mother had taken her with her when she was very Young, and had even carried her in her Arms to the Witches Sabbaths or Assemblies'. At Strathdown (eighteenth century) the witches went along the side of the river Avon to Craic-pol-nain, fording the river on foot.
In the cases cited above there is nothing in the least bizarre or extraordinary, but there are other methods recorded of reaching the distant meetings. Sometimes the obvious means was by riding on a horse; sometimes the witches were accused, or claimed the power, of flying through the air, of riding in the air on a stick, of riding on animals or human beings, which latter were sometimes in their own natural form and sometimes enchanted into the form of animals.
The following instances are of those who rode to or from the meetings on horseback. Agnes Sampson of North Berwick (1590) said that the Devil in mans likeness met her going out in the fields from her own house at Keith, betwixt five and six at even, being her alone and commanded her to be at North-berwick Kirk the next night: And she passed there on horse-back, conveyed by her Good-son, called Iohn Couper'. Boguet (1608) mentions, in passing, the fact that the witches sometimes rode on horses. The Lancashire witches (1613), after the meeting at Malking Tower, 'went out of the said House in their owne shapes and likenesses. And they all, by that they were forth of the dores, gotten on Horseback, like vnto foals, some of one colour, some of another. This was the usual mode of locomotion among the Lancashire witches, for Margaret Johnson (1633) said that at the meeting at Hoarstones 'there was, at yt tyme, between 30 and 40 witches, who did all ride to the said meetinge'. Isobell Gowdie (1662) said, 'I haid a little horse, and wold say, " Horse
[1. Burns Begg, p. 239.
2. Bourignon, Vie, p. 211; Hale, p. 29.
3. Stewart, p. 174.
4. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 239. Spelling modernized.
5. Boguet, p. 104.
6. Potts, G4.
7. Whitaker, p. 216.]
and Hattock, in the Divellis name!" The most detailed account is from Sweden (1669):
'Another Boy confessed too, that one day he was carried away by his Mistriss, and to perform the journey he took his own Father's Horse out of the Meadow where it was, and upon his return she let the Horse go in her own ground. The next morning the Boys Father sought for his Horse, and not finding it, gave it over for lost; but the Boy told him the whole story, and so his Father fetcht the Horse back again.'
We now come to the marvellous and magical means of locomotion. The belief in the power of witches to ride in the air is very ancient and universal in Europe. They flew either unsupported, being carried by the Devil, or were supported on a stick; sometimes, however, an animal which they rode passed through the air. The flying was usually preceded by an anointing of the whole or part of the body with a magical ointment.
The earliest example of unsupported flying is from Paul Grilland (1537), who gives an account of an Italian witch in 1526, who flew in the air with the help of a magic ointment.
Reginald Scot (1584) says that the ointment 'whereby they ride in the aire' was made of the flesh of unbaptized children, and gives two recipes:
 'The fat of yoong children, and seeth it with water in a brasen vessell, reseruing the thickest of that which remaineth boiled in the bottome, which they laie up and keepe, untill occasion serueth to use it. They put hereunto Eleoselinum, Aconitum, Frondes populeas, and Soote.'  'Sium, acarum vulgare, pentaphyllon, the blood of a flitter mouse, solanum somniferum, and oleum. They stampe all these togither, and then they rubbe all parts of their bodys exceedinglie, till they looke red, and be verie hot, so as the pores may be opened, and their flesh soluble and loose. They ioine herewithall either fat, or oil in steed thereof, that the force of the ointment maie the rather pearse inwardly, and so be more effectuall. By this means in a moonlight night they seeme to be carried in the aire.'
[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 604.
2. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 320.
3. Bodin, Fléau, p. 178.
4. Scot, pp. 41, 184. Scot is as usual, extraordinarily in accurate in his statements. The correct formulae, as given by Wierus, will be found in Appendix V, with notes on the ingredients by Prof. A. J. Clark.]
So far this is only hearsay evidence, but there is also a certain amount of first-hand testimony, the witches declaring that they actually passed through the air above ground, or had seen others do so.
In 1598 'Thieuenne Paget racontoit, que le Diable s'apparut à elle la premiere fois en plein midy, en forme d'vn grand homme noir, & que comme elle se fut baillée à luy, il l'embrassa & l'esleva en I'air, & la transporta en la maison du prel de Longchamois . . . & puis ]a rapporta au lieu mesme, où il l'auoit prise. Antide Colas disoit, que le soir, que Satan s'apparut; à elle en forme d'vn homme de grande stature, ayant sa barbe & ses habillemens noirs, il la transporta au Sabbat, & qu'aux autres fois, il la venoit prendre dans son lict, & l'emportoit comme si c'eust esté vn vent froid, l'empoignant par la teste.'
Isaac de Queyran (1609), whose evidence has already been quoted, said that the witches living at a distance flew home through the air. In France (1652) 'lors qu'elle vouloit aller aux danses, elle se oindoit d'ung onguen qui lui estoit donné par vn sorcier envoyé par le diable. Que lors elle s'en alloit comme ung vent aux dictes danses avecque les aultres.' At Crook of Devon (1661) Bessie Henderson confessed 'that ye was taken out of your bed to that meeting in an flight'. The most detail comes from an English source: the Somerset witches (1664) claimed that they habitually flew through the air by means of a magical oil and magical words. Elizabeth Style said:
'Before they are carried to their meetings, they anoint their Foreheads, and Hand-wrists with an Oyl the Spirit brings them (which smells raw) and then they are carried in a very short time, using these words as they pass, Thout, tout a tout, tout, throughout and about. And when they go off from their Meetings, they say, Rentum, Tormentum . . . all are carried to their several homes in a short space.' Alice Duke gave the same testimony, noting besides that the oil was greenish in colour. Anne Bishop, the Officer of the Somerset covens, confessed that 'her Forehead being first anointed with
[1. Boguet, p. 96.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 148.
3. H. G. van Elven, La Tradition, 1891, p. 215. Unfortunately neither name nor place are given in the transcription.
4. Burns Begg, 223.]
a Feather dipt in Oyl, she hath been suddenly carried to the place of their meeting. . . . After all was ended, the Man in black vanished. The rest were oil a sudden conveighed to their homes.'
The belief that the witches actually rode in the air seated on some concrete object, such as an animal, a human being, or a stick, is both ancient and universal, and is reflected in the ecclesiastical and civil laws, of which the earliest is the decree of the ninth century, attributed to the Council of Ancyra. 'Certeine wicked women following sathans prouocations, being seduced by the illusion of diuels, beleeve and professe, that in the night times they ride abroad, with Diana, the goddesse of the Pagans, or else with Herodias, with an innumerable multitude, vpon certeine beasts . . . and doo whatsoeuer those fairies or ladies command.' The laws of Lorraine (1329-46) decree that 'celui qui fera magie, sortilège, billets de sort, pronostic d'oiseau ou se vanteroit d'avoir chevauché la nurt avec Diane ou telle autre vielle qui se dit magicienne, sera banni et payera dix livres tournois'.
