The God of the witches seems to have been generally represented either as the double faced God Janus or the goat-headed Baphomet, the latter variously modified but usually bearing between the horns on its head the phallic emblem of a lighted candle.
Cotton Mather stated that the witches " form themselves after the manner of Congregational Churches, " and M. A. Murray gives the following description of their leader :
" The Chief or supreme Head of each district was known to the recorders as the ' Devil '. Below him in each district, one or more officers — according to the size of the district — were appointed by the chief. The officers might be either men or women; their duties were to arrange for meetings, to send out notices, to keep the record of work done, to transact the business of the community, and to present new members. Evidently these persons also noted any likely convert, and either themselves entered into negotiations or reported to the Chief, who then took action as opportunity served. At the Esbats the officer appears to have taken command in the absence of the Grand Master ; at the Sabbaths the officers were merely heads of their own Covens, and were known as Devils or Spirits, though recognized as greatly inferior to the Chief. The principal officer acted as clerk at the Sabbath and entered the witches' report in his book ; if he were a priest or ordained minister, he often performed part of the religious service ; but the Devil
Pardon us as being his own servants ? ' Hence they call themselves Satanians. " Bishop Lavington, The Moravians Corn-Pared and Detected, p. 170.
himself always celebrated the mass or sacrament. " 2
From Lemoine in La Tradition, published 1892, we learn that the garter is the distinctive mark of the witch leader, for a woman shared this honour with the Grand Master as the Grand Mistress and in some cases occupied the office of deacon.
Animal masks seem to have been a popular form of disguise adopted by the witches and wizards attending meetings, and this custom is probably responsible for many of the stories of witch lycanthropy.
Among other obscene and phallic witch-rites was the Black Mass, celebrated by a renegade priest upon the naked body of the adept for whose benefit it was performed. It symbolized the perversion of all the rites of the Catholic church. Black candles instead of white, inverted crosses, chalices containing the blood of new-born infants sacrificed for ritual purposes, urine for holy water, all these were part of the paraphernalia needed, according to historians, to propitiate the Prince of Darkness and his retinue of minor Devils. Besides evocations, casting of spells and sex-orgies, devil worship entailed such inanities as desecration of the hosts stolen from catholic churches and the kissing of the Grand Master (devil) on the tail or membrum virile.
Only hosts consecrated in Roman Catholic churches could serve for Black Mass purposes as it was essential, in order to achieve desecration, that the miracle of transubstantiation should have taken place. The host had actually to be, not merely to represent, the body and blood of Christ.
As regards the Black Mass, M. Emile Caillet makes
2. Margaret Alice Murray, The Witch-cult in Western Europe, p. 186.
the following astute observation in La Prohibition de L'Occulte, page 113.
" One may wonder if it was not in order to canalize such an overflow of sacrilege that the church, in the Middle Ages, tolerated the ' Feast of Fools ', a last vestige of the saturnalia of Ancient Greece. Before the altar, upon the communion table, writes C. Lenient,3 were spread pell mell, grilled hogs puddings, sausages, playing cards and dice. For perfumes, old shoe-leather burned in the incense burners. Even the text of the divine service... becomes the butt of an interminable parody... , a confused jumble of jests and nonsense, of grotesque alleluias and latin buffooneries an indescribable charivari of cat calls, cries and whistles. etc. A few days afterwards the church, purged of all these impurities, washed and cleaned, resumed its usual appearance ; God again became master of His Altar ; the flood of human folly had passed ! "
In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull against the craft couched in the following terms :
" It has come to our ears that numbers of both sexes do not avoid to have intercourse with demons, Incubi and Succubi; and that by their sorceries, and by their incantations, charms and conjurations, they suffocate, extinguish, and cause to perish the births of women, the increase of animals, the corn of the ground, the grapes of the vineyard and the fruit of the trees, as well as men, women, flocks, herds, and other various kinds of animals, vines and apple trees, grass, corn and other fruits of the earth ; making and procuring that men and women, flocks and herds and other animals shall suffer and be tormented both from within and without, so that men beget not, nor women conceive ;
3' La Satire en France au Moyen-Age, p. 422.
and they impede the conjugal action of men and women. "
Eliphas Levi, in Histoire de la Magie, (p. 116) gives the following explanation of the supposed origin of " elementals " known by spiritists as " dwellers on the threshold. "
He states that; " according to the best authorities, these spirits (larves) possess an ethereal body formed of the vapour of blood. That is why they seek blood and why they were supposed, formerly, to feed on the smoke of sacrifices.
" They are the Incubi and Succubi, the monstrous children of impure dreams.
" When sufficiently condensed to be visible, they are only a vapour coloured by the reflection of a picture and, having no independent life, they imitate the life of him who evokes them as the shadow does the body.
" They generally manifest around the persons of idiots and beings devoid of morality whose isolation has led them to develop irregular habits.
" Owing to the feeble cohesion of the parts of their fantastic bodies, they fear the open air, fire, and above all, the point of swords, and as they live only by the life of those who have created or evoked them, they become the vaporous appendices of the real body of their parents. So it can happen that an injury inflicted on them might actually react upon the parent body, as the unborn child is really wounded or disfigured by an impression made upon its mother.
" These elementals draw the vital heat from persons in good health and quickly exhaust those who are weak.
" They are the source of the stories of vampires, stories only too true and periodically recurrent, as everyone knows.
" That is why one feels a chill of the atmosphere when approaching mediums who are persons obsessed by these spirits that never manifest in the presence of anyone able to unveil the mystery of their monstrous birth. They are children of an exalted imagination or unbalanced mentality... "
In politics, throughout the ages, witchcraft, as practised by subversive sects, has played a prominent part.
Illustrations of this are to be found in the case of the North Berwick Witches who were tried for treason in 1592 when their Devil or Grand Master, Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, attempted to supplant James VI as King of Scotland. The Black Masses held by the infamous Abbe Guibourg for Madame de Mon-tespan, with the object of regaining for her the favour of Louis XIV, are famous in history.
Eliphas Levi, the great initiate, has thus defined the aims of magic and witchcraft :
" To deceive the peoples for the purpose of exploiting them, to enslave them and delay their progress, or prevent it even if possible, such is the crime of black ii 4
Proof of the foregoing devil worship and contact with spirits or devils is found in history, even as late as 1819 when we read that; " The Devil met Margaret Nin-Gilbert etc... " Studying the history of the Mopses in 1761 we find its Grand Masters, Grand Mistresses and Deacons, adorned with the distinctive " Garter " of the witch, performing the ceremonial of kissing the Devil's tail as part of the ritual of 18th Century Masonry. The "Coven" of the Middle Ages is the Masonic ' Lodge " of today, but the " Craft " remains the " Craft ".
4' Eliphas Levi, La Clef des Grands Mystères, p. 308.
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