Notes

(1) I remember as a boy reading in the papers of a woman being slowly roasted to death in Ireland as a witch. For an account of this see Folk-lore, Vol. 6, 1895: 'The Witch-burning at Clonmel'.

(2) There was a Celtic custom of binding corpses; the cord with which one had been bound was of great assistance in obtaining second sight. But in the Ancient World there seems to have been a widespread idea that a living person must be bound to enter the presence of the Lords of Death. Tacitus, in Germania, xxix, tells of sacred groves where men assemble to obtain ancestral auguries, to enter these dominions sacred to the Lords of Death. 'All are bound with fetters to show that they are in the power of the Divinity, and if they chance to fall they are not helped to rise. Prone as they are, they must roll along the ground as best they may. This latter shows they were closely bound, as they could not rise themselves; so clearly it was no 'token' binding.

Lucian, in his Vera Historia, which, though a novel, treats of popular beliefs, tells of living people landing on the Island of the Blessed being instantly bound with chains and brought before the King of the Dead.

The idea of living people, or the newly dead, being thus bound with chains as soon as they went to the land of death may I think be the origin of the old idea that ghosts rattled chains; newly out of Limbo they would still be thus bound.

(3) The gods were as much in need of worshippers as the worshippers were of the gods. Their reproductive energies had to be recruited, so men had to sacrifice to them what was mostly in man and the most womanly in woman.

(4) Iamblichus, in his Mysteries, says: 'If one knows how, he can set in motion mysterious forces that are capable of contacting the will of another, directing his emotions as the operator desires; this may be done by the spoken word. Ceremonies properly performed, or which proceed from an object properly charged with the power, we call magical.'

(5) Diana of Ephesus wore a necklace of acorns; many Celtic goddesses are mentioned as wearing them. At witch meetings every woman must wear one. When the ritual objects are being set out for a meeting, a number of strings of beads are put handy, so that if any witch hasn't brought a necklace, she promptly borrows one for the occasion. I remember one girl coming wearing a small string of pearls being told: 'You know, dear, you mustn't do that; get a proper one from the box, one that can be seen.' They cannot give me any other reason than that a witch must wear a necklace that is obvious.

Back

TOC