Enema Exorcisms, Penis Stealing Witches, and 48 Other Demonic Accounts You Shouldn’t Read to Your Children on Halloween. Or Ever.


For the past year or so I’ve been obsessed with the study of ecstatic religion and the phenomenon of spirit possession in antiquity and beyond. If I had to give a reason for my unwavering interest, it’d probably be two-fold: (1) ecstasy – a type of altered state of consciousness – is present in practically every religion, and (2) historical accounts of spirit induced behavior and exorcism are arguably the most captivating and obscene readings in existence.

It is this last point which I wish to demonstrate in this Halloween post – which probably shouldn’t even be called such since the stories below aren’t even scary. They’re mostly just plain “what the f***.” Though I suppose much of what you’ll encounter, like a description of Satan’s genitalia, is scary in the disturbing sense. But I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

So without further ado, here are just some of the many horrific accounts of spirit possession and obscene behavior I’ve come across in my exhaustive study. Note that these come straight from the secondary sources referenced below.


If you’d like to be fed other interesting nuggets on ecstatic religion and view an organized display of the books I used for research, check out my tumblr page Belly Talkers

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Symptoms of Spirit Possession


naked woman afflicted by demonsA possessed woman fell into the town water supply (prompting fears of contamination), and wandered through both city and countryside stark naked. Indeed, in her nude peregrinations she made a point of visiting every religious foundation she knew. Most controversially, she was infamous for strange episodes in which invisible demons covered her body with supernaturally produced excrement. Deprived of human comfort, she turned for companionship to the fish and the animals, whose language she believed she understood. [1]

well formed crucifixOne Beguine reported a series of humiliating and creative demonic attacks: visions of her food being infested with toads and snakes, being befouled with various unclean substances, and images of her own dismemberment and vivisection. Other visionaries fell prey to demons who tormented them with sexual visions: rehearsing memories of youthful erotic enjoyments, forcing the visionary to lay with a male corpse, and even prompting libidinous thoughts about a particularly well-formed crucifix. [2] 

The skill of demoniacs in divining occult knowledge also could be exploited to humorous effects in collections of preachers’ exempla, as in a case from Jacques de Vitry. A demon named Guinehochet, when asked by a man how many children he had to test the demon, responded, “One.” The man triumphantly responded that he in fact had two sons. Smirking, the spirit defended himself, “I have told you the truth. You have only one son: the other one belongs to the priest.” [3]

Where did the demons go once inside? For medieval authors thought that demons must live primarily in the bowels. Medieval sources occasionally add the prefix caco-, derived from cacus (shit), to daemon (demon) in order to better underline an evil spirit’s connection with digestion and the impure regions of the body. As one source rebukes a demon, “You are impure; you speak impurities; you love impurities; you seek impurities. For you were created to live in heaven, and now you seek out toilets and go visiting latrines.” [4]

tumblr_mn7ujqyINc1rqxd5ko1_1280Johannes Nider tells of how a virtuous man narrowly escaped death because of a scatological joke at a demon’s expense:

“Now should anyone make a joke of the solemnity that the holy order of Exorcist requires. For at the Council of Cologne I saw a brother who was fond of wisecracks, but very famous for his grace of expelling demons. This man, at the end of the Council of Cologne, was casting out a demon from a possessed body. The demon asked the brother for a place to withdraw into, to which the brother gaily said in jest, “Go into my latrine!” The demon therefore left, and at night, when the brother went to empty his bowels, the demon tormented him so severely in the latrine that he survived only with difficulty.” [5]

The demons who possessed the nuns of Santa Chiara in 1636 blocks the canals of their bodies to prevent anything from exiting. The demons then reportedly closed off the women’s lower orifices so that blood would flow from their mouths. [6]

