As an Animal

In many religions the disguising of the principal personage -whether god or priest-as an animal is well known. The custom is very ancient-such disguised human beings are found even among the palaeolithic drawings in France; and on a slate palette belonging to the late pre-dynastic period of Egypt there is a representation of a man disguised as a jackal and playing on a pipe.[2] The ritual disguise as an animal is condemned, with great particularity, as devilish, in the Liber Poenitentialis of Theodore of the seventh century (see supra, p. 21), showing that it continued in force

2. Quibell, pl. xxviii. The palette itself is now in the Ashmolean museum, Oxford].

after the conversion of England to an outward appearance of Christianity. From the analogy of other religions in which tile custom occurs, it would appear that it is a ritual for the promotion of fertility; the animal represented being either the sacred animal of the tribe or the creature most used for food.

The suggestion that the Devil was a man, wearing either an animal's skin or a mask in the form of an animal's head as a ritual disguise, accounts as nothing else can for the witches' evidence as to his appearance and his changes of form. A confusion, however, exists from the fact that the witches, and therefore the recorders, usually spoke of the familiars as the Devil; but in almost every case the disguised man can, on examination of the evidence, be distinguished from the animal familiar.

The animal forms in which the Devil most commonly appeared were bull, cat, dog, goat, horse, and sheep. A few curious facts come to light on tabulating these forms; i.e. The Devil appears as a goat or a sheep in France only; he is never found in any country as a hare, though this was the traditional form for a witch to assume; nor is lie found as a toad, though this was a common form for the familiar; the fox and the ass also are unknown forms; and in Western Europe the pig is an animal almost entirely absent from all the rites and ceremonies as well as from the disguises of the Devil.

The witches never admitted in so many words that the Devil was a man disguised, but their evidence points strongly to the fact. In some cases the whole body was disguised, in others a mask was worn, usually over the face. The wearing of the mask is indicated partly by descriptions of its appearance, and partly by the description of the Devil's voice. The Lorraine witches in 1589 said that the Devils 'können nimmermehr die Menschliche Stimme so aussdrücklich nachreden, dass man nicht leicht daran mercke, dass es eine gemachte falsche Stimme sey. Nicolaea Ganatia, und fast alle andere sagen, dass sie eine Stimme von sich geben, gleich denen, so den Kopff in ein Fass oder zerbrochenen Hafen stecken und daraus reden. Auch geben sie etwann eine kleine leise Stimme von sich.'[1] The North Berwick Devil in 1590 was purposely disguised out of all recognition: ' The Devil start up in the pulpit, like a mickle black man, with a black beard sticking out like a goat's beard; and a high ribbed nose, falling down sharp like the beak of a hawk; with a long rumpill' [tail].[2] This was Barbara Napier's account; Agnes Sampson describes the same personage, 'The deuell caused all the company to com and kiss his ers, quhilk they said was cauld like yce; his body was hard lyk yrn, as they thocht that handled him; his faice was terrible, his noise lyk the bek of an egle, gret bournyng eyn: his handis and legis wer herry, with clawis vpon his handis and feit lyk the griffon, and spak with a how voice.'[3] Boguet states that 'on demanda à George Gandillon, si lors qu'il fut sollicité par Sata{n} de se bailler à luy, Satan parloit distinctement. Il respondit que non, & qu'à peine pouuoit il comprendre ce qu'il disoit.'[4] The evidence of the witches in the Basses-Pyrénées makes it clear that a disguise was worn, and that a mask was placed on the back either of the head or of the person; this also explains part of Agnes Sampson's evidence given above. The effect of the mask at the back of the head was to make the man appear two-faced, 'comme le dieu Janus'. In the other case 'le diable estoit en forme de bouc, avant vne queue, & au-dessoubs vn visage d'homme noir & n'a parole par ce visage de derriere. Vne grande queue au derriere, & vne forme de visage au dessoubs: duquel visage il ne profere aucune parole, ains luy sert pour donner à baiser à ceux qui bon luy semble. Marie d'Aspilecute dit qu'elle le baisa à ce visage de derriere au dessoubs d'vne grande queue; qu'elle l'y a baisé par trois fois, & qu'il auoit ce visage faict comme le museau d'vn bouc. Bertrand de Handuch, aagee de dix ans, confessa que le cul du grad maistre auoit vn visage derriere, & c'estoit le visage de derriere qu'on baisoit, & non le cul.'[5] The Devil of the Basses-Pyrénées evidently wore a mask over the face, for he had 'la voix effroyable & sans ton, quand il parle on diroit que cest vn mullet qui se met à braire, il a la voix

2. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 246. Spelling modernized.

casse, la parole malarticulee, & peu intelligible, parcequ'il a tousiours la voix triste & enrouee'. On occasions also 'il quitoit la forme de Bouc, & prenoit celle d'homme'.[1] In 1614 at Orleans Silvain Nevillon said 'qu'il vit à la cheminée vn homme noir duquel on ne voyoit pas la teste. Vit aussi vn grand homme noir a l'opposite de celuy de la cheminée, & que ledit hom{m}e noir parloit comme si la voix fut sortie d'vn poinson. Dit: Que le Diable dit le Sermo{n} au Sabbat, mais qu'on n'entend ce qu'il dit, parce qu'il parle com{m}e en gro{n}dant.'[2] The devil who appeared to Joan Wallis, the Huntingdonshire witch, in 1649, was in the shape of a man dressed in black, but he 'was not as her husband, which speaks to her like a man, but he as he had been some distance from her when he was with her'.[3] Thomazine Ratcliffe, a Suffolk witch, said that the Devil 'spoke with a hollow, shrill voyce'.[4] According to Mary Green (1665) the Somerset Devil, who was a little man, 'put his hand to his Hat, saying, How do ye? speaking low but big'.[5] In the same year Abre Grinset, another Suffolk witch, confessed that she met the Devil, who was in the form of 'a Pretty handsom Young Man, and spake to her with a hollow Solemn Voice'., John Stuart at Paisley (1678) said the Devil came to him as a black man, 'and that the black man's Apparel was black; and that the black man's Voice was hough and goustie'.[7]

The coldness of the devil's entire person, which is vouched for by several witches, suggests that the ritual disguise was not merely a mask over the face, but included a covering, possibly of leather or some other hard and cold substance, over the whole body and even the hands. Such a disguise was apparently not always worn, for in the great majority of cases there is no record of the Devil's temperature except in the sexual rites, and even then the witch could not always say whether the touch of the Devil was warm or not. In 1565 the Belgian witch, Digna Robert, said the devil 'était froid dans tous ses membres'.[8] In 1590, at North Berwick, 'he caused all the company to com and kiss his ers,

quhilk they said was cauld lyk yce; his body was hard lyk yrn, as they thocht that handled him'.[1] In 1598 Pierre Burgot, whose statement is quoted by several authors, 'a confessé, que le Diable luy donna à baiser sa main senestre, qui estoit noire, comme morte, & toute froide'.[2] In 1609, in the Basses-Pyrénées, Isaac de Queyran, aged 25, said that he and others 'le baiserent à vne fesse qui estoit blanche & rouge, & auoit la forme d'vne grande cuisse d'vn homme, & estoit velue'.[3] This shows the ritual disguise of the person and suggests the use of an animal's hide with the hair still attached. In 1645 the Essex witch Rebecca West said 'he kissed her, but was as cold as clay'.[4] At Salisbury in 1653, when the witch Anne Bodenham persuaded Anne Styles to join the community, 'then appeared two Spirits in the likenesse of great Boyes, with long shagged black hair, and stood by her looking over her shoulder, and the Witch took the Maids forefinger of her right hand, and pricked it with a pin, and squeezed out the blood and put it into a Pen, and put the Pen in the Maids hand, and held her hand to write in a great book, and one of the Spirits laid his hand or Claw upon the Witches whilest the Maid wrote; and the Spirits hand did feel cold to the Maid as it touched her hand, when the witches hand and hers were together writing'.[5] At Forfar in 1661 three of the witches agreed as to the coldness of the Devil; 'Elspet Alexander confesses that the divill kissed hir selfe that night and that it was ane cold kisse; Katheren Porter confesseth that the divill tooke hir by the hand, that his hand was cold; Isobell Smith confessed that he kissed hir and his mouth and breath were cold."; In 1662 the Crook of Devon witches were also in accord. Isabel Rutherford 'confesst that ye was at ane meeting at Turfhills, where Sathan took you by the hand and said "welcome, Isabel", and said that his hand was cold. Margaret Litster confessed that Sathan took you be the hand and stayed the space of half an hour, Sathan having grey clothes and his hand cold. Janet Paton confessed that Sathan asked you gif ye would be his servant, whilk ye did, and

