Human Animals Part 14

At last he crept to the water on hands and knees, holding the familiar under the water for a good space. But as soon as he let go it sprang out of the water up into the air and so vanished.

He went and asked Anne West why she had set her imps on him to molest and trouble him, but she said "they were sent out as scouts upon another design."[74]

Joan Cariden, widow, examined September 25, 1645, said, that about three-quarters of a year ago, as she was in bed about twelve or one of the clock in the night there lay a rugged soft thing on her bosom which was very soft, and she thrust it off with her hand; and she said that when she had thrust it away she thought God forsook her, for she could never pray so well as she could before, and further she said that she verily thought it was alive. Examined further, she said the Devil came to her in the shape of a black rugged dog in the night-time and crept into bed with her and spoke to her in mumbling language. The next night he came again and required her to deny God and lean on him.

Jane Hott, widow and associate of the above, also examined on September 25, 1645, confessed that a thing like a hedgehog had usually visited her, and when it lay on her breast she struck it off with her hand, and that it was as soft as a cat.

In 1664 one Elizabeth Style, a widow, of Bayford, was examined at Stoke Trister, Somerset, before Robert Hunt, for witchcraft.

One of the witnesses, Nicholas Lambert, examined on January 26 of that year, deposed to having watched the prisoner in company with William Thick and William Read of Bayford. The informant sat near the prisoner by the fire at three o'clock in the morning and was reading "The Practice of Piety," when he noticed "there came from her head a glistening bright fly about an inch in length, which pitched at first in the chimney and then vanished. In less than a quarter of an hour after, there appeared two flies more, of a less size and another colour, which seemed to strike at the informant's hand in which he held his book, but missed it. He looked steadfastly at the prisoner and perceived her countenance to change and to become very black and ghastly, the fire also at the same time changing its colour; whereupon the informants, Thick and Read, conceiving that her familiar was then about her, looked at her poll, and seeing her hair shake very strangely, took it up, and then a fly like a great Millar flew out from the place and pitched on the table board and then vanished away."

When asked what it was that flew out of her poll the accused said it was a butterfly, and asked them why they had not caught it. She confessed that it was her familiar and that was the usual time when her familiar came to her.[75]

One Alice Duke, _alias_ Manning, of Wincanton, in Somerset, who was tried in 1664 for witchcraft, confessed that her familiar visited her "in the shape of a little cat of a dunnish colour, which is as smooth as a want," and that "her familiar doth commonly suck her right breast about seven at night," when she fell into a kind of trance.

Margaret and Phillip Flower, daughters of Joan Flower, were tried for witchcraft near Belvoir Castle and executed at Lincoln on March 11, 1618, on the most extraordinary charges.[76]

Phillip Flower, examined on the 4th of February previously, said that her mother and sister "maliced" the Earl of Rutland, his Countess and their children, because her sister Margaret was put out of the ladies'

service of laundry. Phillip thereupon brought from the Castle the right glove of the Henry Lord Ross and gave it to her mother, "who presently rubbed it on the back of her spirit Rutterkin, and then put it into hot boiling water, afterwards she pricked it often and buried it in the yard, wishing Lord Ross might never thrive, and so her sister Margaret continued with her mother, where she often saw the cat Rutterkin leap on her shoulder and suck her neck."

Margaret corroborated the story, and added that after the sorcery Lord Ross fell sick within a week. She also said that her mother and she and her sister agreed to bewitch the Earl and Countess so that they might have no more children, being angry with the Countess for telling her she was no longer to live at the Castle, and who, giving her forty shillings, a bolster and a mattress, bade her sleep at home.

Then she took wool from the mattress and a pair of gloves given her by one of the Castle servants and put them into warm water, mingling them with some blood and stirring it together. Then she took the wool and gloves out of the water and rubbed them on the body of Rutterkin, the cat, saying the Lord and Lady should have no more children or it should be long first.

She further confessed that her mother told her to bring a piece of Lady Katherine's--the earl's daughter's--kerchief, and her mother put it in hot water and taking it out rubbed it on Rutterkin, "bidding him fly and go." Whereupon Rutterkin whined and cried "mew," and she said Rutterkin had no power to hurt Lady Katherine.

