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Title: Human Animals
Author: Hamel, Frank
Language: English
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                            HUMAN ANIMALS

                            HUMAN ANIMALS

                             FRANK HAMEL

                              AUTHOR OF
                              ETC., ETC.

                               NEW YORK
                       FREDERICK A. STOKES Co.


From the abundant records and traditions dealing with the curious
belief that certain men and women can transform themselves into
animals I have collected a number of instances and examples which
throw fresh light on the subject both from the point of view of
folk-lore and occultism. The causes of transformation are various:
contact with a wer-animal, touching what he has touched, wearing an
animal skin, rubbing the body with ointment, slipping on a girdle,
buckling on a strap, and many other expedients, magical and otherwise,
may bring about the metamorphosis. Removing the skin, burning it, or
piercing it with the stab of a knife, or the shot from a gun, so that
blood is drawn, are among the best-known methods for causing the human
shape to be resumed, but the stab should be on the brow or between the
eyes, and the bullet should be made of silver and is all the better
for having been blessed in a chapel of St. Hubert, otherwise the
attempt to break the enchantment may fail. The penalty for being a
wer-animal is death, but sentence is not passed until after some
ordeal has been gone through, such as dipping the finger into boiling
resin, innocence being established if the finger be drawn out unhurt.
Any wound inflicted on the transformed animal is simultaneously
inflicted on the human body, and in many other characteristics the
nature of the wer-animal is similar to that of the witch or wizard.

In "Balder the Beautiful" Dr. J. G. Frazer, after telling many typical
stories, endeavours to establish a parallelism between witches and
wer-animals, the analogy appearing to confirm the view that the reason
for burning a bewitched animal alive is a belief that the human being
is in the animal, and that by burning you compel him to assume another
shape. Since the sum of energy in the universe is held to be constant
and invariable, the chain of transformation is thus continued, and
form follows form, endlessly linked together. By some such theory the
phenomena of life and death may be explained and the doctrine of
immortality, usually applied only to the soul of man, can be
reasonably extended to animals.

The belief that human and animal souls possess power and entity when
externalised and apart from the living body is less widely held than
that of persistence after death. It is one that bears strongly on the
subject of animal transformation, as well as on the affinity which
certain animals possess for some families, an affinity that is akin to

These preliminary suggestions will enable readers to grasp the scope
of my book, which is intended to provide a comprehensive view of the
subject and to familiarise them with the nature of the phenomena, even
though it has been well-nigh impossible to classify and tabulate them
fully, or to explain them satisfactorily.

I wish to express my thanks to Miss J. A. Middleton, author of "The
Grey Ghost Book," for her kindness in reading my work in MS., and to
her and others for suggesting interesting material.

                                       FRANK HAMEL

  _London_, 1915

                               C. A. W.


  CHAPTER                                                      PAGE

           PREFACE                                              vii

      I.   INTRODUCTORY                                           1

     II.   TRANSFORMATION                                         5

    III.   THE BUSH-SOUL                                         15

     IV.   HUMAN SOULS IN ANIMAL BODIES                          23

      V.   ANIMAL DANCES                                         28

     VI.   MAN-ANIMAL AND ANIMAL-MAN                             39

    VII.   SCAPEGOAT AND SAINT                                   45

   VIII.   THE WER-WOLF TRIALS                                   54

     IX.   THE WER-WOLF IN MYTH AND LEGEND                       65

      X.   LION- AND TIGER-MEN                                   78

     XI.   WER-FOX AND WER-VIXEN                                 88

    XII.   WITCHES                                              103

   XIII.   FAMILIARS                                            120


              (_continued_)                                     143

    XVI.   FABULOUS ANIMALS AND MONSTERS                        159

   XVII.   HUMAN SERPENTS                                       173

  XVIII.   CAT AND COCK PHANTOMS                                189

    XIX.   BIRD-WOMEN                                           202

     XX.   FAMILY ANIMALS                                       215

    XXI.   ANIMAL GHOSTS                                        236

   XXII.   THE PHANTASMAL DOUBLE                                261

  XXIII.   ANIMAL ELEMENTALS                                    270


    XXV.   CONCLUSION                                           293

                            HUMAN ANIMALS

                              CHAPTER I


The belief that men can change into animals and animals into men is as
old as life itself. It originates in the theory that all things are
created from one substance, mind or spirit, which according to
accident or design takes a distinctive appearance, to mortal eye, of
shape, colour, and solidity. Transformation from one form to another
then becomes a thinkable proposition, especially if it be admitted
that plastic thought in the spirit world takes on changed forms and
conditions more readily than in the world of matter. The belief of
primitive races that all created beings have an immortal soul dwelling
in a material body applies equally to the brute creation and to the
human race. "In the beginning of things," says Leland, "men were as
animals and animals as men."[1] The savage endows brutes with similar
intelligence and emotions to his own. He does not distinguish between
the essential nature of man, of various beasts, and even of inanimate
objects, except where outward form is concerned; and he senses, even
more clearly than his civilised brother, the psychic bonds which unite
man and the animals. Folk-lore abounds in incidents which are based on
the impermanence of form and which tell of people changing into
animals or animals changing into human beings.

The scientific problems of to-day which deal with the theory of
breaking up matter into electrons may quite possibly have a bearing on
this subject and may not be so far removed, as appears at first sight
to be the case, from the intuitive beliefs of the savage.

Transformation was held to be accomplished in various ways, a
sorcerer, a witch or the evil one himself being the agent through whom
the change was effected. Certain people have had ascribed to them the
power of self-transformation, a curious psychical gift which to this
day appeals to imaginative people, and which may be regarded as a
projection of mind in animal form.

Changes may be voluntary or involuntary, self-transformation belonging
more frequently to the former class and transformation by sorcery,
witchcraft or black magic more often to the latter class. The motives
of a human being who wishes to change into an animal are naturally
regarded with suspicion. Greed, cruelty, and cannibalism are
accusations brought against those who were tried in the Middle Ages
for the crime of lycanthropy, the transformation into a wolf or other
wild beast. The desire to taste human flesh is a horrible but not
improbable reason for the offence. The wish to inspire fear or to gain
personal power over others are motives for impersonating wild and
fearsome animals, as effective where superstitious people are
concerned as the less common faculty of transforming actual flesh.

Savage races do not necessarily connect the idea of transformation with
any thought of evil. They find the plan of impersonating an animal in
its lair, for the sake of safety, say, extremely useful. They have also
the best of reasons for developing a special attribute, such as the keen
scent of the hound, the long sight of the eagle, the natural protective
power against cold possessed by the wolf and so forth, imitative
suggestion which occurs in many of their primitive customs. Thus the
Cherokee Indian when starting on a winter's journey endeavours by
singing and other mimetic action to identify himself with the wolf, the
fox, the opossum or other wild animal, of which the feet are regarded by
him as impervious to frost-bite. The words he chants mean, "I become a
real wolf, a real deer, a real fox, and a real opossum."[2] Then he
gives a long howl to imitate the wolf or barks like a fox and paws and
scratches the ground. Thus he establishes a belief in transformation by
sympathetic or homœopathic magic, and starts forth on his difficult
journey in perfect confidence, the power of auto-suggestion aiding him
on his way. Such customs are closely allied with the superstitions of
the dark ages, when it was assumed without question that bodily
transformation took place.

Involuntary change into animal shape was thought to occur as a
punishment for crime, and was looked upon as a judgment of the gods.
Few beliefs are more common among savages than that reincarnation in a
lower form is the result of sin in a previous existence. Bats
especially are held to be the abode of the souls of the dead, and to
some races they are sacrosanct for this reason. Most animals have been
looked upon as a possible receptacle of man's soul, and many primitive
tribes believe that man can choose in which animal body he prefers to
dwell. In the Solomon Islands, for instance, a dying man informs the
members of his family in what sort of animal shape he expects to live
again. One among hundreds of similar superstitions is that if a cat
jumps over a corpse, the soul of the deceased enters its body.

Murder of what is holy, and the offering of human sacrifices are two
offences punishable by transformation, but once transformed, the
soul-animal wins respect rather than contempt, and care is taken that
no injury shall befall it, lest a relative or friend should suffer. A
savage avoids harming his own family animal, but does not hesitate to
kill the soul-animal into which a member of a hostile tribe has
entered. Should such an animal die, the soul is thought by many races
to pass into another body of the same type, but other tribes,
especially in Madagascar, believe that the death of the animal
releases the human soul that had lodged within it.

A more original idea is that certain human beings possess animal
doubles and that the soul-animal roams at large while the man remains
visible in his ordinary form, and many of the vampire and wer-wolf
stories are traceable to this belief. The Toradjas of Central Celebes
believe that the inside parts only of the man take on the animal
shape, a state which they term _lamboyo_. The _lamboyo_ may be
distinguished from an ordinary animal by being misshapen to some
extent, for instance, a buffalo may have only one horn, or a dog may
have a pig's snout. The _lamboyo_, like the vampire, has a preference
for human victims, whom he grievously tortures and maims.

Far more beautiful is the myth of _tanoana_, the divine essence in man
which goes forth from his body, as in sleep, and, being of the same
nature as the soul of the animal, allows of interchange to take place
between the human and the animal bodies.

Even amongst the most practical and enlightened people of to-day
psychic experiences in which animals have played a part are of common
enough occurrence, and a survey of the grounds on which man and animal
shapes and spirits meet may help them to understand things which, to
our limited human intelligence, appear at least strange, if not
altogether inexplicable.


[1] Leland, C. G., "Algonquin Legends of New England," Boston 1884, p.

[2] Frazer, J. G., "The Golden Bough," "The Magic Art," 1911, Vol. I,
pp. 155-6.

                              CHAPTER II


How did man come to change into an animal? Folklore and superstition
describe a number of ways. The most common method appears to have been
the wearing of the skin of the animal in question. One drew it over
one's shoulders, mask and all, and awaited results. These were not
always satisfactory, and if any delay occurred it was better to strip
off the clothes, rub the limbs with a potent ointment and murmur a
long incantation. Such things, if we may believe tradition, invariably
did the trick. But there were many other ways of bringing about the
desired state. According to Grimm,[3] transformation could be effected
by tying a strap of human skin round the body; others say the skin
must be a girdle made from the animal's hide.... It also sufficed to
shift the buckle of a certain strap to the ninth hole. To drink water
out of the footprint made by the animal, to partake of its brains, to
drink from certain enchanted streams, to haunt the lair of a wer-wolf,
to eat his food or come into personal contact with him or his
belongings were all means of voluntary or involuntary transformation
which, according to its nature, might be permanent or merely
transitory. Livonian wer-wolves were initiated by drinking a cup of
beer of a special character accompanied by a particular incantation.
Other countries had magical procedure which differed in detail, if not
in the main features. As a rule the devil was supposed to have had a
hand in the transformation process, and one man accused of the crime
declared that a female devil had presented him with a belt and
whenever he buckled it he was changed into a wolf spontaneously. This
gentleman, when he was back in human shape, was always heard to remark
in surprise that he had not the faintest idea where the bristles went
which had adorned him when in wolfish form.

A return to human body was sometimes easy, sometimes extremely
difficult. The girdle or skin being removed was often sufficient to
remove the enchantment too. Plunging into water or rolling over and
over in dew were said to be equally efficacious. A considerably slower
method was to kneel in one spot for a hundred years, long enough, one
would imagine to deter anyone from ill-judged ambitions to prowl
around the world in animal shape. Other cures, however, were simpler,
such as being saluted with the sign of the cross, or to be called
three times loudly by the baptismal name, or to be struck three blows
on the forehead by a knife, or to have three drops of blood drawn from
some part of the body. In many cases one other person besides the
transformed man was in possession of certain formulæ necessary for
restoring him to a normal appearance, and if by any accident this
person was killed or otherwise removed from the sphere of action, woe
betide him in animal shape, for he probably had to retain it during
the rest of his natural existence.

There is a legend in Lorraine that if stalks of grass are pulled up,
blessed and thrown against a tree, wolves spring forth, being
transformed from the men who threw the grass. To become a she-bear it
is only necessary to put a slip of wood into one's mouth; when the
wood is taken out human shape returns.

Another myth, mentioned by Grimm, is that at certain times of night
wer-wolves turn into three-legged dogs and can only be freed by
someone crying out "wer-wolf."

Seven and nine are important numbers in transformation. When seven
girls are born of one marriage, one is thought to turn into a wer-wolf
and the seventh child of the seventh child is predestined to the same
fate. The spell is said to last nine days. Anyone who puts on a
wolf-shirt is transformed into a wolf for this period and returns to
human shape on the tenth day. Grimm says the seal is supposed to doff
his fishy skin every ninth day and for one day become a man, and there
is a common saying that a cat twenty years old turns into a witch, and
a witch of a hundred turns back into a cat.

Having taken the body of a beast, man becomes known as a wer-animal,
wer being probably derived from the Latin _vir_.[4] He then assumes
the characteristics of the natural animal, with additional strength,
agility, and ferocity.

In mediæval times powers of transformation seem to have been sought
after and were even regarded as a privilege. Although often acquired for
evil purposes, among primitive peoples to change into an animal did not
necessarily imply a descent in the scale of being. To them there is but
a slight line of demarcation between the animal world and mankind. They
are not influenced so much by the idea of human degradation as by a
beautiful belief in the brotherhood and fellowship of all creation.

Lycanthropy is the technical name for the pathological condition of a
man who believes he has become an animal. The word means literally
wolf-man, the wolf being chosen as the most dangerous animal known in
European countries, though the tiger, hyæna, or any other wild animal
serves the purpose equally well.

The symptoms exhibited by the wer-animal are at first extreme
restlessness and anxiety. He develops, sometimes instantaneously,
sometimes by degrees, the instincts of the kind of creature into which
he has been transformed, often acquiring enormous strength and the
special characteristics of the animal. If it be carnivorous by nature
he has a lust to kill, and he can do what the animal does as well as
what he was naturally capable of doing. His body is in the shape of an
animal, but his eyes, according to some accounts, remain unchanged,
and the human being looks out of these windows of his soul. His
intelligence will probably, however, be darkened by the shadow of
malignity or passion usual to the lower creation.

As early as 1579, Wierius described lycanthropia as a disease, and
declared the Arabs called it _Chatrap_, after an animal. Another name
was _Tipule_. (Latin race.) The victims had sunken eyes and could not
see well, the tongue was dry and they were thirsty, the saliva being
dried up. To cure them they had to be well-fed, much bathed, and given
drugs which were used in melancholic diseases. Before an attack the
head was rubbed with soporific herbs, opium was applied to the nose
and the patient was dosed with a narcotic.

When under the delusion that he is changed into a wolf the wer-animal
gives vent to a long howl and starts off with a rush to the nearest
forest, where he prowls about through the night seeking his victims.
These he kills in the ordinary manner of a wild beast, tearing asunder
their limbs and feasting on their flesh. In some countries his method
is more elaborate and it is supposed that the wer-wolf, having chosen
his victim, exerts certain occult powers to numb his faculties and,
cutting up the body, extracts the liver, which he eats and then joins
the parts of the body together again so that the friends of the dead
man know not how he came to lose his life.

Having satisfied his thirst for blood, the man-wolf, at the wane of
his madness, once more seeks human shape, and then it is probable that
he suffers for his abnormal appetites. Reaction leaves him weak and
debilitated, with dry throat and tongue, feeble vision, hollow and
discoloured cheeks, and sore places where he was hurt by his victim
struggling for life.

Some subjects of lycanthropia, or imitative madness, endure still
greater horrors, and the case of a patient who trembled with terror at
his own condition is quoted by M. Morel in his "Études Cliniques."[5]
"See this mouth," he cried, touching his lips with his fingers, "it is
the mouth of a wolf, and see the long hairs which cover my body and my
paws. Let me bound away into the woods so you may shoot me there!"
When his family endeavoured to caress him, he cried out that they were
embracing a wolf. He asked for raw meat, the only food he could touch,
but on tearing it apart he found it not to his liking as it had not
been freshly killed. Thus he went through the tortures of the damned
until released by death.

Another victim of the disease is mentioned by Fincelius in his second
Book of Wonders. He says that "at Padua in the year 1541 a certain
husbandman did seem to himself wolf, and did leap upon many in the
fields, and did kill them. And that at last he was taken not without
much difficulty, and did confidently affirm that he was a true wolf,
only that the difference was in the _skin turned in with the hairs_.
And therefore that, having put off all humanity and being truly
truculent and voracious, he did smite and cut off his legs and arms,
thereby to try the truth of the matter, but the innocency of the man
being known, they committed him to the chirurgeon's to be cured, but
that he died not many days after. Which instance is sufficient to
overthrow the vain opinion of those men that believe that a man or
woman may be really transubstantiated into a wolf, dog, cat, squirrel
or the like without the operation of an omnipotent power."

In spite of the unpleasant consequences with which lycanthropy seems
to be connected there is little doubt that transformation used to be
regarded as a useful and sometimes even profitable relaxation. Those
who were already initiated into its mysteries were generally willing
to help others to obtain proficiency, and a draught from the hand of
an expert was considered enough to produce the desired condition in
the novice.

Predestination to become a wer-animal is thought to be distinguished
by some peculiarity in the appearance, such as the meeting of the
eyebrows, and the tendency to transform is believed to wax and wane
with the seasons and to be subject to the influence of the moon.

The head, claws, and hairy skin of a wer-wolf are like those of a real
wolf, but the great test of identity lies in his lack of tail, and in
his clothes, which are sure to be found not far from the scene of

When doubt is felt whether a wer-wolf is a human being or a real wolf,
steel or iron is thrown at the animal under suspicion. When this is
done to a genuine wer-wolf the skin is said to split crosswise on the
forehead and the naked man comes out through the opening. Sometimes
the wer-wolf is frozen with the cold and then he is invulnerable to
ordinary weapons. The only way to wound him is to shoot at him with
balls of elder pith or bullets of inherited silver.

When the victim is attacked by a human animal the injured person's
clothes are stripped from his body. The genuine animal tears them in
shreds. If the wer-animal has been transformed by means of a strap of
human skin, his tail is then certain to be truncated.

In the following Hessian folk-story, which concerns a poverty-stricken
married couple, a large ring was used to bring about the metamorphosis.

The wife always contrived to have meat for every meal and the husband
never knew how she managed it. After much questioning she agreed to tell
him, and taking him to a field where sheep were grazing she threw a ring
over herself and became a wer-wolf. She seized one sheep and was running
off with it when the man, who had promised not to call her by name
during the performance, cried out, "Oh, Margaret!" and as he did so the
wolf disappeared and the woman stood there with no clothes on.

A very similar story is told of a nobleman who fell short of food
while traversing a wide tract of country in Russia with a party of
friends. He transformed himself into a wolf and caught several sheep,
which provided an excellent meal for the travellers.

In India a story is current that there was once a man who was able to
change himself into a tiger, but who found it very difficult to resume
his normal shape. When he wished to become human again, it was
necessary for a particular friend of his to cite a certain formula.
The friend died and as this catastrophe limited the tiger-man's powers
he determined to teach the proper formula to his wife.

A few days later, having enjoyed a glorious hunt and devoured several
antelopes, he trotted up to his wife in the disguise of a tiger, hoping
she would not forget how to work the spell. When she saw the dangerous
monster approaching her she began to scream. The animal jumped round
about her, trying to remind her by dumb show of what she had to do, but
the greater efforts he made the more frightened she grew and the louder
became her cries. So annoyed was the man-tiger by her aggravating
stupidity that he thought, "This is the most irritating woman I ever
saw," and, flying into a terrible passion, he attacked and slew her.
Then to his regret he remembered that no other human being knew the
incantation necessary for his release and that he would have to remain a
tiger for the rest of his days. He grew to hate all human beings after
that and killed men whenever the chance occurred.

In the Sanjor and Nerbudda territories there is a saying that if a tiger
has killed a man he will never slay another, because the dead man's
spirit rides on his head and forces him to seek more lawful prey.

Some African tribes believe that tailless tigers are transformed men,
probably because the wer-animal is frequently said to have no tail.

In early Christian times the wer-wolf was often regarded as a victim
of the evil machinations of a sorcerer. There is a story in the
seventh century of a man-wolf who defended the head of St. Edward the
Martyr from the onslaught of other wild beasts. The apostles Peter and
Paul, according to a Russian folk-tale, turned an evil-minded husband
and wife into bears as a judgment for their sins.

An object which may have been an inducement to transformation was the
hope of acquiring second sight, a gift with which many animals are
thought to be endowed.

In the last century in France a connection of the old _loup-garou_
existed in the person of the _meneur des loups_, who was said to have
the gift of charming or taming wolves, which followed him across waste
lands on midnight rambles after the style in which the rats followed
the piping of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The _loup-garou_ of the French is found in Italy under the name of the
_lupo manaro_ or _versiero_. The _lupo manaro_ of the Middle Ages was
a witch dressed as a wolf, but the same term was applied to a certain
hobgoblin who was peculiar to the city of Blois and whose chief
occupation seems to have been to inspire deadly fear in young
children. The _lupo marino_, which might be thought to be another kind
of wolf, is the name of a most ravenous fish, which does not appear to
have had human attributes.

The great Gaston de Foix, known as Phœbus, who is famed for his book
on the chase, expresses his opinion that the term _garou_ in
_loup-garou_ is an ellipse of the phrase _gardez-vous_.

When wolves grew scarce in England it became the fashion for those who
wished to be transformed to change into cats, weasels, or harmless
hares; rather a mild amusement after the adventuresome exploits of the
man-attacking beasts of prey, but one which led to some extraordinary
proceedings akin to black magic.

In some old French Records the account is given of a man who buried a
black cat in a box at a spot where four cross-roads met. In the box he
placed bread soaked in holy water and holy oil, sufficient to keep the
animal alive for three days. His intention was to dig up his innocent
victim, slay him, and make a girdle of his skin, by which means he
expected to be able to transform himself into an animal and gain the
gift of clairvoyance. Unfortunately for his projects, however, the
buried animal was exhumed by hounds. The whole affair came to public
knowledge and ended in the courts, where the guilty man was condemned
for sorcery.

Another man whose friend threw doubts on his power to change into
animal shape, quickly turned into a wolf to prove that his comrade was
wrong and, being set upon by a pack of dogs, was deprived by them of
one eye before he could resume his normal appearance.

A thief acted more cleverly. Being condemned to the gibbet, he saved his
skin by taking the form of a wolf directly his would-be executioners
opened the door of the cell in which he was imprisoned. During the panic
of dismay which greeted the sight of him, he escaped into the woods.

One of the most marvellous stories of wer-wolves is related by
Giraldus Cambrensis in his "Topography of Ireland."[6] A priest was
journeying from Ulster to Meath accompanied only by a single youth
when they were benighted in a wood.

They had kindled a fire when a huge wolf approached them and spoke,
telling the travellers to fear nothing.

The priest adjured him by all that was sacred not to do them harm and
begged him to say "what creature it was that in the shape of a beast
uttered human words."

The story told by the wolf is as follows:--

"There are two of us, a man and a woman, natives of Ossory, who,
through the curse of one Natalis, saint and abbot, are compelled every
seven years to put off their human form and assume that of wolves. At
the end of seven years, if they chance to survive, two others being
substituted, they return to their former shape. Now, she who is my
partner in this visitation lies dangerously sick not far from hence. I
beseech you, inspired by divine charity, to give her the consolations
of your priestly office."

The priest followed the mysterious speaker into the thicket and
performed the rites of the Church over the dying she-wolf, as far as
the last Communion. But the wolf was not satisfied, and begged him to
complete his good offices. The priest said this was impossible as he
was not provided with the wherewithal for giving the viaticum. Then
the man-wolf pointed to the priest's neck, suspended round which he
carried a missal and consecrated wafers, entreating him not to deny
the aid provided by Divine Providence. To remove the priest's doubts
he tore off the she-wolf's skin and exposed the body of an old woman.
The last Communion having been given, the wolf replaced the skin and
reverently thanked the priest for the benefit which he had conferred.

These representative incidents go far to show how deeply ingrained is
the belief in transformation among primitive people, but it is necessary
to go back still further into the origins of folk-lore to discover the
bedrock of thought in which the human-animal theory takes its rise.


[3] "Teutonic Mythology."

[4] This appears to be the usually adopted explanation, but on p. 67 a
suggestion is made regarding the word _versipelles_, which may throw a
different light on the derivation.

[5] Vol. II, p. 58.

[6] "The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis," 1863. Bohn's
Library p. 79 _et seq._

                             CHAPTER III

                            THE BUSH-SOUL

The animal which savage races take as a symbol of the family becomes
their totem. Many believe that their ancestors were originally
animals, fishes, or reptiles, and are so accustomed to this idea that
transformation appears simple and natural to them. They hold that the
souls of the dead pass into one or another animal form.

"Wise people," says the Bhagavad Gita, "see the same soul (Atman) in
the Brahman, in worms and in insects, in the dog and the elephant, in
beasts, cows, gadflies, and gnats."

"Nothing is more strikingly characteristic of primitive thinking than
the close community of nature which it assumes between man and brute,"
writes Fiske. "The doctrine of metempsychosis, which is found in some
shape or other all over the world, implies a fundamental identity
between the two; the Hindu is taught to respect the flocks browsing in
the meadow, and will on no account lift his hand against a cow, for
who knows but it may be his own grandmother?"[7]

The primeval worship of ancestors and the savage customs of totemism
are connected with this belief in transformation.

Primitive man cannot grasp the idea of death as final. He believes
that the man who has passed away is still capable of communicating
with the living, and the idea of the persistence of the dead is to him
the reality. Even though a dead man has thrown off the body like a
mask, his appearance remains the same and he is still possessed of
human powers, perhaps intensified by the experience he has undergone.
He can show himself to his friends, and may do so preferably after
nightfall. He is then wrapped to some extent in mystery, and connected
with strange sights, movements, and sounds.

Gifted with new powers he may appear as an animal, perhaps in order to
harm his enemies or warn people of evil. His howling may be heard
above the sound of the tempest. Perhaps he rides on the night-wind,
perhaps he comes in the form of a hound, as a messenger of death, and
bays under the window of the sick a warning that death is at hand.
Again, he may come as a ravening wolf to devour some victim of his
greed. Thus the savage mind fails to distinguish between the real and
the imaginative and, basing his beliefs on the stories about his own
tribal totem, is convinced that his ancestors may career about his
home in the form of lion, leopard, serpent or other tutelary genius.
This curious mental process expands with what it feeds on until the
shade of distinction between wolf-like ghosts and corporeal human
wolves is obliterated and the metempsychosis is complete.

In "Life Amongst the Modocs,"[8] Joaquin Miller tells a poetic story
of the descent of the Indians from the grizzly bear.

One severe spring-time many thousands of years ago there was a storm
on the summit of Mount Shasta and the Great Spirit sent his fair
daughter to speak to the storm and bid it stop, but he told her not to
look forth from the hole in the top of the mountain lest she should be
caught in the wind and come to disaster.

Curiosity, however, caused her to forget her father's instructions and
she put her head out to look at the far-distant ocean, white with
storm. As she did so the wind caught her long red hair and she was
blown down the mountain-side which was covered with ice and snow, so
that she slid to the dark belt of firs below the snow rim.

This district belonged to the grizzly bears. They were not really
beasts then, but lived in caves, walked on two legs, talked and used
clubs to fight with, instead of their teeth and claws as they do now.
An old grizzly found the red-haired girl and took her home, where she
was reared with the bears' offspring. In time she was married to the
eldest son of the family. Their children did not resemble either of
their parents exactly, but partook somewhat of the nature and likeness
of both. Thus was the red man created, for these children were the
first Indians.

The legend goes on to tell how angry the Great Spirit was when he
heard what had befallen his daughter and that he punished the
grizzlies by making them walk on all-fours like other beasts, and on
account of this legend of their origin, the Indians about Mount Shasta
never kill a bear, and if a bear kills an Indian the latter's body is
burnt and all who pass the spot cast a stone upon it till a large heap
is gathered, and Indians will point out to this day that bears are
more like men than any other animal.

The members of a totem clan call themselves by the name of the totem,
and numerous clans are connected with various animals, such, for
instance, as the Crane clan of the Ojibways who think they are
descended from a pair of cranes which settled near Lake Superior where
they became transformed by the Great Spirit into a man and a woman.
The Osages are descended from the union between a snail and a beaver.
The snail burst its shell, grew arms and legs and became a handsome
human being who wedded a beaver maiden.

In Bechuanaland when a crocodile clansman sees a crocodile he spits on
the ground and says, "There is sin," for fear the sight should give
him inflammation of the eyes. Yet the crocodile is his father, and he
celebrates it at his festivals and marks his cattle with an incision
in the ear that resembles the mouth of his totem animal.

The inhabitants of the Ellice Island in the South Pacific believe the
island was first inhabited by the porcupine fish, whose offspring became
men and women. The snake clan among the Moquis of Arizona say they are
descended from a woman who gave birth to snakes, and they indulge in
extraordinary snake dances to propitiate their tutelary genius.

In Indonesia many stories are told of women who have brought forth
animals. Sometimes the woman gives birth to twins, one being a human
being and one a beast.[9] At Balen in New Guinea a native told a
missionary that his ancestress had given birth to a boy and also to an
iguana, and since then he had had a great respect for iguanas.

The turtle clan of the Iroquois believe themselves to be descended
from a fat turtle, which, burdened by the weight of its shell in
walking, threw it off after great exertions and developed gradually
into a human being.[10]

People of the cray-fish clan of the Choctaws were said to have lived
originally underground as cray-fish, only coming to the surface of the
mud occasionally. Some kindly Choctaws captured these fish, taught
them to walk after cutting off their toe-nails and adopted them into
the tribe.

The Masai race in Uganda have a theory that some of their ancestors
return to earth after death in the shape of serpents, generally
pythons or cobras, and when a Masai marries, he introduces his wife to
the tutelary snake of the tribe, and she is told to recognise it and
never harm it. The fetish snake is often consulted by people in
trouble, because they think they will get valuable advice based on
the experience of their ancestors[11].

The people of Miri believe themselves to be related to large deer, and
suppose that their dead relatives become deer. The Bakongs, another
group of Mohammedan Malasians, believe their friends become bear-cats
after death. The Papuans of New Guinea hold that at death souls of
human beings pass into animals such as cassowaries, fish, or pigs.
They do not eat these sacred creatures, which are taboo.

The taboos include all animals which must not be killed. They enjoy
local sanctity, and are never eaten or even touched. Taboo animals are
thought to give favourable and unfavourable omens. Death is sometimes
foretold by their means.

These instances of the supposed connection between savage races and
certain animals might be multiplied a hundredfold, and they lead to
interesting developments of the transformation theory.

The belief that beasts are the dwelling-places of the souls of
depraved men is a variation of the idea that depraved men were
inhabited by demons.

In Australia and America it is customary for savages to have what is
called "a medicine animal," something in the nature of a tutelary
genius or second soul. The natives of Central America call this animal
_nagual_, the Algonquins _manitou_, the Eskimo _tornaq_, and amongst
the last-named people it is usually a bear. Others call it simply the

The young Tinkhlet Indian goes out hunting the otter, and when he has
killed his prey he cuts out its tongue, which he uses as a charm,
wearing it round his neck and believing that he now understands the
language of all animals. In other races various animals are killed in
order that part of their body may be used as a talisman. A _nagual_
may be obtained in other ways, perhaps through dreaming of the right
animal, or by having it chosen by the magician of the tribe. It then
becomes sacred, and should it die the man dies too.

The West African negroes believe that a man can have as many as four
souls, one of which lives in animal form out in the bush, and is then
called his bush-soul. If this animal soul is trapped or shot, the man
himself dies. Nor will a native kill his bush-soul, for this would
surely be the cause of his own end. Bush-souls are often regarded as
an hereditary possession, generally passing from father to son and
from mother to daughter. Among many primitive peoples the belief
exists that the human being can and does actually change into this
tutelary animal genius. In Iceland, for instance, it is believed that
various members of a family have a kind of animal double called
_fylgja_, in the shape of a dog or bird.

The Yakuts of Siberia believe that every wizard has one of his souls
incarnate in an animal. "Nobody can find my external soul," said one
famous wizard, "it lies hidden far away in the stony mountains of
Edzhigansk." Once a year at the melting of the snow, these souls
appear amongst the dwellings of men in the shape of animals, invisible
to all but the wizards themselves. Strong ones hurry about noisily,
but the weak ones move furtively as though afraid. Sometimes they
fight, and the sorcerer whose soul is worsted in the battle falls ill
and may even die. The souls of cowardly wizards are in the form of
dogs, and they give their human double no peace, but gnaw at his heart
and tear his body. Powerful wizards have souls incarnate in stallions,
elks, boars, eagles, and black bears.

The Samoyeds in the Turukhinsk region believe that sorcerers have a
familiar in the shape of a boar, and that they lead him by a magic
belt. If the boar dies the sorcerer too must die. Sometimes battles
occur between sorcerers who send forth their familiars to encounter
one another before they themselves meet in the flesh.

The Melanesians of Mota in the New Hebrides, call the soul the _atai_,
and they believe that every person has a second self which is visible
and is, in fact, the reflection in animal form of his own personality.
He and his _atai_ would rejoice or grieve, live and die together.

Some of the Melanesians also believe that they have special relation
to some animal or reptile with which their life is bound up and which
is named _tamaniu_. The _tamaniu_, like the _atai_, has an objective
and material existence.

When its owner wishes to injure anyone he sends his familiar to do so;
if an eel it would tear or bite, if a shark probably swallow him. If
the owner falls ill, he examines his familiar to discover what is
wrong. The imps or familiars of witches embody the same idea.

Dr. W. H. R. Rivers quotes the case of a man whose _tamaniu_ was a
lizard[12]. The owner was blind and asked a friend to help him with the
ceremony of examination. He told his friend to go and see the animal,
using the words "Look at me," referring to the lizard as himself. The
man went alone to the banyan tree where the lizard was to be found, but
when he came there he was too frightened to call upon the animal. He was
sent a second time in the company of the sick man's son and others, and
when they reached the tree the man called out the lizard's name,
Rosasangwowut, and the _tamaniu_ appeared. It was a very large animal,
larger than the ordinary lizards in Mota. It appeared to be sluggish and
walked as a sick man would walk. The blind man's son then asked the
_tamaniu_ if it was ill and the creature nodded its head and moved
slowly back to the tree. They went back and told the man that his
familiar was ill, and soon afterwards he died. At the same time the
banyan tree fell, which was taken as a sign that the _tamaniu_ died too.
This is an uncanny story which brings out strongly the psychic
connection between the man and his representative animal.

In Melanesia a native doctor was once attending a patient when a large
eagle hawk soared past the house and a hunter was about to shoot it
when the doctor called out in alarm, "Don't fire, that is my spirit!
If you kill it I shall die." He also said, "If you see a rat to-night,
don't drive it away, it's my spirit, or a snake may come to-night,
which will be my spirit." Apparently the doctor had the power to send
his familiar in animal form for the purpose of working a cure.

At Ongek in the Gaboon a French missionary spent the night in the hut of
a Fan chief. He was awakened before daylight by the rustling of dry
leaves and, lighting a torch, perceived a huge black poisonous serpent,
coiled and ready to strike. He was about to shoot the horrible reptile
when his arm was suddenly struck up by the chief, who, extinguishing the
torch, cried, "Don't fire, I beg of you. In killing the snake you would
kill me. That serpent is my _elangela_. Fear nothing!" Speaking thus he
seized and caressed the noisome reptile, which showed emotions of
delight rather than fear or anger. Then the chief bore away his serpent
and laid it in another hut, lying down beside it, after exhorting the
missionary never to speak of what he had seen.[13]

From this occurrence it will easily be gathered that it is highly
dangerous to kill a _tamaniu_, _nagual_, or _manitou_.

The possibility of the soul existing temporarily apart from the body
is believed by most savages, and civilised races, such as the Romans,
have held identical ideas. "The _nagual_," writes W. Northcote Thomas
in his valuable article on Animals,[14] "is the lineal ancestor of the
_genius_ of the Romans, no less than of the _guides_ of modern
spiritualism." This statement gives ample food for thought.


[7] Fiske, J., "Myths and Myth-makers," 1873, p. 74.

[8] 1873, pp. 242-7.

[9] Frazer, "Totemism," Vol. II, p. 58.

[10] _Ibid._, Vol. I, p. 5.

[11] "The Uganda Protectorate," by Sir Harry Johnston, 1902, Vol. II,
p. 832.

[12] "Totemism in Polynesia and Melanesia" in "Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute," 1909, Vol. XXXIX, p. 177.

[13] Frazer, "Golden Bough," "Balder the Beautiful," 1913, Vol. II, p.
200, etc.

[14] Hastings' "Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics," 1908, Vol. I.

                              CHAPTER IV

                     HUMAN SOULS IN ANIMAL BODIES

At all periods of the world's history and in every country people have
believed in the "external soul" of a man appearing in animal form. For
instance, in the island of Florida the natives tell the story of an
alligator which used to come out of the sea and visit the village in
which the man whose ghost it was had dwelt. It was known by his name
and was on friendly terms with the natives, allowing children to ride
on its back.[15]

In Syria there are stories of girls being carried off by bears and
giving birth to human-animal offspring. The Creeks believe the
offspring to be bears which later turn into men. Japan is famous for
its white bear-god and the Tartars believe that earth spirits take the
form of bears.

The Gilyaks believe that if one of their race is killed by a bear, his
soul transmigrates into the animal's body. Californian Indians have
been heard to plead hard for the life of a she-bear. They said its
wrinkled face was like the withered features of a dead grandmother
whose soul had entered into the animal.

One of the Omaha clans believe they are descended from bison and the
males wear their hair in imitation of the animal which is their totem.

The Ewe negroes of Togoland ascribe to the souls of buffaloes and
leopards the power of killing the hunter who slew them, or of
misleading him in the chase so that he confuses men with animals and
gets into difficulties from being accused of murdering the former. The
souls of these dangerous animals are thought to haunt and plague the
hunter, perhaps by making him crazy, so that when he finds his way
back into the town he loses all his property and is sold into slavery.
A quaint ceremony is performed to prevent such power emanating from
the dead prey.

The Baganda natives are in deadly terror of the ghosts of the
buffaloes they have killed, believing that they may work harm to them.

The crocodile especially has played a large part in these beliefs
about human and ghostly animals.

Natives in Simbang, in German New Guinea, are convinced that their
relatives turn into crocodiles, and they recognise a certain crocodile
known by the name of "Old Butong" as head of the family. They say he
was born of a woman. Mary Kingsley tells a similar story in her
"Travels in West Africa," describing human beings, who, disguised as
alligators, swim in the creeks, attack the canoes and carry off the
crew. The natives believe in the spirit of the man actually possessing
the animal's body.

In New Guinea and the East Indies as well as in West Africa crocodiles
are thought to be the abodes of the souls of ancestors, and the victim
of this dangerous reptile is said to have incurred the vengeance of
some human being who has taken the form of the animal, while those who
kill crocodiles become themselves transformed after death. Spenser's
"cruell craftie crocodile" was held to be sacred in Egypt, and the god
Sebek was said to take its shape whenever he so desired.

The Malagasy view is that the crocodile is the ally of a magician
during his lifetime, and that he can send him forth as a familiar to
wreak harm upon his enemies.

The alligator is closely allied to the crocodile. Among the legends of
the Arawak Indians of British Guiana is one about a half human beast of
this species which received its extraordinary markings in the following
manner: Arawadi, the sun-god, coming to earth saw an alligator
disporting himself on the banks of a stream which he had preserved
specially for fish. To get rid of the enemy he seized and smote him with
a hard club upon the head and tail, but the alligator, crying out to him
to stay his hand, promised in return for clemency a beauteous
water-sprite to be his bride. Arawadi agreed to the proposal.

      "The reptile's wounds were healed. Those blows
       No more his hide assail;
       But still their marks are seen, 'tis said,
       Indented on his battered head
       And notched along his tail!"

The domestic animals, bulls, cows, horses, asses, cats, and dogs, have
been regarded at one time or another as gifted with human powers, or
as suitable vehicles for the reception of human souls. The Tlaxcallans
believe that man can be transformed into a dog. The wild dog, the
coyote, according to the ideas of the Navajos, may be a bad man
transformed at death for his sins.

Armenians sacrifice an ass at the graves of people who owe them money,
their belief being that if payment is not forthcoming the ancestor's
souls will enter asses' bodies.

The Corn Spirit is supposed to take the form of a cat, and in some
places in Germany children have been warned not to go into the
corn-fields because "The cat sits there." In Silesia the reaper who
cuts the last corn is called the "Tom-cat" and is dressed up in
rye-stalks, wearing a long plaited tail. Sometimes another man
accompanies him called "the female cat."

