15 May 2012

Witch’s Knot, Voodoo Dolls, and Bewitching Eyes

The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

Witch's Knot: This latter charm was usually a long cord tightly tied up in elaborate loops, among whose reticulations it was customary to insert the feathers of a black hen, a raven, or some other bird which had, or was presumed to have, no speck of white. This is one of the oldest instruments of witchcraft and is known in all countries and among all nations.

One of the oldest and most universal of spells: To effect the death of a man, or to injure him by making an image in his likeness, and mutilating or destroying this image, is a practice found throughout the whole wide world from its earliest years. It is common both in Babylon and in the Egypt of the Pharoahs, when magicians kneaded puppets of clay or pitch moistened with honey. If it were possible to mingle therewith a drop of a man's blood, the parings of his nails, a few hairs from his body, a thread or two from his garments, it gave the warlock the greater power over him. In ancient Greece and Rome precisely the same ideas prevailed, and allusions may be found.

There is a great power in the eyes, and this appears even in natural things. “Cast of eyes.” In Ireland it was supposed that certain witches could cast a spell at a glance, and they were commonly called “eye-biting witches.” The mind of a man may be changed by the influence of another mind. And that influence which is exerted over another often proceeds from the eyes, for in the eyes a certain subtle influence may be concentrated. The eyes are one of the tenderest organs of the body, therefore they are very liable to such impressions. Therefore it may well happen that the eyes receive some bad impression and change for the worse, since very often the thoughts of the mind or the motions of the body are particularly impressed upon and shown by the eyes.

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