Folk-Lore/Volume 28/Organisations of Witches in Great Britain

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Folk-Lore. Volume 28
Number 3 (September)

Organisations of Witches in Great Britain

ORGANISATIONS OF WITCHES IN GREAT BRITAIN.

BY M. A. MURRAY.

(Read before the Society, April 18, 1917.)

Witch cult and ritual have not yet, as far as I am aware, been subjected to a searching scientific investigation from the anthropological side. The whole thing has generally been put down to hypnotism, hysteria, and hallucination on the part of the witches, to prejudice and cruelty on the part of the judges. I shall try to prove that the hysteriacum-prejudice theory, including that blessed word "autosuggestion," is untenable, and that among the witches we have the remains of a fully organised religious cult, which at one time was spread over Central and Western Europe, and of which traces are found at the present day.

I am not concerned with Operative Witchcraft or the effects, real or imaginary, of witch-charms, nor with the magical powers claimed by the witches, such as flying through the air and transformation into animals. It is the organisation and the cult, which I am about to describe.

Its organisation was recognised by the Roman Catholic Church which speaks of it as a sect;[1] and in its latest stages in America, Cotton Mather is able to say with truth, "the Witches do say, that they form themselves much after the manner of Congregational Churches, and that they have a Baptism, and a Supper, and Officers among them, abominably resembling those of our Lord."[2]

It is obvious to anyone who considers the matter that the conversion of the heathen tribes of Great Britain must have been a long process. Kings and nobles might follow the new religion, but for the mass of the people Christianity must have been a mere veneer for several centuries. As Christianity took a firmer and firmer hold, the old paganism was either more and more relegated to country places and to the lower classes of the community; or else by dropping the gross forms, its ritual remained as rustic festivals patronised by the Church.

I give here, in chronological order, extracts from various sources showing the historical continuity of the ancient religion. The laws became stricter as Christianity increased in power.

Strabo says that, in an island close to Britain, Ceres and Proserpine were venerated with rites similar to the orgies of Samothrace.[3] Dionysius states that the rites of Bacchus were duly celebrated in the British Isles.[4] This is evidence that fertility rites were celebrated in Britain which had a close resemblance to those of Greece and Asia Minor. The conversion of Britain took place during the 7th century; and the Christian ecclesiastical writers, from whom our knowledge of the consecutive history of the period is derived, write with a bias in favour of their own religion, ignoring the existence of the underlying paganism. But the following extracts from contemporary documents show its continuance:


7th cent. Liber Poenitentialis of Theodore, Archibishop of Canterbury.

1. Sacrifice to devils.

2. Eating and drinking in the heathen temple, (a) in ignorance, (b) after being told by the priest that it is sacrilege and the table of devils, (c] as a cult of devils and in honour of idols.

5. Not only celebrating feasts in the abominable places of the heathen and offering food there, but also consuming it.

7. Anyone found serving this hidden idolatry, having relinquished Christ, and given himself up to idolatry.

19. If anyone at the kalends of January goes about as a stag or a bull; that is, making himself into a wild animal, and dressing in the skin of a herd animal, and putting on the heads of beasts; those who in such wise transform themselves into the appearance of a wild animal, penance for three years; because this is devilish.


7th cent. Laws of King Wihtraed.

Fines for offerings to devils.


8th cent. Ecgbert, Archbishop of York, Confessionale.

Against offerings to devils. Witchcraft. Auguries according to the methods of the heathen. Vows paid or loosed or confirmed at wells, stones, and trees. Gathering of herbs with any incantation except Christian prayers.


8th cent. Law of the Northumbrian Priests.

48. If then anyone be found that shall henceforth practise any heathenships, either by sacrifice or by fyrt, or in any way love witchcraft, or worship idols, if he be a king's thane, let him pay x half-marks; half to Christ, half to the king.

67. We are all to love and worship one God, and strictly hold one Christianity, and totally renounce all heathenship.


9th cent. Decree attributed to a Council of Anquira.

Some wicked women, reverting to Satan, and seduced by the illusions and phantasms of demons, believe and profess that they ride at night with Diana on certain beasts, with an innumerable multitude of women, passing over immense distances, obeying her commands as their mistress, and evoked by her on certain nights.


9th and 10th cent. Laws of Alfred and Guthrun. Laws of Edward and Guthrun.

11. If witches or diviners, perjurers or morth-workers, or foul defiled notorious adulteresses, be found anywhere within the land; let them then be driven from the country and the people cleansed, or let them totally perish within the country, unless they desist, and the more deeply make bot.

2. If any one violate Christianity, or reverence heathenism., by word or by work, let him pay as well wcr, as wite or lah-slit, according as the deed may be.


10th cent. Laws of Athelstan.[5]

6. We have ordained respecting witchcrafts, and lyblacs, and morth-daeds: if any one should be thereby killed, and he could not deny it, that he be liable in his life. But if he will deny it, and at the threefold ordeal shall be guilty; that he be cxx days in prison; and after that let his kindred take him out, and give to the king cxx shillings, and pay the wer to his kindred, and enter into borh for him, that he evermore desist from the like.


10th cent. King Edgar. Ecclesiastical Canons.

16. We enjoin, that every priest zealously promote Christianity, and totally extinguish every heathenism; and forbid well-worshipings, and necromancies, and divinations, and enchantments, and man-worshipings, and the vain practices which are carried on with various spells, and with frith-splots and with elders, and also with various other trees, and with stones, and with many various delusions, with which men do much of what they should not.

17. And we enjoin, that every Christian man zealously accustom his children to Christianity, and teach them the Paternoster and the Creed.

18. And we enjoin, that on feast-days heathen songs and devil's games be abstained from.


10th cent. Laws of Ethelred.

Let every Christian man do as is needful to him; let him strictly keep his Christianity.

Let us zealously venerate right Christianity, and totally despise every heathenism.


11th cent. Laws of Cnut.

5. We earnestly forbid every heathenism: heathenism is, that men worship idols; that is, that they worship heathen gods, and the sun or the moon, fire or rivers, water-wells or stones, or forest trees of any kind; or love witchcraft, or promote morthwork in any wise.


12th cent. John of Salisbury.

Mentions witches' Sabbaths.


13th cent. Galilee porches, for the use of the unbaptised and excommunicate, no longer built.


14th cent. Nider's Formicarius.

Berne infested with witches for more than sixty years.

Inquisition of Como in 1510, records that witches had existed there for more than 150 years.

Dame Alice Kyteler, tried for witchcraft, 1324. Devil appeared as a black man. Had in her possession a wafer bearing the devil's name instead of Christ's.