The Lapps of the North Cape are said to consult a black cat when in
trouble, and they regard it more as a human being than as an animal.

The cat is among the soul-animals familiar to the inhabitants of the
British Islands, who, owing to this country's immunity from wild
beasts, are satisfied to "humanise" the milder species of creatures
such as the ant, butterfly, gull, moth, sparrow, and swan.

In the parish of Ballymoyer in Ireland butterflies are said to be the
souls of grandfathers, whilst the Malagasy trace their descent from a
moth, believing that a man was changed into a moth when he died. Many
races believe that moths and butterflies are the souls of the dead.

In the Solomon Islands, if a native declared he intended to transmigrate
into a butterfly, his children, on seeing one of these insects would cry
"That is Daddy" and make some suitable offering of food. Witches have
been known to have butterflies and moths as familiars.

In Cornwall ants are thought to be the souls of children who died
without baptism. Hindus also associate this insect with the souls of
the dead, and natives of New Guinea believe that a second death occurs
after the first and that the soul is transformed into an ant.

The Athabascan Dog-Ribs believe that an ant inserted beneath the skin
of the palm endows the owner of the hand with the gift of prophecy.

The Sudanese think that a wer-man has to approach an ants' nest before
being transformed into a hyæna.

Besides the ant the bat is regarded as a mysterious creature, and this
form was frequently assumed by Chamalcan, god of the Cakchiquels.
Large bats abound in an island on the Ivory Coast in West Africa and
are regarded as embodying the souls of the dead. In Tonga the same
superstition holds good. Bats and birds appear so similar when flying
at dusk that it is natural to find that birds also are often the form
in which human spirits take wing.

The Warrar races of Guiana have a very poetical belief about the
spirits of the departed. They visit the fair isle of Trinidad,

      "Where souls of good men they could find,
       In glittering humming-birds confined."

The Arawaks believe that vultures belong to a race which lives in a
country above the sky. When at home the vultures cease to be birds and
assume the shape and habits of human beings.

The Kalitas hold that when a man dies his soul is carried to
spirit-land by a little bird, and if he has been an evil-doer during
his lifetime, a hawk overtakes and swallows the bird.

In County Mayo swans are the souls of virgins who have been remarkable
for the purity of their lives. This idea is as beautiful as the
Bohemian tradition that children hop about the meadows in the form of
frogs is quaint.

An old Hindu story that monkeys were originally men has a distinctly
comic side to it. They contracted debts and when called upon to pay
fled from their creditors by changing into monkeys and putting their
tails between their legs. In this undignified position they made off
at full speed into the jungle.

The stories of human souls in various animal bodies would fill a
volume, and perhaps one of the most picturesque ideas of the kind is
that of the Cornish fisherfolk who say they see the spirits of their
drowning companions transformed into animal shapes as they pass away
from this earth.


[15] Frazer, J. G., "The Golden Bough," "Spirits of the Corn and of
the Wild," 1912, Vol. II, p. 297. See also "Balder the Beautiful,"
1913, Vol. II, pp. 196-218, "The External Soul in Animals."

                              CHAPTER V

                            ANIMAL DANCES

The ceremonial dances and festivals of primitive races in which animal
masks and skins are used are closely connected with the idea of
ancestor worship and with transformation. After careful study of the
subject it will be regarded as certain that the performers, by means
of mimic action, rhythmic and imitative sounds, as well as by narcotic
drugs and pungent or penetrating perfumes, induce in themselves an
hypnotic or excited state in which they believe they change into the
actual animal they represent.

Some of the dances are infinitely elaborate in detail, and are so
complicated in their various figures and their symbolic intention that
primitive ideas are almost lost sight of, but a certain fundamental
similarity can be found in them all which is based on root ideas of
animal worship, the desire to propitiate animals in the chase, the
belief in animal gods, or spirits of ancestors appearing in animal
form and the desire to bring about, by sacrifice and offering, the
fertility of the species.

Such exercises are both religious and magical, to secure charms
against bodily ills, and for good hunting as well as for recreation.
In special family dances the performers mimic the actions and cries of
their totemic animals.

In its most primitive form the animal disguise was used by savages
when acting in the capacity of a decoy, with the object of securing
food and clothing. The early Indian when trapping buffalo went forth
carrying a dress made of the skin of a buffalo, wearing its head and
horns over his own head. As soon as he had induced the herd to pursue
him, he led them into a trap or ambush, or over a precipice which was
fatal to many of them.

The Eskimo, when hunting the seal, wears a sealskin garment which
makes him look so much like his prey that at a distance he is only
distinguished from it with difficulty. When close to the animal he
utters sounds like those of a blowing seal.

Also when hunting deer he imitates their grunt, and two hunters on the
same track carry guns on their shoulders to resemble the animal's
antlers. Zuni hunters after deer wear cotton shirts with the sleeves
rolled up to the elbow, the back and front of the shirt being coloured
so as to represent the animal's body, the arms stained to represent
the deer's forelegs. Head and antlers are carried on the shoulders,
and the stalkers approach the game, browsing as they go.

Out of the simple imitation of animal motions and cries for the
purpose of decoy, the dance grew more complicated, with wild whirling
figures and elaborate dresses and masks. From a useful and necessary
disguise for purposes of obtaining food, the wolf-robe and mask
became, in unscrupulous hands, an instrument for personal
aggrandisement and gain through intimidation. The hideous animal-mask
was first used as a shield or protection for the face in defence
against the onslaught upon an opposing force. Then it became an
instrument with which to inspire terror and fear in those who beheld
it from the point of view of its ugliness or frightfulness, and
finally it was worn as a device or symbol of superhuman agencies. At
this stage it formed an integral part of the paraphernalia used in
religious performances, and when worn during ceremonial the wearer
became imbued in some mysterious manner with the spirit of the being
represented by the mask.

To gain the characteristics of an animal a wizard attached crow and
owl plumes to his head, that he might have the eyes of a crow and
quickly become aware of the approach of man, or of the owl that he
might travel by night.

A Zuni man, hearing the hoot of an owl, yet recognising it as human,
discovered one of his own race hidden in the thicket. "Ah," he cried,
"why do you wear those plumes upon your head? Aha! you must be a

The Omaha coyote dance is performed by warriors to keep up their
spirits. Each dancer wears an animal skin, and imitates the action of a
coyote, trotting and glancing round. In dance and song the performers
imagine themselves to be transformed into the animal. In the Omaha
buffalo dance, four men are attired in great shaggy skins, the horns
above their heads and the hair hanging down below the chest. Other
dances are in imitation of wolves, grizzly bears, horses or tigers.

Pawnees dance the bison dance in war habit and with bison skins and
horns over their heads. The Creeks dance similarly, uttering sounds in
imitation of the bison, their bodies bent almost double and two staffs
being held to represent the animal's forelegs.

The initiation day has at its root the idea of transforming the man
into a member of the kin by giving him a share of the nature of the
animal. Dances may give magical power over the animal to be chased,
and are performed before a hunting expedition. In the dance the animal
goes down before the onslaught of the hunter, and so the real animal,
it is hoped, will fall a victim to his weapons. Dances after hunting
are of a protective nature, so that the soul of the slaughtered animal
may have no evil effect upon the slayer. Another form of animal dance
is performed with a view to increase the number of animals. Among the
Mandan Indians, for instance, an animal festival is held, at which a
man, painted black to represent the evil one, enters a village from
the prairie, chases and terrifies the women and acts the part of a
buffalo in a dance which is intended to ensure a good supply of this
valuable animal during the year to come. Other American tribes have a
similar masquerade, in which males, dressed in buffalo skins, take the
part of male buffaloes and the females personify the female animals,
with a view to bringing about an increase of the species.

Legendary animals, or spirits, are also represented in the elaborate
masked pantomimes of the Indian tribes in North West America. The
explanation given by the natives is that the ceremonial was instituted
in ancient days when man had still the form of an animal; and before
the great transformer had given him a distinctive shape. This
ceremonial, performed by man-animals, is a dramatised form of myth, in
which the actors attempt to reproduce certain trance-states by
sympathetic mimicry.

The Eskimos of Bering Strait perform remarkable dances in which
curious mythological beasts, said to inhabit sea and land, become
visible and occasionally play a part. Strange forms, probably of known
animals modified and adapted, are conjured to appear. The dance is
based on the old belief that in the early days all animate beings had
a dual existence, choosing to be men or animals as the will prompted
them. If an animal wished to be transformed into a man, the body was
drawn erect and the foreleg or wing was raised so that it pushed up
the jowl or beak, and thus changed the form and features into
something more manlike. It is still believed by these races that
animals have this power, and the form taken is called _inua_ and
represents the psychical part of the creature, at death appearing as
its shade. The wizards are said to have the power of piercing the
animal mask and recognising the human features it conceals.

Masks may also represent totemic animals, and the dancers are then
transformed into these special creatures, or at least are moved by
their spiritual essence.

Some of these masks are made with double faces, so that the muzzle of
the animal fits over and conceals the face of the _inua_ and the outer
mask is hinged on or held in place by pegs so that it may be removed
at any minute. The psychological moment when actual transformation
occurs is symbolised at a particular part of the ceremony.

The wearer of the mask then becomes imbued with the true spirit of the
animal represented, and the dance turns into a species of thanksgiving
for the hunter's success.[16]

Dancing is sometimes used as a form of exorcism.

In Abyssinia a disorder similar to that of being possessed by a
_bouda_, or sorcerer, is called _tigritiya_, and is a supposed
possession by the devil in which the victim, who is generally a woman,
believes that she has been transformed into an animal. Whatever the
patient demands must be procured, for else she becomes sulky and,
covering up her head, remains for days without eating or speaking.
Since the symptoms always include the wasting away of the attacked
person, this state is very dangerous.

Ornaments of all kinds have to be borrowed in answer to her lightest
whim. She asks for the lion's skin worn by a warrior, his silver
ornaments, or other valuable articles difficult to procure. In some
cases music is used as a means of charming away the _tigritiya_. Drums
and other instruments strike up and the patient moves her body in time
to the music and gradually increases her energy until the pace is
furious and her motions so violent that it seems likely she will
dislocate her limbs, if not her neck. Having lain on a bed of
sickness, reduced to a mere bag of bones, such fatiguing exercises
appear uncanny, but it is on this dancing and on her incantations that
the ejection of the evil spirit depends.

Some of the dances imitate the antics of bush-hogs and other animals
desirous of fun rather than of injury to human beings. In one of the
Acawoio dances, each dancer has a kind of trumpet to which a rudely
carved figure of some animal or reptile is fixed, and he impersonates
this animal for the time being.[17]

Musical instruments used in the dances are frequently made of animal
skins, and the Indians attribute special virtues to the wolf-skin.

It is said that a tom-tom or drum made of this animal's skin can
silence any similar instrument made of sheep's skin from which no man
can emit a sound while the wolf-skin vibrates.

Real animals often play a part in the ceremonial, especially snakes in
the serpent dances and sacred animals in such dances as are dedicated
to their worship.

In China a big dog is dressed up like a man and is carried round in a
palanquin to break up a drought.

Masks and animal skins worn at dances are, of course, not confined to
the use of primitive races, but have been employed since ancient days
in every kind of masque, dance, and pantomime. Much might be written
on their symbolic meaning, and attention may be drawn to the special
instance of the _festa asinaria_ of mediæval days at which dancers
wore the heads of asses.

Besides the masks and animal skins, ordinary clothing was often made
to represent special animals. For instance, at Athens, Artemis was
worshipped in ceremonies at which young maidens attired in saffron
gowns danced a particular movement and were called "bears."

The Royal family of Dahomey worship the leopard, and some of the
king's wives are distinguished by the title of "leopard wives" and
wear striped cloths to resemble the animal.

Many savages paint a rude picture of the animal they represent upon
the clothes worn, and this is a special feature of some of the
extraordinary snake dancers, especially amongst the Moquis.

These dances as well as those of the Hopis are expressions of clan
totemism rather than of snake worship. Several figures in the Maya
codices represent human beings, evidently personifying deities and
wearing the symbolic masks of animal gods. One of the human figures in
the Codex Cortesianus wears the mask of a snake. The Hopi usually
carries only the head of the animal personified, but the Mexican dresses
in the skin. In some examples the head-dress is most elaborate, the head
being painted green, with open mouth and red lips dotted with black, two
pendant white, tooth-shaped projections hanging from the upper jaw. From
the mouth a red tongue lolls. The eye is oval, with curved lines drawn
upon the pupil, and the whole is capped by a crescentic figure towering
above the head. Three triangular-shaped plumes extend from the cap, and
over the nose a red-coloured flap hangs. Though usually green, the heads
are sometimes painted white or brown, but none is red or yellow. In the
Hopi folk-tales it is said that the waters of the world come from the
breasts of the great snake, and sometimes a female figure, bearing a
snake as a head-dress, is symbolised with water flowing from her
breasts. Another symbolic figure has a snake's body with curious
markings and a head practically drawn in identical lines with that of a
human being. No doubt this represents a man transformed into, or
personifying, a snake. At any rate, he wears the mask and represents the
feathered snake ceremonially.

A number of animals are represented in Tusayan ceremonials and are then
called _Katcinas_, which means the supernatural being personified, as
well as the dance or act of personification. Besides the coyote, the
wolf, the cougar, the bear, the antelope, and the badger, which figure
largely among the supernatural beings found in the Sia ritual, the hawk,
the man eagle, the bee, butterfly, mountain sheep, and owl all play an
important part in Tusayan ceremonial. No women wear _Katcina_ masks in a
Hopi ceremony, the female _Katcinas_ being invariably represented by
men. The masked dances amongst the Pueblos, in which animal
personifications take place and masks are worn, are called _Katcina_
dances. They take place between January and August.[18]

The following strange ceremony is practised by Mexicans and is not
unlike the Hopi snake dance. It is celebrated once in every eight
years about October or November.

After fasting for some days, says one who has seen the dance, the
natives disguised themselves in all manner of animal and bird dresses,
and came up dancing to the chosen spot where the rain-god had been
placed before a pool of water in which live snakes and frogs were
swimming. The Macateca, which may be rendered "those from Deerland,"
then seized upon the wriggling reptiles with the mouth, never touching
them with the hand, and attempted to swallow them alive, dancing all
the time. He who managed to swallow the first snake cried out, "papa,
papa" and danced round about the temple. After two days of these
extraordinary exertions a procession was formed and all marched slowly
four times round the temple. Then came a feast of fruit and pastry
which had been placed ready in baskets for the purpose, and the
ceremonial was ended. The old men and women present, knowing that
there would be no repetition of the dance for eight years, wept
bitterly at the close of the performance.

In a festival in vogue among the Cholutecas, a slave of good figure,
and no personal blemish, is dressed for forty days in the same animal
skin and mask which represent the special god to be personified.

The dresses of the Moquis during their serpent dances are fashioned of
painted cotton kilts, of a reddish-yellow colour, decorated with narrow
bands of yellow and green, and bordered by a narrow black stripe. At
the bottom is a fringe of small bells of lead or tin. A snake is painted
in the folds of the kilt, covered with white spots and bordered by
narrow white lines. The arms and legs of the dancers are naked, but
dangling to their heels behind they wear skins of the fox or coyote.

Marching solemnly round a sacred stone, they begin by shaking rattles
and waving snake-wands to which eagle feathers are attached. After
some chanting, a number of women, dressed in white and red mantles,
come forward and scatter corn-meal from baskets with which they are
provided. Presently the head priest, followed by a number of male
performers, marching two and two, come forward towards the sacred
rock, carrying live snakes in their mouths and hands. Some of the
Indians tickle the heads, necks, and jaws of the wriggling serpents to
distract their attention from those who are grasping their bodies
firmly between their teeth.

When the snake-carriers reach the further end of the space cleared for
the dance they spit the snakes out upon the ground and, facing the
sacred rock, stamp the left foot twice, giving forth strange sounds,
half grunt, half wail.

For nearly an hour this mad dance of wriggling snakes, rushing
figures, and clouds of whirling corn-meal continues and then the
snakes are released, the symbolic dance is over and the performers
resume their ordinary clothes and, presumably, their natural human
proclivities. The origin of this dance lies in the belief that the
Moquis are descended from snakes and is told thus by the natives:--

"Many years ago the Moquis used to live on the other side of a high
mountain beyond the San Juan River in Colorado. The chief thought he
would take a trip down the big river, so he made himself a boat of a
hollow cottonwood log, took some provisions and started down. The
stream carried him to the sea-shore, where he found some shells. When
he arrived on the beach he saw a number of houses on the cliff in
which lived many men and women who had white under their eyes, and
below that a white mark on their cheeks. That night he took one of the
women as his wife. Shortly after his return the woman gave birth to
snakes, and this was the origin of the snake family or clan which
manages the dance. When she gave birth to these snakes they bit a
number of the children of the Moquis. The Moquis then moved in a body
to their present villages and they have this dance to conciliate the
snakes so they won't bite their children."[19]

Snake worship and ancestor or spirit worship seems here combined in
the same rite, and the Moquis evidently believe in the transmigration
of souls. The dancers belong to a Secret Society, a sort of Serpent

The peculiar qualities said to distinguish departed relatives,
reappearing in the form of snakes, from the ordinary reptiles are that
they will frequent the huts, never eat mice and show no fear of man.
"Sometimes," says Sir John Lubbock in his "Origin of Civilisation,"[20]
"a snake is recognised as the representative of a given man by some
peculiar mark or scar, the absence of an eye, or some similar point of

The noiseless movement and the rapid action of the serpent, combined
with its fascinating gaze and magnetic power, no doubt lead savages to
view it as a possessor of wisdom and embodiment of spirits.

The Kobena and other Indians of Brazil perform masked dances in honour
of their dead. They have a butterfly dance in which two performers
represent large blue butterflies fluttering in the sunshine. Darting
swallows are also mimicked by masked dancers, as well as vultures,
owls, fish, jaguars, and, curiously enough, the sloth, in which dance
a man hangs for a long time to the bough of a tree or the cross-beam
of a hut. Another strange sight is the sandfly dance, in which a swarm
of masked men make the air dark with their antics.

All these performances are based on certain magical formulæ. A
mysterious force permeates the dancer, beneath his mask, and for the
time being he has become a mighty animal demon or spirit, capable of
unlimited powers.


[16] See E. W. Nelson's "The Eskimo about Bering Strait," in
"Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology," 1899,
Part II, p. 394 _et seq._

[17] Brett, W. H., "The Indian Tribes of Guiana," 1868, pp. 374-5.

[18] _See_ Fewkes, J. W., "Comparison of Sia and Tusayan Snake
Ceremonials" and other tracts.

[19] Bourke, J. G., "The Snake-Dance of the Moquis of Arizona," 1884,
p. 177.

[20] p. 180.

                              CHAPTER VI

                      MAN-ANIMAL AND ANIMAL-MAN

In remote ages man and animal were closely bound by a thousand ties.
Under barbaric conditions human beings and animals lived, as it were,
in touch with one another, they were next-door neighbours in the
primeval forests, their necessities were the same to a large extent
and their tastes did not widely differ. Both were actuated by the need
of shelter, food, and protection against enemies. Is it surprising,
then, that primitive man was closely allied to his less intelligent
brothers, and that he believed them to be endowed with feelings and
desires akin to his own?

Owing to his powers of mental growth, however, it was not long before
man's instincts developed above those of the beasts. He was still, in
reality, a savage animal, but he had more skill and ingenuity in the
art of killing, as soon as he began to realise that a stick, a stone,
or other weapons could be used to beat out the life of other animals.

Gradually he found out that he possessed higher qualities on the
mental plane, and that he had the power of conscious spiritual
development which was apparently denied to brute creatures.

Many writers have endeavoured to formulate the great kinship which
exists amongst all created beings in this particular aspect of the
evolution of soul.

"There is not any matter, nor any spirit, nor any creature, but it is
capable of a unity of some kind with other creatures," writes
Ruskin;[21] "and in that unity is its perfection and theirs, and a
pleasure also for the beholding of all other creatures that can
behold. So the unity of spirits is partly in their sympathy and partly
in their giving and taking, and always in their love; and these are
their delight and their strength; for their strength is their
co-working and army fellowship, and their delight is in their giving
and receiving of alternate and perpetual good; their inseparable
dependancy on each other's being, and their essential and perfect
depending on their Creator's."

"Let us label beings by what they are," says a more modern writer,[22]
"by the souls that are in them and the deeds they do--not by their
colour, which is pigment, nor by their composition, which is clay. There
are philanthropists in feathers and patricians in fur, just as there are
cannibals in the pulpit and saurians among the money-changers."

The great seer, Prentice Mulford, believed that the spirit of an animal
could actually be re-embodied in a man or woman, and he thought that its
prominent characteristics would appear in that man or woman. The mother
might attract to her the spirit of some more intelligent or highly
developed savage animal. That spirit would then lose its identity as a
quadruped and reappear in the body of the new-born child.

"Remember," he writes, "that as to size and shape the spirit of a
horse need not be like the horse materialised in flesh and blood.
Spirit takes hold of a mass of matter and holds that matter in
accordance with its ruling desire and the amount of its intelligence.
An anaconda is but the faint spark of intelligence only awakened into
desire to swallow and digest. Such low forms of life as the reptile or
fish have not even awakened into affection for their young. The
reptile, as to spirit or intellect, is but a remove from the
vegetable. Trees have life of their own; they are gregarious, and grow
in communities. The spirit of the old tree reanimates the new one.
There is in the vegetable kingdom the unconscious desire for
refinement, for better forms of life. For this reason is the entire
vegetable kingdom of a finer type than ages ago, when the world's
trees and plants, though immense in size, were coarse in fibre and in
correspondence with the animal life about them."

The true evolution, then, is that of spirit, taking on itself through
successive ages many re-embodiments and adding to itself some new
quality with each re-embodiment.

The survival of the fittest implies that the best qualities so gathered
do survive. The lower, coarse and more savage are gradually sloughed
off. The best qualities in all animal forms of life eventually are
gathered in a man. He has so gained or absorbed into himself courage
from the lion, cunning from the fox, rapaciousness from vulture and
eagle. You often see the eagle or vulture beak on one person's face, the
bulldog on that of another, the wolf, the fox, and so on. Faces hang out
no false sign of the character of the spirit. Man, unconsciously
recognising this, uses the terms "foxy," "wolfish," "snaky," and even
"hoggish," in describing the character of certain individuals.[23]

Most people are able to find physical similarities between human beings
and animals. The equine man who moves his ears is not rarely to be met
with. The person who uncovers his canine teeth in a snarl is an even
more common type. Short women who flap their arms and waddle in the
style of penguins; tall ones who have the graceful sliding movement of
the giraffe; persons of either sex who jerk along with hops like
feathered creatures on a lawn are all to be met with any day.

Mrs. Heron stalks in with solemnity and stateliness, and cranes her
neck to find something she has mislaid. She has a prying face, sharp
nose, and small projecting chin.

Lion faces, tiger faces, cat faces, fox faces, fish faces, bird faces,
sheep faces, and rat faces meet us at every turn.

Sheep men are mild in appearance, beaming with amiability,
truthfulness, and freedom from cant. Ox faces are more robust, with
wider and broader features, and a certain flatness of face. People of
this appearance have good dispositions, good appetite, are stubborn in
bargains perhaps, but reliable and trustworthy.

Hercules was depicted with a powerful neck, a small head, short and
curly hair, which bore a striking resemblance to a vigorous and
untamable bull, whilst Herod was like a fox, with thin face, cunning
eye, restless head and neck, artful and deceptive with highly strung

The weasel man is thin, tall, sharp-eyed, always in a hurry, and the
nose that augurs badly is that which is strikingly similar to the beak
of a parrot. The parrot-man is filled with a sense of his own
importance and is an endless prattler. Those who have a high and
narrow forehead and a nose that terminates like the beak of a crow are
sure to be subject to vile passions.

Beaumarchais said wittily, "Boire sans soif et faire l'amour en tout
temps, c'est ce que distingue l'homme de la bête."

Artists, too, have attempted to depict the animal spirit that dwells
in human beings. Sir Joshua Reynolds painted two portraits of young
girls, one holding a cage with a mouse in it, the other a kitten. The
former is called Muscipula,[24] the latter Felina, and it may be
surmised that he intended to show in their features the imitative
sympathy young children have with young animals, for Muscipula's
expression is that of the mouse.

Charles Le Brun, the artist, worked out the same idea in a less
symbolic and more practical manner, from the physiognomical aspect, in
his series of drawings illustrative of the relation between human
physiognomy and brute creation which depict man's features
transformed in many animal countenances.

"Man is a talkative and religious ape," says J. Howard Moore in "The
Universal Kinship,"[25] and goes on to point out that while man has
expressed his opinion about animals constantly, he has never had the
opportunity of hearing what animals have to say about human beings.
Although we know what a lion looks like when painted by a man, "human
eyes have never yet been illumined by the sardonic lineaments of a man
painted by a lion."[26]

Emerson expressed something of the same idea when confronting the
inmates of a stable or menagerie. "What compassion," he cries, "do
these imprisoning forms awaken! You may sometimes catch the glance of
a dog which lays a kind of claim to sympathy and brotherhood. What!
somewhat of me down there? Does he know it? Can he, too, as I, go out
of himself, see himself, perceive relations? We fear lest the poor
brute should gain one dreadful glimpse of his condition, should learn
in some moment the tough limitation of this fettering organisation. It
was in this glance that Ovid got the hint of his metamorphosis;
Calidasa of his transmigration of souls.

"For these fables are our own thoughts carried out. What keeps these
wild tales in circulation for thousands of years? What but the wild fact
to which they suggest some approximation of theory! Nor is the fact
quite solitary, for in varieties of our own species where organisation
seems to predominate over the genius of man, in Kalmuck or Malay or
Flathead Indian, we are sometimes pained by the same feeling; and
sometimes, too, the sharp-witted prosperous white man awakens it. In a
mixed assembly we have chanced to see not only a glance at Abdiel so
grand and keen, but also in other faces the features of the mink, of the
bull, of the rat, and the barn-door fowl."[27]

The great Chinese Epic "A Journey to Heaven," depicts the gradual
evolution of the beast into man and the transformation of character from
unpromising materials into saints worthy of heaven. The monkey's
ambition, the pig's love of ease and the horse's one talent of bearing
burdens are all made to play their part in working out the salvation of
man. One of the chief characters in the story is Sun Wu King, who
personates the irrepressible human mind, an inventive genius full of
resource who begins with monkey inquisitiveness to discover the reasons
of things and presently develops into a man of science and an inventor.

The pig impersonates man's lower nature and demons represent the untamed
passions of man. One demon having once been a clever, handsome man,
became extremely ugly with a snout like a pig and long flapping ears. He
tells his story thus: "Since I was born I have been stupid and loved
ease night and day. I received the pill of nine Transformations and
studied all the arts by which man could be united to the powers above
and below, till at last I was able to fly with a light but strong body
and was a guest in the celestial Court." Thence he was thrown out for
misdemeanours and made to take the shape of a pig, but gradually he was
weaned to better things and lost his animal propensities.


[21] Ruskin, "Frondes Agrestes," 1899, pp. 146-9.

[22] Moore, T. H., "The Universal Kinship," 1906, pp. 233-4.

[23] Mulford, Prentice, "The Gift of the Spirit," 1904. "Re-embodiment
Universal in Nature," pp. 170-1.

[24] The original painting is at Holland House.

[25] 1906, p. 17.

[26] _Ibid._, p. 233.

[27] Emerson, "Works," 1903, Vol. IV. "Demonology," pp. 12-13.

                             CHAPTER VII

                         SCAPEGOAT AND SAINT

According to the tradition of the scapegoat, the evil or lower side of
man can be transferred from him to an animal. In this process of
removing disease or sin, the bad spirit is expelled from the human
being and enters the form of some beast. In India the scape-animal may
be a pig, buffalo, a goat or a black cock.

The Jews had the custom of bringing a goat to the door of the Tabernacle
and the high priest laid the sins of the people upon the animal, sending
it thereafter away with its burden into the wilderness.

In Thibet a human scapegoat, dressed in goat's skin, is kicked out of
the community as soon as the people have confessed their sins, and
wealthy Moors keep a wild boar in their stables as a vehicle for the
evil spirits to enter into which might otherwise injure their horses.

The Kaffirs sometimes take a goat in the presence of a sick man and
confess sins over him. Then a few drops of the patient's blood are
allowed to fall on the animal's head and the sickness is thought to be
transferred, the animal being turned loose over the veld. The
medicine-men of the Baganda races perform a similar operation, taking
hold of the animal and tying upon it some herbs they have passed over
the patient's body. Then the animal is driven away to waste land, and
the sick man is supposed to recover. The Baganda people transmit the
sins of a dead man to a calf, the animal being led three times round
the bier and the hand of the dead man being placed on its head, by
which act the calf takes upon itself the evil done by the deceased.
Then the scapegoat is driven on to waste land, where it cannot
contaminate anybody.

Thus Christ, in the country of the Gadarenes, permitted devils to use
swine as scapegoats when driving them out of two men possessed. The
unclean spirits besought the favour of Him, and the whole herd of
swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in
the waters.

St. Regulus, archbishop of Arles and Senlis, was once confronted by a
man possessed of a devil. The devil besought him, saying, "If you cast
me out suffer me to enter into the body of this ass," and the bishop
said, "Go!" When the devil was about to enter into the ass, the
animal, aware of his intention, made the sign of the cross on the
ground with his fore-foot and the devil found it impossible to obtain
his body and had to pass on, leaving the ass unmolested.

In another scapegoat story the devil leaves the possessed man in the
form of two worms:

Jean de la Roque was a young nobleman of vicious habits. St. Francis of
Paula hearing of the youth's evil ways sent a messenger to arrest him
and had him locked up in a monastery. Roque was furious at this manner
of tampering with his liberty and, vowing vengeance on those who
detained him, beat on the door of his cell and uttered loud cries. At
last, exhausted by passion, he lay down on the floor and slept. Then St.
Francis entered the cell and, waking the young sinner, said to him
coldly, "How now, friend, what thinkest thou? Pull from thine ear that
which torments thee so." The young man, still half asleep, put his hand
to his right ear and drew forth a hideous hairy worm of monstrous size.
Then putting his hand to his left ear he drew forth another similar
worm. Thus the devil by which he had been possessed came forth in the
form of two worms, and the young man, returning to himself, threw
himself at the saint's feet and prayed for pardon. He was formally
admitted to the monastery and remained there as a monk until 1520.

Birds, too, have been employed to carry away any evil,--from leprosy
to freckles.

The idea of the scapegoat is closely bound up with, and typifies the
substitution of the Christ for sinners and His eternal removal of
their transgressions.

In the legends of the saints, also, animals take upon themselves the
burden of sins committed and no human beings are more closely related to
the brute creation than the holy men, who frequently treated them as
though they were brothers. St. Francis of Assisi spoke to birds and
animals in the same tone that he used to his friends, and he often went
into solitudes and preached to the cattle of the field, the fishes of
the sea, the birds of the air, and the beasts of the forest; dumb
creatures which listened attentively to the words of wisdom which fell
from his lips. One day when he was preaching at Alviano, the swallows
were twittering so loudly that he grew annoyed. Breaking off suddenly in
his discourse, he said, "My sisters, the swallows, please keep peace
while I am preaching." After that they disturbed him no more.

There are many stories in which saints are assisted in their work by
animals. St. Gentius made a wolf which had eaten one of his oxen help
him with the ploughing. St. Maidoc, having neither ox, horse nor ass,
ordered a sea-cow to come from the ocean, which she did and, being
harnessed to the plough, she furrowed his fields. When St. Malo
settled down near Saintes, the neighbours made him a present of an
ass, which was one day killed by a wolf. St. Malo said to the wild
beast, "Since you have killed my ass you must serve me instead." The
wolf performed his duties admirably for many years without a grumble.
A similar story is told about St. Santes of Urbino.

When St. Ronan was accused of being a vampire, Grallo, King of
Quimper, horrified to hear of such a monster, set dogs upon him to
prove the truth of the statement. As the savage animals rushed towards
him the saint raised his right hand, made the sign of the cross, and
said, "Stop! in the name of the Lord." The animals became gentle at
once and fawned on the saint.

There are legends of the souls of saints being borne away by animals,
of the souls of saints taking flight in the shape of birds, of saints
changing from one animal form to another, of saints being approached
by the devil in the form of animals, and of saints being worshipped in
animal shape.

At the moment of the death of St. Vincent Ferrer, the windows of his
bedchamber opened of their own accord and a number of winged creatures
no larger than butterflies, white in colour and very beautiful, flew
into the house. As the saint drew his last breath these winged
creatures disappeared suddenly, leaving a delightful perfume behind
them. Everyone was convinced that the butterflies were angels who had
come to carry away the pure soul of the saint to paradise.

The same saint was said to be able to assume wings, whenever he
wished, and, in the form of a bird-angel, to fly through the air in
the hope of consoling and comforting anyone who was in trouble and
required his assistance.

St. Benedict (A.D. 480-543) was tempted by the devil in the form of a
blackbird. The saint had retired to a cavern in Subiaco, about fifty
miles west of Rome, and the evil one resolved to do away with a holy
man who might prove a great enemy to his kingdom upon earth. Taking
the form of a bird, he hovered around the hermit's dwelling-place,
sometimes approaching so close that the saint had only to put out his
hand to touch the bird. Becoming suspicious of the bird's motives,
however, St. Benedict made the sign of the cross and the evil spirit
vanished instantly.

St. Peter of Verona was also set upon by the devil, this time in the
shape of a horse. The holy man attracted large crowds to his church,
and the devil, growing jealous, rushed into the midst of the
congregation in the form of a black horse, stamping upon many present
and causing a panic of fear among the rest. The saint made the sign of
the cross and the phantom vanished in a cloud of smoke.

Sometimes the devil appears to saints in the form of a bull, and can
work serious bodily harm, as in the case of St. Catherine of Sweden,
daughter of prince Ulpho, who was brought up in the convent of
Risburgh. The abbess was at matins one morning and the devil, assuming
the form of a bull, tossed the child out of its cradle and left her
half-dead in the middle of the floor. The abbess found her in this
condition on her return, and the bull, addressing the holy woman,
cried, "I should certainly have finished my work if God had permitted
it," and then he vanished. The devil, according to tradition, has
often been seen in the form of a dog,[28] and some of the saints were
annoyed by such phantoms.

Simon Magus, the sorcerer, sent unto Peter the Apostle certain devils
in the likeness of dogs to devour him. St. Peter, "not looking for
such currish guests, consecrates certain morsels of bread and throws
them to the dog-devils, and by the power of that bread they are all
put to flight."[29]

When St. Stanislaus Kostka was preparing for admission into the society
of Jesus he was taken ill and the devil appeared to him in the guise of
a great black dog. The demon took the sick man three times by the throat
and tried to throttle him, but Stanislaus after some difficulty
succeeded in driving him away by making the sign of the cross.

Devils in the guise of rooks or crows annoyed St. Agnes of Mount
Pulciano by attacking her with beaks, claws, and wings. The young girl
with great presence of mind invoked the name of the Saviour and the
whole flock flew off.

St. Pascal Baylon, who lived from 1540-1592, was assailed by devils in
the guise of various animals. Sometimes they rushed upon him in the form
of lions and tigers seeking to devour him. As he withstood their attacks
with wonderful courage they tried to get at him in another way, and
offered to impress upon his body the marks of divine wounds, making
crosses of blood on various parts of his body. Then Pascal, horrified at
this form of deception, cried out to the evil one, "You ravening wolf,
how dare you take upon yourself the clothing of a lamb? Away with you!"
This speech acted as an exorcism, and the devil vanished.

The evil one has often been likened to a ravening wolf, which has led
to the symbolic form of transformation from a wolf to a lamb being
found in many legends--a mental change as extreme in its effects as
any physical change could be. Andrew Corcini, afterwards Bishop of
Fiesole, was converted in this figurative sense from a wolf into a
lamb. He was the son of wealthy parents in Florence, and, shortly
after his birth, in 1302, his mother dreamt that she had brought forth
a wolf and that her wolfish offspring ran into a church and became
transformed into a lamb. As the boy grew, his wolfish character was
clearly apparent; he was cruel, selfish, and untamable. One day his
mother said to him, "Andrew, you are in very truth the child of my
dream," and then she told him what she thought of him. He was greatly
struck by her story and spent the night in solitude and prayer. The
next day he went to the church of the Carmelites and, prostrating
himself before the image of the Virgin, he said, "Glorious Virgin, see
the wolf full of iniquity at thy feet. Thy offspring, oh mother, was a
Lamb without blemish. Make me also a lamb of God, and receive me into
the fold." For three hours he prayed without ceasing, and then the
prior found him and acceded to his request to be taken into the
Carmelite order, when he became a changed man.[30] He died in 1373.

St. William of Acquitaine was also "converted from a wolf to a lamb"
(A.D. 1157). He was Count of Poitou and Duke of Guyenne, a giant in
stature and a wild beast in disposition. Through the holy offices of
St. Bernard he became changed, and calling himself "the chief of
sinners" repented of his evil ways in sackcloth and ashes.[31]

These cases of spiritual transformation from animal-man to man-animal,
though interesting psychologically, do not awaken the intense
curiosity which material metamorphosis arouses, and which centres
especially in the subject of the wer-wolf.

Bodin[32] accumulated a large amount of evidence in favour of actual
transformation. He quotes one Pierre Mamor, who, whilst in Savoy,
deposed to having seen a man change into a wolf and described how he
did it. Henry of Cologne, author of a treatise, "de Lamys," vouched
for the truth of similar statements. Ulrich le Meusnier, who dedicated
a treatise to the Emperor Sigismund, gave numerous examples of the
veritability of transformation, and swore to having seen a wer-wolf at
Constance, who was accused of and executed for this crime. Germany,
Greece, and Asia were much infested by these pests. In 1542, under the
rule of Sultan Suleiman, a number of wer-wolves were found at
Constantinople. The Emperor called out the guard and, marching forth
at its head, freed the city of one hundred and fifty of these terrors
in full view of the people.

Paracelsus, one of the greatest occultists the world has known, was
positive that men could change into animals. Gaspar Peucerus, who had
long been sceptical and thought such ideas were a fable, was
constrained to believe there was truth in certain stories brought to
him by merchants trading in Livonia, who had seen victims of
lycanthropia executed for their misdeeds.

In the history of Johannus Trithemius, it may be read that in the year
970 there was a Jew called Baian, son of Simeon, who was not only able
to turn into a wolf at pleasure, but could also render himself
invulnerable, and Sigebertus, the historian, wrote that one of the Kings
of Bulgaria was able to transform himself into all kinds of animals.

Boguet, if anything, erred on the side of credulity. He asserted that in
1148 a huge man-wolf was seen at Geneva, which killed thirty people.[33]

In July, 1603, in the district of Douvres and Jeurre a great storm of
hail fell and damaged all the fruit trees, and three mysterious wolves
were seen. They had no tails, and they passed harmlessly through a
herd of cows and goats, touching none of them except one kid, which
one of the wolves carried to a distance without in any way injuring
it. This unnatural conduct made it fairly evident that these were not
real wolves, but sorcerers who had brought about the hail-storm and
wished to visit the scene of the disaster. It was said that the
biggest wolf that led the pack must be the evil one himself.

The two stories which follow show that transformation was sometimes
regarded as an instrument of divine punishment for sins committed.

Albertus Pericofcius in Muscovy treated his subjects with gross
cruelty, and extorted herds and flocks from them. One night he was
away from home and all his cattle were killed. When informed of his
loss he swore a round oath, saying, "Let him who has slain, eat; if
the Lord chooses, let him devour me as well."

At his words some drops of blood fell to the ground, he was
transformed into a wild dog, and rushing upon his dead cattle began to
devour the carcases.

Another gentleman in the vicinity of Prague who had robbed his tenants
right and left took the last cow from a widow who had five children
to support. As a judgment he lost all his cattle, at which misfortune
he broke into horrible curses. He was there and then transformed into
a dog which had a human head.

These incidents, however, throw no light on the real nature of the
wer-wolf or wer-dog, which remains as much a mystery as that of the
vampire. In some points a similarity may be said to exist between
them, both being destructive forces, of an evil and self-seeking
character. Those afflicted become subject to trance-like states and
hysterical phenomena.

A certain kind of vampire (which is really a bloodsucking ghost) is
said to have the power of assuming animal shape, and Bulgarian
vampires appear to be especially gifted with this peculiarity.

It is believed in a certain district of Germany that unless money is
placed in the mouth of a corpse at the time of burial, or if the dead
man's name is not cut from his shirt, he will become a vampire and his
ghost will issue from his grave in the form of a pig.

