From Malleus Maleficarum

The method by which they profess their sacrilege through an open pact of fidelity to devils varies according to the several practices to which different witches are addicted. And to understand this it first must be noted that there are, as was shown in The First Part of the treatise, three kinds of witches; namely, those who injure but cannot cure; those who cure but, through some strange pact with the devil, cannot injure; and those who both injure and cure. And among those who injure, one class in particular stands out, which can perform every sort of witchcraft and spell, comprehending all that all the others can individually do. Wherefore, if we describe the method of profession in their case, it will suffice also for all the other kinds. And this class is made up of those who, against every instinct of human or animal nature, are in the habit of eating and devouring the children of their own species.

And this is the most powerful class of witches, who practise innumerable other harms also. For they raise hailstorms and hurtful tempests and lightnings; cause sterility in men and animals; offer to devils, or otherwise kill, the children whom they do not devour. But these are only the children who have not been re-born by baptism at the font, for they cannot devour those who have been baptized, nor any without God's permission. They can also, before the eyes of their parents, and when no one is in sight, throw into the water children walking by the water side; they make horses go mad under their riders; they can transport themselves from place to place through the air, wither in body or in imagination; they can affect Judges and Magistrates so that they cannot hurt them; they can cause themselves and others to keep silence under torture; they can bring about a great trembling in the hands and horror in the minds of those who would arrest them; they can show to others occult things and future events, by the information of devils, though this may sometimes have a natural cause (see the question: Whether devils can foretell the future, in the Second Book of Sentences^; they can see absent things as if they were present; they can turn the minds of men to inordinate love or hatred; they can at times strike whom they will with lightening and even kill some men and animals; they can make of no effect the generative desires, and even the powers of copulation, cause abortion, kill infants in the mother's womb by a mere exterior touch; they can at times bewitch men and animals with a mere look, without touching them, and cause death; they dedicate their own children to devils; and in short, as has been said, they can cause all the plagues which other witches can only cause in part, that is, when the Justice of God permits such things to be. All these things this most powerful of all classes of witches can do, but they cannot undo them.

comprehending:

understanding wherefore: in which case profession: occupation suffice: be enough practise: practice innumerable: too many to count tempests: violent storms sterility: inability to reproduce sexually baptism: a religious ceremony where someone is sprinkled with water or dipped in water as they are welcomed into the Christian church font: a basin that holds holy water for baptisms magistrates: officials of the court occult: having to do with magic and supernatural powers inordinate: more than ordinary generative: reproductive copulation: to engage in sexual intercourse abortion: the birth of a baby before it is old enough to survive womb: the place in a woman where a baby gows before being born; the uterus

Malleus Maleficarum

Matthew Hopkins was a well-known witch-hunter.

Reproduced by permission of Corbis/Bettmann.

Matthew Hopkins was a well-known witch-hunter.

Reproduced by permission of Corbis/Bettmann.

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