Homage

In some places the witches saluted their Chief by falling on their knees, and also by certain manual gestures; in other places by curtsies and obeisances. In Scotland, France, and Belgium, another rite was also in vogue, that of kissing the Devil on any part of his person that he might direct. At Como and Brescia the witches, 'when they paid reverence to the presiding demon, bent themselves backwards, lifting a foot in the air forwards.'[2]

Remigius, writing of the Lorraine witches in 1589, says:

'Es erzehlte die Beatrix Bayona dass einer unter ihnen allen der Oberster wer, welcher in einer Zell auff einem lichen Stuhl sässe, sehr ernsthafftig und prächtig heraus, zu demselbigen trete je einer nach dem andern, mit Furcht und Zittern, falle ihm zum Zeichen seiner Ehrerbietung für die Füsse, und umbfange ihn mit aller Demuth und Reverentz. Erstlich fallen sie nieder auff ihre Knie; darnach legen sie die Hände ausswendig zusammen, als diejenigen pflegen zu thun, welche obtestiren, jedoch auff dem Rücken und verkehrter Weise, sie haben den Rücken zu ihm gewandt, bleiben so lang kniend, biss er selbsten zu ihnen sagt, class es genugsam sey.'[3]

In Somerset (1664) the witches always mention the salutation:

'At their first meeting the Man in black bids them welcome, and they all make low obeysance to him. [Elizabeth Style, Alice Duke, Anne Bishop, Mary Penny] met about nine of the Clock in the Night, in the Common near Trister Gate,

where they met a Man in black Clothes with a little Band, to whom they did Courtesie and due observance. Mary Green [went with others to] Hussey's Knap in the Forrest in the Night time, where met them the Fiend in the shape of a little Man in black Clothes with a little band, to him all made obeysances. . . . On Thursday Night before Whitsunday last [she met several others] and being met they called out Robin. Upon which instantly appeared a little Man in black Clothes to whom all made obeysance, and the little Man put his hand to his Hat, saying, How do ye? speaking low but big. Then all made low obeysances to him again.'[1]

As late as the eighteenth century there is a similar account.

Danaeus (1575) and Cooper (1617) are the only writers who mention the kiss in their general accounts of the ceremonies. The former says: 'Then biddeth lie the{m} that they fall down & worship him, after what matter and gesture of body he pleaseth, and best liketh of. Thus some of them falle downe at his knees, some offre vnto him black burning cädles, other kisse him in some part of his body where he appeareth visibly.'[3] Cooper mentions it as part of the admission ceremony: 'Secondly, when this acknowledgement is made, in testimoniall of this subiection, Satan offers his back-parts to be kissed of his vassall.'[4]

The ceremony is one of the earliest of which there is any record. In 1303 a Bishop of Coventry was accused at Rome of a number of crimes, amongst others 'quod diabolo homagium fecerat, et eum fuerit osculatus in tergo'.[1] Guillaume Edeline was tried in 1453; he was 'docteur en théologie, prieur de S. Germain en Laye, et auparavant Augustin, et religieux de certaines aultres ordres. Confessa ledit sire Guillaume, de sa bonne et franche voulenté, avoir fait hommage audit ennemy en l'espèce et semblance d'ung mouton, en le baisant par le fondement en signe de révérence et d'hommage.'[6] Martin Tulouff, tried in Guernsey in 1563, went to a meeting, 'ou ly avoet chinq ou vi chatz, d'ou il y en avoet ung qui estoit noir, qui menoit la dance, et dl-q il estoit sur ses pieds plat, et que ladite Collennette le besa p de derriere, et luy p la crysse.