A gruesome story is told of a witch who chose to wander in animal
shape. She died in 1345 and her body was cast rudely into a ditch, but
instead of resting quietly she roamed at night in the form of various
unclean beasts, leaving havoc and death in her tracks. On exhumation
she was found to be a vampire, and a stake was driven through her
breast, which, however, failed to have the desired effect. She still
prowled around in the dark, using the stake as a weapon with which to
slay her victims, nor did she cease her nefarious deeds until her body
had been reduced to ashes.

Camden says that jilted maidens or deserted wives used to bribe witches
to get their faithless men consigned to prison for lycanthropy, the
usual term being seven years, but, judging from the trials which are on
record, death by burning was more frequently resorted to.


[28] _See_ Chapter XXI on Animal Ghosts.

[29] Harsnet, Samuel, "Popish Impostures," 1603, pp. 97, 98.

[30] Surius, "Lives of the Saints."

[31] Thibault, "Life of Guillaume of Acquitaine."

[32] "De la Démonomanie des Sorciers," 1593, Book II, pp. 195-6.

[33] "Discours des Sorciers," 1610.

                             CHAPTER VIII

                         THE WER-WOLF TRIALS

In Poitou the peasants have a curious expression, "courir la
galipote," which means to turn into a wer-wolf or other human-animal
by night and chase prey through the woods. The _galipote_ is the
familiar or imp which the sorcerer has the power to send forth.

In the dark ages sorcerers capable of this accomplishment were dealt
with according to the law, and hundreds were sent to trial for
practising black arts, being condemned, in most instances, to be burnt
alive or broken on the wheel. One of the most notorious historical
cases was that of Pierre Bourgot, who served the devil for two years
and was tried by the Inquisitor-General Boin.

Johannus Wierius[34] gives in full the confession of Bourgot,
otherwise called Great Peter, and of Michael Verding. The prisoners,
who were accused of wicked practices in December, 1521, believed they
had been transformed into wolves.

About nineteen years before Pierre's arrest at Pouligny a dreadful
storm occurred which scattered the flock of sheep of which he was
shepherd, and while he went far afield to search for them he met three
black horsemen, one of whom said to him, "Where are you going, my
friend? You appear to be in trouble."

Pierre told him that he was seeking his sheep, and the horseman bade
him take courage, saying that if he would only have faith, his master
would protect the straying sheep and see that no harm came to them.

Pierre thanked him and promised to meet him again in the same place a
few days later. Soon afterwards he found the stray sheep.

The black horseman, at their second meeting, told Pierre that he served
the devil, and Pierre agreed to do likewise if he promised him
protection for his flock. Then the devil's servant made him renounce
God, the Virgin Mary, and all the saints of Paradise, his baptism and
the tenets of Christianity. Pierre swore that he would do so, and kissed
the horseman's left hand, which was as black as ink and felt stone-cold.
Then he knelt down and took an oath of allegiance to the devil, and the
horseman forbade him thenceforth to repeat the Apostles' creed.

For two years Pierre remained in the service of the evil one, and
during that time he never entered a church until mass was over, or at
least until after the holy water had been sprinkled.

Meanwhile his flock was kept in perfect safety, and this sense of
security made him so indifferent about the devil that he began to go
to church again and to say the creed. This went on for eight or nine
years, when he was told by one Michael Verding that he must once more
render obedience to the evil one, his master. In return for his homage
Pierre was told that he would receive a sum of money.

Michael led him one evening to a clearing in the woods at Chastel
Charlon, where many strangers were dancing. Each performer held in his
hand a green torch which emitted a blue flame. Michael told Pierre to
bestir himself and that then he would receive payment, so Pierre threw
off his clothes and Michael smeared his body with an ointment which he
carried. Pierre believed that he had been transformed into a wolf, and
was horrified to find that he had four paws and a thick pelt. He found
himself able to run with the speed of the wind. Michael had also made
use of the salve and had become equally agile. After an hour or two
they resumed human shape, their respective masters giving them
another salve for this purpose. After this experience Pierre
complained that he felt utterly weary, and his master told him that
was of no consequence and that he would be speedily restored to his
usual state of health.

Pierre was often transformed into a wer-wolf after this first attempt,
and on one occasion he fell upon a boy of seven with the intention of
killing and eating him, but the child screamed so loudly that he beat a
hasty retreat to the spot where his clothes lay in a heap, rubbed
himself hurriedly with the ointment and resumed human form to escape
capture. Another time Michael and he killed an old woman who was
gathering peas, and one day whilst in the shape of wolves they devoured
the whole of a little girl except for one arm, and Michael said her
flesh tasted excellent, although it apparently gave Pierre indigestion.
They confessed also to strangling a young woman, whose blood they drank.

Among other disgusting crimes, Pierre murdered a girl of eight in a
garden by cracking her neck between his jaws, and he killed a goat
near to the farm of one Master Pierre Lerugen, first by setting on it
with his teeth and then by gashing its throat with a knife. The latter
operation leads to the belief that he had resumed his ordinary shape
at the time.

A peculiar point worth noticing about the case of Michael and Pierre
was that the former was able to transform himself at any moment with
his clothes on, while the latter had to strip and rub in ointment to
achieve the same result. At the time of his confession Pierre declared
that he could not recollect where the wolf's fur went to when he
became human again.

He also deposed that an ash-coloured powder was given to him, which he
rubbed upon his arms and left hand and thus caused the death of every
animal he touched. Here there would seem to be some discrepancy, for
he declared that in many instances he strangled, bit, or wounded his

Garinet[35] gives a good account of the important trial in 1573 of
Gilles Garnier, who was arrested for having devoured several children
whilst in the form of a wer-wolf.

The prisoner was accused of seizing a young girl aged ten or twelve in
a vineyard near Dôle, of killing her and dragging her into a wood, and
of tearing the flesh from her bones with his teeth and claws. He found
this food so palatable that he carried some of it away with him and
offered to share it with his wife. A week after the feast of All
Saints he captured another young girl near the village of La Pouppé,
and was about to slay and devour her when someone hastened to her
rescue and he took flight.

A week later, being still in the form of a wolf, he had killed and
eaten a boy at a spot between Gredisans and Menoté, about a league
from Dôle. He was accused also of being in the shape of a man when he
caught another boy of twelve or thirteen years of age and carried him
into the wood to strangle him, and, "in spite of the fact that it was
Friday," he would have devoured his flesh had he not been interrupted
by the approach of some strangers, who were too late, however, to save
the boy's life. Garnier, having admitted all the charges against him,
the judge pronounced the following sentence:--

"The condemned man is to be dragged to the place of execution and
there burnt alive and his body reduced to ashes."

The account of the trial, which took place on the 18th day of January,
1573, was accompanied by a letter from Daniel d'Ange to the Dean of
the Church of Sens which contained the following passage:--

"Gilles Garnier, lycophile, as I may call him, lived the life of a
hermit, but has since taken a wife, and having no means of support for
his family fell into the way, as is natural to defiant and desperate
people of rude habits, of wandering into the woods and wild places. In
this state he was met by a phantom in the shape of a man, who told
him that he could perform miracles, among other things declaring that
he would teach him how to change at will into a wolf, lion, or
leopard, and because the wolf is more familiar in this country than
the other kinds of wild beasts he chose to disguise himself in that
shape, which he did, using a salve with which he rubbed himself for
this purpose, as he has since confessed before dying, after
recognising the evil of his ways."[36]

The affair made such a stir in the neighbourhood, and the dread of
wer-wolves had risen to such a pitch, that it was found necessary to
ask the help of the populace in suppressing the nuisance. A legal
decree was issued which empowered the people at Dôle to "assemble with
javelins, pikes, arquebuses, and clubs to hunt and pursue the
wer-wolf, and to take, bind, and kill it without incurring the usual
fine or penalty for indulging in the chase without permission."

Boguet is the authority who cites the following cases of

A boy called Benedict, aged about fifteen, one day climbed a tree to
gather some fruit, when he saw a wolf attacking his little sister, who
was playing at the foot of the tree.

The boy climbed down quickly, and the animal, which was tailless, let
go of the little girl and turned upon her brother, who defended
himself with a knife. According to the boy's account, the wolf tore
the knife out of his hand and struck at his throat. A neighbour ran to
the rescue and carried the boy home, where he died a few days after
from the wound. Whilst he lay dying he declared that the wolf which
had injured him had fore-paws shaped like human hands, but that its
hind feet were covered with fur.

After inquiry it was proved that a young and demented girl called
Perrenette Gandillon believed herself to be a wolf and had done this
horrible deed. She was caught by the populace and torn limb from limb.
This case occurred in the Jura mountains in 1598.

Soon afterwards Perrenette's brother Pierre was accused of being a
wer-wolf, and confessed that he had been to the witches' Sabbath in
this form. His son George had also been anointed with salve and had
killed goats whilst he was in animal shape. Antoinette, his sister,
was accused of sorcery and of intercourse with the devil, who appeared
to her in the form of a black goat. Several members of the Gandillon
family were arrested, and in prison Pierre and George conducted
themselves as though they were possessed, walking on all fours and
howling like wild beasts.

Not long after the Gandillon family had been disposed of, one Jeanne
Perrin gave evidence that she was walking near a wood with her friend
Clauda Gaillard, who disappeared suddenly behind a bush, and that the
next moment there came forth a tailless wolf which frightened her so
much that she made the sign of the cross and ran away. She was sure that
the hind legs of the wolf were like human limbs. When Clauda saw her
again she assured Jeanne that the wolf had not meant to do her harm, and
from this it was thought that Clauda had taken the shape of the wolf.

One of the best known of the wer-wolf trials concerns Jacques Rollet,
the man-wolf of Caude, who was accused of having devoured a little boy.

He was tried and condemned in Angers in 1598. Rollet came from the
parish of Maumusson, near to Nantes, and he carried on his practices
in a desolate spot near Caude, where some villagers one day found the
corpse of a boy of about fifteen, mangled and blood-bespattered. As
they approached the body three wolves bounded into the forest and were
lost to sight, but the men gave chase, and following in the animals'
tracks, came suddenly upon a half-naked human being, with long hair
and beard, his hands covered with blood and his teeth chattering with
fear. On his claw-like nails they found shreds of human flesh.

This miserable specimen of man-animal was hauled up before the judge,
and under examination he inquired of one of the witnesses whether he
remembered shooting at three wolves. The witness said he remembered
the incident perfectly. Rollet confessed that he was one of the wolves
and that he was able to transform himself by means of a salve. The
other wolves were his companions, Jean and Julian, who knew the same
means of acquiring animal shape. All the particulars he gave as to the
murder were accurate, and he confessed to having killed and eaten
women, lawyers, attorneys, and bailiffs, though the last-named he
found tough and tasteless. In other respects his evidence was
confused, and he was judged to be of weak intellect, and though
condemned to death was sent finally to a madhouse, where he was
sentenced to two years' detention.

There was an epidemic of lycanthropy throughout this year, and on the
4th of December a tailor of Châlons was burnt in Paris for having
decoyed children into his shop, a cask full of human bones being
discovered in the cellar. For the space of a few years no notorious
wer-wolf trials appear to have taken place, but the year 1603 was
almost as prolific in this respect as 1598.

Information came before the criminal court at Roche Chalais that a
wild beast was ravaging the district, that it appeared to be a wolf,
and that it had attacked a young girl called Margaret Poiret in full

A youth of thirteen or fourteen in the service of Peter Combaut
deposed to the fact that he had thrown himself upon the said Margaret,
whilst transformed into a wolf, and that he would have devoured her
had she not defended herself stoutly with a stick. He also confessed
to having eaten two or three little girls.

Evidence was given on May 29th, 1603, by three witnesses, one of whom
was Margaret herself. She said she had been accustomed to mind cattle
in the company of the boy, Jean Grenier, and that he had often
frightened her by telling her horrible tales about being able to
change into a wolf whenever he wished, and that he had killed many
dogs and sucked their blood, but that he preferred to devour young
children. He said he had recently killed a child, and after eating
part of her flesh had thrown the rest to a companion wolf.

Margaret described the beast which had attacked her as stouter and
shorter than a real wolf, with a smaller head, a short tail, and
reddish hide. After she struck at it, the animal drew back and sat
down on its haunches like a dog, at a distance of about twelve paces.
Its look was so ferocious that she ran away at once.

The third witness was Jeanne Gaboriaut, who was eighteen years old.
She gave evidence that one day, when she was tending cattle in company
with other girls, Jean Grenier came up and asked which was the most
beautiful shepherdess amongst them. Jeanne asked him why he wanted to
know. He said because he wished to marry the prettiest, and if it was
Jeanne he would choose her.

Jeanne said, "Who is your father?" and he told her that he was the son
of a priest.

Then she replied that he was too dark in appearance for her taste, and
when he answered he had been like that for a long time, she asked him
whether he had turned black from cold or whether he had been burnt

He said the cause was a wolf's skin he was wearing, which had been
given to him by one Pierre Labourant, and when he wore it he could
turn into a wolf at will or any other animal he preferred, and he went
on with details similar to those he had disclosed to Margaret Poiret.

It was proved, however, that Grenier was not the son of a priest, but
of a labourer, Pierre Grenier, and that he lived in the parish of St.
Antoine de Pizan.

When questioned as to his crimes, he confessed to the assault upon
Margaret Poiret as described by her, and also that he had entered a
house in the guise of a wolf, and finding no one there but a babe in
its cradle he seized it by the throat and carried it behind a hedge in
the garden, where he ate as much of the body as he could and threw the
remainder to another wolf.

At St. Antoine de Pizan he attacked a girl in a black dress who was
tending sheep, and he killed and devoured her, a strange point being
that her dress was not torn, as happens in the case when real wolves
make the assault.

When questioned as to how he managed to turn into a wolf, he said that a
neighbour, called Pierre la Tilhaire, had introduced him in the forest
to the Lord thereof, who had given wolf-skins to both, as well as a
salve for anointing themselves. When asked where he kept the skins and
the pot of ointment he replied that they were in the hands of the Lord
of the Forest, from whom he could obtain them whenever he wished.

He declared that he had changed into a wolf and gone coursing four
times with his companion Pierre la Tilhaire, but they had killed no
one. The best time for the hunt was an hour or two a day when the moon
was on the wane, but he also went out at night on some occasions.

When asked whether his father knew of these proceedings, he replied in
the affirmative, and declared that his father had rubbed him three
times with the ointment and helped him into the wolf's skin.

The inquiry into Jean Grenier's case was a very lengthy one and was
adjourned several times, but eventually he was sentenced to
imprisonment for life at Bordeaux on September 6th, 1603, his youth
and want of mental development being pleaded in extenuation of the
crimes of infanticide he had undoubtedly committed. The president of
the Court declared that lycanthropy was a form of hallucination and
was not in itself a punishable crime. Jean's father was acquitted of
complicity, and allowed to leave the court without a stain on his
character, and Jean was sent to a monastery.

In 1610, after Jean had been at the Monastery of the Cordeliers in
Bordeaux for seven years, De Lancre, who relates his story, went to see
him. He was then about twenty years of age and of diminutive stature.
His black eyes were haggard and deep-set, and he refused to look anyone
straight in the face. His teeth were long, sharp, and protruding, his
nails were also long and black, and his mind was a mere blank.

He told De Lancre, not without pride, that he had been a wer-wolf, but
that he had given up the practice. When he first arrived at the
monastery he had preferred to go on all fours, eating such food as he
found on the ground. He confessed that he still craved for raw human
flesh, especially the flesh of little girls, and he hoped it would not
be long before he had another opportunity of tasting it. He had been
visited twice during his confinement by the Lord of the Forest, as he
called the mysterious person who had given him the wolf-skin, but that
both times he had made the sign of the cross and his visitor had
departed in haste.

In other respects his tale was identical with the experiences he had
related before the court.

De Lancre thought that the name Grenier or Garnier was a fatal name in
connection with wer-wolves.

Evidence was given as to the times, places, and number of murders, and
many of the facts were proved incontestably.

Jean's evidence as to the part his father had played in his misdeeds
was hazy. He said that on one occasion his father had accompanied him,
also wearing a wolf-skin, and that together they had killed a young
girl dressed in white, and that they had devoured her flesh, the month
being May of 1601.

He also added curious details regarding the Lord of the Forest, who
had forbidden him to bite the thumbnail of his left hand, which was
thicker and longer than the others, and that if he lost sight of it
while in the form of a wolf he would quickly recover his human shape.

When confronted with his father Jean altered some of the details of
his story, and it was agreed that long imprisonment and extended
cross-examination had worn out his already feeble intellect.

It is worth pointing out that in the cases of Rollet, the tailor of
Châlons, and the Gandillon family, the prisoners were accused of
murder and cannibalism, but not of association with wolves, and that
in the trial of Garnier evidence was given as to the depredations of
the wolf rather than of the accused. There was doubtless a difficulty
in proving the identity of the perpetrator of the murders.

A new era in these trials begins with that of Jean Grenier, for from
that time onward medical men became more enlightened, and the belief
spread that lycanthropy was a mental malady, with cannibalistic
tendencies which had developed under diseased conditions.

In his "Dæmonologie," 1597, a reply to Reginald Scott's "Discovery of
Witchcraft," James I of England declared that wer-wolves were victims
of a delusion induced by a state of melancholia, and about the same
period wolves became practically extinct in England, and only harmless
creatures such as the cat, hare, and weasel were left for the sorcerer
to change into with any possibility of a safe and natural disguise.

For many years afterwards the confessions of witches, who were
executed for their crimes, bore striking resemblance to those made by
wer-wolves, and many strange facts which were published at these
trials have never been, and may never be, satisfactorily explained on
a purely materialistic basis.


[34] "Histoires, Disputes et Discours des Illusions et Impostures des
Diables, etc.," 1579, p. 654.

[35] "Histoire de la Magie en France," 1818, pp. 129-31.

[36] Cimber, "Archives Curieuses de Histoire de France," 1836, Series
I, Vol. VIII, pp. 9-11.

[37] "Discours des Sorciers," 1610, pp. 361-2.

[38] _See_ De Lancre, Pierre, "Tableau de L'Inconstance des Mauvais
Anges et Demons," Paris, 1613, p. 255 _et seq._

                              CHAPTER IX

                   THE WER-WOLF IN MYTH AND LEGEND

An extraordinary story about a wer-wolf comes from Ansbach in 1685:

The supposed incarnation of a dead burgomaster of that town was said
to be ravishing the neighbouring country in the form of a wolf,
devouring cattle as well as women and children. At last the ferocious
beast was caught and slaughtered, and its carcass was encased in a
suit of flesh-coloured cere-cloth, while its head and face were
adorned with a chestnut-coloured wig and long white beard, after the
animal's snout had been cut off and a mask resembling the dead
burgomaster's features had been substituted. This effigy was hanged,
its skin stuffed and put in a museum, where it was pointed out as a
proof of the actual existence of wer-wolves. This incident appears to
prove that the belief in wer-wolves had been shaken at that date, but
it has never been finally eradicated, and it is only natural that a
theme which has had such world-wide credence should occur again and
again in mythology and literature. It is dealt with in the story of
the festival of the god Zeus, which was held every nine years on the
Wolf mountain in Arcadia. During the banquet a man, having tasted of a
flowing bowl in which human and animal flesh were mixed, was turned
into a wolf and remained a wolf nine years. If he had abstained from
eating human flesh in the interval he became once more a man. The
tradition appears to have originated in the existence of a society of
cannibal wolf-worshippers, a member of which perhaps represented the
sacred animal for nine years in succession.

This compares in some degree with the practices of the Human Leopard
Society, which is of comparatively recent origin.

Lycaon, the King of Arcadia and father of Callisto, was turned into a
wolf because he offered human sacrifices to Jupiter, or, in the version
given by Ovid, because he tried to murder Jupiter, who was his guest.
Others believe that Lycaon is the Constellation of the Wolf, and that in
him were the united qualities of wolf, king, and constellation.

Pliny points out that the origin of transformation into wolves was due
to Evanthes, a Greek author of good repute, who tells the story of
Antheus, the Arcadian, a member of whose family is chosen by lot and
then taken to a certain lake in the district, across which he swims and
is changed into a wolf for a space of nine years. So, too, Demæntus,
during a sacrifice of human victims, tasted the entrails of a boy who
had been slaughtered, upon which he turned into a wolf, but ten years
later he was victorious in the pugilistic contests at the Olympic games.

The following quaint story is taken from Petronius, being told by one
Niceros, at a banquet given by Trimalchio.

"It happened that my master was gone to Capua to dispose of some
second-hand goods. I took the opportunity and persuaded our guest to
walk with me to our fifth milestone. He was a valiant soldier, and a
sort of a grim water-drinking Pluto. About cock-crow, when the moon was
shining as bright as midday, we came amongst the monuments. My friend
began addressing himself to the stars, but I was rather in a mood to
sing or count them; and when I turned to look at him, lo! he had already
stripped himself and laid his clothes near him. My heart was in my
nostrils, and I stood like a dead man; but he made a mark round his
clothes and on a sudden became a wolf. Do not think I jest, I would not
lie for any man's estate. But to return to what I am saying. When he
became a wolf he began howling and fled into the woods. At first I
hardly knew where I was, and afterwards, when I went to take up his
clothes, they were turned into stone. Who then was more like to die from
fear than I? Yet I drew my sword, and cutting the air right and left
came thus to my sweetheart's house. When I entered the courtyard I was
like to breathe my last, perspiration poured from my neck, and my eyes
were dim. My Melissa met me to ask where I had been so late, and said,
'Had you only come sooner you might have helped us, for a wolf came to
the farm and worried our cattle; but he had not the best of the joke,
for all he escaped, as our servant ran a lance through his neck.' When I
heard this I could not doubt what had happened, and as the day dawned I
ran home as fast as a robbed innkeeper. When I came to the spot where
the clothes had been turned into stone I could find nothing except
blood. But when I got home I found my friend, the soldier, in bed,
bleeding at the neck like an ox, and a doctor dressing his wound. I then
knew he was a turnskin; nor would I ever have broken bread with him
again, no not if you had killed me."

The expression turnskin or turncoat is a translation of the Latin
_versipelles_, a term used to describe a wer-wolf.

Another story in which the human being suffers from the wound inflicted
on the wer-wolf concerns a fine lady of Saintonge, who used to wander at
night in the forests in the shape of a wolf. One day she caught her paw
in a trap set by the hunters. This put an end to her nocturnal
wanderings, and afterwards she had to keep a glove on the hand that had
been trapped, to conceal the mutilation of two of her fingers.

Eliphas Levi, the occultist, has endeavoured to explain this
sympathetic condition between the man and his animal presentment.

"We must speak here of lycanthropy, or the nocturnal transformation of
men into wolves, histories so well substantiated that sceptical science
has had recourse to furious maniacs, and to masquerading as animals for
explanations. But such hypotheses are puerile and explain nothing. Let
us seek elsewhere the solution of the mystery, and establish--First,
that no person has been killed by a wer-wolf except by suffocation,
without effusion of blood and without wounds. Second, that wer-wolves,
though tracked, hunted, and even maimed, have never been killed on the
spot. Third, that persons suspected of these transformations have always
been found at home, after the pursuit of the wer-wolf, more or less
wounded, sometimes dying, but invariably in their natural form....

"We have spoken of the sidereal body, which is the mediator between
the soul and the material organism. This body remains awake very often
while the other is asleep, and by thought transports itself through
all space which universal magnetism opens to it. It thus lengthens,
without breaking, the sympathetic chain attaching it to the heart and
brain, and that is why there is danger in waking up dreaming persons
with a start, for the shock may sever the chain at a blow and cause
instantaneous death. The form of our sidereal body is conformable to
the habitual condition of our thoughts, and in the long run it is
bound to modify the features of the material organism. Let us now be
bold enough to assert that the wer-wolf is nothing more than the
sidereal body of a man whose savage and sanguinary instincts are
represented by the wolf, who, whilst his phantom is wandering abroad,
sleeps painfully in his bed, and dreams that he is a veritable wolf.
What renders the wer-wolf visible is the almost somnambulistic
over-excitement caused by the fear of those who see it, or their
disposition, more particularly among simple country-folk, to place
themselves in direct communication with the astral light which is the
common medium of dreams and visions. The blows inflicted on the
wer-wolf really wound the sleeper by the odic and sympathetic
conjestion of the astral light and by the correspondence of the
immaterial with the material body...."[39]

This peculiarity of the wound dealt to the wer-wolf being reproduced in
the human being is emphasised by an incident which occurred about 1588
in a tiny village situated in the mountains of Auvergne. A gentleman was
gazing one evening from the windows of his castle when he saw a hunter
he knew passing on his way to the chase. Calling to him, he begged that
on his return he would report what luck he had had. The hunter after
pursuing his way was attacked by a large wolf. He fired off his gun
without hitting the animal. Then he struck at it with his hunting knife,
severing one of the paws, which he picked up and put in his knapsack.
The wounded wolf ran quickly into the forest. When the hunter reached
the castle he told his friend of his strange fight with a wolf, and to
emphasise his story opened his knapsack, in which to his horror and
surprise he saw, not a wolf's paw as he had expected, but the hand of a
woman which had a gold ring on one of the fingers.

The owner recognised the ring as belonging to his wife, and hastening
into the kitchen to question her he found her with one arm hidden
beneath the folds of a shawl. He drew it aside and saw she had lost
her hand. Then she confessed that it was she who, in the form of a
wolf, had attacked the hunter. She was arrested and burnt to death
soon afterwards at Ryon.

In another variation of the wer-wolf story, the human being retains a
material object acquired by his animal replica and is freed thereby
from his obsession.

A man, who from his childhood had been a wer-wolf, when returning one
night with his wife from a merrymaking, observed that the hour was at
hand when the transformation usually took place. Giving the reins to
his wife, he got out of the cart and said, "If anyone comes to thee,
strike at it with thy apron." Then he went away and a few minutes
later the poor woman was attacked by a wolf. Remembering what her
husband had told her, she struck at it with her apron, and the animal
tore out a piece and ran off. Presently the man himself returned
holding in his mouth the torn fragment of the apron. Then his wife
cried out in terror, "Good Lord, man! Why, thou art a wer-wolf!"
"Thank thee, mother!" replied he, "but now I am free!" and after this
incident he kept human form until the day of his death.[40]

In "William of Palermo," the old romance known as "William and the
Wer-Wolf," translated from the French at the command of Sir Humphrey
de Bohun about A.D. 1350,[41] the wer-wolf appears as a sort of a
guardian angel. The brother of the King Apulia, envious of the
heir-apparent, bribes two women to murder the king's son. While the
boy William is at play a wer-wolf runs off with him, swims across the
Straits of Messina, and carries him into a forest near Rome, where it
takes care of him and provides him with food. The wer-wolf in reality
is Alphonso, heir to the Spanish throne, who has been transformed by
his stepmother Queen Braunde, who desires her own son Braundinis to
wear the crown of Spain.

      The wer-wolf embraces the king's son
      With his fore-feet,
      And so familiar with him
      Is the king's son, that all pleases him,
      Whatever the beast does for him.

While the wer-wolf seeks provender, a cowherd finds William and takes
him to his hut, where the Emperor meets him when out hunting. Placing
him behind him on his horse he takes him to Rome and gives him in
charge of his daughter Melior, to be her page.

William and Melior fall in love with one another, and to avoid the
Emperor's wrath devise an escape, disguised in the skins of white
bears, helped by Melior's friend Alexandrine. When Melior asks whether
she makes a bold bear, Alexandrine answers, "Yes, Madame, you are a
grisly ghost enough, and look ferocious." Together the lovers wander
out of the garden on all fours and making their way to the forest hide
in a den. Meanwhile the wer-wolf has followed William's fortunes, and
finding the wanderers in need, he sets on a harmless passer-by who
carries provisions, and seizing bread and boiled beef out of his bag,
lays it before the lovers, then runs off and, attacking another
traveller, secures two flagons of wine.

Being pursued, the lovers escape to Palermo, led always by the
wer-wolf, Alphonso, half-brother to Braundinis, who was destined by
Melior's father to become his son-in-law. William does battle with the
proposed suitor and, still helped by the wer-wolf, whose symbol is
painted on his shield, overcomes his rival, takes the King and Queen
of Spain prisoner and refuses to let them go until Queen Braunde
promises to transform the rightful heir from a wolf back into a human
being. "Unless she disenchants you, she shall be burnt," he says
forcibly. Braunde takes her stepson, the wolf, into a private chamber,
draws forth a magic ring with a stone in it that is proof against all
witchcraft and binds it with a red silk thread round the wolf's neck.
Then she takes a book out of a casket and reads in it a long time till
he turns into a man. The wer-wolf is delighted, but apologises to his
stepmother for having no clothes on, and she commands him to choose
who shall fetch his clothes. He answers that he will take his attire
and the order of knighthood from the worthiest man alive, William of
Palermo. William, being called, enters the chamber, where he sees a
man who is an utter stranger and is only satisfied when he hears
Alphonso's explanation, "I am the wer-wolf who saved you from many
perils." William and Melior are married, all ends happily and William
becomes Emperor of Rome.

The Bretons give the name of Bisclavaret to the wer-wolf, or wer-fox,
which throws itself upon the hunter's horse and terrorises it. The same
thing is called Garwal by the Normans. Bisclavaret is supposed to be a
wizard, and if in olden times an unknown lady offered food to the
hunters at the moment the animal appeared she was thought to be a witch.

Marie de France in her "Lay of the Bisclavaret" used the idea of a
wer-wolf, and again in this case the animal has no savage instincts
except against his enemies, a faithless wife and her perfidious lover.

A gallant knight of Brittany, a favourite with the king, weds a fair
lady whom he loves tenderly. Only one cloud darkens the wife's
horizon. Her husband leaves her invariably three days a week and she
does not know where he goes. One day she has the temerity to ask him,
and he warns her that the information may be dangerous, but when she
pleads with him he says:

"Learn then that I become a wer-wolf during my absence. I go into the
forest, hide in the thickets and seek my prey."

"But, my dear, tell me whether you take off your clothes," says the
wife, "or whether you keep them on?"

"I am naked when the transformation occurs, Madame."

"And where do you leave your clothes?"

"I must not tell you, because if I were seen when I take them off I
should remain a wer-wolf for the rest of my life. I can only recover
human form at the moment I put them on again. After that you will not
be surprised if I say no more." But she urges him to tell her, and
finally he says that he hides his clothes under a bush near an old
stone cross in the corner of a chapel, and there he puts them on when
he wishes to resume his original shape.

Frightened by his awful story the wife decides to live with him no more
and immediately sends for a young man who is in love with her, tells him
the story and enjoins him to go and take away her husband's clothes.
Thus she betrays her husband, the wer-wolf, who does not return and is
given up for dead, and some time after she marries her false lover.

About a year later the king goes on a hunting expedition in the
forest. There he comes across the wer-wolf, and the hounds immediately
take up the scent and give chase the whole day long. Wounded by the
hunters and wearied nigh unto death, the wolf seizes the bridle of the
king's horse and licks his majesty's foot. The king, in great fear,
calls his companions to look at the extraordinary wild beast that is
capable of this humble action. He refuses to allow the wolf to be
slaughtered and takes it back, in his train, to the castle. There the
wolf lives in great comfort like a domestic pet and harms no one.

Presently a great function is held at the court and the wer-wolf's
former wife comes there with her new husband. The moment the wolf sets
eyes on him he springs at his throat, and would surely have killed him
had not the king beaten him off with a whip. For the rest of the
gentleman's visit the wolf is kept under strict discipline.

Some time afterwards, the king, accompanied by his faithful wolf, pays
a visit to the lady, and the animal springs at her ferociously and
bites off her nose. Then the courtiers say that the matter must be
inquired into, for the wolf only turns savage when in the presence of
this lady and her new husband. The king decides to have the couple
arrested and the lady has to confess what happened, saying she thinks
the wer-wolf must be her transformed husband. After hearing her story
the king orders the wer-wolf's clothes to be placed where he can get
them privately, and after waiting outside the room in which the
metamorphosis is to take place, for some time, he enters and finds the
former knight, his old friend whom he thought dead, lying quietly
asleep. He restores all his honours and has his faithless wife chased
out of the kingdom in company with her false lover. All their
daughters are born without noses as a punishment for the wicked fraud
practised on the wer-wolf.[42]

Olaus Magnus[43] declares that although the inhabitants of Prussia,
Livonia, and Lithuania suffer considerably from the depredations of
wolves as far as their cattle are concerned, their losses are not so
serious in this quarter as those they suffer at the hands of wer-wolves.

On Christmas Eve multitudes of wer-wolves gather at a certain spot and
band together to attack human beings and animals. They besiege
isolated houses, break in the doors and devour every living thing.
They burst into the beer-cellars and there empty the casks, thus
proving their human tastes. A ruined castle near Courland appears to
have been their favourite meeting-place, where thousands congregate in
order to test their agility. If any of them fail to bound over the
castle wall they are slain by the others, as they are considered in
that case to be incompetent for the work in hand.

It is believed that a messenger in the person of a lame youth is sent
round the neighbourhood to call these followers of the devil to a
general conclave. Those who are reluctant to attend the meeting are
beaten with iron scourges. When the gathering is assembled the human
forms vanish and the whole multitude become wolves. The troops follow
the leader, "firmly convinced in their imagination that they are
transformed into wolves." The sorcery lasts for twelve days, and at
the expiration of this period the human forms are resumed.

Referring further to these Courland wer-wolves, it is said of them
that Satan holds them in his net in three ways. Firstly they execute
certain depredations, such as mangling cattle, in their human shapes,
but in such a state of hallucination that they believe themselves to
be wolves and are regarded as such by others in a like predicament.
Though not true wer-wolves they hunt in packs. Secondly they leave
their bodies lying asleep and send forth their imagination in a dream
that they believe they have injured the cattle, but that it is the
devil who does what is suggested to them by their thoughts, and
thirdly that the evil one induces real wolves to do the horrid deeds,
but impresses the scene so vividly on the mind of the sleeper that he
considers himself to be guilty of the act.

The following stories exemplify these conditions. The first is told of
a man who when starting on a journey saw a wolf attacking one of his
sheep. He fired and it fled wounded into the thicket. On his return he
was told that he had fired at one of his tenants, called Mickel.

Mickel's wife, when questioned, said that her husband had been sowing
rye and had asked her how he could get some meat for a feast. She said
on no account was he to steal from the master's flock as it was well
guarded by dogs. Mickel ignored her advice and had attacked the sheep.
He came home limping badly and in a passion had fallen upon his own
horse and had torn its throat. It seemed as though he were bewitched
or in a trance.

In 1684 a curious incident occurred to a man who had gone hunting in a
forest. At dusk a pack of wolves had rushed towards him, and as he
levelled his gun with the intention of aiming at the leader a voice
arose from their midst, saying, "Don't fire, Sir, for no good will come
of it." Then the phantom pack rushed onwards and he saw it no more.

The third story is about a man-wolf who was accused of sorcery of the
most flagrant kind. Finding a difficulty in getting evidence against
the criminal, the judge sent a peasant to his cell who was charged
with the unpleasant task of forcing a confession. The prisoner was
told that he might avenge himself upon another peasant to whom he owed
a grudge, by destroying his cow secretly, and if possible when in the
shape of a wolf himself. After much persuasion the supposed wer-wolf
undertook to carry out the suggested plan. The next morning the cow in
question was found to be fearfully mangled, but the strange part of
the story is this, that although witnesses were set to watch the man
in his cell, they swore unanimously that he had never left it and had
passed the whole of the night in deep sleep, only at one time making
slight movements of his head, his hands and his feet.[44]

Just as the man who thinks he changes into a wolf suffers from
lycanthropy, so the one who believes he changes into a dog is
suffering from kynanthropy, and those who change into kine from
boanthropy. Every part of the world chooses a special animal as being
the most suitable for disguise, and naturally enough the animal is one
which is common to the district. Thus we find the tiger chosen for
India and Asia, the bear for Northern Europe, the lion, leopard, and
hyæna for Africa, the jaguar for South America, and so forth.

Many superstitions surround the tiger. Besides being the abode of the
soul of a dead man it may be the temporary or even the permanent form
of a living human being. In India it is said that a certain root
brings about the metamorphosis and that another root is used for the
antidote. In Central Java powers of transformation are believed to be
hereditary, no shame is attached to it, and the wer-tiger is looked
upon as a friendly animal, and if his friends call upon him by name he
behaves like a domestic pet and is believed to guard the fields. In
the Malay Peninsula faith in the genuine wer-tiger persists, and it is
thought there also that the soul of a dead wizard enters the animal's
body. During the process of transformation the corpse is laid in the
forest, and beside it a supply of rice and water is placed, sufficient
for seven days, in which time transmigration, resulting from a
compact made by the _pawang's_ ancestors, is complete. A ceremony is
also gone through by the son of a _pawang_ who wishes to succeed his
father in tiger's form.

A wer-tiger belief exists in India, and the Garrows think the mania is
produced by a special drug which is laid on the forehead. First the
wer-tiger pulls the earrings out of his ears and then wanders forth
alone, shunning the company of his fellow-man. The disease lasts about
fourteen days, and patients are said to have glaring red eyes, their
hair dishevelled and bristled, and a peculiar convulsive manner of
moving the head. When taken by fits of this kind they are believed to
go forth in the night to ride on the backs of tigers.

Another form of the belief is the wizard in the shape of a tiger, and
the Thana tradition is that mediums are possessed by a tiger spirit. The
Binuas of Johore think that every _pawang_ has an immortal tiger spirit.

The belief that lion form is assumed by wizards is found near the
Luapula and on the Zambezi, where a certain drink is supposed to
effect the transformation. Among the Tumbukas people smear themselves
with white clay, which gives them a certain power of metempsychosis.
Not only can men take lions' shape but lions can change into men.


[39] "Mysteries of Magic," 1897, pp. 237-8.

[40] Thorpe, B., "Northern Mythology," 1851, Vol. II, pp. 168-9.

[41] Edited by W. W. Skeat, 1869.

[42] "Poesies de Marie de France," 1819, pp. 179-201.

[43] "History of the Goths, Swedes, and Vandals," 1658, pp. 193-4.

[44] _See_ Leubuscher, R., "Ueber die Wehrwölfe und Thierverwandlungen
in Mittelalter," 1850, pp. 9-11.

                              CHAPTER X

                         LION- AND TIGER-MEN

The rooted idea in the savage mind that animals may be invested by human
souls, and that men may at will transform themselves into animals, has
been largely strengthened throughout the ages by the teachings of the
"Medicine men" or wizards, who have no doubt found it profitable and
conducive to their own acquisition of power to work on the superstitions
and foster the weaknesses of the people to whom they minister.

Stories about lion- and tiger-men, hyæna-women, and other strange
monsters gifted with human qualities are found in the Books of Travel
in every part of the world.

The way the sorcerer sets to work on the imagination of primitive
people has often been described. Firstly he declares that he is about
to change himself into a tiger and tear the people to pieces, and he
no sooner begins to roar than the frightened natives, acting under the
spell of suggestion, take to their heels, but they dare not go beyond
the reach of those terrible sounds. "Look," cry the fear-stricken
women, who cannot really see what is going on, "his body is covered
with spots like a tiger! Horrible! his nails are turning into claws."

All the time the sorcerer is hidden in his tent, carrying on a kind of
magical performance which inspires the people with a dread of the
unknown, so that they fall a prey to the imagination and almost lose
their reason. When asked to explain this unholy dread, they declare
that it arises from being unable to see and to kill the fearsome
tiger-image which threatens them.

Africa is vastly rich in stories of wer-lions, wer-leopards, and
wer-hyænas, and the language of Bornu has a word "_bultungin_," which
means "I change myself into a hyæna." It is even said that in the
village of Kabutiloa every native possesses the faculty of

The wizards of Abyssinia are said to be able to become hyænas at will,
and in "The Life of Nathaniel Pearce"[45] the story is told of a man
called Coffin who was asked by a servant for leave of absence. No
sooner had he granted the request than one of the other servants
called out, "Look, look, he has turned himself into a hyæna!" Coffin
gazed in the direction in which the first servant had disappeared, and
there he saw a large hyæna bounding across the open plain. The next
morning the servant returned, and when asked about the matter asserted
that such a transformation had actually taken place. Coffin brought
himself to believe in these native stories, and quoted in evidence of
their truth that he had often seen a certain kind of earring in the
ears of hyænas shot, trapped and speared by himself or his friends,
identical with those which were commonly worn by the native servants.
A natural explanation has been sought in the suggestion that the
sorcerers themselves adorned the hyænas with the gems in order to
encourage a superstition which they found profitable for their own
purposes, but no proof of any such thing has been discovered.
Abyssinia is a hotbed of strange happenings of this character, some of
which are quite beyond understanding.

