Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1



Est. Date. 1486

Orig. Language. Latin

Orig. Writer. Heinrich Kramer

Translated by.

commonly rendered into English as the Hammer of Witches, the Malleus Maleificarum was written by a

German Catholic Clergyman as a systematic text on uncovering, understanding and prosecuting

witchcraft. It was used during many of the witchcraft trails of the 16th and 17th century by authorities

and magistrates.


Table of Contents

Hammer of Witches Part 1

Question I - Whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so Essential a Part of the Catholic

Faith that Obstinacy to maintain the Opposite Opinion manifestly savours of Heresy.

Question II - If it be in Accordance with the Catholic Faith to maintain that in Order to bring about some

Effect of Magic, the Devil must intimately co-operate with the Witch, or whether one without the other,

that is to say, the Devil without the Witch, or conversely, could produce such an Effect.

Question III - Whether Children can be Generated by Incubi and Succubi.

Question IV - By which Devils are the Operations of Incubus and Succubus Practised?

Question V - What is the Source of the Increase of Works of Witchcraft? Whence comes it that the

Practice of Witchcraft hath so notably increased?

Question VI - Concerning Witches who copulate with Devils. Why is it that Women are chiefly addicted to

Evil superstitions?

Question VII - Whether Witches can Sway the Minds of Men to Love or Hatred.

Question VIII - Whether Witches can Hebetate the Powers of Generation or Obstruct the Venereal Act.

Question IX - Whether Witches may work some Prestidigatory Illusion so that the Male Organ appears to

be entirely removed and separate from the Body.

Question X - Whether Witches can by some Glamour Change Men into Beasts.


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

Question XI - That Witches who are Midwives in Various Ways Kill the Child Conceived in the Womb, and

Procure an Abortion; or if they do not this Offer New-born Children to Devils.

Question XII - Whether the Permission of Almighty God is an Accompaniment of Witchcraft.

Question XIII - Herein is set forth the Question, concerning the Two Divine Permissions which God justly

allows, namely, that the Devil, the Author or all Evil, should Sin, and that our First Parents should Fall,

from which Origins the Works of Witches are justly suffered to take place.

Question XIV - The Enormity of Witches is Considered, and it is shown that the Whole Matter should be

rightly Set Forth and Declared.

Question XV - It is Shown that, on Account of the Sins of Witches, the Innocent are often Bewitched, yea,

Sometimes even for their Own Sins.

Question XVI - The Foregoing Truths are Set out in Particular, this by a Comparison of the Works of

Witches with Other Baleful Superstitions.

Question XVII - A Comparison of their Crimes under Fourteen Heads, with the Sins of the Devils of all and

every Kind.

Question XVIII - Here follows the Method of Preaching against and Controverting Five Arguments of

Laymen and Lewd Folk, which seem to be Variously Approved, that God does not Allow so Great Power

to the Devil and Witches as is involved in the Performance of such Mighty Works of Witchcraft.

Question I

Whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so Essential a Part of the Catholic Faith

that Obstinacy to maintain the Opposite Opinion manifestly savours of Heresy.

Whether the belief that there are such beings as witches is so essential a part of the Catholic faith

that obstinately to maintain the opposite opinion manifestly savours of heresy. And it is argued that a

firm belief in witches is not a Catholic doctrine: see chapter 26, question 5, of the work of Episcopus.

Whoever believes that any creature can be changed for the better or the worse, or transformed into

another kind or likeness, except by the Creator of all things, is worse than a pagan and a heretic. And so

when they report such things are done by witches it is not Catholic, but plainly heretical, to maintain this


Moreover, no operation of witchcraft has a permanent effect among us. And this is the proof

thereof: For if it were so, it would be effected by the operation of demons. But to maintain that the devil

has power to change human bodies or to do them permanent harm does not seem in accordance with

the teaching of the Church. For in this way they could destroy the whole world, and bring it to utter


Moreover, every alteration that takes place in a human body - for example, a state of health or a

state of sickness - can be brought down to a question of natural causes, as Aristotle has shown in his 7th

book of Physics. And the greatest of these is the influence of the stars. But the devils cannot interfere

with the stars. This is the opinion of Dionysius in his epistle to S. Polycarp. For this alone God can do.


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

Therefore it is evident the demons cannot actually effect any permanent transformation in human

bodies; that is to say, no real metamorphosis. And so we must refer the appearance of any such change

to some dark and occult cause.

And the power of God is stronger than the power of the devil, so divine works are more true than

demoniac operations. Whence inasmuch as evil is powerful in the world, then it must be the work of the

devil always conflicting with the work of God. Therefore as it is unlawful to hold that the devil's evil craft

can apparently exceed the work of God, so it us unlawful to believe that the noblest works of creation,

that is to say, man and beast, can be harmed and spoiled by the power of the devil.

Moreover, that which is under the influence of a material object cannot have power over corporeal

objects. But devils are subservient to certain influences of the stars, because magicians observe the

course of certain stars in order to evoke the devils. Therefore they have not the power of effecting any

change in a corporeal object, and it follows that witches have even less power than the demons possess.

For devils have no power at all save by a certain subtle art. But an art cannot permanently produce

a true form. (And a certain author says: Writers on Alchemy know that there is no hope of any real

transmutation.) Therefore the devils for their part, making use of the utmost of their craft, cannot bring

about any permanent cure - or permanent disease. But if these states exist it is in truth owing to some

other cause, which may be unknown, and has nothing to do with the operations of either devils or


But according to the Decretals (33) the contrary is the case. “If by witchcraft or any magic art

permitted by the secret but most just will of God, and aided by the power of the devil, etc . . . . ” The

reference here is to any act of witchcraft which may hinder the end of marriage, and for this

impediment to take effect three things can concur, that is to say, witchcraft, the devil, and the

permission of God. Moreover, the stronger can influence that which is less strong. But the power of the

devil is stronger than any human power (Job xl). There is no power upon earth which can be compared

to him, who was created so that he fears none.

Answer. Here are three heretical errors which must be met, and when they have been disproved

the truth will be plain. For certain writers, pretending to base their opinion upon the words of S. Thomas

(iv, 24) when he treats of impediments brought about by magic charms, have tried to maintain that

there is not such a thing as magic, that it only exists in the imagination of those men who ascribe natural

effects, the cause whereof are not known, to witchcraft and spells. There are others who acknowledge

indeed that witches exist, but they declare that the influence of magic and the effects of charms are

purely imaginary and phantasmical. A third class of writers maintain that the effects said to be wrought

by magic spells are altogether illusory and fanciful, although it may be that the devil does really lend his

aid to some witch.

The errors held by each one of these persons may thus be set forth and thus confuted. For in the

very first place they are shown to be plainly heretical by many orthodox writers, and especially by S.

Thomas, who lays down that such an opinion is altogether contrary to the authority of the saints and is

founded upon absolute infidelity. Because the authority of the Holy Scriptures says that devils have

power over the bodies and over the minds of men, when God allows them to exercise this power, as is

plain from very many passages in the Holy Scriptures. Therefore those err who say that there is no such

thing as witchcraft, but that it is purely imaginary, even although they do not believe that devils exist


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

except in the imagination of the ignorant and vulgar, and the natural accidents which happen to a man

he wrongly attributes to some supposed devil. For the imagination of some men is so vivid that they

think they see actual figures and appearances which are but the reflection of their thoughts, and then

these are believed to be the apparitions of evil spirits or even the spectres of witches. But this is

contrary to the true faith, which teaches us that certain angels fell from heaven and are now devils, and

we are bound to acknowledge that by their very nature they can do many wonderful things which we

cannot do. And those who try to induce others to perform such evil wonders are called witches. And

because infidelity in a person who has been baptized is technically called heresy, therefore such persons

are plainly heretics.

As regards those who hold the other two errors, those, that is to say, who do not deny that there

are demons and that demons possess a natural power, but who differ among themselves concerning the

possible effects of magic and the possible operations of witches: the one school holding that a witch can

truly bring about certain effects, yet these effects are not real but phantastical, the other school

allowing that some real harm does befall the person or persons injured, but that when a witch imagines

this damage is the effect of her arts she is grossly deceived. This error seems to be based upon two

passages from the Canons where certain women are condemned who falsely imagine that during the

night they ride abroad with Diana or Herodias. This may read in the Canon. Yet because such things

often happen by illusion are merely in the imagination, those who suppose that all the effects of

witchcraft are mere illusion and imagination are very greatly deceived. Secondly, with regard to a man

who believes or maintains that a creature can be made, or changed for better or for worse, or

transformed into some other kind or likeness by anyone save by God, the Creator of all things, alone, is

an infidel and worse than a heathen. Wherefore on account of these words “changed for the worse”

they say that such an effect if wrought by witchcraft cannot be real but must be purely phantastical.

But inasmuch as these errors savour of heresy and contradict the obvious meaning of the Canon,

we will first prove our points by the divine law, as also by ecclesiastical and civil law, and first in general.

To commence, the expressions of the Canon must be treated of in detail (although the sense of the

Canon will be even more clearly elucidated in the following question). For the divine in many places

commands that witches are not only to be avoided, but also they are to be put to death, and it would

not impose the extreme penalty of this kind if witches did not really and truly make a compact with

devils in order to bring about real and true hurts and harms. For the penalty of death is not inflicted

except for some grave and notorious crime, but it is otherwise with death of the soul, which can be

brought about by the power of a phantastical illusion or even by the stress of temptation. This is the

opinion of S. Thomas when he discusses whether it be evil to make use of the help of devils (ii. 7). For in

the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy it is commanded that all wizards and charmers are to be destroyed.

Also the 19th chapter of Leviticus says: The soul which goeth to wizards and soothsayers to commit

fornication with them, I will set my face against that soul, and destroy it out of the midst of my people.

And again, 20: A man, or woman, in whom there is a pythonical or divining spirit dying, let them die:

they shall stone them. Those persons are said to be pythons in whom the devil works extraordinary


Moreover, this must be borne in mind, that on account of this sin Ochozias fell sick and died, IV.

Kings I. Also Saul, I Paralipomenon, 10. We have, moreover, the weighty opinions of the Fathers who


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have written upon the scriptures and who have treated at length of the power of demons and of magic

arts. The writings of many doctors upon Book 2 of the Sentences may be consulted, and it will be found

that they all agree, that there are wizards and sorcerers who by the power of the devil can produce real

and extraordinary effects, and these effects are not imaginary, and God permits this to be. I will not

mention those very many other places where S. Thomas in great detail discusses operations of this kind.

As, for example, in his Summa contra Gentiles, Book 3, c. 1 and 2, in part one, question 114, argument 4.

And in the Second of the Second, questions 92 and 94. We may further consult the Commentators and

the Exegetes who have written upon the wise men and the magicians of Pharao, Exodus vii. We may also

consult what S. Augustine says in The City of God, Book 18, c. 17. See further his second book On

Christian Doctrine. Very many other doctors advance the same opinion, and it would be the height of

folly for any man to contradict all these, and he could not be held to be clear of the guilt of heresy. For

any man who gravely errs in an exposition of Holy Scripture is rightly considered to be a heretic. And

whosoever thinks otherwise concerning these matters which touch the faith that the Holy Roman

Church holds is a heretic. There is the Faith.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question II

If it be in Accordance with the Catholic Faith to maintain that in Order to bring about some Effect of

Magic, the Devil must intimately co-operate with the Witch, or whether one without the other, that is

to say, the Devil without the Witch, or conversely, could produce such an Effect.

If it be in accordance with the Catholic Faith to maintain that in order to bring about some effect of

magic, the devil must intimately co-operate with the witch, or whether one without the other, that is to

say, the devil without the witch, or conversely, could produce such an effect.

And the first argument is this: That the devil can bring about an effect of magic without the co-

operation of any witch. So S. Augustine holds. All things which visibly happen so that they can be seen,

may (it is believed) be the work of the inferior powers of the air. But bodily ills and ailments are certainly

not invisible, nay rather, they are evident to the senses, therefore they can be brought about by devils.

Moreover, we learn from the Holy Scriptures of the disasters which fell upon Job, how fire fell from

heaven and striking the sheep and the servants consumed them, and how a violent wind threw down

the four corners of a house so that it fell upon his children and slew them all. The devil by himself

without the co-operation of any witches, but merely by God's permission alone, was able to bring about

all these disasters. Therefore he can certainly do many things which are often ascribed to the work of


And this is obvious from the account of the seven husbands of the maiden Sara, whom a devil killed.

Moreover, whatever a superior power is able to do, it is able to do without reference to a power

superior to it, and a superior power can all the more work without reference to an inferior power. But

an inferior power can cause hailstorms and bring about diseases without the help of a power greater

than itself. For Blessed Albertus Magnus in his work De passionibus aeris says that rotten sage, if used as

he explains, and thrown into running water, will arouse most fearful tempests and storms.

Moreover, it may be said that the devil makes use of a witch, not because he has need of any such

agent, but because he is seeking the perdition of the witch. We may refer to what Aristotle says in the

3rd book of his Ethics. Evil is a voluntary act which is proved by the fact that nobody performs an unjust

action, and a man who commits a rape does this for the sake of pleasure, not merely doing evil for evil's

sake. Yet the law punishes those who have done evil as if they had acted merely for the sake of doing

evil. Therefore if the devil works by means of a witch he is merely employing an instrument; and since


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

an instrument depends upon the will of the person who employs it and does not act of its own free will,

therefore the guilt of the action ought not to be laid to the charge of the witch, and in consequence she

should not be punished.

But an opposite opinion holds that the devil cannot so easily and readily do harm by himself to

mankind, as he can harm them through the instrumentality of witches, although they are his servants. In

the first place we may consider the act of generation. But for every act which has an effect upon another

some kind of contact must be established, and because the devil, who is a spirit, can have no such actual

contact with a human body, since there is nothing common of this kind between them, therefore he

uses some human instruments, and upon these he bestows the power of hurting by bodily touch. And

many hold this to be proven by the text, and the gloss upon the text, in the 3rd chapter of S. Paul's

Epistle to the Galatians: O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the

truth? And the gloss upon this passage refers to those who have singularly fiery and baleful eyes, who by

a mere look can harm others, especially young children. And Avicenna also bears this out, Naturalism,

Book 3, c. the last, when he says; “Very often the soul may have as much influence upon the body of

another to the same extent as it has upon its own body, for such is the influence of the eyes of anyone

who by his glance attracts and fascinates another.” And the same opinion is maintained by Al-Gazali in

the 5th book and 10th c. of his Physics. Avicenna also suggests, although he does not put this opinion

forward as irrefutable, that the power of the imagination can actually change or seem to change

extraneous bodies, in cases where the power of the imagination is too unrestrained; and hence we

father that the power of the imagination is not to be considered as distinct from a man's other sensible

powers, since it is common to them all, but to some extent it includes all those other powers. And this is

true, because such a power of the imagination can change adjacent bodies, as, for example, when a man

is able to walk along some narrow beam which is stretched down the middle of a street. But yet if this

beam were suspended over deep water he would not dare to walk along it, because his imagination

would most strongly impress upon his mind the idea of falling, and therefore his body and the power of

his limbs would not obey his imagination, and they would not obey the contrary thereto, that is to say,

walking directly and without hesitation. This change may be compared to the influence exercised by the

eyes of a person who has such influence, and so a mental change is brought about although there is not

any actual and bodily change.

Moreover, if it be argued that such a change is cause by a living body owing to the influence of the

mind upon some other living body, this answer may be given. In the presence of a murderer blood flows

from the wounds in the corpse of the person he has slain. Therefore without any mental powers bodies

can produce wonderful effects, and so a living man if he pass by near the corpse of a murdered man,

although he may not be aware of the dead body, is often seized with fear.

Again, there are some things in nature which have certain hidden powers, the reason for which man

does not know; such, for example, is the lodestone, which attracts steel and many other such things,

which S. Augustine mentions in the 20th book Of the City of God.

And so women in order to bring about changes in the bodies of others sometimes make use of

certain things, which exceed our knowledge, but this is without any aid from the devil. And because

these remedies are mysterious we must not therefore ascribe them to the power of the devil as we

should ascribe evil spells wrought by witches.

Moreover, witches use certain images and other strange periapts, which they are wont to place

under the lintels of the doors of houses, or in those meadows where flocks are herding, or even where

men congregate, and thus they cast spells over their victims, who have oft-times been known to die. But

because such extraordinary effects can proceed from these images it would appear that the influence of

these images is in proportion to the influence of the stars over human bodies, for as natural bodies are

influenced by heavenly bodies, so may artificial bodies likewise be thus influenced. But natural bodies


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may find the benefit of certain secret but good influences. Therefore artificial bodies may receive such

influence. Hence it is plain that those who perform works of healing may well perform them by means of

such good influences, and this has no connexion at all with any evil power.

