The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, by Margaret Alice Murray, , at sacred-texts.com
THERE were two kinds of assemblies; the one, known as the Sabbath, was the General Meeting of all the members of the religion; the other, to which I give-on the authority of Estebène de Cambrue--the name of Esbat, was only for the special and limited number who carried out the rites and practices of the cult, and was not for the general public.
The derivation of the word Sabbath in this connexion is quite unknown. It has clearly nothing to do with the number seven, and equally clearly it is not connected with the Jewish ceremonial. It is possibly a derivative of s'esbattre, 'to frolic'; a very suitable description of the joyous gaiety of the meetings.
Locomotion.-The method of going to the meetings varied according to the distance to be traversed. In an immense majority of cases the means of locomotion are not even mentioned, presumably therefore the witches went on foot, as would naturally be the case in going to the local meeting or Esbat, which was attended only by those who lived near. There are, however, a few instances where it was thought worth while to mention that the worshippers walked to the meeting. Boguet (1598), who yields to none in his accounts of magical means of going to the Sabbath, says, 'les Sorciers nea[n]tmoins vont quelquefois de pied au Sabbat, ce qui leur aduient principalement, lors que le lieu, où ils font leur assemblée, n'est pas guieres eslongné de leur habitation', and rites in confirmation the evidence of George and Antoinette Gandillon and their father Pierre, Clauda Ianprost, Clauda Ian-guillaume, Iaquema Paget, Gros Iaques, the two brothers Claude and Claude Charloz, Pierre Willermoz, l'Aranthon, Pernette Molard, Ianne Platet, and Clauda Paget. Iaquema Paget's account of how she and Antoine Tornier went to a
[1. Boguet, pp. 106-7.]
meeting on their way home. from the harvest field (see p. 121), proves that they were on foot. The Lang-Niddry witches (1608) clearly walked, they 'convenit thame selffis at Deanefute of Lang-Niddry . . . thaireffir thay past altogidder to the said Beigis hous in Lang-Nydry [where they drank]; and thaireftir come with all thair speid to Seaton-thorne be-north the zet; quhair the Devill. callit for the said Christiane Tod, and past to Robert Smartis house, and brocht hir out.... And thay thaireftir past altogidder, with the Devill, to the irne zet of Seatoun . . . And thaireftir come all bak agane to the Deane-fute, quhair first thai convenit.' The distance from Lang Niddry to Seaton Castle is under a mile. Isaac de Queyran (1609), a young fellow of twenty-five, told de Lancre that those living at a distance flew home through the air, the near ones returned on foot. Berthélemy Minguet of Brécy was tried in 1616: 'Enquis, de quelle façon sa femme fut au Sabbat la premiere fois. Respond, qu'elle y fut transportée par le Diable, lequel la rapporta apres le Sabbat, & que la seconde fois qu'elle y a esté, elle y fut de son pied avec luy, & s'en retourna de son pied, & qu'elle n'y a iamais esté que ces deux fois.' Helen Guthrie of Forfar (1661) said that 'herselfe, Isobell Shyrie, and Elspet Alexander, did meit togither at ane aile house near to Barrie, a litle befor sunsett, efter they bade stayed in the said house about the spaice of ane houre drinking of thrie pintis of ale togidder, they went foorth to the sandis, and ther thrie other women met them, and the divell wes there present with them all . . . and they parted so late that night that she could get no lodging, but wes forced to lye at ane dyk syde all night'. Christian Grieve, of Crook of Devon (1662), acknowledged I that ye came to the foresaid meeting immediately after your goodman and the rest went to bed, and that ye locked the door and put the key under the same, and that ye and the said Margaret Young your neighbor came foot for foot to the foresaid meeting and that ye stayed at the foresaid meeting about the space of two hours and came back again on your foot, and the foresaid Margaret Young
[1. Pitcairn, ii, pp. 542-3.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 148.
3. Id., L'Incredulité. P. 808.
4. Kinloch, pp. 122-3.]
with you, and found the key of the door in that same place where you left it, and declared that neither your husband nor any other in the house was waking at your return'. At Lille (1661) the girl Bellot, then aged fifteen, said that 'her Mother had taken her with her when she was very Young, and had even carried her in her Arms to the Witches Sabbaths or Assemblies'. At Strathdown (eighteenth century) the witches went along the side of the river Avon to Craic-pol-nain, fording the river on foot.
In the cases cited above there is nothing in the least bizarre or extraordinary, but there are other methods recorded of reaching the distant meetings. Sometimes the obvious means was by riding on a horse; sometimes the witches were accused, or claimed the power, of flying through the air, of riding in the air on a stick, of riding on animals or human beings, which latter were sometimes in their own natural form and sometimes enchanted into the form of animals.
The following instances are of those who rode to or from the meetings on horseback. Agnes Sampson of North Berwick (1590) said that the Devil in mans likeness met her going out in the fields from her own house at Keith, betwixt five and six at even, being her alone and commanded her to be at North-berwick Kirk the next night: And she passed there on horse-back, conveyed by her Good-son, called Iohn Couper'. Boguet (1608) mentions, in passing, the fact that the witches sometimes rode on horses. The Lancashire witches (1613), after the meeting at Malking Tower, 'went out of the said House in their owne shapes and likenesses. And they all, by that they were forth of the dores, gotten on Horseback, like vnto foals, some of one colour, some of another. This was the usual mode of locomotion among the Lancashire witches, for Margaret Johnson (1633) said that at the meeting at Hoarstones 'there was, at yt tyme, between 30 and 40 witches, who did all ride to the said meetinge'. Isobell Gowdie (1662) said, 'I haid a little horse, and wold say, " Horse
[1. Burns Begg, p. 239.
2. Bourignon, Vie, p. 211; Hale, p. 29.
3. Stewart, p. 174.
4. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 239. Spelling modernized.
5. Boguet, p. 104.
6. Potts, G4.
7. Whitaker, p. 216.]
and Hattock, in the Divellis name!" The most detailed account is from Sweden (1669):
'Another Boy confessed too, that one day he was carried away by his Mistriss, and to perform the journey he took his own Father's Horse out of the Meadow where it was, and upon his return she let the Horse go in her own ground. The next morning the Boys Father sought for his Horse, and not finding it, gave it over for lost; but the Boy told him the whole story, and so his Father fetcht the Horse back again.'
We now come to the marvellous and magical means of locomotion. The belief in the power of witches to ride in the air is very ancient and universal in Europe. They flew either unsupported, being carried by the Devil, or were supported on a stick; sometimes, however, an animal which they rode passed through the air. The flying was usually preceded by an anointing of the whole or part of the body with a magical ointment.
The earliest example of unsupported flying is from Paul Grilland (1537), who gives an account of an Italian witch in 1526, who flew in the air with the help of a magic ointment.
Reginald Scot (1584) says that the ointment 'whereby they ride in the aire' was made of the flesh of unbaptized children, and gives two recipes:
 'The fat of yoong children, and seeth it with water in a brasen vessell, reseruing the thickest of that which remaineth boiled in the bottome, which they laie up and keepe, untill occasion serueth to use it. They put hereunto Eleoselinum, Aconitum, Frondes populeas, and Soote.'  'Sium, acarum vulgare, pentaphyllon, the blood of a flitter mouse, solanum somniferum, and oleum. They stampe all these togither, and then they rubbe all parts of their bodys exceedinglie, till they looke red, and be verie hot, so as the pores may be opened, and their flesh soluble and loose. They ioine herewithall either fat, or oil in steed thereof, that the force of the ointment maie the rather pearse inwardly, and so be more effectuall. By this means in a moonlight night they seeme to be carried in the aire.'