Mary Hill, an eighteen year old girl from Beckington vomited up no fewer than 200 pins and her tongue swelled out of her mouth. Another vomited long crooked nails, brass needles, and lumps of hair and meat. A girl from Louvain vomited 24 pounds of liquid a day, followed by the dung of geese and doves, hair, coal and stones. [7]

tumblr_lnkxsoTvPJ1qe39oio1_250Bendetta Carlini, the abbess of the Theatine Convent of the Mother of God in the small Tuscan town of Pescia, displayed many signs of possession. During an ecclesiastical investigation of the authenticity of her mystical possessions in 1619, another nun in the convent, Bartolomea, testified that she and Benedetta had engaged in a variety of sexual practices. In responding to these charges Bendetta insisted that it was not she, but a beautiful male angel named Splendiletto who had sometimes occupied her body and performed the immodest acts with Bartolomea. [8]

In contemporary America, a man named Paul sought the help of a female exorcist after he became convinced that his unusual sexual behavior was due to demonic possession. This included masturbating compulsively, four or five times daily, sometimes while sodomizing himself with tampons or other objects and sometimes while wearing his mother’s bra and panties. At the age of sixteen he tried to have sex with the next-door neighbor’s poodle, and the following year he finally succeeded (after many failed attempts) in performing fellatio upon himself. While riding the bus, or sitting in a coffee shop, or otherwise going about his daily routine, he was sometimes overcome by a bizarre kind of sexual frenzy. He might see a woman, a total stranger, and feel an impulse to commit sexual violence against her; then turn and see a young child and feel a similar impulse; and then begin praying frantically to Jesus, only to end up with an urge to commit sexual violence against Him, Jesus, as well. [9]

Holy and Demonic Impregnation

Sometimes pregnancy would result from copulation with a demon. However, the semen would not come from the demon himself, properly speaking, nor from the body he had assumed; it would be taken from a man for that purpose; and the same devil would receive semen from a man and impart it to a woman…And the child so begotten would not have the devil for its father, but the man whose semen had been used.

7017824297_59b2b51ea7_bTo sire human children, a demon first becomes a succubus (female) by constructing the body of a woman from air and vapors. The demon assumed or inhabits this body, using it to steal semen from a man by having sex with him. Then the demon transgenders itself, giving its virtual body male form and becoming an incubus (male). Having sex with a woman, the incubus injects the stolen semen into her.

Those begotten in this way by devils are more powerful than other men, for devils know how to ascertain the virtue in semen. Men born in this way are powerful and big in body. Women provide testimony that they can have real sex with demons and can bear children who are genetically endowed with the perfect temperament for becoming witches. For demons, making these children large and strong would be no more difficult. [10]

Some religious laywomen were reported to manifest a severe bloating that they explained as being made “pregnant” with Christ. One woman claimed that Christ had first purified her heart, explaining that it is “in order that it might be a fit living space (habitaculum) for me to inhabit frequently”; and then “the individual things that are inside you, that is, skin, veins, blood, and bones.” Yet when Christ actually took up residence inside her, he entered her womb:

preggo“Her bridegroom…made her uterus as large as if she had within it a remarkably large living fetus already close to parturition, and the character of it was such that she weighed more from the bearing of it and the pressure, than if she were bearing in her uterus a huge natural fetus. [Jesus explained,] ‘how would my bride be able to know that she had conceived me or that she was bearing me if I did not grow or increase within her?’”

Another laywoman likewise claimed to be pregnant-possessed-with a baby Jesus who leapt and moved within her; her spiritual director claimed to have observed these spunky fetal movements through her skin. [11]

The Modane Antichrist play had an early scene in which, following a Jew’s seduction of his own daughter, the devil entered her womb to take possession of it. And during the public exorcisms at Sainte-Baume near Aix-en-Provence in 1610 and 1611 one of the demoniacs, Louise Capeau (or, allegedly, the devil in possession of her), declared that the Antichrist was ‘already borne of a Jewish woman that was got with child by an Incubus’. [12]

A woman in Constance, after having confessed to carnal relations with a demon, eventually gave birth to a quantity of “iron nailes, thicke tronchions, or endes of knotted staves, glasse, bone, lockes of haire, hardes of flaxe, hemp and stones, with other trumperie of lothsome and hideous regard, wherof the divel by his conjuration and other hellish arte, had made an assembly in that place.” [13]