The witches themselves confirmed the statements about riding on animals to the Sabbath. Rolande du Vernier (1598) confessed 'que lors qu'elle y fiat, elle y alla sur vn gros mouton noir, qui la portoit si viste en I'air, qu'elle ne se pouuoit recognoistre'. De Lancre says that the witches 'se font porter iusqu'audit lieu, sur vne beste, qui semble parfois vn cheual, & parfoys vn homme'. Margaret Johnson (1633) 'saith, if they desyre to be in any place upon a sodaine, theire devill or spirit will, upon a rodde, dogge, or any thinge els, presently convey them thither'. One of Madame Bourignon's girls, then aged twelve (1661), declared that 'her said Lover came upon a little Horse, and took her by the Hand, asking her if she would be his Mistress, and she saying Ay, she was catched up into the Air with him and the other Girls, and they
[1. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 139, 141, 148-9. 151.
2. Scot, Bk. iii, p. 66; Lea, iii, p. 493. I give Scot's translation as being more racily expressed.
3. J. Bournon, p. 19.
4. Boguet, p. 96.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
6. Whitaker, p. 216.]
flew all together to a great Castle'. The Swedish witches (1669) said:
'He set us on a Beast which he had there ready, and carried us over Churches and high walls . . . he gives us a horn with a Salve in it, wherewith we do anoint our selves; and then he gives us a Saddle, with a Hammer and a wooden nail, thereby to fix the Saddle; whereupon we call upon the Devil, and away we go . . . For their journey they said they made use of all sorts of Instruments, of Beasts, of Men, of Spits and Posts. What the manner of their journey is, God alone knows . . . Blockula is scituated in a delicate large Meadow whereof you can see no end. They went into a little Meadow distinct from the other, where the Beasts went that they used to ride on: But the Men whom they made use of in their journey, stood in the House by the Gate in a slumbering posture, sleeping against the wall.'
Human beings were also said to be ridden upon in other places besides Sweden. Agnes Spark of Forfar (1661) said she 'hard people ther present did speake of Isabell Shirie, and say that shoe was the devill's horse, and that the divill did allwayes ryde upon hir, and that shoe was shoad lyke ane mare, or ane horse'. Ann Armstrong, of a Northumbrian Coven (1673).
'saith, that since she gave information against severall persons who ridd her to severall places where they had conversation with the divell, she hath beene severall times lately ridden by Anne Driden and Anne Forster, and was last night ridden by them to the rideing house in the close on the common . . . Whilst she was lying in that condition [i.e. "a fitt"], which happened one night a little before Christmas, about the change of the moone, the informant see the said Anne Forster come with a bridle, and bridled her and ridd upon her crosse-leggd, till they come to (the) rest of her companions at Rideing millne bridg-end, where they usually mett. And when she light of her back, pulld the bridle of this informer's head, now in the likenesse of a horse; but, when the bridle was taken of, she stood up in her own shape . . . And when they had done, bridled this informer, and the rest of the horses, and rid home . . . Upon Collupp Munday last, being the tenth of February, the said persons met at Allensford, where this
[1. Bourignon, Vie, p, 214; Hale, p. 31.
2. Horneck, pt. ii, pp. 316, 317, 318, 319, 321.
3. Kinloch, p. 129.]
informant was ridden upon by an inchanted bridle by Michael Aynsley and Margaret his wife. Which inchanted. bridle, when they tooke it from her head, she stood upp in her owne proper person . . . On Monday last at night, she, being in her father's house, see one Jane Baites, of Corbridge, come In the forme of a gray catt with a bridle hanging on her foote, and breath'd upon her and struck her dead, and bridled her, and rid upon her in the name of the devill southward, but the name of the place she does not now remember. And the said Jane allighted and pulld the bridle of her head.'
The method of locomotion which has most impressed the popular imagination and has become proverbial was riding on a stick, generally said to be a broomstick. It must, however, be remembered that one of the earliest cases on record of stick-riding does not definitely state that the witch flew through the air. This was the case of the Lady Alice Kyteler in 1324, when 'in rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a Pipe of oyntment, wherewith she greased a stafte, upon the which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin, when and in what maner she listed'. Though Holinshed is not always a reliable authority, it is worth while to compare this account with the stick-riding of the Arab witches and the tree-riding of the Aberdeen Covens (see pp. 110, 134).
The number of cases vouched for by the persons who actually performed or saw the feat of riding on a stick through the air are disappointingly few. Guillaume Edeline, prior of St. Germain-en-Laye (1453), 'se mit en telle servitude de l'ennemy, qu'il luy convenoit estre en certain lieu toutes fois qu'il estoit par ledit ennemy évocqué: ouquel lieu ilz avoient accoustumé faire leur consistoire, et ne luy falloit que monter sur ung balay, qu'aussi-tost il estoit prestement transporté là où ledit consistoire se faisoit'. The Guernsey witch, Martin Tulouff (1563), confessed 'q il soy est trouvé avecq la dite viellesse ou elle chevaucha ung genest et luy ung aultre, et q ladte viellesse monta a mont la chemynee et q il en perdyt la veue et q elle disoet deva[n]t q monter "Va au nom du diable et luciffer dessq[n] roches et espyñes" q por luy il ne pouvoet
[1. Surtees Society, xl, pp. 191-2, 194, 197 Denham Tracts, ii, pp. 299-301, 304, 307.