15th cent.

Trials of witches in Italy, France, and Germany. The characteristic features of the ritual are found.


15th cent. Decree of Innocent VIII,[6] Generally said to be the beginning of the "outbreak" of witchcraft.

It has come to our ears . . . that many persons of both sexes, deviating from the Catholic faith, do not avoid to have intercourse with devils, incubi and succubi, and that by their incantations, charms, and sorceries, they blight the marriage bed, destroy the births of women, and the increase of cattle; they blast the corn of the ground, the grapes of the vineyard, the fruits of the trees, besides causing to perish, suffocating and destroying men and women, flocks and herds and other kinds of animals, vines as well as orchard-trees, pasture, grass, corn and other fruits of the earth.

Lord Coke defines a witch as "a person that hath conference with the devil, to consult with him or to do some act." It is in this aspect only that I propose to consider the witch.

It is impossible to understand the cult without first understanding the position of the chief personage in the proceedings. He was known to the contemporary Christian judges and Christian writers as the Devil; was called by them Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Foul Fiend, and similar names; and was entirely identified by them with the Principle of Evil, the devil of the Scriptures. But this was very far from the point of view of the witches themselves. To them this so-called Devil was God,[7] manifest, visible, incarnate; they adored him on their knees[8]; they addressed their prayers to him[9]; they offered thanks to him as the giver of food[10] and the necessities of life; they gave their children to him.[11] The actual name by which he was known to his worshippers varies in every district; in some, each witch of the covine called him by a special name[12]; in others he was known by the same name to every witch within his circle. But as the records rarely extend beyond the one trial in each county or district of a county, there is no continuity in the history of any one community, and it is not possible to say whether either custom was the rule in the place in which it was practised, nor whether the name which all the witches knew was applied to the individual or to the office; whether, for example, the witches of Aberdeen[13] always called their chiefs "Christsonday," or whether the little crippled man, whom Christen Michell saw, was the only one known by that name.

This chief or Devil was, as God incarnate, absolutely supreme over his followers; they were bound to obey his lightest command. On his side, there were certain duties to perform; he instructed the witches in magical arts,[14] both for curing and killing; he helped them when in difficulties if they called upon him[15]; he presided at the Sabbaths, where he conducted the religious service; and he often led the dance[16] which being a fertility-rite, must be looked upon as part of an early and primitive cult. He sometimes, though not always, attended the local meetings,[17] but as these were not so important as the Sabbaths his presence could be dispensed with.

We knew nothing as to how he was appointed and his identity was always studiously concealed, but on a few occasions we get a glimpse of a real personality; sometimes this proves to be a person of some political importance. Eg. at North Berwick[18] where the witch-community was destroyed, root and branch, on account of their attempt on the King's life [James VI. our James I.], the evidence points to Francis Earl Bothwell as the chief or Devil. Bothwell was grandson of James V. and nephew of the Regent Moray, and in spite of the bar sinister he was practically the next male heir to the throne of Scotland had our King James died without children. Of less importance but also political is a list of suspected persons[19] in the reign of Elizabeth; among them are several witches and "Ould Birtles the great devil." In 1649 a man named Marsh of Dunstable[20] is identified by George Palmer, who had himself been a witch for nearly 60 years, as "the head of the whole College of Witches that hee knows in the world." Altogether I have been able to identify eight or nine men, but with more time and trouble it would be possible to identify several more.

The appearance of the devil is often given in great •detail. He was said to appear usually as a man, a bull, a goat, and a dog. As a man he was usually dressed in black, apparently garbed like the clergy of the period; but in the outlying districts of Scotland, where more primitive customs prevailed, he was clothed in green[21] or gray,[22] or dun-coloured[23] garments. But it is evident that he went to the Sabbath disguised, and he was also seen in disguise at other times. In Southern France he is said to have had a face at the back of the head "like the God Janus"[24]; or with a goat's face in front and another goat's face under the tail.[24] The rank of the witch in the society was shown by which face he or she was permitted to kiss at the Sabbath. That the face at the back was a mask is very certain, for all the witches agree that it was hard and cold and that the Devil never spoke from it. There are also strong indications that the face at the front was often a mask also, for whenever the Devil's voice is mentioned whether in Great Britain[25] or France,[26] it is said to be hollow with indistinct articulation like the sound of a voice under a mask. What may perhaps be proof of this disguise is still extant in the "Dorsetshire Ooser,"[27] a wooden mask representing a man's face with ox's horns, the jaw is movable to allow the wearer to speak; it is said to have been worn by a man wrapped in a cow's skin, who ran after the girls. Another survival which seems to point in the same direction is the so-called Cadi in Wales, a country where, as far as I know, the ancient ritual of the witches was never suppressed.

The two-faced deity is of great importance and of great antiquity. I am indebted to Mr. Peake and Prof. Fleure for calling my attention to a two-faced deity of ancient Britain in the Roman period, and also to the reference in Geoffrey[28] of Monmouth, who says, speaking of Cordelia, daughter of King Lear "in the third year thereafter he died and Aganippus died also, and Cordelia, now mistress of the helm of state in Britain, buried her father in a certain underground chamber which she had bidden to be made under the river Soar at Leicester. This underground chamber was founded in honour of the two-faced god Janus, and there, when the yearly celebration of the day came round, did all the workmen of the city set hand upon such work as they were about to be busied upon throughout the year." Cordelia, according to Geoffrey, died before the foundation of Rome by Romulus; in other words the tradition of the queen and the worship of the two-faced god date back to pre-Roman Britain.

The identification of this two-faced god with Janus and the statement that the Devil or God of the witches was also two-faced like Janus should be taken together. I am not prepared to prove that the worship of Janus continued down to the 17th century, but I would call your attention to the following points:


1. Janus or Dianus is the male form of Diana, with whom the witches were accused of riding through the air and following in the dance. Diana was always the female leader of the witches.

2. Janus was an ancient indigenous god of Northern Italy before the Romans came in. His city was a ruin, hoary with age, when Aeneas arrived in Italy.

3. According to the Romans themselves, Janus was one of the few gods who had no counterpart in the Greek pantheon.

4. His epithets were Clusivius and Patulcius, the opener and the closer, i.e. of the womb.[29]

5. His name, and his name only, was invoked by the Salian dancing priests, when they ran naked through the streets in the great fertility festival of the Lupercalia.

6. As the first of all gods, as the god of beginnings [hence, of course, of birth] his name was invoked before that of Jupiter himself in all prayers and invocations.