The trade of blacksmith is hereditary there and is regarded with more
or less suspicion, from the fact that blacksmiths are, with few
exceptions, believed to be sorcerers and are opprobriously given the
name of _Bouda_. They are said to have the power of turning themselves
into various kinds of animals. "I remember," says Mansfield Parkyns
in "Life in Abyssinia,"[46] "a story of some little girls, who, having
been out in the forest to gather sticks, came running back breathless
with fright; and on being asked what was the cause, they answered that
a blacksmith of the neighbourhood had met them, and entering into
conversation with him, they at length began to joke about whether, as
had been asserted, he could turn himself into a hyæna. The man, they
declared, made no reply, but taking some ashes, which he had with him
tied up in the corner of his cloth, sprinkled them over his shoulders,
and to their horror and alarm they began almost immediately to
perceive that the metamorphosis was actually taking place, and that
the blacksmith's skin was assuming the hair and colour of the animal
in question. When the change was complete he grinned and laughed at
them, and then retired into the neighbouring thickets. They stood
rooted to the spot from sheer fright; but the moment the hideous
creature withdrew, they made the best of their way home."

Parkyns tells another _Bouda_ story[47] which is fully credited by the
natives. In the neighbourhood of Adoua there was said to be a woman
who had one human foot and in the place of the other the hoof of a
donkey. Several persons assured Parkyns that they had seen this human
monstrosity, and others firmly believed the following account of the

The woman was said to have died, and was buried with ceremony in the
churchyard. The following day a man came to one of the priests and
offered him a sum of money for the body, pledging himself to strict
secrecy. The bargain was concluded and the unscrupulous priest allowed
the stranger, who was a blacksmith, to disinter and carry off the
corpse. On the way to the market the blacksmith passed the house where
the deceased lady's family lived, and he usually rode or drove a
remarkably fine donkey which, strangely enough, on passing the house,
or any of the old woman's children, brayed loudly and endeavoured to
run towards them.

At first no notice was taken of this odd behaviour on the part of an
ass, but at last one of the sons grew suspicious and exclaimed, "I am
sure that ass is my mother!"

Accordingly _Bouda_, ass and all were seized and brought to the hut,
much to the apparent satisfaction of the animal, which rubbed its nose
against the young men and was even said to shed tears of joy on the

On being charged with the offence of sorcery the _Bouda_ tried to make
light of it and denied the accusation, but at last by dint of threats
and promises he was induced to confess that he had turned the old woman
into a donkey, she having been not really dead but in a trance, into
which he had purposely thrown her. His power, he asserted, was
sufficient to change the external appearance, but not to alter the mind
of his victim. Hence it was that the old woman, or rather donkey,
possessed human feelings, which she had displayed in her endeavours to
enter her former habitation and in her recognition of her children. The
_Bouda_, moreover, agreed to restore her human appearance, and began his
exorcism. As he proceeded she by degrees assumed her natural form, and
the change was almost complete, when one of the sons, blinded by his
rage, forgot the promises of pardon which the _Bouda_ had exacted, and
drove his spear through his heart. The incantation not being entirely
finished, one foot remained in the shape of the hoof of an ass and
continued so until her death, which was not till many years afterwards.

Still another story belonging to the same class concerns two brothers
who lived in Gojam. One of them having transformed himself into a horse,
ass or cow, was sold in the market and driven out of town by his
purchaser. Directly night had closed the eyes of his new master in sleep
the _Bouda_ took on human form again and walked quietly home. The
brothers were known to sell cattle in the market so frequently that
people became suspicious, because they did not know where their stock
was kept, and they often had no beasts in their yard even the very day
before the sales. Besides, it soon leaked out that every animal sold
make its escape the same night and was never heard of again. Then a
purchaser who had been twice taken in by the brothers, determined to
discover how the fraud was carried out. One market day he bought a fine
horse from one of the brothers and rode off upon it, but no sooner had
he left the market town behind him than he dismounted and drove a knife
through the animal's heart. Then he walked back to the market-place and
meeting the vendor told him that he had killed the beautiful animal he
had just bought in a fit of passion. The _Bouda_ gave a start, but
managed to conceal his grief till he entered his house, when he burst
forth into lamentations and rubbed the skin off his forehead, as the
custom is when a near relative dies. To his inquisitive neighbours he
declared that his favourite brother had been robbed and murdered in the
Galla country, whither he had travelled in order to purchase horses. It
was said, however, that he afterwards sent no more animals to the
market-place for sale.

According to Livingstone's account[48] the Makololo also believe that
certain people can transform themselves into animals, and they call such
persons "Pondoro." Livingstone came across a Pondoro in the Kebrasa
hills, and heard that this gentleman was in the habit of assuming the
shape of a lion which he retained for days and sometimes even for a
month, during which time he wandered in the woods where his wife had
built a den for him and took care that he was provided with food and
drink. No one was allowed into the den except the Pondoro and his wife,
and no strangers were permitted even to lay a gun against any of the
trees in the neighbourhood of the den, or against any shanty owned by
the Pondoro. The wer-lion used his gift to go hunting in the village.
After a few days had passed his faithful spouse scented her returning
husband and provided him with a certain kind of medicine or ointment by
which it became possible for him to change into a man again. But she had
to hurry over this duty, so that the lion might not catch sight of her
and, falling upon her, devour even her.

After the Pondoro was once more human he returned to the village and
asked the inhabitants to help him carry home his prey. One of the odd
things about this wer-lion was that he always trembled if he smelt
gunpowder, and he sometimes overacted his part. Livingstone asked the
natives to make him show off while he was watching, offering a reward
for the performance, but they refused, saying, "If we ask him to do
so, he may change while we are asleep and kill us." It was owing to
his distaste for the smell of gunpowder that it was made punishable to
rest muskets against his den.

In the same district the belief is also current that the souls of
departed chiefs enter into lions "and render them sacred." Thus when a
hungry lion prowled round the camp where a freshly killed buffalo lay,
a native servant harangued him loudly in between his roars, saying,
"What sort of a chief do you call yourself, sneaking round here in the
dark trying to steal our buffalo meat? You're a pretty chief, you are!
You've no more courage than a scavenger beetle. Why don't you kill
your own dinner?" The Pondoro took no notice except to roar the
louder, so a second native took the matter up and expostulated in more
dignified terms as to the impropriety of the conduct of "a great chief
like him" prowling round in the dark, "trying like a hyæna to steal
the food of strangers."

A piece of meat dipped in strychnine brought the lion-chief to his
senses and he took his departure. It is not to be wondered at that
such things occur in a country where the natives regard their chiefs
as almighty and infallible. The extent of their faith in him appears
from the story of one Chief Chibisa, who placed a powerful "medicine"
in the river and told his people they might safely enter the water as
it was a protection against the bite of crocodiles. Thereupon the
people bathed there without fear of these dangerous reptiles.

Du Chaillu, in "Ashango Land,"[49] tells the story of a young lad,
Akosho, who declared that he had been turned into a leopard, and
feeling a craving for blood had gone forth into the forest where he
had killed two men. After each murder he said he had taken on human
shape. His chief Akondogo could not believe the story, but Akosho led
him to the scene where lay the mangled bodies of the victims. It
appears that the boy suffered from lycanthropia, and he was burnt to
death in full view of the tribe.

Theophilus Waldmeier mentions a similar case of possession in which
the patient thought herself to be a hyæna.[50] One evening when he was
in his house at Gaffat a woman began to cry fearfully and run up and
down the road on her hands and feet like a wild beast, quite
unconscious of what she was doing. The natives said to him, "This is
the _Bouda_, and if it is not driven out of her she will die." A crowd
gathered round and everything possible was done to relieve her
condition, but without avail. She howled and roared in an unnatural
manner and most powerful voice. At last a blacksmith, who was said to
have secret connection with the evil one, was called in to see what he
could do. The woman obeyed his orders at once. He took hold of her
hand and dropped the juice of a white onion or garlic into her
nostril, and then he questioned the evil spirit, by whom she was
supposed to be possessed, as follows:

"Why did you possess this poor woman?"

"I was allowed to do so," came the answer through her lips.

"What is your name?"


"And your country?"


"How many people have you already taken possession of?"

"Forty people--men and women."

"You must now leave this woman's body."

"I will do so on one condition."

"What is it?"

"I want to eat the flesh of a donkey."

The long cross-examination being concluded the evil spirit was granted
his strange request. A donkey was brought and the possessed woman ran
hastily upon the animal and bit the flesh out of the creature's back,
and though the donkey kicked and started off, she clung to it as
though fastened by leather thongs.

After the performance had continued for some time the man recalled the
woman, and a jar of prepared liquid with which much filth had been
mixed was set down in a hidden spot where she could not see it. When,
however, the exorcist exclaimed, "Go and look for your drink," she
started off on all fours to the place where the jar stood and drank
the whole of its contents.

When she returned, the blacksmith said, "Take up this stone." Although
the stone in question was too large for her to move under natural
conditions, she placed it on her head with ease and began spinning
round, until the stone flew off on one side and she fell on to the
ground. Then the exorcist said to the people round, "Take her away to
bed, the _Bouda_ has left her."

In a similar case the woman's symptoms began in a sort of
fainting-fit; her fingers were clenched in the palms of her hands, the
eyes were glazed, the nostrils distended and the whole body stiff and
inflexible. Suddenly a hideous laugh, like that of a hyæna, burst from
her and she began running about on all fours. The cure was brought
about in much the same way as in the preceding case.

Mr. Parkyns also tells the tale of a servant who was said to have
been bewitched by a blacksmith-hyæna. He evidently attempted to lure
her into the forest with the intention of devouring her.

One evening the howls and laughter of a hyæna were clearly heard from
the hut in which the sick woman lay bound and closely guarded. Her
master happened to be present, when he saw to his astonishment that she
rose "like a Davenport brother" freed from her bonds, and made an effort
to escape from the hut in answer to the call of the wild animal without.

That such proceedings were sometimes carried out for vicious ends not
unconnected with the slaying of human victims is proved by the
existence of the mysterious Human Leopard Society which Mr. T. J.
Alldridge writes about in "The Sherbro and Its Hinterland." The
society was founded for the purpose of obtaining the human fat used in
the preparation of a certain "medicine" mixed with Borfinor, the
resulting material being regarded as an all-powerful fetish.

Victims at first were relatives of the members of the society selected
at committee meetings, who were afterwards waylaid and slaughtered by a
man in the guise of a leopard. He plunged a three-pronged knife into the
unfortunate person's neck from behind, separated the vertebræ and caused
instant death. More victims were required, outsiders were made to join
the society by the expedient of giving them a dish in which, without
their knowledge, human flesh was cooked. Afterwards, on being informed
of the unpleasant fact, they were persuaded to join the society and told
they must furnish a victim as part of the initiation ceremony.

The members of the society rapidly increased in number but great
secrecy was observed, and it was impossible to bring the criminals to
justice. When questioned the victims declared that they had seen
nothing. The leopard sprang from the bush, and it merely seemed as
though a great wind had rushed by.[51]

Before seizing their victims the human leopards cover themselves with
the skin of the animal and imitate its roars. In the paws of the
leopard skin are fixed sharp-pointed knives shaped like a leopard's
claws, which are intended to inflict similar wounds, the better to
avoid unpleasant disclosure.

Many of the Indians in Guiana believe that "Kanaima" tigers are
possessed by human spirits who, as men, devote themselves to deeds of
cannibalism. Taking the shape of the jaguar they approach the lonely
sleeping-places, or waylay Indians in the forests. No superstition
causes more terror.

A legend exists among the natives about an old man who lurked in the
forest in the shape of a Kanaima tiger. His son, who was hunting, shot
the tiger down. His arrow, which was one of the old-fashioned sort,
tipped with bone, entered the animal's jaw. The tiger raised its paw,
broke off the weapon and vanished into the forest. The young huntsman
picked up the splintered arrow-head and returned home. Next day his
guilty father came back groaning, and cried out that his mouth was
"all on fire." The son drew from his cheek a bone which, oddly enough,
fitted into his splintered arrow-head. Then the son was very sorrowful
and said to his father that he must leave him and take his young wife
away too, for neither of them would be safe from the dread Kanaima
charm. This is a specimen of the "repercussion" stories, in which the
wound inflicted on the wer-animal appears in the human form.


[45] "Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce," 1831. Ed. by J. J.
Halls. Vol. I, p. 288 n.

[46] 1868, pp. 300-1.

[47] _Ibid._, pp. 310-12.

[48] Livingstone, D. and C., "Narrative of an Expedition to the
Zambesi and its Tributaries," 1865, p. 159.

[49] p. 52.

[50] "Autobiography," 1886, pp. 64-6.

[51] 1901, pp. 153-9.

                              CHAPTER XI

                        WER-FOX AND WER-VIXEN

Even more elaborate in detail and richness of lore than the lion-,
tiger- and hyæna-transformations, are those of the wer-fox; and a
curious point to be noted is that it is quite as easy for the animal
to become human as for a man or woman to become a fox. In Japanese
folklore the fox is regarded as more skilful than any other animal in
taking human shape.

In China the belief exists that foxes and wolves attain to an age of
eight hundred years, and "when more than five hundred years old they
are able to metamorphose themselves into beings shaped liked men."[52]

De Groot tells several stories about wer-foxes.[53] A man runs away from
home and is found in an empty grave. His shape is quite that of a fox,
and does not in any respect correspond to the human form. The only sound
he utters is O-tsze (meaning red) which is the name for foxes. For ten
days this wer-fox remains in a state of semi-consciousness, and then he
awakens and gives the following account of himself: "When the fox came
to me for the first time it assumed the shape of a lovely woman standing
in a fowl-house in a hidden corner of my dwelling. She called me to her
and told me she bore the name of O-tsze.[54] When she had called me many
times I followed her and she became my wife. At night I frequently
accompanied her to her dwelling, and we met without being perceived by
the dogs."

No human animal is as seductive as the wer-vixen. Numerous stories
occur in Eastern folklore of women in the shape of foxes and foxes in
the shape of women leading men on through passion to their doom. Even
male foxes take the shape of women to seduce men, but other harm than
this they do not do them.[55]

Ono, an inhabitant of Mino (says an ancient Japanese legend of A.D.
545), spent the seasons longing for his ideal of female beauty. He met
her one evening on a vast moor and married her. Simultaneously with
the birth of their son, Ono's dog was delivered of a pup which as it
grew up became more and more hostile to the lady of the moors. She
begged her husband to kill it, but he refused. At last one day the dog
attacked her so furiously that she lost courage, resumed vulpine
shape, leaped over a fence and fled.

"You may be a fox," Ono called after her, "but you are the mother of
my son and I love you. Come back when you please; you will always be

So every evening she stole back and slept in his arms.[56]

The wer-fox has a strange manner of bringing about transformation.
Roaming over a grassy plain, the animal picks up a skull, puts it on his
head and, facing towards the north star, worships silently. At first he
performs his religious genuflections and obeisances slowly and
circumspectly, but by and by his motions become convulsively rapid and
his leaps wondrously active. Yet, however high he jumps towards the
star, he endeavours to keep his skull-crown immovable, and if after a
hundred acts of worship he succeeds, he becomes capable of transforming
himself into a human being. But if he desires to assume the shape of a
beautiful maiden he must live in the vicinity of a graveyard.[57]

A monk who passed a moonlight night in a graveyard saw a fox placing
withered bones and a skull upon its head, and as soon as the animal
succeeded in moving its head without dropping its burden, it covered
its body with grass and leaves, and changed into a beautiful woman.
She sat by the roadside, and presently a man came riding by to whom
she told a pitiable story about herself. Charmed with her appearance
and sympathising with her forlorn condition, he was about to ask her
to mount his horse with him, when the monk appeared from behind a
gravestone and warned him that the woman was not what she appeared to
be. Making the sign of the cross and uttering an incantation, the holy
man caused the woman to fall down, and she turned into an old vixen
and expired. Nothing remained but the dry bones with the skull, and
the grass and the leaves on the dead body of the fox.

De Groot quotes the old Chinese saying that the wild fox bears the
name of Tsze (Red). At night he strikes fire out of his tail. When he
desires to appear as a spook he puts on a human skull and salutes the
Great Bear constellation, and the transformation is brought about as
soon as the skull ceases to fall.

One of the commonest stories of the fox, found in China and Japan, is
that the fox as usual assumes the form of a lovely maiden, and weds a
man. She dies and all that remains is the dead body of the fox. No
more is heard of the woman.

The Eskimos have a similar story.

A bachelor coming home in the evening finds his hut tidied. One day,
returning prematurely, he sees a woman at work straightening his things.
He falls in love with her and marries her, only to discover that she is
a fox in disguise, and when his jealous cousin mentions the tabooed
subject of the smell of a fox, she runs away, never to return.

Under the T'ang dynasty the belief in wer-vixens, who changed into
fascinating women to tempt men, was prevalent.

"When a fox is fifty years old, it can transform itself into a woman;
when a hundred years old, it becomes a beautiful female or sorceress
termed _wu_. Such enchanted beings possess a knowledge of what is
happening more than a thousand miles away. They can poison men by
sorcery or possess and bewilder them so that they lose their memory or
even their reason. When a fox reaches the age of a thousand it goes to
paradise and becomes a celestial creature."[58]

The wer-vixen in the next story had not attained to this privilege,
she belonged to a far different region.

A captain in the Imperial Guard met a beautiful lady in the moonlight
and began to talk to her. While she was speaking to him she kept her
face hidden behind a fan. As they came to the palace the man
remembered that wer-vixens were dangerous beings to deal with and he
wanted to find out whether the woman was genuine or an animal in human
shape, so he drew his sword, seized her by the hair, pushed her
against one of the pillars in front of the palace and threatened to
kill her. She struggled and jumped about violently, sending forth so
pungent an odour that he could not hold her, and as he let her go she
turned into a fox and ran off shrieking "ko, ko!" The captain did not
in the least regret the rough handling he had given the supposed
beautiful lady; he only wished he had killed her on the spot.

Fox demons are said to cause disease and madness, and sometimes they
act in a spirit of revenge, more often from unprovoked malice. The
"Huen Chung ki" mentions that foxes sometimes take the shape of
Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Another mystic idea about wer-foxes is that
they are believed to possess a mysterious pearl which represents their
soul. They hold this pearl in their mouths and any man who gets
possession of it becomes a favourite throughout the world. In Japan
some people think that foxes have a luminous pearl in their tail.
Whether this is connected with the soul or whether it is a talisman of
power it is difficult to say.

Wer-foxes in the shape of human beings can be made to resume their
animal forms by wounding or slaying them or by setting dogs upon them.
Incantations, argument if they appear in the shape of scholars,
poisonous food, written charms, or cutting off the caudal appendage if
they show signs of one, are also effective means of making them
declare themselves in their true colours.

If a person is possessed by a wer-fox he can have the evil spirit
transferred to a woman in a similar manner to that practised by the
_Boudas_ of Abyssinia in the case of those possessed by hyænas. In one
instance the evil spirit spoke from the scape-woman's mouth as

"I am a fox. I have not come to do evil, but only to have a look
round, because I thought there was plenty of food at a place like
this. Then I found that I (the patient) was kept indoors." Thus
speaking, she took from her bosom a white gem, the size of a small
orange. Throwing this into the air, she caught it again, and those who
saw it said, "What a strange gem; she keeps it in her pocket for the
purpose of deluding people." A young man cleverly caught the gem as
the woman threw it up and put it in his pocket. The demon fox begged
him to give it back to her but he refused. She then burst into tears
and said, "My gem is of no value to you for you do not know how to use
it. If you do not give it back to me I will be your enemy for ever,
but if you do, I will be your friend and protect you like a god." At
these words the young man returned the gem.

When the sorcerer had exorcised the fox spirit it was discovered that
the gem had disappeared, which was taken as a proof that it belonged
to the wer-fox, and was connected with some mysterious power.

The fox kept its promise, for when the young man was going home late
one night in the dark, he became suddenly very frightened and called
the fox to help him. The animal appeared and led him by a narrow
footpath instead of by the usual road. Afterwards he discovered that
highwaymen were hidden in ambush near the road, and if he had passed
that way he would surely have been killed.

The cunning of the fox turns to learning in a man, for intellectuality
appears to be regarded as a fox-like trait by the Japanese, and many
tales tell of scholars becoming animals and vice-versa.

A learned old man called Hu suddenly disappeared from the college in
which he held a professorship, and was found by his students in the
shape of a fox explaining logic out of an old book to a pack of foxes
who were drawn up in ranks before him in an empty grave.

Two foxes, in another story, were over a thousand years old and lived in
the tomb of a king. They transformed themselves into students, giving
proof of extraordinary learning, and having fine personalities and
handsome, open countenances. Mounted on horseback they rode to the house
of a talented minister to argue with him on theological questions
connected with the spirit of the glorification tree which stood before a
tomb. The minister could not get the better of them in discussion, and
after three days he became suspicious and set his dogs loose upon them,
but they showed not the slightest fear. "To be sure," he exclaimed,
"they are spectres of the true sort. If a hundred years old, they must
change their shape at the sight of hounds; if they are spooks of a
thousand years, they must change when they see the glow of fire produced
from a tree of the same age." Reasoning thus, the minister sent some
servants to the tomb in order to fell the glorification tree. The spirit
of the tree was a young child dressed in blue garments, and he was
sitting in a cleft in the side of the tree. When the child was told of
the matter he wept, and lamented the ignorance of the old foxes and his
own fate. Then he vanished. When the servants felled the tree, blood
gushed forth from it. They took the wood home and set fire to it, and
as soon as it was kindled the foxes resumed their original shape. Then
the minister had them captured and cooked.

The power possessed by the fox of bewitching men is clearly shown in
the following story quoted by Dr. Visser in "The Fox and Badger in
Japanese Folklore."[59]

In the eighth year of the Kwambei era (896) a man called Kaya
Yoshifuji resigned the post of a high official in the Bizen province
and went to live in Hongo Ashimori. His wife ran away to the capital
and he kept house quite alone. One day he went out of his mind and
began to recite love poems to an imaginary woman. After a month passed
in this manner he disappeared and his relatives searched high and low
but could find no trace of him, so they concluded that he had
committed suicide, and vowed they would make an image of the
eleven-faced Kwannon if they found the unhappy man's corpse. They cut
down an oak tree and began to carve the life-size image of Yoshifuji,
bowing before the unfinished statue to repeat the vow they had taken.
This went on for about a fortnight, when to their intense surprise
Yoshifuji crept from under his go-down as thin and pale as though he
had passed through a serious illness. The floor of the go-down was
only half a dozen inches from the ground, so that it was held to be
impossible that a man could have been beneath it. When he had
recovered his senses sufficiently to give an account of his
adventures, he said that a beautiful girl had come to him, bringing
love letters and poems from a princess, and that he had replied to
them in the same vein in which they were written.

"At last," he continued, "the girl came with a magnificent carriage
and four postilions to take me to the princess.

"After a drive of about ten miles we arrived at a splendid palace,
where an exquisite meal and a very hearty reception from the princess
soon made me feel quite at ease. There I lived with her as
inseparably as two branches growing together on the same tree. She
gave birth to a son, a very intelligent and beautiful child, whom I
loved so much that I thought of degrading my son Jadasada and putting
this child in his place as son of my principal wife--this in view of
the high rank of the princess. But after three years a Buddhist priest
suddenly entered the room of Her Highness, carrying a stick in his
hand. The effect of his appearance was astonishing. Chamberlains and
Court ladies all fled left and right and even the princess hid herself
somewhere. The priest pushed me from behind with his stick and made me
go out of the house through a very narrow passage. When I looked back
I discovered that I had just crept from under my own go-down!"

The curious point of this story is that those who listened to it
rushed to the go-down and demolished it without delay. As they did so,
twenty or thirty foxes came from beneath it and scattered in all
directions, hastening to the mountains. Yoshifuji, bewitched by these
wizard-foxes, had been lying under the go-down for a fortnight,
believing in his trance that he was spending three years in a palace.
The priest who broke the spell was a metamorphosis of Kwannon.

That the wer-vixen superstition is deeply engrained in the minds of
travellers is proved by the story of a bishop who once passed the night
in a house which was so desolate in appearance that his companions
begged him to read a sutra for the purpose of driving away evil
influences. Two of them went to a wood close to the house, where they
saw a mysterious phantom, large and white, which they took to be a
wer-vixen. They rushed in to tell the bishop, who, greatly excited,
cried, "I have often heard of foxes haunting people, but I have never
set eyes on a ghost of this kind," and he hastened to the spot, full of
eagerness, only to discover a harmless, ordinary girl--or so he said!

Another wer-vixen attempted to steal a child. The nurse was out in
the grounds with her charge of two years old when her master, the
father of the infant, heard her crying for help. Seizing his sword he
ran to the spot, when to his astonishment he found that _two_ nurses
exactly alike were pulling at his son and heir, one on one side and
one on the other. He could not say which was the genuine nurse, and in
great terror brandished his sword, making feints at both. Thereupon
one of the nurses vanished and the other swooned, the child still in
her arms. A priest was sent for and by means of incantations brought
the nurse to her senses. She then said that her double had appeared
and laying hold of the babe had claimed it as her own. Nobody knew
whether the phantom was a _fox_ or a _spirit_.[60]

Here is a story of a vindictive wer-fox, taken from the "Uji shui

"A samurai was on his way home one evening when he met a fox. Pursuing
the animal, he sent an arrow into its loin. The fox howled loudly and
limped quickly away through the grass towards the samurai's house.
When the man saw the animal was breathing fire he hastened to overtake
him, but was too late. The fox, on arriving at the house, assumed
human shape and set fire to the building. Then the samurai pursued the
culprit, whom he took to be a real man, but, resuming vulpine form,
the animal disappeared into the thicket."

A number of fox legends, which have been rendered into English by Dr.
Visser, are found in the "Kokon chomonshu."

The house of a Dainagon was haunted by a number of foxes, and was so
impossible to live in that the owner decided to hold a battue. The
very night he gave orders to this effect he saw a vision of a
grey-haired old man, with the figure of a tall boy, wearing a green
hunting dress, and seated under an orange tree in the garden. The
owner asked the apparition's name, and he replied, "I have lived in
your house for two generations and have a great number of children and
grandchildren. I have always tried to keep them out of mischief but
they never would listen. Now I am sorry because they have made you
angry. If you will forgive the things my family have done, I will
protect you and let you know whenever good luck is coming your way."

Then the owner of the house awoke from his strange dream, rose and
opened the door of the verandah. There he discovered in the dim
morning light an old hairless fox, shyly trying to hide himself behind
a bamboo bench.

The _tanuki_, or badger, shares with the fox the reputation for powers
of transformation. This animal appeared in Japanese folklore later
than the fox, but is often coupled with it in stories of animal
sorcery. An old mountain lake was frequented by many water birds, but
it was well known that whoever tried to shoot them was drowned in the
lake. At last a man, who had more courage than the others, decided
that this mysterious matter must be looked into. He went alone in the
dark, armed with bow, arrows, and a sword, and when he reached the
lake he sat down under a pine tree, bent his bow and waited. Suddenly
the surface of the lake was disturbed, waves dashed on the shore and
he saw a faint light in the centre. The ball of light moved about,
coming closer and closer, and circling round him. He was about to
shoot at it when it flew back over the lake. Presently it came close
to him again, and in the centre he saw a grinning old hag, upon whom
he seized. She tried to pull him into the lake, but could not manage
to do so, for he stood like a rock and, having thrown down his bow,
stabbed at her with his sword. She grew weaker and weaker and the
light disappeared. Then she died, and he took home the animal shape
which was left on his hands, and which proved to be an old _tanuki_.

Another story of the _tanuki_ is more like a ghost story than that of
a wer-animal, and concerns a captain of the guards called Sukeyasu.
When he was hunting in the province of Tamba he passed the night in
an old chapel which the villagers warned him was haunted by a monster.
As a snowstorm was raging he preferred to face the strange risk inside
the chapel to a certain wetting in the open.

He was half asleep when he heard a noise outside the chapel and
peeping through a chink in the sliding door he saw a pitch-black
priest, so tall that his head appeared to reach the eaves. The priest
stretched a thin hairy arm through the chink in the door and stroked
Sukeyasu's forehead, afterwards withdrawing his hand. The captain was
too frightened to move, but when the same thing was repeated he
plucked up courage to grasp the hairy hand and hold it firmly. Then
ensued a struggle and the door gave way. Sukeyasu came down on the top
of the priest and as he pressed upon him with all his might he found
his opponent growing smaller and smaller, and his arms thinner and
thinner. The captain called his servants to his assistance and when a
light was obtained it was found that the huge spook was in reality a
_tanuki_. Next day the animal's head was shown to the villagers, and
from that time the chapel was no longer haunted.

An unsuccessful transformation into animal shape is the subject of
another wer-fox story. A man left his house one evening in order to do
some business in a neighbouring city, but to his wife's surprise he came
back accompanied by a servant long before he was due, saying that he had
accomplished his business satisfactorily. He was very tired and went to
bed at once, but an old woman-servant in the house warned her mistress,
saying that she had noticed something odd about the returned traveller,
who was blind in the left eye, while her master was blind in the right
eye. The wife then called to the sleeping man, saying she was ill, and
asking him to get her some medicine. He did so, grumbling, and to the
wife's astonishment, she saw that what the old woman said was true. Then
when he lay down to sleep again she stabbed him to death, and he cried
out like a fox, "kon, kon, kwai--kwai." Then they beat to death the
servant the wer-fox had brought with him, and found he was also a fox.
The one who had taken the shape of the master had not trained himself
carefully enough in the art of transformation.

A very uncanny fox and badger story comes from an old Japanese
source.[61] Kugano Kendo was a clever doctor who lived in Yeddo. One
day he was asked to go and see a patient in the country, and when he
reached the house in question, which he had never before visited, he
found that the master had gone out and he was asked to wait. A
page-boy offered him some refreshments after his long journey, and
when he was about to thank him for his attentions the boy turned away
and, to the doctor's astonishment, he saw the page's face had utterly
changed, becoming enormously long and narrow, with a small nose and
big mouth and only one eye in the centre of the forehead. Suddenly the
apparition vanished. Though courageous by nature this struck the
doctor as so extraordinary that he felt inclined to leave the strange
house at once. However, he mastered his fears and soon the owner of
the house returned. The doctor told him what he had seen and the
master burst out laughing and said, "Oh, that boy has been at it
again, has he? He always frightens strangers. Did he pull a face like
this?" and suiting his actions to his words the man imitated the
horrible expression, his face taking the same deformity of one eye in
the centre of his forehead, and a foxy snout.

This was too much for the doctor's equanimity. He ran to the front door
and called his servants to prepare for the journey home. Then he found
that all the servants had run away except one, and outside it was
pitch-dark. The remaining servant said he could find a lantern, and
presently he appeared out of the darkness with a light in his hand which
fell full upon his features. To Kendo's intense horror he noticed the
same transformation had taken place in the servant's countenance as had
appeared in the faces of the others, and this additional strain being
too much for his nerves, he cried out and fell into a swoon.

In the meantime the doctor's friends, growing anxious about his long
absence, despatched a search party to find him, and among those who
were sent were some of the servants who had accompanied him earlier in
the evening. To their surprise, instead of the fine house they had
already visited, they found only an old, dirty, tumbledown cottage,
which the neighbours told them was always desolate and only inhabited
by foxes and _tanuki_. Nobody dared to pass that way by night. After a
long search Doctor Kendo was found lying face downwards in a bamboo
grove. Weeks passed before he recovered from his adventure. This story
seems to throw a light on what may be called "the workings of
transformation," as though a partial change were brought about by some
hidden occult force glimmering through the human shape.

The "Roo chawa"[62] describes three kinds of strange wer-animals.
Firstly thin ones, with emaciated features, red eyes, long trunks,
legs the length of a horse, and a loud cry "like the tone of a bell."
These are _tanuki_. The second variety has a round face, sharp nose,
spotted skin and is blind in one eye. Thirdly, there are foxes with
large ears, round eyes, pointed cheeks, wide mouths, but _without a
right arm_! This sounds as though the description had been taken
during the process of metamorphosis.

The one-eyed beasts seem the most fearsome to encounter in the dark.
An ancient monastery was haunted by them. An old man, blind in one
eye, arrived there as the priest was murmuring his prayers. He came
near enough to stroke the devout man's face, but as he put out his
hand to do so the priest protected himself with a knife and chopped
off the arm, which proved to be the hairy leg of an old fox.

Another man who passed the night in the same monastery was disturbed
by a number of puppy-dogs which ran in and out of the cloisters.
Looking through a crack in an old door he saw a woman standing
outside. He pierced her through the breast with his sword and she
fled, bleeding profusely. A moment later a ball of light fell onto the
ground, and when the man ran to see what it was, he found the same old
witch. Again he struck at her with his sword and she fled, leaving
another pool of blood.

Next day an old one-eyed woman came to the monastery accompanied by a
little girl and asked the abbot to read a mass at the funeral of her
elder sister.

The abbot, believing all was not right with these people, chased away
the woman and child by threatening to strike them with a bamboo cane.
That night the village was lit by burning torches and a crowd
assembled to pray and read sutras. Temple gongs and kettle-drums
resounded, and everyone knew that some mysterious ceremony was being
held. The following morning the abbot sent to discover what had taken
place and an old dead _tanuki_, as big as a calf, was dug out of the
ground. It was found to be the witch that had been wounded in the
monastery. This may be compared with the witch-cat stories of England
in the following chapter.

Fox-possession and fox-familiars are common beliefs among the
Japanese; women, weak men, and even children suffering from the idea
of having been transformed into animals. They are cured by being made
to snuff up smoke from a heap of burning refuse, or by drinking weak
tea, or swallowing roasted leaves of a certain plant; all these things
being detested by foxes, and incidentally no doubt useful in cases of
ordinary hysteria. Foxes which take the form of men and women soon
resume vulpine shape when fumigated, bathed, or attacked by dogs. Even
in the present day, fox-possession has as great a hold on the
imagination as in earlier centuries, but it is more widely ascribed to
human sorcery. Certain sacred temples in Japan still attract crowds
of pilgrims who believe that they are possessed by foxes and who come
to these holy places to be cured. The bone of a tortoise's foot held
in the left hand is prescribed as a talisman against this fearsome
spell--probably also many other of the formulæ useful in cases of
witchcraft would be found efficacious.


[52] "The Pao Poh-tsze," chap, i, sect. 3.

[53] "Religious System of China."

[54] The legend says that a lady of light morals lived in the remotest
times and bore the name of O-tsze. She adopted the fox shape, and
hence it is that such spooks often call themselves O-tsze.

[55] "Wuh tsah tsu," by Sie Chao chi.

[56] Brinkley, F., "Japan," 1902, Vol. V, p. 197.

[57] _Ibid._, p. 198.

[58] The "Huen Chung ki."

[59] 1908, pp. 21-3.

[60] _See_ Visser, M. W. de, "The Fox and Badger in Japanese
Folklore," 1908.

[61] The "Kwaidan toshiotoko," 1749.

[62] 1742.

                             CHAPTER XII


Amongst the powers with which witches have been credited from time
immemorial are those of transforming themselves into various kinds of
animals, of transforming other people into animals and of sending
forth so-called familiars in various animal shapes. Whether witches
can change human beings into animals through sorcery is a question
which has exercised the minds of hundreds of writers on demonology and
witchcraft, amongst them, to mention a few at random, Bodin, Boguet,
James I, Glanvill, Dr. Webster, Reginald Scott, his more famous
namesake Sir Walter, and Charles Lamb. The last-named, in his essay on
the subject, tells us that he was extremely inquisitive from his
childhood about witches and witch-stories, and that it should cause no
wonder if the wicked, having been symbolised by a goat, should come
sometimes in that body and "assert his metaphor."[63]

In the Middle Ages witches who were condemned to the stake, confessed
to having taken the shapes of cats, hares, dogs, horses, and many
other animals, being prompted to such changes by the devil, with whom
they were in league.

A witch trial took place at Lancaster on the 10th of February, 1633,
in which a batch of witches was accused of such dealings.

Evidence was given by Edmund Robinson, son of Edmund Robinson, of Pendle
forest, eleven years of age, at Padham, before Richard Shuttleworth and
John Starkey, Justices of the Peace, "who upon oath informeth, being
examined concerning the great meeting of the witches of Pendle, saith
that upon All Saints-day last past, he, this informer being with one
Henry Parker a near door-neighbour to him in Wheatley Cave, desired the
said Parker to give him leave to gather some bulloes, which he did. In
gathering whereof he saw two greyhounds, namely a black and a brown; one
came running over the next field towards him, he verily thinking the one
of them to be Mr. Nutter's and the other to be Mr. Robinson's, the said
gentlemen then having suchlike. And saith the said greyhounds came to
him, and fawned on him, they having about their necks either of them a
collar, unto which was tied a string: which collars (as this informant
affirmeth) did shine like gold. And he was thinking that some either of
Mr. Nutter's or Mr. Robinson's family should have followed them, yet
seeing nobody to follow them, he took the same greyhounds thinking to
course with them. And presently a hare did rise very near before him. At
the sight whereof he cried 'Loo, Loo, Loo,' but the dogs would not run.
Whereupon he being very angry took them and with the strings that were
about their collars, tied them to a little bush at the next hedge, and,
with a switch that he had in his hand, he beat them. And instead of the
black greyhound Dickenson's wife stood up, a neighbour whom this
informer knoweth. And instead of the brown one a little boy whom this
informant knoweth not. At which sight this informer being afraid,
endeavoured to run away; and being stayed by the woman, namely
Dickenson's wife, she put her hand into her pocket, and pulled forth a
piece of silver much like to a fair shilling, and offered to give it him
to hold his tongue and not tell: which he refused saying, 'Nay, thou art
a witch.' Whereupon she put her hand into her pocket again, and pulled
out a thing like unto a bridle that jingled, which she put on the little
boy's head; which said boy stood up in the likeness of a white horse,
and in the brown greyhound's stead. Then immediately Dickenson's wife
took the informer before her upon the said horse and carried him to a
new house called Hearthstones, being about a quarter of a mile off."
Here the boy, Edmund Robinson, was witness to the extraordinary
incidents of a feast of witches, all of which he recounted before the
judges, and then his father, being called, gave evidence that he had
sent his son to fetch home two kine, and as he did not return he went to
seek him, finding him eventually "so affrighted and distracted that he
neither knew his father, nor did he know where he was, and so continued
very nearly a quarter of an hour before he came to himself, when he told
the above curious happenings."[64]

The seventeen Pendle forest witches condemned in Lancashire obtained a
reprieve and were sent to London, where they were examined by His
Majesty himself and the Council.

A witch called Julian Cox, aged about seventy years, was indicted at
Taunton, in Somerset, in 1663, for transforming herself into a hare
and for other sorcery.

The evidence given to prove that she was a witch was embodied in a
narrative deposed to by Mr. Pool, a servant and officer in the court
to Judge Archer, then Judge of Assizes at Taunton.

"The first witness was a huntsman, who swore that he went out with a
pack of hounds to hunt a hare, and not far from Julian Cox her house,
he at last started a hare. The dogs hunted her very close, and the
third ring hunted her in view, till at last the huntsman perceiving
the hare almost spent, and making toward a great bush he ran on the
other side of the bush to take her up, and preserve her from the dogs.
But as soon as he laid hands on her, it proved to be Julian Cox, who
had her head grovelling on the ground and her globes (as he expressed
it) upward. He knowing her, was so affrighted that his hair on his
head stood on end, and yet spake to her and asked her what brought her
there; but she was so far out of breath, that she could not make him
any answer. His dogs also came up with full cry to recover the game
and smelt at her, and so left off hunting any farther. And the
huntsman went home presently, sadly affrighted."[65]

In a report dated in the latter half of the nineteenth century on the
state of the county prison at Dingwall, a statement was made by a
fisherman who was imprisoned for assaulting a woman of sixty, whom he
accused of bewitching everything he had. She prevented him from catching
fish and caused his boat to upset. The other fishermen then refused to
work with him as a companion. "She is known in all the neighbourhood to
be a witch," he deposed. "She has been seen a hundred times milking the
cows in the shape of a hare, though I never saw her do it myself."

"People believe that if anyone gets blood from a witch she can do them
no more harm, and that is the reason I cut her with a knife, so that
it might go into her as short a way as possible. All I wanted was to
get blood," was his quaint way of putting it.

The hare has always been closely associated with witches, and for this
reason seems to be of evil augury, though in some parts of the country
its foot, and sometimes its head, are used as a protection against
sorcery, perhaps on the homeopathic principle.

The cat runs the hare very close in its association with witches, and
is a handy animal for transformation purposes, being so frequently met
with in this country.