[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 604.
2. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 320.
3. Bodin, Fléau, p. 178.
4. Scot, pp. 41, 184. Scot is as usual, extraordinarily in accurate in his statements. The correct formulae, as given by Wierus, will be found in Appendix V, with notes on the ingredients by Prof. A. J. Clark.]
So far this is only hearsay evidence, but there is also a certain amount of first-hand testimony, the witches declaring that they actually passed through the air above ground, or had seen others do so.
In 1598 'Thieuenne Paget racontoit, que le Diable s'apparut à elle la premiere fois en plein midy, en forme d'vn grand homme noir, & que comme elle se fut baillée à luy, il l'embrassa & l'esleva en I'air, & la transporta en la maison du prel de Longchamois . . . & puis ]a rapporta au lieu mesme, où il l'auoit prise. Antide Colas disoit, que le soir, que Satan s'apparut; à elle en forme d'vn homme de grande stature, ayant sa barbe & ses habillemens noirs, il la transporta au Sabbat, & qu'aux autres fois, il la venoit prendre dans son lict, & l'emportoit comme si c'eust esté vn vent froid, l'empoignant par la teste.'
Isaac de Queyran (1609), whose evidence has already been quoted, said that the witches living at a distance flew home through the air. In France (1652) 'lors qu'elle vouloit aller aux danses, elle se oindoit d'ung onguen qui lui estoit donné par vn sorcier envoyé par le diable. Que lors elle s'en alloit comme ung vent aux dictes danses avecque les aultres.' At Crook of Devon (1661) Bessie Henderson confessed 'that ye was taken out of your bed to that meeting in an flight'. The most detail comes from an English source: the Somerset witches (1664) claimed that they habitually flew through the air by means of a magical oil and magical words. Elizabeth Style said:
'Before they are carried to their meetings, they anoint their Foreheads, and Hand-wrists with an Oyl the Spirit brings them (which smells raw) and then they are carried in a very short time, using these words as they pass, Thout, tout a tout, tout, throughout and about. And when they go off from their Meetings, they say, Rentum, Tormentum . . . all are carried to their several homes in a short space.' Alice Duke gave the same testimony, noting besides that the oil was greenish in colour. Anne Bishop, the Officer of the Somerset covens, confessed that 'her Forehead being first anointed with
[1. Boguet, p. 96.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 148.
3. H. G. van Elven, La Tradition, 1891, p. 215. Unfortunately neither name nor place are given in the transcription.
4. Burns Begg, 223.]
a Feather dipt in Oyl, she hath been suddenly carried to the place of their meeting. . . . After all was ended, the Man in black vanished. The rest were oil a sudden conveighed to their homes.'
The belief that the witches actually rode in the air seated on some concrete object, such as an animal, a human being, or a stick, is both ancient and universal, and is reflected in the ecclesiastical and civil laws, of which the earliest is the decree of the ninth century, attributed to the Council of Ancyra. 'Certeine wicked women following sathans prouocations, being seduced by the illusion of diuels, beleeve and professe, that in the night times they ride abroad, with Diana, the goddesse of the Pagans, or else with Herodias, with an innumerable multitude, vpon certeine beasts . . . and doo whatsoeuer those fairies or ladies command.' The laws of Lorraine (1329-46) decree that 'celui qui fera magie, sortilège, billets de sort, pronostic d'oiseau ou se vanteroit d'avoir chevauché la nurt avec Diane ou telle autre vielle qui se dit magicienne, sera banni et payera dix livres tournois'.
The witches themselves confirmed the statements about riding on animals to the Sabbath. Rolande du Vernier (1598) confessed 'que lors qu'elle y fiat, elle y alla sur vn gros mouton noir, qui la portoit si viste en I'air, qu'elle ne se pouuoit recognoistre'. De Lancre says that the witches 'se font porter iusqu'audit lieu, sur vne beste, qui semble parfois vn cheual, & parfoys vn homme'. Margaret Johnson (1633) 'saith, if they desyre to be in any place upon a sodaine, theire devill or spirit will, upon a rodde, dogge, or any thinge els, presently convey them thither'. One of Madame Bourignon's girls, then aged twelve (1661), declared that 'her said Lover came upon a little Horse, and took her by the Hand, asking her if she would be his Mistress, and she saying Ay, she was catched up into the Air with him and the other Girls, and they
[1. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 139, 141, 148-9. 151.
2. Scot, Bk. iii, p. 66; Lea, iii, p. 493. I give Scot's translation as being more racily expressed.
3. J. Bournon, p. 19.
4. Boguet, p. 96.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
6. Whitaker, p. 216.]
flew all together to a great Castle'. The Swedish witches (1669) said:
'He set us on a Beast which he had there ready, and carried us over Churches and high walls . . . he gives us a horn with a Salve in it, wherewith we do anoint our selves; and then he gives us a Saddle, with a Hammer and a wooden nail, thereby to fix the Saddle; whereupon we call upon the Devil, and away we go . . . For their journey they said they made use of all sorts of Instruments, of Beasts, of Men, of Spits and Posts. What the manner of their journey is, God alone knows . . . Blockula is scituated in a delicate large Meadow whereof you can see no end. They went into a little Meadow distinct from the other, where the Beasts went that they used to ride on: But the Men whom they made use of in their journey, stood in the House by the Gate in a slumbering posture, sleeping against the wall.'
Human beings were also said to be ridden upon in other places besides Sweden. Agnes Spark of Forfar (1661) said she 'hard people ther present did speake of Isabell Shirie, and say that shoe was the devill's horse, and that the divill did allwayes ryde upon hir, and that shoe was shoad lyke ane mare, or ane horse'. Ann Armstrong, of a Northumbrian Coven (1673).
'saith, that since she gave information against severall persons who ridd her to severall places where they had conversation with the divell, she hath beene severall times lately ridden by Anne Driden and Anne Forster, and was last night ridden by them to the rideing house in the close on the common . . . Whilst she was lying in that condition [i.e. "a fitt"], which happened one night a little before Christmas, about the change of the moone, the informant see the said Anne Forster come with a bridle, and bridled her and ridd upon her crosse-leggd, till they come to (the) rest of her companions at Rideing millne bridg-end, where they usually mett. And when she light of her back, pulld the bridle of this informer's head, now in the likenesse of a horse; but, when the bridle was taken of, she stood up in her own shape . . . And when they had done, bridled this informer, and the rest of the horses, and rid home . . . Upon Collupp Munday last, being the tenth of February, the said persons met at Allensford, where this
[1. Bourignon, Vie, p, 214; Hale, p. 31.