2. Holinshed, Ireland, p. 58.
3. Chartier, iii, p. 45; Lea, iii, p. 536.]
ainsy faire, et dt q sa mere a chevauche le genest p IV ou V foys et q il l'a veue monter a mont la cheminee'. Danaeus (IS 75) sums up the evidence of the witches themselves: 'He promiseth that himself will conuay them thither, that are so weak that they cannot trauaile of themselues: which many tymes he doth by meanes of a staffe or rod, which he deliuereth vnto the[m], or promiseth to doo it by force of a certen oyntment, which he will geue them: and sometimes he offreth them an horse to ride vpon.' Boguet's experience (1598) is more dramatic than that of Danaeus: 'Les autres y vont, tantost sur vn Bouc, tantost sur vn cheual, & tantost sur vn ballet, ou ramasse, sortans ces derniers de leurs maisons le plus souuent par la cheminee . . . Les vns encor se frottent auparauant de certaine graisse, & oignement: les autres ne se frottent en aucune façon." He also records the actual evidence of individual witches: Françoise Secretain said 'qu'elle avoit esté vne infinité de fois au Sabbat & assemblee des Sorciers . . . & qu'elle y alloit sur vn baston blanc, qu'elle mettoit entre ses iambes.--Claudine Boban, ieune fille confessa, qu'elle, & sa mere montoient sur vne ramasse, & que sortans le contremont de la cheminée elles alloient par l'air en ceste façon au Sabbat.' In Belgium Claire Goessen (1603) confessed 'qu'elle s'est trouvée à diverses assemblées nocturnes tenues par lui, dans lesquelles elle s'est laissée transporter au moyen d'un bâton enduit d'onguent'. Isobel] Gowdie (1662) was fully reported, as regards the methods of locomotion used by the witches, though in other places her evidence is unfortunately cut short:
'I haid a little horse, and wold say, "Horse and Hattock, in the Divellis name!" And than ve vold flie away, quhair ve vold, be ewin as strawes wold flie wpon an hie-way. We will flie lyk strawes quhan we pleas; wild-strawes and corne-strawes wilbe horses to ws, an ve put thaim betwixt our foot, and say, "Horse and Hattok, in the Divellis name! " . . . Quhan
[1. From a trial in the Greffe, Guernsey.
2. Danaeus, ch. iv.
3. Boguet, p. 104.
4. Id., pp. 9, 104.
5. A marginal note against the word ramasse gives 'autrement balait, & en Lyonnois coiue'.
6. Boguet, pp. 9, 97, 104.
7. Cannaert, p. 49.]
we wold ryd, we tak windle-strawes, or been-stakes [beanstalks] and put them betwixt owr foot, and say thryse,
Horse and Hattok, horse and goe,
Horse and pellattis, ho! ho!
and immediatlie we flie away whair euir we wold . . . All the Coeven did fflie lyk cattis, bot Barbara Ronald, in Brightmanney, and I, still [always] read on an horse, quhich ve vold mak of a straw or beein-stalk.'
Julian Cox (1664) said that 'one evening she walkt out about a Mile from her own House, and there came riding towards her three persons upon three Broom-staves, born up about a yard and an half from the ground. Two of them she formerly knew, which was a Witch and a Wizzard . . . The third person she knew not. He came in the shape of a black Man.' Two of the New England witches (1692) confessed to riding on a pole; Mary Osgood, wife of Capt. Osgood of Andover,' was carried through the air to five-mile pond . . . she was transported back again through the air, in company with the forenamed persons, in the same manner as she went, and believes they were carried upon a pole'. Goody Foster's evidence was reported by two authors: 'One Foster confessed that the Devil carry'd them on a pole, to a Witch-meeting; but the pole broke, and she hanging about [Martha] Carrier's neck, they both fell down, and she then received an hurt by the Fall, whereof she was not at this very time recovered." The second account is substantially the same: 'In particular Goody F. said (Inter alia) that she with two others (one of whom acknowledged the same) Rode from Andover to the same Village Witch meeting upon a stick above ground, and that in the way the stick brake, and gave the said F. a fall: whereupon, said she, I got a fall and hurt of which I am still sore.'
Site.--The Sabbath seems to have been originally held on a fixed site. So much so was this the case that de Lancre is
[1. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 604, 608, 613.
2. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 194.
3. Howell, vi, 660; J. Hutchinson, Hist. of Massachusetts Bay, p. 31.
4. Cotton Mather, p. 158; Burr, p. 244. See also J. Hutchinson, ii, pp. 35-6.
5. Burr, p. 418.]
able to say, 'communement ils l'appellent Aquelarre, qui signifie Lane de Bouc, comme qui diroit la lane ou lãde, où le Bouc conuoque ses assemblees. Et de faict les Sorciers qui confessent, nomme[n]t le lieu pour la chose, & la chose ou Assemblee pour le lieu: tellement qu'encore que proprement Lane de Bouc, soit le Sabbat qui se tient és landes, si est-ce qu'ils appellent aussi bien Lane de Bouc, le Sabbat qui se tient és Eglises, & és places des villages, paroisses, maisons, & autres lieux.' The confusion of the original Lane de Bouc, i.e. the Sabbath or Great Assembly, with local meetings is thus shown to be due to the inaccuracy of the witches themselves; and therefore it is not surprising that de Lancre and other authors should also fail to distinguish between the two. Still, in many of the records there are certain indications by which it is possible to recognize the localities where the real Sabbath, the true Lane de Bouc, was held.
De Lancre himself notes that the Sabbath must be held near a lake, stream, or water of some kind. Bodin, however, gives a better clue, 'Les lieux des assemblees des Sorciers sont notables, & signalez de quelques arbres, ou croix.' The croix is clearly the Christian form of the standing stone which is a marked feature in many descriptions of the Sabbath; and Bodin's statement recalls one of the laws of Cnut in the eleventh century, 'We earnestly forbid every heathenism: heathenism is, that men worship idols; that is that they worship heathen gods, or stones, or forest trees of any kind.'
Estebène de Cambrue (1567) said, 'Le lieu de ceste grande conuocation s'appelle generalement par tout le pays la Lanne de Bouc. Où ils se mettent à dancer à l'entour d'vne pierre, qui est plantée audit lieu, sur laquelle est assis vn grand homme noir. At Poictiers in 1574 four witches, one woman and three men, said that they went 'trois fois l'an, à l'assemblee generale, où plusieurs Sorciers se trouuoye[n]t prés d'vne croix d'vn carrefour, qui seruoit d'enseigne'. At Aberdeen in 1596 the witches acknowledged that they danced round the market cross and the 'fische croce' on All-Hallow-eve; and also round
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 65.
2. Id. ib., p. 72.
3. Bodin, Fléau, p. 181.
4. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
5. Bodin, p. 187.]
'ane gray stane' at the foot of the hill at Craigleauch. Margaret Johnson (1633) said 'shee was not at the greate meetinge at Hoarestones at the Forest of Pendle upon All Saints day'. Though no stone is actually mentioned the name suggests that there had been, or still were, one or more stones standing in that place. The Swedish witches (1669) seem to have used the same site for both kinds of meetings; Blockula seems to have been a building of some kind, set in a meadow which was entered by a painted gate; within the building were rooms and some kind of chapel for the religious service. The New England recorders (1692) did not enter into much detail, but even among them the fact is mentioned that there was I a General Meeting of the Witches, in a Field at Salem-Village'.
In modern times the identification of stones or of certain places with the Devil or with witch meetings is very noticeable. Out of innumerable instances I will mention only a few. In Guernsey the Catioroc is always identified as the site of the Sabbath. In Belgium 'à Godarville (Hainaut) se trouve un tunnel hanté par les sorcières; elles y tiennent leur sabbat'.