One of the most celebrated Scottish witch-cat trials took place at
Caithness when Margaret Nin-Gilbert was interrogated on February 8,
1719, by William Innes, minister of Thurso, and confessed that she was
travelling one evening when she was met by the devil in the likeness
of a man who "engaged her to take on with him," which she agreed to
do. From that time she became familiar with him, and sometimes he
appeared to her in the likeness of a huge black horse, sometimes
riding a horse, sometimes like a black cloud, and again in the shape
of a black hen. She apparently obtained the powers of a witch with the
help of this apparition, and the use she made of them appears in the
following story told by one William Montgomery, a mason, whose house
was invaded by cats in such numbers that his wife and maidservant
could not endure to remain in the place.

One night on Montgomery's return he found five cats by the fireside,
and the servant told him they were "speaking among themselves."

The cat-witch on the preceding November 28 had climbed in at a hole in
a chest, and Montgomery watched his opportunity, intending to cut off
her head when she should put it out of the hole. "Having fastened my
sword on her neck," he continues, "which cut her, nor could I hold
her; having (at length) opened the chest, my servant, William Geddes,
having fixed my durk in her hinder quarters by which stroke she was
fastened to the chest; yet after all she escaped out of the chest with
the durk in her hinder quarter, which continued there till I thought,
by many strokes, I had killed her with my sword; and having cast her
out dead, she could not be found next morning." Four or five nights
after, the servant cried out that the cats had come again, and
Montgomery "wrapped his plaid about the cat and thrust the durk
through her body, and having fixed the durk in the ground, I drove at
her head with the back of an axe until she was dead, and being cast
out could not be found next morning."

He further declared that no drop of blood came from the cats, also
that they did not belong to anyone in the neighbourhood, although one
night he saw eight of them and took this to be witchcraft for certain.

On February 12, Margaret Nin-Gilbert, who lived about half a mile from
Montgomery's house, was seen by some of her neighbours to drop one of
her legs at her own door, and she being suspected of witchcraft the
leg, black and putrefied, was taken before the deputy Sheriff who
immediately had the maimed woman arrested and imprisoned. By her own
confession she admitted that she was bodily present at Montgomery's
house "in the likeness of a feltered cat" and that Montgomery had
broken her leg either with his durk or axe, which leg since had fallen
off from the other part of her body. Also that one Margaret Olsone was
also there in the likeness of a cat, and several other women, and that
they were invisible because "the devil did hide and conceal them by
raising a dark mist or fog to screen them from being seen."[66]

Sometimes the apparition of a witch as a cat foretells death.

In 1607 a witch of the name of Isobel Grierson was burnt after being
accused and convicted of entering the house of Adam Clark, in
Prestonpans, in the likeness of his own cat and in the company of a
mighty rabble of other cats, which by their noise frightened Adam, his
wife, and their maid, the last-named being dragged up and down the
stairs by the hair of her head, presumably by the devil in the shape
of a black man. Isobel also visited the house of a certain Mr. Brown
in the shape of a cat, but once being called upon by name she
vanished, but Brown himself died of a disease she had laid upon him.

In 1629 another Isobel, wife of George Smith, was indicted as follows:--

"_Item_ she resett Cristian Grinton, a witch in her house, whom the
pannel's husband saw one night to come out at one hole in the roof, in
the likeness of a cat, and thereafter transform herself in her own
likeness, whereupon the pannel told her husband that it should not
fare well with him, which fell out accordingly, for next day he fell
down dead at the plough."[67]

The witches of Vernon frequented an old castle in the shape of cats.
Three or four brave men determined to pass the night in the
stronghold, where they were assailed by the cats and one of them was
killed, several of the others being hurt, and many of the cats
received wounds. Afterwards the women were found to have returned to
human shape and suffered from corresponding gashes.

The witches of Vernon had their imitators in three witches of
Strasburg who, in the disguise of huge cats, fell upon a workman. He
defended himself courageously and chased away the cats, wounding them.
They were found instantaneously transformed into women, badly hurt and
in their beds.

Another story describes how several cat-witches tormented a poor
labourer, who, wearying of their persistence, drew his broadsword and
sent the animals flying. One less nimble than the rest received a cut
from the sword which severed one of its hind legs, when, to the
labourer's amazement, he discovered on picking up the limb that it was
human in shape, and next morning one of the old hags was discovered to
have only one leg left. Similar stories of the "repercussion" variety
will be found in Chapter XVIII, but they have never been
satisfactorily explained.

M. Henri Gelin tells a good story of a witch who transformed herself
into a dog.[68]

One winter evening dogs were barking all round a lonely house in Niort
far more loudly than usual. The farmer rose from his bed and carefully
opened the shutters. In the middle of the yard he saw a black and
white greyhound, which apparently was enjoying itself molesting the
other dogs, knocking them over with its paws without the least
difficulty, and then picking them up in its jaws and throwing them to
some distance as soon as they ventured within reach. The farmer drew
on his trousers, into the seat of which his wife had sown a
horse-chestnut as a talisman against witchcraft, loaded his gun and
fired on the animal which fell dead. The next day he rose at an early
hour to go and examine the corpse of his prey, and was greatly
astonished to see the body of a beautiful woman dressed in gorgeous
clothes lying in the very spot on which the dog was shot. Round her
neck there hung a rich chain made of five strings of jewels bearing
enamelled medallions beautifully chased, and on her fingers were a
profusion of precious gems. In order to cover all traces of his
involuntary murder, he quickly dug a hole in a corner of the yard and
made a pile of faggots above the newly replaced earth. He had only
just finished his task when a gentleman came into the yard, and asked
whether he had seen a lady pass that way. From the particulars given,
the farmer soon felt certain that the woman in question was the witch
he had killed. Tremblingly he replied that he had not seen the lady.
But a little dog that followed the gentleman ran to the heap of
faggots and began turning them over, howling piteously. "You have
killed my poor wife," cried the gentleman. "I am certain she came
here." But he did not insist on looking into the pile, and presently
withdrew, followed by the still whimpering dog.

A sheep is sometimes, but not frequently, chosen as a medium for

A man who was returning late from the market at Verrières in Poitou,
met a lamb, which followed him bleating loudly, at the turn of a
footpath crossing a lonely heath. "Poor thing," he said, "you might be
devoured by a wolf," and, seizing the lamb by its four legs, he
hoisted it on to his shoulders, so as to carry it conveniently. As he
approached his house he found the animal began to weigh very heavily.
At last he arrived in a perspiration and put down his burden amongst
the sheep which had already been penned in the fold. At dawn the next
day, he went to look at his new lamb. But in the spot where he had
placed it the evening before he found a huge demon, busy stitching
straw soles into his shoes. The sorcerer had resumed human shape and,
looking very foolish, begged that he would say nothing about his
little adventure. But the man seized him by the shoulders, kicked him
from behind and chucked him out of the pen, crying, "Get out of this,
you evil being." "If only he had made the slightest scratch from which
the blood flowed," added the old lady who was telling the story, "the
sorcerer would have been cured, and would no longer have been able to
transform himself into an animal."

Although witches are able to transform themselves into horses if they
wish, they usually prefer to use their powers for transforming other
people, and getting the benefit by riding their victims to death.

Margaret Grant, a Scottish witch of the nineteenth century, believed
that she was able to transform herself into various animals, and
"avers that she was, at times, actually changed by evil-disposed
persons into a pony or a hare and ridden for great distances, or
hunted by dogs as the case might be."

Joseph Glanvill in his "Sadducismus Triumphatus," tells the story of a
"great army of witches" who were charged with performing a feat of
horse-transformation on a large scale at Blocula in Sweden in 1669.

A man may be transformed by a woman throwing a magic halter over his
head while he is in bed. Then she mounts the horse, and rides to the
witches' tryst. If, however, the man-horse can manage to slip the
magic bridle off and throw it over her, she becomes a mare, and her
victim mounts her and rides till she is exhausted.

At Yarrowfoot a witch-mare, according to one story, was shod in the
usual manner and afterwards sold to her own husband. To his surprise,
when he removed the bridle, his wife stood before him in human form,
wearing horseshoes on her hands and feet.

There are many variants of this story, another woman having been found
in bed with horseshoe attachments, and it is difficult to trace the
origin of this fantastic idea.

In the neighbourhood of Ostrel in Denmark a man served on a farm, the
mistress of which, unknown to him, was a witch. Although she gave him
good and wholesome food he never thrived, but became thinner every day.
At this, being much troubled, he went to a wise man, to whom he
communicated his case. From this man he learnt that his mistress was a
witch and that at night, while he slept, she transformed him into a
horse, and rode upon him to Troms Church in Norway; so that it was not
to be wondered at that his strength decreased. The wise man at the same
time gave him an ointment with which to rub his head at night, and said
when he fell asleep he would have a violent itching on his head, and
then he would wake up and see that he was standing outside Troms Church.

The man did as he had been told, and on waking up the following night,
he found that he was standing by the church, holding in his hand a
bridle which he had torn off whilst scratching his head. Behind him he
saw many horses bound together by each other's tails. Presently his
mistress came out and cast a friendly look at him, but he nodded for
her to come nearer, and when she stood by, he cast the bridle over her
head and she became a handsome mare on the spot. He mounted and rode
her home. On the way he called at a farrier's, and made him shoe the
mare. When he reached home he told his master that he had been out to
buy a fine mare, which would go handsomely in harness with one already
in the stables. The master paid him a good round sum for the animal,
but when he took off its bridle, there stood his wife with horseshoes
on her hands and feet. He turned her straight out of doors, but she
never managed to get rid of the horseshoes.

When St. Macarius encountered a poor old woman who had been changed into
a horse, he restored her to human shape by sprinkling holy water over
her. The same saint acted mercifully in another case of transformation.

A young girl refused to do the bidding of the man who asked her to be
his wife. He was so infuriated by her refusal that he arranged with a
wizard to turn her into a stoat. A wise man, endeavouring to explain
this incident, says, "This was not a genuine transformation, but was
an illusion of the devil, who so affected the imagination of the girl
and the bystanders, that she appeared to them in the form of a stoat,
although she was still a woman in reality."

The victim of the enchantment was then taken before the holy man of the
name of Macarius, who, on account of his saintliness, could not suffer
deception of the devil's wiles. He looked upon the maiden and saw that
she was a human being and no stoat, and thus, uttering a prayer, freed
her from the spell. This cure is of the hypnotic variety, in which
several people are under the mental spell of one other.

Reginald Scott tells the story of a woman who sold an egg to a man who,
when eating it, speedily turned into an ass. For three years she rode
the animal to market. It was in the city of Salamin in Cyprus where a
ship arrived laden with merchandise. Many of the sailors went ashore in
the hope of procuring fresh provisions. A certain sturdy young
Englishman went to a woman's shop some little way from the town, to see
whether she could let him have some new-laid eggs. She promised to do so
and went off to fetch them, but she was away so long that the young
sailor called out that she must please make haste, as the tide was going
out and he might be left behind when his ship set sail. At last she came
out with the eggs and told him to come back to her house if the ship had
gone. The sailor made the best of his way back to the vessel, but being
hungry, ate an egg on the way. He was then struck dumb and his wits
seemed to have left him. When he reached the side of the vessel and
tried to go aboard, the mariners beat him back with cudgels crying,
"What lacks the ass?" and "Whither the devil does the ass want to come?"
Then the sailor realised that he had been bewitched by the woman's eggs
he had eaten, and had turned into a donkey. Finding it impossible to
board the ship and remembering the witch's words, he went back to her
house and there served her for the space of three years, carrying the
burdens she laid on his back.[69] Here no doubt the egg is used merely
as an instrument for inducing a certain frame of mind in the victim. It
may be presumed that the witch's words of suggestion were equally
necessary in bringing about the transformation.

The sorceress Meroc in "The Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius,"
had the power to change, by one word only, her lover into a beaver. "She
likewise changed into a frog an innkeeper who was her neighbour and of
whom she was on that account envious, and now that old man, swimming in
a tub of his own wine, and merged in the dregs of it, calls on his
ancient guests with a hoarse and courteously croaking voice."

"She likewise changed one of the advocates of the court into a ram
because he had declaimed against her, and now that ram pleads

M. Henri Gelin, whose researches on Poitevin legends and folklore are
very valuable,[71] discusses the conditions under which metamorphosis
takes place, saying it is entirely involuntary and is the result of an
agreement entered into with infernal powers. The soul of the sorcerer is
supposed to remain in a state of distinct entity. But the narrators of
these stories have done little to make clear the actual process which
takes place when the transformation occurs of a man into a wolf, a
sheep, or a colt, or a woman (who seems to be credited with gentler
characteristics) into a goat, a bitch, or a hind. Perhaps the human body
remains temporarily deprived of its soul, which, entering a new shape,
substitutes itself for the obscure and undeveloped soul of the animal,
or perhaps the wizard's body enjoys the faculty of anatomically
modifying its organs, and varying its aspects something in the manner of
the caterpillar which turns into a moth. Who shall say?

A shepherdess in the district of Niort noticed when driving her flock
home that it had become augmented by the presence of a black sheep,
the origin of which she could not trace. She penned up the extra
animal with her own in the shed, and bolted the door, rejoicing at the
addition to her flock. But as soon as night had fallen, a woman's
voice was heard singing in the sheep's shed. The tune was a plaintive
one, interspersed now and again with strident and prolonged laughter.
Not one of the servants or neighbours dared to open the shed and face
the flock to see who could be singing like that. In hushed voices they
said "It's a witch!" The next day at the usual hour of departure, the
shepherdess, in great dread of what she might see, partly opened the
shed door. The black sheep rushed like a whirlwind into the open and
was gone. Now and again, however, the apparition returned to the farm
in the shape of a woman, clapping her hands and laughing loudly as
though to mock at the people who had allowed her to escape so easily.

The following legend of a white hind comes from the same district,
Souché, two miles from Niort. Its peculiar characteristic is that the
young girl, who complains to her mother about the hounds chasing her,
appears to be quite aware of what is happening to her in her dual
personality of woman and hind at the same moment, an important detail
when regarded in the light of scientific occultism.

The story is told by Gelin and is very popular in Poitou. The heroine
is a girl by day and a white hind by night. The pack of hounds
belonging to her brother Renaud chase her in the forest. She complains
of this to her mother who begs Renaud to call back the pack. But it is
too late. The white hind is captured and killed. Her palpitating flesh
is stripped from the carcase and prepared as a dish of venison, and
next day when the guests sit down to the feast, they are terrified to
hear a woman's voice which they recognise as that of their absent
sister, murmuring, "Alas! my breasts are lying on platters of gold."
Then, raising her tone, she announces that Renaud's soul is forfeit
and that his name is written up on the gates of hell. At the sound of
her words Renaud falls down dead and his mother goes off in a swoon.

"La Blanche Biche," as the story is called in the original, is told in
verse which may be rendered roughly as follows:--

      Afar in the fields dwell a mother and daughter,
      The mother sings on, but the fair maid sighs.
      "For what do you sigh, my dear Angèlique?"
      "I sigh in great need, for my heart is sad.
      In the day I'm a maid, but at night a white hind,
      The hounds are upon me and hunters as well,
      And the worst pack of all is my brother's pack.
      Go forth, mother dear, to his castle and say,
      He must call back the hounds and the hunters too."
      Then the mother puts her distaff aside
      And runs to the castle of Renaud, her son,
      To tell him to stay his hounds and his men.
      "But my hounds, mother, are after the white hind now."
      "Call them back, Renaud, for sweet Angèlique
      Dwells in the shape of that same white hind."
      Then Renaud seizes his hunter's horn,
      But before he can blow two blasts loud and clear,
      The white hind is taken and brought by the hounds
      To the castle kitchen, where, seized by the cook,
      Its joints are severed, its flesh is sliced;
      And a shout comes from the castle hall,
      "Set a fine feast for us all to-night,
      For a number of guests will honour our house,
      All but our sister, the fair Angèlique."
      Then the smoking dishes appear on the board,
      And the guests turn longing eyes on the feast,
      When a plaintive sigh is heard through the hall,
      And a woman's sad voice rings out in a shriek,
      That curdles the blood of the waiting guests.
      "My breasts are lying on platters of gold,
      My heart's on the spit, and it groans and it moans,
      My bright eyes, embedded in pastry, grow dim;
      But my soul dwells with angels in paradise,
      And that of my brother is destined for hell!"
      At these terrible words, from invisible source,
      Renaud starts up! Then falls back--_stone dead_.
      While his mother slips under the board in a swoon.

This is a far more harrowing story than the Yorkshire legend of a
woman who turns into a white doe, which is found in Wordsworth's "The
White Doe of Rylstone."

      When Lady Aăliza mourned
      Her son, and felt in her despair,
      The pang of unavailing prayer;
      Her son in Wharf's abysses drowned,
      The noble boy of Egremound,
      From which affliction, when God's grace
      At length had in her heart found place,
      A pious structure fair to see,
      Rose up this stately priory!
      The lady's work,--but now laid low;
      To the grief of her soul that doth come and go,
      In the beautiful form of this innocent doe:
      Which though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain
      A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,
      Is spotless, and holy, and gentle and bright--
      And glides o'er the earth like an angel of light.

Burke has a very different version of the famous and spotless White
Doe of Rylstone,[72] the animal being gifted with human faculties
rather than appearing in human form, and the story having some
affinity with those of the fairy-godmother class. This beautiful white
doe belonged to Emily, the only daughter of Richard Norton of
Rylstone, who had nine warrior sons. The youngest of them, Edward by
name, had made a present of the doe to his sister and the animal was
called Blanche on account of her spotless white skin. She followed her
young mistress everywhere and was like a human companion. So great was
her intelligence that she was thought to be a benevolent witch or
fairy, perhaps rather a sprite bewitched in animal form.

One day she leads her mistress a long way from home, to a spot beside
a brooklet which is held by the people of the neighbourhood to be
haunted. Having reached the desired destination, the doe lies down to
rest and Emily does likewise. Presently she falls into a kind of
dream, in which it seems to her that the brook boils and bubbles up
and a wraith of mist rises on the surface which gradually takes the
shape and outlines of a beautiful woman.

This spirit warns Emily in a vision of coming disaster to her beloved
father and eight of her brothers. She sees them done to death by the
axe. Meanwhile the doe lies immovable in a kind of trance and it may
well be thought that her real womanly self is seen by Emily in its
natural shape.

Soon afterwards Emily is informed by Edward that her father and eight
of her brothers are on the point of breaking out into open rebellion
against the Sovereign of England and that it is necessary for him to
join them, although doing so goes against his convictions, as he is
loyal to Queen Elizabeth. Nothing that Emily can do or say dissuades
him from his decision, and she parts from him in great grief.

At first the rebels succeed in their projects, but presently their
attacks fail and they are forced to retreat. A rumour reaches Emily
that all the Nortons have been captured and condemned to death and
that the rebellion is over.

In the hope of saving her father and brothers, Emily sets out,
accompanied by Blanche, to sue Queen Elizabeth for pardon on behalf
of her relatives. On the long and perilous journey to Court, Blanche
again acts as her adviser, and gives her almost human help in moments
of difficulty, and so charmed is the Queen by the beauty of the
suppliant and her intelligent animal comrade, that she sends Lord
Leicester post-haste to York with a reprieve for the Nortons.

Unfortunately the messenger arrives too late to save any member of the
family except the youngest son, Edward, Emily's favourite, and thus
the beautiful human doe is instrumental in saving him, at least, from
the scaffold.


[63] "Essays of Elia," 1904, p. 128.

[64] Webster, Dr. John, "The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft," 1677,
pp. 347-9.

[65] Glanvill, Joseph, "Sadducismus Triumphatus," 1726, p. 326.

[66] Extracted from the Wodrow MS., as printed in "An Historical
Account of the Belief in Witchcraft in Scotland," by C. K. Sharpe,
1884, pp. 180-94.

[67] Sharpe, C. K., "An Historical Account of the Belief in Witchcraft
in Scotland," 1884, p. 98.

[68] "Legendes de Sorcellerie," 1898.

[69] Scott, Reginald, "The Discovery of Witchcraft," 1886, pp. 75-6.

[70] "The Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius," 1822, pp. 7-8.

[71] Gelin, H., "Legendes de Sorcellerie," 1898.

[72] "Anecdotes of the Aristocracy," 1849, pp. 152-81.

                             CHAPTER XIII


From witch stories it is only a short step to stories about witches'
familiars, for nearly all sorcerers are gifted with the power of
sending out a spirit or second soul to do the work of the evil one. A
distinction has therefore to be made between the witch in animal form
and the external soul of the witch sent forth in the shape of an
animal while she retains her human appearance.

The "familiar" or "imp," whether a real animal or spirit in animal
form, stands ever ready at the sorcerer's elbow waiting to do his
bidding. The "life" of the familiar is bound up with that of the
witch, and if the former be wounded, the latter will suffer from an
injury in a corresponding part of the body. Death to the familiar
means death to the witch, and the way to get rid of the spell is to
kill the double of the witch. To this class belong some of the most
interesting phenomena, as well as the most inexplicable, dealing with
the human animal theory.

In one case a blue butterfly was seen to flutter over a certain farm,
and as affairs there had not been going at all well, it was looked
upon with dread and suspicion as the bringer of evil. For three weeks
the insect hovered about and during that period "no butter came." Then
the farmer decided to take steps to break the enchantment. Armed with
a wet towel he sallied forth to chase the alleged familiar and,
cleverly flapping his cloth, he brought down the butterfly at a swoop.
Precisely at that moment a woman, who was suspected of being a witch,
was found lying dead outside the door of her house close by, and after
the double event there was no further trouble with the churning.

Matthew Hopkins of Manningtree, Essex, a witch-finder of ill-fame, was
the cause of bringing thousands of supposed witches to judgment and so
to the stake. He was paid 20s. in each town he visited and managed to
rid of its suspicious characters, and he appears to have found his
profession extraordinarily lucrative. In 1644 he was commissioned by
Parliament to make a circuit through several counties with a view to
discovering witches. He travelled in the company of several boon
companions for three years and was instrumental in having sixteen
persons hanged at Yarmouth, forty at Bury and at least sixty in other
parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Huntingdonshire.

During a notorious trial of a number of witches at Chelmsford, Essex, on
July 29th, 1645, Hopkins made a deposition about an alleged witch,
Elizabeth Clarke, who confessed that she had known the devil intimately
for more than six years and that he visited her between three and five
times a week. She invited Hopkins and his companions, one of whom was a
man called Sterne, to stay at her house for a time until she could call
up one of her white imps for them to see. Presently there appeared on
the scene an imp like a dog, white and with sandy spots, which seemed to
be very fat and plump, with short legs. The animal forthwith vanished
away. The said Elizabeth gave the name of this imp as Jarmara. And
immediately afterwards there appeared another imp, which she called
Vinegar Tom, in the shape of a greyhound with long legs. The said
Elizabeth then remarked that the next imp should be black in colour and
that it should come for Master Sterne (the other witness already
mentioned), and it appeared as she promised, but presently vanished
without leaving a sign. The last imp of all to come before the
spectators was a creature in the shape of a polecat, but the head
somewhat bigger. The said Elizabeth then disclosed to the informant
that she had five imps of her own. And two other imps with which she had
dealings belonged to a certain Beldame Anne West.[73]

The said Matthew Hopkins, when going from the house of a Mr. Edwards
of Manningtree, to his own house, one night between nine and ten
o'clock, accompanied by his favourite greyhound, noticed the dog give
a sudden leap and run off as though in full course after a hare.
Hastening to see what the greyhound pursued so eagerly, he espied a
white thing about the size of a kitten, and the panting dog was
standing aloof from the creature. By and by the imp or kitten began to
dance about and around the said greyhound and, viciously approaching
him, bit or tore a piece of flesh off the dog's shoulder.

Coming later into his own yard, the informant saw a black thing
proportioned like a cat, only that it was thrice as big, sitting on a
strawberry bed and fixing its luminous eyes on him. But when he went
towards it, it leaped suddenly over the palings and ran towards the
informant as he thought, but instead, it fled through the yard with
his greyhound in hot pursuit after it to a great gate which was
"underset with a pair of tumbrell strings," and it did throw the said
gate wide open and then vanished. And the said greyhound returned
again to the informant shaking and trembling exceedingly.

Sterne gave evidence on the same day, and much to the same effect, but
said that the white imp was like a cat but not so big, and when he asked
Elizabeth whether she was not afraid of her imps she answered, "What! do
you think I am afraid of my children?" and she called the imp Jarmara as
having red spots, and spoke of two more called Sack and Sugar. Four
other witnesses confirmed the story practically in its entirety.

Elizabeth Clarke herself gave evidence then, and said Anne West had
sent her a "thing like a little kitlyn," which would obtain food for
her. Two or three nights after this promise, a white thing came to her
in the night, and the night after a grey one spoke to her and said it
would do her no hurt and would help her to get a husband. After
various charges against the said Elizabeth Clarke and her accomplice,
Elizabeth Gooding, Anne Leech, a third woman accused of witchcraft,
deposed on April 14th that she and the other two accused sent their
respective grey, black and white imps to kill cattle belonging to
various neighbours, and that later they had sent them to kill
neighbours' children and she added that her imps spoke to her in a
hollow voice which she plainly understood, and that these accused
witches had met together at the house of the said Elizabeth Clarke,
when a book was read "wherein she thinks there was no goodness."

Another woman suspected of witchcraft was Helen Clark who confessed on
April 11th that the devil had appeared to her in the likeness of a
white dog, and that she called her familiar Elimanzer and that she fed
him with milk-pottage and that he spoke to her audibly and bade her
deny Christ.

With the witch Anne West was implicated her daughter Rebecca West,
who, however, was acquitted, and the notorious Matthew Hopkins deposed
that she had told him of visiting the house of Clarke with her mother,
and that they had found Leech, Gooding, and Helen Clark, and that the
devil had appeared in the shape of a dog, afterwards in the shape of
two kittens, then in the shape of two dogs, and that the said
familiars did homage in the first place to the said Elizabeth Clarke
and slipped up into her lap and kissed her, and then went and kissed
all that were in the room except the said Rebecca, who was then made
to swear on a book that she would not reveal what she saw or heard--on
pain of the torments of hell, and that afterwards the devil came and
kissed her and promised to marry her, and she sent him to kill a
neighbour's child, of the name of Hart, who died within a fortnight.

Susan Sparrow, who gave her evidence on the 25th of April, said that
the house in which she lived with one Mary Greenleif, was haunted by a
leveret which usually came and sat before the door, which, when
coursed by a dog, never stirred, "and just when the dog came at it, he
skipped over it and turned about and stood still, and looked on it,
and shortly after that the dog languished and died."

Another of the witches, called Margaret Moone, had a familiar "in the
likeness of a rat for bigness and shape, but of a greyer colour." She
confessed to two of the witnesses that she had twelve imps and called
these by such names as Jesus, Jockey, Mounsier, Sandy, Mrs. Elizabeth,
and Collyn, etc. Moone was a "woman of very bad fame," who confessed to
many crimes, especially of causing the death of animals and children.

Rose Hallybread, who died in gaol before execution, was accused of
being implicated with Joyce Boanes in sending four familiars to the
house of a carpenter, Robert Turner, whose servant was then taken sick
and "crowed perfectly like a cock, sometimes barked like a dog," sang
tunes, groaned, and struggled with such strength that five strong men
were needed to hold him. Boanes confessed that her imp made the victim
bark like a dog, Hallybread's imp caused him "to sing sundry tunes in
great extremity of pains," and Susan Cork compelled him to crow. The
torture was inflicted because Turner's servant had refused to give
Susan Cork a sack full of chips.

Anne Cate, another of the witches who was executed at Chelmsford, said
she had three familiars like mice and a fourth like a sparrow. They
were called James, Prickeare, Robyn, and Sparrow, and she sent them to
kill both cattle and human beings.

It was thought impossible to kill these familiars, and one Goff, a
glover and very honest man of Manningtree, confessed to passing Anne
West's house about four o'clock on a moonlight morning and seeing her
door was open, he looked into the house. "Presently there came three
or four little things in the shape of black rabbits leaping and
skipping about him, who, having a good stick in his hand, struck at
them thinking to kill them, but could not, but at last caught one of
them in his hand, and holding it by the body, he beat the head of it
against his stick, intending to beat the brains out of it; but when he
could not kill it that way, he took the body in one hand and the head
in another and endeavoured to wring off the head, and as he wrung and
stretched the neck of it, it came out between his hands like a lock of
wool." Then he tried to drown it in a spring, but kept falling down.
At last he crept to the water on hands and knees, holding the familiar
under the water for a good space. But as soon as he let go it sprang
out of the water up into the air and so vanished.

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

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

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

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

One of the witnesses, Nicholas Lambert, examined on January 26 of that
year, deposed to having watched the prisoner in company with William
Thick and William Read of Bayford. The informant sat near the prisoner
by the fire at three o'clock in the morning and was reading "The
Practice of Piety," when he noticed "there came from her head a
glistening bright fly about an inch in length, which pitched at first
in the chimney and then vanished. In less than a quarter of an hour
after, there appeared two flies more, of a less size and another
colour, which seemed to strike at the informant's hand in which he
held his book, but missed it. He looked steadfastly at the prisoner
and perceived her countenance to change and to become very black and
ghastly, the fire also at the same time changing its colour; whereupon
the informants, Thick and Read, conceiving that her familiar was then
about her, looked at her poll, and seeing her hair shake very
strangely, took it up, and then a fly like a great Millar flew out
from the place and pitched on the table board and then vanished away."
When asked what it was that flew out of her poll the accused said it
was a butterfly, and asked them why they had not caught it. She
confessed that it was her familiar and that was the usual time when
her familiar came to her.[75]

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

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

Phillip Flower, examined on the 4th of February previously, said that
her mother and sister "maliced" the Earl of Rutland, his Countess and
their children, because her sister Margaret was put out of the ladies'
service of laundry. Phillip thereupon brought from the Castle the
right glove of the Henry Lord Ross and gave it to her mother, "who
presently rubbed it on the back of her spirit Rutterkin, and then put
it into hot boiling water, afterwards she pricked it often and buried
it in the yard, wishing Lord Ross might never thrive, and so her
sister Margaret continued with her mother, where she often saw the cat
Rutterkin leap on her shoulder and suck her neck."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

                             CHAPTER XIV


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

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

A repetition of the well-known Circe story needs no apology in a book
which deals at length with the subject of transformation. Circe was the
daughter of Sol and Perse, and was celebrated for her skill in magic.
She married a prince of Colchis, and then murdered him to obtain his
kingdom. Being expelled by her subjects for her crime, she was carried
away by her father to Aea, an island on the coast of Italy, which
Ulysses visited on his return from the Trojan War. His companions,
giving way to excess, were changed into swine by Circe's magic potions.
Ulysses was himself made immune from her spells by a herb called Moly,
given to him by the god Mercury, and he demanded that his companions
should be restored. Circe complied with his request. Eurylochus and his
companions found Circe's palace in an open space in a wood, and Ulysses
had the following account from the lips of Eurylochus:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the reception hall he saw a throne composed of a single jacinth,
adorned with the richest cushions, on which was seated a lady,
beautiful as the silver moon, surrounded by a thousand handmaids,
brilliant as stars.

Malec stood stupefied in wonder at this vision of paradise. The princess
pointed to a golden seat near the throne, and when he sat upon it she
asked, "Whence come you, who are you, and why have you visited me?"

Malec Muhammed answered like one in a dream,

      "Drunk with the wine of love I roam
      This path and seek no other home."

Then Geti Afraz ordered one of her handmaidens to bring some
ruby-coloured wine to her guest, and after he had taken it she asked
whether the company of the maiden would give him entertainment. But he
refused her offer, saying that his devotion to herself prevented him
talking to, or even looking at, any other woman.

The princess seemed pleased with this compliment, but said in a
pensive tone, "Man is an impatient creature and from his impatience
many misfortunes result which he lays to our charge." Malec replied
that whilst in her presence he could never give way to impatience for,
if he were allowed to gaze into her adorable eyes, life needed nothing
more to make it perfect.

Geti Afraz smiled sarcastically, saying, "I fear you will not remain
satisfied gazing for ever into my eyes, and take heed, for if you show
the least tendency to lose your head over me you will be punished by
being banished from my society."

Thus they spent many hours in each other's company, he gazing into her
eyes but never presuming even so far as to touch her hand.

Overcome by her beauty, at last he threw himself at her feet and asked
whether the lifelong devotion he was prepared to offer was acceptable
in her sight. "Be patient and cautious," she said, to calm his
protestations, "otherwise you will be transformed into an animal,
which is not an easy matter to remedy."

So Malec went back to his golden seat and mastered his passionate
feelings as well as he could. Just then one of the handmaidens brought
in a scented rose to present to the princess. Malec Muhammed led her
forward in hopes that his fingers might chance to touch those of Geti
Afraz. The princess stretched out her hand to take the rose when Malec
Muhammed lost his self-control and planted an impassioned kiss upon
her fingers. "Ah! you cursed billing dove!" cried Geti Afraz, "Why do
you do that?" and at her words Malec gave a sudden spring into the air
and whirled round and round in the form of a dove.

The poor bird was desperate on account of this strange way in which
his affection had been received. All day long he flew from turret to
turret, and hopped from branch to branch, before his unrelenting
mistress; but finding his appeals no use he flew away and took the
quickest road to his house. There his servants set traps to catch him,
and he fluttered about in great fear, until one remarked, "Poor little
dove, let it go, for the love of our master, who has not been seen
here for some days."

Malec then flew to the house of his uncle, the Vizier, and perched on
his knee. The Vizier, suspecting enchantment, sent for a box of
medicine and inserted a dose in the bird's bill; the dove fluttered
round and round in a circle and suddenly resumed human form.

But the attraction of the princess proved too much for Malec, and though
he tried to forget her he found it impossible. At last, in desperation,
he cried out that he must see her again, cost what it might.

      "Make me a dog, make me an ass,
       From her presence ne'er shall pass
       Her fond adorer!"

he exclaimed as he set out once more for the palace.

He was admitted into the presence of the princess, who expressed great
surprise at the fate which had overtaken him.

"Ah," he said, "it was hard to be so severely punished for one kiss of
those charming fingers."

"Well," she replied, "I approve of you so well that to compensate you
for your misfortune I will give you leave to kiss both my hands and my
feet as often as you please, but you must not presume any further than

That evening he was allowed to stay beside her couch, because when she
suggested sending him away he reminded her of her promise. How could
he kiss her hands and her feet if he was forced to leave her side?
This concession made Malec believe that she had more affection for him
than she was willing to show. "I asked her only for the opportunity of
admiring her at a distance and she has given me a place close beside
her," he thought.

Hour after hour he kissed her hands and feet, and all the time he
aspired to her lips. There she lay slumbering, beautiful as a goddess,
and as he bent over her to approach his lips to hers, she awoke and
reminded him of his promise, saying, "Be cautious, or you will have to
take your departure."

At this rebuke he retired ignominiously from her side, but his love
for her increased by leaps and bounds, and she fostered it by walking
with him in the lovely palace gardens and by taking him with her in
her gorgeous carriage when she followed the hounds. In the evening
they feasted, and, after quaffing wine, Malec, driven to madness by
her beauty, forgot himself as she lay slumbering and, bending forward,
pressed his lips to hers.

At that moment she awoke, crying, "Cursed ass! what have you done?"

Even as she uttered the words, Malec gave a spring and galloped away
in the form of an ass.

The servants of the princess beat the animal with sticks and drove him
out of the palace.

After nine long months, in which Malec endured the ignominy of being
in animal form, his uncle, who had been greatly annoyed by his
nephew's repeated folly, softened sufficiently to help him out of his
dilemma, by giving him a further dose of the magic medicine which
brought him back to his natural appearance.

When once again he arrived at the palace Geti Afraz welcomed him warmly.

"All that has befallen you has happened through your own impatience,"
she said. "What can a man expect who loses his self-control as you did?"

Nevertheless the princess bound him to her in flowery chains, which
entangled him more and more, until the tortured Malec, whilst visiting
King Anushah in her company, exceeded the limits of propriety she had
laid down for him and was turned into an ox.

In this form he was set to draw water, and tears trickled down his
ox-like face at the indignities he had to undergo. His uncle, seeing
the animal's distress, said, "Malec Muhammed, if this be you, make
some sign to let me know!"

The ox nodded as a sign.

"The curse of God light on you and your doings," said the Vizier, and
he had the ox driven to a stall and ordered his servants to fatten him
up for the winter, when he intended to make mince-meat of him.

After six months had passed, however, King Anushah interfered and
asked the Vizier to pardon Malec's folly. Enough medicine was sent for
to serve its purpose even if Malec had been metamorphosed a hundred
times and he was called into his uncle's presence.

"Gallows face!" cried the Vizier, "this time you must thank the Shah
that you are to become a man once more, for _I_ should have let you
die in disgrace. If you take an oath never to behave so foolishly
again I will give you the medicine."

The ox pleaded and nodded, the dose was administered and Malec became
himself again.

"Really," said the Shah, "you have made a beast of yourself often
enough, Muhammed," and he made him promise not to do it again.

But even then Malec had not learnt wisdom, and after many
vicissitudes, when he was brought once more into the presence of his
charmer, he found her fascination too much for his senses.

The languid Narcissus-like eyes of Geti Afraz yielded to slumber after
a banquet, and she fell asleep on her sofa with Malec by her side. In
tenderest mood he rained kiss after kiss upon her lips:

      "Bless the sweet power of wine," he cries,
      "That seals so sound her lovely eyes."

Unable to restrain himself further he laid one hand upon her
lily-white bosom, and she started up with the cry, "Cursed dog, what
are you doing?" and he became a dog.

For many months Malec endured this new indignity, for his uncle, the
Vizier, declared that he should wear a dog's collar round his neck
till the day of his death, but the princess herself, relenting of the
cruel fate to which she had condemned her lover, contrived that the
Shah's wife, Ruh Afza, should transform her husband into an animal in
order that he might suffer what Malec was suffering.

As soon as the Shah offered his caresses to her, Ruh Afza cried out:

"Ha! you cat, what? Would you scratch me?" and immediately the Shah
found himself whirled round and round, and, taking a spring with his
head down and his heels up, he assumed the form of a cat. All the rest
of the night he strolled through the garden caterwauling piteously.

In the morning he met the Vizier, who recognised his master, King
Anushah, at once, and restored him to his normal condition.

The Shah, wishing to vent his anger on Geti Afraz for this insult to
his dignity, decided to execute Malec, "to sear her bosom with a
lasting wound," for he believed her to be fond of Malec in spite of
her conduct. Sending for the poor dog he lashed the animal severely.

Then, in his pain, Malec cried out to his enchantress to rescue him
from danger, and she relented, restoring him to human form and
rewarding him with her love.

One of the best descriptions of transformation by use of ointments, in
which details of the process are given, is to be found in "The
Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius," in which Lucius, the hero,
happening to use the wrong salve, transforms himself into a donkey
instead of into a bird as he intended. The manner in which he has to
resume human shape is by partaking of rose leaves.

Lucius witnesses the transformation of Pamphile into a bird. Watching
through the chink of the door leading to her chamber he sees Pamphile
divest herself of her garments and after opening a certain small
chest, take several boxes therefrom, uncover one of them and rub
herself for a long time with the ointment, from the soles of her feet
to the crown of her head. Holding a lamp in her hand she uttered a
long incantation, and then shook her limbs with a tremulous agitation;
and from these, lightly fluctuating, soft feathers extended and strong
wings burst forth, her nose hardened and incurvated, the nails were
compressed and made crooked, and Pamphile turned into an owl. Giving
voice to a querulous sound, she made trial of her new attributes,
gradually leaping from the earth, and soon after, being raised on
high, she flew out of doors with all the force of her wings. Thus she
was voluntarily changed by her own magic arts.

Lucius then asked Pamphile's maid, Fotis, for a little ointment from the
same box, as he much desired to experience a similar transformation. At
first Fotis demurred, but at last agreed to do what he asked, telling
him that a change back to human form could be effected by "small and
frivolous herbs," such as dill put into fountain water, with the leaves
of the laurel given as a lotion, and also to drink.

The matter being decided, Fotis went into the bedchamber of her
mistress and fetched a box of ointment from the chest, which she
brought to Lucius, who thus tells the story of what took place.