2. Horneck, pt. ii, pp. 316, 317, 318, 319, 321.
3. Kinloch, p. 129.]
informant was ridden upon by an inchanted bridle by Michael Aynsley and Margaret his wife. Which inchanted. bridle, when they tooke it from her head, she stood upp in her owne proper person . . . On Monday last at night, she, being in her father's house, see one Jane Baites, of Corbridge, come In the forme of a gray catt with a bridle hanging on her foote, and breath'd upon her and struck her dead, and bridled her, and rid upon her in the name of the devill southward, but the name of the place she does not now remember. And the said Jane allighted and pulld the bridle of her head.'
The method of locomotion which has most impressed the popular imagination and has become proverbial was riding on a stick, generally said to be a broomstick. It must, however, be remembered that one of the earliest cases on record of stick-riding does not definitely state that the witch flew through the air. This was the case of the Lady Alice Kyteler in 1324, when 'in rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a Pipe of oyntment, wherewith she greased a stafte, upon the which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin, when and in what maner she listed'. Though Holinshed is not always a reliable authority, it is worth while to compare this account with the stick-riding of the Arab witches and the tree-riding of the Aberdeen Covens (see pp. 110, 134).
The number of cases vouched for by the persons who actually performed or saw the feat of riding on a stick through the air are disappointingly few. Guillaume Edeline, prior of St. Germain-en-Laye (1453), 'se mit en telle servitude de l'ennemy, qu'il luy convenoit estre en certain lieu toutes fois qu'il estoit par ledit ennemy évocqué: ouquel lieu ilz avoient accoustumé faire leur consistoire, et ne luy falloit que monter sur ung balay, qu'aussi-tost il estoit prestement transporté là où ledit consistoire se faisoit'. The Guernsey witch, Martin Tulouff (1563), confessed 'q il soy est trouvé avecq la dite viellesse ou elle chevaucha ung genest et luy ung aultre, et q ladte viellesse monta a mont la chemynee et q il en perdyt la veue et q elle disoet deva[n]t q monter "Va au nom du diable et luciffer dessq[n] roches et espyñes" q por luy il ne pouvoet
[1. Surtees Society, xl, pp. 191-2, 194, 197 Denham Tracts, ii, pp. 299-301, 304, 307.
2. Holinshed, Ireland, p. 58.
3. Chartier, iii, p. 45; Lea, iii, p. 536.]
ainsy faire, et dt q sa mere a chevauche le genest p IV ou V foys et q il l'a veue monter a mont la cheminee'. Danaeus (IS 75) sums up the evidence of the witches themselves: 'He promiseth that himself will conuay them thither, that are so weak that they cannot trauaile of themselues: which many tymes he doth by meanes of a staffe or rod, which he deliuereth vnto the[m], or promiseth to doo it by force of a certen oyntment, which he will geue them: and sometimes he offreth them an horse to ride vpon.' Boguet's experience (1598) is more dramatic than that of Danaeus: 'Les autres y vont, tantost sur vn Bouc, tantost sur vn cheual, & tantost sur vn ballet, ou ramasse, sortans ces derniers de leurs maisons le plus souuent par la cheminee . . . Les vns encor se frottent auparauant de certaine graisse, & oignement: les autres ne se frottent en aucune façon." He also records the actual evidence of individual witches: Françoise Secretain said 'qu'elle avoit esté vne infinité de fois au Sabbat & assemblee des Sorciers . . . & qu'elle y alloit sur vn baston blanc, qu'elle mettoit entre ses iambes.--Claudine Boban, ieune fille confessa, qu'elle, & sa mere montoient sur vne ramasse, & que sortans le contremont de la cheminée elles alloient par l'air en ceste façon au Sabbat.' In Belgium Claire Goessen (1603) confessed 'qu'elle s'est trouvée à diverses assemblées nocturnes tenues par lui, dans lesquelles elle s'est laissée transporter au moyen d'un bâton enduit d'onguent'. Isobel] Gowdie (1662) was fully reported, as regards the methods of locomotion used by the witches, though in other places her evidence is unfortunately cut short:
'I haid a little horse, and wold say, "Horse and Hattock, in the Divellis name!" And than ve vold flie away, quhair ve vold, be ewin as strawes wold flie wpon an hie-way. We will flie lyk strawes quhan we pleas; wild-strawes and corne-strawes wilbe horses to ws, an ve put thaim betwixt our foot, and say, "Horse and Hattok, in the Divellis name! " . . . Quhan
[1. From a trial in the Greffe, Guernsey.
2. Danaeus, ch. iv.
3. Boguet, p. 104.
4. Id., pp. 9, 104.
5. A marginal note against the word ramasse gives 'autrement balait, & en Lyonnois coiue'.
6. Boguet, pp. 9, 97, 104.
7. Cannaert, p. 49.]
we wold ryd, we tak windle-strawes, or been-stakes [beanstalks] and put them betwixt owr foot, and say thryse,
Horse and Hattok, horse and goe,
Horse and pellattis, ho! ho!
and immediatlie we flie away whair euir we wold . . . All the Coeven did fflie lyk cattis, bot Barbara Ronald, in Brightmanney, and I, still [always] read on an horse, quhich ve vold mak of a straw or beein-stalk.'
Julian Cox (1664) said that 'one evening she walkt out about a Mile from her own House, and there came riding towards her three persons upon three Broom-staves, born up about a yard and an half from the ground. Two of them she formerly knew, which was a Witch and a Wizzard . . . The third person she knew not. He came in the shape of a black Man.' Two of the New England witches (1692) confessed to riding on a pole; Mary Osgood, wife of Capt. Osgood of Andover,' was carried through the air to five-mile pond . . . she was transported back again through the air, in company with the forenamed persons, in the same manner as she went, and believes they were carried upon a pole'. Goody Foster's evidence was reported by two authors: 'One Foster confessed that the Devil carry'd them on a pole, to a Witch-meeting; but the pole broke, and she hanging about [Martha] Carrier's neck, they both fell down, and she then received an hurt by the Fall, whereof she was not at this very time recovered." The second account is substantially the same: 'In particular Goody F. said (Inter alia) that she with two others (one of whom acknowledged the same) Rode from Andover to the same Village Witch meeting upon a stick above ground, and that in the way the stick brake, and gave the said F. a fall: whereupon, said she, I got a fall and hurt of which I am still sore.'
Site.--The Sabbath seems to have been originally held on a fixed site. So much so was this the case that de Lancre is
[1. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 604, 608, 613.
2. Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 194.
3. Howell, vi, 660; J. Hutchinson, Hist. of Massachusetts Bay, p. 31.
4. Cotton Mather, p. 158; Burr, p. 244. See also J. Hutchinson, ii, pp. 35-6.
5. Burr, p. 418.]
able to say, 'communement ils l'appellent Aquelarre, qui signifie Lane de Bouc, comme qui diroit la lane ou lãde, où le Bouc conuoque ses assemblees. Et de faict les Sorciers qui confessent, nomme[n]t le lieu pour la chose, & la chose ou Assemblee pour le lieu: tellement qu'encore que proprement Lane de Bouc, soit le Sabbat qui se tient és landes, si est-ce qu'ils appellent aussi bien Lane de Bouc, le Sabbat qui se tient és Eglises, & és places des villages, paroisses, maisons, & autres lieux.' The confusion of the original Lane de Bouc, i.e. the Sabbath or Great Assembly, with local meetings is thus shown to be due to the inaccuracy of the witches themselves; and therefore it is not surprising that de Lancre and other authors should also fail to distinguish between the two. Still, in many of the records there are certain indications by which it is possible to recognize the localities where the real Sabbath, the true Lane de Bouc, was held.