Examined on the 25th of February, before Francis Earl of Rutland, Francis Lord Willoughby of Eresby, Sir George Manners, and Sir William Pelham, Phillip Flower confessed to having a familiar spirit in the form of a white rat, and gave her soul to it, and it promised to do her good and cause one Thomas Simpson to love her.

The mother of these girls, Margaret Flower, being examined at the same time and place, confessed to two familiar spirits, one white and the other spotted black.

She further said she had been visited in Lincoln gaol by four devils, between eleven o'clock and midnight, about the 30th January. One stood at the foot of her bed, with a black head like an ape, and spoke to her, though she could not understand his meaning. The other three were the cat Rutterkin, Little Robin, and Spirit. She confirmed what her daughters had said about Lord Ross, and said that after she rubbed the glove on the spirit Rutterkin she threw it into the fire and burnt it.

One of the witnesses, Anne Baker of Rothsford, who was concerned in the case of the death of Lord Ross, son of the Earl of Rutland, when examined on March 1st, 1618, by the Earl and Sir George Manners and Samuel Fleming, Doctor of Divinity, made the following curious statements in the course of her confession of witchcraft.

She said she saw a hand appear to her and heard a voice in the air say "Anne Baker, save thyself, for tomorrow thou and thy master must be slain," and the next day her master and she were in a cart together and suddenly she saw a flash of fire, and said her prayers, and the fire went away, and shortly after a crow came and perched upon her clothes, and she said her prayers again and bade the crow _to go to whom he was sent_, and the crow went to her master and did beat him to death, and she with her prayers recovered him to life, but he was sick a fortnight after, and if she had not had more knowledge than he, both of them, and the cattle, would have been killed.

Another witness at the same trial, Joan Willimott, confessed to having a spirit she called Pretty, and she declared that a shepherd, Gamaliel Greete, had a spirit like a white mouse put into him in his swearing; and that if he did look upon anything with an intent to hurt it it should be hurt, and she said further that in the home of the Flowers she had seen two spirits, one like a rat and the other like an owl.

The basic belief that it is possible to send forth a familiar to wreak harm on others is found fully developed in black magic, and to such occult powers no doubt many strange phenomena may be attributed.

A peculiarly uncanny story about a witch and her familiar comes from Poitou. A young man who lived near Champdenois, went to spend the evening with some friends. He was jumping over a stone fence which separated the neighbouring estates, when a familiar settled on his back. The young man caught hold of the demon with all his strength and strangled him, flinging him on the ground, where he lay apparently lifeless. Curiosity induced the young man to lift the inert body on to his shoulders, as he wished to look at it by candlelight and show it to his friends.

When he arrived at his friends' house the inmates were sitting in a circle about the hearth and the mistress of the house was spinning, surrounded by her maids. They all looked wonderingly at the demon, but the mistress appeared to be strangely ill at ease.

"I believe," said the young fellow, "it's a sorcerer. There's only one way of finding out. We'll put it in the fire, then we shall know what sort of being it is."

When she heard this cruel suggestion the mistress gripped the arms of her chair in obvious anxiety and let her spindle drop to the ground, saying she was feeling very ill. When the demon was put on to the glowing cinders she shrieked out and was forced to confess, in a shamefaced manner, that she had been wandering in the woods that evening in the shape of an animal, and that the young man had captured her double. Whether this witch intended to work harm is not divulged.

The Kaju wizards make familiars by digging up a corpse and giving it medicine, which restores it to life. They run a hot needle up the back of the head and slit the tongue. The familiar then speaks with inarticulate sound and is sent out by them to do harm. This is probably another form of ritual akin to black magic.

A beautiful enchantress and priestess lived among the natives of Nicaragua and was served by many animals over whom she had extraordinary powers. She also had in her service an old man and woman. She transformed them into youthful beings, with large expanding pinions, and clothed them in tiger- and deer-skins, adorned with richly coloured plumage.

Another and more exalted form of the familiar was the Daemon or Genius, a kind of spirit which, according to the beliefs of the ancients, presided over the actions of mankind. Man was thus said to have a good and an evil presiding spirit. The genius of Socrates, for instance, constantly gave him information and kept him from the commission of crime or impiety.