Moreover, it would seem that most extraordinary and miraculous events come to pass by the

working of the power of nature. For wonderful and terrible and amazing things happen owing to natural

forces. And this S. Gregory points out in his Second Dialogue. The Saints perform miracles, sometimes by

a prayer, sometimes by their power alone. There are examples of each; S. Peter by praying raised to life

Tabitha, who was dead. By rebuking Ananias and Sapphira, who were telling a lie, he slew the without

any prayer. Therefore a man by his mental influence can change a material body into another, or he can

change such a body from health to sickness and conversely.

Moreover, the human body is nobler than any other body, but because of the passions of the mind

the human body changes and becomes hot or cold, as is the case with angry men or men who are afraid:

and so even greater change takes place with regard to the effects of sickness and death, which by their

power can greatly change a material body.

But certain objections must be allowed. The influence of the mind cannot make an impression upon

any form except by the intervention of some agent, as we have said above. And these are the words of

S. Augustine in the book which we have already quoted: It is incredible that the angels who fell from

Heaven should be obedient to any material things, for the obey God only. And much less can a man of

his natural power bring about extraordinary and evil effects. The answer must be made, there are even

to-day many who err greatly on this point, making excuses for witches and laying the whole blame upon

the craft of the devil, or ascribing the changes that they work to some natural alteration. These errors

may be easily made clear. First, by the description of witches which S. Isidore gives in his Etymologiae, c.

9: Witches are so called on account of the blackness of their guilt, that is to say, their deeds are more

evil than those of any other malefactors. He continues: They stir up and confound the elements by the

aid of the devil, and arouse terrible hailstorms and tempests. Moreover, he says they distract the minds

of men, driving them to madness, insane hatred, and inordinate lusts. Again, he continues, by the

terrible influence of their spells alone, as it were by a draught of poison, they can destroy life.

And the words of S. Augustine in his book on The City of God are very much to the point, for he tells

us who magicians and witches really are. Magicians, who are commonly called witches, are thus termed

on account of the magnitude of their evil deeds. These are they who by the permission of God disturb

the elements, who drive to distraction the minds of men, such as have lost their trust in God, and by the

terrible power of their evil spells, without any actual draught or poison, kill human beings. As Lucan

says: A mind which has not been corrupted by any noxious drink perishes forspoken by some evil charm.

For having summoned devils to their aid they actually dare to heap harms upon mankind, and even to

destroy their enemies by their evil spells. And it is certain that in operations of this kind the witch works

in close conjunction with the devil. Secondly, punishments are of four kinds: beneficial, hurtful, wrought

by witchcraft, and natural. Beneficial punishments are meted out by the ministry of good Angels, just as

hurtful punishments proceed from evil spirits. Moses smote Egypt with ten plagues by the ministry of

good Angels, and the magicians were only able to perform three of these miracles by the aid of the

devil. And the pestilence which fell upon the people for three days because of the sin of David who

numbered the people, and the 72,000 men who were slain in one night in the army of Sennacherib,

were miracles wrought by the Angels of God, that is, by good Angels who feared God and knew that

they were carrying out His commands.

Destructive harm, however, is wrought by the medium of bad angels, at whose hands the children

of Israel in the desert were often afflicted. And those harms which are simply evil and nothing more are

brought about by the devil, who works through the medium of sorcerers and witches. There are also


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natural harms which in some manner depend upon the conjunction of heavenly bodies, such as dearth,

drought, tempests, and similar effects of nature.

It is obvious that there is a vast difference between all these causes, circumstances, and

happenings. For Job was afflicted by the devil with a harmful disease, but this is nothing to the purpose.

And if anybody who is too clever and over-curious asks how it was that Job was afflicted with this

disease by the devil without the aid of some sorcerer or witch, let him know that he is merely beating

the air and not informing himself as to the real truth. For in the time of Job there were no sorcerers and

witches, and such abominations were not yet practised. But the providence of God wished that by the

example of Job the power of the devil even over good men might be manifested, so that we might learn

to be on our guard against Satan, and, moreover, by the example of this holy patriarch the glory of God

shines abroad, since nothing happens save what is permitted by God.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question III

Whether Children can be Generated by Incubi and Succubi.

At first it may truly seem that it is not in accordance with the Catholic Faith to maintain that

children can be begotten by devils, that is to say, by Incubi and Succubi: for God Himself, before sin

came into the world, instituted human procreation, since He created woman from the rib of man to be a

helpmeet unto man: And to them He said: Increase, and multiply, Genesis ii, 24. Likewise after sin had

come into the world, it was said to Noe: Increase, and multiply, Genesis ix, 1. In the time of the new law

also, Christ confirmed this union: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made

them male and female? S. Matthew xix, 4. Therefore, men cannot be begotten in any other way than


But it may be argued that devils take their part in this generation not as the essential cause, but as a

secondary and artificial cause, since they busy themselves by interfering with the process of normal

copulation and conception, by obtaining human semen, and themselves transferring it.

Objection. The devil can perform this act in every state of life, that is to say, in the matrimonial

state, or not in the matrimonial state. Now he cannot perform it in the first state, because then the act

of the devil would be more powerful than the act of God, Who instituted and confirmed this holy estate,

since it is a state of continence and wedlock. Nor can he effect this in any other estate: since we never

read in Scripture that children can be begotten in one state and not in another.

Moreover, to beget a child is the act of a living body, but devils cannot bestow life upon the bodies

which they assume; because life formally only proceeds from the soul, and the act of generation is the

act of the physical organs which have bodily life. Therefore bodies which are assumed in this way cannot

either beget or bear.

Yet it may be said that these devils assume a body not in order that they may bestow life upon it,

but that they may by the means of this body preserve human semen, and pass the semen on to another


Objection. As in the action of angels, whether they be good or bad, there is nothing superfluous and

useless, nor is there anything superfluous and useless in nature. But the devil by his natural power,

which is far greater than any human bodily power, can perform any spiritual action, and perform it again

and again although man may not be able to discern it. Therefore he is able to perform this action,

although man may not be able to discern when the devil is concerned therewith. For all bodily and

material things are on a lower scale than pure and spiritual intelligences. But the angels, whether they

be good or whether they be evil, are pure and spiritual intelligences. Therefore they can control what is

below them. Therefore the devil can collect and make use as he will of human semen which belongs to


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the body.

However, to collect human semen from one person and to transfer it to another implies certain

local actions. But devils cannot locally move bodies from place to place. And this is the argument they

put forward. The soul is purely a spiritual essence, so is the devil: but the soul cannot move a body from

place to place except it be that body in which it lives and to which it gives life: whence if any member of

the body perishes it becomes dead and immovable. Therefore devils cannot move a body from place to

place, except it be a body to which they give life. It has been shown, however, and is acknowledged that

devils do not bestow life on anybody, therefore they cannot move human semen locally, that is, from

place to place, from body to body.

Moreover, every action is performed by contact, and especially the act of generation. But it does

not seem possible that there can be any contact between the demon and human bodies, since he has

not actual point of contact with them. Therefore he cannot inject semen into a human body, and

therefore since this needs a certain bodily action, it would seem that the devil cannot accomplish it.

Besides, devils have no power to move those bodies which in a natural order are more closely

related to them, for example the heavenly bodies, therefore they have no power to move those bodies

which are more distant and distinct from them. The major is proved, since the power that moves and

the movement are one and the same thing according to Aristotle in his Physics. It follows, therefore,

that devils who move heavenly bodies must be in heaven, which is wholly untrue, both in our opinion,

and in the opinion of the Platonists.

Moreover, S. Augustine, On the Trinity, III, says that devils do indeed collect human semen, by

means of which they are able to produce bodily effects; but this cannot be done without some local

movement, therefore demons can transfer semen which they have collected and inject it into the bodies

of others. But, as Walafrid Strabo says in his commentary upon Exodus vii, II: And Pharao called the wise

men and the magicians: Devils go about the earth collecting every sort of seed, and can by working upon

them broadcast various species. See also the gloss on those words (Pharao called). And again in Genesis

vi the gloss makes two comments on the words: And the sons of God saw the daughters of men. First,

that by the sons of God are meant the sons of Seth, and by the daughters of men, the daughters of Cain.

Second, that Giants were created not by some incredibly act of men, but by certain devils, which are

shameless towards women. For the Bible says, Giants were upon the earth. Moreover, even after the

Flood the bodies not only of men, but also of women, were pre-eminently and incredibly beautiful.

Answer. For the sake of brevity much concerning the power of the devil and his works in the matter

of the effects of witchcraft is left out; for the pious reader either accepts it as proved, or he may, if he

wish to inquire, find every point clearly elucidated in the second Book of Sentences, 5. For hw will see

that the devils perform all their works consciously and voluntarily; for the nature that was given them

has not been changed. See Dionysius in his fourth chapter on the subject; their nature remained intact

and very splendid, although they cannot use it for any good purpose.

And as to their intelligence, he will find that they excel in three points of understanding, in their

age-long experience, and in the revelation of the higher spirits. He will find also how, through the

influence of the stars, they learn the dominating characteristics of men, and so discover that some are

more disposed to work witchcraft that others, and that they molest these chiefly for the purpose of such


And as to their will, the reader will find that it cleaves unchangeably to evil, and that they

continuously sin in pride, envy, and gross covetousness; and that God, for his own glory, permits them

to work against His will. He will also understand how with these two qualities of intellect and will devils

do marvels, so that there is no power in earth which can be compared to them: Job xli. There is no

power on the earth which can be compared with him, who was created that he should fear no one. But

here the gloss says, Although he fears no one he is yet subject to the merits of the Saints.


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He will find also how the devil knows the thoughts of our hearts; how he can substantially and

disastrously metamorphose bodies with the help of an agent; how he can move bodies locally, and alter

the outward and inner feelings to every conceivable extent; and how he can change the intellect and will

of a man, however indirectly.

For although all this is pertinent to our present inquiry, we wish only to draw some conclusion

therefrom as to that nature of devils, and so proceed to the discussion of our question.

Now the Theologians have ascribed to them certain qualities, as that they are unclean spirits, yet

not by very nature unclean. For according to Dionysius there is in them a natural madness, a rabid

concupiscence, a wanton fancy, as is seen from their spiritual sins of pride, envy, and wrath. For this

reason they are the enemies of the human race: rational in mind, but reasoning without words; subtle in

wickedness, eager to hurt; ever fertile in fresh deceptions, they change the perceptions and befoul the

emotions of men, they confound the watchful, and in dreams disturb the sleeping; they bring diseases,

stir up tempests, disguise themselves as angels of light, bear Hell always about them; from witches they

usurp to themselves the worship of God, and by this means magic spells are made; they seek to get a

mastery over the good, and molest them to the most of their power; to the elect they are given as a

temptation, and always they lie in wait for the destruction of men.

And although they have a thousand ways of doing harm, and have tried ever since their downfall to

bring about schisms in the Church, to disable charity, to infect with the gall of envy the sweetness of the

acts of the Saints, and in every way to subvert and perturb the human race; yet their power remains

confined to the privy parts and the navel. See Job xli. For through the wantonness of the flesh they have

much power over men; and in men the source of wantonness lies in the privy parts, since it is from them

that the semen falls, just as in women it falls from the navel.

These things, then, being granted for a proper understanding of the question of Incubi and Succubi,

it must be said that it is just as Catholic a view to hold that men may at times be begotten by means of

Incubi and Succubi, as it is contrary to the words of the Saints and even to the tradition of Holy Scripture

to maintain the opposite opinion. And this is proved as follows. S. Augustine in one place raises this

question, not indeed as regards witches, but with reference to the very works of devils, and to the fables

of the poets, and leave the matter in some doubt; though later on he is definite in the matter of Holy

Scripture. For in his De Ciuitate Dei, Book 3, chapter 2, he says: We leave open the question whether it

was possible for Venus to give birth to Aeneas through coition with Anchises. For a similar question

arises in the Scriptures, where it is asked whether evil angels lay with the daughters of men, and thereby

the earth was then filled with giants, that is to say, preternaturally big and strong men. But he settles

the question in Book 5, chapter 23, in these words: It is a very general belief, the truth of which is

vouched for by many from their own experience, or at least from heresay as having been experienced by

men of undoubted trustworthiness, that Satyrs and Fauns (which are commonly called Incubi) have

appeared to wanton women and have sought and obtained coition with them. And that certain devils

(which the Gauls call Dusii) assiduously attempt and achieve this filthiness is vouched for by so many

credible witness that it would seem impudent to deny it.

Later in the same book he settles the second contention, namely, that the passage in Genesis about

the sons of God (that is Seth) and the daughters of men (that is Cain) does not speak only of Incubi, since

the existence of such is not credible. In this connexion there is the gloss which we have touched upon

before. He says that it is not outside belief that the Giants of whom the Scripture speaks were begotten

not by men, but by Angels or certain devils who lust after women. To the same effect is the gloss in

Esaias xiii, where the prophet foretells the desolation of Babylon, and the monsters that should inhabit

it. He says: Owls shall dwell there, and Satyrs shall dance there. By Satyrs here devils are meant; as the

gloss says, Satyrs are wild shaggy creatures of the woods, which are a certain kind of devils called Incubi.

And again in Esaias xxxiv, where he prophesies the desolation of the land of the Idumeans because they


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persecuted the Jews, he says: And it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild

beasts also of the desert shall meet . . . The interlinear gloss interprets this as monsters and devils. And

in the same place Blessed Gregory explains these to be woodland gods under another name, not those

which the Greeks called Pans, and the Latins Incubi.

Similarly Blessed Isidore, in the last chapter of his 8th book, says: Satyrs are they who are called

Pans in Greek and Incubi in Latin. And they are called Incubi from their practice of overlaying, that is

debauching. For they often lust lecherously after women, and copulate with them; and the Gauls name

them Dusii, because they are diligent in this beastliness. But the devil which the common people call an

Incubus, the Romans called a fig Faun; to which Horace said, “O Faunus, love of fleeing nymphs, go

gently over my lands and smiling fields.”

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question IV

By which Devils are the Operations of Incubus and Succubus Practised?

Is it Catholic to affirm that the functions of Incubi and Succubi belong indifferently and equally to all

unclean spirits? And it seems that it is so; for to affirm the opposite would be to maintain that there is

some good order among them. It is argued that just as in the computation of the Good there are

degrees and orders (see S. Augustine in his book on the nature of the Good), so also the computation of

the Evil is based upon confusion. But as among the good Angels nothing can be without order, so among

the bad all is disorder, and therefore they all indifferently follows these practices. See Job x.: A land of

darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as


Again, if they do not all indifferently follow these practices, this quality in them comes either from

their nature, or from sin, or from punishment. But it does not come from their nature, since they are all

without distinction given to sin, as was set out in the preceding question. For they are by nature impure

spirits, yet not so unclean as to pejorate their good parts; subtle in wickedness, eager to do harm,

swollen with pride, etc. Therefore these practices in them are due either to sin or to punishment. Then

again, where the sin is greater, there is the punishment greater; and the higher angels sinned more

greatly, therefore their punishment they have the more to follow these filthy practices. If this is not so,

another reason will be given why they do not indifferently practise these things.

And again, it is argued that where there is no discipline or obedience, there all work without

distinction; and it is submitted that there is no discipline or obedience among devils, and no agreement.

Proverbs xiii.: Among the proud there is always contention.

Again, just as because of sin they will all equally be case into Hell after the Day of Judgement, so

before that time they are detained in the lower mists on account of the duties assigned to them. We do

not read that there is equality on account of emancipation, therefore neither is there equality in the

matter of duty and temptation.

But against this there is the first gloss on I Corinthians xv: As long as the world endures Angels are

set over Angels, men over men, and devils over devils. Also in Job xl it speaks of the scales of Leviathan,

which signify the members of the devil, how one cleaves to another. Therefore there is among them

diversity both of order and of action.

Another question arises, whether or not the devils can be restrained by the good Angels from


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pursuing these foul practices. It must be said that the Angels to whose command the adverse Influences

are subject are called Powers, as S. Gregory says, and S. Augustine (de Trinitate, 3). A rebellious and

sinful spirit of life is subject to an obedient, pious and just spirit of life. And those Creatures which are

more perfect and nearer to God have authority over the others: for the whole order of preference is

originally and in the first place in God, and is shared by His creatures according as they approach more

nearly to Him. Therefore the good Angels, who are nearest to God on account of their fruition in Him,

which the devils lack, have preference over the devils, and rule over them.

And when it is urged that devils work much harm without any medium, or that they are not

hindered because they are not subject to good Angels who might prevent them; or that if they are so

subject, then the evil that is done by the subject is due to negligence on the part of the master, and

there seems to be some negligence among the good Angels: the answer is that the Angels are ministers

of the Divine wisdom. It follows then that, as the Divine wisdom permits certain evil to be done by bad

Angels or men, for the sake of the good that He draws therefrom, so also the good Angels do not

altogether prevent wicked men or devils from doing evil.

Answer. It is Catholic to maintain that there is a certain order of interior and exterior actions, and a

degree of preference among devils. Whence it follows that certain abominations are committed by the

lowest orders, from which the higher orders are precluded on account of the nobility of their natures.