De Lancre himself notes that the Sabbath must be held near a lake, stream, or water of some kind. Bodin, however, gives a better clue, 'Les lieux des assemblees des Sorciers sont notables, & signalez de quelques arbres, ou croix.' The croix is clearly the Christian form of the standing stone which is a marked feature in many descriptions of the Sabbath; and Bodin's statement recalls one of the laws of Cnut in the eleventh century, 'We earnestly forbid every heathenism: heathenism is, that men worship idols; that is that they worship heathen gods, or stones, or forest trees of any kind.'
Estebène de Cambrue (1567) said, 'Le lieu de ceste grande conuocation s'appelle generalement par tout le pays la Lanne de Bouc. Où ils se mettent à dancer à l'entour d'vne pierre, qui est plantée audit lieu, sur laquelle est assis vn grand homme noir. At Poictiers in 1574 four witches, one woman and three men, said that they went 'trois fois l'an, à l'assemblee generale, où plusieurs Sorciers se trouuoye[n]t prés d'vne croix d'vn carrefour, qui seruoit d'enseigne'. At Aberdeen in 1596 the witches acknowledged that they danced round the market cross and the 'fische croce' on All-Hallow-eve; and also round
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 65.
2. Id. ib., p. 72.
3. Bodin, Fléau, p. 181.
4. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
5. Bodin, p. 187.]
'ane gray stane' at the foot of the hill at Craigleauch. Margaret Johnson (1633) said 'shee was not at the greate meetinge at Hoarestones at the Forest of Pendle upon All Saints day'. Though no stone is actually mentioned the name suggests that there had been, or still were, one or more stones standing in that place. The Swedish witches (1669) seem to have used the same site for both kinds of meetings; Blockula seems to have been a building of some kind, set in a meadow which was entered by a painted gate; within the building were rooms and some kind of chapel for the religious service. The New England recorders (1692) did not enter into much detail, but even among them the fact is mentioned that there was I a General Meeting of the Witches, in a Field at Salem-Village'.
In modern times the identification of stones or of certain places with the Devil or with witch meetings is very noticeable. Out of innumerable instances I will mention only a few. In Guernsey the Catioroc is always identified as the site of the Sabbath. In Belgium 'à Godarville (Hainaut) se trouve un tunnel hanté par les sorcières; elles y tiennent leur sabbat'.
'Un bloc de pierre isolé et d'aspect extraordinaire est généralement appelé pierre du diable. Exemples: A) le dolmen détruit près de Namur; B) la grande pierre en forme de table à demi encastrée dans la route qui conduit du village de Sény à celui d'Ellemelle (Candroz); C) le fais du diable, bloc de grès d'environ 800 mètres cubes, isolé dans la bruyère entre Wanne et Grand-Halleux près de Stavelot; D) les murs du diable à Pepinster, &c.--Dans plusieurs cantons, il y a un terrain que l'on appèle tchan dè makral "champ des sorciers". C'est le cas près de Remouchamps, près de Tongres, près de la Gileppe et près de Grand-Halleux.'
[1. Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 97-8, 114, 149, 153, 165, 167.
2. Whitaker, p. 216; Baines, i, p. 607 note, where the name is given as Hartford. The importance of the stone in the Sabbath ceremonies is very marked in the account of a meeting in Northumberland (1673). Ann Armstrong declared that 'she and the rest had drawne their compasse nigh to a bridg end, and the devil placed a stone in the middle of the compasse, they sett themselves downe, and bending towards the stone, repeated the Lord's prayer backwards'. Denham Tracts, ii, p. 307; Surtees Soc., xl, p. 197.
3. Horneck, pt. ii, pp. 321, 324.
4. Mather, p. 131.
5. Harou, La Tradition, vi (1892), p. 367.
6. Monseur, pp. 2, 88.]
It is also noticeable how many of our own stone circles, such as the Nine Maidens, the Dancing Maidens, and so on, are connected by tradition with women who danced there on the Sabbath.
Date.--It appears from the evidence that certain changes took place in course of time in the religion; and, as might be expected, this is shown very markedly in the festivals. The ancient festivals remained all through, and to them were added the festivals of the succeeding religions. The original celebrations belonged to the May-November year, a division of time which follows neither the solstices nor the agricultural seasons; I have shown below (pp. 130, 178) that there is reason to believe these festivals were connected with the breeding seasons of the flocks and herds.. The chief festivals were: in the spring, May Eve (April 30), called Roodmas or Rood Day in Britain and Walpurgis-Nacht in Germany; in the autumn, November Eve (October 31), called in Britain All hallow Eve. Between these two came: in the winter, Candlemas (February 2); and in the summer, the Gule of August (August 1), called Lammas in Britain. To these were added the festivals of the solstitial invaders, Beltane at midsummer and Yule at midwinter; the movable festival of Easter was also added, but the equinoxes were never observed in Britain. On the advent of Christianity the names of the festivals were changed, and the date of one--Roodmas--was slightly altered so as to fall on May 3; otherwise the dates were observed as before, but with ceremonies of the new religion. Therefore Boguet is justified in saying that the witches kept all the Christian festivals. But the Great Assemblies were always held on the four original days, and it is this fact which makes it possible to distinguish with certainty between the Sabbath and the Esbat whenever dates are mentioned.
De Lancre, generalizing from the evidence before him, says, 'Quelquefois il y a des Sabbats & assemblees generales qui se font ordinairement les quatre festes annuelles'; and he also gives the words of a witch, tried in 1567: 'Estebène de Cambrue dit que les Sorcieres n'alloient en la grande assemblee & au grand Sabbat que quatre fois l'année.' The four actual
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 64.
2. Id. ib., p. 123.]
days are given in only one trial, that of Issobell Smyth at Forfar in 1661, 'By these meitings shee mett with him every quarter at Candlemas, Rud-day, Lambemas, and Hallomas', but it is very clear that these were the regular days, from the mention of them individually in both England and Scotland. At North Berwick 'Barbara Napier was accused of being present at the convention on Lammas Eve at the New haven' [three Covens, i. e., thirty-nine persons, were assembled]. 'And the said Barbara was accused that she gave her bodily presence upon All Hallow even last was, 1590 years, to the frequent convention holden at the Kirk of North-Berwick, where she danced endlong the Kirk-yard, and Gelie Duncan played on a trump, John Fian, missellit, led the ring; Agnes Sampson and her daughters and all the rest following the said Barbara, to the number of seven score persons.' The dittays against the witches of Aberdeen in 1596 show that 'wpoun Hallowewin last bypast, att tuelff houris at ewin or thairby, thow the said Thomas Leyis . . . withe ane gryit number of vtheris witchis, come to the mercatt and fische croce of Aberdene, wnder the conduct and gyding of the Dewill present withe you, all in company, playing befoir yow on his kynd of instrumentis. Ye all dansit about baythe the saidis croces, and the meill mercatt, ane lang space of tyme.' Christen Michell and Bessie Thom had been not only at the Allhallow Eve meeting with Thomas Leyis but also at another before that. 'Thow confessis that, thrie yeris sensyn, vpon the Ruidday, airlie in the morning,' [Bessie Thom: 'befoir sone rysing'] 'thow, accumpaniet with . . . certan vtheris witchis, thy devilische adherentis, convenit vpon Sainct Katherines Hill . . . and thair, vnder the conduct of Sathan, present with yow, playing befoir yow, efter his forme, ye all dansit a devilische danse, rydand on treis, be a lang space.' In 1597 Issobell Richie, Margrat Og, Helene Rogie, Jonet Lucas, Jonet Dauidsone, Issobell Oige, and Beatrice Robbie were accused of a meeting at Craigleauche, near Aberdeen: 'Thow
[1. Kinloch, p. 133.