7. His priest was the Rex Sacrorum, who took precedence even of the great Flamen Dialis.

8. As Janus Quadrifrons he presided over cross-roads. It must surely be more than a coincidence that the Italian two-faced god of fertihty should be the patron of cross-roads, and that the two-faced god of the witches should preside over fertility rites which were celebrated at cross-roads.


Another proof of the antiquity of the witch cult is shown by the indications that at some early period, the god of the witches was sacrificed at one of the great Sabbaths.[30] It is not clear whether the sacrifice took place annually or only once in seven years.

In the organisation of the society, there came below the autocratic ruler one or more officers, according to the size of the community. These ofiicers were either men or women[31]; in France they are said to be minor devils, diablotins.[32] The officers were entrusted with the management and arrangement of all the meetings, they notified the members when and where the local meetings would be held,[33] they kept the records of attendance at the meetings and also of the ceremonials performed,[34] they appear to have arranged for the feasts, they often led the ring in the dance[35] or remained in the rear to make the less agile dancers keep up with the rest,[36] they introduced the new convert,[37] and in France they inflicted the "Devil's mark" on the newly admitted witch.[38]

The Scotch witches and apparently originally the English witches also, were divided into companies, or covines, as Isobel Gowdie calls them.[39] The number in a covine was thirteen,[40] twelve witches and the officer, i.e. the Devil's dozen. Each covine was independent of any other, but several could meet for any special purpose; for example, at North Berwick there were thirty-nine witches present,[41] three covines. All the covines of a district met together at the great Sabbaths, but as a rule each covine had its own weekly meeting, near the place of residence of the greater number of the members. Among the members of the covine, and usually the youngest, was the Maiden; she was an important personage and had the place of honour beside the Devil at the local meetings and at the feasts,[42] At the performance of any ceremonial at a local meeting, a certain number of witches—originally probably the whole covine—had to be present, and on these occasions the presence of the Maiden was imperative.[43]

The decadence of the cult is shown by the position of this woman. In the French and early Scotch trials there is always a Reine du Sabbat[44] or a Queen of Elfin,[45] who occupies a prominent position. There is reason to believe, as Prof. Karl Pearson has suggested,[46] that the woman was originally the principal personage in the ceremonial, and was a form of the mother-goddess (the vulgar expression of "the Devil's Dam" comes perhaps from this). In Scotland the Queen of Elfin becomes rarer, and the Maiden of the Covine appears to take her place, while in some localities she is merely the Officer. In England, where the whole religion with all its customs was in a decadent condition by the time the records were made, the woman is never anything but the Officer.[47] In America,[48] however, the chief witch had the promise to be "Queen of Hell," presumably Queen of the Assembly.

Though the discipline of each community must have varied according to the individual temperament of its successive chiefs, it seems clear that obedience could be rigorously exacted and severe punishments inflicted. Unpunctuality at the meetings or keeping the chief waiting at any time were visited with sharp rebuke,[49] probably because of the implied disrespect. Disrespect in words, continued absence from meetings and actual disobedience were punished by beating.[50] In Auldearne[51] the Devil used a scourge of cords to enforce the respect due to him; but the instrument of punishment was usually said to be an iron rod.[52] The earliest mention of such a rod is in the trial of Dame Alice Kyteler in 1324, where the Devil, whom she called Robin son of Artis, appeared carrying an iron rod.[53] The tradition, or possibly the actual fact, was carried to America, for Deliverance Hobbs of Salem[54] complains that when she left the witch society she was "whipped with Iron Rods."

Capital punishment was the fate of traitors, and strict precautions were taken to ensure the silence of the members and to protect the chief against spies. In an early account of trials of witches in Italy, the Inquisitor and two other ofificials watched a witch-meeting from a secret hiding-place; they were observed however, and at a signal from the Devil his followers seized them and beat them so severely that they died soon after.[55] The Swedish children were also beaten till they died of their injuries if they ventured to say who had taken them to Blockula.[56] Rebecca Weste in Essex was threatened with "more torments in earth than could be in hell," if she dared to betray the secrets entrusted to her.[57] The Scotch witch Alesoun Peirsoun[58] was threatened by the people she calls the "good neighbours," that "if she would speak and tell of them and their doings, they would martyr her."' Elizabeth Anderson in Renfrewshire[59] was warned by the witches that if she should confess they would "tear her all in pieces." These were not empty threats, for there are two cases in Scotland[60] where the evidence points to the execution of possible traitors by emissaries of the witch society. In the case of John Reid the executioners secretly entered from the outside and hanged the traitor in his cell. The belief that he was made away with by the Devil was thus actually true.

The ritual of admission was a recognised, and in its early stages an elaborate, ceremony; it varied according to the age of the candidate. The children were brought as soon as they could speak, and were presented by the witch kneeling; she said, "Great Lord, whom I adore, I bring you a new servant, who wishes to be your slave for ever." The Devil answered, "Approach," which the witch did on her knees. He received the child in his arms, then returned it to the witch thanking her and directing that the child should be cared for.[61] Children who had reached an age to become active members of the society, or adult converts from Christianity, were admitted by the same ceremony, with the exception that the converts first renounced their baptism and their previous belief. "I first renounce God, then Jesus Christ his Son, the Holy Ghost, the Virgin, the saints, the holy cross, chrism, baptism, and the Faith which I hold, my godfather and godmother, and I place myself at every point in thy power and in thy hands, recognising no other God, for thou art my God and I am thy slave."[62] They then placed one hand on the crown of the head, the other hand to the sole of the foot, and devoted all that was between the two hands to the service of the master. After this the Devil baptised the candidate with water in his own name, and gave her a new name by which she was afterwards known in the society; those who could write signed a covenant with him, those who could not write were marked on some part of the body.[63] There are several variants of this ceremony, some of which may be local, others point to a more primitive origin. E.g. in France[64] the witch children at the age of nine prostrated themselves to the ground before the Devil, who flashed fire before their eyes and asked, "What do you wish? Will you be mine?" They answered, "Yes." He asked again, "Do you come of your own free will?" They answered, "Yes." Then he said, "Do as I wish and as I do." Then they repeated the renunciation after the Queen of the Sabbath, kissed the Devil in any part of his person which he directed, and were marked by pricking with a sharp instrument like a pin, the skin being torn to the effusion of blood; the mark in most districts was on the left side or left shoulder, and the pain was often very great. Another variant occurred at Dalkeith (1661)[65] when Janet Watson was admitted; "the Devil laid his hand upon her head and bad her give all over to him that was under his hand." The variant, which to my mind shows a more primitive form, is that in use at Auldearne near Nairn.[66] Both Isobel Gowdie and Janet Breadheid voluntarily confessed to the ceremony. In this rite the baptism was in the blood of the candidate, the Devil marked her on the left shoulder, from the cut he sucked the blood, then spouted it into his hand and sprinkled it on her head. This form of baptism is perhaps the origin of those stories of bloodsucking familiars which Hutchinson[67] says were peculiar to Great Britain, and which play so large a part in the witch-trials of England. This use of blood is possibly the origin also of the belief that the covenant was signed in blood, for according to Forbes (quoted above) only those who could write were required to sign, while those who could not write received a "flesh-brand." But he also states that those who signed were touched by the devil, though without drawing blood, which appears to point to an original ceremony of marking everyone. In England however the covenant was signed by all converts, those who could not write affixing their mark,[68] and everyone also received the "flesh-brand."