'Un bloc de pierre isolé et d'aspect extraordinaire est généralement appelé pierre du diable. Exemples: A) le dolmen détruit près de Namur; B) la grande pierre en forme de table à demi encastrée dans la route qui conduit du village de Sény à celui d'Ellemelle (Candroz); C) le fais du diable, bloc de grès d'environ 800 mètres cubes, isolé dans la bruyère entre Wanne et Grand-Halleux près de Stavelot; D) les murs du diable à Pepinster, &c.--Dans plusieurs cantons, il y a un terrain que l'on appèle tchan dè makral "champ des sorciers". C'est le cas près de Remouchamps, près de Tongres, près de la Gileppe et près de Grand-Halleux.'
[1. Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 97-8, 114, 149, 153, 165, 167.
2. Whitaker, p. 216; Baines, i, p. 607 note, where the name is given as Hartford. The importance of the stone in the Sabbath ceremonies is very marked in the account of a meeting in Northumberland (1673). Ann Armstrong declared that 'she and the rest had drawne their compasse nigh to a bridg end, and the devil placed a stone in the middle of the compasse, they sett themselves downe, and bending towards the stone, repeated the Lord's prayer backwards'. Denham Tracts, ii, p. 307; Surtees Soc., xl, p. 197.
3. Horneck, pt. ii, pp. 321, 324.
4. Mather, p. 131.
5. Harou, La Tradition, vi (1892), p. 367.
6. Monseur, pp. 2, 88.]
It is also noticeable how many of our own stone circles, such as the Nine Maidens, the Dancing Maidens, and so on, are connected by tradition with women who danced there on the Sabbath.
Date.--It appears from the evidence that certain changes took place in course of time in the religion; and, as might be expected, this is shown very markedly in the festivals. The ancient festivals remained all through, and to them were added the festivals of the succeeding religions. The original celebrations belonged to the May-November year, a division of time which follows neither the solstices nor the agricultural seasons; I have shown below (pp. 130, 178) that there is reason to believe these festivals were connected with the breeding seasons of the flocks and herds.. The chief festivals were: in the spring, May Eve (April 30), called Roodmas or Rood Day in Britain and Walpurgis-Nacht in Germany; in the autumn, November Eve (October 31), called in Britain All hallow Eve. Between these two came: in the winter, Candlemas (February 2); and in the summer, the Gule of August (August 1), called Lammas in Britain. To these were added the festivals of the solstitial invaders, Beltane at midsummer and Yule at midwinter; the movable festival of Easter was also added, but the equinoxes were never observed in Britain. On the advent of Christianity the names of the festivals were changed, and the date of one--Roodmas--was slightly altered so as to fall on May 3; otherwise the dates were observed as before, but with ceremonies of the new religion. Therefore Boguet is justified in saying that the witches kept all the Christian festivals. But the Great Assemblies were always held on the four original days, and it is this fact which makes it possible to distinguish with certainty between the Sabbath and the Esbat whenever dates are mentioned.
De Lancre, generalizing from the evidence before him, says, 'Quelquefois il y a des Sabbats & assemblees generales qui se font ordinairement les quatre festes annuelles'; and he also gives the words of a witch, tried in 1567: 'Estebène de Cambrue dit que les Sorcieres n'alloient en la grande assemblee & au grand Sabbat que quatre fois l'année.' The four actual
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 64.
2. Id. ib., p. 123.]
days are given in only one trial, that of Issobell Smyth at Forfar in 1661, 'By these meitings shee mett with him every quarter at Candlemas, Rud-day, Lambemas, and Hallomas', but it is very clear that these were the regular days, from the mention of them individually in both England and Scotland. At North Berwick 'Barbara Napier was accused of being present at the convention on Lammas Eve at the New haven' [three Covens, i. e., thirty-nine persons, were assembled]. 'And the said Barbara was accused that she gave her bodily presence upon All Hallow even last was, 1590 years, to the frequent convention holden at the Kirk of North-Berwick, where she danced endlong the Kirk-yard, and Gelie Duncan played on a trump, John Fian, missellit, led the ring; Agnes Sampson and her daughters and all the rest following the said Barbara, to the number of seven score persons.' The dittays against the witches of Aberdeen in 1596 show that 'wpoun Hallowewin last bypast, att tuelff houris at ewin or thairby, thow the said Thomas Leyis . . . withe ane gryit number of vtheris witchis, come to the mercatt and fische croce of Aberdene, wnder the conduct and gyding of the Dewill present withe you, all in company, playing befoir yow on his kynd of instrumentis. Ye all dansit about baythe the saidis croces, and the meill mercatt, ane lang space of tyme.' Christen Michell and Bessie Thom had been not only at the Allhallow Eve meeting with Thomas Leyis but also at another before that. 'Thow confessis that, thrie yeris sensyn, vpon the Ruidday, airlie in the morning,' [Bessie Thom: 'befoir sone rysing'] 'thow, accumpaniet with . . . certan vtheris witchis, thy devilische adherentis, convenit vpon Sainct Katherines Hill . . . and thair, vnder the conduct of Sathan, present with yow, playing befoir yow, efter his forme, ye all dansit a devilische danse, rydand on treis, be a lang space.' In 1597 Issobell Richie, Margrat Og, Helene Rogie, Jonet Lucas, Jonet Dauidsone, Issobell Oige, and Beatrice Robbie were accused of a meeting at Craigleauche, near Aberdeen: 'Thow
[1. Kinloch, p. 133.
2 Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 245. Spelling modernized.
3. Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 97-8.
4. lb., i, Christen Michell, p. 165; Bessie Thom, p. 167.]
art indyttit for the being at the twa devylische dances betuixt Lumfannand and Cragleauche, with vmquhile Margerat Bane, vpon Alhalowewin last, quhair thow conferrit with the Dewill. In Ayrshire in 1604 Patrik Lowrie and his companion-witches were accused that they 'att Hallowevin in the yeir of God foirsaid, assemblit thame selffis vpon Lowdon-hill, quhair thair appeirit to thame ane devillische Spreit'. Margaret Johnson, of the second generation of Lancashire witches, in 1633 said 'shee was not at the greate meetinge at Hartford in the Forrest of Pendle on All Saintes day'. Isobel Gowdie (Auldearne, 1662) does not enter into her usual detail, but merely states that 'a Grand Meitting vold be about the end of ilk Quarter'.