2 Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 245. Spelling modernized.
3. Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 97-8.
4. lb., i, Christen Michell, p. 165; Bessie Thom, p. 167.]
art indyttit for the being at the twa devylische dances betuixt Lumfannand and Cragleauche, with vmquhile Margerat Bane, vpon Alhalowewin last, quhair thow conferrit with the Dewill. In Ayrshire in 1604 Patrik Lowrie and his companion-witches were accused that they 'att Hallowevin in the yeir of God foirsaid, assemblit thame selffis vpon Lowdon-hill, quhair thair appeirit to thame ane devillische Spreit'. Margaret Johnson, of the second generation of Lancashire witches, in 1633 said 'shee was not at the greate meetinge at Hartford in the Forrest of Pendle on All Saintes day'. Isobel Gowdie (Auldearne, 1662) does not enter into her usual detail, but merely states that 'a Grand Meitting vold be about the end of ilk Quarter'.
Of the festivals belonging to later religions several mentions are made. De Lancre, when giving a general account of the ceremonies, says that the witches of the Basses-Pyrénées went to their assemblies at Easter and other solemn festivals, and that their chief night was that of St. John the Baptist. Jane Bosdeau, from the Puy-de-Dôme district (1594), bears this out, for she went to a meeting with the Devil 'at Midnight on the Eve of St. John'. Antide Colas (1598) 'auoit esté au Sabbat à vn chacun bon iour de I'an, comme à Noel, à Pasques, à la feste de Dieu '. Both generations of Lancashire witches (1613 and 1633) kept Good Friday. Jonet Watson of Dalkeith (1661) was at a meeting 'about the tyme of the last Baille-ffyre night'. The Crook of Devon witches (1662) met on St. Andrew's Day, at Yule. In Connecticut (1662) the 'high frolic' was to be held at Christmas.
Hour.--The actual hour at which the Sabbath was held is specified in very few cases; it appears to have been a
[1. Ib., i, Issobell Richie, p. 142; Margrat Og, p. 144; Helene Rogie, p. 147; Jonet Lucas, p. 149; Jonet Dauidsone, p. 150; Issobell Oige, p. 152; Beatrice Robbie, p. 153.
2. Pitcairn, ii, p. 478.
3. Baines, i, p. 607 note.
4. Pitcairn, iii, p. 606.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 398.
6. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 42.
7. Boguet, p. 125.
8. Chetham Society, vi, p. lxxiii; Whitaker, p. 216.
9. Pitcairn, iii, p. 601.
10. Burns Begg, pp. 219, 226, 237.
11. J. Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts Bay. ii, p. 17; Taylor, p.98.]
nocturnal assembly, beginning about midnight and lasting till early dawn or cockcrow. 'Le coq s'oyt par fois és sabbats sonnãt la retraicte aux Sorciers."
In the Vosges in 1408 the meeting was held 'en la minuit et la deuxieme heure'. In Lorraine in 1589 'Johannes a Villa und Agathina des Schneiders Francisci Weib, sagt, eine oder zwey Stunde vor Mitternacht were die bequemste Zeit darzu'. At North Berwick, in 1590, Agnes Sampson arrived at the appointed place 'about eleven hours at even'. The Aberdeen witches in 1,597 held their dance 'wpon Hallowewin last bypast, at tuelff houris at ewin or thairby' (or more particularly) 'betuixt tuelff & ane houris at nycht'. In 1598 the Lyons witch Françoise Secretain 'adioustoit qu'elle alloit tousiours au Sabbat enuiron la minuit, & beaucoup d'autres sorciers, que i'ay eu en main, ont dit le mesme'. Antide Colas, another Lyonnaise, went to the meeting on Christmas Eve between the midnight mass and the mass at dawn.'
The only daylight meeting which can be identified as a Sabbath occurred at Aberdeen, and may have been peculiar either to the locality or to the May-Day festival; or it may have been simply the continuation of the festival till the sun rose. Christen Mitchell and Bessie Thom were each accused that 'vpon the Ruidday, thrie yeris sensyn bygane, airlie in the morning, befoir sone rysing, thow convenit vpon Sanct Katherines Hill, accumpaniet with a numer of thy devilische factioun and band, the Devill your maister in cumpanie with yow'.
Business.--The Esbat differed from the Sabbath by being primarily, for business, whereas the Sabbath was purely religious. In both, feasting and dancing brought the proceedings to a close. The business carried on at the Esbat was usually the practice of magic for the benefit of a client or for the harming of an enemy. Sometimes the Devil appears to
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 154.
2. Bournon, p. 23.
3. Remigius, pt. i, p. 72.
4. Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 239.
5. Spalding Club i. pp. 97, 114, 165, 167.
6. Boguet, pp. 119, 125.
7. Spalding Club Misc., i, pp. 165, 167.]
have ordered his followers to perform some action by which to impress the imagination of those who believed in his power though they did not worship him. Very often also the Esbat was for sheer enjoyment only, without any ulterior object, as the following quotations show:
Estebène de Cambrue (1567), who is the authority for the name Esbat as applied to local meetings, says that 'les petites assemblées qui se font pres des villes ou parroisses, où il n'y va que ceux du lieu, ils les appellent les esbats: & se font ores en vn lieu de ladicte paroisse, ores en vn autre, où on ne faict que sauter & folastrer, le Diable ny estant auec tout son grand arroy comme aux grandes assemblees'. Alesoun Peirsoun (1588) was taken by a party of men and women, under the leadership of a man in green, 'fordir nor scho could tell; and saw with thame pypeing and mirrynes and gude scheir, and wes careit to Lowtheane, and saw wyne punchounis with tassis with them '. Jonet Barker (1643) said that 'scho and ye said Margaret Lauder being wthin ye said Jonet Cranstones house tua pyntis of beir war drukkin be thame thre togidder in ye said house at quhilk ye devill appeirit to thame in ye liknes of ane tryme gentill man and drank wt thame all thre and that he Imbracet the said margaret lauder in his armes at ye drinking of ye beir and put his arme about hir waist'. Isobel Bairdie (1649) was accused of meeting the Devil and drinking with him, 'the devil drank to her, and she pledging him, drank back again to him, and he pledged her, saying, Grammercie, you are very welcome. Janet Brown (1649) 'was charged with having held a meeting with the Devil appearing as a man, at the back of Broomhills, who was at a wanton Play with Isobel Gairdner the elder, and Janet Thomson'. In Forfar Helen Guthrie (1661) confessed that she went to several meetings; at one in the churchyard 'they daunced togither, and the ground under them wes all fyre flauchter, and Andrew Watson hade his vsuale staff in his hand, altho he be a blind man yet he daunced alse nimblie as any of the companye, and made also
[1. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 123.