And this is generally said to arise from a threefold congruity, in that such things harmonize with their

nature, with the Divine wisdom, and with their own wickedness.

But more particularly as touching their nature. It is agreed that from the beginning of Creation some

were always by nature superior, since they differ among themselves as to form; and no two Angels are

alike in form. This follows the more general opinion, which also agrees with the words of the

Philosophers. Dionysus also lays it down in his tenth chapter On the Celestial Hierarchy that in the same

order there are three separate degrees; and we must agree with this, since they are both immaterial

and incorporeal. See also S. Thomas (ii. 2). For sin does not take away their nature, and the devils after

the Fall did not lose their natural gifts, as has been said before; and the operations of things follow their

natural conditions. Therefore both in nature and in operation they are various and multiple.

This harmonizes also with the Divine wisdom; for that which is ordained is ordained by God

(Romans xiii). And since devils were deputed by God for the temptation of men and the punishment of

the damned, therefore they work upon men from without by many and various means.

It harmonizes also with their own wickedness. For since they are at war with the human race, they

fight in an orderly manner; for so they think to do greater harm to men, and so they do. Whence it

follows that they do not share in an equal manner in their most unspeakable abominations.

And this is more specifically proved as follows. For since, as has been said, the operation follows the

nature of the thing, it follows also that those whose natures are subordinate must in turn be

subordinate to themselves in operation, just as is the case in corporeal matters. For since the lower

bodies are by natural ordination below the celestial bodies, and their actions and motions are subject to

the actions and motions of the celestial bodies; and since the devils, as has been said, differ among

themselves in natural order; therefore they also differ among themselves in their natural actions, both

extrinsic and instrinsic, and especially in the performance of the abominations in question.

From which it is concluded that since the practice of these abominations is for the most part foreign


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to the nobility of the angelic nature, so also in human actions the foulest and beastliest acts are to be

considered by themselves, and not in relation to the duty of human nature and procreation.

Finally, since some are believed to have fallen from every order, it is not unsuitable to maintain that

those devils who fell from the lowest choir, and even in that held the lowest rank, are deputed to and

perform these and other abominations.

Also it must be carefully noted that, though the Scripture speaks of Incubi and Succubi lusting after

women, yet nowhere do we read that Incubi and Succubi fell into vices against nature. We do not speak

only of sodomy, but of any other sin whereby the act is wrongfully performed outside the rightful

channel. And the very great enormity of such as sin in this way is shown by the fact that all devils

equally, of whatsoever order, abominate and think shame to commit such actions. And it seems that the

gloss on Ezekiel xix means this, where it says: I will give thee into the hands of the dwellers in Palestine,

that is devils, who shall blush at your iniquities, meaning vices against nature. And the student will see

what should be authoritatively understood concerning devils. For no sin has God so often punished by

the shameful death of multitudes.

Indeed many say, and it is truly believed, that no one can unimperilled persevere in the practice of

such vices beyond the period of the mortal life of Christ, which lasted for thirty-three years, unless he

should be saved by some special grace of the Redeemer. And this is proved by the fact that there have

often been ensnared by this vice octogenarians and centenarians, who had up to that time ruled their

lives according to the discipline of Christ; and, having forsaken Him, they have found the very greatest

difficulty in obtaining deliverance, and in abandoning themselves to such vices.

Moreover, the names of the devils indicate what order there is among them, and what office is

assigned to each. For though one and the same name, that of devil, is generally used in Scripture

because of their various qualities, yet the Scriptures teach that One is set over these filthy actions, just

as certain other vices are subject to Another. For it is the practice of Scripture and of speech to name

every unclean spirit Diabolus, from Dia, that is Two, and Bolus, that is Morsel; for he kills two thing, the

body and the soul. And this is in accordance with etymology, although in Greek Diabolus means shut in

Prison, which also is apt, since he is not permitted to do as much harm as he wishes. Or Diabolus may

mean Downflowing, since he flowed down, that is, fell down, both specifically and locally. He is also

named Demon, that is, Cunning over Blood, since he thirsts for and procures sin with a threefold

knowledge, being powerful in the subtlety of his nature, in his age-long experience, and in the revelation

of the good spirits. He is called also Belial, which means Without Yoke or Master; for he can fight against

him to whom he should be subject. He is called also Beelzebub, which means Lord of Flies, that is, of the

souls of sinners who have left the true faith of Christ. Also Satan, that is, the Adversary; see I S. Peter ii:

For your adversary the devil goeth about, etc. Also Behemoth, that is, Beast, because he makes men


But the very devil of Fornication, and the chief of that abomination, is called Asmodeus, which

means the Creature of Judgement: for because of this kind of sin a terrible judgement was executed

upon Sodom and the four other cities. Similarly the devil of Pride is called Leviathan, which means Their

Addition; because when Lucifer tempted our first parents he promised them, out of his pride, the

addition of Divinity. Concerning him the Lord said through Esaias: I shall visit it upon Leviathan, that old

and tortuous serpent. And the devil of Avarice and Riches is called Mammon, whom also Christ


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mentions in the Gospel (S. Matthew vi): Ye cannot serve God, etc.

To the arguments. First, that good can be found without evil, but evil cannot be found without

good; for it is poured upon a creature that is good in itself. And therefore the devils, in so far as they

have a good nature, were ordained in the course of nature; and for their actions see Job x.

Secondly, it can be said that the devils deputed to work are not in Hell, but in the lower mists. And

they have here an order among themselves, which they will not have in Hell. From which it may be said

that all order ceased among them, as touching the attainment of blessedness, at that time when they

fell irrecoverably from such rank. And it may be said that even in Hell there will be among them a

gradation of power, and of the affliction of punishments, inasmuch as some, and not others, will be

deputed to torment the souls. But this gradation will come rather from God than from themselves, as

will also their torments.

Thirdly, when it is said that the higher devils, because they sinned the more, are the more punished,

and must therefore be the more bound to the commission of these filthy acts, it is answered that sin

bears relation to punishment, and not to the act or operation of nature; and therefore it is by reason of

their nobility of nature that these are not given to such filthiness, and it has nothing to do with their sin

or punishment. And though they are all impure spirits, and eager to do harm, yet one is more so than

another, in proportion as their natures are the further thrust into darkness.

Fourthly, it is said that there is agreement among devils, but of wickedness rather than friendship, in

that they hate mankind, and strive their utmost against justice. For such agreement is found among the

wicked, that they band themselves together, and depute those whose talents seem suitable to the

pursuit of particular iniquities.

Fifthly, although imprisonment is equally decreed for all, now in the lower atmosphere and

afterwards in Hell, yet not therefore are equal penalties and duties equally ordained for them: for the

nobler they are in nature and the more potent in office, the heavier is the torment to which they are

subjected. See Wisdom vi: “The powerful shall powerfully suffer torments.”

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question V

What is the Source of the Increase of Works of Witchcraft? Whence comes it that the Practice of

Witchcraft hath so notably increased?

Is it in any way a Catholic opinion to hold that the origin and growth of witchcraft proceed from the

influence of the celestial bodies; or from the abundant wickedness of men, and not from the

abominations of Incubi and Succubi? And it seems that it springs from man's own wickedness. For S.

Augustine says, in Book LXXXIII, that the cause of a man's depravity lies in his own will, whether he sins

at his own or at another's suggestion. But a witch is depraved through sin, therefore the cause of it is

not the devil but human will. In the same place he speaks of free-will, that everyone is the cause of his

own wickedness. And he reasons thus: that the sin of man proceeds from free-will, but the devil cannot

destroy free-will, for this would militate against liberty: therefore the devil cannot be the cause of that

or any other sin. Again, in the book of Ecclesiastic Dogma it is said: Not all our evil thoughts are stirred

up by the devil, but sometimes they arise from the operation of our own judgement.

Again, if the stars were not the cause of human actions both good and bad, Astrologers would not

so frequently foretell the truth about the result of wars and other human acts: therefore they are in


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some way a cause.

Again, the stars influence the devils themselves in the causing of certain spells; and therefore they

can all the more influence men. Three proofs are adduced for this assumption. For certain men who are

called Lunatics are molested by devils more at one time than at another; and the devils would not so

behave, but would rather molest them at all times, unless they themselves were deeply affected by

certain phases of the Moon. It is proved again from the fact the Necromancers observe certain

constellations for the invoking of devils, which they would not do unless they knew that those devils

were subject to the stars.

And this is also adduced as a proof; that according to S. Augustine (de Ciuitate Dei, 10), the devils

employ certain lower bodies, such as herbs, stones, animals, and certain sounds and voices, and figures.

But since the heavenly bodies are of more potency than the lower bodies, therefore the stars are a far

greater influence than these things. And witches are the more in subjection in that their deeds proceed

from the influence of those bodies, and not from the help of evil spirits. And the argument is supported

from I Kings xvi, where Saul was vexed by a devil, but was calmed when David struck his harp before

him, and the evil departed.

But against this. It is impossible to produce an effect without its cause; and the deeds of witches are

such that they cannot be done without the help of devils, as is shown by the description of witches in S.

Isidore, Ethics VIII. WItches are so called from the enormity of their magic spells; for they disturb the

elements and confound the minds of men, and without any venomous draught, but merely by virtue of

incantations, destroy souls, etc. But this sort of effects cannot be caused by the influence of the stars

through the agency of a man.

Besides, Aristotle says in his Ethics that it is difficult to know what is the beginning of the operation

of thought, and shows that it must be something extrinsic. For everything that begins from a beginning

has some cause. Now a man begins to do that which he wills; and he begins to will because of some pre-

suggestion; and if this is some precedent suggestion, it must either proceed from the infinite, or there is

some extrinsic beginning which first brings a suggestion to a man. Unless indeed it be argued that this is

a matter of chance, from which it would follow that all human actions are fortuitous, which is absurd.

Therefore the beginning of good in the good is said to be God, Who is not the cause of sin. But for the

wicked, when a man begins to be influenced towards and wills to commit sin, there must also be some

extrinsic cause of this. And this can be no other than the devil; especially in the case of witches, as is

shown above, for the stars cannot influence such acts. Therefore the truth is plain.

Moreover, that which has power over the motive has also power over the result which is caused by

the motive. Now the motive of the will is something perceived through the sense or the intellect, both

of which are subject to the power of the devil. For S. Augustine says in Book 83: This evil, which is of the

devil, creeps in by all the sensual approaches; he places himself in figures, he adapts himself to colours,

he attaches himself to sounds, he lurks in angry and wrongful conversation, he abides in smells, he

impregnates with flavours and fills with certain exhalations all the channels of the understanding.

Therefore it is seen that it is in the devil's power to influence the will, which is directly the cause of sin.

Besides, everything which has a choice of two ways needs some determining factor before it

proceeds to the action. And the free-will of man has the choice between good and ill; therefore when he

embarks upon sin, it needs that he is determined by something towards ill. And this seems chiefly to be


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done by the devil, especially in the actions of witches, whose will is made up for evil. Therefore it seems

that the evil will of the devil is the cause of evil will in man, especially in witches. And the argument may

be substantiated thus; that just as a good Angel cleaves to good, so does a bad Angel to evil; but the

former leads a man into goodness, therefore the latter leads him into evil. For it is, says Dionysius, the

unalterable and fixed law of divinity, that the lowest has it cause in the highest.

Answer. Such as contend that witchcraft has its origin in the influence of the stars stand convicted

of three errors. In the first place, it is not possible that it originated from astromancers and casters of

horoscopes and fortune-tellers. For if it is asked whether the vice of witchcraft in men is caused by the

influence of the stars, then, in consideration of the variety of men's characters, and for the upholding of

the true faith, a distinction must be maintained; namely, that there are two ways in which it can be

understood that men's characters can be caused by the stars. Either completely and of necessity, or by

disposition and contingency. And as for the first, it is not only false, but so heretical and contrary to the

Christian religion, that the true faith cannot be maintained in such an error. For this reason, he who

argues that everything of necessity proceeds from the stars takes away all merit and, in consequence, all

blame: also he takes away Grace, and therefore Glory. For uprightness of character suffers prejudice by

this error, since the blame of the sinner redounds upon the stars, licence to sin without culpability is

conceded, and man is committed to the worship and adoration of the stars.

But as for the contention that men's characters are conditionally varied by the disposition of the

stars, it is so far true that is it not contrary to reason or faith. For it is obvious that the disposition of a

body variously causes many variations in the humours and character of the soul; for generally the soul

imitates the complexions of the body, as it said in the Six Principles. Wherefore the choleric are

wrathful, the sanguine are kindly, the melancholy are envious, and the phlegmatic are slothful. But this

is not absolute; for the soul is master of its body, especially when it is helped by Grace. And we see

many choleric who are gently, and melancholy who are kindly. Therefore when the virtue of the stars

influences the formation and quality of a man's humours, it is agreed that they have some influence

over the character, but very distantly: for the virtue of the lower nature has more effect on the quality

of the humours than has the virtue of the stars.

Wherefore S. Augustine (de Ciuitate Dei, V), where he resolves a certain question of two brothers

who fell ill and were cured simultaneously, approves the reasoning of Hippocrates rather than that of an

Astronomer. For Hippocrates answered that it is owing to the similarity of their humours; and the

Astronomer answered that it was owing the identity of their horoscopes. For the Physician's answer was

better, since he adduced the more powerful and immediate cause. Thus, therefore, it must be said that

the influence of the stars is to some degree conducive to the wickedness of witches, if it be granted that

there is any such influence over the bodies that predisposes them to this manner of abomination rather

than to any other sort of works either vicious or virtuous: but this disposition must not be said to be

necessary, immediate, and sufficient, but remote and contingent.

Neither is that objection valid which is based on the book of the Philosophers on the properties of

the elements, where it says that kingdoms are emptied and lands depopulated at the conjunction of

Jupiter and Saturn; and it is argued from this that such things are to be understood as being outside the

free-will of men, and that therefore the influence of the stars has power over free-will. For it is

answered that in this saying the Philosopher does not mean to imply that men cannot resist the


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influence of that constellation towards dissensions, but that they will not. For Ptolemy in Almagest says:

A wise man will be the master of the stars. For although, since Saturn has a melancholy and bad

influence and Jupiter a very good influence, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn can dispose men to

quarrels and discords; yet, through free-will, men can resist that inclination, and very easily with the

help of God's grace.

And again it is no valid objection to quote S. John Damascene where he says (Book II, chap. vi) that

comets are often the sign of the death of kings. For it will be answered that even if we follow the

opinion of S. John Damascene, which was, as is evident in the book referred to, contrary to the opinion

of the Philosophic Way, yet this is no proof of the inevitability of human actions. For S. John considers

that a comet is not a natural creation, nor is it one of the stars set in the firmament; wherefore neither

its significance nor influence is natural. For he says that comets are not of the stars which were created

in the beginning, but that they are made for a particular occasion, and then dissolved, by Divine

command. This then is the opinion of S. John Damascene. But God by such a sign foretells the death of

kings rather than of other men, both because from this may arise the confusion of a kingdom. And the

Angels are more careful to watch over kings for the general good; and kings are born and die under the

ministry of Angels.

And there is no difficulty in the opinion of the Philosophers, who say that a comet is a hot and dry

conglomeration, generated in the higher part of space near the fire, and that a conjoined globe of that

hot and dry vapour assumes the likeness of a star. But unincorporated parts of that vapour stretch in

long extremities joined to that globe, and are a sort of adjunct to it. And according to this view, not of

itself but by accident, it predicts death which proceeds from hot and dry infirmities. And since for the

most part the rich are fed on things of a hot and dry nature, therefore at such times many of the rich

die; among which the death of kings and princes is the most notable. And this view is not far from the

view of S. John Damascene, when carefully considered, except as regards the operation and co-

operation of the Angels, which not even the philosophers can ignore. For indeed when the vapours in

their dryness and heat have nothing to do with the generation of a comet, even then, for reasons

already set out, a comet may be formed by the operation of an Angel.

In this way the star which portended the death of the learned S. Thomas was not one of the stars

set in the firmament, but was formed by an Angel from some convenient material, and, having

performed it office, was again dissolved.

From this we see that, whichever of those opinions we follow, the stars have no inherent influence

over the free-will, or, consequently, over the malice and character of men.

It is to be noted also that Astronomers often foretell the truth, and that their judgements are for

the most part effective on one province or one nation. And the reason is that they take their judgements

from the stars, which, according to the more probable view, have a greater, though not an inevitable,

influence over the actions of mankind in general, that is, over one nation or province, than over one

individual person; and this because the greater part of one nation more closely obeys the natural

disposition of the body than does one single man. But this is mentioned incidentally.