"Having obtained the box from Fotis, and having prayed that
transformation would favour me with prosperous flights, I hastily
divested myself of all my garments, and having ardently put my hand
into the box and taken from it a sufficient quantity of the ointment,
I rubbed with it the members of my body. And now, balancing my arms
with alternate efforts, I longed to be changed into a bird. No plumes,
however, germinated, but my hairs became evidently thickened into
bristles, my tender skin was hardened into a hide, and the extremities
of my hands, all my fingers having lost their number, coalesced into
several hoofs and a long tail proceeded from the extremity of my
spine. My face was now enormous, my mouth was long, and my limbs
immoderate and pendant. Thus, also, my ears increased excessively, and
were clothed with rough hairs. And while destitute of all hope, I
consider the whole of my body, I see that I am not a bird, but an ass;
and, complaining of the deed of Fotis, but being deprived both of the
human gesture and voice, I silently expostulated with her (which was
all I could do) with my underlip hanging down, and beheld her sternly
and obliquely yet with humid eyes. But she, as soon as she beheld me
thus changed, struck her forehead with her indignant hands, and
exclaimed, 'Wretch that I am, I am undone. Trepidation, and at the
same time festination, have beguiled me, and the similitude of the
boxes has deceived me. It is well, however, that a remedy for this
transformation may be easily obtained; for by only chewing roses you
will put off the form of an ass and will immediately become again my
Lucius. And I wish I had prepared for this evening, according to my
custom, some garlands of roses, for then you would not have suffered
the delay of even one night. But as soon as it is morning, a remedy
shall hastily be procured for you.' After this manner she lamented.
But I thought I was a complete ass, and instead of Lucius a labouring
beast, yet I retained human sense."[79]

Lucius deliberated whether he should kick and bite Fotis to death, but
was only deterred by the knowledge that if he did so he would not be
able to return to human shape, so he ran to the stable and spent the
night with the horses there. But unfortunately he was driven off by a
band of robbers, and under these circumstances, necessarily abstaining
from roses which he could not get, he was forced to continue under the
form of an ass, in which he had numerous adventures.

A most remarkable series of transformations occurs in the Welsh
romance "The History of Taliesin," written about the thirteenth
century. Caridwen, who is boiling a charmed mixture from which she
hopes to secure "the three blessed drops of the grace of inspiration,"
for her ugly and deformed son, leaves her cauldron for a moment, in
which space of time one of her servants unfortunately obtains the
benefit of her wisdom. In her anger she threatens him and he, in fear,
takes to his heels. She gives chase and he changes into a hare. Then
she becomes a greyhound and gains on him. Throwing himself into the
river he takes the form of a fish, and she, as an otter, pursues him,
and he assumes the shape of a bird. She follows him as a hawk. Then he
drops to earth upon a heap of winnowed wheat, disguising himself as a
grain. Caridwen transforms herself into a high-crested black hen and
scratches among the wheat till she sifts him out and swallows him.

These kaleidoscopic changes are positively bewildering and may be
regarded as purely symbolic. They contrast with the simple and
pathetic transformation which follows.

The Ebesoana race among the Arawaks of Guiana, take their name from
"Ebesotu," the transformed heroine of the following legend:--

A love-sick maiden prayed her father, a sorcerer, to transform her
into a dog, so that she might follow her lover, who had been utterly
indifferent to her charms.

Her father treated the affair very practically indeed, in spite of
the fact that he thought his daughter very foolish.

      "Take this skin," he said sadly, "and draw o'er thy shoulders,
      A dog in the eyes of the loved one to be,
      Its wonderful magic deceives all beholders!
      Be rid of thy madness--then come back to me!"

The young lover, who was a huntsman, used to start out every morning
into the woods, followed by four dogs, but when he returned in the
evening only three of them were at heel, for one always ran home when
it came to the point of slaughtering the prey. When the hunter reached
his cottage he found it swept and clean, the fire burning, and bread
freshly baked, and he imagined a kind neighbour had done this for him.

      "When they all denied it, he said, ''Tis some spirit,
      Who seeing me lonely, thus strives to be kind,'
      Then he saw gazing at him that dog void of merit,
      Whose look was so strange it puzzled his mind."

Next day, when he noticed there were only three dogs instead of four,
he tied the hounds to a tree and went in search of the missing animal.
Peeping through a crack in the door of his cottage he saw a lovely
maiden, and the dogskin lying over a chair close by. Making a sudden
dart into the room, he seized the skin and thrusting it into the fire,
claimed the maiden as his bride.


[77] Homer, "The Story of the Odyssey." People's Edition, 1902, pp.

[78] "The Tale of Malec Muhammed and Geti Afraz the Queen of the
Peris," translated from the Persian. From a MS. in the British Museum.

[79] "The Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius," 1822, pp. 60-3.

                              CHAPTER XV


A skin-dress that could be put on or taken off to change a person into
an animal, or into a human being again, is the basic idea of
transformation in folk-tales. When the skin is burnt the animal
permanently resumes human shape, as appears from the last story in the
preceding chapter. Many legends of frog-princes, serpent-husbands,
swan-maidens, tiger-sons, and so forth, fall into this class. A quaint
and typical story of the kind is told about a mouse-maiden.

A king and queen of a certain city had a daughter who was invited to
become the bride of a prince who lived in another city. Messengers
were sent to fetch her, and when they arrived at the palace they
ordered the bride to come out of her room to eat the rice of the
wedding-feast. But the queen said to the messengers, "She is now
eating cooked rice in the house."

They then begged the princess to come out to dress in the robes sent
by the bridegroom, but the queen said, "She is already putting on
robes in her chamber." Then they said she was to come out and be taken
to the bridegroom's city, and the queen, having put a female mouse in
an incense box, asked two of the messengers to come forward and gave
the box into their hands, saying, "Take this and until seven days have
gone by do not lift the lid of the box."

With this the messengers had to be satisfied. They took the box to the
prince's city, and when they lifted the lid after seven days the
mouse jumped out of the box and hid herself among the cooking pots.
Now it was the duty of a servant girl in the prince's household to
apportion and serve cooked rice and vegetable curry to the prince, and
when he was satisfied, she covered up the cooking pots containing the
rest of the food. Then the mouse came, and having taken and eaten some
of the cooked rice and vegetables, covered up the cooking pots and
went back to hide among the pots.

The following day the same thing occurred, and the prince said to the
servant, "Does the mouse eat cooked rice? Look and tell me."

The girl went to see and when she came back she said, "She has eaten
the cooked rice and covered the cooking pots, and has gone."

Next day the prince said, "I am going to cut the rice-crop. Remain at
home and, when evening comes, put the utensils for cooking near the
hearth." So the servant obeyed him and in the evening the mouse came and
cooked. She placed the food ready and again ran and hid behind the pots.

This went on for several days, and when the whole rice-crop was
garnered in, the prince went near to the place where the mouse was
hidden and said, "Having pounded the rice and removed the husks, let
us go to your village and present it to your parents as first-fruits."
But the mouse said, "I will not go. You go!" So the prince made the
servant get the package of cooked rice ready, and he went to the
village of the queen and gave the package to her.

And the queen said, "Where is my daughter?" The prince answered, "She
refused to come."

Then the queen said, "Go back to your city, and having placed the
cooking utensils near the hearth, hide yourself and stay in the house."

After the prince returned to the city, he did as she had told him. The
mouse, having come out, took off her mouse-jacket, and, assuming the
shape of a girl, put on other clothes. While she was preparing to
cook, the prince took the mouse-jacket and burnt it.

Afterwards when the girl went to the place where the mouse-jacket had
been and looked for it, it was not there. Then she looked in the
hearth, and saw that there was one sleeve of the skin-dress among the
embers. While she was there weeping and weeping, the prince came out
of his hiding-place and said, "Your mother told me to burn the
mouse-jacket. Now you are really mine!"

So the mouse became a princess again and married the prince.[80]

The same idea is contained in the story of the king who, putting on a
jackal-skin, turns into a jackal, only resuming human form permanently
when the skin is burnt.[81] In "Indian Fairy Tales" there is a prince
who has a monkey-skin which he can put on and off at pleasure.[82] A
king's daughter in another story also has a monkey-skin and when a
prince burns it she takes fire and flies away all ablaze to her father's
palace.[83] Four fairy doves in feather-dresses appear in "Romantic
Tales from the Panjab with Indian Night's Entertainment."[84] When they
take off their feathers to bathe, a prince conceals one dress and the
fairy is unable to resume bird form. The story of the feather-vest of
the dove-maiden in "The Arabian Nights"[85] is similar in style.

The swan-maidens or cloud-maidens, as they are sometimes called, have
a shirt made of swan's feathers which acts much in the same manner as
the wolf-skin to the wer-wolf. The swan-maiden retains human shape as
long as she is kept away from her feather tunic. The commonest form of
this legend is that of a man who passes by a lake and sees several
beautiful maidens bathing, their feather-dresses lying on the bank. He
approaches quietly and steals one of the dresses. In due course the
bathers come to the shore, don their dresses and swim off in the shape
of swans, all but one, who is left lamenting on the shore. Then the
thief appears, tells her what he has done and bids the maiden marry
him. They live happily together until one day when the husband, by
accident, leaves the wardrobe door unlocked and the swan-maiden puts
on her feather-shirt and flies off, never to return.[86]

In a similar story the maiden is wearing a gold chain round her neck
which her huntsman lover seizes, thus gaining the power over her which
makes it possible to woo and wed her. She gives birth in due course to
seven sons, each one of whom wears a gold chain about his neck and can
transform himself into a swan at will.

Lothaire, King of France, married a fairy wife, and his children were
born wearing golden collars which gave them the magical power of
assuming the form of swans.

In the legends which have a Knight of the Swan as hero, like the story
of Lohengrin, the swan plays only a secondary part.

The primitive idea at the root of all these stories is that the human
soul, in passing from one shape to another, has to wear the outer sign
or garment of the creature it desires to represent. The symbolic
difference between the wer-wolf and the swan-maiden is that the former
represents the rough, howling, and destructive night-wind, the latter
the fleecy, pure, and enthralling summer cloud.

The Valkyries, with their shirts of plumage, who hover over
Scandinavian battle-fields to minister to the souls of dying heroes
are of the same order of beings as the Hindu Asparas and the Houris of
the Mussulman. The Lorelei sirens with their fish-tails, their golden
combs and mirrors, who lure fishermen to their doom on the rocks, are
not far removed from the same family. All are partly human and allied
with more or less fanciful animal forms and characteristics. They are
frequently the precursors of evil or at least of danger to mankind,
but many of them possess a sweetness and charm which is unsurpassed
and unsurpassable.

Far more terrible than sirens and swan-maidens were the Berserkers of
Scandinavia in the ninth century who, possessed by a strange mania,
arrayed themselves in the skins of wolves or bears and went forth to
see whom they might devour.

The Mara is a more peaceable but nevertheless a more uncanny being, a
kind of female demon who comes at night to torment sleepers by
crouching on their bodies and checking respiration. Sometimes she is
to be seen in animal form, sometimes as a beautiful woman. She has
been known to torture people to death, and may perhaps have some
distant affinity to the vampire, but is far less vindictive and
self-seeking, though gifted with powers of darkness.

A pious knight, journeying one day, found a fair lady nude, and bound
to a tree, her back streaming with blood from the stripes of lashes.
Rescuing her from her unfortunate position, he took her to his palace
and made her his wife, her extraordinary loveliness winning her fame
throughout the neighbourhood.

Her husband, the knight, accompanied her to mass every Sunday, and to
his great surprise and regret she always refused to stay in the church
while the creed was said. Just beforehand she would deliberately rise
from her seat and walk out. Her husband questioned her about this
strange habit, but could get no satisfactory explanation, nor would
she consent to alter her behaviour. He used entreaties and even
threats without avail, and at last he decided to keep her in the
church by main force. Seizing upon her with both hands, he held her in
her seat, and then he noticed her frame become convulsed and her eyes
grow unnaturally large and dark. The service stopped and everyone in
the building turned to see what was happening. "In the name of God,
speak," cried the pious knight, "and tell me what or who thou art!"
and as he said these words his wife melted away and disappeared,
while, with a great cry of anguish, a monster of evil shape rose from
the spot where she had been sitting and, passing through the air,
vanished through the roof of the church.

Another legend about the Mara is that if she be wrapped up in the
bedclothes and held down tightly, a white dove flies out of the window
and the bedclothes will be found to contain nothing. This belief is
apparently isolated and unrelated to other phenomena and is probably
only a tribute to the elusive character of this she-demon.

One of the Calmuc stories concerns three sisters, who, coming across
an enchanted castle tenanted by a white bird, are each in turn offered
marriage by the owner. The third sister marries the bird, who turns
out to be a handsome cavalier, but having burned his aviary, she loses
him, and cannot regain her husband until the aviary is restored.

In the well-known story of "The Brahman Girl who marries a Tiger," the
tiger assumes human shape and makes a beautiful girl fall in love with
him. Soon after their marriage he threatens her, saying, "Be quiet or
I shall show you my original shape."[87] When she urges him to do so
he changes and behold, "four legs, a striped skin, a long tail, and a
tiger's face come on him suddenly, and, horror of horrors, a tiger,
and not a man stands before her!"

She has to obey all his orders and finally gives birth to a son, who
also turns out "to be only a tiger."

She gets her brothers to help her, murders her child and runs off
home. In the end the tiger is killed by her relatives, and the Brahman
girl, in memory of him, raises a pillar over the well and plants a
fragrant shrub on the top of it.[88]

The Chinese have a curious idea about "making animals,"[89] and a
story is told about a man who arrived at an inn in Yang-Chow leading
five donkeys. He asks the landlord whether he may put the animals in
the stable, and while he goes off for a short time, he leaves
instructions that they are not to be given water to drink. They become
so restless, however, that the landlord takes the responsibility of
setting them loose, and they make a rush to a neighbouring pond. But
no sooner has water touched their lips than they roll on the ground
and change into women. The landlord, frightened at what has occurred,
hides them in his house and presently the man returns leading five
sheep. But now the landlord's suspicions are aroused and, persuading
his guest to take wine indoors, he goes out and waters the sheep. They
turn into young men and their temporary owner is put under arrest and
executed for a sorcerer.

In a Basque story, seven brothers forbid their sister to go near a
certain house. She disobeys them and a witch in the house gives her
certain herbs, telling her to put them in her brothers' foot-bath. She
does so and the brothers are changed into cows. The ideas contained in
these examples are similar in character to those contained in Grimm's
"Household Tales." The following is more like the Japanese wer-fox

A certain prince royal of India has a lovely mistress who bewitches
him, and who falls asleep one day in a bed of chrysanthemums where her
lover shoots and wounds a fox in the forehead. The girl is found to be
bleeding from a wound in her temple and is thus exposed. She is an
evil animal.

In many stories women give birth to animals.

A widow who lives near a palace and makes a livelihood by pounding
rice, bears a frog which becomes a good-looking prince, but he ends as
a frog.

In the story of Madana Kama Raja (Natesa Sastri) a queen bears a
tortoise prince who has the power of leaving his shell, and assuming
human form. One day his mother is present at the transformation and
smashes the shell, after which her son has to remain a man. Another
queen gives birth to a tortoise which is reared by her, and goes in
search of divine flowers, which he obtains by the aid of a nymph.

A raja has two wives and the first has six sons, the second only one,
who is a mongoose. His name is Lelsing, and he speaks like a man, but
grows no bigger than an ordinary mongoose. In this story the six
brothers do everything they can to ill-treat the mongoose boy, but all
their tricks turn to his advantage, and in the end he grows rich while
they grow poor, and finally they all get drowned, while he goes home
rejoicing at his revenge upon them for their unkindness.[90]

The Bards at Jaisalmer claimed one of the raja's sons for a ruler, so
he gave them one of his seven ranis, who was expecting to become a
mother, and they took her to Nahan and near the Sarmor tank she gave
birth first to a lion and four monsters, and then to a son. After the
monsters were exorcised they took the child to Medni and he became the
first raja of Nahan (Sarmor).[91]

Another raja's child was born with the ears of an ox. Only the raja's
barber knew, but he blurted it out to the dom and the dom went to the
raja's palace and sang

      "The son of the raja
       Has the ears of an ox."

Then the raja was very angry, and only forgave the dom when he said he
had not been told about the misfortune, but that a drum had sung the
words to him.[92]

"The Two Brothers" is a typical and classical story in which one
brother assumes the form of a great bull with all the sacred marks. In
another story of German origin, the hero, who has been hacked to
pieces and stuffed in a bag, is restored to life by a master sorcerer,
who endows him with the power of assuming whatever shape he pleases.
He turns into a fine horse, and the king's daughter, believing she is
being deceived, has the animal decapitated.

A similar Russian tale is about a horse which has a golden mane and,
when it is killed, a bull with golden hair arises from the blood spilt.

So numerous are the stories of this description, dealing with
transformation, that it is practically impossible to divide them into
their various types, although many attempts to classify them have been
made by authoritative writers on folk-lore; nor is it possible to give
them due occult significance. They are interesting chiefly on account
of the details which may be gathered from them concerning methods and
reasons of transformation.

The Indian Rakshasa (Bengalese Raqhosh) are beings of a malevolent
nature which haunt cemeteries, harass the devout, animate dead bodies,
and afflict mankind in various ways. They can assume any form they
please, animal or other. Females appear as beautiful women for the
purpose of luring men to their doom. When in their natural state they
have upstanding hair, yellow as the flames which they vomit forth from
mouths which are provided with huge tusks. They have large, black,
hairy bodies. The Nagas, on the other hand, are semi-divine
snake-beings with good impulses.

In "Bengali Household Tales," by William McCulloch,[93] a Raqhosh
performs a transformation in the following manner: He removes a stone
from an underground passage and descending brings forth a monkey. He
then plucks a few leaves from a tree, draws water from a well close
by, throws the leaves into it and pours it over the body of the
monkey. The monkey is immediately transformed into a beautiful young
woman with whom the Raqhosh descends by the underground passage.
Towards dawn the two come up again. This time the Raqhosh plucks some
leaves from another tree and throws them into some water from another
well, and then pours it over the young woman. Instantaneously she is
changed into a monkey again.

This is not the most usual way for such transformations and
retransformations to occur in Indian folk-tales; sometimes they are
achieved by magic rods. In Grimm's "Household Tale," "Donkey
Cabbages," one kind of cabbage transforms a man into an ass and the
other reverses the process.

Magicians, however, have other methods. Mercurius, the most skilful of
sorcerers, was supposed to have discovered the secret of "fascinating"
men's eyes in such a way as to make people invisible to their sight, or
perhaps to give them the appearance of an animal. This may be compared
to modern hypnotism and has an important bearing on the subject.

Pomponius Mela attributes to the Druidical priestesses of Sena the
knowledge of transforming themselves into animals at will.

Proteus, according to Homer's account, becomes a dragon, a lion, or a
boar. Eustathius, the commentator, adds, "not really changing but only
appearing to do so." Proteus was an adroit worker of miracles, and was
well acquainted with the secrets of Egyptian philosophy. He assumed
animal shape in order to escape the necessity of foretelling the
future when asked to do so but, whenever he saw his endeavours were of
no avail, he resumed his natural appearance.

Towards the end of the sixteenth century Joseph Acosta, who resided in
Peru, asserts that sorcerers existed there at that time who were
capable of assuming any form they pleased. He tells of a ruler of a
city in Mexico who was sent for by the predecessor of Montezuma and
who transformed himself successively before the eyes of men who tried
to seize his person, into a tiger, an eagle, and a serpent. At length
he gave in, and being taken before the emperor was condemned to death.

The same kind of power was ascribed, in 1702, by the Bishop of Chiapa
(a province of Guatemala) to the Naguals, the national priests who
endeavoured to win back the children brought up as Christians by the
Government, to the religion of their ancestors. After various
ceremonies, the child he was teaching was told to advance and embrace
the Nagual. At that moment he assumed a hideous animal form, and as a
lion, tiger, or other wild beast, threw the young convert to
Christianity into a state of abject terror by appearing chained to
him.[94] There, no doubt, hypnotism became a weapon of religious

At the appearance of the monster Ravanas, the gods, becoming alarmed,
transform themselves into animals: Indras changes into a peacock,
Yamas into a crow, Kuveras into a chameleon, and Varunas into a swan
in order to escape the ire of the enemy.

These transformations, says de Gubernatis,[95] instead of being
capricious, were necessary and natural to the several gods, for the
animal is the shadow that follows the hero and is so closely
identified with him that it may often be said to be the hero himself.

Nash, in "Christ's Tears over Jerusalem," 1613, has the following
remarkable passage. "They talk of an ox that tolled the bell at
Woolwich, and how from an ox he transformed himself into an old man,
and from an old man to an infant and into a young man again."

The Egyptians were the first to broach the opinion that the soul of
man is immortal and that, when the body dies, it enters into the form
of an animal which is born at the moment, thence passing on from one
animal to another, until it has circled through the forms of all the
creatures which tenant the earth, the water, and the air, after which
it enters again into a human frame and is born anew. The whole period
of transmigration is (they say) three thousand years.[96]

According to Egyptian beliefs only the souls of wicked men suffered
the disgrace of entering the body of an animal when, "weighed in the
balance" before the tribunal of Osiris, they were pronounced unworthy
to enter the abode of the blessed. The soul was then sent back to the
body of a pig.

The doctrine of metempsychosis was borrowed from Egypt by Pythagoras
and classical allusions are so numerous that it is impossible to
mention more than a few instances.

Empedocles believed he had passed through many forms, a bird and a
fish among others. Lucian's story was of a Pythagorian cock which had
been a man, a woman, a fish, a horse, and a frog, and of all states he
thought that man was the most deplorably wretched of the animals.
After anointing himself with enchanted salve from Thessaly, Lucian was
transformed into an ass and worked for seven years under a "gardiner,
a tyle man, a corier, and suchlike." At the end of the period he was
restored to human shape by nibbling rose leaves.

Dionysius was believed to assume the form of a goat or of a bull, and
Cronius was said to take the form of a horse. Epona was a
horse-goddess, and Callisto in an Arcadian myth was changed into a
bear. Citeus, son of Lycaon, laments the transformation of his
daughter into a bear. Iphigenia at the moment of sacrifice was changed
into a fawn. Osiris was mangled by a boar, or Typhon in the form of a
boar;--just as in the tale of Diarmuid and Grainne, the former's
foster brother was transformed into a boar.

The sorceress Thessala was able to call up strange animal ghosts:

      "Here in all nature's products unfortunate;
       Foam of mad dogs, which waters fear and hate;
       Guts of the lynx; Hyæna's knot unbred;
       The marrow of a hart with serpents fed
       Were not wanting; no, nor the sea lamprey
       Which stops the ships; nor yet the dragon's eye."

In Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" Puck is gifted with the
power of transformation. He says,

      "Sometimes a horse I'll be, sometimes a hound,
       A hog, a headless bear, sometimes a fire,
       And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
       Like horse, hound, dog, bear, fire, at every turn."

He had also the power to transform others into animals, and seeing
Bottom studying the part of Pyramus, plays a trick upon him:

"An ass's nole I fixed on his head."

"Bless thee, Bottom," says Quin, seeing his companion transformed in
this manner, "Bless thee! thou art translated." But Titania, herself
under a spell, becomes enamoured of the vision. "So is mine eye
enthralled to thy shape," she cries, and she desires to stick
musk-roses in his sleek smooth head, and kiss the fair, large ears."
Fortunately Oberon orders Puck to restore Bottom to his normal shape
before much harm is done.

Many modern writers have used the mystic idea of animal transformation,
especially as gleaned from Celtic legendary sources; for instance, in
the tales by Fiona McLeod and the poems by W. B. Yeats.

      "Do you not hear me calling white deer with no horns!
       I have been changed to a hound with one red ear;"

             *       *       *       *       *

      "A man with a hazel wand came without sound,
       And changed me suddenly, while I was looking another way;
       And now my calling is but the calling of a hound."

In another poem the salmon caught by a young fisherman is no sooner
under his roof, than it changes into a shimmering maiden--which makes
one think of the Indian story of a shining man who casts his ugly
skin and is so bright that no one can see him without being blinded.

A pretty little story of a shining lady who becomes a butterfly, is
told by Mr. H. A. Giles in "Strange Stories from a Chinese
Studio."[97] Mr. Wang of Chang-shang, the District Magistrate, had a
habit of commuting the fines and penalties of the Penal Code inflicted
on prisoners in exchange for a corresponding number of butterflies. He
rejoiced in seeing the insects flutter hither and thither like "tinsel
snippings" borne on the breeze. One night he dreamt that a beautiful
girl in shimmering clothes stood before him who said sadly, "Your
cruel practice has brought many of my sisters to an untimely end; now
you must pay the penalty for what you have done." Then she transformed
herself into a butterfly and flew away.

A great feature in folk-tales and fairy stories is, of course, the
talking animal. Grimm's "Tales," the "Arabian Nights," and Hans
Andersen's "Märchen," have made such semi-human creatures thoroughly
familiar. They appear also in the Bible and mythology. Eve and the
serpent, Balaam and the ass, Achilles and his horses, Porus and the
elephant, Bacchus, Phryxius and many others are notable instances. The
idea of words of wisdom coming from the lips of brutes is brought to
greater perfection in the fables than elsewhere, and Æsop's animals
are gifted with speech, traits, and passions absolutely human.

Pilpay, Lokman, Babrius, Phædrus, and La Fontaine, most successfully of
all, exploited the same theme, and a wonderful procession of animals
stalks through their writings, almost every kind of zoological specimen
being represented. There are rats enough to require the services of many
Pied Pipers of Hamelin, lions enough to stock the equatorial forests,
wolves to crowd the Steppes of Russia, bats and birds, gnats and frogs
galore, and to each beast, feathered thing, or fish, a place is given
in the social scale which he fills with dignity and grace, or in which
he acts with wisdom and judgment, or again in which he is made to look
ridiculous and becomes the laughing stock of those about him.

"If one is a wolf, one devours," wrote Walpole, referring to the
fables of La Fontaine. "If one is a fox, one is cunning. If one is a
monkey, one is a coxcomb."

The fox always gets the better of everyone else in the fables. He makes
use of the goat to climb out of the well, and then leaves him to his
fate. He is always taking the advantage of the wolf, for he has more
brains, if less strength. He has no difficulty in inventing stratagems
which bring the plump turkeys into his larder. He is always diplomatic,
he comes smiling out of every difficulty, he is quick and energetic: his
personal appearance, heightened by his bright eye and bushy tail, is in
his favour. He has two qualities invaluable to the courtier, a certain
dash and a certain subtlety, and above all he is _bon viveur_.

      "Grand Croqueur de poulets, grands preneur de lapins."

His worst enemy is the dog, with whom his tricks are frequently
wanting in success. When out walking with the cat, and boastful of his
own superior resources, he finds himself at a disadvantage the moment
an attack is threatened by a pack of hounds. The cat quickly climbs a
lofty tree.

      "The fox his hundred ruses tried,
       And yet no safety found:
       A hundred times he falsified
       The nose of every hound.
       Was here, and there, and everywhere,
       Above and underground."

In the end they are too clever for him, and he meets his death.

The story of Reynard the fox is a novel of adventure in which animals
play the part of men and usually bear men's names, and who does not know
and love the tale of Brer Rabbit and Brer B'ar and their relations with
Uncle Remus, or the equally human animals of Alice's "Adventures."

These fictitious beings combine human and animal mental
characteristics, but there is another class, the fabulous animals, of
which the physical attributes are taken partly from man, partly from
animal types. They are no doubt symbolic of occult truths, and much
time and labour might be spent in formulating their relationship.


[80] Adapted from "Village Folk-tales of Ceylon," by H. Parker, 1910,
Vol. I, pp. 308-10.

[81] Frere, M., "Old Deccan Days," 1889, pp. 83-193.

[82] Stokes, M. S. H., 1880, p. 41.

[83] "Folk Tales of Hindustan," p. 54 ff.

[84] Swynnerton, C., 1908, p. 464.

[85] Lady Burton's edition, 1887, Vol. III, p. 417.

[86] Variants of this basic legend are included in the chapter on
"Bird-Women," where they properly belong.

[87] There is a Tamil proverb: "Be quiet or I shall show you my
original shape."

[88] "Indian Folk Tales," 1908, p. 90.

[89] Giles, H. A., "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio," 1909, p.

[90] Bompas, "Folklore of the Santal Pagarnas," 1909, p. 201 ff.

[91] "Punjab Notes and Queries," May, 1885, p. 134.

[92] _Ibid._, p. 171.

[93] 1912, p. 237.

[94] Salverte, E., "The Philosophy of Magic," 1846, Vol. I, p. 289.

[95] "Zoological Mythology," 1872, Vol. I, p. xviii.

[96] Herodotus, Book II, Chap. 123.

[97] p. 430.

                             CHAPTER XVI


The most important among fabulous animals which are partly human
beings are the centaur, half-man and half-horse; the harpy, half-woman
and half-vulture; the sphinx, which has the head of a woman, the body
of a lion and the wings of an eagle, and the satyr, an old man with
goat's legs and tail.

"Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimaeras--dire stories of Celaeno and the
Harpies," says Charles Lamb, "may reproduce themselves in the brain of
superstition--but they were there before. They are transcripts,
types--the archetypes are in us, and eternal. How else should the
recital of that which we know in a waking sense to be false, come to
affect us at all?--or

      "Names whose sense we see not,
       Fray us with things that be not?

Is it that we naturally conceive terror from such objects, considered in
their capacity of being able to inflict upon us bodily injury?--O, least
of all! These terrors are of older standing. They date beyond body--or,
without the body, they would have been the same. All the cruel,
tormenting, defined devils in Dante--tearing, mangling, choking,
stifling, scorching demons--are they one half so fearful to the spirit
of a man, as the simple idea of a spirit unembodied following him:

      "Like one that on a lonesome road
       Doth walk in fear and dread,
       For having once turn'd round, walks on,
       And turns no more his head;
       Because he knows a frightful fiend
       Doth close behind him tread.

That the kind of fear here treated of is purely spiritual--that it is
strong in proportion as it is objectless upon earth--and that it
predominates in the period of sinless infancy--are difficulties the
solution of which might afford some probable insight into our
ante-mundane condition, and a peep at least into the shadowland of

Prentice Mulford firmly believed that the supposed fables in the ancient
mythologies concerning beings half-men, half-beasts (such as centaurs or
mermaids) had had their origin in spiritual truths. "Our race," he says,
"has been so developed out of the animal or coarser forms of life.
Countless ages ago all forms of life were coarser than now. As these
grew finer, man attracted and absorbed the spirit of the finer."

"The history of animals such as the ancients have transmitted to us,"
says Eusebe Salverte,[99] "is filled with details apparently
chimerical: but which are sometimes only the consequence of a
defective nomenclature. The name, Onocentaur, which seems to designate
a monster, uniting the form of a man and an ass, was given to a
quadrumanus which runs sometimes on four paws, but at other times uses
its forepaws only as hands: merely an immense monkey covered with grey
hair, particularly on the lower part of the body...."

M. Geoffroy de St. Hillaire described a polydactyle horse as having
hairy fingers separated by membranes: yet when ancient authors have
spoken of horses, the feet of which bore some resemblance to the hands
and feet of a man, they have been accused of imposture.[100]

The Centaurs were mythical creatures which inhabited Thessaly. They
were said to have sprung from a union of Ixion and a Cloud, or,
according to other authorities, to be the offspring of Centaurus, son
of Apollo, by Stilbia, daughter of Peneus. The famous battle of the
Centaurs with the Lapithæ was occasioned by a quarrel at the marriage
of Hippodamia with Pirithous. The Centaurs having come to a state of
intoxication, offered violence to the women present, an insult for
which they received due punishment.

A vivid presentment of what changing shape from man to horse would
mean is to be found in Mr. Algernon Blackwood's "The Centaur,"[101] in
which story the Irish hero, Mally, watches his own transformation into
the figure of the _Urwelt_, with amazement.

"All white and shining lay the sunlight over his own extended form.
Power was in his limbs; he rose above the ground in some new way; the
usual little stream of breath became a river of rushing air he drew
into stronger, more capacious lungs; likewise his bust grew strangely
deepened, pushed the wind before it; and the sunshine glowed on shaggy
flanks agleam with dew that powerfully drove the ground behind him
while he ran.

"He ran yet only partly as a man runs; he found himself shot forwards
through the air, upright, yet at the same time upon all fours ... it was
his own feet now that made that trampling as of hoofs upon the turf."

In "Gulliver's Travels" the men-horses or Houyhnhnms are fine horses
gifted with human intelligence, but the Yahoos are described by Swift
as having a very peculiar shape. Their heads and breasts were covered
with a thick hair, some frizzled and others lank, they had beards like
goats and a long ridge of hair down their backs, and the foreparts of
their legs and feet, but the rest of their bodies was bare, so that
their skins, which were of a brown-buff colour, could be seen. They
had no tails, and they sat on the ground as well as laid down, and
often stood on their hind feet. They climbed high trees as nimbly as a
squirrel, for they had strong extended claws before and behind,
terminating in sharp points and hooked. They would often spring and
bound and leap with prodigious agility.[102]

In speaking, the Houyhnhnms pronounced through the nose and throat,
and their language approached nearest to High-Dutch or German, but was
more graceful and significant.

Swift no doubt took his idea of the men-horses from centaurs.

The Harpies were three fabulous winged monsters, offsprings of Neptune
and Terra, represented with the features of a woman, the body of a
vulture, and human fingers armed with sharp claws. Heraldically the
harpy appears as a vulture with the head and breasts of a woman.
Neptune's daughters emitted an odious stench and polluted all they

The Sphinx was another composite fabled monster, with the head and
breasts of a woman, the body of a dog, the tail of a serpent, the
wings of a bird, the paws of a lion, and a human voice. According to
the Grecian poets the animal infested the city of Thebes, devouring
the inhabitants and setting difficult riddles. It was promised,
however, that on the solution of one of its enigmas the Sphinx would
destroy itself. The puzzle to be solved was, "What animal walked on
four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening?" Many
people attempted to find a solution in the hope of winning Jocasta,
sister of Creon, King of Thebes, in marriage, but all fell victims to
their ambition until the advent of Œdipus, who answered the Sphinx,
saying, Man crept on his hands and feet in infancy, at noon he walked
erect, and in the evening of life required the support of a staff. On
hearing the reply the Sphinx dashed her head against a rock and
expired. In Egypt sphinxes with human heads were called Androsphinxes.
They had no wings, which were added by the Greek artists.

Hecate, the Greek goddess, was described as having three bodies or
three heads, one of a horse, the second of a dog, and the third of a
lion. She was a spectral being who at night sent from the lower world
all kinds of demons and phantoms to teach sorcery. She wandered about
with the souls of the dead and her approach was announced by the
whining and howling of dogs.

Hathor was pictured sometimes as a cow, sometimes as a woman with the
head of a cow, bearing the solar disc between her horns.

Other animal goddesses of curious shapes are Egyptian, such as the
cat-goddess, the bird-goddess, the hippopotamus-goddess, Smet-Smet or
Rert-Rert, figures of which may be seen at the British Museum.

Strange creatures too were the Gorgons, the three sisters, Stheno,
Euryale, and Medusa, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. Their hairs were
entwined with serpents, they had hands of brass, scales on their body,
and the tusks of a wild boar. Their frightful appearance caused those
who beheld them to turn to stone. They were conquered by Perseus, who
was given special weapons for the purpose by the gods. He cut off
Medusa's head and gave it to Minerva; as he fled through the air to
Ethiopia drops of blood fell to the ground from the severed head and
turned to serpents. Pegasus, the winged horse, sprang from Medusa's
blood and became the favourite of the Muses. He was given to
Bellerophon and helped him to conquer the Chimaera, the celebrated
monster with three heads, a lion's, goat's, and dragon's, which
continually sent forth flames. The forepart of its body was that of a
lion, the middle of a goat, and the hind part that of a dragon.

These are the chief mythological monsters, thus rapidly enumerated,
but other creatures, half-human, half-animal, are of greater interest
psychologically. For instance, the Persians believe firmly in ghouls
which wander in lonely and haunted places, lure travellers from their
path and devour them. They are hideous in shape and give forth
blood-curdling screams. Being able to assume any animal form at will,
they often appear as camels or mules, or perhaps even simulate a
human being well-known to their intended victim. The charm against
them is to utter the name of the Prophet in all sincerity.

The Persians also believe in _divs_ or cat-headed men with horns and
hoofs. _Jinns_ or _Afreets_ can turn themselves into animals at will
and so no Persian likes to kill dogs or cats, lest the angry demons,
whose dwelling-place they are, should haunt those responsible for
evicting them.

The Satyrs were rural demi-gods, in the shape of men but with legs and
feet like goats, short horns on the head and the body covered with
hair. They attended on Bacchus and were given to similar excesses.
They roamed through woods, dwelt in caves, and endeavoured to gain the
loves of the Nymphs. They were identical with Fauns, Panes or Sylvani,
the human-goat wood-spirits. They should not be confused with the
Nature-Spirits described by Paracelsus, though similar in name.

In Russia wood-spirits are believed to appear partly in human shape,
but also with horns, ears, and legs of goats. They are called Ljeschi
and can change their shape and size, in a forest, being large like
trees; in a meadow, merely the height of the grass.

The Griffin was half-lion and half-eagle, and apparently had no human

The Mermaid is a fabulous marine creature, partly woman and partly
fish. The Nereides were sea-nymphs, daughters of Nereus, the ancient
sea-god and his wife Doris. They were at least fifty in number
(Propertius says a hundred), and they had green hair and fishes'
tails. The most celebrated of them all were Amphitrite, wife of
Neptune, Thetis, mother of Achilles, Galatea, and Doto. They are
identical with the Sirens.

Many charming stories have been told of Mermaids, and

According to the old Danish ballad a mermaid foretold the death of
Queen Dagmar, wife of Valdemar II, surnamed the Victorious.

"In the year 1576," says the Chronicle of Frederick II of Denmark,
"there came late in the autumn a simple old peasant from Samso to the
Court then being held at Kalundborg, who related that a beautiful
female had more than once come to him while working in his field by
the seashore, whose figure, from the waist downwards, resembled that
of a fish, and who had solemnly and strictly enjoined him to go over
and announce to the king, that as God had blessed his queen so that
she was pregnant of a son (afterwards Christian IV), who should be
numbered among the greatest princes of the North, and, seeing that all
sorts of sins were gaining ground in his kingdom, he, in honour of and
in gratitude to God who had so blessed him, should wholly extirpate
such sins, lest God should visit him with anger and punishment

In the Shetland Isles mermaids are said to dwell among the fishes, in
the depths of the ocean, in mansions of pearl and coral. They resemble
human beings, but greatly excel them in beauty. When they wish to
visit the earth they put on the _ham_ or garb of some fish, but if
they lose this garment, all hopes of return are annihilated and they
must stay where they are.

A mermaid was found by a fisherman called Pergrin at St. Dognael's,
near Cardigan, and he took her prisoner, but she wept bitterly and
said to him, "If you will let me go, Pergrin, I will call to you three
times at the moment of your greatest need." Moved by her distress, he
obeyed and almost forgot the incident, but some weeks later he was
fishing on a hot, calm day, when he heard distinctly, the call, thrice
repeated, "Pergrin, take up thy nets." This he did in great haste, and
by the time he reached the harbour a terrible storm had come up, and
all the other fishermen who had not been warned were drowned. This
story, it is claimed, belongs to other parts of Wales also.

There is said to be a castle in Finland, on the borders of a small
lake, out of which, previously to the death of the Governor, an
apparition in the form of a mermaid arises and makes sweet melody.

One of the most charming descriptions of a Sea-maiden is found in Hans
Andersen's well-known story of "The Little Mermaid." Her skin is as soft
and delicate as a rose-leaf, her eyes are as deep a blue as the sea, but
like all other mermaids, she has no feet; her body ends in a tail like
that of a fish. For many years she plays happily in the enchanted palace
of the Mer-king, her father, but when she reaches years of discretion
she visits the earth and falls in love with a handsome prince, forsaking
her home and family and giving away her beautiful voice for love of him.
But she does more even than this, for she has to appeal to a witch to
transform her into a maiden like the others who walk on land, and the
process is a terribly painful one. The witch prepares a drink she has to
take with her on her journey to the unknown country, and she is told
that she must sit down on the shore and swallow the draught, and that
then her tail will fall and shrink up "to the things which men call
legs." When she walks or dances the pain will be as though she were
walking on the sharp edge of swords or the edges of ploughshares. But
she braves all these terrors and dances more gracefully than ever any
earth-maiden could do, hoping that her prince will marry her and so give
her the right to an immortal soul. Then the real tragedy occurs, for the
prince loves her only as a beautiful child, and he marries a princess of
his own kind, so that the mermaid's sacrifice seems to be thrown away.
If she wishes to return to her original state she has to kill the
prince, but when she holds the knife over him as he sleeps beside his
beautiful bride she cannot find it in her heart to harm him, and sooner
than think of her own forlorn condition, she throws the knife into the
sea and gives up, as she believes, her last hope of happiness. But then
her reward comes, for she is borne into the air by the daughters of that
element, and the story ends with a promise of a new and a lovelier

Mr. H. G. Wells, among recent writers, has used the idea of the
mermaid in his quaint story "The Sea Lady."

