The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger

Possibly the world's most popular inclination, the impulse to export your suffering to another seems to be near-universal. Not confined to any race, sex, or age category, the impulse to cause pain appears to well up from deep inside human beings. This is mysterious, because no one seems to enjoy pain when it is inflicted on them. Go figure.

Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:02 am


Here follows the Way whereby Witches copulate with those Devils known as Incubi.

As to the method in which witches copulate with Incubus devils, six points are to be noted. First, as to the devil and the body which he assumes, of what element it is formed. Second, as to the act, whether it is always accompanied with the injection of semen received from some other man. Third, as to the time and place, whether one time is more favourable than another for this practice. Fourth, whether the act is visible to the women, and whether only those who were begotten in this way are so visited by devils. Fifth, whether it applies only to those who were offered to the devil at birth by midwives. Sixth, whether the actual venereal pleasure is greater or less in this act. And we will speak first of the matter and quality of the body which the devil assumes.

It must be said that he assumes an aerial body, and that it is in some respects terrestrial, in so far as it has an earthly property through condensation; and this is explained as follows. The air cannot of itself take definite shape, except the shape of some other body in which it is included. And in that case it is not bound by its own limits, but by those of something else; and one part of the air continues into the next part. Therefore he cannot simply assume an aerial body as such.

Know, moreover, that the air is in every way a most changeable and fluid matter: and a sign of this is the fact that when any have tried to cut or pierce with a sword the body assumed by a devil, they have not been able to; for the divided parts of the air at once join together again. From this it follows that air is in itself a very competent matter, but because it cannot take shape unless some other terrestrial matter is joined with it, therefore it is necessary that the air which forms the devil’s assumed body should be in some way inspissated, and approach the property of the earth, while still retaining its true property as air. And devils and disembodied spirits can effect this condensation by means of gross vapours raised from the earth, and by collecting them together into shapes in which they abide, not as defilers of them, but only as their motive power which give to that body the formal appearance of life, in very much the same way as the soul informs the body to which it is joined. They are, moreover, in these assumed and shaped bodies like a sailor in a ship which the wind moves.

So when it is asked of what sort is the body assumed by the devil, it is to be said that with regard to its material, it is one thing to speak of the beginning of its assumption, and another thing to speak of its end. For in the beginning it is just air; but in the end it is inspisated air, partaking of some of the properties of the earth. And all this the devils, with God’s permission, can do of their own nature; for the spiritual nature is superior to the bodily. Therefore the bodily nature must obey the devils in respect of local motion, though not in respect of the assumption of natural shapes, either accidental or substantial, except in the case of some small creatures (and then only with the help of some other agent, as has been hinted before). But as to local motion, no shape is beyond their power; thus they can move them as they wish, in such circumstances as they will.

From this there may arise an incidental question as to what should be thought when a good or bad Angel performs some of the functions of life by means of true natural bodies, and not in aerial bodies; as in the case of Balaam’s ass, through which the Angel spoke, and when the devils take possession of bodies. It is to be said that those bodies are not called assumed, but occupied. See S. Thomas, II. 8, Whether Angels assume bodies. But let us keep strictly to our argument.

In what way is it to be understood that devils talk with witches, see them, hear them, eat with them, and copulate with them? And this is the second part of this first difficulty.

For the first, it is to be said that three things are required for true conversation: namely, lungs to draw in the air; and this is not only for the sake of producing sound, but also to cool the heart; and even mutes have this necessary quality.

Secondly, it is necessary that some percussion be made of a body in the air, as a greater or less sound is made when one beats wood in the airs, or rings a bell. For when a substance that is susceptible to sound is struck by a sound-producing instrument, it gives out a sound according to its size, which is received in the air and multiplied to the ears of the hearer, to whom, if he is far off, it seems to come through space.

Thirdly, a voice is required; and it may be said that what is called Sound in inanimate bodies is called Voice in living bodies. And here the tongue strikes the respirations of air against an instrument or living natural organ provided by God. And this is not a bell, which is called a sound, whereas this is a voice. And this third requisite may clearly be exemplified by the second; and I have set this down that preachers may have a method of teaching the people.

And fourthly, it is necessary that he who forms the voice should mean to express by means of that voice some concept of the mind to someone else, and that he should himself understand what he is saying; and so manage his voice by successively striking his teeth with his tongue in his mouth, by opening and shutting his lips, and by sending the air struck in his mouth into the outer air, that in this way the sound is reproduced in order in the ears of the hearer, who then understands his meaning.

To return to the point. Devils have no lungs or tongue, though they can show the latter, as well as teeth and lips, artificially made according to the condition of their body; therefore they cannot truly and properly speak. But since they have understanding, and when they wish to express their meaning, then, by some disturbance of the air included in their assumed body, not of air breathed in and out as in the case of men, they produce, not voices, but sounds which have some likeness to voices, and send them articulately through the outside air to the ears of the hearer. And that the likeness of a voice can be made without respiration of air is clear from the case of other animals which do not breathe, but are said to made a sound, as do also certain other instruments, as Aristotle says in the de Anima. For certain fishes, when they are caught, suddenly utter a cry outside the water, and die.

All this is applicable to what follows, so far as the point where we treat of the generative function, but not as regards good Angels. If anyone wishes to inquire further into the matter of devils speaking in possessed bodies, he may refer to S. Thomas in the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 8, art. 5. For in that case they use the bodily organs of the possessed body; since they occupy those bodies in respect of the limits of their corporeal quantity, but not in respect of the limits of their essence, either of the body or of the soul. Observe a distinction between substance and quantity, or accident. But this is impertinent.

For now we must say in what manner they see and hear. Now sight is of two kinds, spiritual and corporeal, and the former infinitely excels the latter; for it can penetrate, and is not hindered by distance, owing to the faculty of light of which it makes use. Therefore it must be said that in no way does an Angel, either good or bad, see with the eyes of its assumed body, nor does it use any bodily property as it does in speaking, when it uses the air and the vibration of the air to produce sound which becomes reproduced in the ears of the hearer. Wherefore their eyes are painted eyes. And they freely appear to men in these likenesses that they may manifest to them their natural properties and converse with them spiritually by these means.

For with this purpose the holy Angels have often appeared to the Fathers at the command of God and with His permission. And the bad angels manifest themselves to wicked men in order that men, recognizing their qualities, may associate themselves with them, here in sin, and elsewhere in punishment.

S. Dionysius, at the end of his Celestial Hierarchy, says: In all parts of the human body the Angel teaches us to consider their properties: concluding that since corporeal vision is an operation of the living body through a bodily organ, which devils lack, therefore in their assumed bodies, just as they have the likeness of limbs, so that have the likeness of their functions.

And we can speak in the same way of their hearing, which is far finer than that of the body; for it can know the concept of the mind and the conversation of the soul more subtly than can a man by hearing the mental concept through the medium of spoken words. See S. Thomas, the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 8. For if the secret wishes of a man are read in his face, and physicians can tell the thoughts of the heart from the heart-beats and the state of the pulse, all the more can such things be known by devils.

And we may say as to eating, that in the complete act of eating there are four processes. Mastication in the mouth, swallowing into the stomach, digestion in the stomach, and fourthly, metabolism of the necessary nutriment and ejection of what is superflous. All Angels can perform the first two processes of eating in their assumed bodies, but not the third and fourth; but instead of digesting and ejecting they have another power by which the food is suddenly dissolved in the surrounding matter. In Christ the process of eating was in all respects complete, since He had the nutritive and metabolistic powers; not, be it said, for the purpose of converting food into His own body, for those power were, like His body, glorified; so that the food was suddenly dissolved in His body, as when one throws water on to fire.

How in Modern Time Witches perform the Carnal Act with Incubus Devils, and how they are Multiplied by this Means.

But no difficulty arises out of what has been said, with regard to our principal subject, which is the carnal act which Incubi in an assumed body perform with witches: unless perhaps anyone doubts whether modern witches practise such abominable coitus; and whether witches had their origin in this abomination.

In answering these two doubts we shall say, as to the former of them, something of the activities of the witches who lived in olden times, about 1400 years before the Incarnation of Our Lord. It is, for example, unknown whether they were addicted to these filthy practises as modern witches have been since that time; for so far as we know history tells us nothing on this subject. But no one who reads the histories can doubt that there have always been witches, and that by their evil works much harm has been done to men, animals, and the fruits of the earth, and that Incubus and Succubus devils have always existed; for the traditions of the Canons and the holy Doctors have left and handed down to posterity many things concerning them through many hundreds of years. Yet there is this difference, that in times long past the Incubus devils used to infest women against their wills, as is often shown by Nider in his Formicarius, and by Thomas of Brabant in his book on the Universal Good, or on Bees.

But the theory that modern witches are tainted with this sort of diabolic filthiness is not substantiated only in our opinion, since the expert testimony of the witches themselves has made all these things credible; and that they do not now, as in times past, subject themselves unwillingly, but willingly embrace this most foul and miserable servitude. For how many women have be left to be punished by secular law in various dioceses, especially in Constance and the town of Ratisbon, who have been for many years addicted to these abominations, some from their twentieth and some from their twelfth or thirteenth year, and always with a total or partial abnegation of the Faith? All the inhabitants of those places are witnesses of it. For without reckoning those who secretly repented, and those who returned to the Faith, no less than forty-eight have been burned in five years. And there was no question of credulity in accepting their stories because they turned to free repentance; for they all agreed in this, namely, that there were bound to indulge in these lewd practices in order that the ranks of their perfidy might be increased. But we shall treat of these individually in the Second Part of this work, where their particular deeds are described; omitting those which came under the notice of our colleague the Inquisitor of Como in the County of Burbia, who in the space of one year, which was the year of grace 1485, caused forty-one witches to be burned; who all publicly affirmed, as it is said, that they had practised these abominations with devils. Therefore this matter is fully substantiated by eye-witnesses, by hearsay, and the testimony of credible witnesses.

As for the second doubt, whether witches had their origin from these abominations, we may say with S. Augustine that it is true that all the superstitious arts had their origin in a pestilent association of men with devils. For he says so in his work On the Christian Doctrine: All this sort of practices, whether of trifling or of noxious superstition, arose from some pestilent association of men with devils, as though some pact of infidel and guileful friendship had been formed, and they are all utterly to be repudiated. Notice here that it is manifest that, as there are various kinds of superstition or magic arts, and various societies of those who practise them; and as among the fourteen kinds of that art the species of witches is the worst, since they have not a tacit but an overt and expressed pact with the devil, and more than this, have to acknowledge a form of devil-worship through abjuring the Faith; therefore it follows that witches hold the worst kind of association with devils, with especial reference to the behaviour of women, who always delight in vain things.

Notice also S. Thomas, the Second Book of Sentences (dist. 4, art. 4), in the solution of an argument, where he asks whether those begotten in this way by devils are more powerful than other men. He answers that this is the truth, basing his belief not only on the text of Scripture in Genesis vi: And the same became the mighty men which were of old; but also on the following reason. Devils know how to ascertain the virtue in semen: first, by the temperament of him from whom the semen is obtained; secondly, by knowing what woman is most fitted for the reception of that semen; thirdly, by knowing what constellation is favourable to that corporeal effect; and we may add, fourthly, from their own words we learn that those whom they beget have the best sort of disposition for devil’s work. When all these causes so concur, it is concluded that men born in this way are powerful and big in body.

Therefore, in return to the question whether witches had their origin in these abominations, we shall say that they originated from some pestilent mutual association with devils, as is clear from our first knowledge of them. But no one can affirm with certainty that they did not increase and multiply by means of these foul practices, although devils commit this deed for the sake not of pleasure but of corruption. And this appears to be the order of the process. A Succubus devil draws the semen from a wicked man; and if he is that man’s own particular devil, and does not wish to make himself an Incubus to a witch, he passes that semen on to the devil deputed to a woman or witch; and this last, under some constellation that favours his purpose that the man or woman so born should be strong in the practice of witchcraft, becomes the Incubus to the witch.

And it is no objection that those of whom the text speaks were not witches but only giants and famous and powerful men; for, as was said before, witchcraft was not perpetuated in the time of the law of Nature, because of the recent memory of the Creation of the world, which left no room for Idolatry. But when the wickedness of man began to increase, the devil found more opportunity to disseminate this kind of perfidy. Nevertheless, it is not to be understood that those who were said to be famous men were necessarily so called by reason of their good virtues.

Whether the Relations of an Incubus Devil with a Witch are always accompanied by the Injection of Semen.

To this question it is answered that the devil has a thousand ways and means of inflicting injury, and from the time of his first Fall has tried to destroy the unity of the Church, and in every way to subvert the human race. Therefore no infallible rule can be stated as to this matter, but there is this probable distinction: that a witch is either old and sterile, or she is not. And if she is, then he naturally associates with the witch without the injection of semen, since it would be of no use, and the devil avoids superfluity in his operations as far as he can. But if she is not sterile, he approaches her in the way of carnal delectation which is procured for the witch. And should be disposed to pregnancy, then if he can conveniently possess the semen extracted from some man, he does not delay to approach her with it for the sake of infecting her progeny.

But it is asked whether he is able to collect the semen emitted in some nocturnal pollution in sleep, just as he collects that which is spent in the carnal act, the answer is that it is probably that he cannot, though others hold a contrary opinion. For it must be noted that, as has been said, the devils pay attention to the generative virtue of the semen, and such virtue is more abundant and better preserved in semen obtained by the carnal act, being wasted in the semen that is due to nocturnal pollutions in sleep, which arises only from the superfluity of the humours and is not emitted with so great generative virtue. Therefore it is believed that he does not make use of such semen for the generation of progeny, unless perhaps he knows that the necessary virtue is present in that semen.

But this also cannot altogether be denied, that even in the case of a married witch who has been impregnated by her husband, the devil can, by the commixture of another semen, infect that which has been conceived.

Whether the Incubus operates more at one Time than another: and similarly of the Place.

To the question whether the devil observes times and places it is to be said that, apart from his observation of certain times and constellations when his purpose is to effect the pollution of the progeny, he also observes certain times when his object is not pollution, but the causing of venereal pleasure on the part of the witch; and these are the most sacred times of the whole year, such as Christmas, Easter, Pentacost, and other Feast days.

And the devils do this for three reasons. First, that in this way witches may become imbued not only with the vice of perfidy through apostasy from the Faith, but also with that of Sacrilege, and that the greater offence may be done to the Creator, and the heavier damnation rest upon the souls of the witches.

The second reason is that when God is so heavily offended, He allows them greater power of injuring even innocent men by punishing them either in their affairs or their bodies. For when it is said: “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” etc., this refers only to eternal punishment, for very often the innocent are punished with temporal afflictions on account of the sins of others. Wherefore in another place God says: “I am a mighty and jealous God, visiting the sins of the fathers unto the third and fourth generation.” [1] Such punishment was exemplified in the children of the men of Sodom, who were destroyed for their fathers’ sins.

The third reason is that they have greater opportunity to observe many people, especially young girls, who on Feast Days are more intent on idleness and curiosity, and are therefore more easily seduced by old witches. And the following happened in the native country of one of us Inquisitors (for there are two of us collaborating in this work).

