Page:Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921).djvu/226

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accordingly, and sucked on her body.—Anne Gate saith, That she hath four familiars, which shee had from her mother, about two and twenty yeeres since.'[1] In 1667 at Liverpool, 'Margaret Loy, being arraigned for a witch, confessed she was one; and when she was asked how long she had so been, replied, Since the death of her mother, who died thirty years ago; and at her decease she had nothing to leave her, and this widow Bridge, that were sisters, but her two spirits; and named them, the eldest spirit to this widow, and the other spirit to her the said Margaret Loy.'[2] This inheritance of a familiar may be compared with the Lapp custom: 'The Laplanders bequeath their Demons as part of their inheritance, which is the reason that one family excels another in this magical art.'[3]

4. The method of obtaining a familiar by means of magical words or actions is clearly described in two modern examples:

'Sometime in the beginning of the last century, two old dames attended the morning service at Llanddewi Brefi Church, and partook of the Holy Communion; but instead of eating the sacred bread like other communicants, they kept it in their mouths and went out. Then they walked round the Church outside nine times, and at the ninth time the Evil One came out from the Church wall in the form of a frog, to whom they gave the bread from their mouths, and by doing this wicked thing they were supposed to be selling themselves to Satan and become witches.—There was an old man in North Pembrokeshire, who used to say that he obtained the power of bewitching in the following manner: The bread of his first Communion he pocketed. He made pretence at eating it first of all, and then put it in his pocket. When he went out from the service there was a dog meeting him by the gate, to which he gave the bread, thus selling his soul to the Devil. Ever after, he possessed the power to bewitch.'[4]

On the analogy of these two examples, I suggest that in the accounts of familiars offering themselves to the witch, there was, previous to such appearance, some formula of words or some magical action which are not recorded. The animal,

  1. Howell, iv, 845, 853, 856.
  2. Moore Rental, Chetham Society, xii, p. 59.
  3. Scheffer, quoting Tornaeus.
  4. Davies, p. 231. For a similar practice in modern England, see Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vi (1874), p. 201.