The famous mermaid figures in the coat-of-arms of several well-known
families. Sometimes she holds a mirror, sometimes a mirror and comb. A
red mermaid with yellow hair on a white field appears in the arms of
the family living at Glasfryn in the south of Carnarvonshire.

Other marine monsters besides mermaids are sometimes found in the sea,
which, without corresponding exactly to man, yet resemble him more
than any other animals. However, like the rest of the brutes, they
lack mind or soul. They have, says Paracelsus, the same relations to
man as the ape and are nothing but the apes of the sea.

Merovingian princes traced their origin to a sea-monster, and Druid
priestesses claimed to be able to assume animal form and to rule wind
and wave. Indeed, since men first sought to classify other living
organisms, they have credited nature with producing strange and weird
monsters, half-human, half-animal, which exist either in their own
imaginations or in realms beyond the material plane of everyday

In the third Calmuc tale, a man who possesses but one cow unites
himself to her in order that she may become fruitful, and a tailed
monster is born having a man's body and a bull's head. This man-bull,
who is Minotaur, goes into the forest and picks up three companions,
one black, one green, one white, who accompany him. He overcomes the
enchantments of a dwarf witch, and when lowered into a well by his
companions, he manages to escape. Presently he meets a beautiful
maiden drawing water, at whose every footstep a flower springs, and
following her, finds himself in heaven.

The classical Minotaurus is said to have been the offspring of
Pasiphae and a bull sent from the sea to Minos, who shut the
half-human monster in the Cnossian labyrinth and fed him with the
bodies of the youths and maidens sent by the Athenians as a tribute.
This monster was slain by Theseus.

Among modern writers, Mr. H. G. Wells has perhaps been the most daring
in describing monsters. In "The Island of Dr. Moreau," Dr. Moreau
explains to Pendrick his method of making humanised animals. "These
creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into new shapes,"
he says. "To that--to the study of plasticity of living forms--my life
has been devoted. I have studied for years, gaining knowledge as I go. I
see you look horrified, yet I am telling you nothing new. It all lay in
the surface of practical anatomy years ago, but no one had the temerity
to touch it. It's not simply the outward form of an animal I can change.
The physiology, the chemical rhythm of the creature, may also be made to
undergo an enduring modification, of which vaccination and other methods
of inoculation with living or dead matter are examples that will, no
doubt, be familiar to you. A similar operation is the transfusion of
blood, with which subject indeed I began. These are all familiar cases.
Less so, and probably far more extensive, were the operations of those
mediæval practitioners who made dwarfs and beggar cripples and
show-monsters; some vestiges of whose art still remains in the
preliminary manipulation of the young mountebank or contortionist.
Victor Hugo gives an account of them in _L'Homme qui Rit_ ... but
perhaps my meaning grows plain now. You begin to see that it is a
possible thing to transplant tissue from one part of an animal to
another, or from one animal to another, to alter its chemical reactions
and methods of growth, to modify the articulations of its limbs, and
indeed to change it in its most intimate structure?..."

"So for twenty years altogether--counting nine years in England--I
have been going on, and there is still something in everything I do
that defeats me, makes me dissatisfied, challenges me to further
effort. Sometimes I rise above my level, sometimes I fall below it,
but always I fall short of the things I dream. The human shape I can
get now almost with ease, so that it is lithe and graceful, or thick
and strong; but often there is trouble with the hands and
claws--painful things that I dare not shape too freely. But it is in
the subtle grafting and reshaping one must needs do to the brain that
my trouble lies. The intelligence is often oddly low, with
unaccountable blank ends, unexpected gaps. And least satisfactory of
all is something that I cannot touch, somewhere--I cannot determine
where--in the seat of the emotions. Cravings, instincts, desires that
harm humanity, a strange hidden reservoir to burst suddenly and
inundate the whole being of the creature with anger, hate, or fear.
These creatures of mine seemed strange and uncanny to you as soon as
you began to observe them, but to me, just after I make them, they
seem to be indisputably human beings. It's afterwards, as I observe
them, that the persuasion fades. First one animal trait, then another,
creeps to the surface and stares at me.... But I will conquer yet.
Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I
say, this time I will burn out all the animal, this time I will make a
rational creature of my own. After all, what is ten years? Man has
been a hundred thousand in the making."[104]

"There were swine-men and swine-women," says Pendrick later,
describing the beast-folk, "a mare rhinoceros creature, and several
other females I did not ascertain. There were several Wolf creatures,
a Bear-bull, and a Saint Bernard Dog Man. I have already described the
Ape Man, and there was a particularly hateful (and evil-smelling) old
woman made of Vixen and Bear, whom I hated from the beginning."[105]

"First to arrive was the Satyr, strangely unreal, for all that he cast
a shadow, and tossed the dust with his hoofs: after him, from the
brake, came a monstrous lout, a thing of horse and rhinoceros,
chewing a straw as it came: and then appeared the Swine Woman and two
Wolf Women: then the Fox-Bear-Witch, with her red eyes in her peaked
red face, and then others all hurrying eagerly."[106]

In another imaginative work dealing with the twenty-ninth century A.D.,
the brute creation has been humanised in a way never before dreamt of.

"... a levy of 40,000 naturalists were engaged for years in forming a
hundred different zoological armies. Each of these was, by an admirable
system of drill, brought to such a high state of discipline that a
brigade, consisting of a thousand elephants, a thousand rhinoceroses,
180,000 monkeys and 15,000 other beasts of draught and burden could be
officered with perfect ease by as few as one thousand naturalists. Birds
of burden and fish of burden were in like manner drafted into the ranks
of the zoological army, and, being subjected to similar training, were
brought to a similar degree of efficiency."[107]

Giraldus Cambrensis wrote of many curious monsters and strange things
that happened in connection with them. He believed that occult powers
came through them in some manner, and told the story of a Welshman
called Melerius, who had an odd experience by which he acquired the
powers of a seer. One Palm Sunday he met a damsel whom he had long
loved and embraced her in the woods, when suddenly, instead of a
beautiful girl, he found in his arms a hairy, rough, and hideous
creature, the sight of which deprived him of his senses. On his return
to sanity, many years later, he discovered that he had wonderful
occult gifts of prophecy.

Giraldus also believed that people in Ireland, by magical arts, could
turn "any substance about them into fat pigs," as they appeared to be,
though the colour was always red, and could then sell them in the
markets. They disappeared, however, "as soon as they crossed any
water," and even if they were looked after carefully they never lasted
as pigs for more than three days. He writes of a man-monster whose
body was human, except the extremities, which were cloven like those
of an ox. This monster had large round eyes like an ox and the only
sound he could make was like an ox lowing. He was present at the Court
of Maurice Fitzgerald in Wicklow, and took up his food between the
fissures of his cloven forefeet. His fate was to be put secretly to
death, a fate which might with advantage be shared, metaphorically
speaking, by many of the hybrid creatures, or manufactured
monstrosities, figments of unwholesome brains.

Augustine, in the sixteenth book of his "De Civitate Dei," chapter
viii., speaks of monsters of the human race, born in the East, some
having heads of dogs, others without heads, and eyes in their breasts.
"I myself," he adds, "at the time I was in Italy, heard it said of some
district in those parts, that there the stable women who had learnt
magical arts, used to give something to travellers in their cheese which
transformed them into beasts of burden, and after they had performed the
tasks required of them, they were allowed to resume their natural form."

One of the most fearsome among the fabulous animals is the dragon, an
enormous serpent of abnormal form which is represented in ancient
legends as a huge Hydra, watching as sentinel the Garden of the
Hesperides. In art the dragon is the symbol of sin, and in the Bible
this monster appears as the symbol of the King of Egypt and the King
of Babylon. The dragon, which is the emblem of the Chinese Empire,
like the legendary serpent, can assume human shape.

The basilisk is another fabulous animal of the snake tribe, which
carries a jewel in its head, and in many French legends possesses
human proclivities. It is the king of all the serpents and holds
itself erect. Its eyes are red and fiery, the face pointed, and upon
its head it wears a crest like a crown. It has, moreover, the
terrible gift of killing people by the glare of its eye and other
serpents are said to fly from its presence in dread.

The cockatrice is identical with the basilisk, but is perhaps not
quite so human. It is produced from a "cock's egg hatched by a frog."

Lilith is the "night-monster," and according to the Rabbinical idea,
she is a spectre in the figure of a woman who, entering houses in the
dead of night, seizes upon the little children of the household and
bears them away to murder them. According to some accounts she is not
unlike Lamia, and has the form of a serpent.


[98] Lamb, Charles, "Essays of Elia," 1904, pp. 133-4.

[99] "The Philosophy of Magic," 1846, Vol. I, p. 67.

[100] _Ibid._, pp. 73-4.

[101] 1911, pp. 257-8.

[102] Swift, J., "Gulliver's Travels" (York Library), 1905, p. 231.

[103] Thorpe, B., "Northern Mythology," 1851, Vol. II, p. 173.

[104] H. G. Wells, "The Island of Dr. Moreau," 1913, pp. 89-90, 98-99.

[105] _Ibid._, p. 106.

[106] _Ibid._, pp. 115-6.

[107] Annals of the Twenty-ninth Century, Vol. I (Tinsley), London,
pp. 61-2.

                             CHAPTER XVII

                            HUMAN SERPENTS

Since the beginning of the world the serpent has been regarded as the
most mystic of reptiles. He was called "more subtil than any beast of
the field," from the day on which he spoke to Eve and said that if she
ate of the fruit of the Tree of Life, her eyes should be opened and
she should surely not die, and he has been endowed with human powers
again and again, worshipped as a god in every part of the world and
depicted in ancient art as possessed of human form and attributes. In
Aztec paintings the mother of the human race is always represented in
conversation with a serpent who is erect. This is the serpent, "who
once spoke with a human voice."

Mythology has numberless legends which tell of human or semi-human
serpents. The ancient kings of Thebes and Delphi claimed kingship with
the snake, and Cadmus and his wife Harmonia, quitting Thebes, went to
reign over a tribe of Eel-men in Illyria and became transformed into
snakes, just as now Kaffir kings are said to turn into boa-constrictors
or other deadly serpents, and some other African tribes believe that
their dead chiefs become crocodiles.

Cecrops, the first king of Athens, was supposed to have been
half-serpent and half-man, and Cychreus, after slaying a snake which
ravaged the island of Salamis, appeared in the form of his victim.

When Minerva contended with Neptune for the city of Athens, she
created the olive which became sacred to her, and she planted it on
the Acropolis and placed it in the charge of the serpent-god,
Erechthonios, who is represented as half-serpent, half-man, the lower
extremities being serpentine.

The story of Alexander's birth, as told by Plutarch, is one of the
most curious of the man-serpent traditions. Olympias, his mother, kept
tame snakes in the house and one of them was said to have been found
in her bed, and was thought to be the real father of Alexander the
Great. Lucian adopts this view of Alexander's parentage.

The worship of serpent-gods is found amongst many nations. The Chinese
god Foki, for instance, is said to have had the form of a man,
terminating in the tail of a snake. The same belief in serpent-gods
exists among the primitive Turanian tribes. The Accadians made the
serpent one of the principal attributes, and one of the forms of Hea,
and we find a very important allusion to a mythological serpent in the
words from an Accadian dithyrambus uttered by a god, perhaps by Hea:--

      Like the enormous serpent with seven heads, the weapon with seven
                heads I hold it.
      Like the serpent which beats the waves of the sea attacking the
                enemy in front,
      Devastator in the shock of battle, extending his power over
                heaven and earth, the weapon with (seven) heads (I hold it).[108]

The story of Crishna is very similar to that of Hercules in Grecian
mythology, the serpent forming a prominent feature in both. Crishna
conquers a dragon, into which the Assoor Aghe had transformed himself to
swallow him up. He defeats also Kalli Naga (the black or evil spirit
with a thousand heads) who, placing himself in the bed of the river
Jumna, poisoned the stream, so that all the companions of Crishna and
his cattle, who tasted of it, perished. He overcame Kalli Naga, without
arms, and in the form of a child. The serpent twisted himself about the
body of Crishna, but the god tore off his heads, one after the other,
and trampled them under his feet. Before he had completely destroyed
Kalli Naga, the wife and children of the monster (serpents also) came
and besought him to release their relative. Crishna took pity on them,
and releasing Kalli Naga, said to him, "Begone quickly into the abyss:
this place is not proper for thee since I have engaged with thee, thy
name shall remain through all the period of time and devatars and men
shall henceforth remember thee without dismay." So the serpent with his
wife and children went into the abyss, and the water which had been
affected by his poison became pure and wholesome.[109]

Crishna also destroyed the serpent-king of Egypt and his army of snakes.

Lamia was an evil spirit having the semblance of a serpent, with the
head, or at least the mouth, of a beautiful woman, whose whole figure
the demon assumed for the purpose of securing the love of some man
whom, it was supposed, she desired to tear to pieces and devour.
Lycius is said to have fallen in love with one of these spirits, but
was delivered by his master, Apollonius, who, "by some probable
conjectures," found her out to be a serpent, a _lamia_.[110]

Keats made use of this idea in his poem, "Lamia." Later the word was
used to mean a witch or enchantress. Melusina was another beautiful
serpent-woman who disappeared from her husband's presence every
Saturday, and turned into a human fish or serpent.

A modern version of the legend of Melusina is found in Wales. To
assume the shape of a snake, witches prepared special charms, and
sometimes a ban was placed upon enemies by which they turned into
snakes for a time.

A young farmer in Anglesea went to South Wales and there he met a
handsome girl whose eyes were "sometimes blue, sometimes grey, and
sometimes like emeralds," but they always sparkled and glittered. He
fell in love with her at first sight, and she agreed to become his
wife if he would allow her to disappear twice a year for a fortnight
without questioning her as to where she went. To this arrangement the
young husband agreed.

For some years he did not trouble himself about his wife's absence, but
his mother began nagging at him, saying that he ought to find out where
she went and what she did. Taking his mother's advice, he disguised
himself and followed his wife to a lonely part of a forest not far from
their home. Hiding himself behind a huge rock, he noticed from this
point of vantage that his wife took off her girdle and threw it down in
the deep grass near a dark pool. Then she vanished, and the next moment
he saw a large and handsome snake glide through the grass, just where
she had been standing. He chased the reptile, but the snake disappeared
into a hole near the pool. The husband went home and waited patiently
for his wife's return, and when she came, he requested her to tell him
where she had been. This she refused to do, and when he asked her what
she did with her girdle, she blushed painfully.

The next time when she was intending to go away, he seized and hid the
girdle, and thus deferred her departure. She was taken ill, and he,
hoping to rid her of a baneful charm, threw the girdle in the fire.
Then his wife writhed in agony, and when the girdle was burnt up she
died. The neighbours called her the Snake-Woman of the South on
account of this strange story of her doings.[111]

A shoemaker in the Vale of Taff married a widow for her money and, as
love seemed lacking on both sides, it was not long before serious
quarrels occurred between the couple. Although it was said that hard
blows were struck on both sides, the neighbours remarked that it was
strange the shoemaker's wife appeared amongst them without a trace of
a bruise on her person. At night loud cries and deep groans arose
from the shoemaker's dwelling, and a certain gentleman of an
inquisitive turn of mind decided to discover what took place and hid
himself in a loft over the kitchen, to spy on the couple. Whatever he
may have learnt during the proceedings, he said nothing, and a report
was spread that he had been "paid to hold his tongue and not divulge
the family secret." At last, however, his discretion failed him, and
anger against the shoemaker, with whom he fell into a dispute, made
him reveal what he knew. He said that as soon as angry words passed
between husband and wife, the latter "assumed from the shoulders
upwards, the shape of a snake, and deliberately and maliciously sucked
her partner's blood and pierced him with her venomous fangs."

No marks were found on the husband's body, but he grew ever thinner and
weaker, and after ailing for many months he died. The doctor who tended
him in his last illness declared that he had died from the poisonous
sting of a serpent. After this verdict the spy was given the credit of
his story, which, however, had a gruesome sequel. He and the doctor were
found lying helpless in the churchyard one morning. When roused from
what seemed a fatal slumber, they said they had been invited by the
shoemaker's widow to drink with her in memory of her late dear second
husband. Then she sprang upon them in the shape of a snake and stung
them severely. They had only strength enough left to crawl to the
churchyard, where they would probably have died from torpor had not the
neighbours roused them. The widow was never seen again, but a snake
constantly appeared in the neighbourhood and could not be killed by any
means, so that it earned the name of "the old snake-woman."[112]

Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was interested in the subject of prenatal
influences, depicted the heroine of his well-known novel, "Elsie
Venner," as a girl who had received the taint of a serpent before
birth, from a snakebite suffered by her mother.

Elsie's friend, Helen Darley, knew the secret of the fascination which
looked out of the cold, glittering eyes. She knew the significance of
the strange repulsion which she felt in her own intimate consciousness
underlying the inexplicable attraction which drew her towards the
young girl in spite of her repugnance.

When Elsie was taken ill her doctor said that she had lived a double
being, as it were, the consequence of the blight which fell upon her
in the dim period before consciousness.

"Elsie Venner" is an American story, but India, where the snake is
even more familiar, is the home of many human-serpent stories, and
legends of serpent descent.

Near Jait in the Mathura district is a tank with the broken statue of
a hooded serpent on it. Once upon a time a Raja married a princess
from a distant country and, after a short stay there, decided to take
his wife home, but she refused to go until he had declared his
lineage. The Raja told her she would regret her curiosity, but she
persisted. Finally he took her to the river and there warned her
again. She would not take heed and he entreated her not to be alarmed
at whatever she saw, adding that if she did she would lose him. Saying
this, he began slowly to descend into the water, all the time trying
to dissuade her from her purpose, till it became too late and the
water rose to his neck. Then, after a last attempt to induce her to
give up her curiosity, he dived and reappeared in the form of a Naga
(serpent). Raising his hood over the water he said, "This is my
lineage! I am a Nagbansi."

His wife could not suppress an exclamation of grief, on which the Naga
was turned into stone, where he lies to this day.[113]

A member of the family of Buddha fell in love with the daughter of a
serpent-king. He was married to her and presently became the sovereign
of the country. His wife had obtained possession of a human body, but
a nine-headed snake occasionally appeared at the back of her neck.
While she slept one night her husband chopped the serpent in two at a
single blow, and this caused her to become blind.

Another curious legend is told of a Buddha priest who had become a
serpent because he had killed the tree Elapatra, and he then resided
in a beautiful lake near Taxila. In the days of Hiuen-Tsiang, when the
people of the country wanted fine weather or rain they went to the
spring accompanied by a priest, and, "snapping their fingers, invoked
the serpent," and immediately obtained their wishes.

The snake tribe is common enough in the Punjaub. Snake families go
through many ceremonies, saying that in olden days the serpent was a
great king. If they find a dead snake they put clothes on it and give
it a regular funeral. The snake changes its form every hundred years,
when it becomes either a man or a bull. Snake-charmers have the power
of recognising these transformed snakes, and follow them stealthily
until they return to their holes and then ask them where treasure is
hidden. This they will do on consideration of a drop of blood from the
little finger of a first-born son.[114]

Among fairy tales the favourite story is that of a human being who
dons a snake-skin, and when it is burnt he resumes human form. The
snake-bridegroom is an exceedingly popular version of this idea.[115]

There was once a poor woman, who had never borne a child and she
prayed to God that she might be blessed with one, even though she were
to bring forth a snake. And God heard her prayer, and in due course
she gave birth to a snake. Directly the reptile saw the light of day
it slipped down from her lap into the grass and disappeared. Now the
poor woman mourned constantly for the snake, because after God had
heard and granted her prayer, it grieved her that the being whom she
had conceived should have vanished without leaving a trace as to its
whereabouts. Twenty years passed, and then the snake returned and said
to its mother, "I am the serpent to which you gave birth, and which
fled from you into the grass, and I have come back, mother, so that
you may demand the king's daughter for me in marriage."

At first the mother rejoiced at the sight of her son, but soon she grew
mournful because she did not know how she dare to demand the hand of the
king's daughter for a serpent, especially as she was very poor. But the
serpent said, "Go along, mother, and do what I ask; even if the king
won't give his daughter, he can't cut your head off for the mere asking.
But whatever he says to you do not look back until you get home again."

The mother allowed herself to be persuaded and went to the king. At
first the servants would not let her into the palace, but she went on
asking until they admitted her. When she entered the king's presence
she said to him, "Most gracious Majesty, there is your sword and here
is my head. Strike if you must, but let me tell you first that for a
long time I was childless and then I prayed to God to bless me, even
though I were to bring forth a serpent, and He blessed me and I
brought forth a serpent. As soon as it saw the light it vanished into
the grass and after twenty years it has returned to me and has sent me
here to ask for the hand of your daughter in marriage."

The king burst into laughter and said, "I will give my daughter to
your son if he builds me a bridge of pearls and precious stones from
my palace to his house."

Then the mother turned to go home, and never looked back, and when she
left the palace a bridge of pearls and diamonds arose all the way
behind her till she reached her own house. When the mother told the
serpent what the king had said, the serpent remarked to her, "Go again
and see whether the king will give me his daughter, but whatever he
answers don't look round as you come back."

This time the king told the mother that if her son could give his
daughter a better palace than his own, he should have her for a wife.
The mother went back without looking behind her, and found that her
house had changed into a palace, and everything in it was three times as
good as in the king's palace. All the furniture was made of pure gold.

Then the serpent asked his mother to go back to the palace and fetch
the king's daughter, and this time the king told the princess she must
marry the serpent. There was a splendid wedding, and in due course the
young wife found she was to become a mother. Then her friends grew
inquisitive, saying, "If you are living with a serpent how can you
hope to have a child?" At first she would not answer, but when her
mother-in-law insisted on putting the same question, she replied,
"Mother, your son is not really a serpent, but a young man, so
handsome that there is none other like him. Every evening he strips
off his snake-skin and in the morning he enters it again."

When the serpent's mother heard this she rejoiced greatly, and longed
to see her son after he had stripped off his snake-skin.

Presently the two conspirators arranged that when the young man had
gone to bed, they should burn the discarded skin, and while his mother
put it in the oven, his wife was to pour cold water on her husband
lest he should be destroyed by the heat. No sooner had he laid himself
down to sleep, than they carried out their plan, but the smell of the
burning skin made him cry out, "What have you done? May God punish
you. Where can I go in the condition I now am?" But the women
comforted him and said it was better for him to live among ordinary
mortals than in the snake form, and before long the king resigned his
throne in his favour, and all turned out happily.

A very similar story is told of a queen who also gives birth to a
serpent.[116] She is allowed to nurse and fondle her offspring in the
usual fashion, but for twenty-two years it does not speak and its
first utterance is to demand from its parents a wife.

When the parents remark that no nice girl would care to marry a
serpent, he tells them not to look in too high a class for a mate.

In this case the father does the wooing, but the mother evokes the truth
about her son. When she learns about the snake-skin, she makes the young
wife help to burn it, and tragedy results. The husband curses his wife,
saying that she will not see him again until she has worn through iron
shoes, and that she shall not give birth to her child until he embraces
her once more by putting his right arm round her. Then he vanishes for
three years, and all that time she is unable to bear her child, so she
decides to seek her husband. She travels through the world and comes to
the house of the Sun's mother, and when the Sun comes indoors she
inquires whether he has seen her husband. But the Sun can do nothing for
her but to send her to the Moon. The same disappointment awaits her
there, and the Moon sends her to the Winds. After many striking
adventures she finds her husband, makes him undo his curse, and gives
birth to a son who has golden locks and golden hands.

In another story of serpent-marriage a woman stands in doubt because
she cannot cross a river. A serpent comes out of the river and says,
"What will you give me if I carry you across?" The woman, having no
other possessions, promises to give her coming child; if it is a girl
as a wife, if a boy as a "name friend." In after years she has to
fulfil her promise and, taking her daughter to the bank of the river,
she sees the snake draw her beneath the water. In the course of time
the girl bears her husband four snake sons.[117]

An Ainu girl gave birth to a snake as the result of the sun's rays
shining on her while she slept, and the snake turned into a child.

The Dyaks and Silakans will not kill the cobra because in remote ages
a female ancestor brought forth twins, a boy and a cobra. The cobra
went to the forest, but told the mother to warn her children that if
they were ever bitten by cobras they must stay in the same place for a
whole day and that then the venom would take no effect. The boy then
met his cobra brother in the jungle one day and cut off his tail, so
that now all cobras have a blunted tail.

In folk-tales the serpent frequently mates with a woman. A curious
Basuto story concerns a girl called Senkepeng, who was deserted by her
friends and taken home by an old woman, who said she would make a nice
wife for her son. Her son turned out to be a serpent, whom no one had
ever seen outside his hut, but he had married all the girls of the
tribe in succession with fatal results to them, because he ate all the
food. Every morning the girl was awakened by a blow of the serpent's
tail and was then ordered to go and prepare his food. At last she grew
tired of this treatment and resolved to run away. Her serpent-husband
pursued her, but she sang a charm or incantation and this delayed his
progress and gave her a chance of continuing her flight. Whenever the
serpent came up to her she repeated her song.

At last she reached her father's village and told her story, and
people were ready to defend her against her pursuer. As soon as the
serpent came in sight Senkepeng sang her charm, and the people
attacked the serpent and slew it. Presently the serpent's mother
arrived and burnt the mutilated corpse, wrapping the ashes in a skin
which she threw into a pond. Walking three times round the pond,
without speaking a word, she caused her son to come to life again, and
he came out of the pond as a human being, and Senkepeng welcomed him
as her husband. In another variant the serpent's ashes are put in a
vase of clay, which is given to Senkepeng. Afterwards she uncovers the
vase and a man steps out from it.[118]

The first Dindje Indian had two wives, one of whom would have nothing
to say to him. She used to disappear during the day, and he followed
her to find out her secret. He saw her go into a marsh where she met a
serpent. When she returned to the hut she had several children, but
hid them from her husband under a cover. The man discovered the
hiding-place, and there found horrible little men-serpents, which he
killed. Thereupon the woman left him and he never saw her again.

In a Bengal story a mighty serpent, after slaughtering a whole family
except one beautiful daughter, carries her off to his watery tank,
from which she is rescued by a prince. In Russia it is believed that
mortal maidens are carried off by serpents.

The Indians are very superstitious. Otto Stoll, author of "Suggestion
und Hypnotismus,"[119] showed a friendly Cakchiquel Indian one of his
hairs under the microscope. The Indian asked to have it back that he
might preserve it, saying that if it were lost, it would turn into a
snake, and he would then have to suffer great trouble through snakes
all his life. When Dr. Stoll appeared to be sceptical, he told him
that he had often seen the long hairs which native women combed out
and let fall into the river, become transformed into serpents as they
fell. This is a widespread belief, and in an early Mexican dictionary
by Molina, in 1571, the word "tzoncoatl" is translated, "the snake
which is formed out of horse's hair which fell into the water."

The white snake especially may sometimes be a lovely transformed
maiden, as appears from the story of a cowboy who makes a friend of a
white snake which comes to play with him and twines about his legs.
One evening in midsummer he beholds a fair maiden, who says she is the
daughter of an Eastern king and has been forced to spend her life
through enchantment in the form of a white snake, with permission to
resume human shape on midsummer night every quarter of a century. The
cowboy is the first human being who has not shrunk from her when she
appears in reptile form. She tells him that she will come again, and
will wind herself three times round his body and give him three
kisses. If he should shrink from her then she will have to remain a
snake for ever. When she appears, the youth stands firm while the
reptile caresses him and, lo and behold, there is a crash and a flash
and he finds himself in a magnificent palace, with a beautiful girl
beside him who becomes his wife.

The Russians have a story of some girls bathing, when a snake comes
out of the water and sits upon the clothes of the prettiest one,
saying he will not move till she promises to marry him. She agrees,
and that very night an army of snakes seize her and carry her beneath
the water, where they become men and women. She stays for some years
with her husband, and is then allowed to go home and visit her mother.
The latter, discovering the husband's name, goes to the water and
calls upon him. When he comes to the surface she chops off his head
with an axe. Probably the snake-bride has been told by her husband not
to mention his name for fear of his death, the name being taboo.

In a Zuni legend the daughter of a chief bathes in a pool sacred to
Kolowissa, the serpent of the sea. Kolowissa in anger appears to the
maiden in the form of a child, whom she takes to her home. There the
child changes into an enormous serpent, who induces her to go away
with him, and when she does so he transforms himself again into a
handsome youth.

Incredulous that such happiness can befall her, she expresses her
doubts to the young man, but he then shows her his shrivelled
snake-skin as proof that he is the god of the waters and that he loves
her well enough to make her his wife.[120]

A beautiful girl in New Guinea was beloved by a chief of a strange
tribe, and he was so fearful of entering her father's territory that
he asked a sorcerer for a charm which would enable him to change into
a snake the moment he crossed the boundary of his own country. In this
form he entered the girl's hut, and on seeing the reptile she began to
scream. Her father, however, was more astute and saw the serpent was
really a man, so he bade his daughter to go to him, as he must be a
great chief to be thus able to transform himself. She obeyed his
command, and as the serpent went slowly, her father advised her to
burn his tail with a hot banana leaf to make him hurry. This she also
did, but at the boundary the snake vanished and presently a handsome
young man came up to her and told her he was the serpent, showing
certain burns on his feet and legs in proof of the statement.[121]

In France the serpent with a jewel in its head is called _vouivre_,
which is the same as our basilisk or dragon. The _vouivre_ is a
reptile from a yard to two yards long, having only one eye in its
head, which shines like a jewel and is called the carbuncle. This
jewel is regarded as of inestimable value, and those who can obtain
one of these treasures become enormously rich. Many of the legends
deal with the robbery of this jewel from the serpent, a crime which is
frequently punishable by death or madness.

The French have several variants of the story of St. George and the
Dragon. At the castle of Vaugrenans, for instance, there lived a
lovely lady whose beauty had led her far astray from the path of
virtue. She was changed into a basilisk and terrorised the country by
her misdeeds. Her son George was a handsome knight, whose natural
piety led him to live a life of good deeds. George decided that he
must set his country free from the depredations of the monster
reptile, which never ceased to prey upon the neighbourhood and he did
battle with it as once the archangel, St. Michael, had combated the
dragon. George killed the serpent and his horse trampled what remained
of it beneath its hoofs.

George was very sad, however, in spite of his victory, and he asked
St. Michael, who had witnessed the struggle, what was the punishment
for one who had slain his own mother.

"He ought to be burnt," replied St. Michael, "and his ashes strewn to
the winds."

So George had to suffer the penalty of being burnt and his ashes were
scattered to the winds. So far the story bears a marked resemblance to
the family story of the Lambton worm, but the French tale has a
curious sequel. The ashes fell in one heap instead of scattering to
the wind, and a young girl who was passing gathered them up. Near by
she found an apple of Paradise, which she ate. In due course she gave
birth to a son, and when the infant was baptised, it cried in a loud
tone of voice, "I am called George and I have been born on this earth
for the second time." Later he was made a saint.

The Roman genius, which accompanies every man through life as his
protector, frequently took the shape of a serpent.

In many lands, by eating a snake, wisdom is acquired, or the language
of animals mastered, and generally a particular snake is mentioned by
name. Thus with Arabs and Swahilis it is the king of snakes: among
Swedish, Danish, Celtic or Slavonic peoples it is a white snake or the
fabulous basilisk with a crown on its head, which resembles the
jewel-headed serpent of Eastern lore.

In the country of Râma there stood a brick stupa or tower, about a
hundred feet high, in the time of Hiuen-Tsiang. The stupa constantly
emitted rays of glory, and by the side of it was a Naga tank. The Naga
frequently changed his appearance into that of a man, and, as such,
encircled the tower in the practice of religion, that is, he turned
religiously with his right hand towards the tower.[122]

In New Guinea it is believed that a witch is possessed by spirits
which can be expelled in the form of snakes. Among the Ainus, madness
is explained as possession by snakes. The Zulus believe that an
ancestor who wishes to approach a kraal takes serpent shape. In
Madagascar different species of snakes are the abode for different
classes, one for common people, one for chiefs, and one for women, and
in certain parts of Europe it is solemnly believed that people may
assume serpent-form during sleep.

The fact that the serpent-stories of the nature here collected, are so
numerous seems to point to a definite occult connection between the
highest living organism, man, who is represented by a vertical line,
and the reptile, the serpent, represented by the horizontal line, the
two together forming the right angle.


[108] Lenormant, F., "Chaldean Magic," 1877, p. 232.

[109] Deane, J. B., "The Worship of the Serpent," 1833, pp. 344-5.

[110] Burton, "Anatomy of Melancholy," 1881, p. 495.

[111] Trevelyan, Marie, "Folklore and Folk-stories of Wales," 1909,
pp. 301-2.

[112] _Ibid._, pp. 302-3.

[113] "North Indian Notes and Queries," April, 1892, p. 12, No. 52.

[114] "Punjab Notes and Queries," March, 1885, No. 555.

[115] Karajic, "Volksmärchen der Serben," 1854, p. 77.

[116] _Ibid._, p. 82 ff.

[117] Bompas, C. H., "Folk-lore of the Santal Parganas," 1909, p. 452.

[118] Macculloch, J. A., "The Childhood of Fiction," 1905, pp. 264-5.

[119] Leipzig, 1904.

[120] Macculloch, J. A., "The Childhood of Fiction," 1905, pp. 256-8.

[121] _Ibid._, p. 259.

[122] Shaman Hwui Li, "The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang," 1911, p. 96.

                            CHAPTER XVIII

                        CAT AND COCK PHANTOMS

The cat, as appears from many legends, easily holds the place amongst
mystic animals that the serpent has among reptiles, partly no doubt
because of its close relationship with sorcerers and witches.

Among the strange animal-gods and goddesses of Egypt none is more
famous than the goddess Sekhet and Bast of Bubastis, who sometimes has
the head of a lion, sometimes of a cat. The early inhabitants of the
valley of the Nile were better acquainted with the lion than with the
cat, which was first introduced from Nubia in the eleventh dynasty. In
the time of the old Empire there was no cat-headed deity chiefly
because there were no cats. When once introduced, the cat became a
sacred animal and Sekhet's lion-head was superseded by a milder feline
form. The Egyptians also believed that Diana, wishing to escape from
giants, chose to hide herself in the form of a cat.

Cats, like foxes, are credited in Japan with the power of assuming human
shape in order to bewitch mankind. The two-tailed vampire cat destroys a
beautiful maiden and, taking her form, preys on a handsome prince.

A man who kills a cat is liable to be possessed by a cat, and he
prevents this if he eats part of the animal. This homeopathic cure is
called cat-punishment. At Aix in Provence, on the day of Corpus
Christi, the largest tom-cat is dressed in swaddling clothes and
publicly exhibited in a magnificent shrine.[123]

There is a well-known story of a traveller who saw a procession of
cats in a ruined abbey lowering a small coffin with a crown on it into
a grave. Filled with fear, he rushed from the spot and later told his
vision to a friend. The friend's cat lay curled up quietly before the
fire, but, hearing the story, it sprang up and crying out, "Now I am
king of the cats!" disappeared in a flash up the chimney.

An inhabitant of Toulon told Bérenger-Feraud,[124] in 1875, that one
of his friends had a wizard cat. Every evening the cat used to listen
to their conversation, and if the subject interested him, he expressed
his own opinion, usually saying the last word on the topic. If his
mistress had any plans on hand, she consulted the cat, giving her
reasons for taking one course or another. After having weighed the
pros and cons carefully, the cat used to advise her by saying "yes" or
"no" as to whether her plans could be carried out or not.

The cat used to speak whenever he wanted food, asking either for fish
or meat to be purchased, and he talked very indignantly if the
required dainty was not forthcoming.

From time to time this uncanny animal disappeared for many days at a
stretch; and the members of the household were convinced that he had
taken human form in his absence. He always used to speak before
leaving and after returning.

When he lay on the point of death he prayed that his body might be
decently buried, and his mistress gave him a solemn promise to this
effect and laid the corpse in a box which she interred behind the
cemetery wall. She dare not bury it in the grave prepared for human
beings, but the coffin was laid alongside a Christian tomb, and at the
funeral the cat's soul was recommended to the care of his Creator.

Wizard cats have been known to do serious harm to those against whom
they have a grudge, and it is well to be sure, if you value your
life, whether you are dealing with a real animal or a "familiar" when
you feel angry.

A young man in Radnorshire had the reputation of being very cruel to
cats. On the day he was to be married he saw a cat cross his path, and
he threw a stone at it. From that moment he weakened in health and had
to go away frequently to recuperate. The neighbours said that during
these absences he was changed into a cat and ran wild in the woods
and, after his death, tradition declared that he wandered through the
district at night in the shape of a cat and struck terror in the
hearts of naughty children.

General Sir Thomas Edward Gordon tells the following story of a modern
instance in which a man was said to be transformed into a cat after

"For twenty-five years an oral addition to the written standing orders
of the native guard at Government House near Poona had been communicated
regularly from one guard to another on relief, to the effect that any
cat passing out of the front door after dark was to be regarded as His
Excellency the Governor, and to be saluted accordingly. The meaning of
this was that Sir Robert Grant, Governor of Bombay, had died there in
1838, and on the evening of the day of his death a cat was seen to leave
the house by the front door and walk up and down a particular path, as
had been the Governor's habit to do after sunset. A Hindu sentry had
observed this, and he mentioned it to the others of his faith, who made
it a subject of superstitious conjecture, the result being that one of
the priestly class explained the mystery of the dogma of the
transmigration of the soul from one body to another, and interpreted the
circumstance to mean that the spirit of the deceased Governor had
entered into one of the house pets.

"It was difficult to fix on a particular one, and it was therefore
decided that every cat passing out of the main entrance after dark was
to be regarded as the tabernacle of Governor Grant's soul, and to be
treated with due respect and the proper honours. This decision was
accepted without question by all the native attendants and others
belonging to Government House. The whole guard, from sepoy to sibadar,
fully acquiesced in it, and an oral addition was made to the standing
orders that the sentry at the front door would 'present arms' to any
cat passing out there after dark."

A strange cat-story is told in "Notes and Queries," by a writer who
knew the lady who had seen the ghost.

The lady was living with her father about 1840 in an ancient
country-house which he had rented from an elderly heiress. The inmates
soon discovered that the house was haunted. Strange noises were heard
from time to time in the dining-room at night: a mysterious black cat
used to appear in the entrance hall in the evening and scamper
straight up the main staircase--not ascending it in the manner of
mortal cats, but by winding itself in and out of the balustrade in a
decidedly uncanny and preternatural way; and, worst of all, an old
gentleman, in a black skull cap, yellow dressing-gown and red
slippers, would come at midnight out of a certain door, cross the
hall, go upstairs (in a dignified manner and not as the cat did) and
vanish into an empty bedroom on the first floor. All the members of
the household used to hear the noises and see the old gentleman
whenever they were awake and downstairs at midnight. As to the
"tortuous cat," it was vouched for by the servants and duly recorded
by the lady who told the story. At length the inmates, finding the
situation unpleasant, courageously determined to beard the ghost and
give the old gentleman a practical and straightforward remonstrance
about his conduct. On a certain night four men-servants were
accordingly posted on the staircase, at the head of the first flight
of stairs, it having been arranged that they should stop the intruder
if they could, while their master, with a loaded pistol, should follow
him and cut off his retreat.

At midnight the venerable gentleman emerged from his accustomed door.
"Here he is!" cried the master of the house, and the servants on the
staircase held their ground whilst the old gentleman approached
silently, apparently unconscious of their presence. He came close up
to the dauntless four, and then, to their amazement, he passed
straight through them and reappeared on the other side. Turning round,
they saw him calmly gliding up the second flight of stairs, above that
on which they were posted. The master of the house, calling on them to
follow, gave chase and fired his revolver. The old gentleman took no
notice of the shot and entered the empty bedroom as usual, through its
closed door. His pursuers opened the door only to find the room empty.
A thorough search was made, the wainscoting sounded, the chimney
explored, the cupboards turned out, and so forth, but nothing was
found but a box containing deeds and some money in a forgotten closet.

The next morning the occupier wrote to the owner of the house to tell
her of the discovery of the deed-box, and at the end of his letter, he
inquired casually whether any of her relatives had been noted for a
peculiarity of dress.

She replied that her grandfather always used to wear, when he was at
home and in his study, _a black skull cap_, _a yellow dressing-gown
and red slippers_.

After the finding of the deed-box the ghost failed to reappear and the
companion phantom cat no longer did gymnastic exercises on the

A different cause no doubt lies at the root of the appearance of a
phantom cat and of a witch-cat, but it is not always easy to
distinguish between the varieties of apparitions. The animals in the
following stories bear resemblance to witches' familiars.