This "flesh-brand" or witches' mark is described by Sir George Mackenzie.[69] "This mark is given them, as is alledg'd, by a Nip in any part of the Body, and it is blew: Delrio calls it Stigma, or Character, and alledges that it is sometimes like the Impression of a Hare's foot, or the Foot of a Rat, or Spider." Forbes[70] says that it "is like a Flea Bite or blew Spot, and sometimes resembles a little Teat." The mysterious property of these marks was that they were said to be insensible, and when pricked or cut that they did not bleed. From the description of their infliction some of them appear to be a form of tattooing. The breaking of the skin was done by a "Nip" from the Devil's hand, which may mean that he inflicted it with a sharp instrument, for both in France and England we find that the witch was pricked with a pin[71] or a sharp bone.[72] These pricks, which were followed by effusion of blood, were often painful for many days or even weeks, and the Devil usually passed his hand over the broken skin.

There is one point as regards the Devil's marks which helps to disprove the hysteria-hallucination theory, and that is a certain kind of "teat" found on the bodies of some of the witches, as well male as female. All anatomists are aware that in the human being "throw-backs" to the animal ancestor sometimes occur. One of these throw-backs is a supernumerary nipple, which appears under the arms[73] or on the front of the body. These are not common, but again they are not very rare, and they occur in both sexes. In the account of the excrescences found on the witches it is clear that several are examples of polymastia[74]: so much so that the case of the witch Rose Cullender in Suffolk can[75] be exactly paralleled by a modern instance described by Williams[76]; the parallel is exact in all the details even down to the events which preceded the discovery of the nipple by the woman herself. It is interesting to note that in England witches who possessed natural marks such as these were considered inferior to those who were marked by pricking.[77]

One detail in the ceremony of admission appears to be of late date, and not to belong to the original ritual; and that is the reward given to witches who brought new members into the society, or to the converts themselves when of adult age. The amount varied greatly; in France[78] ten or twenty crowns or even a handful of gold were paid to the witch-missionary. In Great Britain[79] the money was evidently regarded as an earnest of the wealth and fertility to follow. It was usually "good and sufficient Money," though a few instances occur of its being changed, like fairy gold, into rubbish.[80]

It is often objected that, though the witches gave up everything, they got nothing out of their contract with the Devil; yet it is quite clear that both men and women, young and old, entered into it very willingly. They promised absolute obedience and fidelity, and the greater number carried out their part of the contract to the end; for the number of witches who died "blaspheming and impenitent" was very great.[81] The Devil was looked upon by the witches, and even by himself, as the incarnate God, and this point of view must be kept in mind when studying the cult. It seems to be that cult of "man-worshiping" which was so strictly forbidden in the Ecclesiastical Canons of King Edgar. The attitude of mind of the witches is best expressed by de Lancre,[82] though it can be seen in the accounts in Great Britain: "When they [the witches] are seized by Justice, they neither weep nor shed a single tear, for their false martyrdom, whether by torture or the gallows, is so pleasant to them that many of them weary to be put to death; and suffer very joyously when they face the trial, so much do they weary that they are not with the Devil. And they are impatient of nothing so much in their prison as that they cannot testify to him how much they suffer and desire to suffer for him."

The meetings of the witches were of two classes, the sabbath and the esbat.[83] The esbat was a local meeting, held near a village, and attended only by the village people. It was at these local meetings that the various enchantments for individual and local purposes were performed. Thus at North Berwick[84] the witches met at the Kirk for the express purpose of destroying the King—James VI. of Scotland, our James I.—by making a wax image of him, and in case that failed, they were instructed in the making of poison to effect their end. In Somerset[85] the witches met to make images to cause the death of an enemy; in Lancashire[86] they met to arrange the escape of one of their number from prison. The admission of a candidate also took place at the local meetings, though this was a ceremony which might be performed in private with only the sponsors present, or even at the Sabbath in the presence of the whole congregation. At Auldearne Isobel Gowdie,[87] whose confession was entirely voluntary, gives a description of a ceremony which is not only interesting in itself, but also shows what the original object of these meetings may have been. The ceremony, as she describes it, was one for blasting fertility by means of a mock plough. The Devil held the plough, the officer of the covine drove, toads drew the plough, the trace-chains were of couch grass, and a gelded animal's horn formed the plough-share. The covine, or squad, of witches surrounded the plough, moving as it moved and repeating incantations. In this ceremony the objects used connoted barrenness; but as the witches were acknowledged to have the double power of causing and blasting fertility, this seems to be a fertility charm reversed; and the original cause of these local meetings was in all probability the promotion of fertility among the flocks and crops of the members.

The local meetings often ended with feasting and dancing, and were sometimes, though not always, kept up till cock-crow.[88]

Everything, which was done at a local meeting, was noted by the officer and reported at the great assembly, or Sabbath, where it was entered in the Devil's book.[89]

The Sabbaths were the important meetings, and were held four times in the year; the dates being Candlemas, February 2, Roodmas or Holy Cross Day, Lammas, August 1, and Hallowmas, October 31. Roodmas falls on May 3, but from the indications it would appear that the date of the Sabbath in Great Britain was originally the same as in Germany, namely Walpurgis Nacht, or April 30; in Bavaria it may be noted that Walpurgis Day was May 2. It is then clear that the Sabbaths were held on the four "cross-quarter" days, i.e. the quarter days of the May-November year. Frazer[90] notes that the division of the year at these points has nothing to do with the solstices or equinoxes, and therefore though of little moment to agriculture is of the utmost importance to the European herdsman, "for it is on the approach of summer that he drives his cattle out into the open to crop the fresh grass, and it is on the approach of winter that he leads them back to the safety and shelter of the stall. Accordingly it seems not improbable that the Celtic bisection of the year into two halves at the beginning of May and the beginning of November dates from a time when the Celts were mainly a pastoral people dependent for their subsistence on their herds, and when accordingly the great epochs of the year for them were the days on which the cattle went forth from the homestead in early summer, and returned to it again in early winter."

