The above verse, in its quaint old French, is an allusion to the well-known Decree of the Council of Ancyra, referring to "Certain wicked women, reverting to Satan, and seduced by the illusions and phantasms of demons, (who) believe and profess that they ride at night with Diana " This decree was echoed in an episcopal statute of Auger de Montfaucon, 1279-1304, which says, Nulla mulier se nocturnis equitare cum Diana paganorum, vel cum Herodiade seu Bensozia, et in numina multitudinem profiteatur". It will be noted as a curious fact that the Church here appears to be maintaining that the stories of riding on horseback to the Sabbat to worship the Witch Goddess were all "illusions and phantasms of demons", and people are enjoined not to believe in them. This was in fact the official teaching of the early Church for many years, until it was realised that this attitude was untenable, when it was conveniently discovered that this decree of the Council of Ancyra was in fact apocryphal, and instead the people were warned that the Sabbat was real after all, and that it was a deadly sin not to believe in it! Many documents illustrating this volte-face on the part of the Church are quoted in H. C. Lea's Materials Toward a History of Witchcraft, to which I refer the reader for the details of this rather amusing sidelight on the infallibility of the Church's teaching about witchcraft. (See Appendix 4).
"Dame Habonde" was Abundia, the Goddess of Fertility, and "Bensozia" was "Bona Socia", "The Good Neighbour". All these terms are titles of the Witch Goddess, and euphemisms for her real name, even as her followers, the witches, are referred to as "les bonnes dames". Other terms for the Goddess were "La Reine Pedauque", the Queen with the Goose-Foot (the "goose-foot" being itself a euphemism for her sign, the Pentagram); and "Frau Hilde" or "Holda" in the Teutonic countries. Dr. W. Wagner's Asgard and the Gods: the Tales and Traditions of our Northern Ancestors says of Holda "...that those who were crippled in any way were restored to full strength and power by bathing in her Quickborn (fountain of life) and that old men found their vanished youth there once more." This is precisely the witches' Goddess of Rebirth and Resurrection; and it is the same tale which was told about the magical cauldron of the Ancient British Goddess, Cerridwen. The inner meaning in both cases is the same; the Goddess's gift is rebirth in a new body, reincarnation. "With sturdier limbs and brighter brain, the old soul takes the road again."
Incidentally, this may be the inner meaning of the old British tale of Avalon, the Place of Apples. Every old Celtic tale speaks of the after-world as a place of apple-trees, but nobody seems to
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