When the Demon Isacaaron convinced Jeanne Anges, [Mother Superior at Loudun], that she was pregnant with child, she made the plan to cut herself open with a large kitchen knife, extract the baby, baptize it and then either recover, or die herself. When she attempted to thrust the knife between the two ribs nearest to the stomach the knife was snatched out of her hand and placed before her at the foot of the crucifix. A voice cried, “Desist!” Jeanne raised her eyes to the crucifix on the wall. The Christ detached one of his arms from the cross and held out his hand to her. The Prioress resolved and renewed her conversion, however the pregnancy continued. A Dr. came and pronounced her pregnancy as genuine. Isacraan made his appearance at a public exorcism and flatly revealed that all of the telltale symptom of pregnancy had been illusions contrived by demons. He then made Jeanne throw up all the accumulations of blood which had amassed in her body. All the signs of pregnancy disappeared forthwith and never returned. [14]

Obscene Exorcising Methods

mpc-hc 2015-10-23 01-03-29-37

The syringe used to exorcise sister Jeanne in Ken Russell’s 1971 classic The Devils, based on the possessions at Loudun

At Loudon, Asmodeus revealed that he was entrenched in the lower belly of Sister Jeanne Anges. When relics and the sprinkling of holy water only resulted in Asmodeus laughing and uttering blasphemies, M. Barre ordered the Prioress to be carried to her cell and sent in haste for the apothecary. M. Adam came, bringing with him the classical emblem of his profession, the huge brass syringe of Molieresque farce and seventeenth century medical reality. A quart of holy water was ready for him. The syringe was filled and M. Adam administered the miraculous enema.

Barre was not the inventor of this adjunct to exorcism. Tallemant records that a French nobleman, M. de Fervaque, had used it successfully on a possessed nun of his acquaintance. Today, in South Africa, there are Negro sects which practice baptism by colonic lavage. In the medical practice of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the clyster was employed as freely and frequently as is the hypodermic syringe today. It was so well known that small boys and girls were in the habit of pretending to give one another clysters. [15]

Also at Loudon, a member of the Parlement of Rennes, Sieur Queriolet, was told by the exorcists to put his hands on one of the possessed nuns, which the ‘demon’ resisted, saying ‘no, I don’t want him to touch me. His hands are smelly. Oh you’re crazy – it pains me to see you’. And a visitor at Loudun related that audience members were also permitted to touch the protruding tongues of the possessed, to discern their unnatural hardness. [16]

In 1517 Father Gugliemo Campana was put on trial for magical practices and unlawful exorcisms. He used candles and wax to create images of the possessed individuals and then burn them on the main altar in the church, and in one case smeared the Holy Sacrament with a possessed woman’s secretions. [17]

When Francisco Corbera, the confessor of the Carmelite convent of Guadalajara (Spain) exorcised demons from the possessed Maria Leocadia de la Santisima Trinidad in 1667, his treatment included rubbing the Eucharist on her genitalia, then inserting it inside of her. [18]

OSL_50A prominent Netherlandish priest and papal protonotary, who was a confessor to the nuns of Saint Elisabeth in Mechelen, touched the Host, the cross, and the relics to the breasts and other “indecent parts of the body” of possessed nuns. At other times he exorcised demons by undressing himself and the possessed woman and touching his mouth to hers, and another exorcismal method in his arsenal was to mix pulverized relics, ashes, and holy water into plaster and apply it over the naked body of the possessed woman. [19]

Geminiano Mazzoni, a Modenese Theatine, went even further and developed a method of “genital exorcism.” As he proudly explained to the Inquisition in his voluntary confession in 1642, during his long years of practice as an exorcist and as a spiritual father, he had learned that demons often hide in women’s vaginas. He therefore used his hand to manipulate and excite his patients’ genitalia until the demons departed. In rare cases, when the demons refuse to exit, he used his mouth or tongue to whisper adjurations into the demon’s ear, and when all else failed, he used his own genitals. On a few occasions, when the demon escaped from the vagina and hid in the woman’s throat, Mazzoni, in order to demonstrate to the demon that he was not afraid of being sexually tempted by it, and to show that he had nothing but contempt and scorn for it, inserted his sexual organ into the possessed woman’s mouth. All was done in good faith, and “for the Glory of God.” [20]

