Ancient Mysteries Witches/Goblins/Evil Witchcraft, Sorcery and Superstition : La Sorciere

Witchcraft, Sorcery and Superstition : La Sorciere

Witchcraft, Sorcery and Superstition : La Sorciere
Catalog # SKU1760
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Jules Michelet


Witchcraft, Sorcery
and Superstition

La Sorciere

Jules Michelet

All primitive peoples start alike; this we see again and again in the accounts given by travellers. Man hunts and fights. Woman contrives and dreams; she is the mother of fancy, of the gods. She possesses glimpses of the second sight, and has wings to soar into the infinitude of longing and imagination. The better to count the seasons, she scans the sky. But earth has her heart as well.

Her eyes stoop to the amorous flowers; a flower herself in her young beauty, she learns to know them as playfellows and intimates. A woman, she asks them to heal the men she loves.

Pathetic in their simplicity these first beginnings of Religion and Science! Later on, each province will be separated, we shall see mankind specialise-as medicine-man, astrologer or prophet, necromancer, priest, physician. But in these earliest days woman is all in all, and plays every part.

A strong and bright and vigorous religion, such as was Greek Paganism, begins with the Sibyl, to end with the Sorceress. The first, a virgin fair and beautiful, brilliant in the full blaze of dawn, cradled it, gave it its charm and glamour. In later days, when sick and fallen, in the gloom of the Dark Ages, on heaths and in forests, it was concealed and protected by the Sorceress; her dauntless pity fed its needs and kept it still alive. Thus for religions it is woman is mother, tender protectress and faithful nurse. Gods are like men; they are born and they die on a woman's breast.

But what a price she paid for her fidelity! . . . Magian queens of Persia, enchanting Circè, sublime Sibyl, alas! how are you fallen, how barbarous the transformation you have suffered! . . . She who, from the throne of the Orient, taught mankind the virtues of plants and the motions of the stars, she who, seated on the Delphic tripod and, illumined by the very god of light, gave oracles to a kneeling world, is the same that, a thousand years later, is hunted like a wild beast, chased from street to street, reviled, buffeted, stoned, scorched with red-hot embers! . . .

The clergy has not stakes enough, the people insults, the child stones, for the unhappy being. The poet, no less a child, throws yet another stone at her, a crueller one still for a woman. Gratuitously insulting, he makes her out always old and ugly. The very word Sorceress or Witch calls up the image of the Weird Sisters of Macbeth. Yet the cruel witch trials prove exactly the opposite; many perished just because they were young and pretty.

The Sibyl foretold the future; but the Sorceress makes it. Here is the great, the vital distinction. She evokes, conjures, guides Destiny. She is not like Cassandra of old, who foresaw the coming doom so clearly, and deplored it and awaited its approach; she creates the future. Greater than Circè, greater than Medea, she holds in her hand the magic wand of natural miracle, she has Nature to aid and abet her like a sister.

Foreshadowings of the modern Prometheus are to be seen in her,-a beginning of industry, above all of the sovereign industry that heals and revivifies men. Unlike the Sibyl, who seemed ever gazing towards the dayspring, she fixes her eyes on the setting sun; but it is just this sombre orb of the declining luminary that shows long before the dawn (like the glow on the peaks of the High Alps) a dawn anticipatory of the true day.


THERE are authors who assure us that a little while before the final victory of Christianity a mysterious voice was heard along the shores of the Ægean Sea, proclaiming: "Great Pan is dead!"

The old universal god of Nature is no more. Great the jubilation; it was fancied that, Nature being defunct, Temptation was dead too. Storm-tossed for so many years, the human soul was to enjoy peace at last.

Was it simply a question of the termination of the ancient worship, the defeat of the old faith, the eclipse of time-honoured religious forms? No! it was more than this. Consulting the earliest Christian monuments, we find in every line the hope expressed, that Nature is to disappear and life die out-in a word, that the end of the world is at hand.

The game is up for the gods of life, who have so long kept up a vain simulacrum of vitality. Their world is falling round them in crumbling ruin. All is swallowed up in nothingness: "Great Pan is dead!"