A certain young girl, a devout virgin, was solicited one Feast Day by an old woman to go with her upstairs to a room where there were some very beautiful young men. And when she consented, and as they were going upstairs with the old woman leading the way, she warned the girl not to make the sign of the Cross. And though she agreed to this, yet she secretly crossed herself. Consequently it happened that, when they had gone up, the virgin saw no one, because the devils who were there were unable to show themselves in assumed bodies to that virgin. And the old woman cursed her, saying: Depart in the name of all the devils; why did you cross yourself? This I had from the frank relation of that good and honest maiden.

A fourth reason can be added, namely, that they can in this way more easily seduce men, by causing them to think that if God permits such things to be done at the most holy times, it cannot be such a heavy sin as if He did not permit them at such times.

With regard to the question whether the favour one place more than another, it is to be said that it is proved by the words and actions of witches that they are quite unable to commit these abominations in sacred places. And in this can be seen the efficacy of the Guardian Angels, that such places are reverenced. And further, witches assert that they never have any peace except at the time of Divine Service when they are present in the church; and therefore they are the first to enter and the last to leave the church. Nevertheless, they are bound to observe certain other abominable ceremonies at the command of the devils, such as to spit on the ground at the Elevation of the Host, or to utter, either verbally or otherwise, the filthiest thoughts, as: I wish you were in such or such a place. This matter is touched upon in the Second Part.

Whether Incubi and Succubi Commit this Act Visibly on the part of the Witch, or on the part of Bystanders.

As to whether they commit these abominations together visibly or invisibly, it is to be said that, in all the cases of which we have had knowledge, the devil has always operated in a form visible to the witch; for there is no need for him to approach her invisibly, because of the pact of federation with him that has been expressed. But with regard to any bystanders, the witches themselves have often been seen lying on their backs in the fields or the woods, naked up to the very navel, and it has been apparent from the disposition of those limbs and members which pertain to the venereal act and orgasm, as also from the agitation of their legs and thighs, that, all invisibly to the bystanders, they have been copulating with Incubus devils; yet sometimes, howbeit this is rare, at the end of the act a very black vapour, of about the stature of a man, rises up into the air from the witch. And the reason is that that Schemer knows that he can in this way seduce or pervert the minds of girls or other men who are standing by. But of these matters, and how they have been performed in many places, in the town of Ratisbon, and on the estate of the nobles of Rappolstein, and in certain other countries, we will treat in the Second Part.

It is certain also that the following has happened. Husbands have actually seen Incubus devils swiving their wives, although they have thought that they were not devils but men. And when they have taken up a weapon and tried to run them through, the devil has suddenly disappeared, making himself invisible. And then their wives have thrown their arms around them, although they have sometimes been hurt, and railed at their husbands, mocking them, and asking them if they had eyes, or whether they were possessed of devils.

That Incubus Devils do not Infest only those Women who have been Begotten by their Filthy Deeds or those who have been Offered to them by Midwives, but All Indifferently with Greater or Less Venereal Delectation.

In conclusion, finally, it can be said that these Incubus devils will not only infest those women who have been generated by means of such abominations, or those who have been offered to them by midwives, but that they try with all their might, by means of witches who are bawds or hot whores, to seduce all the devout and chaste maidens in that whole district or town. For this is well known by the constant experience of Magistrates; and in the town of Ratisbon, when certain witches were burned, these wretches affirmed, before their final sentence, that they had been commanded by their Masters to use ever endeavour to effect the subversion of pious maids and widows.

If it be asked: Whether the venereal delectation is greater or less with the Incubus devils in assumed bodies than it is in like circumstances with men in a true physical body, we may say this: It seems that, although the pleasure should naturally be greater when like disports with like, yet that cunning Enemy can so bring together the active and passive elements, not indeed naturally, but in such qualities of warmth and temperament, that he seems to excite no less degree of concupiscence. But this matter will be discussed more fully later with reference to the qualities of the feminine sex.



1. “Generation.” “Exodus” xx, 5: xxxiv, 7.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:03 am


Witches commonly perform their Spells through the Sacraments of the Church. And how they Impair the Powers of Generation, and how they may Cause other Ills to happen to God’s Creatures of all kinds. But herein we except the Question of the Influence of the Stars.

But now there are several things to be noted concerning their methods of bringing injury upon other creatures of both sexes, and upon the fruits of the earth: first with regard to men, then with regard to beasts, and thirdly with regard to the fruits of the earth. And as to men, first, how they can cast an obstructive spell on the procreant forces, and even on the venereal act, so that a woman cannot conceive, or a man cannot perform the act. Secondly, how that act is obstructed sometimes with regard to one woman but not another. Thirdly, how they take away the virile member as though it were altogether torn away from the body. Fourthly, if it is possible to distinguish whether any of the above injuries have been caused by a devil on his own account, or if it has been through the agency of a witch. Fifthly, how witches change men and women into beasts by some prestige or glamour. Sixthly, how witch midwives in various ways kill that which has been conceived in the mother’s womb; and when they do not do this, offer the children to devils. And lest these things should seem incredible, they have been proved in the First Part of this work by questions and answers to arguments; to which, if necessary, the doubtful reader may turn back for the purpose of investigating the truth.

For the present our object is only to adduce actual facts and examples which have been found by us, or have been written by others in detestation of so great a crime, to substantiate those former arguments in case they should be difficult for anyone to understand; and, by those things that are related in this Second Part, to bring back to the Faith and away from their error those who think there are no witches, and that no witchcraft can be done in the world.

And with regard to the first class of injuries with which they afflict the human race, it is to be noted that, apart from the methods by which they injure other creatures, they have six ways of injuring humanity. And one is, to induce an evil love in a man for a woman, or in a woman for a man. The second is to plant hatred or jealousy in anyone. The third is to bewitch them so that a man cannot perform the genital act with a woman, or conversely a woman with a man; or by various means to procure an abortion, as has been said before. The fourth is to cause some disease in any of the human organs. The fifth, to take away life. The sixth, to deprive them of reason.

In this connexion it should be said that, saving the influence of the stars, the devils can by their natural power in every way cause real defects and infirmities, and this by their natural spiritual power, which is superior to any bodily power. For no one infirmity is quite like another, and this is equally true of natural defects in which there is no physical infirmity. Therefore they proceed by different methods to cause each different infirmity or defect. And of those we shall give instances in the body of this work as the necessity arises.

But first, lest the reader’s mind should be kept in any doubt as to why they have no power to alter the influence of the stars, we shall say that there is a threefold reason. First, the stars are above them even in the region of punishment, which is the region of the lower mists; and this by reason of the duty which is assigned to them. See the First Part, Question II, where we dealt with Incubus and Succubus devils.

The second reason is that the stars are governed by the good Angels. See many places concerning the Powers which move the stars, and especially S. Thomas, part I, quest. 90. And in this matter the Philosophers agree with the Theologians.

Thirdly, it is on account of the general order and common good of the Universe. which would suffer general detriment if evil spirits were allowed to cause any alteration in the influence of the stars. Wherefore those changes which were miraculously caused in the Old or New Testament were done by God through the good Angels; as, for example, when the sun stood still for Joshua, or when it went backward for Hezekiah, or when it was supernaturally darkened at the Passion of Christ. But in all other matters, with God’s permission, they can work their spells, either the devils themselves, or devils through the agency of witches; and, in fact, it is evident that they do so.

Secondly, it is to be noted that in all their methods of working injury they nearly always instruct witches to make their instruments of witchcraft by means of the Sacraments or sacramental things of the Church, or some holy thing consecrated to God: as when they sometimes place a waxen image under the Altar-cloth, or draw a thread through the Holy Chrism, or use some other consecrated thing in such a way. And there are three reasons for this.

For a similar reason they are wont to practise their witchcraft at the more sacred time of the year, especially at the Advent of Our Lord, and at Christmas. First, that by such means they may make men guilty of not only perfidy, but also sacrilege, by contaminating whatever is divine in them; and that so they may the more deeply offend God their Creator, damn their own souls, and cause many more to rush into sin.

Secondly, that God, being so heavily offended by men, may grant the devil greater power of tormenting them. For so says S. Gregory, that in His anger He sometimes grants the wicked their prayers and petitions, which He mercifully denies to others. And the third reason is that, by the seeming appearance of good, he may more easily deceive certain simple men, who think that they have performed some pious act and obtained the grace from God, whereas they have only sinned the more heavily.

A fourth reason also can be added touching the more sacred seasons and the New Year. For, according to S. Augustine, there are other mortal sins besides adultery by which the observance of the Festivals may be infringed. Superstition, moreover, and witchcraft arising from the most servile operations of the devil are contrary to the reverence that is due to God. Therefore, as has been said, he causes a man to fall more deeply, and the Creator is the more offended.

And of the New Year we may say, according to S. Isidore, Etym. VIII. 2, that Janus, from whom the month of January is named, which also begins on the Day of Circumcision, was an idol with two faces, as if one were the end of the old year and the other the beginning of the new, and, as it were, the protector and auspicious author of the coming year. And in honour of him, or rather of the devil in the form of that idol, the Pagans made much boisterous revelry, and were very merry among themselves, holding various dances and feasts. And concerning these Blessed Augustine makes mention in many places, and gives a very ample description of them in his Twenty-sixth Book.

And now bad Christians imitate these corruptions, turning them to lasciviousness when the run about at the time of Carnival [1] with masks and jests and other superstitions. Similarly witches use these revelries of the devil for their own advantage, and work their spells about the time of the New Year in respect of the Divine Offices and Worship; as on S. Andrew’s Day and at Christmas.

And now, as to how they work their witchcraft, first by means of the Sacraments, and then by means of sacramental objects, we will refer to a few known facts, discovered by us in the Inquisition.

In a town which it is better not to names, for the sake of charity and expediency, when a certain witch received the Body of Our Lord, she suddenly lowered her head, as is the detestable habit of women, placed her garment near her mouth, and taking the Body of the Lord out of her mouth, wrapped it in a handkerchief; and afterwards, at the suggestion of the devil, placed it in a pot in which there was a toad, and hid it in the ground near her house by the storehouse, together with several other things, by means of which she had to work her witchcraft. [2] But with the help of God’s mercy this great crime was detected and brought to light. For on the following day a workman was going on his business near that house, and heard a sound like a child crying; and when he had come near to the stone under which the pot had been hidden, he heard it much more clearly, and thinking that some child have been buried there by the woman, went to the Mayor or chief magistrate, and told him what had been done, as he thought, by the infanticide. And the Mayor quickly send his servants and found it to be as he had said. But they were unwilling to exhume the child, thinking it wiser to place a watch and wait to see if any woman came near the place; for they did not know that it was the Lord’s Body that was hidden there. And so it happened that the same witch came to the place, and secretly hid to pot under her garment before their eyes. And when she was taken and questioned, she discovered her crime, saying that the Lord’s Body had been hidden in the pot with a toad, so that by means of their dust she might be able to cause injuries at her will to men and other creatures.

It is also to be noted that when witches communicate they observe this custom, that, when they can do so without being noticed, they receive the Lord’s Body under their tongue instead of on the top. And as far as can be seen, the reason is that they never wish to receive any remedy that might counteract their abjuration of the Faith, either by Confession or by receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist; and secondly, because in this way it is easier for them to take the Lord’s Body out of their mouths so that they can apply it, as has been said, to their own uses, to the greater offence of the Creator.

For this reason all rectors of the Church and those who communicate the people are enjoined to take the utmost care when they communicate women that the mouth shall be well open and the tongue thrust well out, and their garments be kept quite clear. And the more care is taken in this respect, the more witches become known by this means.

Numberless other superstitions they practise by means of sacramental objects. Sometimes they place a waxen image or some aromatic substance under the altar cloth, [3] as we said before, and then hide it under the threshold of a house, so that the person for whom it is placed there may be bewitched on crossing over it. Countless instances could be brought forward, but these minor sorts of spells are proved by the greater.



1. “Carnival.” These Pagan practices are sternly reprobated in the “Liber Poenitentialis” of S. Theodore, seventh Archbishop of Canterbury. In Book XXXVII is written: “If anyone at the Kalends of January goeth about as a stag or a bull-calf, that is, making himself into a wild animal, and dressing in the skins of a herd animal, and putting on the heads of beast; those who in such wise transform themselves into the appearance of a wild animal, let them do penance for three years, because this is devilish.” See my “Geography of Witchcraft,” Chap. II, pp. 65-73. The Council of Auxerre in 578 (or 585) forbade anyone “to masquerade as a bull-calf or a stag on the first of January or to distribute devilish charms.”

2. “Witchcraft.” It is not unusual for Satanists to go to Holy Communion in various churchs of a town, and instead of consuming the Host they spit God's Body from their mouths into a handkerchief or cloth and take it away to abuse in their horrid worship. In the notorious case of the Lancashire witches, at the first trial, 1612, James Device confessed “that upon Sheare Thursday was two yeares, his Grand-Mother Elizabeth Souternes alias Demdike, did bid him this Examinate goe to the Church to receive the Communion (they next day after being Good Friday), and then not to eate the Bread the Minister gave him, but to bring it and deliver it to such a thing as should meet him in his way homewards; Notwithstanding her perswasions thie Examinate did eate the Bread: and so in his comming homeward some fortie roodes off the said Church, there met him a thing in the shape of a Hare, who spoke unto this Examinate, and asked him whether he had brought the Bread.”

The toad constantly appears as a familiar. In 1579 at Windsor “one Mother Dutton dwellyng in Cleworthe Parishe keepeth a Spirite or Feende in the likenesses of a Toade, and fedeth the same Feende lying in a border of greene Hearbes, within her garden, with blood whiche she causeth to issue from her owne flancke.” Ursley Kemp, a S. Osyth witch (1582), had a familiar, Pygine, “black like a Toad.” Ales Hunt of the same coven nourished two familiars, “the which she kept in a little lowe earthen pot.” Margerie Sammon, another S. Osyth's witch, “hath also two spirites like Toades, the one called ‘Tom,’ and the other ‘Robbyn.’” When Ursley Kemp peeped through Mother Hunt's window she “espied a spirite to looke out of a porcharde from under a clothe, the nose thereof being brown like unto a Ferret.”

3. “Altar-Cloth.” These practices still survive.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:03 am


How Witches Impede and Prevent the Power of Procreation.

Concerning the method by which they obstruct the procreant function both in men and animals, and in both sexes, the reader my consult that which has been written already on the question, Whether devils can through witches turn the minds of men to love or hatred. There, after the solutions of the arguments, a specific declaration is made relating to the method by which, with God’s permission, they can obstruct the procreant function.

But it must be noted that such obstruction is caused both intrinsically and extrinsically. Intrinsically they cause it in two ways. First, when they directly prevent the erection of the member which is accommodated to fructification. And this need not seem impossible, when it is considered that they are able to vitiate the natural use of any member. Secondly, when they prevent the flow of the vital essences to the members in which resides the motive force, closing up the seminal ducts so that it does not reach the generative vessels, or so that it cannot be ejaculated, or is fruitlessly spilled.

Extrinsically they cause it at times by means of images, or by the eating of herbs; sometimes by other external means, such as cocks’ testicles. But it must not be thought that it is by the virtue of these things that a man is made impotent, but by the occult power of devils’ illusions witches by this means procure such impotence, namely, that they cause man to be unable to copulate, or a woman to conceive.