[73] The description of these imps tallies remarkably closely with that of some animal-elements seen by occulists to-day.

[74] "A True and exact Relation of the several informations, examinations and confessions of the late Witches arraigned and executed in the County of Essex." Reprinted from the original of 1645, 1837, pp. iv, 34.

[75] Glanvill, Joseph, "Sadducismus Triumphatus," 1726, p. 300.

[76] "The Wonderful discovery of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillip Flower, daughters of Joan Flower near Beuer Castle, executed at Lincolne, March 11, 1618." Printed London, 1619.



In folk-lore and mythological legends all animals are originally human and most human beings are able to turn into animals. Women who married tigers, women who gave birth to serpents, men who became goats, cows or sheep, frog-princes and monkey-servants, abound in the standard fairy-tales of almost every country.

Grecian women are said to change their cold lovers into donkeys, Persian princesses, on the contrary, cause their too passionate adorers to metamorphose into numerous animal shapes and Circe, disgusted with the depraved conduct of the companions of Ulysses, changed them into swine and shut them up in sties. The story of Circe typifies, of course, the fact that man's lower nature is the animal part of him, and the story of Malec Muhammed, which follows, points the same moral.

A repetition of the well-known Circe story needs no apology in a book which deals at length with the subject of transformation. Circe was the daughter of Sol and Perse, and was celebrated for her skill in magic.

She married a prince of Colchis, and then murdered him to obtain his kingdom. Being expelled by her subjects for her crime, she was carried away by her father to Aea, an island on the coast of Italy, which Ulysses visited on his return from the Trojan War. His companions, giving way to excess, were changed into swine by Circe's magic potions.

Ulysses was himself made immune from her spells by a herb called Moly, given to him by the god Mercury, and he demanded that his companions should be restored. Circe complied with his request. Eurylochus and his companions found Circe's palace in an open space in a wood, and Ulysses had the following account from the lips of Eurylochus:--

"All about were wolves and lions," he said, "yet these harmed not the men, but stood up on their hind-legs, fawning upon them, as dogs fawn upon their master when he comes from his meal, because he brings the fragments with him that they love. And the men were afraid. And they stood in the porch and heard the voice of Circe as she sang with a lovely voice and plied the loom. Then said Polites (who was dearest of all his comrades to Ulysses), 'Someone within plies a loom, and sings with a loud voice. Some goddess is she, or woman. Let us make haste and call.'

"So they called to her, and she came out and beckoned to them that they should follow. So they went, in their folly. And she bade them sit, and mixed for them a mess, red wine, and in it barley meal and cheese and honey, and mighty drugs withal, of which, if a man drank, he forgot all that he loved. And when they had drunk she smote them with her wand. And lo! they had of a sudden the heads and the voices and the bristles of swine, but the heart of a man was in them still. And Circe shut them in sties, gave them mast and acorns and cornel to eat."

And Eurylochus fled back to the ship to tell Ulysses what had befallen his comrades.[77]

Circe also changed Picus into a bird, when he did not respond to her advances.

When love from Picus Circe could not gain Him with her charming wand and hellish bane Changed to a bird and spots his speckled wings With sundry colours....

Geti Afraz, the heroine of a typical Eastern transformation story, on the other hand, changes Malec Muhammed the moment he grows too ardent in his caresses.

One day when Malec was on his travels, he arrived at the city of Ekbalia and took up his lodging in a caravanserai.[78]

At dusk that evening he saw a remarkable illumination in the sky and heard intoxicating music. Presently a procession of beautifully dressed people passed by, and he caught a glimpse of a lovely princess. "Who is she?" he asked of the neighbours. "Geti Afraz, daughter of the King of the Peris, is riding through the city," they answered. "Her palace is close by."

Entranced by the beauty of her appearance, Malec Muhammed inquired whether she received visitors. "Yes, she does," was the answer; "but it is at their own risk, as she usually changes her visitors into the shape of some animal." Malec, nothing daunted by this strange remark, set out at once for the abode of the princess.

The door of the palace was shut, and knocking loudly he cried, "Open to Malec Muhammed." The Peri's reputation was well-known, and no one ever arrived at the palace who was not brave enough to risk being turned into an animal. In a moment the door was opened and Malec was invited to step inside.

Chapter end

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