Compendium Maleficarum

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Three witches, as depicted in the Compendium Maleficarum, 1623 edition. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Compendium Maleficarum

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A work regarding the "abomination of witchcraft," by the ecclesiastic Révérend Père M. Mar. Guaccius, published in Milan in 1626 and promoting the Church's view of the Old Religion as devil worship and black magic. The book includes numerous engravings purporting to show scenes of witches at the sabbat, paying homage to Satan, feasting and dancing, rendering the Osculum Infame, being stripped of their clothes, and being baptized by Satan. Guaccius depicted witches riding goats on their way to the sabbat, but pondered, "whether witches were in truth borne from place to place on their nightly gatherings." One illustration shows a small group standing within a circle of protection, but a bull-headed, bat-winged, devil still makes them sign a pact.

Guillot de Givry, in his A Pictorial Anthology of Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy, reproduces illustrations from the Compendium Maleficarum, and comments upon them as if they were photographs giving unequivocal evidence of the true conduct of witches in the Middle Ages.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.