And the reason for this is that God allows them more power over this act, by which the first sin was disseminated, than over other human actions. Similarly they have more power over serpents, which are the most subject to the influence of incantations, than over other animals. Wherefore it has often been found by us and other Inquisitors that they have caused this obstruction by means of serpents or some such things.

For a certain wizard who had been arrested confessed that for many years he had by witchcraft brought sterility upon all the men and animals which inhabited a certain house. Moreover, Nider tells of a wizard named Stadlin [1] who was taken in the diocese of Lausanne, and confessed that in a certain house where a man and his wife were loving, he had by his witchcraft successively killed in the woman’s womb seven children, so that for many years the woman always miscarried. And that, in the same way, he had caused that all the pregnant cattle and animals of the house were during those years unable to give birth to any live issue. And when he was questioned as to how he had done this, and what manner of charge should be preferred against him, he discovered his crime, saying: I put a serpent under the threshold of the outer door of the house; and if this is removed, fecundity will be restored to the inhabitants. And it was as he said; for though the serpent was not found, having been reduced to dust, the whole piece of ground was removed, and in the same year fecundity was restored to the wife and to all the animals.

Another instance occurred hardly four years ago in Reichshofen. There was a most notorious witch, who could at all times and by a mere touch bewitch women and cause an abortion. Now the wife of a certain nobleman in that place had become pregnant and had engaged a midwife to take care of her, and had been warned by the midwife not to go out of the castle, and above all to be careful not to hold any speech or conversation with that witch. After some weeks, unmindful of that warning, she went out of the castle to visit some women who were met together on some festive occasion; and when she had sat down for a little, the witch came, and, as if for the purpose of saluting her, placed both her hands on her stomach; and suddenly she felt the child moving in pain. Frightened by this, she returned home and told the midwife what had happened. Then the midwife exclaimed: “Alas! you have already lost your child.” And so it proved when her time came; for she gave birth, not to an entire abortion, but little by little to separate fragments of its head and feet and hands. And the great affliction was permitted by God to punish her husband, whose duty it was to bring witches to justice and avenge their injuries to the Creator.

And there was in the town of Mersburg in the diocese of Constance a certain young man who was bewitched in such a way that he could never perform the carnal act with any woman except one. And many have heard him tell that he had often wished to refuse that woman, and take flight to other lands; but that hitherto he had been compelled to rise up in the night and to come very quickly back, sometimes over land, and sometimes through the air as if he were flying.



1. “Stadlin.” “Formicarius,” c. III.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:04 am


How, as it were, they Deprive Man of his Virile Member.

We have already shown that they can take away the male organ, not indeed by actually despoiling the human body of it, in the manner which we have already declared. And of this we shall instance a few examples.

In the town of Ratisbon a certain young man who had an intrigue with a girl, wishing to leave her, lost his member; that is to say, some glamour was cast over it so that he could see or touch nothing but his smooth body. In his worry over this he went to a tavern to drink wine; and after he had sat there for a while he got into conversation with another woman who was there, and told her the cause of his sadness, explaining everything, and demonstrating in his body that it was so. The woman was astute, and asked whether he suspected anyone; and when he named such a one, unfolding the whole matter, she said: “If persuasion is not enough, you must use some violence, to induce her to restore to you your health.” So in the evening the young man watched the way by which the witch was in the habit of going, and finding her, prayed her to restore to him the health of his body. And when she maintained that she was innocent and knew nothing about it, he fell upon her, and winding a towel tightly about her neck, choked her, saying: “Unless you give me back my health, you shall die at my hands.” Then she, being unable to cry out, and growing black, said: “Let me go, and I will heal you.” The young man then relaxed the pressure of the towel, and the witch touched him with her hand between the thighs, saying: “Now you have what you desire.” And the young man, as he afterwards said, plainly felt, before he had verified it by looking or touching, that his member had been restored to him by the mere touch of the witch.

A similar experience is narrated by a certain venerable Father from the Dominican House of Spires, well known in the Order for the honest of his life and for his learning. “One day,” he says, “while I was hearing confessions, a young man came to me and, in the course of his confession, woefully said that he had lost his member. Being astonished at this, and not being willing to give it easy credence, since the opinion of the wise it is a mark of light-heartedness to believe too easily, I obtained proof of it when I saw nothing on the young man’s removing his clothes and showing the place. Then, using the wisest counsel I could, I asked whether he suspected anyone of having so bewitched him. And the young man said that he did suspect someone, but that she was absent and living in Worms. Then I said: ‘I advise you to go to her as soon as possible and try your utmost to soften her with gentle words and promises’; and he did so. For he came back after a few days and thanked me, saying that he was whole and had recovered everything. And I believed his words, but again proved them by the evidence of my eyes.”

But there are some points to be noted for the clearer understanding of what has already been written concerning this matter. First, it must in no way be believed that such members are really torn right away from the body, but that they are hidden by the devil through some prestidigitory art so that they can be neither seen nor felt. And this is proved by the authorities and by argument; although is has been treated of before, where Alexander of Hales says that a Prestige, properly understood, is an illusion of the devil, which is not caused by any material change, but exists only in the perceptions of him who is deluded, either in his interior or exterior senses.

With reference to these words it is to be noted that, in the case we are considering, two of the exterior senses, namely, those of sight and touch, are deluded, and not the interior senses, namely, common-sense, fancy, imagination, thought, and memory. (But S. Thomas says they are only four, as has been told before, reckoning fancy and imagination as one; and with some reason, for there is little difference between imagining and fancying. See S. Thomas, I, 79.) And these senses, and not only the exterior senses, are affected when it is not a case of hiding something, but the causing something to appear to a man either when he is aware or asleep.

As when a man who is awake sees things otherwise than as they are; such as seeing someone devour a horse with its rider, or thinking he sees a man transformed into a beast, or thinking that he is himself a beast and must associate with beasts. For then the exterior senses are deluded and are employed by the interior senses. For by the power of devils, with God’s permission, mental images long retained in the treasury of such images, which is the memory, are drawn out, not from the intellectual understanding in which such images are stored, but from the memory, which is the repository of mental images, and is situated at the back of the head, and are presented to the imaginative faculty. And so strongly are they impressed on that faculty that a man has an inevitable impulse to imagine a horse or a beast, when the devil draws from the memory an image of a horse or a beast; and so he is compelled to think that he sees with his external eyes such a beast when there is actually no such beast to see; but it seems to be so by reason of the impulsive force of the devil working by means of those images.

And it need not seem wonderful that devils can do this, when even a natural defect is able to effect the same result, as is shown in the case of frantic and melancholy men, and in maniacs and some drunkards, who are unable to discern truly. For frantic men think they see marvellous things, such as beasts and other horrors, when in actual fact they see nothing. See above, in the question, Whether witches can turn the minds of men to love and hatred; where many thing are noted.

And, finally, the reason is self-evident. For since the devil has power over inferior things, except only the soul, therefore he is able to effect certain changes in those things, when God allows, so that things appear to be otherwise than they are. And this he does, as I have said, either by confusing and deluding the organ of sight so that a clear thing appears cloudy; just as after weeping, owing to the collected humours, the light appears to different from what it was before. Or by operating on the imaginative faculty by a transmutation of mental images, as has been said. Or by some agitation of various humours, so that matters which are earthy and dry seem to be fire or water: as some people make everyone in the house strip themselves naked under the impression that they are swimming in water.

It may be asked further with reference to the above method of devils, whether this sort of illusions can happen indifferently to the good and to the wicked: just as other bodily infirmities can, as will be shown later, be brought by witches even upon those who are in a state of grace. To this question, following the words of Cassian in his Second Collation of the Abbot Sirenus, we must answer that they cannot. And from this it follows that all who are deluded in this way are presumed to be in deadly sin. For he says, as is clear from the words of S. Antony: The devil can in no way enter the mind or body of any man, nor has the power to penetrate into the thoughts of anybody, unless such a person has first become destitute of all holy thoughts, and is quite bereft and denuded of spiritual contemplation.

This agrees with Boethius where he says in the Consolation of Philosophy: [1] We had given you such arms that, if you had not thrown them away, you would have been preserved from infirmity.

Also Cassian tells in the same place of two Pagan witches, each in his own way malicious, who by their witchcraft sent a succession of devils into the cell of S. Antony for the purpose of driving him from there by their temptations; being infected with hatred for the holy man because a great number of people visited him every day. And though these devils assailed him with the keenest of spurs to his thoughts, yet he drove them away by crossing himself on the forehead and breast, and by prostrating himself in earnest prayer.

Therefore we may say that all who are so deluded by devils, not reckoning any other bodily infirmities, are lacking in the gift of divine grace. And so it is said in Tobias vi: The devil has power against those who are subject to their lusts.

This is also substantiated by what we told in the First Part in the question, Whether witches can change men into the shapes of beasts. For we told of a girl who was turned into a filly, as she herself and, except S. Macharius, all who looked at her were persuaded. But the devil could not deceive the senses of the holy man; and when she was brought to him to be healed, he saw true woman and not a horse, while on the other hand everyone else exclaimed that she seemed to be a horse. And the Saint, by his prayers, freed her and the others from that illusion, saying that this had happened to her because she had not attended sufficiently to holy things, nor used as she should Holy Confession and the Eucharist. And for this reason, because in her honesty she would not consent to the shameful proposal of a young man, who had caused a Jew who was a witch to bewitch the girl so that, by the power of the devil, he turned her into a filly.

We may summarize our conclusions as follows: - Devils can, for their profit and probation, injure the good in their fortunes, that is, in such exterior things as riches, fame, and bodily health. This is clear from the case of the Blessed Job, who was afflicted by the devil in such matters. But such injuries are not of their own causing, so that they cannot be led or driven into any sin, although they can be tempted both inwardly and outwardly in the flesh. But the devils cannot afflict the good with this sort of illusions, either actively or passively.

Not actively, but deluding their senses as they do those of others who are not in a state of grace. And not passively, by taking away their male organs by some glamour. For in these two respects they could never injure Job, especially in regard to the venereal act; for he was of such continence that he was able to say: I have vowed a vow with my eyes that I shall never think about a virgin, and still less about another man’s wife. Nevertheless the devil knows that he has great power over sinners (see S. Luke xi: When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace).

But it may be asked, as to illusions in respect of the male organ, whether, granted that the devil cannot impose this illusion on those in a state of grace in a passive way, he cannot still do so in an active sense: the argument being that the man in a state of grace is deluded because he ought to see the member in its right place, when he who thinks it has been taken away from him, as well as other bystanders, does not see in in its place; but if this is conceded, it seems to be contrary to what has been said. It can be said that there is not so much force in the active as in the passive loss; meaning by active loss, not his who bears the loss, but his who sees the loss from without, as is self-evident. Therefore, although a man in a state of grace can se the loss of another, and to that extent the devil can delude his senses; yet he cannot passively suffer such loss in his own body, as, for example, to be deprived of his member, since he is not subject to list. In the same way the converse is true, as the Angel said to Tobias: Those who are given to lust, the devil has power over them.

And what, then, is to be thought of those witches who in this way sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird’s nest, or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn, as has been seen by many and is a matter of common report? It is to be said that it is all done by devil’s work and illusion, for the senses of those who see them are deluded in the way we have said. For a certain man tells that, when he had lost his member, he approached a known witch to ask her to restore it to him. She told the afflicted man to climb a certain tree, and that he might take which he liked out of the nest in which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said: You must not take that one; adding, because it belongs to a parish priest.

All these things are caused by devils through an illusion or glamour, in the manner we have said, by confusing the organ of vision by transmuting the mental images in the imaginative faculty. And it must not be said that these members which are shown are devils in assumed members, just as they sometimes appear to witches and men in assumed aerial bodies, and converse with them. And the reason is that they effect this thing by an easier method, namely, by drawing out an inner mental image from the repository of the memory, and impressing it on the imagination.

And if anyone wishes to say that they could go to work in a similar way, when they are said to converse with witches and other men in assumed bodies; that is, that they could cause such apparitions by changing the mental images in the imaginative faculty, so that when men thought the devils were present in assumed bodies, they were really nothing but an illusions caused by such a change of the mental images in the inner perceptions.

It is to be said that, if the devil had no other purpose than merely to show himself in human form, then there would be no need for him to appear in an assumed body, since he could effect his purpose well enough by the aforesaid illusion. But this is not so; for he has another purpose, namely, to speak and eat with them, and to commit other abominations. Therefore it is necessary that he should himself be present, placing himself actually in sight in an assumed body. For, as S. Thomas says, Where the Angel’s power is, there he operates.

And it may be asked, if the devil by himself and without any witch takes away anyone’s virile member, whether there is any difference between one sort of deprivation and the other. In addition to what has been said in the First Part of this work on the question, Whether witches can take away a member, he does actually take it away, and it is actually restored when it has to be restored. Secondly, as it is not taken away without injury, so it is not without pain. Thirdly, that he never does this unless compelled by a good Angel, for by so doing he cuts off a great source of profit to him; for he knows that he can work more witchcraft on that act than on other human acts. For God permits him to do more injury to that than to other human acts, as has been said. But none of the above points apply when he works through the agency of a witch, with God’s permission.

And if it is asked whether the devil is more apt to injure men and creatures by himself than through a witch, it can be said that there is no comparison between the two cases. For he is infinitely more apt to do harm through the agency of witches. First, because he thus gives greater offence to God, by usurping to himself a creature dedicated to Him. Secondly, because when God is the more offended, He allows him the more power of injuring men. And thirdly, for his own gains, which he places in the perdition of souls.



1. “Beothius.” “De Consolatione Philosophiae,” Liner I, Prosa ii. “Atqui talia contuleramus arma, quae nisi prius abiecisses, inuicta te firmitate tuerentur.”
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:04 am


Of the Manner whereby they Change Men into the Shapes of Beasts.

But that witches, by the power of devils, change men into the shapes of beasts (for this is their chief manner of transmutation), although it has been sufficiently proved in the First Part of the work, Question 10, Whether witches can do such things: nevertheless, since that question with its arguments and solutions may be rather obscure to some; especially since no actual examples are adduced to prove them, and even the method by which they so transform themselves is not explained; therefore we add the present exposition by the resolution of several doubts.

And first, that Canon (26, Q. 5, Episcopi) is not to be understood in this matter in the way in which even many learned men (but would that their learning were good!) are deceived; who do not fear to affirm publicly in their sermons that such prestidigitatory transmutations are in no way possible even by the power of devils. And we have often said that this doctrine is greatly to the detriment of the Faith, and strengthens the witches, who rejoice very much in such sermons.

But such preachers, as has been noted, touch only the outer surface, and fail to reach the inner meaning of the words of the Canon. For when it says: Whoever believes that any creature can be made, or can be changed for the better or the worse, or be transformed into any other shape or likeness except by the Creator Himself Who made all, is without doubt an infidel. . . .

The reader must here remark two chief things. First, concerning the words “be made”; and secondly, concerning the words “be transformed into another likeness.” And as to the first, it is answered that “be made” can be understood in two ways: namely, as meaning “be created,” or as in the sense of the natural production of anything. Now in the first sense it belongs only to God, as is well known, Who in His infinite might can make something out of nothing.