The witch ceremonies have to do chiefly with cattle. The Devil often appeared at the meetings, both Sabbath and esbat, either in the form of a herd animal—goat, sheep, or bull,[91]—or else in a rough shaggy garment, apparently intended to represent the animal, as the tail is often a marked feature. In these forms he received the homage of his worshippers as the incarnate God.[92] Much of the witch lore related to cattle; there were spells for laying on and taking off cattle diseases, as well as magical means for obtaining milk, and one of the few writings of the Devil, of which we have any real knowledge, was the Red Book of Appin,[93] a book which was stolen from the witches and was so magical that the owner had to wear a hoop of iron on his head when he ventured to open its pages; the contents of the book were entirely cattle charms. The feast at the Sabbath always consisted of roast meat,[94] either ox or sheep flesh.

The four festivals or Sabbaths can be divided into two pairs; the May-November festivals, and the February-August festivals. This division is suggested by the ceremonies, which seem originally to have been arranged according to the season. It is however clear that either the recorders of the trials did not understand that each Sabbath had its own special ritual, or that in the decadent condition, which the religion had reached, the witches themselves had confused the ceremonies. The ceremonies are noted as having occurred, but from the records it is possible that they may have been practised indiscriminately at any and every Sabbath.

In England the May festival was the most important, in Scotland the autumn festival. The ordinary feature of the May festival amongst the Christians in England was the dance round a pole; in Scotland, at the Hallowmas Sabbath the Aberdeen witches danced round the Fish and Market Crosses,[95] and the Craiglauch witches round a great stone,[96] which possibly takes the place of the English Maypole. In almost every notice of the witches' dance taken down from the mouths of eye-witnesses, mention is made of the music which the devil made. This is almost invariably said to be played on a pipe of so peculiar a kind that the Aberdeen judges speak of it as "his form of instrument."[97] The whole description of the May festival at Penzance in the early 19th century, including the peculiar pipes, bears an extraordinary resemblance to the accounts of some of the witches' Sabbaths. "It is an annual custom, on May-eve, for a number of young men and women to assemble at a public-house, and sit up till the clock strikes twelve, when they go round the town with violins, drums and other instruments, and by sound of music call upon others who had previously settled to join them. As soon as the party is formed, they proceed to different farmhouses, where they partake of junket, tea, and heavy country cake; next rum and milk, and then a dance. After thus regaling, they gather the May. While some are breaking down the boughs, others sit and make the 'May music' This is done by cutting a circle through the bark at a certain distance from the bottom of the May branches; then, by gently and regularly tapping the bark all round, from the cut circle to the end, the bark becomes loosened, and slips away whole from the wood; and a hole being cut in the pipe, it is easily found to emit a sound when blown through, and becomes a whistle. The gathering and the 'May music' being finished, they then 'bring home the May,' by five or six o'clock in the morning, with the band playing, and their whistles blowing. After dancing throughout the town, they go to their respective employments."[98] This description seems to me to have a definite resemblance to the accounts of the North Berwick witches[99] who "danced endlong the Kirkyard," to the witches who danced up the Pentland Hills[100] behind the piping devil, as well as to the Aberdeen and Craiglauch witches already quoted. Again the description of the leader of the May day dance in Wales[101] tallies very closely as I have suggested above with the descriptions often given of the Devil. "In Wales the dancers are under the command of the Cadi, who is chief marshal, orator, buffoon and money collector. . . . His countenance is particularly distinguished by a hideous mask, or is blackened all over; and then the lips, cheeks, and orbits of the eyes are sometimes painted red."[102] May and November are I believe the usual breeding seasons for herd animals, it seems probable then that the fertility rites, which have always interested writers on witchcraft almost to the exclusion of other points of ritual, took place on the May eve and Hallow-eve Sabbaths. The reason of these rites, as Frazer has shown in his accounts of Sacred Marriages, was to promote fertility; in this case, the fertility of the herds. The accusations brought against witches of certain gross forms of immorality were probably true, but true only in a sense; the rites being a survival of a primitive cult, and the chief of the Sabbath being a man in the guise of a bull, sheep, or goat,[103] who thus represented the god in animal form. The dates of these two Sabbaths go far to suggest this.

The Candlemas and Lammas festivals were more general in their magical effects. To Candlemas must belong the account of the Devil as a goat with the sacred fire between or upon his horns, from which the witches lighted their candles and torches. The complete account comes from a French source,[104] but the custom held good in England[105] and Scotland,[106] though the rite was so completely misunderstood by the recorders and possibly by the witches themselves that, without the French account as a guide, it is liable to be passed over as unimportant.

Lammas, in the Christian Church, was an early harvest festival, and was probably the same among the witches. Possibly the jumping dance[107] was a fertility rite to ensure the growth of the corn.

I do not intend to discuss the obscene rites which took place at all four Sabbaths, but which I believe were originally confined to May Eve and November Eve. But I would call your attention to their resemblance to similar ceremonies and beliefs among the ancients: the goat of Mendes, the wild scenes at Bubastis, the bull Dionysos and his following of dancing women, and those phallic rites of which we only catch glimpses, but which obviously played a large part at one time in the popular beliefs of the ancient world.

It is noticeable that there is hardly a mention of the Sabbath in the English trials nor in the celebrated German witch book, the Malleus Maleficarum; all the details which follow are taken from Scotch sources, supplemented where obscure by the French accounts.

Though the date of the Sabbath was fixed the site varied, and the members of the community were notified by the officer as to the locality; he either went to their houses[108] or warned them when he met them.[109] The site in France[110] was always near water. The exact order of the ceremonies is not clear, possibly because the ritual varied slightly in different places, for as Mather says the societies were like congregational churches, meaning that each one was independent. The Devil always presided, and the proceedings began by his receiving the homage of his worshippers; the women paid their adoration first, then the men[111]; and the homage included a renewal of the vows of fidelity and obedience.[112] Then came the religious service, in France the mass,[113] in Scotland the sacrament[114]; and there are references in both the Irish[115] and American[116] trials to this rite. In Scotland the sermon was a great feature of this ceremony, and a few sentences of the Devil's discourses have been preserved. At North Berwick[117] Satan "stood as in a pulpit, making a sermon of doubtsome speeches, saying, "Many comes to the fair, and buys not all wares," and, "he had many servants who should never want, and should ail nothing; and should never let any tear fall from their eyes, so long as they served him. And gave their lessons and commands to them, as follows: 'Spare not to do evil, and to eat, drink, and be blyth, taking rest and ease, for he should raise them up at the latter day gloriously.' "Another Scotch sermon[118] is preserved in which the Devil is said to have "most blasphemously mocked his followers if they offered to trust in God, who left them miserable in the world, and neither he nor his Son Jesus Christ ever appeared to them when they called on them, as he had, who would not cheat them." In France[119] the Devil said in his sermon that he was God, and that the joy which the witches took in the Sabbath was but the commencement of a much greater glory.