2 Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p.163.
3. From the record in the Justiciary Court of Edinburgh.
4. Arnot, p. 358.
5. Id., p. 358.]
great miriement by singing his old ballads, and that Isobell Shyrrie did sing her song called Tinkletum Tankletum; and that the divill kist every one of the women'. At another meeting 'they all daunced togither a whyle, and then went to Mary Rynd's house and sat doune together at the table . . . and made them selfes mirrie; and the divell made much of them all, but especiallie of Mary Rynd, and he kist them all'. Elspet Bruce of the same Coven, 'by turning the sive and sheires, reased the divell, who being werry hard to be laid againe, ther wes a meiting of witches for laying of him . . . and at this meiting they had pipe-music and dauncing'. Isobell Gowdie (1662) gives an account of one of these joyous assemblies: 'We killed an ox, in Burgie, abowt the dawing of the day, and we browght the ox with ws hom to Aulderne, and did eat all amongst ws, in an hows in Aulderne, and feasted on it.' Marie Lamont (1662) also enjoyed her meetings; the first at which she was present was held in Kettie Scott's house, where the devil 'sung to them, and they dancit; he gave them wyn to drink, and wheat bread to eat, and they warr all very mirrie. She confesses, at that meiting the said Kettie Scott made her first acquaintance with the devill, and caused her to drink to him, and shak hands with him.--Shee was with Katie Scot and others at a meitting at Kempoch, wher they danced, and the devil kissed them when they went away.' Annaple Thomson and the other witches of Borrowstowness (1679)--
'wis at several mettings with the devill in the linkes of Borrowstonenes, and in the howsse of you Bessie Vickar, and ye did eatt and drink with the devill, and with on another, and with witches in hir howss in the night tyme; and the devill and the said Wm Craw browght the ale which ye drank, extending to about sevin gallons, from the howss of Elizabeth Hamilton; and yow the said Annaple had ane other metting abowt fyve wekes ago, when yow wis goeing to the coalhill of Grange, and he inveitted you to go alongst, and drink with him . . . And yow the said Margret Hamilton has bein the devill's servant these eight or nyne yeeres bygane; and he appered and conversed with yow at the town-well at Borrowstownes, and several tymes in yowr awin howss, and drank severall. choppens of ale with you."
[1. Kinloch, pp. 120, 121.
2. Id., p. 122.
3. Pitcairn, iii, p. 613.
4. Sharpe, pp. 131, 134.
5. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 200.]
The magical ceremonies performed by the witches with, the help of the Devil were usually for the destruction of, or for doing harm to, an enemy. Sometimes, however, the spells were originally for the promotion of fertility, but were misunderstood by the recorders and probably by the witches themselves. Alexia Violaea (1589) said that 'nachdem sie were mit ihren Gespielen umb und umb gelauffen eine ziemliche gut Weile, habe sie pflegen in die Höhe über sich zu werffen ein reines subtiles Pulverlein, welches ihr der Teuffel darzu gegeben habe, darvon Raupen, Käffern, Heuschrecken, und dergleichen andere Beschädigung mehr, so Hauffenweise wüchsen, dass die Acker darmit in einem Augenblick überall beschmeist würden'. Isobel Gowdie's magical charm (1662) to come under this category:
We went be-east Kinlosse, and ther we yoaked an plewghe of paddokis. The Devill held the plewgh, and Johne Yownge in Mebestowne, our Officer, did drywe the plewghe. Paddokis did draw the plewgh, as oxen; qwickens wer sowmes, a riglen's horne wes a cowter, and an piece of an riglen's horne wes an sok. We went two seuerall tymes abowt; and all we of the Coven went still wp and downe with the plewghe, prayeing to the Divell for the fruit of that land.'
The greater number of meetings were occupied with business of a magical character with the intention of harming certain specified persons; though any other kind of business was also transacted. The North Berwick witches opened the graves which the Devil indicated in order to obtain the means of making charms with dead men's bones; on another occasion they attempted to wreck a ship by magic. The Lang Niddry witches (1608) went to the house of Beigis Tod, where they drank, and there christened a cat. The Lancashire witches (1613) met at Malking Tower for two purposes; the first was to give a name to the familiar of Alison Device, which could not be done as she was not present, being then in prison; the second was to arrange a scheme or plot for the release of Mother Demdike, the principal witch of the community, then a prisoner in Lancaster Castle; the plot involved
[1. Remigius, pt. i, p. 91.
2. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603; see below, p. 171.
3. Id. pt. ii, pp. 210-11, 217, 239.
4. Id., ii, pp. 542-3.]
the killing of the gaoler and governor, and the blowing up of the castle. In 1630 Alexander Hamilton was tried in Edinburgh,
'the said Alexr Hamiltoun haifing concaivet ane deidlie haitrent agains umqle Elizabeth Lausone Lady Ormestoun younger becaus the said Alexr being at her zet asking for almous she choisit him therfra saying to him "away custroun carle ye will get nothing heir". The said Alexr therupon in revenge therof accompaneit wt tua wemen mentionet in his depostiones come to Saltoun woid quhair he raisit the devill and quha appeirit to him and his associattis in the likenes of ane man cled in gray and the said Alexr and his associattis haifing schawin to him the caus of thair coming desyring him to schaw to thame be quhat meanes thay micht be revendget upon the said Lady."
Margaret Johnson (1633) deposed that 'She was not at the great witch-meeting on All Saints' Day, but was at a smaller meeting the Sunday after, 'where there was, at yt tyme, between 30 and 40 witches, who did all ride to the said meetinge, and the end of theire said meeting was to consult for the killinge and hurtinge of men and beasts.' The Forfar witches (1661) claimed to have wrecked a ship. Isobel Gowdie (1662) is as usual very dramatic in her account; on one occasion the witches met to make a charm against the minister of Auldearne, Mr. Harie Forbes: 'Satan wes with ws and learned ws the wordis to say thryse ower. Quhan we haid learned all thes wordis from the Divell, we fell all down wpon owr kneis, with owr hear down ower owr showlderis and eyes, and owr handis lifted wp, and owr eyes stedfastlie fixed wpon the Divell; and said the forsaidis wordis thryse ower to the Divell, striktlie, against Maister Harie Forbes his recowering from the said seiknes.' When making an image only a few of the witches were present with the Devil. Marie Lamont (1662) claimed that her Coven raised storms on two occasions; and on a third, they in the likeness of 'kats', and the Devil as a man with cloven feet, made a charm with 'wyt
[1. Potts, C3, G3, 12, 13.