In Sarsina, possessing demons were not admitted into the church and often tried to prevent the individuals whom they possessed from entering. Therefore, a special metal ring (Catena) was attached to the neck of the demoniac, and he or she was pulled, against the possessing demons’ will, into the church. [21]

asdaThe Roman saint Filippo Neri used to slap possessing demons (and the bodies in which they found sanctuary), spit on them, and lay his hands on the spot where the demons resided within the possessed body (even when this site was in a woman’s private parts). He was not alone. Montaigne, visiting Rome, witnessed an exorcism that included beating up the possessed person with a stick and spitting in his face. Henrick van Ryssel, in May 1562, cured a man by shaving off all of the man’s hair and clipping his nails, then mixing these with a quantity of the patient’s urine and a number of iron nails. After boiling the mixture for nine days, the patient recovered. [22]

Sometimes, shamans practice their trickery on clients. A male Sora shaman was once treating an attractive widow. The spirit of the woman’s husband spoke through him and told her that the one thing he really missed was spending the night with her and could he do it just once more? She agreed, but of course the only way the husband could make love with her was through the shaman’s own body. The shaman slept with the woman, who emerged blameless. [23]

St Martin of Tours (316-97) exorcised a man whose symptoms included compulsive biting by thrusting his arm into the man’s throat, thereby forcing the demon to exit through his anus. St Hilarion (291-371), who reputedly exorcised two hundred demoniacs at the same time, drove an entire legion of demons from a man who had displayed preternatural strength by stomping on the man’s feet, claiming ‘Writhe! Writhe! Thou mob of demons!’ [24]

Exorcist Johannes Bergerus, a Dutch Reformed minister, used superstitious remedies such as a wolf’s eye and heart, pulverized teeth from a human corpse, and witches’ excrement to heal his clients. Most of his exorcisms failed. [25]

St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) once ordered the departure of a demon that had forced a young man to eat his own excrement. [26]

48af5f39c8be6ac29dc349251da4b11fBrazilian exorcist Luis de Nazare, acquired a reputation for copulating with young girls and then using the material from their pudenda to make medicinal remedies. [27]

The young Catholic priests who exorcised the English demoniac Sarah Williams at Denham in 1586 ran their hands ‘along all parts of her body’ and placed relics on the ‘most secret part of her body’, claiming that the Devil rested there. When the Devil eventually vacated Sarah’s body, he exited through her ‘nameless part, the Devil’s portgate’. [28]

The Spirit Entered Through Where??

Unlike the organ of departure, which toward the climax of the exorcistic ritual is stereotypically located by the exorcist in one of the toes, the penetrated organ is seldom described [in cases of Jewish possession]. When it is mentioned, it is most frequently the vagina. The evasive reluctant language used in these cases (for example “it is disgraceful to say”) suggests that other such penetrations were left unreported. The only case that involved penetration through the anus was of a male spirit taking possession of a male adolescent. The selection of these erogenous zones further implicates the sexual meaning of dybbuk possession.

In a seventeenth century Baghdad mystical text, the author gives instructions for identifying male-in-female possession with reference to the following conditions: “If she sees in her dream a man standing against her, or lying with her; or inflaming her heart with the passion of intercourse; or rubbing her genitalia or anus…or preventing her from having sex with her husband in order not to be sexually penetrated by him.” [29]

Bother the famous and popular French preacher Jean Benedicti and Jean Bodin named the nun’s “parties honteuses” as the devil’s favorite entry point. Bodin elaborated, explaining that “evil spirits possess women from ‘down there’ [la-bas] and speak through their shameful body parts [parties honsteuses].” Jeanne de Anges’s demon resided in her vagina, and the Milanese sister Clara Francesca Decia testified during the canonization process of Carlo Borromeo (1601) that her possessing demons exited from her shameful parts (“parti vergognose”) “below the belly.” [30]