Of the festivals belonging to later religions several mentions are made. De Lancre, when giving a general account of the ceremonies, says that the witches of the Basses-Pyrénées went to their assemblies at Easter and other solemn festivals, and that their chief night was that of St. John the Baptist. Jane Bosdeau, from the Puy-de-Dôme district (1594), bears this out, for she went to a meeting with the Devil 'at Midnight on the Eve of St. John'. Antide Colas (1598) 'auoit esté au Sabbat à vn chacun bon iour de I'an, comme à Noel, à Pasques, à la feste de Dieu '. Both generations of Lancashire witches (1613 and 1633) kept Good Friday. Jonet Watson of Dalkeith (1661) was at a meeting 'about the tyme of the last Baille-ffyre night'. The Crook of Devon witches (1662) met on St. Andrew's Day, at Yule. In Connecticut (1662) the 'high frolic' was to be held at Christmas.
Hour.--The actual hour at which the Sabbath was held is specified in very few cases; it appears to have been a
[1. Ib., i, Issobell Richie, p. 142; Margrat Og, p. 144; Helene Rogie, p. 147; Jonet Lucas, p. 149; Jonet Dauidsone, p. 150; Issobell Oige, p. 152; Beatrice Robbie, p. 153.
2. Pitcairn, ii, p. 478.
3. Baines, i, p. 607 note.
4. Pitcairn, iii, p. 606.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 398.
6. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 42.
7. Boguet, p. 125.
8. Chetham Society, vi, p. lxxiii; Whitaker, p. 216.
9. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.
10. Burns Begg, pp. 219, 226, 237.
11. J. Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts Bay. ii, p. 17; Taylor, p.98.]
nocturnal assembly, beginning about midnight and lasting till early dawn or cockcrow. 'Le coq s'oyt par fois és sabbats sonnãt la retraicte aux Sorciers."
In the Vosges in 1408 the meeting was held 'en la minuit et la deuxieme heure'. In Lorraine in 1589 'Johannes a Villa und Agathina des Schneiders Francisci Weib, sagt, eine oder zwey Stunde vor Mitternacht were die bequemste Zeit darzu'. At North Berwick, in 1590, Agnes Sampson arrived at the appointed place 'about eleven hours at even'. The Aberdeen witches in 1,597 held their dance 'wpon Hallowewin last bypast, at tuelff houris at ewin or thairby' (or more particularly) 'betuixt tuelff & ane houris at nycht'. In 1598 the Lyons witch Françoise Secretain 'adioustoit qu'elle alloit tousiours au Sabbat enuiron la minuit, & beaucoup d'autres sorciers, que i'ay eu en main, ont dit le mesme'. Antide Colas, another Lyonnaise, went to the meeting on Christmas Eve between the midnight mass and the mass at dawn.'
The only daylight meeting which can be identified as a Sabbath occurred at Aberdeen, and may have been peculiar either to the locality or to the May-Day festival; or it may have been simply the continuation of the festival till the sun rose. Christen Mitchell and Bessie Thom were each accused that 'vpon the Ruidday, thrie yeris sensyn bygane, airlie in the morning, befoir sone rysing, thow convenit vpon Sanct Katherines Hill, accumpaniet with a numer of thy devilische factioun and band, the Devill your maister in cumpanie with yow'.
2. The EsbatBusiness.--The Esbat differed from the Sabbath by being primarily, for business, whereas the Sabbath was purely religious. In both, feasting and dancing brought the proceedings to a close. The business carried on at the Esbat was usually the practice of magic for the benefit of a client or for the harming of an enemy. Sometimes the Devil appears to
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 154.
2. Bournon, p. 23.
3. Remigius, pt. i, p. 72.
4. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 239.
5. Spalding Club i. pp. 97, 114, 165, 167.
6. Boguet, pp. 119, 125.
7. Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 165, 167.]
have ordered his followers to perform some action by which to impress the imagination of those who believed in his power though they did not worship him. Very often also the Esbat was for sheer enjoyment only, without any ulterior object, as the following quotations show:
Estebène de Cambrue (1567), who is the authority for the name Esbat as applied to local meetings, says that 'les petites assemblées qui se font pres des villes ou parroisses, où il n'y va que ceux du lieu, ils les appellent les esbats: & se font ores en vn lieu de ladicte paroisse, ores en vn autre, où on ne faict que sauter & folastrer, le Diable ny estant auec tout son grand arroy comme aux grandes assemblees'. Alesoun Peirsoun (1588) was taken by a party of men and women, under the leadership of a man in green, 'fordir nor scho could tell; and saw with thame pypeing and mirrynes and gude scheir, and wes careit to Lowtheane, and saw wyne punchounis with tassis with them '. Jonet Barker (1643) said that 'scho and ye said Margaret Lauder being wthin ye said Jonet Cranstones house tua pyntis of beir war drukkin be thame thre togidder in ye said house at quhilk ye devill appeirit to thame in ye liknes of ane tryme gentill man and drank wt thame all thre and that he Imbracet the said margaret lauder in his armes at ye drinking of ye beir and put his arme about hir waist'. Isobel Bairdie (1649) was accused of meeting the Devil and drinking with him, 'the devil drank to her, and she pledging him, drank back again to him, and he pledged her, saying, Grammercie, you are very welcome. Janet Brown (1649) 'was charged with having held a meeting with the Devil appearing as a man, at the back of Broomhills, who was at a wanton Play with Isobel Gairdner the elder, and Janet Thomson'. In Forfar Helen Guthrie (1661) confessed that she went to several meetings; at one in the churchyard 'they daunced togither, and the ground under them wes all fyre flauchter, and Andrew Watson hade his vsuale staff in his hand, altho he be a blind man yet he daunced alse nimblie as any of the companye, and made also
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
2 Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p.163.