Et luy dist ladite vieillesse q ledit chat estoit le diable.'[1] Estebène de Cambrue, in 1567, described the ceremonies at the Sabbath: 'Ils se mettent à dancer à l'entour d'une pierre, sur laquelle est assis vn grand homme noir, qu'elles appellent Môsieur, & chacun de l'assemblee luy va baiser le derriere.'[2] The witches of Poictiers in 1574 'dansoyent à l'entour du bouc: puis vn chacun luy baisoit le derriere'.[3] The same ceremony took place at North Berwick in 1590: 'Now efter that the deuell had endit his admonitions, he cam down out of the pulpit, and caused all the company to com and kiss his ers, quhilk they said was cauld lyk yce.'[4] Jane Bosdeau confessed that at meetings at Puy-de-Dôme in 1594 'all the Witches had Candles which they lighted at his, and danced in a Circle Back to Back. They kiss'd his Backside, and pray'd that he would help them.'[5] Andro Man of Aberdeen in 1597 confessed 'that all thay quha convenis with thame kissis Christsonday and the Quene of Elphenis airss'.[1] Rolande de Vernois in 1598 'confessa que le Diable se presenta pour lors au Sabbat en forme d'vn gros chat noir. Que tous ceux, qui estoient au Sabbat, alloient baiser ce gros chat noir au derriere.'[7] Cornélie van Beverwyck, aged 75, at Ghent in 1598, was accused that 'vous n'avez pas craint de vous agenouiller devant lui, de lui rendre hommage et de baiser son derriere en signe de soumission'.[1] Claire Goessen in 1603 went to 'l'assemblée nocturne de Lembeke, où, après la danse, elle a, comme tous les assistans, baisé un bouc à l'endroit de sa queue'.[9] Jeannette d'Abadie in 1609 in the Basses-Pyrénées said, regarding the renunciation which she made on admission, 'il luy faisoit renouueller toutes les fois qu'elle alloit au sabbat, puis elle l'alloit baiser au derriere.'[10] At the celebrated trial of Louis Gaufredy at Aix in 1610, Magdalene de Demandouls gave a detailed account of the homage rendered by the witches:

[1. From a trial in the Guernsey Greffe.

4. Melville, p. 396; see also Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, pp. 210-12, 239, 246.

'First the hagges and witches, who are people of a sordid and base condition, are the first that come to adore the Prince of the Synagogue, who is Lucifers lieftenant, and he that now holdeth that place is Lewes Gaufridy: then they adore the Princesse of the Synagogue who is a woman placed at his right hand. Next they goe and worship the Diuell who is seated in a Throne like a Prince. In the second place come the Sorcerers and Sorceresses, who are people of a middle condition, and these performe the same kind of adoration with the former, kneeling vpon the ground, but not prostrating themselves as doe the other; although they kisse the hands and feet of the Diuell as the first likewise doe. In the third place come the Magicians who are Gentlemen and people of a higher ranke.'[1]

Isobel Gowdie of Auldearne in 1662 said, 'Somtym he vold be lyk a stirk, a bull, a deir, a rae, or a dowg, and he vold hold wp his taill wntill we wold kiss his arce.'[2] The explanation of this rite is given in the French authorities:

'Le Diable estoit en forme de bouc, ayant vne queue, & au dessoubs vn visage d'homme noir, où elle fut contrainte le baiser. [Elle] depose, Que la premiere fois qu'elle luy fut presentee elle le baisa à ce visage de derriere au dessoubs d'vne grande queuë: qu'elle l'y a baisé par trois fois, & qu'il auoit aussi ce visage faict comme le museau d'vn bouc. Il a vne grande queuë au derriere, & vne forme de visage au dessoubs: duquel visage il ne profere aucune parole, ains luy sert pour le donner à baiser à ceux qui bon luy semble. Es festes solemnelles on baisoit le Diable au derriere, mais les notables sorcieres le baisoient au visage.'[3] The two faces are thus distinctly vouched for, and the use of them seems to have been to distinguish the position of the witch in the society. The mask or disguise is clearly indicated in the evidence of Isaac de Queyron, who with others 'le baiserent a vne fesse qui estoit blanche & rouge, & auoit la forme d'vne grande cuisse d'vn homme, & estoit velue'.[4]

The Devil was also kissed on other parts of his person. Marion Grant of the Aberdeen witches (1597) confessed that he 'causit the kis him in dyvers pairtis, and worship him on thy kneis as thy lord'.[5] Some of the Lyons witches 'le baiserent aux parties honteuses de derriere: les autres le

baisent sur l'espaule.'[1] Jeannette d'Abadie in the Basses-Pyrénées (1609) confessed 'que le Diable luy faisoit baiser son visage, puis le nombril, puis le membre viril, puis son derriere'.[2] In connexion with this last statement, it is worth comparing Doughty's account of an Arab custom: 'There is a strange custom, (not only of nomad women, but in the Arabic countries even among Christians, which may seem to remain of the old idolatry among them,) of mothers, their gossips, and even young maidens, visiting married women to kiss with a kind of devotion the hammam of the male children.'[3]

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