Copulation with the Devil and His Demons

demonfeet1556: Walpurga Hausmannin propositioned a fellow worker while the two of them were harvesting grain. Recently widowed, she lived alone, so the two agreed to meet at her lodgings, “there to indulge in lustful intercourse.” When he arrived, they had sex. Or so she thought. No sooner had they finished than Walpurga saw unmistakable signs that her paramour was not Bis im Pfarrhof, the man she had lusted after, but the Devil himself, disguised as a human. The devil betrayed his identity in several ways: one of his feet was actually a cloven hoof, while one of his hands seemed to be neither animal nor human but “as if made of wood.” 

Walpurga’s devil Federlin made her kill forty-one children, exhume some of them, create ointments and other paraphernalia of witchcraft from their bodies, and even eat roasted children. He also made her mock the Virgin Mary as an “Ugly hussy”, trample crosses and consecrated wafers, steal holy water, and destroy vessels. [31]

1628: Johannes Junius was sitting in his orchard when he was accosted and enticed into sex by what appeared to be a woman. As soon as they copulated, the “wench” was transformed into a goat, which “bleated” that it would break Johanne’s neck unless he renounced God. [32]

07044bc367dc“The parts put on [demons] are similar to flesh and bones, but bigger than those of any mortal. [Their members] are bigger than human ones and softer, and very similar to flax or cottonwool that has been bundled and densely packed.” [33]

Witches claim they are so overcome by [demonic sexual pleasure] that they swear there is no pleasure like it on earth…[because] their members are of an uncommon size…they fill up the most secret parts of the witch…and they pretend to be in love with them…These women have greater pleasure than with men. [34]

big[On the other hand] witches often “confessed” that sexual relations with demons were anything but pleasurable. Witches felt “the most acute pain” during intercourse. In fact, by the late sixteenth century, the Devil “always had a member like a mule’s …as long and thick as an arm.” Sometimes the demonic penis was covered with barbed scales or was composite in nature, even being half flesh and half iron. Devils’ penises might have two or three prongs, for simultaneously penetrating more than one orifice. The Devil’s semen was often ice-cold and painful, sometimes spoiled and rancid. [35]

The Devil’s penis had to be enormous, his ejaculate incredibly copious; both had to be so cold as to cause intense pain. The Devil could have a three-pronged penis, said Pierre De Lancre in 1612, so that he could simultaneously penetrate his victims vaginally, anally, and orally. If he was uninterested in fellatio, he could reduce his penis to only two prongs. De Lancre’s expert witness added that the Devil’s “member” could sometimes be half iron and half flesh, at other times completely made of horn. The Devil also increasingly appeared as a hybrid, not simply having inappropriate feet, but materializing largely or even wholly in the shape of an animal to copulate with his devotees. [36]

childrenNot only women and men but children as well were forced to admit copulating with devils. Two German writers at Bonn and Wurzburg recorded in 1629 and 1630 that children three and four years old, “to the number of three hundred,” were said to have had sex with devils. One claimed that children as young as seven had been put to death for this crime; both said that children between ten and fourteen were routinely being burned for it. De Lancre claimed to have seen “hundreds of confessions” of six- to twelve-year-olds. [37]

incubusThe devil once took on the appearance of a beautiful girl and seduced a hermit who lived about a mile from town. After the devil taunted him: “Look what you’ve done! I’m not a girl or a woman, in fact, but the Devil!” He disappeared immediately, but had extracted so much semen that the poor hermit dried completely out and died within a month of the fateful coitus. [38]

At the sabbat, newcomers are assigned a demon, an incubus or succubus “with whom they have sexual intercourse, and who appears to them often, both in the home and outside it, when they are wide awake, as they themselves affirm. [39]

