Jones, Kelvin I. Seven Cornish Witches. Penzance: Oakmagic
Perkins, William (1555-1602) England Puritan and demonologist, a Fellow at Christ's College in Cambridge, whose views on WITCHES and WITCHCRAFT greatly shaped public opinion in the last decade of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century.
Perkins' work, Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, was published posthumously in 1608 and surpassed JAMES I's Daemonologie as the leading witchhunter's bible. He accepted completely the witch dogma of other demo-nologists. He divided witchcraft into two types—"divining" and "working." The second type included STORM RAISING, the poisoning of air (which brings pestilence), the BLASTING of corn and crops and the "procuring of strange passions and torments in men's bodies and other creatures, with curing of the same." He said that witches should get a fair trial, but he favored the use of torture. Of DEVIL'S pacts, Perkins said:
When witches begin to make a league, they are sober and sound in understanding, but after they once be in the league, their reason, and understanding may be depraved, memory weakened, and all the powers of the soul blemished, they are deluded and so intoxicated that they will run into a thousand of fantastical imaginations, holding themselves to be transformed into the shapes of other creatures, to be transported in the air, to do many strange things, which in truth they do not.
Perkins set forth "safe" ways for discovering witches, which Cotton Mather endorsed and summarized in On Witchcraft: Being the Wonders of the Invisible World in 1692. These ways were not sufficient for conviction but raised conjecture that a suspect was a witch:
1. Notorious defamation as a witch, especially by "men of honesty and credit."
2. Testimony by a fellow witch or magician.
3. A cursing, followed by a death.
4. Enmity, quarreling or threats, followed by "mischief."
5. Being the son or daughter, servant, familiar friend, near neighbor or old companion of a known or convicted witch, since witchcraft is an art that can be learned.
6. The presence of a Devil's mark.
7. Unconstant or contrary answers to interrogation.
8. Recovery from scratching [see pricking] and swimming.
9. The testimony of a wizard who offers to show the witch's face in a glass.
10. A deathbed oath by a victim that he has been bewitched to death.
The following were deemed sufficient for conviction:
1. A "free and voluntary confession" of the accused.
2. The testimony of two "good and honest" witnesses that the accused has entered into a pact with the Devil or has practiced witchcraft.
3. Other proof of a Devil's pact.
4. Proof that the accused has entertained familiar spirits.
5. Testimony that the accused has done anything to infer entering into a Devil's pact, using enchantments, divining the future, raising tempests or raising the form of a dead man.
Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft at Salem. New York: George Braziller, 1967.
Mather, Cotton. On Witchcraft: Being the Wonders of the Invisible World. 1692. Reprint, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.: The Peter Pauper Press, 1950.
philtre Magical potion that causes a person to fall in love with another. Philtres, also called love potions, have been common in MAGIC, folk magic and myth since antiquity. Important in the Middle Ages, they declined in popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries in favor of spells and CHARMS. Philtres are still brewed in modern times in various folk-magic traditions.
A philtre consists of wine, tea or water doctored with herbs or drugs. For best results, according to lore, it should be concocted only by a professional witch. When drunk, the philtre supposedly makes the recipient fall in love with the giver, which means great care must be taken that it is administered properly. In the tale of Tristan and Isolde, Isolde's mother obtains a philtre that will make her unwilling daughter fall in love with her betrothed, King Mark of Cornwall. Thinking it is poison, Isolde shares it with Tristan, the king's knight who is escorting her to Cornwall. They fall irrevocably in love, which proves fatal to both of them.
There is at least one story of a philtre producing not love but insanity. According to the Roman biographer Suetonius (69-140), the emperor Caligula (12-14) went mad after drinking a love philtre administered by his wife, Caesonia—thereby providing an excuse for the emperor's irrational behavior.
The most common ingredient in philtres has been the smelly MANDRAKE root, also called "love apples," a poisonous member of the nightshade family. Orange and ambergris added a little flavor and pleasant aroma. VERVAIN, an herb, was also used a great deal and still is used in the 20th century. Other common ingredients are the hearts and reproductive organs of animals, such as the testicles of kangaroos, used by Australian aborigines, and the testicles of beavers, used by some North American Indians. In India, betel nuts or tobacco are added to philtres. A simple formula from Nova Scotia calls for a woman to steep her hair in water and then give the water to her intended to drink.
Herbs and plants are common additives: briony (similar to mandrake) and fern seed in England, the latter of which must be gathered on the eve of St. John's Day. The Chinese use shang-luh, a plant that resembles ginseng. In Germany, a red gum called dragon blood is used.
One medieval philtre recipe called for grinding into a powder the heart of a dove, the liver of a sparrow, the womb of a swallow and the kidney of a hare. To that was added an equal part of the person's own blood, also dried and powdered. This was mixed into a liquid and offered as a drink, with "marvellous success" promised.
In the 16th century, Girolamo Folengo offered this formidable recipe in his Maccaronea:
Black dust of tomb, venom of toad, flesh of brigand, lung of ass, blood of blind infant, corpses from graves, bile of ox.
Since philtres depend upon convincing someone to drink a brew that may not taste or smell pleasant, they
are no longer as popular as other charms, such as GRIS-GRIS, dolls or POPPETS and spells. Even in the Middle Ages, the limitations of philtres were recognized. One alternative recipe recommended rubbing the hands with vervain juice and touching "the man or woman you wish to inspire with love."
In modern Witchcraft, the concoction of any love charm for the purpose of forcing love or manipulating an unsuspecting person is considered unethical by many Witches. It is preferable to make love charms to enhance love that already exists between two persons. Love charms also are acceptable if caveats are added, such as "for the good of all," "if they are right for each other" and "if no one is harmed" (see WICCAN Rede).
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