After the service came the feast, and then the dance, which was one of the chief features of the whole ceremonial.

The feast is very seldom given in any detail, sometimes it was provided by the Devil,[120] sometimes by a member of the Society,[121] sometimes all the members brought their own provisions.[122] The food appears to have consisted of roast meat, bread, and beer or wine; it was always spread on a clean white cloth. In Sweden and Scotland the feast was usually indoors, in England sometimes in a house, sometimes outside, according to the weather; in France almost always out of doors. At Auldearne[123] the feast began with a grace before meat ("We eat this meat in the Devil's name," etc.), and at the end the company looked at the Devil, and bowing to him said, "We thank thee, our Lord, for this." In Great Britain I can find no first-hand evidence as to the alleged taboo on salt at the witch-feasts, though it occurs in France.

The dances were of three kinds[124]; two were danced in a circle, the dancers facing outwards. In the first, the dancers held their hands behind them, and turned first one shoulder, then the other to the middle of the ring with a backward bend of the body. The description is something like the Looby dance of the children of Great Britain. The second was also a round dance, the dancers again facing outwards; it consisted of a series of jumps, and was possibly as I have already suggested originally a dance for increasing the corn crops. Both these dances were often performed round some object such as a great stone, and it is not improbable that the Devil stood in the middle, as there is no record of his dancing in these dances.[125] The third dance was in line; men and women stood alternately, holding hands; in time to the music they shifted their positions till each pair stood back to back, and at a given chord in the tune each dancer took one quick step to the rear and cannoned against his or her partner.[126] The Devil apparently was expected to lead this dance, and could change partners as often as he pleased.

A study, however short, of witch-ritual would not be complete without a mention of child sacrifice, a crime of which the witches were accused in every country, and which they actually confessed they had committed. The child had to be either a witch's child or unbaptised though born of Christian parents. Reginald Scot[127] says that it was commonly reported that "every fortnight, or at the least every month, each witch must kill one child at the least for her part." This is a gross exaggeration as he points out, but he quotes from Psellus[128] a sacrifice of children by a sect of "magical heretikes" called Eutychians, whom he regards as the originals of, or allied to, witches. He gives also a list of fifteen crimes laid to the charge of witches,[129] among which are the two following: "They sacrifice their own children to the devil before baptism, holding them up in the aire to him, and then thrust a needle into their brains," and "they burne their children when they have sacrificed them."

The witches were also accused of feasting on the flesh of the sacrificed children. Though I have not found a description by an eye-witness of such a sacrifice, there is more than one confession of the eating of a dead child's flesh,[130] but it was always done as a magical rite to ensure the silence of the witch when taken before a Christian judge. As the child was always an infant too young to speak, the witches apparently thought that to eat its flesh would prevent their tongues from uttering articulate words.

The exhuming of dead bodies is explicitly stated to have been for use in making charms.[131]

In conclusion I have brought together certain facts which appear to show a connection between the witches and fairies. By fairies I do not mean those little beings which the exquisite and delicate fancies of the poets have evolved; the fairies of the witch trials are the fairies of Scotch and Irish legend. In the early trials and in the more remote districts there are frequent mentions of elves and fairies, of the Fairy Queen and the Queen of Elfin[132]; the imps or familiars are called individually Elva[133] or Robin,[134] and generically Puckerels[135]; the knowledge of the witches is said to be elf-lore.[136] The ritual of the witches is like the ritual of the fairies; both sacrifice children to their god,[137] whom the Christians stigmatised as the Devil; both stole unbaptised children for the sacrifice[138]; both sacrificed their god or "devil" every year,[139] apparently on May day; both had ritual dances, which were so like one another that Boguet can say of the witch dances that "they are like those of the fairies, true devils incarnate, who reigned not long ago,"[140] and More gravely wonders whether the dark rings on the grass are made by the dances of witches or fairies.[141] The Fairy Queen, like the fairy woman of modern Ireland, is not distinguishable at first sight from an ordinary woman. When Bessie Dunlop was ill, a stout woman came to her cottage and sat down and asked for a drink[142]; this was the Queen of Elfhame. Andro Man as a little boy first saw "the Devil thy master in the likeness and shape of a woman, whom thou callest the Queen of Elphen," who was delivered of a child in Andro's mother's house.[143] When grown-up, Andro again met "that devilish sprite, the Queen of Elphin, on whom thou begat divers bairns, whom thou has seen sinsyne."[144] Marion Grant of the same covine saw her as "a fine woman, clad in a white walicot."[145] Isobel Gowdie said that "the Queen of Fearrie is brawly clothed in white linens, and in white and brown clothes."[146] Jean Weir sister of Major Weir, "took employment from a Woman to speak in her behalf to the Queen of ffearie, meaning the Devil."[147] Holinshed also says that the witches of Macbeth were fairies.[148]

If, as many authorities contend, the fairies are really the aboriginal inhabitants of these islands, there is nothing surprising in their ritual and beliefs being adopted by the invading race. And in that case I am right in my conjecture that the rites of the witches are the remains of the ancient and primitive cult of Great Britain.