But in the second sense there is a distinction to be drawn between creatures; for some are perfect creatures, like a man, and an ass, etc. And other are imperfect, such as serpents, frogs, mice, etc., for they can also be generated from putrefaction. Now the Canon obviously speaks only of the former sort, not of the second; for in the case of the second it can be proved from what Blessed Albert says in his book On Animals, where he asks: whether devils can make true animals; and still with this difference, that they cannot do so in an instant, as God does, but by some motion, however sudden, as is shown in the case of the Magicians in Exodus vii. The reader may, if he likes, refer to some of the remarks in the question we have quoted in the First Part of the work, and in the solution of the first argument.

Secondly, it is said that they cannot transmute any creature. You may say that transmutation is of two sorts, substantial and accidental; and this accidental is again of two kinds, consisting either in the natural form belonging to the thing which is seen, or in a form which does not belong to the thing which is seen, but exists only in the organs and perceptions of him who sees. The Canon speaks of the former, and especially of formal and actual transmutation, in which one substance is transmuted into another; and this sort only God can effect, Who is the Creator of such actual substances. And it speaks also of the second, although the devil can effect that, in so far as, with God’s permission, he causes certain diseases and induces some appearance on the accidental body. As when a face appears to be leprous, or some such thing.

But properly speaking it is not such matters that are in question, but apparitions and glamours, by which things seem to be transmuted into other likenesses; and we say that the words of the Canon cannot exclude such transmutations; for their existence is proved by authority, by reason, and by experience; namely, by certain experiences related by S. Augustine in Book XVIII, chapter 17, of the De Ciuitate Die, and by the arguments in explanation of them. For among other prestidigitatory transformations, he mentions that the very famous Sorceress, Circe, changed the companions of Ulysses into beasts; and that certain innkeepers’ wives had turned their guests into beasts of burden. He mentions also that the companions of Diomedes were changed into birds, and for a long time flew about the temple of Diomedes; and that Praestantius tells it for a fact that his father said that he had been a packhorse, and had carried corn with other animals.

Now when the companions of Ulysses were changed into beasts, it was only in appearance, or deception of the eyes; for the animal shapes were drawn out of the repository or memory of images, and impressed on the imaginative faculty. And so imaginary vision was caused, and through the strong impression on the other senses and organs, the beholder thought that he saw animals, in the manner of which we have already treated. But how these things can be done by the devil’s power without injury will be shown later.

But when the guests were changed into beasts of burden by the innkeepers’ wives; and when the father of Praestantius thought he was a packhorse and carried corn; it is to be noted that in these cases there were three deceptions.

First, that those men were caused by a glamour to seem to be changed into beasts of burden, and this change was caused in the way we have said. Second, that devils invisibly bore those burdens up when they were too heavy to be carried. Third, that those who seemed to others to be changed in shape seemed also to themselves to be changed into beasts; as it happened to Nabuchodonosor, who lived for seven years eating straw like an ox. [1]

And as to the comrades of Diomedes being changed into birds and flying round his temple, it is to be said that this Diomedes was one of the Greeks who went to the siege of Troy; and when he wished to return home, he was drowned with his comrades in the sea; and then, at the suggestion of some idol, a temple was built to him that he might be numbered among the gods; and for a long time, to keep that error alive, devils in the shape of birds flew about in place of his companions. Therefore that superstition was one of the glamours we have spoken of; for it was not caused by the impression of mental images on the imaginative faculty, but by their flying in the sight of men in the assumed bodies of birds.

But if it is asked whether the devils could have deluded the onlookers by the above-mentioned method of working upon the mental images, and not by assuming aerial bodies like flying birds, the answer is that they could have done so.

For it was the opinion of some (as S. Thomas tells in the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 8, art. 2) that no Angel, good or bad, ever assumed a body; but that all that we read in the Scriptures about their appearances was caused by a glamour, or by the imaginary vision.

And here the learned Saint notes a difference between a glamour and imaginary vision. For in a glamour there may be an exterior object which is seen, but it seems other than it is. But imaginary vision does not necessarily require an exterior object, but can be caused without that and only by those inner mental images impressed on the imagination.

So, following their opinion, the comrades of Diomedes were not represented by devils in the assumed bodies and likeness of birds, but only by a fantastic and imaginary vision caused by working upon those mental images, etc.

But the learned Saint condemns this as an erroneous and not a simple opinion (though, it is piously believed, it is not actually heretical), although such appearances of good and bad Angels may at times have been imaginary, with no assumed body. But, as he says, the saints are agreed that the Angels also appeared to the actual sight, and such appearance was in an assumed body. And the scriptural text reads more as if it speaks of bodily appearance than imaginary or prestidigitatory ones. Therefore we can say for the present concerning any visions like that of the comrades of Diomedes: that although those comrades could by the devil’s work have appeared in the imaginary vision of the beholders in the manner we have said, yet it is rather presumed that they were caused to be seen by devils in assumed aerial bodies like flying birds; or else that other natural birds were caused by devils to represent them.



1. “An Ox.” “Daniel” iv, 30: “The same hour the word was fulfilled upon Nabuchodonosor, and he was driven away from among men, and did eat grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven: till his hairs grew like the feathers of eagles and his nailes like birds' claws.”
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:05 am


How Devils may enter the Human Body and the Head without doing any Hurt, when they cause such Metamorphosis by Means of Prestidigitation.

Concerning the method of causing these illusory transmutations it may further be asked: whether the devils are then inside the bodies and heads of those who are deceived, and whether the latter are to be considered as possessed by devils; how it can happen without injury to the inner perceptions and faculties that a mental image is transferred from one inner faculty to another; and whether or not such work ought to be considered miraculous.

First we must again refer to a distinction between such illusory glamours; for sometimes the outer perceptions only are affected, and sometimes the inner perceptions are deluded and so affect the outer perceptions.

In the former case the glamour can be caused without the devils’ entering into the outer perceptions, and merely by an exterior illusion; as when the interposition of some other body, or in some other way; or when he himself assumes a body and imposes himself on the vision.

But in the latter case it is necessary that he must first occupy the head and the faculties. And this is proved by authority and by reason.

And it is not a valid objection to say that two created spirits cannot be in one and the same place, and that the soul pervades the whole of the body. For on this question there is the authority of S. John Damascene, when he says: Where the Angel is, there he operates. And S. Thomas, in the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 7, art. 5, says: All Angels, good and bad, by their natural power, which is superior to all bodily power, are able to transmute our bodies.

And this is clearly true, not only by reason of the superior nobility of their nature, but because the whole mechanism of the world and all corporeal creatures are administered by Angels; as S. Gregory says in the 4th Dialogue: In this visible world nothing can be disposed except by an invisible creature. Therefore all corporeal matters are governed by the Angels, who are also called, not only by the Holy Doctors but also by all the Philosophers, the Powers which move the stars. It is clear also from the fact that all human bodies are moved by their souls, just as all other matter is moved by the stars and the Powers which move them. Any who wish may refer to S. Thomas in the First Part, Quest. 90, art. 1.

From this it is concluded that, since devils operates there where they are, therefore when they confuse the fancy and the inner perceptions they are existing in them.

Again, although to enter the soul is possible only to God Who created it, yet devils can, with God’s permission, enter our bodies; and they an then make impressions on the inner faculties corresponding to the bodily organs. And by those impressions the organs are affected in proportion as the inner perceptions are affected in the way which has been shown: that the devil can draw out some image retained in a faculty corresponding to one of the senses; as he draws from the memory, which is in the back part of the head, an image of a horse, and locally moves that phantasm to the middle part of the head, where are the cells of imaginative power; and finally to the sense of reason, which is in the front of the head. And he causes such a sudden change and confusion, that such objects are necessarily thought to be actual things seen with the eyes. This can be clearly exemplified by the natural defect in frantic men and other maniacs.

But if it is asked how he can do this without causing pain in the head, the answer is easy. For in the first place he does not cause any actual physical change in the organs, but only moves the mental images. And secondly, he does not effect these changes by injecting any active quality which would necessarily cause pain, since the devil is himself without any corporeal quality, and can therefore operate without the use of any such quality. Thirdly, as has been said, he effects these transmutations only by a local movement from one organ to another, and not by other movements through which painful transformations are sometimes caused.

And as for the objection that two spirits cannot separately exist in the same place, and that, since the soul exists in the head, how can a devil be there also? It is to be said that the soul is thought to reside in the centre of the heart, in which it communicates with all the members by an outpouring of life. An example can be taken from a spider, which feels in the middle of its web when any part of the web is touched.

However, S. Augustine says in his book On the Spirit and Soul, [1] that it is all in all, and all in every part of the body. Granting that the soul is in the head, still the devil can work there; for his work is different from the work of the soul. The work of the soul is in the body, to inform it and fill it with life; so that it exists not merely locally, but in the whole matter. But the devil works in such a part and such a place of the body, effecting his changes in respect of the mental images. Therefore, since there is no confusion between their respective operations, they can both exist together in the same part of the body.

There is also the question whether such men are to be considered obsessed or frenzied, that is, possessed of devils. But this is considered separately; namely, whether it is possible through the work of witches for a man to be obsessed with a devil, that is, that the devil should actually and bodily possess him. And this question is specially discussed in the following chapter, since it has this special difficulty, namely, whether this can be caused through the operations of witches.

But as to the question whether the temporal works of witches and devils are to be considered as miracles or of a miraculous nature; it is to be said that they are so, in so far as they are beyond the order of created nature as known to us, and are done by creatures unknown to us. But they are not properly speaking miracles as are those which are outside the whole of created nature; as are the miracles of God and the Saints. (See what was written in the First Part of this work, in the Fifth Question, in the refutation of the third error.)

But there are those who object that this sort of work must not be considered miracles, but simply works of the devil; since the purpose of miracles is the strengthening of the Faith, and they must not be conceded to the adversary of the Faith. And also because the signs of Antichrist are called lying signs by the Apostle. [2]

First it is to be said that to work miracles is the gift of freely given grace. And they can be done by bad men and bad spirits, up to the limits of the power which is in them.

Wherefore the miracles wrought by the good can be distinguished from those wrought by the wicked in at least three ways. First, the signs which are given by the good are done by Divine power in such matters as are beyond the capacity of their own natural power, such as raising the dead, and things of that sort, which the devils are not able to accomplish in truth, but only by an illusion: so Simon Magus moved the head of a dead man; but such manifestations cannot last long. Secondly, they can be distinguished by their utility; for the miracles of the good are of a useful nature, as the healing of sickness, and such things. But the miracles done by witches are concerned with harmful and idle things; as when they fly in the air, or benumb the limbs of men, or such things. And S. Peter assigns this difference in the Itinerarium [3] of Clement.

The third difference relates to the Faith. For the miracles of the good are ordained for the edification of the Faith and of good living; whereas the miracles of the wicked are manifestly detrimental to the Faith and to righteousness.

They are distinguished also by the way in which they are done. For the good do miracles in a pious and reverent invocation of the Divine Name. But witches and wicked men work them by certain ravings and invocations of devils.

And there is no difficulty in the fact that the Apostle called the works of the devil and Antichrist lying wonders; [4] for the marvels so done by Divine permission are true in some respects and false in others. They are true in so far as they are within the limits of the devil’s power. But they are false when he appears to do things which are beyond his power, such as raising the dead, or making the blind to see. For when he appears to do the former, he either enters into the dead body or else removes it, and himself takes its place in an assumed aerial body; and in the latter case he takes away the sight by a glamour, and then suddenly restores it by taking away the disability he has caused, not by bringing light to the inner perceptions, as is told in the legend of Bartholomew. Indeed all the marvellous works of Antichrist and of witches can be said to be lying signs, insasmuch as their only purpose is to deceive. See S. Thomas, dist. 8, de Uirtute Daemonum.

We may also quote here the distinction which is drawn in the Compendium of Theological Truth between a wonder and a miracle. For in a miracle four conditions are required: that it should be done by God; that it should be beyond the existing order of nature; thirdly, that it should be manifest; and fourthly, that it should be for the corroboration of the Faith. But since the works of witches fail to fulfil at least the first and last conditions, therefore they may be called wonderful works, but nor miracles.

It can also be argued in this way. Although witches’ works can in a sense be said to be miraculous, yet some miracles are supernatural, some unnatural, and some preternatural. And they are supernatural when they can be compared with nothing in nature, or in natural power, as when a virgin gives birth. They are unnatural when they are against the normal course of nature but do not overstep the limits of nature, such as causing the blind to see. And they are preternatural when they are done in a manner parallel to that of nature, as when rods are changed into serpents; for this can be done naturally also, through long putrefaction on account of seminal reasons; and thus the works of magicians may be said to be marvellous.

It is expedient to recount an actual example, and then to explain it step by step. There is a town in the diocese of Strasburg, the name of which it is charitable and honourable to withhold, in which a workman was one day chopping some wood to burn in his house. A large cat suddenly appeared and began to attack him, and when he was driving it off, another even larger one came and attacked him with the first more fiercely. And when he again tried to drive them away, behold, three of them together attacked him, jumping up at his face, and biting and scratching his legs. In great fright and, as he said, more panic-stricken than he had ever been, he crossed himself and, leaving his work, fell upon the cats, which were swarming over the wood and again leaping at his face and throat, and with difficulty drove them away by beating one on the head, another on the legs, and another on the back. After the space of an hour, while he was again engaged upon his task, two servants of the town magistrates came and took him as a malefactor and led him into the presence of the bailiff or judge. And the judge, looking at him from a distance, and refusing to hear him, ordered him to be thrown into the deepest dungeon of a certain tower or prison, where those who were under sentence of death were placed. The man cried out, and for three days bitterly complained to the prison guards that he should suffer in that way, when he was conscious of no crime; but the more the guards tried to procure him a hearing, the more furious the judge became, expressing in the strongest terms his indignation that so great a malefactor had not yet acknowledged his crime, but dared to proclaim his innocence when the evidence of the facts proved his horrible crime. But although these could not prevail upon him, yet the judge was induced by the advice of the other magistrates to grant the man a hearing. So when he was brought out of prison into the presence of the judge, and the judge refused to look at him, the poor man threw himself before the knees of the other magistrates, pleading that he might know the reason for his misfortune; and the judge broke into these words: You most wicked of men, how can you not acknowledge your crime? At such a time on such a day you beat three respected matrons of this town, so that they lie in their beds unable to rise or to move. The poor man cast his mind back to the events of that day and that hour, and said: Never in all my life have I struck or beaten a woman, and I can prove by credible witnesses that at that time on that day I was busy chopping wood; and an hour afterwards your servants found me still engaged on that task. Then the judge again exclaimed in a fury: See how he tries to conceal his crime! The women are bewailing their blows, they exhibit the marks, and publicly testify that he struck them. Then the poor man considered more closely on that even, and said: I remember that I struck some creatures at that time, but they were not women. The magistrates in astonishment asked him to relate what sort of creatures he had struck; and he told, to their great amazement, all that had happened, as we have related it. So, understanding that it was the work of the devil, they released the poor man and let him go away unharmed, telling him not to speak of this matter to anyone. But it could not be hidden from those devout persons present who were zealous for the Faith.