And the second of the three ways by which we vindicate the Catholic standpoint is by refuting the

errors of those who cast Horoscopes and Mathematicians who worship the goddess of fortune. Of these

S. Isidore (Ethics, VIII. 9) says that those who cast Horoscopes are so called from their examination of the


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stars at nativity, and are commonly called Mathematicians; and in the same Book, chapter 2, he says

that Fortune has her name from fortuitousness. and is a sort of goddess who mocks human affairs in a

haphazard and fortuitous manner. Wherefore she is called blind, since she runs here and there with no

consideration for desert, and comes indifferently to good and bad. So much for Isidore. But to believe

that there is such a goddess, or that the harm done to bodies and creatures which is ascribed to

witchcraft does not actually proceed from witchcraft, but from that same goddess of Fortune, is sheer

idolatry: and also to assert that witches themselves were born for that very purpose that they might

perform such deeds in the world is similarly alien to the Faith, and indeed to the general teaching of the

Philosophers. Anyone who pleases may refer to S. Thomas in the 3rd book of his Summa of the Faith

against the Gentiles. question 87, etc., and he will find much to this effect.

Nevertheless one point must not be omitted, for the sake of those who perhaps have not great

quantity of books. It is there noted that three things are to be considered in man, which are directed by

three celestial causes, namely, the act of the will, the act of the intellect, and the act of the body. The

first of these is governed directly and soley by God, the second by an Angel, and the third by a celestial

body. For choice and will are directly governed by God for good works, as the Scripture says in Proverbs

xxi: The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; he turneth it whithersoever he will. And it says “the

heart of the king” to signify that, as the great cannot oppose His will, so are others even less able to do

so. Also S. Paul says: God who causeth us to wish and to perform that which is good.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question VI

Concerning Witches who copulate with Devils. Why is it that Women are chiefly addicted to Evil


There is also, concerning witches who copulate with devils, much difficulty in considering the

methods by which such abominations are consummated. On the part of the devil: first, of what element

the body is made that he assumes; secondly, whether the act is always accompanied by the injection of

semen received from another; thirdly, as to time and place, whether he commits this act more

frequently at one time than at another; fourthly, whether the act is invisible to any who may be standing

by. And on the part of the women, it has to be inquired whether only they who were themselves

conceived in this filthy manner are often visited by devils; or secondly, whether it is those who were

offered to devils by midwives at the time of their birth; and thirdly, whether the actual venereal

delectation of such is of a weaker sort. But we cannot here reply to all these questions, both because we

are only engaged in a general study, and because in the second part of this work they are all singly

explained by their operations, as will appear in the fourth chapter, where mention is made of each

separate method. Therefore, let us now chiefly consider women; and first, why this kind of perfidy is

found more in so fragile a sex than in men. And our inquiry will first be general, as to the general

conditions of women; secondly, particular, as to which sort of women are found to be given to

superstition and witchcraft; and thirdly, specifically with regard to midwives, who surpass all others in


Why Superstition is chiefly found in Women.

As for the first question, why a greater number of witches is found in the fragile feminine sex than

among men; it is indeed a fact that it were idle to contradict, since it is accredited by actual experience,

apart from the verbal testimony of credibly witnesses. And without in any way detracting from a sex in

which God has always taken great glory that His might should be spread abroad, let us say that various

men have assigned various reasons for this fact, which nevertheless agree in principle. Wherefore it is


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good, for the admonition of women, to speak of this matter; and it has often been proved by experience

that they are eager to hear of it, so long as it is set forth with discretion.

For some learned men propound this reason; that there are three things in nature, the Tongue, an

Ecclesiastic, and a Woman, which know no moderation in goodness or vice; and when they exceed the

bounds of their condition they reach the greatest heights and the lowest depths of goodness and vice.

When they are governed by a good spirit, they are most excellent in virtue; but when they are governed

by an evil spirit, they indulge the worst possible vices.

This is clear in the case of the tongue, since by its ministry most of the kingdoms have been brought

into the faith of Christ; and the Holy Ghost appeared over the Apostles of Christ in tongues of fire. Other

learned preachers also have had as it were the tongues of dogs, licking wounds and sores of the dying

Lazarus. As it is said: With the tongues of dogs ye save your souls from the enemy.

For this reason S. Dominic, the leader and father of the Order of Preachers, is represented in the

figure of a barking to dog with a lighted torch in his mouth, that even to this day he may by his barking

keep off the heretic wolves from the flock of Christ's sheep.

It is also a matter of common experience that the tongue of one prudent man can subdue the

wrangling of a multitude; wherefore not unjustly Solomon sings much in their praise, in Proverbs x.: In

the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found. And again, The tongue of the just is as choice

silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. And again, The lips of the righteous feed many; but fools

die for want of wisdom. For this cause he adds in chapter xvi, The preparations of the heart belong to

man; but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

But concerning an evil tongue you will find in Ecclesiasticus xxviii: A backbiting tongue hath

disquieted many, and driven them from nation to nation: strong cities hath it pulled down, and

overthrown the houses of great men. And by a backbiting tongue it means a third party who rashly or

spitefully interferes between two contending parties.

Secondly, concerning Ecclesiastics, that is to say, clerics and religious of either sex, S. John

Chrysostom speaks on the text, He cast out them that bought and sold from the temple. From the

priesthood arises everything good, and everything evil. S. Jerome in his epistle to Nepotian says: Avoid

as you would the plague a trading priest, who has risen from poverty to riches, from a low to a high

estate. And Blessed Bernard in his 23rd Homily On the Psalms says of clerics: If one should arise as an

open heretic, let him be cast out and put to silence; if he is a violent enemy, let all good men flee from

him. But how are we to know which ones to cast out or to flee from? For they are confusedly friendly

and hostile, peaceable and quarrelsome, neighbourly and utterly selfish.

And in another place: Our bishops are become spearmen, and our pastors shearers. And by bishops

here is meant those proud Abbots who impose heavy labours on their inferiors, which they would not

themselves touch with their little finger. And S. Gregory says concerning pastors: No one does more

harm in the Church than he who, having the name or order of sanctity, lives in sin; for no one dares to

accuse him of sin, and therefore the sin is widely spread, since the sinner is honoured for the sanctity of

his order. Blessed Augustine also speaks of monks to Vincent the Donatist: I freely confess to your

charity before the Lord our God, which is the witness of my soul from the time I began to serve God,

what great difficulty I have experienced in the fact that it is impossible to find either worse of better

men than those who grace or disgrace the monasteries.

Now the wickedness of women is spoken of in Ecclesiasticus xxv: There is no head above the head

of a serpent: and there is no wrath above the wrath of a woman. I had rather dwell with a lion and a

dragon than to keep house with a wicked woman. And among much which in that place precedes and

follows about a wicked woman, he concludes: All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman.

Wherefore S. John Chrysostom says on the text, It is not good to marry (S. Matthew xix): What else is

woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a


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desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair

colours! Therefore if it be a sin to divorce her when she ought to be kept, it is indeed a necessary

torture; for either we commit adultery by divorcing her, or we must endure daily strife. Cicero in his

second book of The Rhetorics says: The many lusts of men lead them into one sin, but the lust of women

leads them into all sins; for the root of all woman's vices is avarice. And Seneca says in his Tragedies: A

woman either loves or hates; there is no third grade. And the tears of woman are a deception, for they

may spring from true grief, or they may be a snare. When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.

But for good women there is so much praise, that we read that they have brought beatitude to

men, and have saved nations, lands, and cities; as is clear in the case of Judith, Debbora, and Esther. See

also I Corinthians vii: If a woman hath a husband that believeth not, let her not leave him. For the

unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife. And Ecclesiasticus xxvi: Blessed is the man who

has a virtuous wife, for the number of his days shell be doubled. And throughout that chapter much high

praise is spoken of the excellence of good women; as also in the last chapter of Proverbs concerning a

virtuous woman.

And all this is made clear also in the New Testament concerning women and virgins and other holy

women who have by faith led nations and kingdoms away from the worship of idols to the Christian

religion. Anyone who looks at Vincent of Beauvais (in Spe. Histo., XXVI. 9) will find marvellous things of

the conversion of Hungary by the most Christian Gilia, and of the Franks by Clotilda, the wife of Clovis.

Wherefore in many vituperations that we read against women, the word woman is used to mean the

lust of the flesh. As it is said: I have found a woman more bitter than death, and good woman subject to

carnal lust.

Other again have propounded other reasons why there are more superstitious women found than

men. And the first is, that they are more credulous; and since the chief aim of the devil is to corrupt

faith, therefore he rather attacks them. See Ecclesiasticus xix: He that is quick to believe is light-minded,

and shall be diminished. The second reason is, that women are naturally more impressionable, and

more ready to receive the influence of a disembodied spirit; and that when they use this quality well

they are very good, but when they use it ill they are very evil.

The third reason is that they have slippery tongues, and are unable to conceal from the fellow-

women those things which by evil arts they know; and, since they are weak, they find an easy and secret

manner of vindicating themselves by witchcraft. See Ecclesiasticus as quoted above: I had rather dwell

with a lion and a dragon than to keep house with a wicked woman. All wickedness is but little to the

wickedness of a woman. And to this may be added that, as they are very impressionable, they act


There are also others who bring forward yet other reasons, of which preachers should be very

careful how they make use. For it is true that in the Old Testament the Scriptures have much that is evil

to say about women, and this because of the first temptress, Eve, and her imitators; yet afterwards in

the New Testament we find a change of name, as from Eva to Ave (as S. Jerome says), and the whole sin

of Eve taken away by the benediction of Mary. Therefore preachers should always say as much praise of

them as possible.

But because in these times this perfidy is more often found in women than in men, as we learn by

actual experience, if anyone is curious as to the reason, we may add to what has already been said the

following: that since they are feebler both in mind and body, it is not surprising that they should come

more under the spell of witchcraft.

For as regards intellect, or the understanding of spiritual things, they seem to be of a different

nature from men; a fact which is vouched for by the logic of the authorities, backed by various examples

from the Scriptures. Terence says: Women are intellectually like children. And Lactantius (Institutiones,

III): No woman understood philosophy except Temeste. And Proverbs xi, as it were describing a woman,


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says: As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

But the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal

abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since

she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary

direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives. For

Cato says: When a woman weeps she weaves snares. And again: When a woman weeps, she labours to

deceive a man. And this is shown by Samson's wife, who coaxed him to tell her the riddle he had

propounded to the Philistines, and told them the answer, and so deceived him. And it is clear in the case

of the first woman that she had little faith; for when the serpent asked why they did not eat of every

tree in Paradise, she answered: Of every tree, etc. - lest perchance we die. Thereby she showed that she

doubted, and had little in the word of God. And all this is indicated by the etymology of the word; for

Femina comes from Fe and Minus, since she is ever weaker to hold and preserve the faith. And this as

regards faith is of her very nature; although both by grace and nature faith never failed in the Blessed

Virgin, even at the time of Christ's Passion, when it failed in all men.

Therefore a wicked woman is by her nature quicker to waver in her faith, and consequently quicker

to abjure the faith, which is the root of witchcraft.

And as to her other mental quality, that is, her natural will; when she hates someone whom she

formerly loved, then she seethes with anger and impatience in her whole soul, just as the tides of the

sea are always heaving and boiling. Many authorities allude to this cause. Ecclesiasticus xxv: There is no

wrath above the wrath of a woman. And Seneca (Tragedies, VIII): No might of the flames or the swollen

winds, no deadly weapon, is so much to be feared as the lust and hatred of a woman who has been

divorced from the marriage bed.

This is shown too in the woman who falsely accused Joseph, and caused him to be imprisoned

because he would not consent to the crime of adultery with her (Genesis xxx). And truly the most

powerful cause which contributes to the increase of witches is the woeful rivalry between married folk

and unmarried women and men. This is so even among holy women, so what must it be among the

others? For you see in Genesis xxi. how impatient and envious Sarah was of Hagar when she conceived:

How jealous Rachel was of Leah because she had no children (Genesis xxx): and Hannah, who was

barren, of the fruitful Peninnah (I. Kings i): and how Miriam (Numbers xii) murmured and spoke ill of

Moses, and was therefore stricken with leprosy: and how Martha was jealous of Mary Magdalen,

because she was busy and Mary was sitting down (S. Luke x). To this point is Ecclesiasticus xxxvii: Neither

consult with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous. Meaning that it is useless to consult with

her, since there is always jealousy, that is, envy, in a wicked woman. And if women behave thus to each

other, how much more will they do so to men.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question VII

Whether Witches can Sway the Minds of Men to Love or Hatred.

It is asked whether devils, through the medium of witches, can change or incite the minds of men to

inordinate love or hatred; and it is argued that, following the previous conclusions, they cannot do so.

For there are three things in man: will, understanding, and body. The first is ruled by God (for, The heart

of the king is in the hand of the Lord); the second is enlightened by an Angel; and the body is governed

by the motions of the stars. And as the devils cannot effect changes in the body, even less have they

power to incite love or hatred in the soul. The consequence is clear; that though they have more power

over things corporeal than over things spiritual, they cannot change even the body, as has been often

proved. For they cannot induce any substantial or accidental form, except is as it were their artificer. In


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this connexion is quoted what has been said before; that whoever believes that any creature can be

changed for the better or worse or transformed into another kind or likeness, except by the Creator of

all things, is worse than a pagan and a heretic.

Besides, everything that acts with design knows its own effect. If, therefore, the devil could change

the minds of men to hatred or love, he would also be able to see the inner thoughts of the heart; but

this is contrary to what is said in the Book of Ecclesiastic Dogma: The devil cannot see our inner

thoughts. And again in the same place: Not all our evil thoughts are from the devil, but sometimes they

arise from our own choice.

Besides, love and hatred are a matter of the will, which is rooted in the soul; therefore they cannot

by any cunning be caused by the devil. The conclusion holds that He alone (as S. Augustine says) is able

to enter into the soul, Who created it.

Besides, it is not valid to argue that because he can influence the inner emotions, therefore he can

govern the will. For the emotions are stronger than physical strength; and the devil can effect nothing in

a physical way, such as the formation of flesh and blood; therefore he can effect nothing through the


But against this. The devil is said to tempt men not only visibly but also invisibly; but this would not

be true unless he were able to exert some influence over the inner mind. Besides, S. John Damascene

says: All evil and all filthiness is devised by the devil. And Dionysius, de Divin. Nom. IV: The multitude of

devils is the cause of all evil, etc.

Answer. First, one sort of cause is to be distinguished from another: secondly, we shall show how

the devil can affect the inner powers of the mind, that is the emotions; and thirdly, we shall draw the fit

conclusion. And as to the first, it is to be considered that the cause of anything can be understood in two

ways; either as direct, or as indirect. For when something cause a disposition to some effect, it is said to

be an occasional and indirect cause of that effect. In this way it may be said that he who chops wood is

the cause of the actual fire. And similarly we may say that the devil is the cause of all our sins; for he

incited the first man to sin, from whose sin it has been handed down to the whole human race to have

an inclination towards sin. And in this way are to be understood the words of S. John Damascene and


But a direct cause is one that directly causes an effect; and in this sense the devil is not the cause of

all sin. For all sins are not committed at the instigation of the devil, but some are of our own choosing.

For Origen says: Even if the devil were not, men would still lust after food and venery and such things.

And from these inordinate lusts much may result, unless such appetites be reasonably restrained. But to

restrain such ungoverned desire is the part of man's free-will, over which even the devil has no power.

And because this distinction is not sufficient to explain how the devil at times produces a frantic

infatuation of love, it is further to be noted that though he cannot cause that inordinate love by directly

compelling a man's will, yet he can do so by means of persuasion. And this again in two ways, either

visibly or invisibly. Visibly, when he appears to witches in the form of a man, and speaks to them

materially, persuading them to sin. So he tempted our first parents in Paradise in the form of a serpent;

and so he tempted Christ in the wilderness, appearing to Him in visible form.

But it is not to be thought that this is the only way he influences a man; for in that case no sin would

proceed from the devil's instruction, except such as were suggested by him in visible form. Therefore it

must be said that even invisibly he instigates man to sin. And this he does in two ways, either by

persuasion or by disposition. By persuasion, he presents something to the understanding as being a

good thing. And this he can do in three ways; for he presents it either to the intellect, or to the inner

perceptions, or to the outer. And as for the intellect; the human intellect can be helped by a good Angel

to understand a thing by means of enlightenment, as Dionysius says; and to understand a thing,

according to Aristotle, is to suffer something: therefore the devil can impress some form upon the


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intellect, by which the act of understanding is called forth.

And it may be argued that the devil can do this by his natural power, which is not, as had been

shown, diminished. It is to be said, however, that he cannot do this by means of enlightenment, but by

persuasion. For the intellect of man is of that condition that, the more it is enlightened, the more it

knows the truth, and the more it can defend itself from deception. And because the devil intends his

deception to be permanent, therefore no persuasion that he uses can be called enlightenment: although

it may be called revelation, in that when he invisibly uses persuasion, by means of some impression he

plants something on the inner or outer sense. And by this the reasoning intellect is persuaded to

perform some action.