Ain’t No Party Like a Witch’s Sabbat

Osculum infameCatholic theologians imagined that, during the secret meetings of Cathars, the Devil would incarnate himself in the form of a large black cat. His devotees would demonstrate their submission to him by an obscene kiss (osculum infame) on his anus. Thus, said Alanus de Insulis in the twelfth century, in a libel that became commonplace, Cathari are so called from their worship of the cattus, or cat. In later times, the Devil often incarnated himself as a goat or a goat-like hybrid. [40]

The earliest unambiguous example of the witches’ cauldron is in Nider’s Formicarius. Nider maintains that Peter of Bern forced a witch to confess:

13a027b579“We set our snares chiefly for unbaptized children and even for those who have been baptized, especially when they have not been protected by the sign of the cross and prayers, and with our rituals [ceremoniis] we kill them in their cradles or even when they are sleeping by their parents’ side, in such a way that they afterward are thought to have been overlain or to have died some other [natural] death. Then we secretly steal them from their graves and cook them in a cauldron [caldari] until the whole flesh comes away from the bones and becomes a soup that may easily be drunk.” [41]

At another witch’s confession:

“We entered the houses of our enemies at night, by doors and entranceways that were opened for us [by demons], and while their fathers and mothers were sleeping, we picked up the tiny children and took them over by the fire. There we pierced them under their nails with the needle, and then, putting our lips to the wounds, we sucked out as much blood as our mouths could hold. And I always swallowed part of it – sent it right into my stomach – and part of it I put aside in a little bottle or jar. From it I later made that unguent that we use for anointing our shameful parts when we want to be carried to the Sabbat.” [42]


The pact allegedly signed between Father Urbain Grandier and the Devil, stolen from the Devil’s cabinet of pacts by the demon Asmodeus. This page shows the signatures of all demons in possession of the Ursuline nuns at Loudun and the note added by Asmodeus.

During commune with the Devil people supposedly required, by the touch of the Devil’s finger, areas of insensibility, where the prick of a needle causes no pain and draws no blood. The Prioress declared that Father Grandier had five demonic marks in all – one on the shoulder, at the place where criminals are branded, two more on the buttocks, very near the fundament, and one on either testicle. Grandier was stripped, shaved all over, blindfolded and then systematically pricked to the bone with a long, sharp probe. Only two out of the five marks described were found, but it was enough. [43]

[At Loudun] the exorcists produced a number of “pacts,” which had appeared mysteriously in the cells, or (better still) had been vomited up, undigested, in the midst of paroxysm. It was by means of these pacts that the good sisters had been, and were still being, bewitched. Here, for example, was a piece of paper, stained with three drops of blood and containing eight orange pips; here, a bundle of five straws; here, a little package of cinders, worms, hairs and nail parings. But it was Jeanne des Anges who, as usually, outdid all the rest. On June 17th, while possessed by Leviathan, she threw up a pact containing (according to her devils) a piece of the heart of a child, sacrificed in 1631 at a witches’ Sabbath near Orleans, the ashes of a consecrated wafer and some of Grandier’s blood and semen. [44]

During the witches Sabbats, Grandier was accused of magically distributing his sperm to the witches through tiny air holes in his bricked-up windows. [45]

In 1643, At the Hospitaler convent of Saint-Louis et Sainte-Elisabeth in Louviers, Sister Bavent confessed that Father Pierre David introduced the nuns to a new spirituality that was later unveiled to be demonic rather than divine. David explained to the nuns that the way to overcome sin is to sin and instructed them to practice innocence by practicing nudity. Under his guidance, and according to the teachings of Canfield and other pre-Quietist mystics, the nuns touched each other immodestly and performed sexual impurities with the crucifix and with each other. They took Communion stripped to the waist, and the officiating priests passed the Eucharist “over their private parts as far as the belly, and in this state abandoned themselves to the company of women.” [46]

Humorous Maleficium (harmful magic)

In 1684, supposed witch Mary Webster of Puritan Hadley, Massachusetts was accused of causing a man’s breast to swell “like a woman’s” and for having “wounded or burnt his sexual organs. [47]