It was no new evangel that the gods must die. More than one ancient cult is based on this very notion of the death of the gods. Osiris dies, Adonis dies-it is true, in this case, to rise again. Æschylus, on the stage itself, in those dramas that were played only on the feast-days of the gods, expressly warns them, by the voice of Prometheus, that one day they must die. Die! but how?-vanquished, subjugated to the Titans, the antique powers of Nature.

Here it is an entirely different matter. The early Christians, as a whole and individually, in the past and in the future, hold Nature herself accursed. They condemn her as a whole and in every part, going so far as to see Evil incarnate, the Demon himself, in a flower. So, welcome-and the sooner the better-the angel-hosts that of old destroyed the Cities of the Plain. Let them destroy, fold away like a veil, the empty image of the world, and at length deliver the saints from the long-drawn ordeal of temptation.

The Gospel says: "The day is at hand." The Fathers say: "Soon, very soon." The disintegration of the Roman Empire and the inroads of the barbarian invaders raise hopes in St. Augustine's breast, that soon there will be no city left but the City of God. Yet how long a-dying the world is, how obstinately determined to live on! Like Hezekiah, it craves a respite, a going backward of the dial. So be it then, till the year One Thousand,-but not a day longer.

Is it so certain, as we have been told over and over again, that the old gods were exhausted, sick of themselves and weary of existence? that out of sheer discouragement they as good as gave in their own abdication? that Christianity was able with a breath to blow away these empty phantoms?

They point to the gods at Rome, the gods of the Capitol, where they were only admitted in virtue of an anticipatory death, I mean on condition of resigning all they had of local sap, of renouncing their home and country, of ceasing to be deities representative of such and such a nation. Indeed, in order to receive them, Rome had had to submit them to a cruel operation, that left them poor, enervated, bloodless creatures. These great centralised Divinities had become, in their official life, mere dismal functionaries of the Roman Empire. But, though fallen from its high estate, this Aristocracy of Olympus had in nowise involved in its own decay the host of indigenous gods, the crowd of deities still holding possession of the boundless plains, of woods and hills and springs, inextricably blended with the life of the countryside. These divinities, enshrined in the heart of oaks, lurking in rushing streams and deep pools, could not be driven out.

Who says so? The Church herself, contradicting herself flatly. She first proclaims them dead, then waxes indignant because they are still alive. From century to century, by the threatening voice of her Councils, she orders them to die. . . . And lo! they are as much alive as ever!

"They are demons . . ."-and therefore alive. Unable to kill them, the Church suffers the innocent-hearted countryfolk to dress them up and disguise their true nature.

Legends grow round them, they are baptised, actually admitted into the Christian hierarchy. But are they converted? Not yet by any means. We catch them still on the sly continuing their old heathen ways and Pagan nature.

Where are they to be found? In the desert, on lonely heaths, in wild forests?

Certainly, but above all in the house. They cling to the most domestic of domestic habits; women guard and hide them at board and even bed. They still possess the best stronghold in the world-better than the temple, to wit the hearth.



Part One
1 Death Of The Gods
2 What Drove The Middle Ages To Despair
3 The Little Demon Of The Hearth And Home
4 Temptations
5 Diabolical Possession
6 The Pact With Satan
7 King Of The Dead
8 Prince Of Nature
9 Satan The Healer
10 Charms And Love Potions
11 Communion Of Revolt Witches' Sabbaths The Black Mass
12 Black Mass Continued Love And Death Satan Disappears

Part Two
13 The Sorceress In Her Decadence Satan Multiplied And Vulgarised
14 Persecutions
15 A Hundred Years' Toleration In France
16 The Basque Witches 1609
17 Satan Turns Ecclesiastic 1610
18 Gauffridi 1610
19 The Nuns Of Loudun Urbain Grandier 1633, 1634
20 The Nuns Of Louviers And Satanic Possession Madeleine Bavent 1640-1647
21 Satan Triumphant In The Seventeenth Century
22 Father Girard And Charlotte Cadiè re
23 Charlotte Cadiere At The Convent Of Ollioules
24 Trial Of Charlotte Cadiere 1730, 1731
Notes And Elucidations
Principal Authorities

Softcover, 8½" x 10¾", 200+ pages

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