But as to how he is enabled to create an impression on the inner sense, it is to be noted that the

bodily nature is naturally born to be moved locally by the spiritual; which is clear from the case of our

own bodies, which are moved by souls; and the same is the case with the stars. But it is not by nature

adapted to be directly subject to influences, by which we mean outside influences, not those with which

it is informed. Wherefore the concurrence of some bodily agent is necessary, as is proved in the 7th

book of the Metaphysics. Corporeal matter naturally obeys a good or bad angel as to the local motion;

and it is due to this that devils can through motion collect semen, and employ it for the production of

wonderful results. This was how it happened that Pharao's magicians produced serpents and actual

animals, when corresponding active and passive agents were brought together. Therefore there is

nothing to prevent the devils from effecting anything that appertains to the local motion of corporeal

matter, unless God prevent it.

And now let us examine how the devil can through local motion excite the fancy and inner sensory

perceptions of a man by apparitions and impulsive actions. It is to be noted that Aristotle (De Somno et

Uigilia) assigns the cause of apparitions in dreams through local motion to the fact that, when an animal

sleeps the blood flows to the inmost seat of the senses, from which descend motions or impressions

which remain from past impressions preserved in the mind or inner perception; and these are Fancy or

Imagination, which are the same thing according to S. Thomas, as will be shown.

For fancy or imagination is as it were the treasury of ideas received through the senses. And

through this it happens that devils stir up the inner perceptions, that is the power of conserving images,

that they appear to be a new impression at that moment received from exterior things.

It is true that all do not agree to this; but if anyone wishes to occupy himself with this question, he

must consider the number and the office of the inner perceptions. According to Avicenna, in his book On

the Mind, these are five: namely, Common Sense, Fancy, Imagination, Thought, and Memory. But S.

Thomas, in the First Part of Question 79, says that they are only four, since Fancy and Imagination are

the same thing. For fear of prolixity I omit much more that has variously been said on this subject.

Only this must be said; that fancy is the treasury of ideas, but memory appears to be something

different. For fancy is the treasury or repository of ideas received through the senses; but memory is the

treasury of instincts, which are not received through the senses. For when a man sees a wolf, he runs

away, not because of its ugly colour or appearance, which are ideas received through the outer senses

and conserved in his fancy; but he runs away because the wolf is his natural enemy. And this he knows

through some instinct or fear, which is apart from thought, which recognized the wolf as hostile, but a

dog as friendly. But the repository of those instincts is memory. And reception and retention are two

different things in animal nature; for those who are of a humid disposition receive readily, but retain

badly; and the contrary is the case of those with a dry humour.

To return to the question. The apparitions that come in dreams to sleepers proceed from the ideas

retained in the repository of their mind, through a natural local motion caused by the flow of blood to

the first and inmost seat of their faculties of perception; and we speak of an instrinsic local motion in the

head and the cells of the brain.


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And this can also happen through a similar local motion created by devils. Also such things happen

not only to the sleeping, but even to those who are awake. For in these also the devils can stir up and

excite the inner perceptions and humours, so that ideas retained in the repositories of their minds are

drawn out and made apparent to the faculties of fancy and imagination, so that such men imagine these

things to be true. And this is called interior temptation.

And it is no wonder that the devil can do this by his own natural power; since any man by himself,

being awake and having the use of his reason, can voluntarily draw from his repositories the images he

has retained in them; in such a way that he can summon to himself the images of whatsoever things he

pleases. And this being granted, it is easy to understand the matter of excessive infatuation in love.

Now there are two ways in which devils can, as has been said, raise up this kind of images.

Sometimes they work without enchaining the human reason, as has been said in the matter of

temptation, and the example of voluntary imagination. But sometimes the use of reason is entirely

chained up; and this may be exemplified by certain naturally defective persons, and by madmen and

drunkards. Therefore it is no wonder that devils can, with God's permission, chain up the reason; and

such men are called delirious, because their senses have been snatched away by the devil. And this they

do in two ways, either with or without the help of witches. For Aristotle, in the work we have quoted,

says that anyone who lives in passion is moved by only a little thing, as a lover by the remotest likeness

of his love, and similarly with one who feels hatred. Therefore devils, who have learned from men's acts

to which passions they are chiefly subject, incite them to this sort of inordinate love or hatred,

impressing their purpose on men's imagination the more strongly and effectively, as they can do so the

more easily. And this is the more easy for a lover to summon up the image of his love from his memory,

and retain it pleasurably in his thoughts.

But they work by witchcraft when they do these things through and at the instance of witches, by

reason of a pact entered into with them. But it is not possible to treat of such matters in detail, on

account of the great number of instances both among the clergy and among the laity. For how many

adulterers have put away the most beautiful wives to lust after the vilest of women!

We know of an old woman who, according to the common account of the brothers in that

monastery even up to this day, in this manner not only bewitched three successive Abbots, but even

killed them, and in the same way drove the fourth out of his mind. For she herself publicly confessed it,

and does not fear to say: I did so and I do so, and they are not able to keep from loving me because they

have eaten so much of my dung - measuring off a certain length on her arm. I confess, moreover, that

since we had no case to prosecute her or bring her to trial, she survives to this day.

It will be remembered that it was said that the devil invisibly lures a man to sin, not only by means

of persuasion, as has been said, but also by the means of disposition. Although this is not very pertinent,

yet be it said that by a similar admonition of the disposition and humours of men, he renders some

more disposed to anger, or concupiscence, or other passions. For it is manifest that a man who has a

body so disposed is more prone to concupiscence and anger and such passions; and when they are

aroused, he is more apt to surrender to them. But because it is difficult to quote precedents, therefore

an easier method must be found of declaring them for the admonition of the people. And in the Second

Part of this book we treat of the remedies by which men so bewitched can be set free.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question VIII

Whether Witches can Hebetate the Powers of Generation or Obstruct the Venereal Act.

Now the fact that adulterous drabs and whores are chiefly given to witchcraft is substantiated by

the spells which are cast by witches upon the act of generation. And to make the truth more clear, we


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will consider the arguments of those who are in disagreement with us on this matter. And first it is

argued that such a bewitching is not possible, because if it were it would apply equally to those who are

married; and if this were conceded, then, since matrimony is God's work and witchcraft is the devil's,

the devil's work would be stronger than God's. But if it is allowed that it can only affect fornicators and

the unmarried, this involves a return to the opinion that witchcraft does not really exist, but only in

men's imagination; and this was refuted in the First Question. Or else some reason will be found why it

should affect the unmarried and not the married; and the only possible reason is that matrimony is

God's work. And since, according to the Theologians, this reason is not valid, there still remains the

argument that it would make the devil's work stronger than God's; and since it would be unseemly to

make such an assertion, it is also unseemly to maintain that the venereal act can be obstructed by


Again, the devil cannot obstruct the other natural actions, such as eating, walking and standing, as is

apparent from the fact that, if he could, he could destroy the whole world.

Besides, since the venereal act is common to all women, if it were obstructed it would be so with

reference to all women; but this is not so, and therefore the first argument is good. For the facts prove

that it is not so; for when a man says that he has been bewitched, he is still quite capable as regards

other women, though not with her with whom he is unable to copulate; and the reason for this is that

he does not wish to, and therefore cannot effect anything in the matter.

On the contrary and true side is the chapter in the Decretals (If by sortilege, etc.): as is also the

opinion of all the Theologians and Canonists, where they treat of the obstruction to marriage caused by


There is also another reason: that since the devil is more powerful than man, and a man can

obstruct the generative powers by means of frigid herbs or anything else that can be thought of,

therefore much more can the devil do this, since he has greater knowledge and cunning.

Answer. The truth is sufficiently evident from two matters which have already been argued,

although the method of obstruction has not been specifically declared. For it has been shown that

witchcraft does not exist only in men's imaginations, and not in fact; but that truly and actually in

numerable bewitchments can happen, with the permission of God. It has been shown, too, that God

permits it more in the case of the generative powers, because of their greater corruption, than in the

case of other human actions. But concerning the method by which such obstruction is procured, it is to

be noted that it does not affect only the generative powers, but also the powers of the imagination or


And as to this, Peter of Palude (III, 34) notes five methods. For he says that the devil, being a spirit,

has power over a corporeal creature to cause or prevent a local motion. Therefore he can prevent

bodies from approaching each other, either directly or indirectly, by interposing himself in some bodily

shape. In this way it happened to the young man who was betrothed to an idol and nevertheless

married a young maiden, and was consequently unable to copulate with her. Secondly, he can excite a

man to that act, or freeze his desire for it, by the virtue of secret things of which he best knows the

power. Thirdly, he can also disturb a man's perception and imagination as to make the woman appear

loathsome to him: since he can, as had been said, influence the imagination. Fourthly, he can directly

prevent the erection of that member which is adapted to fructification, just as he can prevent local

motion. Fifthly, he can prevent the flow of the vital essence to the members in which lie the motive

power; by closing as it were the seminary ducts, so that it does not descend to the generative channels,

or falls back from them, or does not project from them, or in any of many ways fails in its function.

And he continues in agreement with what has been treated of above by other Doctors. For God

allows the devil more latitude in respect of this act, through which sin was first spread abroad, than of

other human acts. Similarly, serpents are more subject to magic spells than are other animals. And a


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little later he says: It is the same in the case of a woman, for the devil can so darken her understanding

that she considers her husband so loathsome that not for all the world would she allow him to lie with


Later he wishes to find the reason why more men than women are bewitched in respect of that

action; and he says that such obstruction generally occurs in the matter of erection, which can more

easily happen to men; and therefore more men than women are bewitched. It might also be said that,

the greater part of witches being women, they lust more for men than for women. Also they act in the

despite of married women, finding every opportunity for adultery when the husband is able to copulate

with other women but not with his own wife; and similarly the wife also has to seek other lovers.

He adds also that God allows the devil to afflict sinners more bitterly than the just. Wherefore the

Angel said to Tobias: He gives the devil power over those who are given up to lust. But he has power

also against the just sometimes, as in the case of Job, but not in respect of the genital functions.

Wherefore they ought to devote themselves to confession and other good works, lest the iron remain in

the wound, and it be in vain to apply remedies. So much for Peter. But the method of removing such

effects will be shown in the Second Part of this work.

Some Incidental Doubts on the subject of Copulation

prevented by Evil Spells are made Clear.

But incidentally, if it is asked why this function is sometimes obstructed in respect of one woman

but not of another, the answer, according to S. Bonaventura, is this. Either the enchantress of witch

afflicts in this way those persons upon whom the devil has determined; or it is because God will not

permit it to be inflicted on certain persons. For the hidden purpose of God in this is obscure, as is shown

in the case of the wife of Tobias. And he adds:

If it is asked how the devil does this, it is to be said that he obstructs the genital power, not

intrinsically by harming the organ, but extrinsically by rendering it useless. Therefore, since it is an

artificial and not a natural obstruction, he can make a man impotent towards one woman but not

towards others: by taking away the inflammation of his lust for her, but not for other women, either

through his own power, or through some herb or stone, or some occult natural means. And this agrees

with the words of Peter of Palude.

Besides, since impotency in this act is sometimes due to coldness of nature, or some natural defect,

it is asked how it is possible to distinguish whether it is due to witchcraft of not. Hostiensis gives the

answer in his Summa (but this must not be publicly preached): When the member is in no way stirred,

and can never perform the act of coition, this is a sign of frigidity of nature; but when it is stirred and

becomes erect, but yet cannot perform, it is a sign of witchcraft.

It is to be noted also that impotence of the member to perform the act is not the only bewitchment;

but sometimes the woman is caused to be unable to conceive, or else she miscarries.

Note, moreover, that according to what is aid down by the Canons, whoever through desire of

vengeance or for hatred does anything to a man or a woman to prevent them from begetting or

conceiving must be considered a homicide. And note, further, that the Canon speaks of loose lovers

who, to save their mistresses from shame, use contraceptives, such as potions, or herbs that contravene

nature, without any help from devils. And such penitents are to be punished as homicides. But witches

who do such things by witchcraft are by law punishable by the extreme penalty, as had been touched on

above in the First Question.

And for a solution of the arguments; when it is objected that these things cannot happen to those

joined together in matrimony, it is further to be noted that, even if the truth in this matter had not

already been made sufficiently plain, yet these things can truly and actually happen just as much to

those who are married as to those who are not. And the prudent reader who has plenty of books, will

refer to the Theologians and the Canonists, especially where they speak of the impotent and bewitched.


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He will find them in agreement in condemning two errors: especially with regard to married people who

seem to think that such bewitchment cannot happen to those who are joined in matrimony, advancing

the reason that the devil cannot destroy the works of God.

And the first error which they condemn is that of those who say that there is no witchcraft in the

world, but only in the imagination of men who, through their ignorance of hidden causes which no man

yet understands, ascribe certain natural effects to witchcraft, as though they were effected not by

hidden causes, but by devils working either by themselves or in conjunction with witches. And although

all other Doctors condemn this error as a pure falsehood, yet S. Thomas impugns it more vigorously and

stigmatizes it as actual heresy, saying that this error proceeds from the root of infidelity. And since

infidelity in a Christian is accounted heresy, therefore such deserve to be suspected as heretics. And this

matter was touched on in the First Question, though it was not there declared so plainly. For if anyone

considers the other sayings of S. Thomas in other places, he will find the reasons why he affirms that

such an error proceeds from the root of infidelity.

For in his questions concerning Sin, where he treats of devils, and in his first question, whether

devils have bodies that naturally belong to them, among many other matters he makes mention of

those who referred every physical effect to the virtue of the stars; to which they said that the hidden

causes of terrestrial effects were subject. And he says: It must be considered that the Peripatetics,the

followers of Aristotle, held that devils did not really exist; but that those things which are attributed to

devils proceeded from the power of the stars and other natural phenomena. Wherefore S. Augustine

says (de Ciuitate Dei, X), that it was the opinion of Porphyry that from herbs and animals, and certain

sounds and voice, and from figures and figments observed in the motion of the stars, powers

corresponding to the stars were fabricated on earth by men in order to explain various natural effect.

And the error of these is plain, since they referred everything to hidden causes in the stars, holding that

devils were only fabricated by the imagination of men.

But this opinion is clearly proved to be false by S. Thomas in the same work; for some works of

devils are found which can in no way proceed from any natural cause. For example, when one who is

possessed by devil speaks in an unknown language; and many other devil's works are found, both in the

Rhapsodic and the Necromantic arts, which can in no way proceed except from some Intelligence, which

may be naturally good but is evil in its intention. And therefore, because of these incongruities, other

Philosophers were compelled to admit that there were devils. Yet they afterwards fell into various

errors, some thinking that the souls of men, when they left their bodies, became devils. For this reason

many Soothsayers have killed children, that they might have their souls as their co-operators; and many

other errors are recounted.

From this it is clear that not without reason does the Holy Doctor say that such an opinion proceeds

from the root of infidelity. And anyone who wishes may read S. Augustine (de Ciuitate Dei, VIII, IX) on

the various errors of infidels concerning the nature of devils. And indeed the common opinion of all

Doctors, quoted in the above-mentioned work, against those who err in this way by denying that there

are any witches, is very weighty in its meaning, even if it is expressed in few words. For they say that

they who maintain that there is no witchcraft in the world go contrary to the opinion of all the Doctors,

and of the Holy Scripture; and declare that there are devils, and that devils have power over the bodies

and imaginations of men, with the permission of God. Wherefore, those who are the instruments of the

devils, at whose instance the devil at times do mischief to a creature, they call witches.

Now in the Doctor's condemnation of this first error nothing is said concerning those joined

together in matrimony; but this is made clear in their condemnation of the second error of believing

that, though witchcraft exists and abounds in the world, even against carnal copulation, yet, since no

such bewitchment can be considered to be permanent, it never annuls a marriage that has already been

contracted. Here is where they speak of those joined in matrimony. Now in refuting this error (for we do


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so, even though it is little to the point, for the sake of those who have not many books), it is to be noted

that they refute it by maintaining that it is against all precedent, and contrary to all laws both ancient

and modern.

Wherefore the Catholic Doctors make the following distinction, that impotence caused by

witchcraft is either temporary or permanent. And if it is temporary, then it does not annul the marriage.

Moreover, it is presumed to be temporary of they are able to healed of the impediment within three

years from their cohabitation, having taken all possible pain, either through the sacraments of the

Church, or through other remedies, to be cured. But if they are not then cured by any remedy, from that

time it is presumed to be permanent. And in that case it either precedes both the contracting of a

marriage, and annuls one that is not yet contracted; or else it follows the contract of marriage but

precedes its consummation, and then also, according to some, it annuls the previous contract. (For it is

said in Book XXXII, quest. 1. cap. 1 that the confirmation of a marriage consists in its carnal office.) Or

else it is subsequent to the consummation of the marriage, and then the matrimonial bond is not

annulled. Much is noted there concerning impotence by Hostiensis, and Godfrey, and the Doctors and


To the arguments. As to the first, it is made sufficiently clear from what has been said. For as to the

argument that God's works can be destroyed by the devil's works, if witchcraft has power against those

who are married, it has no force; rather does the opposite appear, since the devil can do nothing

without God's permission. For he does not destroy by main force like a tyrant, but through some

extrinsic art, as is proved above. And the second argument is also made quite clear, why God allows this

obstruction more in the case of the venereal act than of other acts. But the devil has power also over

other acts, when God permits. Wherefore it is not sound to argue that he could destroy the whole

world. And the third objection is similarly answered by what has been said.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question IX

Whether Witches may work some Prestidigatory Illusion so that the Male Organ appears to be

entirely removed and separate from the Body.