Now concerning this it may be asked, whether the devils appeared thus in assumed shapes without the presence of the witches, or whether the witches were actually present, converted by some glamour into the shapes of those beasts. And in answering this it should be said that, although it was equally possible for the devils to act in either way, it is rather presumed that it was done in the second manner. For when the devils attacked the workman in the shapes of cats, they could suddenly, by local motion through the air, transfer the women to their houses with the blows which they received as cats from the workman; and no on doubts that this was because of a mutual pact formerly made between them. For in the same way they can cause injury or wound in a person whom they wish to bewitch, by means of puncturing a painted or molten image which represents the person whom they wish to injure. Many examples of this could be adduced.

And it cannot be validly objected that perhaps those women who were so injured were innocent, because according to previously quoted examples it is shown that injuries may happen even to the innocent, when someone is unknowingly hurt by a witch by means of an artificial image. The example is not apposite; for it is one thing to be hurt by a devil through a witch, and another thing to be hurt by the devil himself without any witch. For the devil receives blows in the form of an animal, and transfers them to one who is bound to him by a pact, when it is with such an one’s consent that he acts in this manner in such a shape. Therefore he can in this way hurt only the guilty who are bound to him by a pact, and never the innocent. But when devils seek to do injury by means of witches, then, with the permission of God for the avenging of so great a crime, they often afflict even the innocent.

Nevertheless, devils at times, with God’s permission, in their own persons hurt even the innocent; and formerly they injured the Blessed Job, although they were not personally present, nor did the devils make use of any such illusory apparition as in the example we have quoted, when they used the phantasm of a cat, an animal which is, in the Scriptures, an appropriate symbol of the perfidious, just as a dog is the symbol of preachers; for cats are always setting snares for each other. And the Order of Preaching Friars was represented in its first Founder by a dog barking against heresy.

Therefore it is presumed that those three witches attacked the workman in the second manner, either because the first manner did not please them so much, or because the second suited more with their curiosity.

And this was the order which they observed. First, they were urged to do this at the instance of the devils, and not the devils at the instance of the witches. For so we have often found in their confessions, that at the instance of devils who constantly spur them on to commit evil, they have to do more than they would. And it is likely that the witches would not, on their own account, have thought of attacking the poor man.

And there is no doubt that the reason why the devils urged them to do this is that they knew well that, when a manifest crime remains unpunished, God is the more offended, the Catholic Faith is brought into disrepute, and the number of witches is the more increased. Secondly, having gained their consent, the devils transported their bodies with that ease which belongs to a spiritual power over a bodily power. Thirdly, having in the way which has been told been turned into the forms of beasts by some glamour, they had to attack the workman; and the devils did not defend them from the blows, although they could have done so just as easily as they had transported them; but they permitted them to be beaten, and the one who beat them to be known, in the knowledge that those crimes would, for the reasons we have mentioned, remain unpunished by faint-hearted men who had no zeal for the Faith.

We read also of a certain holy man, who once found the devil preaching in the form of a devout priest preaching in a church, and knowing in his spirit that is was the devil, observed his words, whether he was teaching the people well or ill. And finding him irreproachable and inveighing against sin, he went up to him at the end of the sermon and asked him the reason for this. And the devil answered: I preach the truth, knowing that, because they are hearers of the word only, and not doers, God is the more offended and my gain is increased. happened, as we have related it. So, understanding that it was the work of the devil, they released the poor man and let him go away unharmed, telling him not to speak of this matter to anyone. But it could not be hidden from those devout persons present who were zealous for the Faith.

Now concerning this it may be asked, whether the devils appeared thus in assumed shapes without the presence of the witches, or whether the witches were actually present, converted by some glamour into the shapes of those beasts. And in answering this it should be said that, although it was equally possible for the devils to act in either way, it is rather presumed that it was done in the second manner. For when the devils attacked the workman in the shapes of cats, they could suddenly, by local motion through the air, transfer the women to their houses with the blows which they received as cats from the workman; and no on doubts that this was because of a mutual pact formerly made between them. For in the same way they can cause injury or wound in a person whom they wish to bewitch, by means of puncturing a painted or molten image which represents the person whom they wish to injure. Many examples of this could be adduced.

And it cannot be validly objected that perhaps those women who were so injured were innocent, because according to previously quoted examples it is shown that injuries may happen even to the innocent, when someone is unknowingly hurt by a witch by means of an artificial image. The example is not apposite; for it is one thing to be hurt by a devil through a witch, and another thing to be hurt by the devil himself without any witch. For the devil receives blows in the form of an animal, and transfers them to one who is bound to him by a pact, when it is with such an one’s consent that he acts in this manner in such a shape. Therefore he can in this way hurt only the guilty who are bound to him by a pact, and never the innocent. But when devils seek to do injury by means of witches, then, with the permission of God for the avenging of so great a crime, they often afflict even the innocent.

Nevertheless, devils at times, with God’s permission, in their own persons hurt even the innocent; and formerly they injured the Blessed Job, although they were not personally present, nor did the devils make use of any such illusory apparition as in the example we have quoted, when they used the phantasm of a cat, an animal which is, in the Scriptures, an appropriate symbol of the perfidious, just as a dog is the symbol of preachers; for cats are always setting snares for each other. And the Order of Preaching Friars was represented in its first Founder by a dog barking against heresy.

Therefore it is presumed that those three witches attacked the workman in the second manner, either because the first manner did not please them so much, or because the second suited more with their curiosity.

And this was the order which they observed. First, they were urged to do this at the instance of the devils, and not the devils at the instance of the witches. For so we have often found in their confessions, that at the instance of devils who constantly spur them on to commit evil, they have to do more than they would. And it is likely that the witches would not, on their own account, have thought of attacking the poor man.

And there is no doubt that the reason why the devils urged them to do this is that they knew well that, when a manifest crime remains unpunished, God is the more offended, the Catholic Faith is brought into disrepute, and the number of witches is the more increased. Secondly, having gained their consent, the devils transported their bodies with that ease which belongs to a spiritual power over a bodily power. Thirdly, having in the way which has been told been turned into the forms of beasts by some glamour, they had to attack the workman; and the devils did not defend them from the blows, although they could have done so just as easily as they had transported them; but they permitted them to be beaten, and the one who beat them to be known, in the knowledge that those crimes would, for the reasons we have mentioned, remain unpunished by faint-hearted men who had no zeal for the Faith.

We read also of a certain holy man, who once found the devil preaching in the form of a devout priest preaching in a church, and knowing in his spirit that is was the devil, observed his words, whether he was teaching the people well or ill. And finding him irreproachable and inveighing against sin, he went up to him at the end of the sermon and asked him the reason for this. And the devil answered: I preach the truth, knowing that, because they are hearers of the word only, and not doers, God is the more offended and my gain is increased.



1. “On the Spirit.” The treatise “De Natura et Origine Animae” was written towards the end of the year 419.

2. “Apostle.” S. Paul, “II. Thessalonians” ii, 8, 9.

3. “Itinerarium.” Pseudo-Clementines.

4. “Lying Wonders.” “II Thessalonians” ii, 8-9: “That wicked one . . . whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders.”
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:05 am


Of the Method by which Devils through the Operations of Witches sometimes actually possess men.

It has been shown in the previous chapter how devils can enter the heads and other parts of the body of men, and can move the inner mental images from place to place. But someone may doubt whether they are able at the instance of witches to obsess men entirely; or fell some uncertainty about their various methods of causing such obsession without the instance of witches. And to clear up these doubts we must undertake three explanations. First, as to the various methods of possession. Secondly, how at the instance of witches and with God’s permission devils at time possess men in all those ways. Thirdly, we must substantiate our arguments with facts and examples.

With references to the first, we must make an exception of that general method by which the devil inhabits a man in any mortal sin. S. Thomas, in Book 3, quest. 3, speaks of this method where he considers the doubt whether the devil always substantially possesses a man when he commits mortal sin; and the reason for the doubt is that the indwelling Holy Ghost always forms a man with grace, according to I. Corinthians, iii: Ye are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwelleth in you. And, since guilt is opposed to grace, it would seem that there were opposing forces in the same place.

And there he proves that to possess a man can be understood in two ways: either with regard to the soul, or with regard to the body. And in the first way it is not possible for the devil to possess the soul, since God alone can enter that; therefore the devil is not in this way the cause of sin, which the Holy Spirit permits the soul itself to commit; so there is no similitude between the two.

But as to the body, we may say that the devil can possess a man in two ways, just as there are two classes of men: those who are in sin, and those who are in grace. In the first way, we may say that, since a man is by any mortal sin brought into the devil’s service, in so far as the devil provides the outer suggestion of sin either to the senses or to the imagination, to that extent he is said to inhabit the character of a man when he is moved by every stirring temptation, like a ship in the sea without a rudder.

The devil can also essentially possess a man as is clear in the case of frantic men. But this rather belongs to the question of punishment than that of sin, as will be shown; and bodily punishments are not always the consequence of sin, but are inflicted now upon sinners and now upon the innocent. Therefore both those who are and those who are not in a state of grace can, in the depth of the incomprehensible judgement of God, be essentially possessed by devils. And though this method of possession is not quite pertinent to our inquire, we have set it down lest it should seem impossible to anyone that, with God’s permission, men should at times be substantially inhabited by devils at the instance of witches.

We may say, therefore, that just as there are five ways in which devils by themselves, without witches, can injure and possess men, so they can also do so in those ways at the instance of witches; since then God is the more offended, and greater power of molesting men is allowed to the devil through witches. And the methods are briefly the following, excepting the fact that they sometimes plague a man through his external possessions: sometimes they injure men only in their own bodies; sometimes in their and in their faculties; sometimes they only tempt them inwardly and outwardly; others they at times deprive of the use of their reason; others they change into the appearance of irrational beasts. We shall speak of these methods singly.

But first we shall rehearse five reasons why God allows men to be possessed, for the sake of preserving a due order in our matter. For sometimes a man is possessed for his own advantage; sometimes for a slight sin of another; and sometimes for his own venial sin; sometimes for another’s heavy sin. For all these reasons let no one doubt that God allows such things to be done by devils at the instance of witches; and it is better to prove each of them by the Scriptures, rather than by recent examples, since new things are always strengthened by old examples.

For an example of the first is clearly shown in the Dialogue of Severus, [1] a very dear disciple of S. Martin, where he tells that a certain Father of very holy life was so gifted by grace with the power of expelling devils, that they were put to flight not only by his words, but even by his letters or his hair-shirt. And since the Father became very famous in the world, and felt himself tempted with vainglory, although he manfully resisted that vice, yet, that he might be the more humiliated, he prayed with his whole heart to God that he might be for five months possessed by a devil; and this was done. For he was at once possessed and had to be put in chains, and everything had to applied to him which is customary in the case of demoniacs. But at the end of the fifth month he was immediately delivered both from all vainglory and from the devil. But we do not read, nor is it for the present maintained, that for this reason a man can be possessed by a devil through the witchcraft of another man; although, as we have said, the judgements of God are incomprehensible.

For the second reason, when someone is possessed because of the light sin of another, S. Gregory gives an example. The Blessed Abbot Eleutherius, a most devout man, was spending the night near a convent of virgins, who unknown to him ordered to be put by his cell a young boy who used to be tormented all night by the devil. But on that same night the boy was delivered from the devil by the presence of the Father. When the Abbot learned of this, and the boy now being placed in the holy man’s monastery, after many days he began to exult rather immoderately over the boy’s liberation, and said to his brother monks: The devil was playing his pranks with those Sisters, but he had not presumed to approach this boy since he came to the servants of God. And behold! the devil at once began to torment the boy. And by the tears and fasting of the holy man and his brethren he was with difficulty delivered, but on the same day. And indeed that an innocent person should be possessed for the slight fault of another is not surprising when men are possessed by devils for their own light fault, or for another’s heavy sin, or for their own heavy sin, and some also at the instance of witches.

Cassia, in his First Collation of the Abbot Serenus, gives an example of how one Moses was possessed for his own venial sin. This Moses, he says, was a hermit of upright and pious life; but because on one occasion he engaged in a dispute with the Abbot Macharius, and went a little too far in the expression of a certain opinion, he was immediately delivered up to a terrible devil, who caused him to void his natural excrements through his mouth. And that this scourge was inflicted by God for the sake of purgation, lest any stain of his momentary fault should remain in him, is clear from his miraculous cure. For by continual prayers and submission to the Abbot Macharius, the vile spirit was quickly driven away and departed from him.

A similar case is that related by S. Gregory in his First Dialogue of the nun who ate a lettuce without having first made the sign of the Cross, and was set free by the Blessed Father Equitius. [2]

In the same Dialogue St. Gregory tells an example of the fourth case, where someone in possessed because of the heavy sin of another. The Blessed Bishop Fortunatus had driven the devil from a possessed man, and the devil began to walk about the streets of the city in the guise of a pilgrim, crying out: Oh, the holy man Bishop Fortunatus! See, he has cast me, a pilgrim, out of my lodging, and I can find no rest anywhere. Then a certain man sitting with his wife and son invited the pilgrim to lodge with him, and asking why he had been turned out, was delighted with the derogatory story of the holy man which the pilgrim had invented. And thereupon the devil entered his son, and cast him upon the fire, and killed him. And then for the first time did the unhappy father understand whom he had received as a guest.

And fifthly, we read many examples of men being possessed for their own heavy sin, both in the Holy Scripture and in the passions of the Saints. For in I. Kings xv, Saul was possessed for disobedience to God. And, as we have said, we have mentioned all these so that it need not seem to anyone impossible that men should also be possessed because of the crimes of, and at the instance of, witches. And we shall be able to understand the various methods of such possession by quoting actual examples.