  1. Decretal of Pope Adrian IV., 1523.
  2. Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World, p. 160, ed. 1862. The Swedish witches also said that the Devil had a church at Blockula, Horneck in Glanvil's Sadducismus Truimphatus, pt. ii. p. 324, ed. 1681.
  3. Strabo, Geog. iv. 4.
  4. Dionysius, Periegesis, v. 565.
  5. It is in the laws of Athelstan that the method of ordeal by water is fully described. The "swimming" of witches was the survival of this ordeal.
  6. It is worth noting that in this decree the work of the witches is supposed to be directed against fertility only.
  7. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. p. 605. Bodin, Demonomanie, p. 148, Lyons, 1593. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, p. 126. Dunaeus, Dialogue of Witches, ch. ii. ed. 1575. Webster, Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, PP. 347-9.
  8. Hale, Collection of Modern Relations, p. 58, ed. 1693. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 609. Begg in Proc. Soc. of Antiquaries of Scotland, New Series, x. p. 238.
  9. Boguet, Discours des Sorciers, ch. ix. p. 54, Lyons, 1608. Wonderfull Discouerie of Elizabeth Sawyer, London, 1611.
  10. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 197. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 612. Begg, op. cit. p. 238.
  11. De Lancre, op. cit. pp. 129, 131. Sharpe, Historical Account of Witchcraft in Scotland, p. 146, ed. 1884. Reg. Scot, Discouerie of Witchcraft, Bk. ii. ch. xi. ed. 1584. Horneck in Glanvil's Sadduicsmus Triumphatus, ii. p. 318, ed. 1681.
  12. Begg, op. cit. pp. 221, 224, 227, 228, 231, 234, 237.
  13. Spalding Club Miscellany, i. pp. 125, 170-2.
  14. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. ii. pp. 51-6, pt. iii. pp. 210-2, 230. Sinclair, Satan's Invisible World Discovered, pp. 1 22-3. Reg. Scot, Discouerie of Witchcraft, Bk. iii. ch. 2, 3. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 293-5. Isobel Gowdie's confessions give most detail; see Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. pp. 602-14.
  15. Glanvil, op. cit. pt. ii. p. 137. Spottiswoode Miscellany, ii. p. 56. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. ii. pp. 51-6, pt. iii. p. 230.
  16. Sinclair, op. cit. p. 163. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 606. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 212. R. Scot, op, cit. Bk. iii. ch. 3.
  17. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 617.
  18. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. iii. p. 230. Sir J. Melville, Memoirs, p. 395.
  19. Catalogue of State Papers, Domestic, 1584.
  20. Garish, The Divel's Delusions, pp. 5, 11.
  21. Kinloch and Baxter, Reliquiae Aniquae Scoticae, p. 124, Forfar. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 601, Dalkeith.
  22. Spottiswoode Miscellany, ii. p. 62, East Lothian. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. ii. pp. 51-6, Ayrshire. Begg, Proc. Soc. of Antiquaries of Scotland, New Series, X. pp. 221, 239.
  23. Begg, op. cit. pp. 228, 232, Kinross-shire.
  24. 24.0 24.1 De Lancre, Tableau, p. 68.
  25. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 162-5, 293-5. Examination of Certain Witches at Chelmsford, p. 25, Philobiblon Society, viii. Melville, Mem. p. 395.
  26. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 398. Boguet, Discours des Sorciers, p. 57, Lyons, 1608.
  27. Dorsetshire, Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, 1891, p. 289. Elworthy, Horns of Honour, p. 139.
  28. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bk. ii. ch. 14.
  29. Roscher, Lexicon, ii. 36, article "Janus."
  30. Bodin, Fléau des Demons, pp. 1S7-S, ed. 1616. Boguet, Discours des Sorciers, p. 141, ed. 1608. Bourignon, La Parole de Dieu, p. 87, ed. 1683. Gerish, Hertfordshire Folklore, p. 13. Cannaert, Olim procés des Sorciéres en Belgique, p. 50, ed. 1847.
  31. Woman: Glanvil, Sadducisimus Triumphatus, pt. ii. p. 291. Spalding Club Miscellany, i. p. 142. Potts, Wonderfull Discouerie of Witches, ed. 1613. Man: Sinclair, Satan's Invisible World Discovered, p. 46. Spotiiswoode Miscellany, ii. p. 67. Pitcaiin, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. p. 219.
  32. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 73, 124, 147.
  33. R. Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk. iii. ch. 3. Glanvil, op. cit. pt. ii. pp. 293-5. In small places where there were only a few members, the Devil often went round to the houses himself.
  34. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. iii. p. 219, iii. p. 613.
  35. Spalding Club Miscellany, i. pp. 97-8.
  36. Howell, State Trials, vi. 683, quoting Fountainhall's Decisions.
  37. Glanvil, op. cit. pt. ii. pp. 147, 291.
  38. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 194.
  39. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 603.
  40. Id. ib. iii. p. 603. Begg, Proc. Soc. Ant. of Scotland, N.S. x. p. 212.
  41. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. iii. p. 245.
  42. Glanvil, Sadd. Triumph, pt. ii. pp. 139, 140.
  43. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 610. "We doe no great Mater withowt owr Maiden," says Isobel Gowdie.
  44. De Lancre, L'Incredulité, p. 36, ed. 1622. Tableau, pp. 398-9.
  45. Spalding Club Miscellany, i. pp. 119, 170-2. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. ii. p. 56, iii. p. 604.
  46. Pearson, Chances of Death.
  47. Potts, Wonderful Discoverie.
  48. Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World, p. 159, ed. 1862.
  49. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. pp. 217, ii. pp. 542-3.
  50. Lea, History of the Inquisition, iii. p. 525. Spottiswoode Miscellany, ii. p. 62. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 613.
  51. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. p. 613.
  52. J. Gaule, Cases of Conscience, p. 65, London, 1645.
  53. Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, Camden Society, p. 2.
  54. Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World, p. 131, ed. 1862.
  55. Lea, op. cit. iii. p. 501.
  56. Glanvil, Sadd. Triumph, pt. ii. p. 319.
  57. Howell, State Trials, iv. 842.
  58. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. iii. pp. 161-4 (date 1588).
  59. Narrative of the Sufferings of a Young Girle, pp. xxxix-xli (date 1696).
  60. Lamont, Diary, p. 12. Narrative of the Sufferings of a Young Girle, pp. xliv. xlv.
  61. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, p. 398.
  62. Id. ib. p. 399.
  63. Forbes, Institutes of the Law of Scotland, ii. 32-4, ed. 1730.
  64. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 399.
  65. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. 601. Spelling modernised.
  66. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. pp. 603, 617.
  67. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 77, ed. 1720. In Belgium the Devil and the witch drank each other's blood: "Après avoir donné a boire de son sang à Satan, et avoir bu du sien" (Cannaert, Olim procès des Sorcières, p. 48, ed. 1847).
  68. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 136, 148, ed. 1681.
  69. Mackenzie, Laws and Customs of Scotland, pp. 47-8, ed. 1699.
