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The Philosophy of Natural Magic, by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, L. W. de Laurence ed. [1913], at


Of the Wonderful Virtues of Some Kinds of Sorceries.

Now I will shew you what some of the Sorceries are, that by the example of these there may be a way opened for the consideration of the whole subject of them. Of these, therefore, the first is the catamenia, which, how much power it hath in sorcery, we will now consider; for, as they say, if it comes over new wine it makes it sour, and if it doth but touch

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the vine, it spoils it forever; and, by its very touch, it makes all plants and trees barren, and they that be newly set to die; it burns up all the herbs in the garden and makes fruit fall off from the trees; it darkens the brightness of a looking-glass, dulls the edges of knives and razors, and dims the beauty of ivory. It makes iron presently rusty; it makes brass rust and smell very strong; it makes dogs mad if they do but taste of it, and if they, being thus mad, shall bite any one, that wound is incurable. It kills whole hives of bees, and drives them from the hives that are but touched with it. It makes linen black that is boiled with it; it makes mares cast their foal if they do but touch it, and makes asses barren as long as they eat of the corn that hath been touched with it. The ashes of catamenious clothes, if they be cast upon purple garments that are to be washed, change the color of them, and takes away colors from flowers. They say that it drives away tertian and quartan agues if it be put into the wool of a black ram, and tied up in a silver bracelet; as, also, if the soles of the patient's feet be anointed therewith, and especially if it be done by the woman herself, the patient not knowing of it. Moreover, it cures the fits of the falling sickness; but most especially it cures them that are afraid of water, or drink after they are bitten with a mad dog, if only a catamenious cloth be put under the cup. Besides, they report, that if catamenious persons shall walk, being nude, about the standing corn, they make all cankers, worms, beetles, flies, and all hurtful things, to fall off from the corn; but they must take heed that they do it before sun-rising, or else they will make the corn to wither. Also, they say, they are able to expel hail, tempests, and lightnings, more of which Pliny makes mention of. Know this, that they are a greater poison if they happen in the decrease of the Moon, and yet much greater if

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they happen betwixt the decrease and change of the Moon; but if they happen in the eclipse of the Moon or the Sun, they are an incurable poison. But they are of the greatest force of all when they happen in the first early years, even in the years of virginity, for if they do but touch the posts of the house there can no mischief take effect in it. Also, they say, that the threads of any garment touched therewith cannot be burnt, and if they be cast into the fire it will spread no further. Also, it is said, that the root of peony, being given with castor oil smeared over, using the catamenious cloth, cureth the falling sickness. Moreover, if the stomach of a hart be burnt or roasted, and to it be put a perfuming made with a catamenious cloth, it will make cross-bows useless for the killing of any game. The hairs of a catamenious person, put under compost, breed serpents; and, if they be burnt, will drive away serpents with their smell. So great a poisonous force is in them that they are poison to poisonous creatures.

There is, also, hippomanes, which amongst sorceries is not the least taken notice of, and it is a little venemous piece of flesh as big as a fig, and black, which is in the forehead of a colt newly foaled, which unless the mare herself presently eat, she will never after love her foal or let it suckle. And for this cause, they say, there is a most wonderful power in it to procure love, if it be powdered and drank in a cup with the blood of him that is in love. There is another sorcery of the same name, hippo-manes, a venemous humor of the mare in her mating season, of which Virgil makes mention when he sings:

Hence comes that poison which the Shepherds call
Hippomanes, and from the Mares doth fall,
The woeful bane which cruel stepdames use,
And with a charme ’mongst pow’rful drugs infuse.

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Of this doth Juvenal, the satirist, make mention:

Hippomanes, poysons that boyled are, and charmes
Are given to Sons in law, with such like harmes.

Apollonius, also, in his Argonautica, makes mention of the herb of Prometheus, which he saith groweth from corrupt blood dropping upon the earth, whilst the vulture was gnawing upon the liver of Prometheus upon the hill Caucasus. The flower of this herb, he saith, is like saffron, having a double stalk hanging out, one further than the other the length of a cubit; the root under the earth, as flesh newly cut, sends forth a blackish juice as it were of a beech, with which, saith he, if any one shall, after he hath performed his devotion to Proserpina, smear over his body, he cannot be hurt either with sword or fire. Also Saxo Gramaticus writes, that there was a certain man, called Froton, who had a garment which, when he had put on, was such he could not be hurt with the point or edge of any weapon. The civet cat also abounds with sorceries, for, as Pliny reports, the posts of a door being touched with her blood, the arts of jugglers and sorcerers are so invalid that the gods cannot be called up, and will by no means be persuaded to talk with them. Also, that they are anointed with the ashes of the ankle-bone of her left foot, being decocted with the blood of a weasel, shall become odious to all. The same, also, is done with the eye, being, decocted. Also, it is said, that the straight-gut is administered against the injustice and corruption of princes and great men in power, and for success of petitions, and to conduce to the ending of suits and controversies, if any one hath never so little of it about him; and that if it be bound unto the left arm, it is such a perfect charm that if any man do but look upon a woman, it will make her follow him presently; and that the skin of the civet cat's

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forehead doth withstand bewitchings. They say, also, that the blood of a basilisk, which they call the blood of Saturn, hath such great force in sorcery that it procures for him that carries it about him good success of his petitions from great men in power, and of his prayers from God, and also remedies of diseases, and grant of any privilege. They say, also, that a tyke, if it be pulled out of the left ear of a dog, and if be it is altogether black, hath great virtue in the prognosticating of life, for if the sick party shall answer him that brought it in, and who, standing at his feet, shall ask of him concerning his disease, there is certain hope of life; and that he shall die if he make no answer.

They say, also, that a stone that is bit with a mad dog hath power to cause discord, if it be put in drink, and that lie shall not be barked at by dogs that puts the tongue of a dog in his shoe under his great toe, especially if the herb of the same name, viz., hound's-tongue, be joined with it. And that a membrane of the secondines of a dog doth the same; and that dogs will shun him that hath a dog's heart. And Pliny reports that there is a red toad that lives in briers and brambles, and is full of sorceries and doth wonderful things, for the little bone which is in his left side, being cast into cold water, makes it presently very hot; by which also the rage of dogs is restrained, and their love is procured if it be put in their drink; and, if it be bound to any one, it stirreth up desire. On the contrary, the little bone which is on the right side makes hot water cold, and that it can never be hot again unless that be taken out; also it is said to cure quartans if it be bound to the sick in a snake's skin, as also all other fevers, and to restrain love and desire. And that the spleen and heart is an effectual remedy against the poisons of the said toad. Thus much Pliny writes. Also, it is said, that the sword with which

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a man is slain hath wonderful power in sorceries. For if the snaffle of the bridle, or spurs, be made of it, they say that with these any horse, though never so wild, may be tamed and gentled; and that if a horse should be shod with shoes made of it, he would be most swift and fleet, and never, though never so hard rode, tire. But yet they will that some certain characters and names should be written upon it. They say, also, if any man shall dip a sword, wherewith men were beheaded, in wine, and the sick drink thereof, he shall be cured of his quartan. They say, also, that a cup of liquor being made with the brains of a bear, and drank out of the skull, shall make him that drinks it be as fierce and as raging as a bear, and think himself to be changed into a bear, and judge all things he sees to be bears, and so to continue in that madness until the force of that draught shall be dissolved, no other distemper being all this while perceived in him.

Next: Chapter XLIII. Of Perfumes or Suffumigations; Their Manner and Power