In the time of Pope Pius II [3] the following was the experience of one of us two Inquisitors before he entered upon his office in the Inquisition. A certain Bohemian from the town of Dachov brought his only son, a secular priest, to Rome to be delivered, because he was possessed. It happened that I, one of us Inquisitors, went into a refectory, and that priest and his father came and sat down at the same table with me. We saluted each other, and talked together, as is customary; and the father kept sighing and praying Almighty God that his journey might prove to have been successful. I felt great pity for him, and began to ask what was the reason of his journey and of his sorrow. Then he, in the hearing of his son who was sitting next to me at the table, answered: “Alas! I have a son possessed by a devil, and with great trouble and expense I have brought him here to be delivered.” And when I asked where the son was, he showed me him sitting by my side. I was a little frightened, and looked at him closely; and because he took his food with such modesty, and answered piously to all questions, I began to doubt that he was not possessed, but that some infirmity had happened to him. Then the son himself told what had happened, showing how and for how long he had been possessed, and saying: “A certain witch brought this evil upon me. For I was rebuking her on some matter concerned with the discipline of the Church, upbraiding her rather strongly since she was of an obstinate disposition, when she said that after a few days that would happen to me which has happened. And the devil which possesses me has told me that a charm was placed by the witch under a certain tree, and that until it was removed I could not be delivered; but he would not tell me which was the tree.” But I would not in the least have believed his words if he had not at once informed me of the facts of the case. For when I asked him about the length of the intervals during which he had the use of his reason more than is usual in the case of persons possessed, he answered: “I am only deprived of the use of my reason when I wish to contemplate holy things or to visit sacred places. For the devil specifically told me in his own words uttered through my mouth that, because he had up to that time been much offended by my sermons to the people, we would in no way allow me to preach.” For according to his father, he was a preacher full of grace, and loved by all. But I, the Inquisitor, wishing for proofs, had him taken for a fortnight and more to various holy places, and especially to the Church of S. Praxedes the Virgin, [4] where there is part of the marble pillar to which Our Saviour was bound when He was scourged, and to the place where S. Peter the Apostle was crucified; and in all these places he uttered horrible cries while he was being exorcised, now saying that he wished to come forth, and after a little maintaining the contrary. And as we have said before, in all his behaviour he remained a sober priest without any eccentricity, except during the process of any exorcisms; and when these were finished, and the stole was taken from his neck, he showed no sign of madness or any immoderate action. But when he passed any church, and genuflected in honour of the Glorious Virgin, the devil made him thrust his tongue far out of his mouth; and when he was asked whether he could not restrain himself from doing this, he answered: “I cannot help myself at all, for so he uses all my limbs and organs, my neck, my tongue, and my lungs, whenever he pleases, causing me to speak or to cry out; and I hear the words as if they were spoken by myself, but I am altogether unable to restrain them; and when I try to engage in prayer he attacks me more violently, thrusting out my tongue.” And there was in the Church of S. Peter a column brought from Solomon’s Temple, by virtue of which many who are obsessed with devils are liberated, because Christ had stood near it when He preached in the Temple; but even here he could not be delivered, owing to the hidden purpose of God which reserved another method for his liberation. For though he remained shut in by the column for a whole day and night, yet on the following day, after various exorcisms had been performed upon him, with a great concourse of people standing round, he was asked by which part of the column Christ had stood; and he bit the column with his teeth, and, crying out, showed the place, saying: “Here He stood! Here He stood!” And at last he said, “I will not go forth.” And when he was asked why, he answered in the Italian tongue (although the poor priest did not understand that language), They all practise such and such things, naming the worst vice of lustfulness. And afterwards the priest asked me, saying, “Father, what did those Italian words mean which came from my mouth?” And when I told him, he answered, “I heard the words, but I could not understand them.” Eventually it proved that this demoniac was of that sort of which the Saviour spoke in the Gospel, saying: This sort goeth not out save by prayer and fasting. For a venerable Bishop, who had been driven from his see by the Turks, piously took compassion on him, and by fasting on bread and water for forty days, and by prayers and exorcisms, at last through the grace of God delivered him and sent him back to his home rejoicing.

Now it would be a miracle if anyone in this life could thoroughly explain in what and in how many ways the devil possesses or injures men: yet we can say that, leaving out of account his method of injuring men in their temporal fortunes, there are five ways. For some are affected only in their own bodies; some both in their bodies and in their inner perceptions; some only in their inner perceptions; some are so punished at to be at times only deprived of their reason; and others are turned into the semblance of irrational beasts. Now the priest we have just mentioned was possessed in the fourth manner. For he was not touched in his worldly fortunes or in his own body, as it happened to the Blessed Job, over whom the Scripture clearly tells us that God gave the devil power, saying to Satan: Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. And this refers to exterior things. But afterwards He gave him power over his body, saying: Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

And it can also be said that Job was tormented in the third manner, that is, in the inner perceptions of his soul as well as his body; for it is said in Job xii: If it is said to the Lord, My bed will console me, and I will take comfort to myself on my couch, then Thou wilt terrify me with dreams, and shake me with the horror of visions: though these dreams were caused by the devil, according to Nicolas of Lyra [5] and S. Thomas: Thou wilt terrify me with dreams, which appear to me in sleep, and with visions which come to me waking by a distortion of my inner perceptions. For the phantasms which occur to the thoughts in the day-time can become the terror of sleepers, and such were visited upon Job through the infirmity of his body. Therefore he was so shut off from all comfort that he saw no remedy or way of escaping from his misery except in death, and said that he was shaken with horror. And no one doubts that witches can injure men in these ways through devils, as will be shown in what follows, how they bring injuries upon the fortunes of men and upon the bodies of men and animals by means of hailstorms.

And there is a third way of injuring the body and the inner perceptions, without taking away the reason, which is shown when witches, as has been said, so inflame the minds of men with unlawful lust that they are compelled to travel long distances in the night to go to their mistresses, being too fast bound in the net of carnal desire.

We may mention an example which is said to have happened in Hesse, in the diocese of Marburg. A certain priest was possessed, and during an exorcism the devil was asked for how long he had inhabited that priest. He answered, For seven years. And when the exorcist objected, But you have tormented him for hardly three years; where were you for the rest of the time? He answered, I was hiding in his body. And when he asked in what part of the body, he answered, Generally in his head. And when he was again asked where he was when the priest was celebrating the Sacrament, he said, I hid myself under his tongue. And the other said: Wretch! How were you so bold as not to flee from the presence of your Creator? Then the devil said: Anyone may hide under a bridge while a holy man is crossing, as long as he does not pause in his walk. But with the help of Divine grace the priest was delivered, whether he told the truth or not; for both he and his father are liars.

The fourth method applies to the case of the priest who was liberated in Rome, under the proposition that the devil can enter the body, but not the soul, which only God can enter. But when I say that the devil can enter the body, I do not mean that he can occupy the essential limits of the body.

I will explain this further; and in doing so it will be shown how devils sometimes substantially occupy a man, and at times deprive him of his reason. For we may say that the limits of the body can be considered in two ways: they may be physical or essential limits. Whenever any Angel, good or bad, works within the physical limits of the body, he enters the body in such a way as to influence its physical capacities. And in this way the good Angels cause imaginary visions in the good. But they are never said to enter into the essence of the body, since they cannot do so, either as part of it or as a quality of it. Not as a part, for the angelic and the human essence are entirely different from each other; and not as a quality, as if giving it its character, for it has its character by creation from God. Wherefore He alone is able to influence its inner essence, and to preserve it when He is pleased in His mercy to preserve it.

So we conclude that, speaking of all other perfections in the good or defects in the wicked, when these are caused by a spirit operating in the head and its attributes, such a spirit enters into the head within the physical limits of the physical capacities of the body.

But if the spirit is working upon the soul, then again it works from the outside, but in various ways. And they are said to work on the soul when they represent phantasms or shapes to the intellect, and not only to the common understanding and the outer perceptions. And when bad Angels so operate, there follow temptations and evil thoughts and affections, caused by an indirect influence upon the intellect. But good Angels cause phantasms of revelation which enlighten the understanding. And there is this difference between them; that good Angels can even directly impress enlightening fancies upon the intellect; but bad Angels are said not to enlighten but rather to darken by means of their phantasms, and they cannot influence the intellect directly, but only indirectly, in so far as the intellect is bound to take such phantasms into consideration.

But even a good Angel is not said to enter into the soul, although he enlightens it: similarly a superior Angel is not said to enter into an inferior, although he enlightens it; but he works only from the outside, and co-operates in the way we have said. Therefore far less can a bad Angel enter the soul.

And so the devil occupied the body of the priest in three ways. First, as he could enter his body within its physical limits, so he occupied his head by substantially inhabiting it. Secondly, he could extrinsically work upon his reason. And he could have so tormented him without any intermission or respite; but we may say that the priest had this gift from God, that he should not be tormented by the devil without intermission. Thirdly, that although he was deprived of the power of the sane use of words, yet he was always conscious of his words, though not of their meaning. And this differs from the other methods of obsession, for we generally read that those who are possessed are afflicted by devils without intermission; as is clear in the case of the lunatic in the Gospel, whose father said to Jesus: Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is lunatic, and sore vexed (S. Matthew xvii); and of the woman whom Satan had crippled for eighteen years, who was bowed together and could in no wise lift herself up (S. Luke xiii). And in these ways devils can without doubt at the instance of witches and with God’s permission inflict torments.



1. “Severus.” Sulpicius Severus, who has been styled the Christian Sallust, was born in Aquitaine about 360; and died circa 420-25. He became a personal friend and enthusiastic disciple of S. Martin, and lived near Eauze, at Toulouse and Luz in Southern France. His “Life of S. Martin” was very popular during the Middle Ages, as also were his “Two Dialogues,” formerly divided into three. His works are to be found in Migne, “Patres Latini,” XX, 95-248.

2. “Equitius.” In 487 Equitius was Bishop of Matelica, a diocese now joined to Fabriano. Only one other Bishop (Florentius) of the ancient see is known.

3. “Pius II.” Enea Silvio de’ Piccolomini was born at Corsignano, near Siena, 18 October, 1405; and elected to the Chair of S. Peter, 19 August, 1459. He died at Ancona, 14 August, 1464.

4. “S. Praxedes.” Praxedes and Pudentiana were the daughters of the Senator Pudens, a pupil of S. Peter. There was an old title-church of Rome, “titulus Pudentis,” called also the “ecclesia Pudentiana.” The two female figures in the mosaic of the apse of S. Pudenziana, via Urbana, are Pudentiana and Praxedes. In the fourth century a new church, “titulus Praxedis,” was built near Santa Maria Maggiore, and when Paschal I in 822 rebuilt the church in its present form (the basilica and title-church S. Prassede all’ Esquilino) he translated to it the bodies of S. Praxedes, S. Prudentiana, and of many other martyrs. Under the High Altar are the chief Relics of the Saints. In the Chapel of S. Zeno, which dates from the ninth century, is the Holy Pillar of the Scourging brought in 1223 from Jerusalem by Cardinal Giovanni Colonna. Another portion of the Holy Pillar is preserved in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, where it is publically venerated each year on Easter Eve. S. Prassede is one of the richest churches in Rome in Relics. It contains the Bodies of S. Zoe, S. Feldian, S. Candid, S. Basil, S. Celestine I, S. Nicomedius; important Relics of S. Matthew, S. Luke, S. Bartholomew, S. Philip, S. Andrew, S. Peter, S. Paul, and S. John Baptist; some of the garments of Our Lady; a piece of the seamless robe of Our Lord; thee Thorns from the Crown of Thorns; and four fragments of wood from the True Cross.

5. “Nicolas of Lyra.” “Doctor planus et utilis,” the famous exegete, was born at Lyra in Normandy, 1270; and died at Paris, 1340. He is the author of numerous theological works, by far the most famous of which is his monumental “Postillae perpetuae in uniuersam S. Scripturam,” which was so popular that it gained the distinction of being the first biblical commentary to be printed.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:06 am


Of the Method by which they can Inflict Every Sort of Infirmity, generally Ills of the Graver Kind.

But there is no bodily infirmity, not even leprosy or epilepsy, which cannot be caused by witches, with God’s permission. And this is proved by the fact that no sort of infirmity is excepted by the Doctors. For a careful consideration of what has already been written concerning the power of devils and the wickedness of witches will show that this statement offers no difficulty. Nider also deals with this subject both in his Book of Precepts [1] and in his Formicarius, where he asks: Whether witches can actually injure men by their witchcraft. And the question makes no exception of any infirmity, however incurable. And he there answers that they can do so, and proceeds to ask in what way and by what means.

And as to the first, he answers, as has been shown in the First Question of the First Part of this treatise. And it is proved also by S. Isidore where he describes the operations of witches (Etym. 8, cap. 9), and says that they are called witches on account of the magnitude of their crimes; for they disturb the elements by raising up storms with the help of devils, they confuse the minds of men in the ways already mentioned, by either entirely obstructing or gravely impeding the use of their reason. He adds also that without the use of any poison, but by the mere virulence of their incantations, they can deprive men of their lives.

It is proved also by S. Thomas in the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 7 and 8, and in Book IV, dist. 34, and in general all the Theologians write that witches can with the help of the devil bring harm upon men and their affairs in all the ways in which the devil alone can injure or deceive, namely, in their affairs, their reputation, their body, their reason, and their life; which means that those injuries which are caused by the devil without any witch, can also be caused by a witch; and even more readily so, on account of the greater offence which is given to the Divine Majesty, as has been shown above.

In Job i and ii is found a clear case of the injury in temporal affairs. The injury to reputation is shown in the history of the Blessed Jerome, that the devil transformed himself into the appearance of S. Silvanus, Bishop of Nazareth, a friend of S. Jerome. And this devil approached a noble woman by night in her bed and began first to provoke and entice her with lewd words, and then invited her to perform the sinful act. And when she called out, the devil in the form of the saintly Bishop hid under the woman’s bed, and being sought for and found there, he in lickerish language declared lyingly that he was the Bishop Silvanus. On the morrow therefore, when the devil had disappeared, the holy man was scandalously defamed; but his good name was cleared when the devil confessed at the tomb of S. Jerome that he had done this in an assumed body.

The injury to the body is shown in the case of the Blessed Job, who was stricken by the devil with terrible sores, which are explained as a form of leprosy. And Sigisbert [2] and Vincent of Beauvais (Spec. Hist. XXV, 37) both tell that in the time of the Emperor Louis II, [3] in the diocese of Mainz, a certain devil began to thrown stones and to beat at the houses as if with a hammer. And then by public statements, and secret insinuations, he spread discord ad troubled the minds of many. Then he excited the anger of all against one man, whose lodging, where he was resting, he set on fire, and said that they were all suffering for his sins. So at last that man had to find his lodging in the fields. And when the priests were saying a litany on this account, the devil stoned many of the people with stones till he hurt them to bleeding; and sometimes he would desist, and sometimes rage; and this continued for three years, until all the houses there were burned down.

Exampled of the injury to the use of the reason, and of the tormenting of the inner perceptions, are seen in those possessed and frenzied men of whom the Gospels tell. And as for death, and that they deprive some of their lives, it is proved in Tobias vi, in the case of the seven husbands of the virgin Sara, who were killed because of their lecherous lust and unbridled desired for the virgin Sara, of whom they were not worthy to be the husbands. Therefore it is concluded that both by themselves, and all the more with the help of witches, devils can injure men in every way without exception.

But if it is asked whether injuries of this sort are to be ascribed rather to devils than to witches, it is answered that, when the devils cause injuries by their own direct action, then they are principally to be ascribed to them. But when they work through the agency of witches for the disparagement and offending of God and the perdition of souls, knowing that by this means God is made more angry and allows them greater power of doing evil; and because they do indeed perpetuate countless witchcrafts which the devil would not be allowed to bring upon men if he wished to injure men alone by himself, but are permitted, in the just and hidden purpose of God, through the agency of witches, on account of their perfidy and abjuration of the Catholic Faith; therefore such injuries are justly ascribed to witches secondarily, however much the devil may be the principal actor.

Therefore when a woman dips a twig in water and sprinkles the water in the air to make it rain, although she does not herself cause the rain, and could not be blamed on that account, yet, because she has entered into a pact with the devil by which she can do this as a witch, although it is the devil who causes the rain, she herself nevertheless deservedly bears the blame, because she is an infidel and does the devil’s work, surrendering herself to his service.

So also when a witch makes a waxen image or some such thing in order to bewitch somebody; or when an image of someone appears by pouring molten lead into water, and some injury is done upon the image, such as piercing it or hurting it in any other way, when it is the bewitched man who is in imagination being hurt; although the injury is actually done to the image by some witch or some other man, and the devil in the same manner invisibly injures the bewitched man, yet it is deservedly ascribed to the witch. For, without her, God would never allow the devil to inflict the injury, nor would the devil on his own account try to injure the man.