2. From the trial of 'Alexr Hamiltoun, warlok', in the Justiciary Court, Edinburgh.
3. Whitaker, p. 216.
4. Kinloch, p. 122.
5. Pitcairn, iii, pp. 609, 613.]
sand' against Blackhall younger and Mr. John Hamilton. Amongst the most detailed accounts of the wax or clay images, and of the ritual for killing the person whom the image represented, are those of the Somerset witches (1664). The baptism of the figure is an interesting point. The Paisley witches (1678) had a meeting to make a clay figure in order to kill an enemy of the witch in whose house the meeting was held. At Borrowstowness part of the accusation was that ( ye and ilk ane of vow was at ane metting with the devill and other witches at the croce of Murestane, upon the threttein of October last, where you all danced and the devill acted the pyiper, and where yow indewored to have destroyed Andrew Mitchell'. In New England the witches accused George Burroughs 'that he brought Poppets to them, and Thorns to stick into those Poppets'.
At the Esbats it is also evident that the Devil wished to maintain an appearance of miraculous power not only before the world at large, but in the eyes of the witches as well. This will account for the meetings on the sea-shore in raging storms when vessels were liable to be wrecked, and there are also many indications that the destruction of an enemy was effected by means more certain than the making and pricking of a wax or clay figure, means which were used after the figure had been made. Some of the methods of maintaining this prestige are of the simplest, others are noted without any explanation: 'Satan faict en ce lieu [le Sabbat] tant de choses estrãges & nouuelles que leur simplicité & abus prend cela pour quelques miracles.' At Forfar (1661) the means of obtaining the result are apparent; during a great storm the Devil and the witches destroyed the bridge of Cortaquhie, and the destruction was so arranged as to appear to have been effected by magical power; but Helen Guthrie confessed that 'they went to the bridge of Cortaquhie with intentione to pull it doune, and that for this end shee her selfe, Jonnet Stout, and others of them, did thrust ther shoulderis againest the bridge, and that the divelt wes bussie among them acting
[1. Sharpe, pp. 132-4.
2. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 137-8, 164.
3. Id., pt. ii, p. 294.
4. Scots Magazine, 1814, p. 201.
5. Mather, p. 125.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 135.]
his pairt'. Issobell Smyth, who also assisted on the occasion, said, 'Wee all rewed that meitting, for wee hurt our selves lifting.' Still more simple was the method of destroying the harvest of a field at Crook of Devon, where Bessie Henderson 'confessed and declared that Janet Paton was with you at ane meeting when they trampit down Thos. White's rie in the beginning of harvest, 1661, and that she had broad soales and trampit down more nor any of the rest'. The Devil of Mohra in Sweden cared only to impress his followers; when the wall which they were building fell down 'some of the Witches are commonly hurt, which makes him laugh, but presently he cures them again'.
Site.--In some places the Esbat was held at a fixed site, in others the site varied from week to week. In both cases, the locality was always in the near neighbourhood of the village whose inhabitants attended the meeting.
'Pour le lieu ordinaire c'est és carrefours, com[m]e disoit Isaac de Queyran, qui deposoit y auoir esté au carrefour du Palays Galienne, près la ville de Bourdeaux; ou aux places des paroisses au deuant des Eglises, & le plus souuent au droict de la grand' porte, si l'Eglise est plantée au milieu de la place comme elle est souuent, afin que le Diable plante sa chaire tout vis à vis du grand autel où on met le Sainct sacrement: comme il est en la place d'Ascain, où tous les tesmoins du lieu, nous ont dict que le Sabbat se faisoit. Il a aussi accoustumé les tenir en quelque lieu desert, & sauuage, comme au milieu d'vne lande; & encore en lieu du tout hors de passage, de voisinage, d'habitation, & de rencontre: Et communement ils s'appellent Aquelarre qui signifie Lane de Bouc, comme qui diroit la lane ou lãde, où le Bouc conuoque ses assemblées.'
Danaeus emphasizes the variation of both site and date: 'They meete togither in certen apointed places, not al of them togither, nor at once, but certen of them whom he pleaseth to call, so that he apointeth where they shall meete, and at what houre of the day, or of the nighte.' The Windsor
[1. Kinloch, pp. 122, 133.
2. Burns Begg, p. 224.
3. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 323.
4. The full name is Aquelarre de verros, prado del Cabron.
5. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 64-5.
5. Danaeus, ch. iv.]
witches, however, 'did accustome to meete within the backeside of Maister Dodges in the Pittes there'. Boguet's evidence also points to there being a settled site for the Esbat in each village:
'Les Sorciers du costé de Longchamois s'assembloient en vn pré, qui est sur le grand chemin tirant à S. Claude, où l'on voit les ruines d'vne maison. Ceux du costé de Coirieres tenoient leur Sabbat, sous le village de Coirieres proche l'eau, en vn lieu appellé és Combes, qui est du tout sans chemin. [Autres] se retrouuoient en vn lieu dict és Fontenelles, sous le village de Nezan, qui est vn lieu assez descouuert . . . le Sabbat des Sorciers de la Moüille se tenoit en la Cour du Prioré du mesme lieu.'
Jane Bosdeau (1594) went twice a week regularly to 'a Rendezvous of above Sixty Witches at Puy de dome'. And the Swedish witches went so uniformly to one place that there was a special building for their rites:
'They unanimously confessed that Blockula is scituated in a delicate large Meadow whereof you can see no end. The place or house they met at, had before it a Gate painted with divers colours; through this Gate they went into a little Meadow distinct from the other . . . in a huge large Room of this House, they said, there stood a very long Table, at which the Witches did sit down: And that hard by this Room was another Chamber where there were very lovely and delicate Beds.'
On the whole the weight of evidence in England and Scotland is in favour of Danaeus's statement that there was no fixed site, though this should be taken as referring to the local meetings only, not to the Great Assemblies. The Forfar witch-trials give much information: Helen Guthrie
'wes at a meitting in the church yeard of Forfar in the Holfe therof . . . Betwixt the oatseid and the bearseid [barleysowing], she wes at ane other meitting at the Pavilione hollis . . . This same year, betwixt the oatseid and bearseid, she was at a thrid meiting in the church yeard of Forfar in the holfe thereof, about the same tyme of the night as at the [former] meitings, viz. at midnight.-About the beginning of the last oat seid
[1. Rehearsall, p. 7.
2 Boguet, pp. 126-7.
3. F. Hutchinson, Historical Essay, p. 43.
4. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 321.]
tyme, Isabell Syrie did cary hir [Jonet Howat] to the Insch within the loch of Forfar, shoe saw at this tyme, about threteen witches with the divill, and they daunced togither . . . About four wiekes after the forsaid meiting in the Insch, the said Isabell Syrie caried hir to ane other meiting at Muryknowes. About three and a halfe yeares since, she [Elspet Alexander] was at a meiting with the divill at Peterden, midway betwixt Forfar and Dondie . . . About four wiekes after this mieting at Petterden, shoe was at ane second mieting at the Muryknowes . . . shoe was present at ane thrid mieting near Kerymure.'
