Baroja, Julio Caro. The World of the Witches. 1961. Reprint,
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.
allotriophagy The vomiting or disgorgement of strange or foul objects, usually associated with someone possessed by or obsessed with the DEVIL or other demons (see possession). Such actions also once were seen as illusions or spells caused by witches or as attempts at suicide by the mentally deranged. Most treatises on possession written during the Renaissance and later included the vomiting of unusual objects as an indication that the Devil had entered a person's body. The objects vomited by the victim could be anything from live animals, such as toads, snakes, worms or butterflies, to pieces of iron, nails, small files, pins, needles, feathers, stones, cloth, shards of glass, hair, seaweed or foam.
Simon Goulart, a 15th-century historian, tells of a young girl whose abdomen continually swelled as if she were pregnant. Upon receiving drugs, the girl began vomiting a huge mass of hair, food, wax, long iron nails and brass needles. In another account, Goulart says a man named William, succumbing to the fervent prayers of his master's wife, Judith, began vomiting the entire front part of a pair of shepherd's trousers, a serge jacket, stones, a woman's peruke (hairpiece), spools of thread, needles and a peacock feather. William claimed that the Devil had placed the items in his throat. Finally, Goulart relates the case of 30 children in Amsterdam in 1566 who became frenzied, vomiting pins, needles, thimbles, bits of cloth and pieces of broken jugs and glass. Efforts by doctors, exorcists and sorcerers had no effect, and the children suffered recurrent attacks.
Alrunes In German and Scandinavian myth, the Alrunes are sorceresses or female demons who can change shape; they are believed to be the mothers of the Huns. As late as the 19th century in some rural areas, they were personified by small statues, which were kept in the home, clothed and made offerings of food and drink. It was believed that the Alrunes could divine the future by responding to questions with motions of the head. If the statues were not properly cared for, they were said to cry out, which would bring great misfortune to the household.
altar Elevated place where religious ceremonies are conducted and where offerings are made to a deity or deities. The altar has ancient associations with the Goddess and Mother Earth, who rule the wheel of birth-death-rebirth.
In WICCA and Paganism, the altar is placed within a MAGIC CIRCLE. It usually faces either east or north, depending on the tradition and practices of the coven. There are no set rules in the Craft for the construction of the altar. If the ceremonies take place out of doors, rocks or tree stumps may be used. Indoors, the altar may be a table, a wooden box or a board placed on boxes or bricks. Whatever the form or materials, the altar should not contain conductive metals such as iron or steel, since they could interfere with the energy of the ritual tools made of iron or steel (see wiTCHEs' tools). Since many covens meet in homes or apartments where space is at a premium, the altar may not be permanent but erected only during ceremonies.
The objects of ritual and worship placed on the altar vary, depending upon the practices of the coven and the rituals to be performed. They may include an athame (a black-handled knife that is the Witch's primary magical tool), a white-handled knife, a sword, a wand, CANDLEs, a cup or goblet of wine, anointing oils, dishes for SALT and wATER, a necklace without beginning or end, a censer, BELLs, scourges, dishes for offering food and drink to the deities and images of the deities, such as figurines, wax statues or drawings. If a broom and cauldron are needed in rituals, they are placed on either side of the altar.
The altar is never used for blood sacrifice, which is prohibited in Wicca and Paganism.
In the GREAT Rite, which is actual or symbolic ritual sex, the body of the high priestess is considered an altar of the sacred forces of life, which echoes back to the ancient connection of altar to the Mother GoDDEss.
During the witch hunts, it was believed that at witches' sABBATs, the woman who was high sorceress or high priestess served as both living altar and sacrifice to the DEVIL. "On her loins a demon performed Mass, pronounced the Credo, deposited the offertory of the faithful," observes historian Jules Michelet in Satanism and Witchcraft. According to Michelet, the eucharist at these sabbats consisted of a cake baked upon the altar of the woman: "It was her life, her death, they ate. The morsel was impregnated already with the savour of her burning flesh."
These accounts of sabbats were extracted under torture and were fiction to satisfy inquisitors.
Buckland, Raymond. Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft.
St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1986.
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