3. From the record in the Justiciary Court of Edinburgh.
4. Arnot, p. 358.
5. Id., p. 358.]
great miriement by singing his old ballads, and that Isobell Shyrrie did sing her song called Tinkletum Tankletum; and that the divill kist every one of the women'. At another meeting 'they all daunced togither a whyle, and then went to Mary Rynd's house and sat doune together at the table . . . and made them selfes mirrie; and the divell made much of them all, but especiallie of Mary Rynd, and he kist them all'. Elspet Bruce of the same Coven, 'by turning the sive and sheires, reased the divell, who being werry hard to be laid againe, ther wes a meiting of witches for laying of him . . . and at this meiting they had pipe-music and dauncing'. Isobell Gowdie (1662) gives an account of one of these joyous assemblies: 'We killed an ox, in Burgie, abowt the dawing of the day, and we browght the ox with ws hom to Aulderne, and did eat all amongst ws, in an hows in Aulderne, and feasted on it.' Marie Lamont (1662) also enjoyed her meetings; the first at which she was present was held in Kettie Scott's house, where the devil 'sung to them, and they dancit; he gave them wyn to drink, and wheat bread to eat, and they warr all very mirrie. She confesses, at that meiting the said Kettie Scott made her first acquaintance with the devill, and caused her to drink to him, and shak hands with him.--Shee was with Katie Scot and others at a meitting at Kempoch, wher they danced, and the devil kissed them when they went away.' Annaple Thomson and the other witches of Borrowstowness (1679)--
'wis at several mettings with the devill in the linkes of Borrowstonenes, and in the howsse of you Bessie Vickar, and ye did eatt and drink with the devill, and with on another, and with witches in hir howss in the night tyme; and the devill and the said Wm Craw browght the ale which ye drank, extending to about sevin gallons, from the howss of Elizabeth Hamilton; and yow the said Annaple had ane other metting abowt fyve wekes ago, when yow wis goeing to the coalhill of Grange, and he inveitted you to go alongst, and drink with him . . . And yow the said Margret Hamilton has bein the devill's servant these eight or nyne yeeres bygane; and he appered and conversed with yow at the town-well at Borrowstownes, and several tymes in yowr awin howss, and drank severall. choppens of ale with you."
[1. Kinloch, pp. 120, 121.
2. Id., p. 122.
3. Pitcairn, iii, p. 613.
4. Sharpe, pp. 131, 134.
5. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 200.]
The magical ceremonies performed by the witches with, the help of the Devil were usually for the destruction of, or for doing harm to, an enemy. Sometimes, however, the spells were originally for the promotion of fertility, but were misunderstood by the recorders and probably by the witches themselves. Alexia Violaea (1589) said that 'nachdem sie were mit ihren Gespielen umb und umb gelauffen eine ziemliche gut Weile, habe sie pflegen in die Höhe über sich zu werffen ein reines subtiles Pulverlein, welches ihr der Teuffel darzu gegeben habe, darvon Raupen, Käffern, Heuschrecken, und dergleichen andere Beschädigung mehr, so Hauffenweise wüchsen, dass die Acker darmit in einem Augenblick überall beschmeist würden'. Isobel Gowdie's magical charm (1662) to come under this category:
We went be-east Kinlosse, and ther we yoaked an plewghe of paddokis. The Devill held the plewgh, and Johne Yownge in Mebestowne, our Officer, did drywe the plewghe. Paddokis did draw the plewgh, as oxen; qwickens wer sowmes, a riglen's horne wes a cowter, and an piece of an riglen's horne wes an sok. We went two seuerall tymes abowt; and all we of the Coven went still wp and downe with the plewghe, prayeing to the Divell for the fruit of that land.'
The greater number of meetings were occupied with business of a magical character with the intention of harming certain specified persons; though any other kind of business was also transacted. The North Berwick witches opened the graves which the Devil indicated in order to obtain the means of making charms with dead men's bones; on another occasion they attempted to wreck a ship by magic. The Lang Niddry witches (1608) went to the house of Beigis Tod, where they drank, and there christened a cat. The Lancashire witches (1613) met at Malking Tower for two purposes; the first was to give a name to the familiar of Alison Device, which could not be done as she was not present, being then in prison; the second was to arrange a scheme or plot for the release of Mother Demdike, the principal witch of the community, then a prisoner in Lancaster Castle; the plot involved
[1. Remigius, pt. i, p. 91.
2. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603; see below, p. 171.
3. Id. pt. ii, pp. 210-11, 217, 239.
4. Id., ii, pp. 542-3.]
the killing of the gaoler and governor, and the blowing up of the castle. In 1630 Alexander Hamilton was tried in Edinburgh,
'the said Alexr Hamiltoun haifing concaivet ane deidlie haitrent agains umqle Elizabeth Lausone Lady Ormestoun younger becaus the said Alexr being at her zet asking for almous she choisit him therfra saying to him "away custroun carle ye will get nothing heir". The said Alexr therupon in revenge therof accompaneit wt tua wemen mentionet in his depostiones come to Saltoun woid quhair he raisit the devill and quha appeirit to him and his associattis in the likenes of ane man cled in gray and the said Alexr and his associattis haifing schawin to him the caus of thair coming desyring him to schaw to thame be quhat meanes thay micht be revendget upon the said Lady."
Margaret Johnson (1633) deposed that 'She was not at the great witch-meeting on All Saints' Day, but was at a smaller meeting the Sunday after, 'where there was, at yt tyme, between 30 and 40 witches, who did all ride to the said meetinge, and the end of theire said meeting was to consult for the killinge and hurtinge of men and beasts.' The Forfar witches (1661) claimed to have wrecked a ship. Isobel Gowdie (1662) is as usual very dramatic in her account; on one occasion the witches met to make a charm against the minister of Auldearne, Mr. Harie Forbes: 'Satan wes with ws and learned ws the wordis to say thryse ower. Quhan we haid learned all thes wordis from the Divell, we fell all down wpon owr kneis, with owr hear down ower owr showlderis and eyes, and owr handis lifted wp, and owr eyes stedfastlie fixed wpon the Divell; and said the forsaidis wordis thryse ower to the Divell, striktlie, against Maister Harie Forbes his recowering from the said seiknes.' When making an image only a few of the witches were present with the Devil. Marie Lamont (1662) claimed that her Coven raised storms on two occasions; and on a third, they in the likeness of 'kats', and the Devil as a man with cloven feet, made a charm with 'wyt
[1. Potts, C3, G3, 12, 13.
2. From the trial of 'Alexr Hamiltoun, warlok', in the Justiciary Court, Edinburgh.
3. Whitaker, p. 216.
4. Kinloch, p. 122.
5. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 609, 613.]
sand' against Blackhall younger and Mr. John Hamilton. Amongst the most detailed accounts of the wax or clay images, and of the ritual for killing the person whom the image represented, are those of the Somerset witches (1664). The baptism of the figure is an interesting point. The Paisley witches (1678) had a meeting to make a clay figure in order to kill an enemy of the witch in whose house the meeting was held. At Borrowstowness part of the accusation was that ( ye and ilk ane of vow was at ane metting with the devill and other witches at the croce of Murestane, upon the threttein of October last, where you all danced and the devill acted the pyiper, and where yow indewored to have destroyed Andrew Mitchell'. In New England the witches accused George Burroughs 'that he brought Poppets to them, and Thorns to stick into those Poppets'.