Sathan took you be the hand, and ye said that his hand was cold.' On the other hand Agnes Murie 'knew not whether his body was hot or cold'.' According to Isobel Gowdie at Auldearne in 1662, 'he was a meikle blak roch man, werie cold';[2] at Torryburn, Lilias Adie found his skin was cold';[3] and the Crighton witches in 1678 said, 'he was cold, and his breath was like a damp air'.[4] In 1697 little Thomas Lindsay declared that

'Jean Fulton his Grand-mother awaked him one Night out of his Bed, and caused him take a Black Grimm Gentleman (as she called him) by the Hand; which he felt to be cold'.[5]

The evidence as to the forms assumed by the Devil is tabulated here under each animal, each section being arranged in chronological order,

1. Bull. In 1593 at Angers 'Michel des Rousseaux, agé de 50 ans, dict que ledict homme noir appellé Iupin se transforma aussitost en Bouc . . . et apres leur auoir baillé des bouetes de poudre, il se tra{n}sforma en Bouuard'.[6] At Aberdeen in 1597 Marion Grant confessed that 'the Devill apperit to the, sumtyme in the scheap of a beist, and sumtyme in the scheap of a man'. Jonet Lucas of the same Coven said that the Devil was with them, 'beand in likenes of ane beist'. Agnes Wobster, also of the same Coven, acknowledged that 'thaireftir Satan apperit to the in the likenes of a calff, and spak to the in manner forsaid, and baid the be a gude servand to him'.[7] In 1608 Gabriel Pellé confessed that he went with a friend to the Sabbath, where 'le Diable estoit en vache noire, & que cette vache noire luy fit renoncer Dieu'.[8] De Lancre says that at Tournelle the Devil appeared 'parfois comme vn grand B^uf d'airain couché à terre, comme vn B^uf naturel qui se repose'.[3] At Lille in 1661 the witches 'adored a beast with which they committed infamous things'.[10]

5. Narrative of the sufferings of a Young Girle, p. xli; Sadd. Debell., p. 40.

According to Isobel Gowdie in 1662, the Devil of Auldearne changed his form, or disguise, continually, 'somtym he vold be lyk a stirk, a bull, a deir, a rae, or a dowg'.[1] [In the above, I have taken the word 'beast' in its usual meaning as an animal of the cattle tribe, but it is quite possible that the Lille beast, beste in the original, may have been a goat and not a bull. This seems likely from the fact that the sacrifice was by fire as in the other places where the Devil used the goat-disguise.]

2. Cat. The earliest example of the cat-disguise is in the trial of the Guernsey witches in 1563, when Martin Tulouff confessed:

'q il y a viron ung quartier d'an passez q il soy trouva auvecqs de la Vieillesse aultreme{n}t dit Collenette Gascoing, en la rue fosse au Coully, là ou 1 y avoet chinq ou vi chatz, dou il y en avoet ung qui estoet noir, qui menoit la dance, et danssoient et luy dyst ladte Collenette, q il besait ledt Chat et dt q il estoet sur ses pieds plat, et que ladite Collenette le besa p de derriere, et luy p la crysse, et q fra{n}coize Lenouff sa mère y estoet et Collette Salmon fae de Collas du port, laqlle alloet deva{n}t et s'agenouillerent tos deva{n}t le Chat et l'adorere{n}t en luy bailla{n}t ler foy, et luy dist ladite Vieillesse q ledit Chat estoet le diable.'[2]

Françoise Secretain, in 1598, saw the Devil 'tantost en forme de chat'. Rolande de Vernois said, 'Le Diable se presenta, pour lors au Sabbat en forme d'vn groz chat noir.'[3] In 1652 another French witch confessed that 'il entra dans sa chambre en forme d'ung chat et se changea en la posture d'un home vestu de rouge', who took her to the Sabbath.[4] Both the Devonshire witches, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards, in 1682, stated that they saw him as a lion, by which they possibly meant a large cat.[5] In this connexion it is worth noting that in Lapland as late as 1767 the devil appeared 'in the likeness of a cat, handling them from their feet to their mouth, and counting their teeth'.[6]

