Invisibility is also possible in his view, by the Devil thickening the air to conceal the witch from sight. He also rejects the concept of the soul leaving the body, since surely this only occurs after death, and it is not in the Devil's power to restore the dead to life. Philomathes asks what the actions o f witches are directed against others.
Epistemon answers that witches first gather in churches, and. His friend interrupts him, asking why there are twenty female witches for every male witch. Is it ever lawful to seek out a witch for a cure to a disease that has been caused by witchcraft? Never lawful, Epistemon assures his friend; the only lawful remedy is prayer. If all men are subject to the evil effects of witchcraft, Philomathes asks how any man can be brave enough to punish them. His friend rather stiffly replies that we should not refrain from virtue merely because the way may be perilous; and in any case, no one is more protected against witchcraft than those who zealously prosecute witches.
In response to the question, does the Devil visit witches while they languish in prisons, Epistemon says that Satan only visits the. How can he be felt by witches if his body is of air, Philomathes wonders.
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As to whether others can see the Devil when he comes to witches in prison, Epistemon says sometimes yes, sometimes no. Epistemon puts it down to the gross ignorance of the papists, which caused God to punish them with night terrors, whereas in the present the error is one of arrogance, punished by God with an abounding of witchcraft. Epistemon explains that the first type received different names from the ancients depending on their works. Those that haunted houses were called lemures, or specters, but if they appeared in the form of a dead man to his friends, they were termed "shades of the dead.
Christians, and besides, men are more apt to be frightened in lonely places. When they haunt an inhabited house , it is a sure sign that those who live there are ignorant of God's laws, or are wicked. Philomathes wants to know how such a spirit can enter a house the doors and windows of which are sealed. If the spirit possesses the body of a dead person, it can easily open a door or window without any great noise, he says, but does not explain how the spirit bypasses locks or bolts.
Philomathes wonders if God would allow a spirit to desecrate a body. The Devil can as easily cause the disinterment for his purposes of the body of a godly man as one who is ungodly. What is the best way to banish a spirit from a house? Two ways, says Epistemon, prayer to God and the amending of a life of sin.
In response to Philomathes' query about the spirits that appear to impersonate the newly dead to his friends, Epistemon says they are called "wraiths" in English, and were very common among the pagan nations, where they were believed to be good spirits sent to forewarn them of the death of their friend or teach them the way of his end, but all this was only the deception of the Devil. What about werewolves, asks Philomathes. Are they not a form of this kind of spirit? His learned friend agrees that this was the opinion of the Greeks, but for his own part, he believes them nothing more than men afflicted with a melancholy humor that has unhinged their reason and made them run wild.
The next two types of spirits are those who either trouble men by following them or by possessing their bodies. This only happens to those of the worst sort who are guilty of serious offenses, as a punishment of God; or to the best sort of persons, as a test of their faith. Why should the Devil bother doing God's work for him in this way, Philomathes wonders, and his friend replies that the Devil has two goals: the lives and the souls of those he persecutes in this manner.
He asks whether the second sort are what is known as guardian angels. Epistemon retorts that the pagan belief that everyone has a good angel and an evil angel is a gross error, but that in Christian times the Devil attempts the same sort of fiction by sending spirits that are known as brownies into houses to do necessary work, in order to make the inhabitants believe that they are good spirits.
But what possible reason could the Devil, who is only interested in doing evil, have for sending spirits to do good? Is it not reason enough, demands Epistemon, to deceive the ignorant into believing the Devil to be their friend? Another type of following spirit is treated, those called incubi or succubi, who have sex with women or men. Philomathes wants to know if they exist, and if there is any difference of sex among spirits. Epistemon replies that this sort of spirit operates either by stealing the sperm of dead men and injecting it into women, which caused many nuns to be burnt, or else by animating a corpse.
Either way, the sperm used by the Devil is always icy cold. However, the Devil can make a woman who is not pregnant get a swollen belly, and appear to be pregnant, and on such occasions the midwife may pretend that she has given birth to something monstrous. His learned friend sets. The possessed fear the cross and the name of God, have unnatural strength and agility, and have the power to speak in languages they never learned, which they do in a hollow voice that seems to emanate from the breast rather than the mouth.
As for how the priests can cure the possessed, usually the cure is not permanent but only temporary, and when it is permanent, as it sometimes is, the cure proceeds not from any virtue of the priests but from the virtue of Christ, when the priests follow his instructions for exorcism, which are fasting, prayer, and that the action be done in his name. His friend responds that in the same way the Devil can make men believe that their soul can leave. And when they see those they know among the fairies, and take this for an omen of the imminent deaths of those persons, it is only another trick of the Devil.
Philomathes wonders if fairies only appear to witches, or can appear to others also? To both, says Epistemon. The two discuss briefly the question of the multitude of names of spirits. Epistemon dismisses this as just another knavery of the Devil, used for the purpose of deception. As they approach the end of their conversation, they consider the matter of suitable punishment for magicians and witches.
In what way, he is asked.
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Commonly it is done by fire , but any form of execution accepted by the laws of the nation will serve as well. Should any sex, age, or rank be exempted from this punishment? None at all, says Epistemon. Not even children, asks Philomathes. Yes, but only because they are not yet capable of reason. All the rest, those who consult, or trust in, or turn a blind eye to, or entertain, or incite to magic are just as guilty as those who practice it, and should be put to death.
May the prince or chief magistrate spare the life of one guilty of witchcraft? He may delay the punishment, says Epistemon, if he has good reason for doing so, but must not shirk to apply it in the end. Philomathes observes that judges ought to beware condemning any unless they are sure the accused is guilty, and his friend agrees that no one should be condemned on the testimony of only one.
How much weight is to be given to the multiple confessions of the guilty in finding against the accused? What if witches accuse others of having been present at their imaginary conventions, while their physical bodies lie in trance, Philomathes wants to know. And consent in these matters is death under the law. But his friend is ready for this argument-Samuel was already dead at the time and for this reason could not be slandered by the Devil. There are two methods for determining a witch, according to Epistemon.
The other is the floating of the accused person on the water. Those who have renounced the sacred water of baptism and refused its benefits are themselves rejected by water, which will not receive them into its depths; indeed, they cannot even shed tears no matter how much you threaten or torture them, despite the fact that women cry dissembling tears like crocodiles at the lightest of occasions.
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The two friends, having exhausted their topic, say goodbye to each other. Philomathes offers the hope with his final words that God will purge Scotland of the scourge of witchcraft, which was never before so common as it is now. On the one hand, the great wickedness of the people has procured this punishment of God; while on the other hand, the approaching end of the world causes Satan to be all the more anxious to work as much evil as he can before his power is ended.
And so ends the discourse. This new edition of Demonology by James the Sixth of Scotland, who would later go on to become James the First of England, is designed to make this historically important book on witchcraft and magic fully accessible to the modern reader. The original text was penned during the late Elizabethan Age. Understanding is further inhibited by the many obsolete Scottish terms that pepper the book. These terms would not have been immediately familiar even to educated individuals in the south of England in the same decade in which the work was written, and to the average reader of today they are incomprehensible.
While modernizing the work, I endeavored wherever possible to retain the words and prose structure used by James. In the few instances where words have been interjected into the text to clarifY its meaning, they are enclosed in square brackets. Those who. The explanatory notes that appear at the end of each chapter will. Woodcuts from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries have been inserted were applicable to further clarify topics mentioned by James. The modernized text of Demonology is based on the 1 B odl ey.
Head reprint of the original 1 edition of the work.
The Bodley Head reprint also contains the full text of a 1 edition of the tract News From Scotland and reproductions of its woodcuts.