Malleus Maleficarum Part 2
Remedies prescribed for Those who are Bewitched by the Limitation of the Generative Power.
Although far more women are witches than men, as was shown in the
First Part of the work, yet men are more often bewitched than
women. And the reason for this lies in the fact that God allows
the devil more power over the venereal act, by which the original
sin is handed down, than over other human actions. In the same
way He allows more witchcraft to be performed by means of
serpents, which are more subject to incantations than other
animals, because that was the first instrument of the devil. And
the venereal act can be more readily and easily bewitched in a
man than in a woman, as has been clearly shown. For there are
five ways in which the devil can impede the act of generation,
and they are more easily operated against men.
As far as possible we shall set out the remedies which can be
applies in each separate kind of obstruction; and let him who is
bewitched in this faculty take note to which class of obstruction
he belongs. For there are five classes, according to Peter a
Palude in his Fourth Book, dist. 34, of the trial of this sort of
For the devil, being a spirit, has by his very nature power, with
God's permission, over a bodily creature, especially to promote
or to prevent local motion. So by this power they can prevent the
bodies of men and women from approaching each other; and this
either directly or indirectly. Directly, when they remove one to
a distance from another, and do not allow him to approach the
other. Indirectly, when they cause some obstruction, or when they
interpose themselves in an assumed body. So it happened that a
young Pagan who had married an idol, but none the less contracted
a marriage with a girl; but because of this he was unable to
copulate with her, as has been shown above.
Secondly, the devil can inflame a man towards one woman and
render him impotent towards another; and this he can secretly
cause by the application of certain herbs or other matters of
which he well knows the virtue for this purpose.
Thirdly, he can disturb the apperception of a man or a woman, so
that he makes one appear hideous to the other; for, as has been
shown, he can influence the imagination.
Fourthly, he can suppress the vigour of that member which is
necessary for procreation; just as he can deprive any organ of
the power of local motion.
Fifthly, he can prevent the flow of the semen to the members in
which is the motive power, by as it were closing the seminal duct
so that it does not descend to the genital vessels, or does not
ascend again from them, or cannot come forth, or is spent vainly.
But if a man should say: I do not know by which of these
different methods I have been bewitched; all I know is that I
cannot do anything with my wife: he should be answered in this
way. If he is active and able with regard to other women, but not
with his wife, then he is bewitched in the second way; for he can
be certified as to the first way, that he is being deluded by
Succubus or Incubus devils. Moreover, if he does not find his
wife repellent, and yet cannot know her, but can know other
women, then again it is the second way; but if he finds her
repellent and cannot copulate with her, then it is the second and
the third way. If he does not find her repellent and wishes to
have connexion with her, but has no power in his member, then it
is the fourth way. But if he has power in his member, yet cannot
emit his semen, then it is the fifth way. The method of curing
these will be shown where we consider whether those who live in
grace and those who do not are equally liable to be bewitched in
these manners; and we answer that they are not, with the
exception of the fourth manner, and even then very rarely. For
such an affliction can happen to a man living in grace and
righteousness; but the reader must understand that in this case
we speak of the conjugal act between married people; for in any
other case they are all liable to bewitchment; for every venereal
act outside wedlock is a mortal sin, and is only committed by
those who are not in a state of grace.
We have, indeed, the authority of the whole of Scriptural
teaching that God allows the devil to afflict sinners more than
the just. For although that most just man, Job, was stricken, yet
he was not so particularly or directly in respect of the
procreant function. And it may be said that, when a married
couple are afflicted in this way, either both the parties or one
of them is not living in a state of grace; and this opinion is
substantiated in the Scriptures both by authority and by reason.
For the Angel said to Tobias: The
devil receives power against those who are given over to lust:
and he proved it in the slaying of the seven husbands of the
Cassian, in his Collation of the Fathers, quotes S. Antony as
saying that the devil can in no way enter our mind or body unless
he has first deprived it of all holy thoughts and made it empty
and bare of spiritual contemplation. These words should not be
applies to an evil affliction over the whole of the body, for
when Job was so afflicted he was not denuded of Divine grace; but
they have particular reference to a particular infirmity
inflicted upon the body for some sin. And the infirmity we are
considering can only be due to the sin of incontinence. For, as
we have said, God allows the devil more power over that act than
over other human acts, because of its natural nastiness, and
because by it the first sin was handed down to posterity.