Here is declared the truth about diabolic operations with regard to the male organ. And to make

plain the facts in this matter, it is asked whether witches can with the help of devils really and actually

remove the member, or whether they only do so apparently by some glamour or illusion. And that they

can actually do so is argued a fortiori; for since devils can do greater things than this, as killing them or

carrying them from place to place - as was shown above in the cases of Job and Tobias - therefore they

can also truly and actually remove men's members.

Again, an argument is taken from the gloss on the visitations of bad Angels, in the Psalms: God

punishes by means of bad Angels, as He often punished the People of Israel with various diseases, truly

and actually visited upon their bodies. Therefore the member is equally subject to such visitations.

It may be said that this is done with the Divine permission. And in that case, it has already been said

that God allows more power of witchcraft over the genital functions, on account of the first corruption

of sin which came to us from the act of generation, so also He allows greater power over the actual

genital organ, even to its removal.

And again, it was a greater thing to turn Lot's wife into a pillar of salt than it is to take away the

male organ; and that (Genesis xix) was a real and actual, not an apparent, metamorphosis (for it is said

that that pillar is still to be seen), And this was done by a bad Angel; just as the good Angels struck the

men of Sodom with blindness, so that they could not find the door of the house. And so it was with the

other punishments of the men of Gomorrah. The gloss, indeed, affirms that Lot's wife was herself


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

tainted with that vice, and therefore she was punished.

And again, whoever can create a natural shape can also take it away. But devils have created many

natural shapes, as is clear from Pharao's magicians, who with the help of devils made frogs and serpents.

Also S. Augustine, in Book LXXXIII, says that those things which are visibly done by the lower powers of

the air cannot be considered to be mere illusions; but even men are able, by some skilful incision, to

remove the male organ; therefore devils can do invisibly what others do visibly.

But on the contrary side, S. Augustine (de Ciuitate Dei, XVIII) says: It is not to be believed that,

through the art or power of devils, man's body can be changed into the likeness of a beast; therefore it

is equally impossible that that should be removed which is essential to the truth of the human body,

Also he says (de Trinitate, III): It must not be thought that this substance of visible matter is subject to

the will of those fallen angels; for it is subject only to God.

Answer. There is no doubt that certain witches can do marvellous things with regard to male

organs, for this agrees with what has been seen and heard by many, and with the general account of

what has been known concerning that member through the senses of sight and touch. And as to how

this thing is possible, it is to be said that it can be done in two ways, either actually and in fact, as the

first arguments have said, or through some prestige or glamour. But when it is performed by witches, it

is only a matter of glamour; although it is no illusion in the opinion of the sufferer. For his imagination

can really and actually believe that something is not present, since by none of his exterior sense, such as

sight or touch, can he perceive that it is present.

From this it may be said that there is a true abstraction of the member in imagination, although not

in fact; and several things are to be noted as to how this happens. And first as to two methods by which

it can be done. It is no wonder that the devil can deceive the outer human senses, since, as has been

treated of above, he can illude the inner senses, by bringing to actual perception ideas that are stored in

the imagination. Moreover, he deceives men in their natural functions, causing that which is visible to

be invisible to them, and that which is tangible to be intangible, and the audible inaudible, and so with

the other senses. But such things are not true in actual fact, since they are caused through some defect

introduced in the sense, such as the eyes or the ears, or the touch, by reason of which defect a man's

judgement is deceived.

And we can illustrate this from certain natural phenomena. For sweet wine appears bitter on the

tongue of the fevered, his taste being deceived not by the actual fact, but through his disease. So also in

the case under consideration, the deception is not due to fact, since the member is still actually in its

place; but it is an illusion of the sense with regard to it.

Again, as has been said above concerning the generative powers, the devil can obstruct that action

by imposing some other body of the same colour and appearance, in such a way that some smoothly

fashioned body in the colour of flesh is interposed between the sight and touch, and between the true

body of the sufferer, so that it seems to him that he can see and feel nothing but a smooth body with its

surface interrupted by no genital organ. See the sayings of S. Thomas (2 dist. 8. artic. 5) concerning

glamours and illusions, and also in the second of the second, 91, and in his questions concerning Sin;

where he frequently quotes that of S. Augustine in Book LXXXIII: This evil of the devil creeps in through

all the sensual approaches; he gives himself to figures, he adapts himself to colours, he abides in sounds,

he lurks in smells, he infuses himself into flavours.

Besides, it is to be considered that such an illusion of the sight and touch can be caused not only by

the interposition of some smooth unmembered body, but also by the summoning to the fancy or

imagination of certain forms and ideas latent in the mind, in such a way that a thing is imagined as being

perceived then for the first time. For, as was shown in the preceding question, devils can by their own

power change bodies locally; and just as the disposition or humour can be affected in this way, so can

the natural functions. I speak of things which appear natural to the imagination or senses. For Aristotle


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

in the de Somno et Uigila says, assigning the cause of apparitions in dreams, that when an animal sleeps

much blood flows to the inner consciousness, and thence come ideas or impressions derived from actual

previous experiences stored in the mind. It has already been defined how thus certain appearance

convey the impressions of new experiences. And since this can happen naturally, much more can the

devil call to the imagination the appearance of a smooth body unprovided with the virile member, in

such a way that the sense believe it to be an actual fact.

Secondly, some other methods are to be noted which are easier to understand and to explain. For,

according to S. Isidore (Etym. VIII, 9), a glamour is nothing but a certain delusion of the senses, and

especially of the eyes. And for this reason it is also called a prestige, from prestringo, since the sight of

the eyes is so fettered that things seem to be other than they are. And Alexander of Hales, Part 2, says

that a prestige, properly understood, is an illusion of the devil, which is not caused by any change in

matter, but only exists in the mind of him who is deluded, either as to his inner or outer perceptions.

Wherefore, in a manner of speaking, we may say even of human prestidigitatory art, that it can be

effected in three ways. For the first, it can be done without devils, since it is artificially done by the

agility of men who show things and conceal them, as in the case of the tricks of conjurers and

ventriloquists. The second method is also without the help of devils; as when men can use some natural

virtue in natural bodies or minerals so as to impart to such objects some other appearance quite

different from their true appearance. Wherefore, according to S. Thomas (I, 114, 4), and several others,

men, by the smoke of certain smouldering or lighted herbs, can make rods appear to be serpents.

The third method of delusion is effected with the help of devils, the permission of God being

granted. For it is clear that devils have, of their nature, some power over certain earthly matters, which

they exercise upon them, when God permits, so that things appear to be other than they are.

And as to this third method, it is to be noted that the devil has fives ways in which he can delude

anyone so that he thinks a thing to be other than it is. First, by an artificial tricks, as has been said; for

that which a man can do by art, the devil can do even better. Second, by a natural method, by the

application, as has been said, and interposition of some substance so as to hide the true body, or by

confusing it in man's fancy. The third way is when in an assumed body he presents himself as being

something which he is not; as witness the story which S. Gregory tells in his First Dialogue of a Nun, who

ate a lettuce, which, however, as the devil confessed, was not a lettuce, but the devil in the form of a

lettuce, or in the lettuce itself. Or as when he appeared to S. Antony in a lump of gold which he found in

the desert. Or as when he touches a real man, and makes him appear like a brute animal, as will shortly

be explained. The fourth method is when he confuses the organ of sight, so that a clear thing seems

hazy, or the converse, or when an old woman appears to be a young girl. For even after weeping the

light appears different from what it was before. His fifth method is by working in the imaginative power,

and, by a disturbance of the humours, effecting a transmutation in the forms perceived by the senses, as

has been treated of before, so that the senses then perceive as it were fresh and new images. And

accordingly, by the last three of these methods, and even by the second, the devil can cast a glamour

over the senses of a man. Wherefore there is no difficulty in his concealing the virile member by some

prestige or glamour. And a manifest proof or example of this, which was revealed to us in our

Inquisitorial capacity, will be set forth later, where more is recounted of these and other matters in the

Second Part of this Treatise.

How a Bewitchment can be Distinguished from a Natural Defect.

An incidental question, with certain other difficulties, follows. Peter's member has been taken off,

and he does not know whether it is by witchcraft or in some other way by the devil's power, with the

permission of God. Are there any ways of determining or distinguishing between these? It can be

answered as follows. First, that those to whom such things most commonly happen are adulterers or

fornicators. For when they fail to respond to the demand of their mistress, or if they wish to desert them


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

and attach themselves to other women, then their mistress, out of vengeance, through some other

power causes their members to be taken off. Secondly, it can be distinguished by the fact that it is not

permanent. For if it is not due to witchcraft, then the loss is not permanent, but it will be restored some


But here there arises another doubt, whether it is due to the nature of the witchcraft that it is not

permanent. It is answered that it can be permanent, and last until death, just as the Canonists and

Theologians judge concerning the impediment of witchcraft in matrimony, that the temporary can

become permanent. For Godfrey says in his Summa: A bewitchment cannot always be removed by him

who caused it, either because he is dead, or because he does not know how to remove it, or because

the charm has been lost. Wherefore we may say in the same way that the charm which has been

worked on Peter will be permanent if the witch who did it cannot heal him.

For there are three degrees of witches. For some both heal and harm; some harm, but cannot heal;

and some seem able only to heal, that is, to take away injuries, as will be shown later. For thus it

happened to us: Two witches were quarreling, and while they were taunting each other one said: I am

not so wicked as you, for I know how to heal those whom I injure. The charm will also be permanent if,

before it has been healed, the witch departs, either by changing her dwelling or by dying. For S. Thomas

also says: Any charm may be permanent when it is such as can have no human remedy; or if it has a

remedy, it is not known to men, or unlawful; although God can find a remedy through a holy Angel who

can coerce the devil, if not the witch.

However, the chief remedy against witchcraft is the sacrament of Penitence. For bodily infirmity

often proceeds from sin. And how the charms or witches can be removed will be shown in the Second

Part of this Treatise, and in the Second QUestion, chapter VI, where other different matters are treated

of and explained.

Solutions of the Arguments.

For the first, it is clear that there is no doubt but that, just as, with God's permission, they can kill

men, so also can devils taken off that member, as well as others, truly and actually. But then the devils

do not work through the medium of witches, concerning which mention has already been made. And

from this the answer to the second argument is also made clear. But this is to be said: that God allows

more power of witchcraft over the genital forces because, etc.; and therefore even allows that that

member should be truly and actually taken off. But it is not valid to say that this always happens. For it

would not be after the manner of witchcraft for it to happen so; and even the witches, when they do

such works, do not pretend that they have not the power to restore the member when they wish to and

know how to do so. From which it is clear that it is not actually taken off, but only by a glamour. As for

the third, concerning the metamorphosis of Lot's wife, we say that this was actual, and not a glamour.

And as to the fourth, that devils can create certain substantial shapes, and therefore can also remove

them: it is to be said with regard to Pharaoh's magicians that they made true serpents; and that devils

can, with the help of another agent, produce certain effects on imperfect creatures which they cannot

on men, who are God's chief care. For it is said: Does God care for oxen? They can, nevertheless, with

the permission of God, do to men true and actual harm, as also they can create a glamour of harm, and

by this the answer to the last argument is made clear.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question X

Whether Witches can by some Glamour Change Men into Beasts.

Here we declare the truth as to whether and how witches transform men into beasts. And it is

argued that this is not possible, from the following passage of Episcopus (XXVI, 5): Whoever believes that


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

it is possible for any creature to be changed for the better or for the worse, or to be transformed into

any other shape or likeness, except by the Creator Himself, Who made all things, is without doubt an

infidel, and worse than a pagan.

And we will quote the arguments of S. Thomas in the 2nd Book of Sentences, VIII: Whether devils

can affect the bodily sense by the delusion of a glamour. There he argues first that they cannot. For

though that shape of a beast which is seen must be somewhere, it cannot exist only in the senses; for

the sense perceive no shape that is not received from actual matter, and there is no actual beast there;

and he adduces the authority of the Canon. And again, that which seems to be, cannot really be; as in

the case of a woman who seems to be a beast, for two substantial shapes cannot exist at one and the

same time in the same matter. Therefore, since that shape of a beast which appears cannot exist

anywhere, no glamour or illusion can exist in the eye of the beholder; for the sight must have some

object in which it terminates.

And if it is argued that the shape exists in the surrounding atmosphere, this is not possible; both

because the atmosphere is not capable of taking any shape or form, and also because the air around

that person is not always constant, and cannot be so on account of its fluid nature, especially when it is

moved. And again because in that case such a transformation would be visible to everyone; but this is

not so, because the devils seem to be unable to deceive the sight of Holy Men in the least.

Besides, the sense of sight, or the faculty of vision, is a passive faculty, and every passive faculty is

set in motion by the active agent that corresponds to it. Now the active agent corresponding to sight is

twofold: one is the origin of the act, or the object; the other is the carrier, or medium. But that apparent

shape cannot be the object of the sense, neither can it be the medium through which it is carried. First,

it cannot be the object, since it cannot be taken hold of by anything, as was shown in the foregoing

argument, since it does not exist in the senses received from an object, neither is it in the actual object,

nor even in the air, as in a carrying medium, as was treated of above in the third argument.

Besides, if the devil moves the inner consciousness, he does so either by projecting himself into the

cognitive faculty, or by changing it. But he does not do so by projecting himself; for he would either have

to assume a body, and even so could not penetrate into the inner organ of imagination; for two bodies

cannot be at the same time in the same place; or he would assume a phantasmal body; and this again

would be impossible, since no phantasm is quite without substance.

Similarly also he cannot do it by changing the cognition. For he would either change it by alteration,

which he does not seem able to do, since all alteration is caused by active qualities, in which the devils

are lacking; or he would change it by transformation or local motion; and this does not seem feasible for

two reasons. First, because a transformation or an organ cannot be effect without a sense of pain.

Secondly, because in this case the devil would only make things of a known shape appear; but S.

Augustine says that he creates shapes of this sort, both known and unknown. Therefore it seems that

the devils can in no way deceive the imagination or senses of a man.

But against this, S. Augustine says (de Ciuitate Dei, XVIII) that the transmutations of men into brute

animals, said to be done by the art of devils, are not actual but only apparent. But this would not be

possible if devils were not able to transmute the human senses. The authority of S. Augustine is again to

the point in Book LXXXIII, which has already been quoted: This evil of the devil creeps in through all the

sensual approaches, etc.

Answer. If the reader wishes to refer to the method of transmutation, he will find in the Second Part

of this work, chapter VI, various methods. But proceeding for the present in a scholastic manner, let us

say in agreement with the opinions of the three Doctors, that the devil can deceive the human fancy so

that a man really seems to be an animal. The last of those opinions, which is that of S. Thomas, is more

subtle than the rest. But the first is that of S. Antoninus in the first part of his Summa, V, 5, where he

declares that the devil at times works to deceive a man's fancy, especially by an illusion of the senses;


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and he proves this by natural reasoning, by the authority of the Canon, and by a great number of


And at first as follows: Our bodies naturally are subject to and obey the angelic nature as regards

local motion. But the bad angels, although the have lost grace, have not lost their natural power, as has

often been said before. And since the faculty of fancy or imagination is corporeal, that is, allied to a

physical organ, it also is naturally subject to devils, so that they can transmute it, causing various

phantasies, by the flow of the thoughts and perceptions to the original image received by them. So says

S. Antoninus, and adds that it is proved by the following Canon (Episcopus, XXVI, 5): It must not be

omitted that certain wicked women, perverted by Satan and seduced by the illusions and phantasms of

devils, believe and profess that they ride in the night hours on certain beasts with Diana, the heathen

goddess, or with Herodias, and with a countless number of women, and that in the untimely silence of

night they travel over great distances of land. And later: Wherefore priests ought to preach to the

people of God that they should know this to be altogether false, and that when such phantasms afflict

the minds of the faithful, it is not of God, but of an evil spirit. For Satan himself transforms himself into

the shape and likeness of different persons, and in dreams deluding the mind which he holds captive,

leads it through devious ways.

Indeed the meaning of this Canon has been treated of in the First Question, as to the four things

which are to be preached. But it would be to misunderstand its meaning to maintain that witches

cannot be so transported, when they wish and God does not prevent it; for very often men who are not

witches are unwillingly transported bodily over great distances of land.

