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their powerful and tremendous assistance. Songs of a wild and maniacal character were chaunted. Noisome
scents and the burning of all unhallowed and odious things were resorted to. In later times books and formulas
of a terrific character were commonly employed, upon the reading or recital of which the prodigies resorted to
Lives of the Necromancers
began to display themselves. The heavens were darkened; the thunder rolled; and fierce and blinding
lightnings flashed from one corner of the heavens to the other. The earth quaked and rocked from side to side.
All monstrous and deformed things shewed themselves,  Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire, enough
to cause the stoutest heart to quail. Lastly, devils, whose name was legion, and to whose forms and distorted
and menacing countenances superstition had annexed the most frightful ideas, crowded in countless
multitudes upon the spectator, whose breath was flame, whose dances were full of terror, and whose strength
infinitely exceeded every thing human. Such were the appalling conceptions which ages of bigotry and
ignorance annexed to the notion of sorcery, and with these they scared the unhappy beings over whom this
notion had usurped an ascendancy into lunacy, and prepared them for the perpetrating flagitious and
unheard-of deeds.
The result of these horrible incantations was not less tremendous, than the preparations might have led us to
expect. The demons possessed all the powers of the air, and produced tempests and shipwrecks at their
pleasure.  Castles toppled on their warder's heads, and palaces and pyramids sloped their summits to their
foundations; forests and mountains were torn from their roots, and cast into the sea. They inflamed the
passions of men, and caused them to commit the most unheard-of excesses. They laid their ban on those who
enjoyed the most prosperous health, condemned them to peak and pine, wasted them into a melancholy
atrophy, and finally consigned them to a premature grave. They breathed a new and unblest life into beings in
whom existence had long been extinct, and by their hateful and resistless power caused the sepulchres to give
up their dead.
Next to sorcery we may recollect the case of witchcraft, which occurs oftener, particularly in modern times,
than any other alleged mode of changing by supernatural means the future course of events. The sorcerer, as
we shall see hereafter, was frequently a man of learning and intellectual abilities, sometimes of comparative
opulence and respectable situation in society. But the witch or wizard was almost uniformly old, decrepid, and
nearly or altogether in a state of penury. The functions however of the witch and the sorcerer were in a great
degree the same. The earliest account of a witch, attended with any degree of detail, is that of the witch of
Endor in the Bible, who among other things, professed the power of calling up the dead upon occasion from
the peace of the sepulchre. Witches also claimed the faculty of raising storms, and in various ways disturbing
the course of nature. They appear in most cases to have been brought into action by the impulse of private
malice. They occasioned mortality of greater or less extent in man and beast. They blighted the opening
prospect of a plentiful harvest. They covered the heavens with clouds, and sent abroad withering and
malignant blasts. They undermined the health of those who were so unfortunate as to incur their animosity,
and caused them to waste away gradually with incurable disease. They were notorious two or three centuries
ago for the power of the  evil eye. The vulgar, both great and small, dreaded their displeasure, and sought, by
small gifts, and fair speeches, but insincere, and the offspring of terror only, to avert the pernicious
consequences of their malice. They were famed for fabricating small images of wax, to represent the object of
their persecution; and, as these by gradual and often studiously protracted degrees wasted before the fire, so
the unfortunate butts of their resentment perished with a lingering, but inevitable death.
The power of these witches, as we find in their earliest records, originated in their intercourse with  familiar
spirits, invisible beings who must be supposed to be enlisted in the armies of the prince of darkness. We do
not read in these ancient memorials of any league of mutual benefit entered into between the merely human
party, and his or her supernatural assistant. But modern times have amply supplied this defect. The witch or
sorcerer could not secure the assistance of the demon but by a sure and faithful compact, by which the human
party obtained the industrious and vigilant service of his familiar for a certain term of years, only on condition
Lives of the Necromancers
that, when the term was expired, the demon of undoubted right was to obtain possession of the indentured
party, and to convey him irremissibly and for ever to the regions of the damned. The contract was drawn out
in authentic form, signed by the sorcerer, and attested with his blood, and was then carried away by the
demon, to be produced again at the appointed time.
These familiar spirits often assumed the form of animals, and a black dog or cat was considered as a figure in
which the attendant devil was secretly hidden. These subordinate devils were called Imps. Impure and carnal
ideas were mingled with these theories. The witches were said to have preternatural teats from which their
familiars sucked their blood. The devil also engaged in sexual intercourse with the witch or wizard, being [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]