  70. Forbes, Institutes of the Law of Scotland, ii. pp. 32-4, ed. 1730.
  71. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, p. 399, ed. 1613. Howell, State Trials, iv. 854.
  72. Webster, Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, pp. 347-9 (date 1633).
  73. Cp. Reg. Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk. ii. ch, 5, ed. 1504: "If she have anie privie marke under hir arme pokes."
  74. Gerish, Relation of Mary Hall, p. 24. Howell, State Trials, vi. 696. Bower, Dr. Lamb Revived, p. 28, London, 1653.
  75. Howell, op. cit. vi. 696.
  76. Williams, Journal of Anatomy, xxv. p. 249.
  77. Webster, Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, p. 349.
  78. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, pp. 70, 131.
  79. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 136, 148, 157. Chambers, Domestic Annals, ii. p. 278. Spottiswoode Miscellany, ii. p. 62. Sinclair, Satan's Invisible World Discovered, p. lxxxix, p. 161, ed. 1S71. Kinloch and Baxter, Reliquiae Antiquae Scoticae, pp. 132-3.
  80. Spottiswoode Miscellany, ii. p. 70. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. pp. 613, 617.
  81. Note specially Rebecca West and Rose Hallybread, Full Tryals of Notorious Witches, p. 8. Also Major Weir, Arnot, Criminal Trials, pp. 359-60, Records of the Justiciary Court of Edinburgh, ii. p. 14.
  82. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 133.
  83. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, p. 123, ed. 1613.
  84. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. pp. 245-6. Melville, Memoirs, p. 395.
  85. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 137-8, passim.
  86. Potts, Wonderfull Discoverie.
  87. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. p. 603.
  88. Marie Lamont came home "in the dawing." Sharpe, Witchcraft in Scotland, 130-4. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 147.
  89. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. 613.
  90. Frazer, Balder the Beautiful, i. 221.
  91. Goat: De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstanice des mauvais Auges, p. 68 et pass. Sheep: Spalding Club Miscellany, i. 129. Bull: De Lancre, op. cit. p. 68. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. p. 613.
  92. Pitcairn, op. cit. iii. 612.
  93. J. G. Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands, p. 293.
  94. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 139-141 et pass. ed. 1681. Reg. Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk. iii. ch. 2, ed. 1584. Potts, Discoverie of Witches, ed. 1613. Kinloch and Baxter, Reliquiae Antiquae Scoticae, pp. 124, 125, 127. In Sweden the witches had milk, butter and cheese.
  95. Spalding Club Miscellany, i. pp. 97, 98, 114, 115, 164-5.
  96. Id. ib. i. pp. 144, 149.
  97. Id. ib. i. pp. 97-8, 114-5, 149, 153, 164-5.
  98. Hone, Everyday Book, i. May 1st.
  99. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. p. 245.
  100. Sinclair, Satan's Invisible World Discovered, p. 163.
  101. Hone, op. cit. i. May 1st.
  102. Hone, op. cit. May 1st.
  103. De Lancre, op. cit. pp. 68, 126. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, pp. 42-3, ed. 1720. Lea, History of the Inquisition, iii. p, 536.
  104. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance des mauvais Auges, p. 401. De Lancre was the Inquisitor sent to suppress withcraft in the Pays de Labour.
  105. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 139.
  106. Melville, Memoirs, p. 395, Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. pp. 239, 210-12, 245-6. Sinclsin, Satan's Invisible World Discovered, p. 163. Hutchinson, op. cit. pp. 42-3.
  107. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 210.
  108. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. p. 293-5.
  109. Reg. Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk. iii. ch. 3.
  110. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, p. 62, ed. 1613.
  111. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. p. 239.
  112. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 131.
  113. De Lancre, op. cit. pp. 401-3.
  114. Sharpe, Witchcraft in Scotland, pp. 130-4. ed. 1884. This is perhaps a confusion between the feast and the sacrament. Howell, State Trials, vi. 683.
  115. Holinshed, Chronicle of Ireland, p. 69. There appears to be no mention of the rite in England.
  116. Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts Bay, ii. p. 55, ed. 1765. Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World, pp. 158-9, ed. 1862.
  117. Pitcairn, op. cit. i. pt. iii. pp. 210-12.
  118. Howell, State Trials, vi. 683.
  119. De Lancre, op. cit. pp. 401-3.
  120. Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus, pt. ii. pp. 137-S. Sharpe, Witchcraft in Scotland, p. 130, ed. 1884.
  121. Kinloch and Baxter, Reliquiae Antiquae Scoticae, pp. 132-3. Spottiswoode Miscellany, i. pp. 66-7. Potts, Discoverie of Witches.
  122. Horneck in Glanvil's Sadducismus Triumnphatus, pt. ii. pp. 326-7. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, y. 197. Burr, Narratives of Witchcraft Cases, p. 418, New York, 1914.
  123. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. 612. Also in France, de Lancre, op. cit. p. 197.
  124. De Lancre, op. cit. p. 210.
  125. It is uncertain whether this statement holds good at Auldearne, or whether the dance described by Isobel Gowdie refers to the third form. "Jean Martein is Maiden to the Coven that I am of, & hir nikname is 'Ower the dyke with it,' becaws the Divell alwayis takis the Maiden in his hand nix him, quhan we dance Gillatrypes; tV quhan he void loup from [words broken here] he & she will say, Ower the dyk with it" (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. p. 606.)
  126. The Walloon children still have a similar dance. E. Monseur, Folklore Wallon, p. 102, Bruxelles.
  127. R. Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk. iii. ch. 2.
  128. Id. ib. Bk. iii. ch. 3.
  129. Id. ib. Bk. ii. ch. 9.
  130. Kinloch and Baxter, Reliquiae Antiqitae Scoticae, p. 121. De Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance, p. 128.
  131. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. iii. p. 239. R. Scot, op. cit. Bk. iii. ch. I.
  132. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. ii. p. 56, pt. iii. p. 162, iii. p. 604, etc.
  133. Sinclair, Satan's Invisible World Discovered, p. 24.
  134. Camden Society, Dame Alice Kyteler, p. 2.
  135. Giffard, Dialogue of Witches, p. 9.
  136. Spalding Club Miscellany, 177—Ex. of John Walsh.
  137. Cunningham, Traditional Tales, p. 251.
  138. Ballad of Young Tamlane.
  139. Rogen, Scotland Social and Domestic, p. 217. Cunningham, Traditional Tales, p. 251.
  140. Boguet, Discours des Sorciers, p. 132.
  141. More, Antidote against Atheism, p. 232.
  142. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. pt. ii. p. 56.
  143. Spalding Club Miscellany, i. p. 119.
  144. Id. ib. i. p. 119.
  145. Id. ib. p. 171.
  146. Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. p. 604.
  147. Records of Justiciary Court of Edinburgh, ii. p. 11.
  148. Holinshed, Chronicles, Scotland, p. 171.