At the Esbats it is also evident that the Devil wished to maintain an appearance of miraculous power not only before the world at large, but in the eyes of the witches as well. This will account for the meetings on the sea-shore in raging storms when vessels were liable to be wrecked, and there are also many indications that the destruction of an enemy was effected by means more certain than the making and pricking of a wax or clay figure, means which were used after the figure had been made. Some of the methods of maintaining this prestige are of the simplest, others are noted without any explanation: 'Satan faict en ce lieu [le Sabbat] tant de choses estrãges & nouuelles que leur simplicité & abus prend cela pour quelques miracles.' At Forfar (1661) the means of obtaining the result are apparent; during a great storm the Devil and the witches destroyed the bridge of Cortaquhie, and the destruction was so arranged as to appear to have been effected by magical power; but Helen Guthrie confessed that 'they went to the bridge of Cortaquhie with intentione to pull it doune, and that for this end shee her selfe, Jonnet Stout, and others of them, did thrust ther shoulderis againest the bridge, and that the divelt wes bussie among them acting
[1. Sharpe, pp. 132-4.
2. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 137-8, 164.
3. Id., pt. ii, p. 294.
4. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 201.
5. Mather, p. 125.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 135.]
his pairt'. Issobell Smyth, who also assisted on the occasion, said, 'Wee all rewed that meitting, for wee hurt our selves lifting.' Still more simple was the method of destroying the harvest of a field at Crook of Devon, where Bessie Henderson 'confessed and declared that Janet Paton was with you at ane meeting when they trampit down Thos. White's rie in the beginning of harvest, 1661, and that she had broad soales and trampit down more nor any of the rest'. The Devil of Mohra in Sweden cared only to impress his followers; when the wall which they were building fell down 'some of the Witches are commonly hurt, which makes him laugh, but presently he cures them again'.
Site.--In some places the Esbat was held at a fixed site, in others the site varied from week to week. In both cases, the locality was always in the near neighbourhood of the village whose inhabitants attended the meeting.
'Pour le lieu ordinaire c'est és carrefours, com[m]e disoit Isaac de Queyran, qui deposoit y auoir esté au carrefour du Palays Galienne, près la ville de Bourdeaux; ou aux places des paroisses au deuant des Eglises, & le plus souuent au droict de la grand' porte, si l'Eglise est plantée au milieu de la place comme elle est souuent, afin que le Diable plante sa chaire tout vis à vis du grand autel où on met le Sainct sacrement: comme il est en la place d'Ascain, où tous les tesmoins du lieu, nous ont dict que le Sabbat se faisoit. Il a aussi accoustumé les tenir en quelque lieu desert, & sauuage, comme au milieu d'vne lande; & encore en lieu du tout hors de passage, de voisinage, d'habitation, & de rencontre: Et communement ils s'appellent Aquelarre qui signifie Lane de Bouc, comme qui diroit la lane ou lãde, où le Bouc conuoque ses assemblées.'
Danaeus emphasizes the variation of both site and date: 'They meete togither in certen apointed places, not al of them togither, nor at once, but certen of them whom he pleaseth to call, so that he apointeth where they shall meete, and at what houre of the day, or of the nighte.' The Windsor
[1. Kinloch, pp. 122, 133.
2. Burns Begg, p. 224.
3. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 323.
4. The full name is Aquelarre de verros, prado del Cabron.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 64-5.
5. Danaeus, ch. iv.]
witches, however, 'did accustome to meete within the backeside of Maister Dodges in the Pittes there'. Boguet's evidence also points to there being a settled site for the Esbat in each village:
'Les Sorciers du costé de Longchamois s'assembloient en vn pré, qui est sur le grand chemin tirant à S. Claude, où l'on voit les ruines d'vne maison. Ceux du costé de Coirieres tenoient leur Sabbat, sous le village de Coirieres proche l'eau, en vn lieu appellé és Combes, qui est du tout sans chemin. [Autres] se retrouuoient en vn lieu dict és Fontenelles, sous le village de Nezan, qui est vn lieu assez descouuert . . . le Sabbat des Sorciers de la Moüille se tenoit en la Cour du Prioré du mesme lieu.'
Jane Bosdeau (1594) went twice a week regularly to 'a Rendezvous of above Sixty Witches at Puy de dome'. And the Swedish witches went so uniformly to one place that there was a special building for their rites:
'They unanimously confessed that Blockula is scituated in a delicate large Meadow whereof you can see no end. The place or house they met at, had before it a Gate painted with divers colours; through this Gate they went into a little Meadow distinct from the other . . . in a huge large Room of this House, they said, there stood a very long Table, at which the Witches did sit down: And that hard by this Room was another Chamber where there were very lovely and delicate Beds.'
On the whole the weight of evidence in England and Scotland is in favour of Danaeus's statement that there was no fixed site, though this should be taken as referring to the local meetings only, not to the Great Assemblies. The Forfar witch-trials give much information: Helen Guthrie
'wes at a meitting in the church yeard of Forfar in the Holfe therof . . . Betwixt the oatseid and the bearseid [barleysowing], she wes at ane other meitting at the Pavilione hollis . . . This same year, betwixt the oatseid and bearseid, she was at a thrid meiting in the church yeard of Forfar in the holfe thereof, about the same tyme of the night as at the [former] meitings, viz. at midnight.-About the beginning of the last oat seid
[1. Rehearsall, p. 7.
2 Boguet, pp. 126-7.
3. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 43.
4. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 321.]
tyme, Isabell Syrie did cary hir [Jonet Howat] to the Insch within the loch of Forfar, shoe saw at this tyme, about threteen witches with the divill, and they daunced togither . . . About four wiekes after the forsaid meiting in the Insch, the said Isabell Syrie caried hir to ane other meiting at Muryknowes. About three and a halfe yeares since, she [Elspet Alexander] was at a meiting with the divill at Peterden, midway betwixt Forfar and Dondie . . . About four wiekes after this mieting at Petterden, shoe was at ane second mieting at the Muryknowes . . . shoe was present at ane thrid mieting near Kerymure.'
Isobel Gowdie's evidence is detailed as usual: 'The last tyme that owr Coven met, we, and an vther Coven, wer dauncing at the Hill of Earlseat; and befor that, betwixt Moynes and Bowgholl; and befor that we ves beyond the Meikleburne; and the vther Coven being at the Downie-hillis we went from beyond the Meikle-burne, and went besyd them, to the howssis at the Wood-end of Inshoch . . . Befor Candlemas, we went be-east Kinlosse.' The same facts were elicited from the Kinross-shire witches; Robert Wilson 'confessed ye had ane meeting with the Devill at the Stanriegate, bewest the Cruick of Devon . . . the Devil appointed them to meet at the Bents of Balruddrie'.--Margaret Huggon confessed 'that ye was at another meeting with Sathan at the Stanriegate, bewest the Cruik of Devon . . . lykeways ye confessed 'ye was at another meeting with Satan at the Heathrie Knowe be-east the Cruik of Devon, where the Gallows stands a meeting at the back of Knocktinnie at the Gaitside . . . and another at the bents of Newbiggin'.--Janet Brugh 'confessed that ye was at ane meeting at Stanriegate . . . ye confessed that about Yule last bypast ye was at ane meeting with Sathan at Turfhills . . . lykeways ye confessed that ye was at the Bents of Balruddrie and Gibson's Craig, where Sathan was present at them both'.--Christian Grieve 'freely confessed that ye was at ane meeting with Sathan at the back of Andrew Dowie his house". The Somerset witches (1664) varied in this respect. Those of Wincanton met in different places: Elizabeth Style 'hath been at several general meetings in the night at High Common, and a Common near Motcombe, at a place near Marnhull, and at
[1. Kinloch, pp. 120 seq.
2. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603.
3. Burns Begg, pp. 226 seq.]
other places'.--Alice Duke 'hath been at several meetings in Lie Common, and other places in the night'. But the Brewham Coven appear to have met commonly at Hussey's Knap in Brewham. Forest.
Occasionally a reason is given for the change of site. 'Parfois vn Sabbat finy à vn coin de paroisse, on s'en va le tenir à vne autre, où le Diable mene les mesmes personnes: mais là, on y en rencontre d'autres.' Sometimes also a sidelight is thrown upon these gatherings, which explains the fact that in many cases the witches said that they did not know all the people present at a given meeting:
'Antoine Tornier, Et Iaquema Paget ont confessé, que comme elles retournoient à certain iour par ensemble de glanner, passans au long du pré de Longchamois, elles apperçeurent que l'on y tenoit le Sabbat; Surquoy elles poserent bas leurs fardeaux, & allerent au lieu predict, où elles firent comme les autres, & puis se retirerent chacune en leurs maisons, apres auoir reprins leurs fardeaux.'
The Salem Witches (1692) met 'upon a plain grassy place, by which was a Cart path and sandy ground in the path, in which were the tracks of Horses feet'.4
Date and Hour.--There was no fixed day or hour for the Esbat, and in this it differed from the Sabbath, which was always at night. The Devil let his followers know the time, either by going to them himself or by sending a message by the officer. The message might be by word of mouth, or by some signal understood by the initiated.
Though there was no fixed day for the Esbat, it seems probable that one day in the week was observed in each locality.
Danaeus, in his general survey of the cult in 1575, says: 'He apointeth where they shall meete, and at what houre of the day, or of the night: wherein they haue no surenes, nor certentie. For these meetinges are not weekely, nor monthly, nor yeerely, but when and how often it shall seeme good to this their maister. And many times himself warneth them to
[1. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 140, 148, 156, 161.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 64.
3. Boguet, p. 102.
4. Burr, p. 418.]
meete, sometimes hee apoynteth others to warne them in his staede. But when he doth it himself, he appeareth. vnto them in likenesse of a man.' De Lancre says that in the Basses-Pyrénées 'le lieu où on le trouue ordinairement s'appelle Lanne de bouc, & en Basque Aquelarre de verros, prado del Cabron, & là les Sorciers le vont adorer trois nuicts durant, celle du Lundy, du Mercredy, & du Vendredy.--Les iours ordinaires de la conuocation du Sabbat, ou pour mieux dire les nuicts, sont celles du Mercredy venant au Ieudy, & du Vendredy venant au Samedy.--Catherine de Naguille de la paroisse d'Vstarits, aagee de onze ans, & sa compagne, nous ont asseuré qu'elles auoie[n]t esté au Sabbat en plein midy." Jane Bosdeau (1594) 'every Wednesday and Friday met a Rendezvous of aboue Sixty Witches at Puy de dome'. Boguet says that the day of the Sabbath was variable, usually Thursday night; while, according to Bodin, the most frequent was 'entre la nuict du Lundi & Mardi'. Boguet also goes on to say, 'Le Sabbat ne se tient pas tousiours de nuict, ains que les Sorciers y vont aussi quelquefois de iour, selon que firent Antoine Tornier, & Iaquema Paget, & plusieurs autres de leur secte le confessent.' The Lorraine witches also had the same custom:
'Alle zugleich, so viel ihrer bisher in Lotharingen peinlich sind verhöret worden, bekandten, dass solche Versammlung in keiner andern Nacht, als welche zu nechst vor dem Donnerstag oder Sambstag hergehet, gehalten werden.--Johannes a Villa und Agathina des Schneiders Francisci weib, sagt, eine oder zwey Stunde vor Mitternacht, were die bequemste Zeit darzu, und zwar nicht allein zu diesen Gespensten, sondern auch sonsten zu allerhand Gespensten, Bollergeisten, Irrgeisten, &c. Aber die Stunde nach Mitternacht diene nicht darzu.'
The English and Scotch evidence is to the same effect. The witches 'are likewise reported to have each of them a Spirit or Imp attending on, or assigned to them. . . . These give the Witches notice to be ready on all Solemn appointments, and meetings, which are ordinarily on Tuesday or Wednesday night'. Janet Breadheid of the Auldearne Coven emphasizes
[1. Danaeus, ch, iv.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 62, 398.
3. F. Hutchinson, p, 43.
4. Boguet, p. 124.
5. Bodin, Fléau, p. 182.
6. Boguet, p. 123.
7. Remigius, pp. 71, 72.
8. Pleasant Treatise, p. 4.]
the irregularity of the dates: 'Efter that, we vold still meit euerie ten, twelve, or twantie dayes continwally.' Marie Lamont merely notes that the meetings were at night: 'The devil came to Kattrein Scott's house in the midst of the night. . . . When she had been at a mietting sine Zowle last, with other witches, in the night, the devill convoyed her home in the dawing.' The Somerset witches had no special night: 'At every meeting before the Spirit vanisheth away, he appoints the next meeting place and time,' and Mary Green went to a meeting 'on Thursday Night before Whitsunday last'. At Paisley the meeting was on Thursday, the 4th of January, 1678, in the night, in John Stuart's house. The Swedish witches were much harder worked: 'whereas formerly one journey a week would serve his turn, from their own Town to the place aforesaid, now they were forced to run to other Towns and places for Children, and that some of them did bring with them some fifteen, some sixteen Children every night.'
The more modern examples suggest that the date became more fixed: 'On croit que c'est toujours un vendredi soir que les sorciers et sorcières se réunissent.' 'Sorciers et sorcières vont au sabbat le vendredi, à travers les airs.'
[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 617.
2. Sharpe, pp. 131, 133.
3. Glanvil, pt, ii, p. 139.
4. Id., pt. ii, p. 164.
5. Id., pt. ii, pp. 293, 297.
6. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 318.
7. Monseur, p. 87.