Isobel Gowdie's evidence is detailed as usual: 'The last tyme that owr Coven met, we, and an vther Coven, wer dauncing at the Hill of Earlseat; and befor that, betwixt Moynes and Bowgholl; and befor that we ves beyond the Meikleburne; and the vther Coven being at the Downie-hillis we went from beyond the Meikle-burne, and went besyd them, to the howssis at the Wood-end of Inshoch . . . Befor Candlemas, we went be-east Kinlosse.' The same facts were elicited from the Kinross-shire witches; Robert Wilson 'confessed ye had ane meeting with the Devill at the Stanriegate, bewest the Cruick of Devon . . . the Devil appointed them to meet at the Bents of Balruddrie'.--Margaret Huggon confessed 'that ye was at another meeting with Sathan at the Stanriegate, bewest the Cruik of Devon . . . lykeways ye confessed 'ye was at another meeting with Satan at the Heathrie Knowe be-east the Cruik of Devon, where the Gallows stands a meeting at the back of Knocktinnie at the Gaitside . . . and another at the bents of Newbiggin'.--Janet Brugh 'confessed that ye was at ane meeting at Stanriegate . . . ye confessed that about Yule last bypast ye was at ane meeting with Sathan at Turfhills . . . lykeways ye confessed that ye was at the Bents of Balruddrie and Gibson's Craig, where Sathan was present at them both'.--Christian Grieve 'freely confessed that ye was at ane meeting with Sathan at the back of Andrew Dowie his house". The Somerset witches (1664) varied in this respect. Those of Wincanton met in different places: Elizabeth Style 'hath been at several general meetings in the night at High Common, and a Common near Motcombe, at a place near Marnhull, and at
[1. Kinloch, pp. 120 seq.
2. Pitcairn, iii, p. 603.
3. Burns Begg, pp. 226 seq.]
other places'.--Alice Duke 'hath been at several meetings in Lie Common, and other places in the night'. But the Brewham Coven appear to have met commonly at Hussey's Knap in Brewham. Forest.
Occasionally a reason is given for the change of site. 'Parfois vn Sabbat finy à vn coin de paroisse, on s'en va le tenir à vne autre, où le Diable mene les mesmes personnes: mais là, on y en rencontre d'autres.' Sometimes also a sidelight is thrown upon these gatherings, which explains the fact that in many cases the witches said that they did not know all the people present at a given meeting:
'Antoine Tornier, Et Iaquema Paget ont confessé, que comme elles retournoient à certain iour par ensemble de glanner, passans au long du pré de Longchamois, elles apperçeurent que l'on y tenoit le Sabbat; Surquoy elles poserent bas leurs fardeaux, & allerent au lieu predict, où elles firent comme les autres, & puis se retirerent chacune en leurs maisons, apres auoir reprins leurs fardeaux.'
The Salem Witches (1692) met 'upon a plain grassy place, by which was a Cart path and sandy ground in the path, in which were the tracks of Horses feet'.4
Date and Hour.--There was no fixed day or hour for the Esbat, and in this it differed from the Sabbath, which was always at night. The Devil let his followers know the time, either by going to them himself or by sending a message by the officer. The message might be by word of mouth, or by some signal understood by the initiated.
Though there was no fixed day for the Esbat, it seems probable that one day in the week was observed in each locality.
Danaeus, in his general survey of the cult in 1575, says: 'He apointeth where they shall meete, and at what houre of the day, or of the night: wherein they haue no surenes, nor certentie. For these meetinges are not weekely, nor monthly, nor yeerely, but when and how often it shall seeme good to this their maister. And many times himself warneth them to
[1. Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 140, 148, 156, 161.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, p. 64.
3. Boguet, p. 102.
4. Burr, p. 418.]
meete, sometimes hee apoynteth others to warne them in his staede. But when he doth it himself, he appeareth. vnto them in likenesse of a man.' De Lancre says that in the Basses-Pyrénées 'le lieu où on le trouue ordinairement s'appelle Lanne de bouc, & en Basque Aquelarre de verros, prado del Cabron, & là les Sorciers le vont adorer trois nuicts durant, celle du Lundy, du Mercredy, & du Vendredy.--Les iours ordinaires de la conuocation du Sabbat, ou pour mieux dire les nuicts, sont celles du Mercredy venant au Ieudy, & du Vendredy venant au Samedy.--Catherine de Naguille de la paroisse d'Vstarits, aagee de onze ans, & sa compagne, nous ont asseuré qu'elles auoie[n]t esté au Sabbat en plein midy." Jane Bosdeau (1594) 'every Wednesday and Friday met a Rendezvous of aboue Sixty Witches at Puy de dome'. Boguet says that the day of the Sabbath was variable, usually Thursday night; while, according to Bodin, the most frequent was 'entre la nuict du Lundi & Mardi'. Boguet also goes on to say, 'Le Sabbat ne se tient pas tousiours de nuict, ains que les Sorciers y vont aussi quelquefois de iour, selon que firent Antoine Tornier, & Iaquema Paget, & plusieurs autres de leur secte le confessent.' The Lorraine witches also had the same custom:
'Alle zugleich, so viel ihrer bisher in Lotharingen peinlich sind verhöret worden, bekandten, dass solche Versammlung in keiner andern Nacht, als welche zu nechst vor dem Donnerstag oder Sambstag hergehet, gehalten werden.--Johannes a Villa und Agathina des Schneiders Francisci weib, sagt, eine oder zwey Stunde vor Mitternacht, were die bequemste Zeit darzu, und zwar nicht allein zu diesen Gespensten, sondern auch sonsten zu allerhand Gespensten, Bollergeisten, Irrgeisten, &c. Aber die Stunde nach Mitternacht diene nicht darzu.'
The English and Scotch evidence is to the same effect. The witches 'are likewise reported to have each of them a Spirit or Imp attending on, or assigned to them. . . . These give the Witches notice to be ready on all Solemn appointments, and meetings, which are ordinarily on Tuesday or Wednesday night'. Janet Breadheid of the Auldearne Coven emphasizes
[1. Danaeus, ch, iv.
2. De Lancre, Tableau, pp. 62, 398.
3. F. Hutchinson, p, 43.
4. Boguet, p. 124.
5. Bodin, Fléau, p. 182.
6. Boguet, p. 123.
7. Remigius, pp. 71, 72.
8. Pleasant Treatise, p. 4.]
the irregularity of the dates: 'Efter that, we vold still meit euerie ten, twelve, or twantie dayes continwally.' Marie Lamont merely notes that the meetings were at night: 'The devil came to Kattrein Scott's house in the midst of the night. . . . When she had been at a mietting sine Zowle last, with other witches, in the night, the devill convoyed her home in the dawing.' The Somerset witches had no special night: 'At every meeting before the Spirit vanisheth away, he appoints the next meeting place and time,' and Mary Green went to a meeting 'on Thursday Night before Whitsunday last'. At Paisley the meeting was on Thursday, the 4th of January, 1678, in the night, in John Stuart's house. The Swedish witches were much harder worked: 'whereas formerly one journey a week would serve his turn, from their own Town to the place aforesaid, now they were forced to run to other Towns and places for Children, and that some of them did bring with them some fifteen, some sixteen Children every night.'
The more modern examples suggest that the date became more fixed: 'On croit que c'est toujours un vendredi soir que les sorciers et sorcières se réunissent.' 'Sorciers et sorcières vont au sabbat le vendredi, à travers les airs.'
[1. Pitcairn, iii, p. 617.
2. Sharpe, pp. 131, 133.
3. Glanvil, pt, ii, p. 139.
4. Id., pt. ii, p. 164.
5. Id., pt. ii, pp. 293, 297.
6. Horneck, pt. ii, p. 318.
7. Monseur, p. 87.
8. Lemoine, La Tradition, 1897, vi, p. 106.]