On 17 Febuary, 1596 thirteen-year-old Thomas Darling began to have a series of fits which were to continue throughout the next six months. Earlier on this day he had come across an old woman in a wood wearing a grey gown and three warts upon her face. As he passed by her, he passed wind, to which she responded, ‘Gyp with a mischief, and fart with a bell. I will go to Heaven, and you will go to Hell.’ Suspicion for having bewitched Thomas fell on the sixty-year-old Alice Gooderidge who, like her mother Elizabeth Wright, had long been suspected of devilish practices. She was arrested and confined in Derby gaol on 14 April. [48]

The companionship of witches and cats was also a commonplace of English witchcraft theory. The English witch’s “familiar,” the domesticated demon who carried out her maleficia, could be incarnated as a small animal. One of the earliest recorded familiars was a cat supposedly named Satan. The witch demonstrated allegiance to her demonic familiar by allowing it to suck her blood from the “witch’s teat” hidden in some anomalous place on her (or his) body. [49]

Praestigium was the technical term for the demonic illusion that Aquinas described and defined as taking place either inside the imagination or in external reality. Witch-cats are one example, but the 16th century philosopher Andrea Cesalpino had an even more intriguing one: “There are men, who, through this illusory [praestigiosa] art of the witches, seem to have their male organs so thoroughly amputated that absolutely no trace of them remains. It is said that some young men in Germany lost their genitals quite suddenly…When they had discovered the witch…she dissolved her maleficium, and the young men got back the genitals they thought they had lost.”

Heinrich K194x9q86mua4fjpgramer:

“And what, then, is to be thought of those witches [maleficas] who…sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, and many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird’s nest, or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn, as has been seen by many and is a matter of common report [fama]?…For a certain man tells that, when he had lost his member, he approached a certain witch to ask her to restore his health [sanitatis]. She told the afflicted [infirmo] man to climb a certain tree, and that he might take whichever member he liked out of a nest which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said, “you must not take that one,” adding, “because it belonged to a parish priest.” (Kramer, Malleus, fols. 59r-v (p. 121) [50]

A 13th century depiction of witches. Notice anything in the tree?

A 13th century depiction of witches. Notice anything in the tree?

Happy Halloween, folks.


  1. Carciola, Discerning Spirits: Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages69
  2. Ibid., 70
  3. Ibid., 49
  4. Ibid., 197
  5. Ibid., 205
  6. Levack, The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West20
  7. Ibid., 72
  8. Ibid., 150
  9. McCloud, American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary U.S.74-6
  10. Stephens, Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief64
  11. Carciola61
  12. Clark, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe254
  13. Ibid., 371
  14. Huxley, The Devils of Loudun234-5
  15. Ibid., 113-15
  16. Ferber, Demonic Possession and Exorcism In Early Modern France, 121
  17. Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit: Possession, Mysticism, & Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism45
  18. Ibid., 47
  19. Ibid., 47
  20. Ibid., 47-8
  21. Ibid., 53
  22. Ibid., 66-7
  23. Vitebsky, Shamanism88
  24. Levack, 95
  25. Ibid., 93
  26. Ibid., 95
  27. Ibid., 98
  28. Ibid., 98-9
  29. Goldish, Spirit Possession in Judaism: Cases and Contexts from the Middle Ages to the Present46-9
  30. Sluhovsky, 251
  31. Stephens, 2-3
  32. Ibid., 6
  33. Ibid., 97
  34. Ibid., 97
  35. Ibid., 19
  36. Ibid., 101
  37. Ibid., 101
  38. Ibid., 23
  39. Ibid., 23
  40. Ibid., 281
  41. Ibid., 241
  42. Ibid., 278
  43. Huxley, 155
  44. Ibid., 156
  45. Ibid., 194
  46. Sluhovsky, 153
  47. Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England32
  48. Almond, Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern England150
  49. Stephens, 103
  50. Ibid., 303

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