But that these transmutations can be effected in both ways will be shown by the aforesaid Summa,

and in the chapter where S. Augustine relates that it is read in the books of the Gentiles that a certain

sorceress named Circe changed the companions of Ulysses into beasts; but that this was due to some

glamour or illusion, rather than an actual accomplishment, by altering the fancies of men; and this is

clearly proved by several examples.

For we read in the Lives of the Fathers, that a certain girl would not consent to a young man who

was begging her to commit a shameful act with him. And the young man, being angry because of this,

caused a certain Jew to work a charm against her, by which she was changed into a filly. But this

metamorphosis was not an actual fact, but an illusion of the devil, who changed the fancy and sense of

the girl herself, and of those who looked at her, so that she seemed to be a filly, who was really a girl.

For when she was led to the Blessed Macarius, the devil could not so work as to deceive his senses as he

had those of other people, on account of his sanctity; for to him she seemed a true girl, not a filly. And

at length by his prayer she was set free from that illusion, and it is said that this had happened to her

because she did not give her mind to holy things, or attend the Sacraments as she ought; therefore the

devil had power over her, although she was in other respects honest.

Therefore the devil can, by moving the inner perceptions and humours, effect changes in the

actions and faculties, physical, mental, and emotional, working by means of any physical organ soever;

and this accords with S. Thomas, I, 91. And of this sort we may believe to have been the acts of Simon

Magus in the incantations which are narrated of him. But the devil can do none of these things without

the permission of God, Who with His good Angels often restrains the wickedness of him who seeks to

deceive and hurt us. Wherefore S. Augustine, speaking of witches, says: These are they who, with the

permission of God, stir up the elements, and confuse the minds of those who do not trust in God (XXVI,


Also devils can by witchcraft cause a man to be unable to see his wife rightly, and the converse. And

this comes from an affectation of the fancy, so that she is represented to him as an odious and horrible

thing. The devil also suggests representations of loathsome things to the fancy of both the waking and

the sleeping, to deceive them and lead them to son. But because sin does not consist in the imagination


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but in the will, therefore man does not sin in these fancies suggested by the devil, and these various

transformations, unless of his own will he consents to sin.

The second opinion of the modern Doctors is to the same effect, when they declare what is

glamour, and how many ways the devil can cause such illusions. Here we refer to what has already been

said concerning the arguments of S. Antoninus, which there is no need to repeat.

The third opinion is that of S. Thomas, and is an answer to the argument where it is asked, Wherein

lies the existence of the shape of a beast that is seen; in the senses, or in reality, or in the surrounding

air? And his opinion is that the apparent shape of a beast only exists in the inner perception, which,

through the force of imagination, sees it in some way as an exterior object. And the devil has two ways

of effecting such a result.

In one way we may say that the forms of animals which are conserved in the treasury of the

imagination pass by the operation of the devil into the organs of inner senses; and in this way it happens

in dreams, as has been declared above. And so, when these forms are impressed on the organs of the

outer senses, such as sight, they appear as if they were present as outer objects, and could actually be


The other way results from a change in the inner organs of perception, through which the

judgement is deceived; as is shown in the case of him who has his taste corrupted, so that everything

sweet seems bitter; and this is not very different from the first method. Moreover, even men can

accomplish this by the virtue of certain natural things, as when in the vapour of a certain smoke the

beams of a house appear to be serpents; and many other instances of this are found, as had been

mentioned above.

Solutions of the Arguments.

As to the first argument, that text is often quoted, but it is badly understood. For as to where it

speaks of transformation into another shape or likeness, it has been made clear how this can be done by

prestidigitatory art. And as to where it says that no creature can be made by the power of the devil, this

is manifestly true if Made is understood to mean Created. But if the word Made is taken to refer to

natural production, it is certain that devils can make some imperfect creatures. And S. Thomas shows

how this may be done. For he says that all transmutations of bodily matters which can be effected by

the forces of nature, in which the essential thing is the semen which is found in the elements of this

world, on land or in the waters (as serpents and frogs and such things deposit their semen), can be

effected by the work of devils who have acquired such semen. So also it is when anything is changed

into serpents or frogs, which can be generated by putrefaction.

But those transmutations of bodily matters which cannot be effected by the forces of nature can in

no way be truly effected by the work of the devils. For when the body of a man is changed into the body

of a beast, or a dead body is brought to life, such things only seem to happen, and are a glamour or

illusion; or else the devil appears before men in an assumed body.

These arguments are substantiated. For Blessed Albertus in his book On Animals, where he

examines whether devils, or let us even say witches, can really make animals, says that they can, with

God's permission, make imperfect animals. But they cannot do so in an instant, as God does, but by

means of some motion, however sudden, as is clear in the case of witches. And touching the passage in

Exodus vii, where Pharao called his wise men, he says: The devils run throughout the world and collect

various germs, and by using them can evolve various species. And the gloss thereon says: When witches

attempt to effect anything by the invocation of devils, they run about the world and bring the semen of

those things which are in question, and by its means, with the permission of God, they produce new

species. But this has been spoken of above.

Another difficulty may arise, whether such devils' works are to be deemed miraculous. The answer

was made clear in the preceding arguments, that even the devils can perform certain miracles to which


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their natural powers are adapted. And although such things are true in fact, they are not done with a

view to the knowledge of the truth; and in this sense the works of Antichrist may be said to be

deceptions, since they are done with a view to the seduction of men.

The answer to the other argument, that concerning the shape, is also clear. The shape of a beast

which is seen does not exist in the air, but only in the perception of the senses, as has been

demonstrated above from the opinion of S. Thomas.

For the argument that every passive is set in motion by its corresponding active, this is granted. But

when it is inferred that the shape which is seen cannot be the original object which sets in motion the

act of sight, since it arises from none of the sense, it is answered that it does not arise, since it originates

from some sensible image conserved in the imagination, which the devil can draw out and present to

the imagination or power of perception, as has been said above.

For the last argument, it is to be said that the devil does not, as has been shown, change the

perceptive and imaginative powers by projecting himself into them, but by transmuting them; not

indeed by altering them, except in respect of local motion. For he cannot of himself induce new

appearances, as has been said. But he changes them by transmutation, that is, local motion. And this

again he does, not by dividing the substance of the organ of perception, since that would result in a

sense of pain, but by a movement of the perceptions and humours.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question XI

That Witches who are Midwives in Various Ways Kill the Child Conceived in the Womb, and Procure

an Abortion; or if they do not this Offer New-born Children to Devils.

Here is set forth the truth concerning four horrible crimes which devils commit against infants, both

in the mother's womb and afterwards. And since the devils do these things through the medium of

women, and not men, this form of homicide is associated rather with women than with men, And the

following are the methods by which it is done.

The Canonists treat more fully than the Theologians of the obstructions due to witchcraft; and they

say that is is witchcraft, not only when anyone is unable to perform the carnal act, of which we have

spoken above; but also when a woman is prevented from conceiving, or is made to miscarry after she

has conceived. A third and fourth method of witchcraft is when they have failed to procure an abortion,

and then either devour the child or offer it to a devil.

There is no doubt concerning the first two methods, since, without the help of devils, a man can by

natural means, such as herbs, savin for example, or other emmenagogues, procure that a woman cannot

generate or conceive, as has bee mentioned above. But with the other two methods it is different; for

they are effected by witches. And there is no need to bring forward the arguments, since very evident

instances and examples will more readily show the truth of this matter.

The former of these two abominations is the fact that certain witches, against the instinct of human

nature, and indeed against the nature of all beasts, with the possible exception of wolves, are in the

habit of devouring and eating infant children. And concerning this, the Inquisitor of Como, who has been

mentioned before, has told us the following: that he was summoned by the inhabitants of the County of

Barby to hold an inquisition, because a certain man had missed his child from its cradle, and finding a

congress of women in the night-time, swore that he saw them kill his child and drink its blood and

devour it. Also, in one single year, which is the year now last passed, he says that forty-one witches were

burned, certain others taking flight to the Lord Archduke of Austria, Sigismund. For confirmation of this

there are certain writings of John Nider in his Formicarius, of whom, as of those events which he

recounts, the memory is still fresh in men's minds; wherefore it is apparent that such things are not


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incredible. We must add that in all these matters witch midwives cause yet greater injuries, as penitent

witches have often told to us and to others, saying: No one does more harm to the Catholic Faith than

midwives. For when they do not kill children, then, as if for some other purpose, they take them out of

the room and, raising them up in the air, offer them to devils. But the method which they observe in

crimes of this sort will be shown in the Second Part, which we must soon approach. But first one more

question must be inquired into, namely, that of the Divine permission. For it was said at the beginning

that three things are necessary for the effecting of witchcraft: the devil, a witch, and the Divine


Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question XII

Whether the Permission of Almighty God is an Accompaniment of Witchcraft.

Now we must consider the Divine permission itself, touching which four things are asked. First,

whether it is necessary that this permission should accompany a work of witchcraft. Secondly, that God

in His justice permits a creature naturally sinful to perpetrate witchcraft and other horrid crimes, the

other two necessary concomitants being presupposed. Thirdly, that the crime of witchcraft exceeds all

other evils which God permits to be done. Fourthly, in what way this matter should be preached to the


Concerning the third postulate of this First Part, namely, the Divine permission, it is asked: Whether

it is as Catholic to affirm the Divine permission in these works of witches, as it is quite heretical to

contradict such an affirmation? And it is argued that it is not heretical to maintain that God does not

permit so great power to the devil in this sort of witchcraft. For it is Catholic, and not heretical, to refute

such things as appear to be to the disparagement of the Creator. And it is submitted that it is Catholic to

maintain that the devil is not allowed such power of injuring men, since to hold the opposite opinion

seems to be a disparagement of the Creator. For it would then follow that not everything is subject to

the Divine providence, since the all-wise Provider keeps away, as far as possible, all defect and evil from

those for whom He cares. And if the works of witchcraft are permitted by God, they are not kept away

by Him: and if He does not keep them away, the God Himself is not a wise Provider, and all things are

not subject to His providence. But since this is false, therefore it is false that God permits witchcraft.

And again, to permit a thing to happen presupposes in him who permits it that either he can

prevent it from happening if he wishes, or he cannot prevent it even if he wishes; and neither of these

suppositions can apply to God. For in the first case, such a man would be thought spiteful, and in the

second case impotent. Then it is incidentally asked: As to that bewitchment that happened to Peter, if

God could have prevented it, and did not do so, then God is either despiteful or He does not care for all;

but if He could not have prevented it even if He wished, the He is not omnipotent. But since it is not

possible to maintain the opinion that God does not care for all, and the rest, therefore it cannot be said

that witchcraft is done with the permission of God.

Besides, he who is responsible to himself and is the master of his own actions is not subject to the

permission or providence of any governor. But men were made responsible to themselves by God,

according to Ecclesiasticus xv: God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his

counsel. In particular, the sins which men do are left in their own counsel, according to their hearts'

desire. Therefore not all evils are subject to Divine permission.

Yet again, S. Augustine says in the Enchiridion, as does also Aristotle in the ninth book of

Metaphysics: It is better not to know certain vile things than to know them, but all that is good is to be

ascribed to God. Therefore God does not prevent the very vile works of witchcraft, whether He permits

or not. See also S. Paul in I. Corinthians ix: Doth God take care of oxen? And the same holds good of the


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other irrational beasts. Wherefore God takes no care whether they are bewitched or not, since they are

not subject to His permission, which proceeds from His providence.

Again, that which happens of necessity has no need of provident permission or prudence. This is

clearly shown in Aristotle's Ethics, Book II: Prudence is a right reasoning concerning things which happen

and are subject to counsel and choice. But several effects of witchcraft happen of necessity; as when for

some reason, or owing to the influence of stars, diseases come, or any other things which we judge to

be witchcraft. Therefore they are not always subject to Divine permission.

And again, if men are bewitched by Divine permission, then it is asked: Why does this happen to

one more than to another? If it be said that it is because of sin, which abounds more in one than in

another, this does not seem valid; for then the greater sinners would be the more bewitched, but this is

manifestly not so, since they are less punished in this world. As it is said: Well is it for the liars. But, if this

argument were good, they also would be bewitched. Finally, it is clear from the fact that innocent

children and other just men suffer most from witchcraft.

But against these arguments: it is submitted that God permits evil to be done, though He does not

wish it; and this is for the perfecting of the universe. See Dionysius, de Diuin. Nom. III: Evil will be for all

time, even to the perfecting of the universe. And S. Augustine in the Enchiridion: In all things good and

evil consists the admirable beauty of the universe. So that what is said to be evil is well ordained, and

kept in its due place commends more highly that which is good; for good things are more pleasing and

laudable when compared with bad. S. Thomas also refutes the opinion of those who say that, although

God has no wish for evil (since no creature seeks for evil, either in its natural, or its animal, or in its

intellectual appetite, which is the will, whose object is good), yet He is willing that evil should exist and

be done. This he says to be false; since God neither wishes evil to be done, nor wishes it not to be done,

but is willing to allow evil to be done; and this is good for the perfecting of the universe.

And why it is erroneous to say that God wishes evil to be and to be done, for the good of the

universe, he says is for the following reason. Nothing is to be judged good except what is good in itself

and not by accident. As the virtuous man is judge good in his intellectual nature, not in his animal

nature. But evil is not of itself ordained for good, but by accident. For against the intention of those who

do evil, good results. In this way, against the intention of witches, or against the intention of tyrants,

was it that through their persecutions the patience of the martyrs shone out clearly.

Answer. This question is as difficult to understand as it is profitable to elucidate. For there is among

the arguments, not so much of Laymen as of certain Wise men, this in common; that they do not believe

that such horrible witchcraft as had been spoken of is permitted by God; being ignorant of the causes of

this Divine permission. And by reason of this ignorance, since witches are not put down with the

vengeance that is due to them, they seem now to be depopulating the whole of Christianity. Therefore

that both learned and unlearned may be satisfied in each way, according to the opinion of the

Theologians, we make our answer by the discussion of two difficulties. And first, that he world is so

subject to the Divine providence that He Himself provides for all. Secondly, that in His justice He permits

the prevalence of sin, which consists of guilt, punishment, and loss, by reason of His two first

permissions, namely, the fall of the Angels and that of our first parents. From which also it will be clear

that obstinately to disbelieve this smacks of heresy, since such a man implicates himself in the errors of

the infidels.

And as for the first, it is to be noted that, presupposing that which pertains to the providence of

God (see Wisdom xiv: Thy providence, O Father, governeth all things), we ought also to maintain that all

things are subject to His providence, and that also He immediately provides for all things. And to make

this clear, let us first refute a certain contrary error. For taking the text in Job xxii: Thick clouds are a

covering to him that He seeth not us; and He walketh in the circuit of heaven: some have thought that

the doctrine pf S. Thomas, I, 22, means that only incorruptible things are subject to Divine providence,


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such as the separate Essences, and the stars, with also the species of lower things, which are also

incorruptible; but they said that the individuals of the species, being corruptible, were not so subject.

Wherefore they said that all lower things which are in the world are subject to Divine providence in the

universal, but not in the particular or individual sense. But to others this opinion did not seem tenable,

since God cares for the other animals just as He does for men. Therefore the Rabbi Moses, wishing to

hold a middle course, agreed with their opinion in saying that all corruptible things are not individually

entirely subject to Divine governance, but only in a universal sense, as has been said before; but he

excepted men from the generality of corruptible things, because of the splendid nature of their intellect,

which is comparable with the of the separate Essences. And so, according to his opinion, whatever

witchcraft happens to men comes from the Divine permission; but not such as happens to the animals

or to the other fruits of the earth.

Now though this opinion is nearer to the truth than that which altogether denies the providence of

God in worldly matters, maintaining that the world was made by chance, as did Democritus and the

Epicureans, yet it is not without great fallacy. For it must be said that everything is subject to Divine

providence, not only in the general, but also in the particular sense; and that the bewitching not only of

men, but also of animals and the fruits of the earth, comes from Divine and provident permission. And

this is plainly true; the providence and ordinance of things to some end extend just so far as the

causality of them itself extends. To take an example from things that are subject to some master; they

are so far subject to his providence as they are themselves under his control. But the causality which is

of God is the original agent, and extends itself to all beings, not only in a general but also in an individual

sense, and not only to things incorruptible. Therefore, since all things must be of God, so all things are

cared for by Him, that is, are ordained to some end.

This point is touched by S. Paul in Romans xiii: All things which are from God were ordained by Him.

Which is to say that, just as all things come from God, so also are all things ordained by Him, and are

consequently subject to His providence. For the providence of God is to be understood as nothing else

than the reason, that is, the cause of the ordering of things to a purpose. Therefore, in so far as all things

are a part of one purpose, so also are they subject to the providence of God. And God knows all things,

not only in the mass generally, but also in the individual particularly. Now the knowledge which God has

of things created is to be compared with a craftsman's knowledge of his work: therefore, just as all his

work is subject to the order and providence of a craftsman, so are all things subject to the order and

providence of God.