3. Dog. At Chelmsford in 1556 Joan Waterhouse 'dydde as she had seene her mother doe, callynge Sathan, whiche

2. From a trial in the Guernsey Greffe.

came to her (as she sayd) in the lykenes of a great dogge'.[1] In 1616 Barthélemy Minguet of Brécy was tried for witchcraft. 'Enquis, comme il a aduis quand le Sabbat se doit tenir. Respond, que c'est le Diable qui luy vient dire estant en forme de chien noir, faict comme vn barbet, parle à luy en ceste forme. Enquis, en quelle forme se met le Diable estant au Sabbat. Respond, qu'il ne l'a iamais veu autrement qu'en forme de barbet noir. Enquis, quelles ceremonies ils obseruent estant au Sabbat. Respond, que le Diable estant en forme de barbet noir (comme dessus est dit) se met tout droit sur les pattes de derriere, les preche',[2] etc. In Guernsey in 1617, Isabel Becquet went to Rocquaine Castle, 'the usual place where the Devil kept his Sabbath; no sooner had she arrived there than the Devil came to her in the form of a dog, with two great horns sticking up: and with one of his paws (which seemed to her like hands) took her by the hand: and calling her by her name told her that she was welcome; then immediately the Devil made her kneel down: while he himself stood up on his hind legs; he then made her express detestation of the Eternal in these words: I renounce God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and then caused her to worship and invoke himself.'[3] Barton's wife, about 1655, stated that 'one Night going to a dancing upon Pentland-hills, he went before us in the likeness of a rough tanny-Dog, playing on a pair of Pipes, and his tail played ey wig wag wig wag'.[4] In 1658 an Alloa witch named Jonet Blak declared that he appeared to her first as 'a dog with a sowis head'.[5] In 1661 Jonet Watson of Dalkeith said that 'the Deivill apeired vnto her, in the liknes of ane prettie boy, in grein clothes, and went away from her in the liknes of ane blak doug'.[6] According to Marie Lamont of Innerkip in 1662, 'the devill in the likeness of a brown dog' helped to raise a storm., Margaret Hamilton, widow of James Pullwart of Borrowstowness in 1679, was accused that she met 'the devil in the likeness of a man, but he removed from you in the

[1. Witches ofChelmsford, p. 34; Philobiblon Soc., viii.

5. Scottish Antiquary, ix, 51. 5. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.

likeness of an black dog'.[1] The Highland witches in the eighteenth century saw the devil as a dog; he was 'a large black ugly tyke', to whom the witches made obeisance; the dog acknowledged the homage 'by bowing, grinning, and clapping his paws'.[2] In the case of the dog-disguise, there is again a similarity with Lapp beliefs and customs, the appearance of the Devil as a dog being not uncommon in Lapland.[3]

4. Goat. An interesting point as regards this form of disguise is that it does not occur in Great Britain, nor have I found it so far in Belgium. It prevailed chiefly in France, from which all my examples are taken. At Poictiers in 1574 'trois Sorciers & vne Sorciere declarent qu'ils estoyent trois fois l'an, à l'assemblée generale, où plusieurs Sorciers se, trouuoyent prés d'vne croix d'vn carrefour, qui seruoit d'enseigne. Et là se trouuoit vn grand bouc noir, qui parloit comme, vne personne aux assistans, & dansoyent à l'entour du bouc.'[4] At Avignon in 1581 'when hee comes to be adored, he appeareth not in a humane forme, but as the Witches themselues haue deposed, as soone as they are agreed of the time that he is to mount vpon the altar (which is some rock or great stone in the fields) there to bee worshipped by them, hee instantly turneth himselfe into the forme of a great black Goate, although in all other occasions hee vseth to appeare in the shape of a man.[5] In Lorraine in 1589 the Devil 'sich in einen zottelichten Bock verwandelt hat, und viel stärker reucht und übeler stinckt als immer ein Bock im Anfang des Frühlings thun mag'.[1] In Puy de Dôme in 1594 Jane Bosdeau's lover took her to a meeting, and 'there appeared a great Black Goat with a Candle between his Horns'.[7] In 1598 'Satan apres auoir prins la figure d'vn Bouc, se consume en feu'.[1] In the Basses-Pyrénées in 1609:

'le Diable estoit en forme de bouc, ayant vne queue, & audessoubs vn visage d'homme noir, & n'a parole par ce visage

[1. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 201. Spelling modernized.