Therefore when people joined in matrimony have for some sin been
deprived of Divine help, God allows them to be bewitched chiefly
in their procreant functions.
But if it is asked of what sort are those sins, it can be said,
according to S. Jerome, that even in a state of matrimony it is
possible to commit the sin of incontinence in various ways. See
the text: He who loves his wife to excess is an adulterer. And
they who love in this way are more liable to be bewitched after
the manner we have said.
The remedies of the Church, then, are twofold: one applicable in
the public court, the other in the tribunal of the confessional.
As for the first, when it has been publicly found that the
impotence is due to witchcraft, then it must be distinguished
whether it is temporary or permanent. If it is only temporary, it
does not annul the marriage. And it is assumed to be temporary
if, within the space of three years, by using every possible
expedient of the Sacraments of the Church and other remedies, a
cure can be caused. But if, after that time, they cannot be cured
by any remedy, then it is assumed to be permanent.
Now the disability either precedes both the contract and the
consummation of marriage; and in this case it impedes the
contract: or it follows the contract but precedes the
consummation; and in this case it annuls the contract. For men
are very often bewitched in this way because they have cast off
their former mistresses, who, hoping that they were to be married
and being disappointed, so bewitch the men that they cannot
copulate with another woman. And in such a case, according to the
opinion of many, the marriage already contracted is annulled,
unless, like Our Blessed Lady and S. Joseph they are willing to
live together in holy continence. This opinion is supported by
the Canon where it says (23, q. I) that a marriage is confirmed
by the carnal act. And a little later it says that impotence
before such confirmation dissolves the ties of marriage.
Or else the disability follows the consummation of a marriage,
and then it does not dissolve the bonds of matrimony. Much more
to this effect is noted by the Doctors, where in various writings
they treat of the obstruction due to witchcraft; but since it is
not precisely relevant to the present inquiry, it is here
But some may find it difficult to understand how this function
can be obstructed in respect of one woman but not of another. S.
Bonaventura answers that this may be because some witch has
persuaded the devil to effect this only with respect to one
woman, or because God will not allow the obstruction to apply
save to some particular woman. The judgement of God in this
matter is a mystery, as in the case of the wife of Tobias. But
how the devil procures this disability is plainly shown by what
has already been said. And S. Bonaventura says that he obstructs
the procreant function, not intrinsically by harming the organ,
but extrinsically by impeding its use; and it is an artificial,
not a natural impediment; and so he an cause it to apply to one
woman and not to another. Or else he takes away all desire for
one or another woman; and this he does by his own power, or else
by means of some herb or stone or some occult creature. And in
this he is in substantial agreement with Peter a Palude.
The ecclesiastical remedy in the tribunal of God is set forth in
the Canon where it says: If with the permission of the just and
secret judgement of God, through the arts of sorceresses and
witches and the preparation of the devil, men are bewitched in
their procreant function, they are to be urged to make clean
confession to God and His priest of all their sins with a
contrite heart and a humble spirit; and to make satisfaction to
God with many tears and large offerings and prayers and fasting.
From these words it is clear that such afflictions are only on
account of sin, and occur only to those who do not live in a
state of grace. It proceeds to tell how the ministers of the
Church can effect a cure by means of exorcisms and the other
protections and cures provided by the Church. In this way, with
the help of God, Abraham cured by his prayers
Abimelech and his house.
In conclusion we may say that there are five remedies which may
lawfully be applied to those who are bewitched in this way:
namely, a pilgrimage to some holy and venerable shrine; true
confession of their sins with contrition; the plentiful use of
the sign of the Cross and devout prayer; lawful exorcism by
solemn words, the nature of which will be explained later; and
lastly, a remedy can be effected by prudently approaching the
witch, as was shown in the case of the Count who for three years
was unable to cohabit carnally with a virgin whom he had married.
Next: Chapter III
Remedies prescribed for those who are Bewitched by being Inflamed with Inordinate Love or Extraordinary Hatred.