But this does not provide a satisfactory explanation of the fact that God in justice permits evil and

witchcraft to be in the world, although He is Himself the provider and governor of all things; for it would

seem that, if this is conceded, He ought to keep away all evil from those for whom He cares. For we see

among men that a wise provider does all that he can to keep away all defect and harm from those who

are his care; therefore why does not God, in the same way, keep away all evil? It must be noted that a

particular and an universal controller or provider are two very different matters. For the particular

controller must of necessity keep away all the harm he can, since he is not able to extract good out of

evil. But God is the universal controller of the whole world, and can extract much good from particular

evils; as through the persecution of the tyrants came the patience of the martyrs, and through the works

of witches come the purgation or proving of the faith of the just, as will be shown. Therefore it is not

God's purpose to prevent all evil, lest the universe should lack the cause of much good. Wherefore S.

Augustine says in the Enchiridion: So merciful is Almighty God, that He would not allow any evil to be in

His works unless He were so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil.

And we have an example of this in the actions of natural things. For although the corruptions and

defects which occur in natural things are contrary to the purpose of that particular thing (as when a thief

is hanged, or when animals are killed for human food), they are yet in accordance with the universal


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purpose of nature (as that man's life and property should be kept intact); and thus the universal good is

preserved. For it is necessary for the conservation of the species that the death of one should be the

preservation of another. For lions are kept alive by the slaughter of other animals.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question XIII

Herein is set forth the Question, concerning the Two Divine Permissions which God justly allows,

namely, that the Devil, the Author or all Evil, should Sin, and that our First Parents should Fall, from

which Origins the Works of Witches are justly suffered to take place.

The second question and proposition is that God justly permitted certain Angels to sin in deed,

which He could not have allowed unless they were capable of sin; and that in like manner He preserved

certain creatures through grace, without their having previously suffered temptation; and that He justly

allows man both to be tempted and to sin. And all this is clearly shown as follows. For it is a part of

Divine providence that each single thing should be left to its own nature, and not be altogether impeded

in its natural works. For, as Dionysius says (de Diuin. Nom., IV), Providence is not a destroyer, but a

preserver of nature. This being so, it is manifest that, just as the good of the race is better than the good

of the individual (Aristotle, Ethics, I), so also the good of the universe takes precedence over the good of

any particular creature. Therefore we must add that, if men were prevented from sinning, many steps to

perfection would be removed. For that nature would be removed which has it in its power to sin or not

to sin; but it has already been shown that this is a natural property of man's nature.

And let it be answered that, if there had been no sin, but immediate confirmation, then there would

never have appeared what debt of grace in good works is due to God, and what the power of sin has

been able to effect, and many other things without which the universe would suffer great loss. For it

behoved that Satan should sin, not through some outside suggestion, but that he should find in himself

the occasion of sin. And this he did when he wished to be equal to God. Now this is to be understood

neither simply and directly, nor indirectly, but only with a reservation; and this is declared according to

the authority of Esaias xiv: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. For

it must not be understood simply and directly, because in that case he would have had a limited and

erring understanding, in seeking something which was impossible for him. For he knew that he was a

creature created by God, and therefore he knew that it was impossible for him to become equal to his

Creator. Neither, again, must it be understood indirectly; for since the whole transparence of the air

consists in its subjection to the sun's rays; therefore nothing which would be contrary to the good of its

nature could be sought for by an Angel. But he sought for equality with God, not absolutely, but with a

reservation, which was as follows. The nature of God has two qualities, that of blessedness and

goodness, and the fact that all the blessedness and goodness of His creatures issues from Him.

Therefore the Angel, seeing that the dignity of his own nature transcended that of the other creatures,

wished and asked that the blessedness and goodness of all the inferior creatures should be derived from

him. And he sought this in his own natural capacity, that just as he was the first to be endowed in nature

with those qualities, so the other creatures should receive them from the nobility of his nature. And he

sought this of God, in perfect willingness to remain subject to God so long as he had that power granted

to him. Therefore he did not wish to be made equal with God absolutely, but only with a reservation.

It is further to be noted that, wishing to bring his desire to the point of action, he suddenly made it

known to others; and the understanding of the other Angels of his desire, and their perverse consenting

to it, was also sudden. Therefore the sin of the First Angel exceeded and preceded the sins of the others

in respect of the magnitude of his guilt and causality, but not in respect of duration. See Apocalypse xii.

The dragon falling from heaven drew with him the third part of the stars. And he lives in the form of


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Leviathan, and is king over all the children or pride. And, according to Aristotle (Metaph., V), he is called

king of princes, inasmuch as he moves those who are subject to him according to his will and command.

Therefore his sin was the occasion of sin in others, since he first, not having been tempted from outside,

was the external temptation of others.

And that all these things happened instantaneously may be exemplified by physical things; for the

ignition of a gas, the sight of the flame, and the impression formed by that sight all happen at one and

the same time.

I have put this matter at some length; for in the consideration of that stupendous Divine permission

in the case of the most noble creatures with regard to the one sin of ambition, it will be easier to admit

particular permissions in the case of the works of witches, which are in some certain circumstances even

greater sins. For in certain circumstances the sins of witches are greater than that of the Angel or of our

first parents, as will be shown in the Second Part.

Now the fact that the providence of God permitted the first man to be tempted and to sin is

sufficiently clear from what has been said concerning the transgression of the Angels. For both man and

the Angel were created to the same end, and left with free-will, in order that they might receive the

reward of blessedness not without merit. Therefore, just as the Angel was not preserved from his fall, in

order that the power of sin on the one side and the power of the confirmation of grace on the other side

might work together for the glory of the universe, so also ought it to be considered in the case of man.

Wherefore S. Thomas (II, 23, art. 2) says: That by which God is glorified ought not to be hindered

from within. But God is glorified in sin, when He pardons in mercy and when He punishes in justice;

therefore it behoves Him not to hinder sin. Let us, then, return to a brief recapitulation of our

proposition, namely, that by the just providence of God man is permitted to sin for many reasons. First,

that the power of God may be shown, Who alone is unchanging while every creature is variable.

Secondly, that the wisdom of God may be declared, Who can bring good out of evil, which could not be

unless God had allowed the creature to sin. Thirdly, that the mercy of God may be made manifest, by

which Christ through His death liberated man who was lost. Fourthly, that the justice of God may be

shown, which not only rewards the good, but also punishes the wicked. Fifthly, that the condition of

man may not be worse than that of other creatures, all of whom God so governs that He allows them to

act after their own nature; wherefore it behoved Him to leave man to his own judgement. Sixthly, for

the glory of men; that is, the glory of the just man who could transgress but has not. And seventhly, for

the adorning of the universe; for as there is a threefold evil in sin, namely, guilty, pain, and loss, so is the

universe adorned by the corresponding threefold good, namely, righteousness, pleasure, and

usefulness. For righteousness is adorned by guilt, pleasure by pain, and all usefullness by loss. And by

this the answer to the arguments is made plain.

Solutions to the Arguments.

According to the first argument it is heretical to maintain that the devil is allowed power to injure

men. But the opposite appears rather to be true; for it is heretical to assert that God does not permit

man, of his own free-will, to sin when he wishes. And God permits much sin, by reason of His power to

hurt men in the punishment of the wicked for the adorning of the universe. For it is said by S. Augustine

in his Book of Soliloques: Thou, Lord, hast commanded, and it is so, that the shame of guilt should never

be without the glory of punishment.

And that is not a valid proof of the argument which is taken from the wise ruler who keeps away all

defect and evil as far as he can. For it is quite different with God, Who has an universal care, from one

who has only a particular care. For God, Whose care is universal, can bring good out of evil, as is shown

by what has been said.

For the second argument, it is clear that God's power as well as His goodness and justice are

manifest in His permission of sin. So when it is argued that God either can or cannot prevent evil, the


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

answer is that He can prevent it, but that for the reasons already shown it does not behove Him to do


Neither is it valid to object that He therefore wishes evil to be; since He can prevent it but will not;

for, as has been shown in the arguments for the truth, God cannot wish evil to be. He neither wishes nor

does not wish it, but He permits it for the perfecting of the universe.

In the third argument S. Augustine and Aristotle are quoted on the subject of human knowledge,

saying that it is better for a man not to have knowledge of that which is evil and vile for two reasons:

first, that then he will have less opportunity to think of evil, since we cannot understand many things at

the same time. And secondly, because knowledge of evil sometimes perverts the will towards evil. But

these arguments do not concern God, Who without and detriment understands all the deeds of men

and of witches.

For the fourth argument: S. Paul excepts the care of God from oxen, to show that a rational

creature has through free-will command over its actions, as has been said. Therefore God has a special

providence over him, that either blame or merit may be imputed to him, and he may receive either

punishment or reward; but that God does not in this way care for the irrational beasts.

But to argue from that authority that the individuals of irrational creation have no part in Divine

providence would be heretical; for it would be to maintain that all things are not subject to Divine

providence, and would be contrary to the praise which is spoken in Holy Scripture concerning the Divine

wisdom, which stretches mightily from end to end and disposes all things well; and it would be the error

of the Rabbi Moses as was shown in the arguments for the truth.

For the fifth argument, man did not institute nature, but puts the works of nature to the greatest

use known to his skill and strength. Therefore human providence does not extend to the inevitable

phenomena of nature, as that the sun will rise to-morrow. But God's providence does extend to these

things, since He is Himself the author of nature. Wherefore also defects in nature, even if they arise out

of the natural course of things, are subject to Divine providence. And therefore Democritus and the

other natural philosophers were in error when they ascribed whatever happened to the inferior creation

to the mere chance of matter.

For the last argument: although every punishment is inflicted by God for sin, yet the greatest

sinners are not always afflicted with witchcraft. And this may be because the devil does not wish to

afflict and tempt those whom he sees to belong to him by just title, or because he does not wish them

to be turned back to God. As it is said: Their plagues were multiplied, and they turned them to God, etc.

And that all punishment is inflicted by God for sin is shown by what follows; for according to S. Jerome:

Whatever we suffer, we deserve for our sins.

Now it is declared that the sins of witches are more grievous than those of the bad angels and our

first parents. Wherefore, just as the innocent are punished for the sins of their fathers, so are many

blameless people damned and bewitched for the sins of witches.

Malleus Maleficarum Part 1

Question XIV

The Enormity of Witches is Considered, and it is shown that the Whole Matter should be rightly Set

Forth and Declared.

Concerning the enormity of crimes, it is asked whether the crimes of witches exceed, both in guilt,

in pain, and in loss, all the evils which God allows and has permitted from the beginning of the world up

till now. And it seems that they do not, especially as regards guilt. For the sin which a man commits

when he could easily avoid it is greater than the sin which another man commits when he could not so

easily avoid it. This is shown by S. Augustine, de Ciuit. Dei: There is great wickedness in sinning when it is


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

so easy not to sin. But Adam, and others who have sinned when in a state of perfection or even of grace,

could more easily because of the help of grace have avoided their sins — especially Adam who was

created in grace — than many witches, who have not shared in such gifts. Therefore the sins of such are

greater than all the crimes of witches.

And again in respect of punishment: the greatest punishment is due to the greater blame. But

Adam's sin was the most heavily punished, as is plainly proved by the fact that both his guilt and his

punishment are shown in all his posterity by the inheritance of original sin. Therefore his sin is greater

than all other sins.

And again, the same is argued in respect of loss. For according to S. Augustine: A thing is evil in that

it takes away from the good; therefore where there is the more good lost, there the greater evil has

gone before. But the sin of our first parent brought the greatest loss both to nature and to grace, since it

deprived us of innocence and immortality; and no subsequent sin has brought such loss, therefore, etc.

But the contrary side: that which includes the most causes of evil is the greater evil, and such are

the sins of witches. For they can, with God's permission, bring every evil upon that which is good by

nature and in form, as is declared in the Papal Bull. Besides, Adam sinned only in doing that which was

wrong in one of two ways; for it was forbidden, but was not wrong in itself: but witches and other

sinners sin in doing that which is wrong in both ways, wrong in itself, and forbidden, such as murders

and many other forbidden things. Therefore their sins are heavier than other sins.

Besides, sin which comes from definite malice is heavier than sin which comes from ignorance. But

witches, out of great malice, despise the Faith and the sacraments of the Faith, as many of them have


Answer. The evils which are perpetrated by modern witches exceed all other sin which God has ever

permitted to be done, as was said in the title of this Question. And this can be shown in three ways, in so

far as they are sins involving perversity of character, though it is different with the sins that contravene

the other Theological virtues. First in general, by comparing their works indifferently with any other

worldly crimes. Secondly in particular, by considering the species of the superstition and into what pact

they have entered with the devil. And thirdly, by comparing their sins with the sins of the bad Angels

and even with that of our first parents.

And first, sin is threefold, involving guilt, punishment, and loss. Good also is correspondingly

threefold, involving righteousness, felicity, and use. And righteousness corresponds with the guilt,

felicity with punishment, and use with loss.

That the guilt of witches exceeds all other sins is apparent in this way. For according to the teaching

of S. Thomas (II, 22, art. 2), there is in the matter of sin much that may be considered whereby the

gravity or lightness of the sin may be deduced; and the same sin may be found heavy in one and light in

another. For example, we can say that in fornication a young man sins, but an old man is mad. Yet those

sins are, simply speaking, the heavier which are not only attended by the more extensive and more

powerful circumstances, but are in their nature and quantity of a more essentially serious sort.

And so we can say that, though the sin of Adam was in some respects heavier than all other sins,

inasmuch as he fell to the instigation of a smaller temptation, since it came only from within; and also

because he could more easily have resisted on account of the original justice in which he was created:

nevertheless in the form and quantity of sin, and in other respects which aggravate the sin the more in

that it is the cause of many yet heavier sins, the sins of witches exceed all other sins. And this will be

made still clearer in two ways.

For one sin is said to be greater than another in one or other of the following respects: in causality,

as was the sin of Lucifer; in generality, as Adam's sin; in hideousness, as was the sin of Judas; in the

difficulty of forgiving it, as is the sin against the Holy Ghost; in danger, as in the sin of covetousness; in

inclination, as is the sin of the flesh; in the offending of the Divine Majesty, as is the sin of idolatry and


Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of the Witches] Part 1

infidelity; in the difficulty of combating it, as the sin of pride; in blindness of mind, as the sin of anger.

Accordingly, after the sin of Lucifer, the works of witches exceed all other sins, in hideousness since they

deny Him crucified, in inclination since the commit nastiness of the flesh with devils, in blindness of

mind since in a pure spirit of malignity the rage and bring every injury upon the souls and bodies of men

and beasts, as has been shown from what has been said before.

And this, indeed, is indicated, according to S. Isidore, by the word. For they are called witches

(maleficae) on account of the enormity of their crimes, as has been said above.

Our contention is also deduced from the following. There are two gradations in sin, a turning away,

and a change of heart. See our quotation from S. Augustine: Sin is to reject the incommutable good, and

to cleave to things that are variable. And the turning away from God is as it were formal, just as the

change of heart is as it were material. Therefore the more a man is separated from God by it, the

heavier is the sin. And since infidelity is the chief cause of man's separation from God, the infidelity of

witches stands out as the greatest of sins. And this is given the name of Heresy, which is Apostasy from

the Faith; and in this witches sin throughout their whole lives.

For the sin of infidelity consists in opposing the Faith; and this may come about in two ways, by

opposing a faith which has not yet been received, or by opposing it after it has been received. Of the

first sort is the infidelity of the Pagans or Gentiles. In the second way, the Christian Faith may be denied

in two ways: either by denying the prophecies concerning it, or by denying the actual manifestation of

its truth. And the first of these is the infidelity of the Jews, and the second the infidelity of Heretics.

It is clear from this that the heresy of witches is the most heinous of the three degrees of infidelity;

and this fact is proved both by reason and authority. For it is said in II. S. Peter ii: It has been better for

them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from it. And it

is reasonable to suppose that, just as he who does not perform what he has promised commits a greater

sin than he who does not perform what he never promised, so the infidelity of the heretics, who while

professing the faith of the Gospel fight against it by corrupting it, is a greater sin than that of the Jews

and Pagans.

And again, the Jews sin more greatly than the Pagans; for they received the prophecy of the

Christian Faith in the Old Law, which they corrupt through badly interpreting it, which is not the case

with the Pagans. Therefore their infidelity is a greater sin than that of the Gentiles, who never received

the Faith of the Gospel. But concerning Apostasy, S. Thomas says in the Second of the Second, question

12: Apostasy means a turning away from God and religion, and this may happen according to the

different ways by which man is joined to God; that is, by faith, or by the subjection of the will to

obedience, or by religion and Holy Orders. S. Raymund and Hostiensis say that Apostasy is a rash

departure from the state of faith or obedience or Religion. Now if that which precedes is removed, that

which follows from it is also removed; but the converse proposition is not true. Therefore Apostasy from