Introduction

THE subject of Witches and Witchcraft has always suffered from the biassed opinions of the commentators, both contemporary and of later date. On the one hand are the writers who, having heard the evidence at first hand, believe implicitly in the facts and place upon them the unwarranted construction that those facts were due to supernatural power on the other hand are the writers who, taking the evidence on hearsay and disbelieving the conclusions drawn by their opponents, deny the facts in...

The Domestic Familiar

Forbes, the great Scotch lawyer, says that 'to some he the Devil gives certain Spirits or Imps to correspond with, and serve them as their Familiars, known to them by some odd 1. From an unpublished trial in the Justiciary Court at Edinburgh. 2. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 136, 137, 152. Names, to which they answer when called. These Imps are said to be kept in Pots or other Vessels.' 1 Though the domestic familiar is thus mentioned in the law of Scotland, it never occurs in the trials. It is confined...

Sacrifices

There are four forms of sacrifice 1 the blood sacrifice, which was performed by making an offering of the witch's own blood 2 the sacrifice of an animal 3 the sacrifice of a human being, usually a child 4 the sacrifice of the god. 1. The blood-sacrifice took place first at the admission of the neophyte. Originally a sacrifice, it was afterwards joined to the other ceremony of signing the contract, the blood serving as the writing fluid it also seems to be confused in the seventeenth century...

Transformations into Animals

The belief that human beings can change themselves, or be changed, into animals carries with it the corollary that wounds received by a person when in the semblance of an animal will remain on the body after the return to human shape. This belief seems to be connected with the worship of animal-gods or sacred animals, the worshipper being changed into an animal by being invested with the skin of the creature, by the utterance of magical words, by the making of magical gestures, the wearing of a...