But because it has been said that in the matter of their good name the devils can injure men on the own account and without the co-operation of witches, there may arise a doubt whether the devils cannot also defame honest women so that they are reputed to be witches, when they appear in their likeness to bewitch someone; from which it would happen that such a woman would be defamed without cause.

In answering this we must premise a few remarks. First, it has been said that the devil can do nothing without the Divine permission, as is shown in the First Part of this work in the last Question. It has also been shown that God does not allow so great power of evil against the just and those who live in grace, as against sinners; and as the devils have more power against sinners (see the text: When a strong man [4] armed, etc.) so they are permitted by God to afflict them more than the just. Finally, although they can, with God’s permission, injure the just in their affairs, their reputation, and their bodily health, yet, because they know that this power is granted them chiefly for the increase of the merits of the just, they are the less eager to injure them.

Therefore it can be said that in this difficulty there are several points to be considered. First, the Divine permission. Secondly, the man who is thought to be righteous, for they who are so reputed are not always actually in a state of grace. Thirdly, the crime of which an innocent man would be suspected; for that crime in its very origin exceeds all the crimes of the world. Therefore it is to be said that it is granted that, with God’s permission, an innocent person, whether or not he is in a state of grace, may be injured in his affairs to this particular crime and the gravity of the accusation (for we have often quoted S. Isidore’s saying that they are called witches from the magnitude of their crimes), it can be said that for an innocent person to be defamed by the devil in a way that has been suggested does not seem at all possible, for many reasons.

In the first place, it is one thing to be defamed in respect of vices which are committed without any expressed or tacit contract with the devil, such as theft, robbery, or fornication; but quite another matter to be defamed in respect of vices which it is impossible to accuse a man of having perpetrated unless he has entered upon an expressed contract with the devil; and such are the works of witches, which cannot be laid at their door unless it is by the power of devils that they bewitch men, animals and the fruits of the earth. Therefore, although the devil can blacken men’s reputations in respect of other vices, yet it does not seem possible for him to do so in respect of this vice which cannot be perpetrated without his co-operation.

Besides, it has never hitherto been known to have happened that an innocent person has been defamed by the devil to such an extent that he was condemned to death for this particular crime. Furthermore, when a person is only under suspicion, he suffers no punishment except that which the Canon prescribes for his purgation, as will be shown in the Third Part of this work in the second method of sentencing witches.

And it is set down there that, if such a man fails in his purgation, he is to be considered guilty, but that he should be solemnly adjured before the punishment due to his sin is proceeded with and enforced. But here we are dealing with actual events; and it has never yet been known that an innocent person has been punished on suspicion of witchcraft, and there is no doubt that God will never permit such a thing to happen.

Besides, He does not suffer the innocent who are under Angelic protection to be suspected of smaller crimes, such as robbery and such things; then all the more will He preserve those who are under that protection from suspicion of the crime of witchcraft.

And it is no valid objection to quote the legend of S. Germanius, when devils assumed the bodies of other women and sat down at table and slept with the husbands, deluding the latter into the belief that those women were in their own bodies eating and drinking with them, as we have mentioned before. For the women in this case are not to be held guiltless. For in the Canon (Episcopi 26. q. 2) such women are condemned for thinking that they are really and actually transported, when they are so only in imagination; although, as we have shown above, they are at times bodily transported by devils.

But our present proposition is that they can, with God’s permission, cause all other infirmities, with no exception; and it is to be concluded from what we have said that this is so. For no exception is made by the Doctors, and there is no reason why there should be any, since, as we have often said, the natural power of devils is superior to all corporeal power. And we have found in our experience that this is true. For although greater difficulty may be felt in believing that witches are able to cause leprosy or epilepsy, since these diseases arise from some long-standing physical predisposition or defect, none the less it has sometimes been found that even these have been caused by witchcraft. For in the diocese of Basel, in the district of Alsace and Lorraine, a certain honest labourer spoke roughly to a certain quarrelsome woman, and she angrily threatened him that she would soon avenge herself on him. He took little notice of her; but on the same night he felt a pustule grow upon his neck, and he rubbed it a little, and found his whole face and neck puffed up and swollen, and a horrible form of leprosy appeared all over his body. He immediately went to his friends for advice, and told them of the woman’s threat, and said that he would stake his life on the suspicion that this had been done to him by the magic art of that same witch. In short, the woman was taken, questioned, and confessed her crimes. But when the judge asked her particularly about the reason for it, and how she had done it, she answered: “When that man used abusive words to me, I was angry and went home; and my familiar began to ask the reason for my ill humour. I told him, and begged him to avenge me on the man. And he asked what I wanted him to do to him; and I answered that I wished he would always have a swollen face. And the devil went away and afflicted the man even beyond my asking; for I had not hoped that he would infect him with such sore leprosy.” And so the woman was burned.

And in the diocese of Constance, between Breisach and Freiburg, there is a leprous woman (unless she has paid the debt of all flesh within these two years) who used to tell to many people how the same thing had happened to her by reason of a similar quarrel which took place between her and another woman. For one night when she went out of the house to do something in front of the door, a warm wind came from the house of the other woman, which was opposite, and suddenly struck her face; and from that time she had been afflicted with the leprosy which she now suffered.

And lastly, in the same diocese, in the territory of the Black Forest, a witch was being lifted by a gaoler on to the pile of wood prepared for her burning, and she said: ”I will pay you”; and blew into his face. And he was at once afflicted with a horrible leprosy all over his body, and did not survive many days. For the sake of brevity, the fearful crimes of this witch, and many more instances could be recounted, are omitted. For we have often found that certain people have been visited with epilepsy or the falling sickness by means of eggs which have been buried with dead bodies, especially the dead bodies of witches, together with other ceremonies of which we cannot speak, particularly when these eggs have been given to a person either in food or drink.



1. “Book of Precepts.” “Praeceptorum diuinae legis Liber,” of which there were seventeen editions before 1500. I have used that of Douai, 1612.

2. “Sigisbert.” Sigebert of Bembloux, the celebrated Benedictine historian, was born at Gembloux (pr. Namur) about 1035, and died at the same place, 5 November, 1112. He was a prolific author, and his most famous work, “Chronicon siue Chronographia,” is the basis of many other histories. It has frequently been reprinted. The works of Sigebert may be conveniently found in Migne, “Patres Latini,” CLX. There is a study by Hirsh, “De uita et scriptis Sigeberti Monachi Gemblacensis,” Berlin, 1841.

3. “Louis II.” Son of Lothaire I, was born about 822. He became associated with his father in the Empire in 849, and succeeded to the Imperial Crown in 855. He died in 875.

4. “Strong Man.” “S. Luke” xi, 21.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:06 am


Of the Way how in Particular they Afflict Men with Other Like Infirmities.

But who can reckon the number of infirmities which they have inflicted upon men, such as blindness, the sharpest pains, and contortions of the body? Yet we shall set down a few examples which we have seen with our eyes, or have been related to one of us Inquisitors.

When an inquisition was being held on some witches in the town of Innsbruck, the following case, among others, was brought to light. A certain honest woman who had been legally married to one of the household of the Archduke formally deposed the following. In the time of her maidenhood she had been in the service of one of the citizens, whose wife became afflicted with grievous pains in the head; and a woman came who said she could cure her, and so began certain incantations and rites which she said would assuage the pains. And I carefully watched (said this woman) what she did, and saw that, against the nature of water poured into a vase, she caused water to rise in its vessel, together with other ceremonies which there is no need to mention. And considering that the pains in my mistress’ head were not assuaged by these means, I addressed the witch in some indignation with these words: “I do not know what you are doing, but whatever it is, it is witchcraft, and you are doing it for your own profit.” Then the witch at once replied: “You will know in three days whether I am a witch or not.” And so it proved; for on the third day when I sat down and took up a spindle, I suddenly felt a terrible pain in my body. First it was inside me, so that it seemed that there was no part of my body in which I did not feel horrible shooting pains; then it seemed to me just as if burning coals were being continually heaped upon my head; thirdly, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet there was no place large enough for a pinprick that was not covered with a rash of white pustules; and so I remained in these pains, crying out and wishing only for death, until the fourth day. At last my mistress’ husband told me to go to a certain tavern; and with great difficulty I went, whilst he walked before, until we were in front of the tavern. “See!” he said to me; “there is a loaf of white bread over the tavern door.” “I see,” said I. Then he said: “Take it down, if you possibly can, for it may do you good.” And I, holding on to the door with one hand as much as I could, got hold of the loaf with the other. “Open it” (said my master) “and look carefully at what is inside.” Then, when I had broken open the loaf, I found many things inside it, especially some white grains very like the pustules on my body; and I saw also some seeds and herbs such as I could not eat or even look at, with the bones of serpents and other animals. In my astonishment I asked my master what was to be done; and he told me to throw it all into the fire. I did so; and behold! suddenly, not in an hour or even a few minutes, but at the moment when that matter was thrown into the fire, I regained all my former health.

And much more was deposed against the wife of the citizen in whose service this woman had been, by reason of which she was not lightly but very strongly suspected, and especially because she had used great familiarity with known witches. It is presumed that, having knowledge of the spell of witchcraft hidden in the loaf, she had told it to her husband; and then, in the way described, the maid-servant recovered her health.

To bring so great a crime into detestation, it is well that we should tell how another person, also a woman, was bewitched in the same town. An honest married woman deposed the following an oath.

Behind my house (she said) I have a greenhouse, and my neighbour’s garden borders on it. One day I noticed that a passage had been made from my neighbour’s garden to my greenhouse, not without some damage being cause; and as I was standing in the door of my greenhouse reckoning to myself and bemoaning both the passage and the damage, my neighbour suddenly came up and asked if I suspected her. But I was frightened because of her bad reputation, and only answered, “The footprints on the grass are proof of the damage.” Then she was indignant because I had not, as she hoped, accused her with the actionable words, and went away murmuring; and though I could hear her words, I could not understand them. After a few days I became very ill with pains in the stomach, and the sharpest twinges shooting from my left side to my right, and conversely, as if two swords or knives were thrust through my breast; whence day and night I disturbed all the neighbours with my cries. And when they came from all sides to console me, it happened that a certain clay-worker, who was engaged in an adulterous intrigue with the witch, my neighbour, coming to visit me, took pity on my illness, and after a few words of comfort went away. But the next day he returned in a hurry, and, after consoling me, added: “I am going to test whether your illness is due to witchcraft, and if I find that it is, I shall restore your health.” So he took some molten lead and, while I was lying in bed, poured it into a bowl of water which he placed on my body. And when the lead solidified into a certain image and various shapes, he said: “See! your illness has been caused by witchcraft; and one of the instruments of that witchcraft is hidden under the threshold of your house door. Let us go, then, and remove it, and you will feel better.” So my husband and he went to remove the charm; and the clay-worker, taking up the threshold, told my husband to put his hand into the hold which then appeared, and take out whatever he found; and he did so. And first he brought out a waxen image about a palm long, perforated all over, and pierced through the sides with two needles, just in the same way that I felt the stabbing pains from side to side; and then little bags containing all sorts of things, such as grains and seeds and bones. And when all these things were burned, I became better, but not entirely well. For although the shootings and twinges stopped, and I quite regained my appetite for food, yet even now I am by no means fully restored to health. — And when we asked her why it was that she had not been completely restored, she answered: There are some other instruments of witchcraft hidden away which I cannot find. And when I asked the man how he knew where the first instruments were hidden, he answered: “I knew this through the love which prompts a friend to tell things to a friend; for your neighbour revealed this to me when she was coaxing me to commit adultery with her.” This is the story of the sick woman.

But if I were to tell all the instances that were found in that one town I should need to make a book of them. For countless men and women who were blind, or lame, or withered, or plagued with various infirmities, severally took their oath that they had strong suspicions that their illnesses, both in general and in particular, were caused by witches, and that they were bound to endure those ills either for a period or right up to their deaths. And all that they said and testified was true, either as regards a specified illness or as regards a specified illness or as regards the death of others. For that country abounds in henchmen and knights who have leisure for vice, and seduce women, and then wish to cast them off when they desire to marry an honest woman. But they can rarely do this without incurring the vengeance of some witchcraft upon themselves or their wives. For when those women see themselves despised, they persist in tormenting not so much the husband as the wife, in the fond hope that, if the wife should die, the husband would return to his former mistress.

For when a cook of the Archduke had married an honest girl from a foreign country, a witch, who had been his mistress, met them in the public road and, in the hearing of other honest people, foretold the bewitching and death of the girl, stretching out her hand and saying: “Not for long will you rejoice in your husband.” And at once, on the following day, she took to her bed, and after a few days paid the debt of all flesh, exclaiming just as she expired: Lo! thus I die, because that woman, with God’s permission, has killed me by her witchcraft; yet verily I go to another and better marriage with God.

In the same way, according to the evidence of public report, a certain soldier was slain by witchcraft, and many others whom I omit to mention.

But among them there was a well-known gentleman, whom his mistress wished to come to her on one occasion to pass the night; but he sent his servant to tell her that he could not visit her that night because he was busy. She promptly flew into a rage, and said to the servant: Go and tell your master that he will not trouble me for long. On the very next day he was taken ill, and he was buried within a week.

And there are witches who can bewitch their judges by a mere look or glance from their eyes, and publicly boast that they cannot be punished; and when malefactors have been imprisoned for their crimes, and exposed to the severest torture to make them tell the truth, these witches can endow them with such an obstinacy of preserving silence that they are unable to lay bare their crimes.

And there are some who, in order to accomplish their evil charms and spells, beat and stab the Crucifix, and utter the filthiest words against the Purity of the Most Glorious Virgin MARY, casting the foulest aspersions on the Nativity of Our Saviour from Her inviolate womb. It is not expedient to repeat those vile words, nor yet to describe their detestable crimes, as the narrative would give too great offence to the ears of the pious; but they are all kept and preserved in writing, detailing the manner in which a certain baptized Jewess had instructed other young girls. And one of them, named Walpurgis, being in the same year at the point of death, and being urged by those who stood round her to confess her sins, exclaimed: I have given myself body and soul to the devil; there is no hope of forgiveness for me; and so died.

These particulars have not been written to the shame, but rather to the praise and glory of the most illustrious Archduke. For he was truly a Catholic Prince, and laboured very zealously with the Church at Brixen to exterminate witches. But they are written rather in hate and loathing of so great a crime, and that men may not cease to avenge their wrongs, and the insults and offences these wretches offer to the Creator and our Holy Faith, to say nothing of the temporal losses which they cause. For this is their greatest and gravest crime, namely, that they abjure the Faith.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:07 am


How Witch Midwives commit most Horrid Crimes when they either Kill Children or Offer them to Devils in most Accursed Wise.

We must not omit to mention the injuries done to children by witch midwives, first by killing them, and secondly by blasphemously offering them to devils. In the diocese of Strasburg and in the town of Zabern there is an honest woman very devoted to the Blessed Virgin MARY, who tells the following experience of hers to all the guests that come to the tavern which she keeps, known by the sign of the Black Eagle.