2. Stewart, p. 175. The whole account is marred by the would-be comic style adopted by the author.

5. Michaelis, Discourse, p. 148.

7. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 42.

de derriere. Marie d'Aguerre dit qu'il y a vne grande cruche au milieu du Sabbat, d'où sort le Diable en forme de bouc. D'autres disent qu'il est comme vn grand bouc, ayant deux cornes devant & deux en derriere; que celles de devant se rebrassent en haut comme la perruque d'vne femme. Mais le commun est qu'il a seulement trois cornes, & qu'il a quelque espece de lumiere en celle du milieu. On luy voit aussi quelque espece de bonet ou chapeau au dessus de ces cornes. On a obserué de tout temps que lorsqu'il veut receuoir quelcun à faire pacte auec luy, il se presente tousiours en homme, pour ne l'effaroucher ou effraier: car faire pacte auec vn Bouc ouuertement, tiendroit plus de la beste que de la creature raisonnable. Mais le pacte faict, lors qu'il veut receuoir quelqu'vn A l'adoration, communeme{n}t il se represente en Bouc.'[1]

Silvain Nevillon confessed at Orleans in 1614 'qu'il a veu le Diable en plusieurs façons, tantost comme vn bouc, ayant vn visage deuant & vn autre derriere'.[2]

5. Horse I give here only the references to the Devil when actually disguised as a horse, but there are a very great number of cases where he appeared riding on a horse. These cases are so numerous as to suggest that the horse was part of the ritual, especially as the riding Devil usually occurs in places where an animal disguise was not used, e.g. in 1598, in Aberdeen, where Andro Man 'confessis that Crystsunday rydis all the tyme that he is in thair cumpanie'.[3] The actual disguise as a horse is not common. Elizabeth Stile of Windsor in 1579 'confesseth, her self often tymes to haue gon to Father Rosimond house where she found hym sittyng in a Wood, not farre from thence, vnder the bodie of a Tree, sometymes in the shape of an Ape, and otherwhiles like an Horse'.[4] Helen Guthrie in 1661 stated that when the Forfar witches were trying to sink a ship, 'the divell wes there present with them all, in the shape of ane great horse. They returned all in the same liknes as of befor, except that the divell wes in the shape of a man.'[5] Mary Lacey of Salem in 1692 said that

[1. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 67, 68, 69, 126. 2 Id., L'Incrédulité, p. 800.

3. Spalding Club Misc., i, p. 125. Cp. Elworthy on the Hobby-horse as the Devil, Horns of Honour, p. 140.

4. Reehearsall both Straung and True, par. 24.

he appeared in the shape of a horse, 'I was in bed and the devil came to me and bid me obey him."

6. Sheep. The sheep-disguise, which is perhaps a form of the goat, is usually found in France only. In 1453 'Guillaume Edeline, docteur en théologie, prieur de S. Germain en Laye, et auparavant Augustin, et religieux de certaines aultres ordres . . . confessa, de sa bonne et franche voulonté, avoir fait hommage audit ennemy en l'espèce et semblance d'ung mouton'.[2] Iaquema Paget and Antoine Gandillon in 1598 said that 'il prenoit la figure d'vn mouton noir, portant des cornes'.[3] In 1614 at Orleans Silvain Nevillon was induced to reveal all he knew; 'dit qu'il a veu le Diable en plusieurs façons, tantost comme vn bouc, ores comme vn gros mouton'.[4]

The rarer animal disguises are the deer and the bear. Of these the deer is found at Aberdeen in 1597, Andro Man 'confessis and affermis, thow saw Christsonday cum owt of the snaw in liknes of a staig';[5] at Auldearne in 1662, 'somtym he vold be lyk a stirk, a bull, a deir, a rae, or a dowg';[6] at Hartford, Connecticut, 1662, Rebecca Greensmith said that 'the devil first appeared to her in the form of a deer or fawn'.[7] The bear is still rarer, as I have found it only twice-once in Lorraine, and once in Lancashire. In 1589 'es haben die Geister auch etwann Lust sich in Gestalt eines Bären zu erzeigen'.[8] In 1613 Anne Chattox declared that the Devil 'came vpon this Examinate in the night time: and at diuerse and sundry times in the likenesse of a Beare, gaping as though lie would haue wearied [worried] this Examinate. And the last time of all shee, this Examinate, saw him, was vpon Thursday last yeare but one, next before Midsummer day, in the euening, like a Beare, and this Examinate would not then speake vnto him, for the which the said Deuill pulled this Examinate downe.'[9]

[1. Howell, vi, 663-4; J. Hutchinson, ii, pp. 36-7.

0 0

Post a comment