I was, she says, pregnant by my lawful husband, now dead, and as my time approached, a certain midwife importuned me to engage her to assist at the birth of my child. But I knew her bad reputation, and although I had decided to engage another woman, pretended with conciliatory words to agree to her request. But when the pains came upon me, and I had brought in another midwife, the first one was very angry, and hardly a week later came into my room one night with two other women, and approached the bed where I was lying. And when I tried to call my husband, who was sleeping in another room, all the use was taken away from my limbs and tongue, so that except for seeing and hearing I could not move a muscle. And the witch, standing between the other two, said: “See! this vile woman, who would not take me for her midwife, shall not win through unpunished.” The other two standing be her pleaded for me, saying: “She has never harmed any of us.” But the witch added: “Because she has offended me I am going to put something into her entrails; but, to please you, she shall not feel any pain for half a year, but after that time she shall be tortured enough.” So she came up and touched my belly with her hands; and it seemed to me that she took out my entrails, and put in something which, however, I could not see. And when they had gone away, and I had recovered my power of speech, I called my husband as soon as possible, and told him what had happened. But he put it down to pregnancy, and said: “You pregnant women are always suffering from fancies and delusions.” And when he would by no means believe me, I replied: “I have been given six months’ grace, and if, after that time, no torment comes to me, I shall believe you.”

She related this to her son, a cleric who was then Archdeacon of the district, and who came to visit her on the same day. And what happened? When exactly six months had passed, such a terrible pain came into her belly that she could not help disturbing everybody with her cries day and night. And because, as has been said, she was most devout to the Virgin, the Queen of Mercy, she fasted with bread and water every Saturday, so that she believed that she was delivered by Her intercession. For one day, when she wanted to perform an action of nature, all those unclean things fell from her body; and she called her husband and son, and said: “Are those fancies? Did I not say that after a half a year the truth would be known? Or who ever saw me ear thorns, bones, and even bits of wood?” For there were brambles as long as a palm, as well as a quantity of other things.

Moreover (as was said in the First Part of the work), it was shown by the confession of the servant, who was brought to judgement at Breisach, that the greatest injuries to the Faith as regards the heresy of witches are done by midwives; and this is made clearer than daylight itself by the confessions of some who were afterwards burned.

For in the diocese of Basel at the town of Dann, a witch who was burned confessed that she had killed more than forty children, by sticking a needle through the crowns of their heads into their brains, as they came out from the womb.

Finally, another woman in the diocese of Strasburg confessed that she had killed more children than she could count. And she was caught in this way. She had been called from one town to another to act as midwife to a certain woman, and, having performed her office, was going back home. But as she went out of the town gate, the arm of a newly born child fell out of the cloak she had wrapped around her, in whose folds the arm had been concealed. This was seen by those who were sitting in the gateway, and when she had gone on, they picked up from the ground what they took to be a piece of meat; but when they looked more closely and saw that it was not a piece of meat, but recognized it by its fingers as a child’s arm, they reported it to the magistrates, and it was found that a child had died before baptism, lacking an arm. So the witch was taken and questioned, and confessed the crime, and that she had, as has been said, killed more children than she could count.

Now the reason for such practices is as follows: It is to be presumed that witches are compelled to do such things at the command of evil spirits, and sometimes against their own wills. For the devil knows that, because of the pain of loss, [1] or original sin, such children are debarred from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. And by this means the Last Judgement is delayed, when the devils will be condemned to eternal torture; since the number of the elect is more slowly completed, on the fulfilment of which the world will be consumed. And also, as has already been shown, witches are taught by the devil to confect from the limbs of such children an unguent which is very useful for their spells.

But in order to bring so great a sin into utter detestation, we must not pass over in silence the following horrible crime. For when they do not kill the child, they blasphemously offer it to the devil in this manner. As soon as the child is born, the midwife, if the mother herself is not a witch, carries it out of the room on the pretext of warming it, raises it up, and offers it to the Prince of Devils, that is Lucifer, and to all the devils. And this is done by the kitchen fire.

A certain man relates that he noticed that his wife, when her time came to give birth, against the usual custom of women in childbirth, did not allow any woman to approach the bed except her own daughter, who acted as midwife. Wishing to know the reason for this, he hid himself in the house and saw the whole order of the sacrilege and dedication to the devil, as it has been described. He saw also, as it seemed to him, that without any human support, but by the power of the devil, the child was climbing up the chain by which the cooking-pots were suspended. In great consternation both at the terrible words of the invocation of the devils, and at the other iniquitous ceremonies, he strongly insisted that the child should be baptized immediately. While it was being carried to the next village, where there was a church, and when they had to cross a bridge over a certain river, he drew his sword and ran at his daughter, who was carrying the child, saying in the hearing of two others who were with them: “You shall not carry the child over the bridge; for either it must cross the bridge by itself, or you shall be drowned in the river.” The daughter was terrified and, together with the other women in company, asked him if he were in his right mind (for he had hidden what had happened from all the others except the two men who were with him). Then he answered: “You vile drab, by your magic arts you made the child climb the chain in the kitchen; now make it cross the bridge with no on carrying it, or I shall drown you in the river.” And so, being compelled, she put the child down on the bridge, and invoked the devil by her art; and suddenly the child was seen on the other side of the bridge. And when the child had been baptized, and he had returned home, since he now had witnesses to convict his daughter of witchcraft (for he could not prove the former crime of the oblation to the devil, inasmuch as he had been the only witness of the sacrilegious ritual), he accused bother daughter and mother before the judge after their period of purgation; and they were both burned, and the crime of midwives of making that sacrilegious offering was discovered.

But here the doubt arises: to what end or purpose is the sacrilegious offering of children, and how does it benefit the devils? To this it can be said that the devils do this for three reasons, which serve three most wicked purposes. The first reason arises from their pride, which always increases; as it is said: “They that hate Thee have lifted up the head.” [2] For they try as far as possible to conform with divine rites and ceremonies. Secondly, they can more easily deceive men under the mask of an outwardly seeming pious action. For in the same way they entice young virgins and boys into their power; for though they might solicit such by means of evil and corrupt men, yet they rather deceive them by magic mirrors and reflections seen in witches’ finger-nails, and lure them on in the belief that they love chastity, whereas they hate it. For the devil hates above all the Blessed Virgin, because she bruised his head. (Genesis iii. 15). [3] Just so in this oblation of children they deceive the minds of witches into the vice of infidelity under the appearance of a virtuous acts. And the third reason is, that the perfidy of witches may grow, to the devils’ own gain, when they have witches dedicated to them from their very cradles.

And this sacrilege affects the child in three ways. In the first place, visible offerings to God are made of visible things, such as wine of bread or the fruits of the earth, as a sign of honour and subjection to Him, as it is said in Ecclesiasticus xxv: Thou shalt not appear empty before the Lord. And such offerings cannot and must not afterwards be put to profane uses. Therefore the holy Father, S. John Damascene, says: The oblations which are offered in church belong only to the priests, but not that they should divert them to their own uses, but that they should faithfully distribute them, partly in the observance of divine worship, and partly for the use of the poor. From this it follows that a child who has been offered to the devil in sign of subjection and homage to him cannot possibly be dedicated by Catholics to a holy life, in worthy and fruitful service to God for the benefit of himself and others.

For who can say that the sins of the mothers and of other do not redound in punishment upon the children? Perhaps someone will quote that saying of the prophet: “The sons shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” But there is that other passage in Exodus xx: I am a jealous God, visiting the sins of the father upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Now the meaning of these two sayings is as follows. The first speaks of spiritual punishment in the judgement of Heaven or God, and not in the judgement of men. And this is the punishment of the soul, such as loss or the forfeiture of glory, or the punishment of pain, that is, of the torment of eternal fire. And with such punishments no one is punished except for his own sin, either inherited as original sin or committed as actual sin.

The second text speaks of those who imitate the sins of their father, as Gratian [4] has explained (I, q. 4, etc.); and there he gives other explanations as to how the judgement of God inflicts other punishments on a man, not only for his own sins which he has committed, or which he might commit (but is prevented by punishment from committing), but also for the sins of others.

And it cannot be argued that when a man is punished without cause, and without sin, which should be the cause of punishment. For according to the rule of law, no one must be punished without sin, unless there is some cause of punishment. And we can say that there is always a most just cause, though it may not be known to us: see S. Augustine, XXIV, 4. And if we cannot in the result penetrate the depth of God’s judgement, yet we know that what He has said is true, and what He has done is just.

But there is this distinction to be observed in innocent children who are offered to devils not by their mothers when they are witches, but by midwives who, as we have said, secretly take from the embrace and the womb of an honest mother. Such children are not so cut off from grace that they must necessarily become prone to such crimes; but it is piously to be believed that they may rather cultivate their mothers’ virtues.

The second result to the children of this sacrilege is as follows. When a man offers himself as a sacrifice to God, he recognizes God as his Beginning and his End; and this sacrifice is more worthy than all the external sacrifices which he makes, having its beginning in his creation and its end in his glorification, as it is said: A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit, [5] etc. In the same way, when a witch offers a child to the devils, she commends it body and soul to him as its beginning and its end in eternal damnation; wherefore not without some miracle can the child be set free from the payment of so great a debt.

And we read often in history of children whom their mothers, in some passion or mental disturbance, have unthinkingly offered to the devil from the very womb, and how it is only with the very greatest difficulty that they can, when they have grown to adult age, be delivered from that bondage which the devil has, with God’s permission, usurped to himself. And of this the Book of Examples, Most Blessed Virgin MARY, affords many illustrations; a notable instance being that of the man whom the Supreme Pontiff was unable to deliver from the torments of the devil, but at last he was sent to a holy man living in the East, and finally with great difficulty was delivered from his bondage through the intercession of the Most Glorious Virgin Herself.

And if God so severely punishes even such a thoughtless, I will not say sacrifice, but commendation used angrily by a mother when her husband, after copulating with her, says, I hope a child will come of it; and she answers, May the child go to the devil! How much greater must be the punishment when the Divine Majesty is offended in the way we have described!

The third effect of this sacrilegious oblation is to inculcate an habitual inclination to cast spells upon men, animals, and the fruits of the earth. This is shown by S. Thomas in the 2nd Book, quest, 108, where he speaks of temporal punishment, how some are punished for the sins of others. For he says that, bodily speaking, sons are part of their fathers’ possessions, and servants and animals belong to their masters; therefore when a man is punished in all his possessions, it follows that often the sons suffer for the fathers.

And this is quite a different matter from what has been said about God visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. For there it is a question of those who imitate their fathers’ sins, but here we speak of those who suffer instead of their fathers, when they do not imitate their sins by committing them in fact, but only inherit the results of their sins. For in this way the son born to David in adultery died very soon; and the animals of the Amalekites were ordered to be killed. Nevertheless, there is much mystery in all this.

Taking into consideration all that we have said, we may well conclude that such children are always, up to the end of their lives, predisposed to the perpetration of witchcraft. For just as God sanctifies that which is dedicated to Him, as is proved by the deeds of the Saints, when parents offer to God the fruit which they have generated; so also the devil does not cease to infect with evil that which is offered to him. Many examples can be found in the Old and New Testaments. For so were many of the Patriarchs and Prophets, such as Isaac, Samuel, and Samson; and so were Alexis and Nicolas, [6] and many more, guided by much grace to a holy life.

Finally, we know from experience that the daughters of witches are always suspected of similar practises, as imitators of their mothers’ crimes; and that indeed the whole of a witch’s progeny is infected. And the reason for this and for all that has been said before is, that according to their pact with the devil, they always have to leave behind them and carefully instruct a survivor, so that they may fulfil their vow to do all they can to increase the number of witches. [7] For how else could it happen, as it has very often been found, that tender girls of eight or ten years have raised up tempests and hailstorms, unless they had been dedicated to the devil under such a pact by their mothers. For the children could not do such things of themselves by abjuring the Faith, which is how all adult witches have to begin, since they have no knowledge of any single article of the Faith. We will recount an example of such a child.

In the duchy of Swabia a certain farmer went to his fields with his little daughter, hardly eight years old, to look at his crops, and began complaining about the drought, saying: Alas! when will it rain? The girl heard him, and in the simplicity of her heart said: Father, if you want it to rain, I can soon make it come. And her father said to her: What? Do you know how to make it rain? And the girl answered: I can make it rain, and I can make hailstorms and tempests too. And the father asked: Who taught you? And she answered: My mother did, but she told me not to tell anybody. Then the father asked: How did she teach you? And she answered: She sent me to a master who will do anything I ask at any time. But her father said: Have you ever seen him? And she said: I have sometimes seen men coming in and out to my mother; and when I asked her who they were, she told that they were our masters to whom she had given me, and that they were powerful and rich patrons. The father was terrified, and asked her if she could raise a hailstorm then. And the girl said: Yes, if I had a little water. Then he led the girl by the hand to a stream, and said: Do it, but only on our land. Then the girl put her hand in the water and stirred it in the name of her master, as her mother had taught her; and behold! the rain fell only on that land. Seeing this, the father said: Make it hail now, but only on one of our fields. And when the girl had done this, the father was convinced by the evidence, and accused his wife before the judge. And the wife was taken and convicted and burned; but the daughter was reconciled and solemnly dedicated to God, since which hour she could no more work these spells and charms.



1. “Pain of loss.” Poena damni.

2. “Head.” “Psalm” lxxxii, 2.

3. “Genesis.” Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius: ipsa conteret caput tuum, et tu insidiaberis calcaneo eius.

4. “Gratian.” The little that is known concerning the author of the “Concordantia discordantium canonum,” more generally called the “Decretum Gratiani,” must be gathered from the work itself. Gratian was born in Italy, perhaps at Chiusi. He became a Camaldolese monk and taught at Balogna. It is uncertain at what time he compiled the “Decretum,” but it was commonly held to have been completed in 1151. More recent authorities, however, are inclined to suggest 1140. Gratian died before 1179, some think as early as 1160. He is regarded as the true found of the science of canon law.

5. “Spirit.” “Psalm” l, 19.

6. “Alexis.” S. Alexis, Confessor. Feast, 17 July. The Basilica and title-church of SS. Bonifacio ed Alessio all’ Aventino, Rome, contains the bodies of S. Boniface and S. Alexis under the High Altar. S. Aglae is buried in the confessional.

S. Nicolas of Tolentino, O.S.A., circa 1246-1306. was born of gentlefolk, Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani, pious and devout, living in great seclusion on very moderate means. He was the child of prayer, his mother being advanced in years and vowing her son, should she bare one, to God from the womb. His parents joyfully consented to his joining the Order of Augustinian Hermits, of which he is one of the greatest glories. S. Nicolas was distinguished by angelic meekness and celestial purity. He died 10 September, and his feast is celebrated on that day.

7. “Number of Witches.” Francesco Maria Guazzo, “Compendium Maleficarum,” Milan, 1608, tells us that the witches promise the devil “to strive with all their power and to use every inducement and endeavour to draw other men and women to their detestable practices and the worship of Satan.” So in the case of Janet Breadheid of Auldearne it was her husband who “enticed her into that craft.” (Pitcairn, “Criminal Trials,” Edinburgh, 1833.) At Salem, George Burroughs, a minister, was accused by a large number of women as “the person who had Seduc'd and Compell'd them into the snares of Witchcraft.” See my “History of Witchcraft,” Chap. III, pp. 83-84.
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