A woodman whose dinner was stolen from him daily by a cat made many
attempts to waylay the creature. At last he succeeded in catching it
in the act of larceny and he chopped off one of its paws, only to find
on his return home that his wife had lost a hand.

A Frenchwoman at Billancourt was cooking an omelette when a black cat
strayed into the cottage and sat down near the hearth to watch the
operation. At the critical moment the cat cried out, "The omelette is
done on that side. Turn it." The old woman was indignant at this
aspersion on her culinary knowledge and she flung the half-cooked
omelette at the cat, striking the animal's face. The next morning she
had the satisfaction of seeing a deep red burn on the cheek of an
evil-minded neighbour.

A woman whose children were always ailing, lived in the village of
Ceyreste near to Ciotat. As soon as one child recovered another fell
ill, and their mother was in despair, because she could not account
for their ailments.

One day, one of her neighbours said, "Do you know, I feel sure your
mother-in-law is injuring the health of your little ones. She may be a

The woman spoke to her husband about the matter, and they decided to
watch over their children carefully to see whether their illness was
due to evil influence.

One night they were watching without appearing to do so, when suddenly
a black cat approached the cradle of one of the children, moving with
stealth and quite silently. The husband raised a stick he had picked
up for the purpose and struck the animal violently, intending to kill
it. But the blow was not carefully aimed and he only succeeded in
crushing one of the evil animal's paws. With a bound it escaped him.

For a day or two afterwards nothing was seen of the children's
grandmother, who usually came on a visit every day to inquire after
the health of her grandchildren.

Then the neighbour said, "She is hiding something from you. Go and see
why she does not come."

The husband followed her advice and went to see his mother, whom he
found with her hand bound up, and in an extremely bad temper. He
pretended not to see that she had been hurt, and he asked her in the
most natural tone he could summon, why she had not been to visit them
as usual.

"Whatever should I come to your house for?" she asked angrily. "Look
at the state of my fingers. If I had been struck by a hatchet instead
of a stick, my fingers would have been cut off and I should have
nothing left but a stump."[126]

Mr. Algernon Blackwood has cleverly used this idea of the astral body
assuming cat-shape, and a wound inflicted on the animal reproducing
itself on the physical counterpart, by means of the so-called
phenomenon of repercussion.

In "The Empty Sleeve,"[127] the violinist Hyman "believed that there
was some fluid portion of a man's personality which could be projected
to a distance, and even semimaterialised there. The 'astral body,' he
called it, or some such foolishness, claiming that it could appear in
various forms, according to the character of its owner's desire, even
in animal forms."

Billy Gilmer described to his brother what he saw when the violinist
was playing. "The music seemed to issue from himself rather than from
the shining bit of wood under his chin, when--I noticed something
coming over me that was"--he hesitated, searching for words--"that
wasn't _all_ due to the music."...

"You mean Hyman looked queer?"

Billy nodded his head without turning.

"Changed there before my very eyes"--he whispered it--"turned

"_Animal!_" John felt his hair rising.

"That's the only way I can put it. His face and hands and body turned
otherwise than usual. I lost the sound of his feet. When the bow-hand
or the fingers on the strings passed into the light, they were"--he
uttered a soft, shuddering little laugh--"furry, oddly divided, the
fingers massed together. And he paced stealthily. I thought every
instant the fiddle would drop with a crash and he would spring at me
across the room."

Some weeks later John Gilmer is awakened by a noise in the flat, and
seizing a Turkish sword from the wall where it hung he entered the
sitting-room where he saw a moving figure.

"Clutching his Turkish sword tightly he drew back with the utmost
caution against the wall and watched, for the singular impression came
to him that the movement was not that of a human being crouching, but
rather of something that pertained to the animal world. He remembered,
flash-like, the movements of reptiles, the stealth of the larger
felines, the undulating glide of great snakes. For the moment,
however, it did not move, and they faced one another.

"The other side of the room was but dimly lighted, and the noise he
made clicking up another electric lamp brought the thing flying
forwards again--_towards himself_. At such a moment it seemed absurd
to think of so small a detail, but he remembered his bare feet, and,
genuinely frightened, he leaped upon a chair and swished with his
sword through the air about him. From this better point of view, with
the increased light to aid him, he then saw two things--first, that
the glass case usually covering the Guarnerius violin had been
shifted: and, secondly, that the moving object was slowly elongating
itself into an upright position. Semi-erect and yet most oddly, too,
like a creature on its hind legs, it was coming swiftly towards him.
It was making for the door--and escape."

Confused, he struck out wildly, lost his balance and fell forward from
the chair.

"Then came the most curious thing of all, for as he dropped, the
figure also dropped, stooped low down, crouched, dwindled amazingly in
size, and rushed past him close to the ground like an animal on all
fours. John Gilmer screamed, for he could no longer contain himself.
Stumbling over the chair as he turned to follow, cutting and slashing
wildly with his sword, he saw half-way down the darkened corridor
beyond, the large, scuttling outline of--a cat!

"The door into the outer landing was somehow ajar, and the next second
the beast was out, but not before the steel had fallen with a dreadful
crashing blow upon the front disappearing leg, almost severing it from
the body."

Months afterwards the Gilmers met Hyman wearing spectacles and a
beard. William pointed out to his brother another difference.

"But didn't you also notice----"


"He had an empty sleeve."

"An empty sleeve?"

"Yes," said William. "_He's lost an arm!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

A daring cat-story is of French origin and bears distinctive national
characteristics on the face of it. On the 26th of March, 1782, a
gentleman of wealth who was jealous of his wife's honour, decided he
would consult Count Cagliostro, in order to find out whether his wife,
who was young and beautiful, had always been faithful to him. He told
the Count the reason of his visit and begged him to assist him in
discovering the truth. Cagliostro said that this was quite an easy
matter, and that he would give him a small phial containing a certain
liquid which he was to drink when he reached home and just before he
went to bed. "If your wife has been unfaithful to you," said
Cagliostro, "you will be transformed into a cat."

The husband went home and told his wife how clever the Count was. She
asked him the reason of his journey. At first he refused to tell her,
but when she insisted he told her the exact means by which he was
going to test her fidelity. She laughed at his credulity, but he
swallowed the draught and they went to bed. The wife rose early to
attend to her household duties, leaving her husband asleep. At ten
o'clock, as he did not appear, she went up to wake him, and to her
intense astonishment, she found a huge black cat in the bed in place
of her husband. She screamed, called her dear husband's name, and bent
over the cat to kiss it, but without avail. _Her husband had
vanished!_ Then, in her despair, she knelt beside the bed and prayed
for pardon, saying that she had committed a sin and that a handsome
young soldier had cajoled her, by means of vows, of tears, and stories
of heroic battles, to forget her marriage vows.

Black cocks and hens--like the cat--appear to have affinity with
ghosts and sorcery. Among the fauna of La Franche Comté black hens are
found, gifted with supernatural powers, which are so much like the
ordinary ones that it is difficult to tell them apart. Yet they are
magicians well versed in sorcery. In the courtyard they are served
before their companions, and when they become broody and sit on the
nest, a piece of money is slipped beneath them. If they are pleased,
other coins are added, but it is very difficult to please them. At
Mouthe in the Jura mountains, there are said to be witch-hens that
frighten eagles.[128] Cocks are also thought to have power over lions.
Proches gives an example of a spirit which was wont to appear in the
form of a lion, but by setting of a cock before it, it was made to
disappear, because there is a contrariety between a cock and a lion.

If an unexpected fortune is left to a poor peasant the French say that
"he has a black hen," and the black hen which brings treasure is given
by the devil to those who have sold their soul to him. A black cock is
regarded as lucky,[129] and use is made of it in ceremonial magic.

Oromasis, father of Zoroaster, possessed a gold-finding hen which was
hatched in the following manner. "Take aromatic woods, such as aloes,
cedar, orange, citron laurel, iris-root, with rose leaves dried in the
sun. Place them in a golden chafing-dish, pour balsamic oil over them:
add the finest incense and clear gum. Next say: _Athas_, _Solinain_,
_Erminatos_, _Pasaim_: set a glass over the chafing dish: direct the
rays of the sun thereon, and the wood will kindle, the glass will
melt, a sweet odour will fill the place, and the compost will burn
speedily to ashes. Place these ashes in a golden egg while still
red-hot: lay the egg upon a black cushion; cover it with a bell-glass
of faceted rock-crystal; then lift up your eyes and stretch your arms
towards heaven and cry: _O Sanataper_, _Ismaï_, _Nontapilus_,
_Ertivaler_, _Canopistus_. Expose the glass to the most fierce rays of
the sun till it seems enveloped in flame, the egg ceases to be visible
and a slight vapour rises. Presently you will discern a black pullet
just beginning to move, when, if you say: _Binusas_, _Testipas_, it
will take wing and nestle in your bosom."[130]

An alternative method provided by the Grimoire is to take an unspotted
egg, and expose it to the meridian rays of the sun. Then select the
blackest hen you can get, and shut it in a box lined with black. Place
the box in a darkened room and let the hen sit till it hatches the
chicken, which should be as black as the hen's outlook. The black
pullet should have gold-finding proclivities. Another method
altogether is to secure a virgin black hen, which must be seized
without causing it to cackle. Repair to the highroad, walk till you
come to a cross-way, and there, on the stroke of midnight, describe a
circle with a cypress rod, place yourself in the middle, tear the bird
in twain, and pronounce thrice the words _Eloïm_, _Essaim_, _frugativi
et appellavi_. Next turn to the east, kneel down, recite a prayer, and
conclude it with the Grand Appellation, when the Unclean Spirit will
appear to you in a scarlet surcoat, a yellow vest, and breeches of
pale green. His head will resemble that of a dog, but his ears will be
those of an ass, with two horns above them; he will have the legs and
hoofs of a calf. He will ask for your orders, which you will give as
you please, and as he cannot do otherwise than obey you, you may
become rich on the spot, and thus the happiest of men. Such at least
is the judgment of the Grimoire.[131]

Samuel Bernard, the Jewish banker who died in 1789, left an enormous
fortune. It was said that he possessed a favourite black cock as a
mascot, which was thought by many to have supernatural powers and to
be connected in the diabolical manner indicated with the amassing of
his wealth. The bird died a day or two before his master.

At Basle, in 1474, a cock was tried for having laid an egg. After a
long examination the cock was condemned to death, not as a cock but as
a sorcerer or devil in the form of a cock. The bird was burned with
its egg at the stake! In former times all animals were regarded as
amenable to the laws of the country and the whole proceedings of the
trial, sentence, and execution were conducted with the strictest
formalities of justice. Ninety-two processes against animals were
tried in the French courts between 1120 and 1740, when the last trial
and execution of a cow took place.

At Lavegny, in 1457, a sow and her six young ones were tried for
having murdered and partly eaten a child. The sow was found guilty and
executed, but the pigs were acquitted on account of their youth and
the bad example of their mother.

Such instances might be multiplied in number, but they have no real
place here, as the victims of justice were not regarded in the light
of human animals, but as animals which had broken the standard of
conduct laid down for the so-called superior race.

Chanticleer is the name of the cock in the great beast epic of the
Middle Ages, Reynard the Fox, and Chanticleer, as everyone knows, has
been humanised and immortalised in recent years by the famous French
dramatist, Rostand. The cock, the hawk, and the eagle, among birds,
appear to attract wizards or male sorcerers for transformation purposes,
while the more graceful and docile feathered beings, such as the
nightingale, the wren, and above all the swan, appeal more frequently to
the witch or maiden as a suitable form in which to appear.

Admirers of William Blake's work will remember the curious conception
of a woman with a swan's head depicted in his "Jerusalem."

After the classic swan-maidens and Valkyries, perhaps the owl-woman
comes next in popularity, made famous no doubt by the transformation
of Pamphile in "The Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass of Apuleius."


[123] "The Gentlemen's Magazine," 1882, Vol. I, p. 60.

[124] "Superstitions et Survivances," 1896, Vol. V, p. 33.

[125] "A Varied Life," 1906, pp. 56-7.

[126] Bérenger-Feraud, L. J. B., "Superstitions et Survivances," 1896,
Vol. V, pp. 21-22.

[127] "The London Magazine," January, 1911, pp. 552-63.

[128] Beauquier, Ch., "Faune et Flore Populaires de la Franche Comté,"
1910, Vol. I, p. 24.

[129] _Ibid._, p. 228.

[130] Waite, A. E., "The Book of Black Magic," 1898, p. 104.

[131] _Ibid._, pp. 106-7.

                             CHAPTER XIX

                              BIRD WOMEN

A beautiful girl of about twenty years of age lived in a Provençal
village. Her figure was good, she had an engaging carriage, fine hair,
lovely eyes and teeth, and, in short, she was very attractive, but
none of the young men of the village ever attempted to make love to
her, and she had never had an offer of marriage. Whenever she met a
young man who was new to the neighbourhood, he said, "Oh, what a
pretty girl!" But his friends whispered in his ear, "Yes, she's lovely
but she's a witch," and the mere suspicion of such a thing was so
unpleasant that the young man knew it was quite impossible to give the
lady a second sympathetic thought.

A few courageous young men, it is true, were anxious to hear further
details about her sad story, and their friends gave them the following
account as soon as they were out of earshot of any curious listener.

The young girl's mother, it appeared, had become a witch in her early
youth, because, finding herself at the bedside of an old neighbour who
lay at death's door and who was a notorious witch, she had been
imprudent enough to take hold of her hand. Her indiscretion had not at
the time become public property, and she had no difficulty in getting a
husband, but a very short time after the marriage had taken place, the
man had fallen ill, and died soon afterwards in a mysterious decline.

Under these circumstances there could be no doubt that the daughter
was a witch as well as the mother, and it was equally certain that any
bold gentleman who might venture to marry her would be condemned to
an early death.

Whether the young lady in question was pleased at the prospect of
being laid on the shelf is very doubtful. Most girls of twenty have
not an idea in the world beyond getting married, and she did not seem
to be an exception to the rule.

One day a nice-looking young man who had recently come to the district
to take up a position of some importance, was much struck by the young
lady's good looks. When a friend told him she was undoubtedly a witch
he shrugged his shoulders in contemptuous incredulity and continued to
glance at her with interest and even tenderness in his gaze.

He was specially favoured by the girl, who received his attentions with
pleasure and returned his glances. They soon made one another's
acquaintance and, before long, an engagement was arranged between them.

The young man's family looked upon the forthcoming marriage with
anything but good-will. But the young lover was obstinate, and as the
girl and her mother did their best to keep him to his intentions, the
arrangements were settled and the wedding-day fixed.

The fiancé was allowed to pay court to his lady-love every evening,
and he made good use of this privilege. Autumn was approaching and the
evenings were drawing in, and as the wedding was to be in November,
there were many things to arrange and discuss every day, which made
long visits a matter of course.

Time and time again one of the young man's friends pointed out the
danger into which he was running by marrying a witch, but all advice
was useless. It had an effect in one way, however, as it made the
young man anxious to know whether the accusation could possibly be
true. After a long time, in which his friend's suggestions had slowly
made an impression, the young man decided to take steps to make sure
what sort of a woman he was about to marry.

It is a well-known fact that the witches' Sabbath begins exactly at
midnight, and once or twice when it grew very late whilst he was
visiting his fiancée, her mother had suggested it was time he took his
leave as it was close on midnight. This occurrence had made him
slightly suspicious, and he decided to resort to a ruse.

One evening, having arrived at the usual hour, he complained of
fatigue and pretended to fall asleep. Being Friday, the meeting of the
witches was a specially solemn one, and not a single witch could
afford to be absent. As time wore on, mother and daughter tried to
wake the young man, but this was impossible, as he was sleeping too
heavily, even snoring in a marked fashion, although all the time he
was prepared to glance out of one eye if anything extraordinary went
on in the room.

Presently, finding all their efforts in vain, the two women began
talking in whispers, and were seemingly in great trouble. Then, as time
pressed on, they took a mighty resolution. They put out the light, so
that the room was in utter darkness save for the glowing embers on the
hearth, then they took from a hidden press a jar of ointment which they
placed on the table. They quickly divested themselves of their clothes
and, dipping their fingers into the jar, rubbed themselves all over very
carefully with the ointment. Every time they rubbed a limb they cried
out, "Supra fueillo--above the foliage!"

As soon as they had finished this ritual they suddenly became owls,
flew up the chimney, uttering the lugubrious hoot of the night-bird,
and leaving behind them no signs of their presence except their
discarded clothes on a chair in the room which had been the stage of
this strange transformation.

As soon as he was left alone, the young man opened his eyes in a state
of indescribable stupefaction. He rose, lit the lamp, looked carefully
all round the room, touching many of the things to make sure that he
was really awake and that he had not been the subject of an
hallucination. When he came to the clothes, which still felt warm
from their owners' bodies, and saw on the table the jar of black
ointment which smelt as though it had been made of burnt animal fat,
he knew he was not dreaming.

Just then a clock close by struck the hour of twelve, and the young man,
shaking and quaking with the strangeness of what had taken place, looked
round in fear lest some awful apparition should greet his eyes. But
nothing happened, for all the witches were at the Sabbath by that time.

Then a mad idea entered his head! Why should not he, too, transform
himself into an owl and go to join his future wife and her mother, who
had effected the transformation without apparently the slightest
difficulty. The idea had no sooner struck him than he prepared to
carry it out. In the twinkling of an eye he slipped off his clothes,
dipped his fingers into the magic jar and rubbed himself exactly as
the women had done. Unfortunately, however, he could not remember the
exact phrase they had used, and instead of crying "Supra fueillo," he
said, "Souto fueillo--under the foliage," with every rub.

Scarcely had he completed his exercises, and said "Souto fueillo" for
the last time, than he was immediately changed into an owl and flew
towards the chimney.

Scarcely had he reached the grate, however, when he knocked against
the smouldering green faggots and burnt himself.

He attributed this misadventure to his want of address, not being
accustomed to the shape and movements of a bird, and he assured
himself that as soon as he was free of the house he would manage
better. But when he reached the open country he began to suffer
tortures. Where the fields were bare he found himself easily able to
fly, just like any ordinary owl, but as soon as he came to the
smallest hedge or thicket, he was obliged to pass through it instead
of clearing it from above, and every branch, twig or thorn hit and
stung him like a whip.

He wished to stop flying, for every moment his suffering grew more
unendurable, but it was impossible to stop, for he was induced by some
superior power to go straight ahead, and however much he tried, he could
not avoid the shrubs and trees which lay in his path. The words "souto
fueillo--under the foliage" which he had used were literally true, in
the most cruel sense. He was bruised and torn all over, and felt as
though he were at the point of death and that his last moment had come,
when suddenly he heard a cock crow and the first ray of light appeared
in the sky, heralding the dawn. The witches' Sabbath ended, he fell
heavily to earth, finding himself lying naked on the wet soil. Bruised
and bleeding, and smarting from a hundred scratches, his condition was
pitiable, but he took heart when he realised that his experiment, so
foolishly attempted, had not turned out even worse. He stood up, and
limping and sore, hastened to his own house, slinking into bed, where he
developed a serious fever which kept him there for many weeks. No one
ever guessed the real cause of his illness, but as soon as he had
recovered his ordinary state of health he went to live in another town
and never even called on his ex-fiancée and her mother to ask them for
the clothes which he had left on a chair in their sitting-room.

A legend about another owl-woman is alluded to by Shakespeare in
Hamlet, Act IV, Sc. V, in Ophelia's speech, "They say the owl was a
baker's daughter." The common version of this story comes from
Gloucestershire, and is told as follows: "Our Saviour went into a
baker's shop where they were baking and asked for some bread to eat.
The mistress of the shop immediately put a piece of dough into the
oven to bake for him, but was reprimanded by her daughter who,
insisting that the piece of dough was too large, reduced it
considerably in size. The dough, however, immediately afterwards began
to swell, and presently became an enormous size. Whereupon the baker's
daughter cried out, 'Wheugh! wheugh! wheugh!' which owl-like noise,
it is said, probably induced our Saviour, for her wickedness, to
transform her into that bird."

An old ode gives a more aristocratic descent to the owl than the
family of a tradesman.

      "Once I was a monarch's daughter,
       And sat on a lady's knee:
       But am now a mighty rover,
       Banished to the ivy tree.

      "Crying hoo hoo, hoo hoo, hoo hoo,
       Hoo! hoo! hoo! my feet are cold!
       Pity me, for here you see me,
       Persecuted, poor and old!"

In the north country the owl was also said to be of royal descent,
perhaps of birth even as high as the child of a Pharaoh.

      "I was once a king's daughter and sat upon my father's knee,
       But now I am a poor hoolet, and hide in a hollow tree."

Another common tradition represents the owl as an old weaver spinning
with silver threads, and the barn owl is said to be a transformation
of one of the servants of the ten kings of the infernal regions.[132]

A similar story about the Saviour and the dough is told of the
woodpecker. When Christ and St. Peter were wandering about the earth,
they came to a house where an old wife sat baking. Her name was Gertrude
and she wore a red mutch on her head. The Saviour, being hungry, pleaded
that she should give Him a bannock, and to this she agreed. She took a
very small piece of dough and rolled it out, but as she was rolling it
it grew bigger and finally covered the whole griddle.

Then she said it was too large and she could not give away that
bannock, and she took up a still smaller piece of dough and began
again. But this piece grew as large as the other, and she refused to
let her visitors have it. The same thing occurred a third time, and
then Gertrude said, "I can't give you anything. You will have to go
without, for all these bannocks are too large."

Then Christ was angry and said, "Since you grudge me a morsel of food
you shall turn into a bird and seek your livelihood between bark and
hole, and only drink when it rains."

As He spoke these words, Gertrude turned into a large black woodpecker
and flew up from the kneading trough and out through the chimney. Her
body is black but she still wears the red mutch and she taps at the
trees for her food.[133]

The Bohemians believe the cuckoo to be a transformed peasant woman who
hid herself when she saw the Saviour approaching because she feared
she would have to give Him a loaf. After He had gone by she looked out
of the window and cried "Cuckoo!" and thereupon she was changed into a

Another tradition says that the cuckoo is a transformed maiden, who is
calling for her lost brother, or else that she proclaims to the world
by her cry that her brother has been found again. A Serbian song says
that a dead man was detained in misery on earth because his sister
persisted in shedding tears over his grave. Becoming angry at her
unreasonable sorrow, he cursed her and she was changed into a cuckoo
and had enough to do grieving over her own condition without troubling
further about his.

In an Albanian version of this legend a sister had two brothers, and
accidentally killed one of them by getting up from her needlework and
stabbing him in the heart with her scissors. She and her surviving
brother grieved so deeply that they turned into birds, and all day long
she cried "Ku-ku, ku-ku, Where are you?" to the brother she had slain.

The Westphalian peasants say that the nightingale is a shepherdess who
treated a shepherd, who loved her, harshly, for she kept on promising
to marry him but was never prepared to fulfil her vow. At last the
shepherd could not endure her dilly-dallying any longer and he prayed
that she might never sleep again until the day of judgment. Since then
her voice is always heard at night-time, singing, "Is tit, is tit, to
wit, to wit--Trizy, Trizy, to bucht, to bucht"--which is the cry of
the shepherdess to her dog Trizy.[134]

"In former times," says Mr. Train, in his "Account of the Isle of
Man,"[135] "a fairy of uncommon beauty exerted such undue influence over
the male population, that by her sweet voice she induced numbers to
follow her footsteps till by degrees she led them into the sea, where
they perished. This barbarous exercise of power had continued for a long
time, till it was apprehended that the island would be exhausted of its
defenders: when a knight-errant sprang up who discovered some means of
countervailing the charms used by this siren, and even laid a plot for
her destruction, which she escaped at the moment of extreme hazard by
taking the form of a wren. But, though she evaded instant annihilation,
a spell was cast upon her by which she was condemned to animate the same
form every succeeding New Year's day, until she should perish by a human
hand." Every anniversary therefore man and boy hunt the island from dawn
till twilight for the small brown bird whose feathers are looked upon as
a charm against shipwreck.

In German folk-lore the magpie is a bird of the infernal regions, now
changing herself into a witch, or sometimes turning herself into the
steed or broomstick on which the witch rides to the Sabbath. In Sweden
tradition says that sorcerers on Walpurgis night ride to Blocula and
there turn into magpies. A lady at Carlstadt in that country was
haunted by witch-birds in a very unpleasant manner. Having insulted a
Finn woman who had begged food of her she told her to take a magpie
that was hanging in a cage and eat it if she was hungry. The Finn
cast an "evil eye" on the lady for this insult, but took the bird away
with her. Some time after the Swedish lady noticed that whenever she
went out a magpie came hopping in front of her. This happened for some
days running, and then the magpie was joined by a companion bird, and
presently by a number. The lady began to be frightened, but the more
she tried to get rid of these strange companions the more numerous
they became. They perched on her shoulders, tugged at her dress, and
pecked at her ankles. In despair she shut herself up indoors, but they
remained outside, and as soon as the door was open in they hopped. At
last she went to bed and had the shutters closed, and the magpies kept
on tapping outside till she died.

There is a beautiful Eskimo legend of a bird-bride:--

      "Years agone, on the flat white strand,
       I won my sweet sea-girl,
       Wrapped in my coat of the snow-white fur,
       I watched the wild-birds settle and stir,
       The grey gulls gather and whirl.

      "One of the greatest of all the flock,
       Perched on an ice-floe bare,
       Called and cried as her heart were broke,
       And straight they were changed that fleet bird-folk,
       To women young and fair."[136]

The Eskimo captures the fairest and carries her to his snow house, where
she becomes his wife and bears him three children, and he promises that
whatever bird or beast he shall slay for food he will never capture
another grey gull. But as time goes on he forgets his vow and once when
food is scarce and he can get no game, he shoots four sea-gulls with his
bow and arrow. Then his wife tells him her hour has come, and, calling
her children to fetch the feather plumes, she dons them and flies away
with her little ones and the husband is left lamenting.

A more definite variant of the bird-maiden legend is found in "The
Arabian Nights." Janshah enters a pavilion and mounting the throne
falls asleep. But presently awaking he walks forth and sees flying in
mid-sky, three birds, in dove-form but as large as eagles. They alight
on the brink of the basin of the fountain. There they become maidens,
plunge into the basin and play and swim in the water. Janshah, struck
by their beauty, rises and follows them when they come to land,
saying, "Who are ye, O illustrious princesses, and whence come ye?"
The youngest maiden replies, "We are from the invisible world of
Almighty Allah, and we come hither to divert ourselves."

Still marvelling at her beauty, Janshah said to the youngest, "Have
ruth on me and deign kindness to me and take pity on my case and all
that hath befallen me in my life." But she will not hearken to his
pleadings, and though he recites love poems to them all they only
laugh and sing and make merry. They stay with him feasting till
morning and then, resuming dove-shape, fly off and are seen no more.
Janshah, deprived of their company, well-nigh loses his reason and
falls into a swoon.

Eventually he wins the princess by seizing her feather robe and refusing
to return it in spite of the fact that the fair lady, Shamsah by name,
beseeches him with all her wiles to do so. They decide to go back to the
princesses' motherland to be married, and Janshah returns the feather
suit, which she dons, telling him to mount her back and shut his eyes
and ears, so that he "may not hear the roar of the revolving sphere,"
and, she adds, "keep fast hold of my feathers lest thou fall off."

They return to his home happily wedded and Janshah places the
feather-vest of the princess in a white marble chest, which is sealed
with melted lead and buried under the palace walls. But Shamsah when
she enters the new palace smells the scent of her flying feather-gear,
and when her husband is asleep she gets out the garment and flies
away. Then Janshah has to search for the Castle of Jewels, where he
meets his fair bride once more.[137]

A very similar story is told by Charles Swynnerton in "Romantic Tales
from the Panjab, with Indian Nights' Entertainment,"[138] about Prince
Bairam and his fairy bride. The Prince, sitting down in a beautiful
garden, watches four milk-white doves who settle in the shape of four
fairies by the edge of a tank of clear crystal water. There they bathe
and when they come out to dress three of them resume their dove-shape,
but the fourth fairy, whose name is Ghulab Bano, cannot find her
clothes and bids farewell to her sisters, saying, "It is my kismet.
Some different destiny awaits me here and we shall never meet again."

Then she falls in love with the Prince, who has purposely hidden her
dove-skin, and marries him. After a time she asks her husband for
leave to visit her father and mother, promising to return. He gives
her the fairy clothes and she disappears as a milk-white dove. But her
parents are angry with her for marrying a mortal and imprison her in a
subterranean city, so that she cannot keep her promise. The Prince
goes in search of her and at last finds his bride, but as women cannot
keep a secret, she tells her friends of his presence, and her father
sends giants to kill him, and only after many further adventures are
the Prince and the fairy-Princess once more happily united.

In a Basuto legend a girl is devoured by wer-animals in whose care, as
men, she has been sent to her betrothed. Her heart is transformed into a
dove and joins a flock of these birds. They visit the hut of the
bridegroom's sister, who suspects that the beautiful bird may be the
lost maiden. Then the bridegroom seizes hold of the dove, the wings come
off and the girl herself steps forth as beautiful and innocent as ever.

Hans Andersen's "The Wild Swans" differs in an important particular
from the other stories of this class, as it deals with Swan-princes.
Princess Elsie's eleven brothers are transformed into swans by their
wicked stepmother, who says, "Fly away in the form of great speechless
birds." But she could not make their transformation so disagreeable as
she wished, and the princes were changed into eleven white swans.

Elsie releases them by plucking stinging-nettles which she has to
weave into eleven shirts with long sleeves. She does not finish in
time, and one sleeve being wanting in the youngest boy's shirt, he has
one arm, and a wing instead of the other.[139]

The robin, oddly enough among birds, is also a transformed man. The
legend is told amongst the Chippeway Indians that there was once a
hunter so ambitious that his only son should signalise himself by
endurance when he came to the time of life to undergo the fast for the
purpose of choosing his guardian spirit, that after the lad had fasted
for eight days, his father still pressed him to persevere. But the
next day, when the father entered the hut, his son had paid the
penalty of violated nature, and in the form of a robin had just flown
down to the top of a lodge. There before he flew away to the woods, he
entreated his father not to mourn the transformation. "I shall be
happier," he said, "in my present state than I could have been as a
man. I shall always be the friend of men and keep near their
dwellings; I could not gratify your pride as a warrior, but I will
cheer you with my songs."[140]

In Bavaria the hoopoe is said to play the part of attendant to the
cuckoo. It is believed that the plantain was once a maiden, who,
watching by the wayside for her lover, who was long in coming, was
changed into a plant, and once in seven years she becomes a bird,
either the cuckoo or the hoopoe,[141] or, as it is called in
Devonshire, the "dinnick," the cuckoo's servant.

One of the best-known classical stories of bird-women is, of course,
the tragedy of Progne and Philomela, daughters of Pandion, King of
Athens. Progne marries Tereus, King of Thrace, but Tereus, blinded by
Philomela's beauty, betrays his sister-in-law and cuts out her tongue
lest she should tell of his villainy. Nevertheless she manages to send a
message to her sister, who revenges herself and Philomela on her husband
Tereus by killing his son Itys and dishing up his body as food at a meal
which she sets before his father. Tereus, having eaten of the flesh of
his beloved son, discovers the trick played upon him and pursues his
wife and her sister with the intention of punishing them. As they flee
Philomela is transformed into a nightingale, while Progne becomes a
swallow, upon whose breast the red stains of her murdered son appear.
Tereus is changed into a crested bird, either a hoopoe or a lapwing.

      "The Thracian king, lamenting sore,
       Turned to a lapwing, doeth them upbrayde."

A pretty story of a woman-kingfisher is also to be found among the
classics. Ceyx, King of Trachyn, sets out for Claros, to succour his
brother, against the advice of his wife, Halcyone. A storm overtakes
the ship on which he is travelling and he is drowned. Halcyone hastens
to the seashore to find him, as she feels she cannot live without his
presence, and as she stands looking out to sea the body of the drowned
Ceyx floats towards her. She leaps into the water to seize his corpse
and at that moment is transformed into a kingfisher, and with her bill
and wings caresses the dead face and limbs of her beloved husband.
Then the gods, in compassion, transform Ceyx also into a kingfisher,
so that as birds their love may endure for ever.[142]


[132] _See_ Swainson, Ch., "Folklore of British Birds," 1886, pp. 123-7.

[133] Dasent, G. W., "Popular Tales from the Norse," 1903, pp. 213-4.

[134] Quoted from other sources by Swainson, Ch., "The Folk-lore of
British Birds," 1886, pp. 20-1.

[135] 1845, Vol. II, pp. 124-7.

[136] Tomson, Graham R., "The Bird Bride," 1889, p. 1.

[137] "Arabian Nights," Lady Burton's edition, Vol. III, 1887, pp.

[138] 1908, pp. 464-9.

[139] Andersen, H. C, "Danish Fairy Legends," 1861, pp. 1-16.

[140] _See_ Jones' "Credulities Past and Present."

[141] "Quarterly Review," July, 1863, p. 245.

[142] Gibson, Frank, "Superstitions about Animals," 1904, pp. 140-2.

                              CHAPTER XX

                            FAMILY ANIMALS

Certain animals are associated with certain families, and in many such
instances the animal makes its appearance as a death-warning.
Sometimes the animal in question, which is in the nature of a totem of
the clan, is the family crest and has an occult connection with its
traditions and history.

The Ferrers, whose country seat is at Chartley Park, near Litchfield,
have a peculiar breed of cattle on their estates. The colour of the
cattle is white with black muzzles. The whole of the inside of the
ear, and one-third of the outside from the tip downwards is red, and
the horns are white, with black tips, very fine and bent upwards.

In the year in which the Battle of Burton Bridge was fought and lost,
a black calf was born into this stock and the downfall of the Ferrers
family occurred about this time, giving rise to a tradition which has
never been falsified, that the birth of a dark or parti-coloured calf
from the Chartley Park breed is an omen of death within the year to a
member of the Ferrers family.

The "Staffordshire Chronicle," of July, 1835, says, "It is a
noticeable coincidence that a calf of this description was born
whenever a death happened in the family. The decease of the seventh
Earl Ferrers and of his countess, and of his son, Viscount Tamworth,
and of his daughter, Mrs. William Jolliffe, as well as the deaths of
the son and heir of the eighth earl and of his daughter, Lady Francis
Shirley, were each preceded by the ominous birth of the fatal-hued
calf. In the spring of 1835 a black calf appeared at Chartley, and
before long the beautiful countess, second wife of the eighth earl,
lay on her death-bed.

Birds of various kinds frequently make their appearance in families as
harbingers of death. When the Oxenhams of Devonshire were visited by the
apparition of a white bird they knew that one of the family was doomed.
The well-known story is told by James Oxenham in a tract entitled "A
True relation of an Apparition in the likenesse of a Bird with a white
breast that appeared hovering over the death-beds of some of the
children of Mr. James Oxenham, of Sale Monachorum, Devon, Gent."

One of the first members of the family to see the apparition was the
famous John Oxenham, a young man of twenty-two, who was taken ill in
the vigour of his youth, a great strapping fellow six foot and a half
in height, well built, of comely countenance and of great intellectual
gifts. He died on the fifth day of September, 1635, and two days
before his death the bird with the white breast hovered over his bed.
Charles Kingsley made use of this incident in "Westward Ho!" John
Oxenham, in the midst of drinking a toast, suddenly drops his glass on
the table and staring in terror at some object which he seems to see
fluttering round the room, he cries out "There! Do you see it? The
bird! The bird with the white breast!"

No sooner was John Oxenham in his grave than the apparition showed
itself to Thomasine, wife of James Oxenham, who died on the seventh of
September, 1635. She was quite a young woman and, according to the
witnesses, Elizabeth Frost and Joan Tooker, the strange phantom was
seen clearly fluttering above her sick-bed. The next member of the
Oxenhams to whom the warning appeared was Thomasine's little sister,
Rebecca, a child of eight, who breathed her last on September the
ninth, following. And no sooner had the little girl been laid in her
grave than Thomasine, infant of the above-mentioned Thomasine and
James Oxenham, was taken sick and died on the 15th of September, 1635,
the bird appearing also in this case.

It is impossible not to wonder what disease it was that carried off so
many members of the Oxenham family within a few days of one another,
and whether the bird was fluttering through the rooms the whole of the
time, or whether it disappeared between the various deaths. Certain it
is that it was not seen hovering over the sick-beds of other members
of the family who recovered health. An earlier visitation had occurred
in 1618, when the grandmother of the said John, a certain Grace
Oxenham, had yielded up her soul into the hands of her Maker. Many
later appearances of the famous bird are on record. A Mr. Oxenham who
lived in Sidmouth for many years and who died between 1810 and 1821,
was attended by an old gardener and his wife, who gave evidence that
they had seen a white bird fly in at the door, dart across the bed in
which their master lay dying, and _disappear in one of the drawers of
the bureau_, but when they opened all the drawers to find the
apparition, they could discover no signs of it.

In 1873 the Rev. Henry Oxenham gave the following version of the
family story, which may be found in Frederick George Lee's "Glimpses
of the Supernatural."[143]

"Shortly before the death of my late uncle, G. N. Oxenham, Esq., of 17
Earl's Terrace, Kensington, who was then head of the family, this
occurred: His only surviving daughter, now Mrs. Thomas Peter, but then
unmarried and living at home, and a friend of my aunt's, Miss Roberts,
who happened to be staying in the house, but was no relation, and had
never heard of the family tradition, were sitting in the dining-room
immediately beneath his bedroom about a week before his death, which
took place on December 15, 1873, when their attention was aroused by a
shouting outside the window.

"On looking out they observed a white bird--which might have been a
pigeon, but, if so, was an unusually large one--perched on the thorn
tree outside the windows and it remained there for several minutes, in
spite of some workmen on the opposite side of the road throwing their
hats at it, in the vain effort to drive it away.

"Miss Roberts mentioned this to my aunt at the time, though not, of
course, attaching any special significance to it, and my aunt (since
deceased) repeated it to me soon after my uncle's death. Neither did
my cousin, though aware of the family tradition, think of it at the
time.... My cousin also mentioned another circumstance, which either I
did not hear of or had forgotten, viz. that my late aunt spoke at the
time of frequently hearing a sound like the fluttering of a bird's
wings in my uncle's bedroom, and said that the nurse testified to
hearing it also."

A more tragic incident connected with the same legend was that when
Lady Margaret Oxenham was about to be married a white bird appeared
and fluttered about her head, and that she was stabbed at the altar by
a rejected lover.

In another family a white crow was seen as a death-warning. In the
late half of the eighteenth century the son of a rich landowner in
North Wales was said to exercise an evil influence over his elder
brother, who was heir to the estate. When the landowner died the
eldest son disappeared mysteriously, and the second son took his place
as heir. Wherever the new squire went he was accompanied by a white
crow with black wings, and all the neighbours recognised the bird as
his constant companion.

A few years passed and the squire found it necessary to make a journey
to London on a matter of business, but thinking that the crow would
cause an odd sensation if it followed him about the Metropolis, he
decided, or let himself be persuaded, that it was better to leave the
bird behind. On his way home from town, he stayed for a night or two
at the house of a friend in Shrewsbury. During dinner the door of the
dining-room was blown open suddenly, as though by an unexpected gust
of wind, and the white crow flew into the room and perched on the
squire's shoulder, as though well-contented to be once more in the
presence of its master.

To satisfy the curiosity of the guests, the squire explained that the
bird was his most faithful friend. When the diners left the table and
went into the drawing-room a pet dog chased the bird, which had left
its perch on the squire's shoulder and had flown on ahead. One of the
visitors attempted to strike the dog, hoping to make it cease to
persecute the bird, and by accident he hit the bird instead. Croaking
piteously, the white crow wheeled about twice and fluttered to the
ground dying. The squire who had lingered behind the others came
forward at the noise of the fray and, seeing the dead crow, cried:

"Alas! You have killed one who was to me like a brother."

Then he turned to his host and took a hurried farewell, for, he added,
"I have but three weeks more to live."

At this strange speech the host and his guests concluded that the
squire was over-superstitious and they pooh-poohed his fears, which,
however, proved only too correct. He died three weeks later, as he had
himself prophesied, and then it was reported that the elder brother,
on his disappearance, had taken the shape of a crow and that whoever
owned the bird knew that he would only survive it by three weeks. A
third brother inherited the estate, and to this day when a death is
expected in the family, a white crow with black wings is seen hovering
near the house.[144]

A bird is connected with a death-warning in the Lyttleton family,
whose country seat is Hagley in Worcestershire. The first earl was a
distinguished poet and historian, but his son, Thomas, the second
earl, was known as "the wicked Lord Lyttleton," a title he had won by
his extravagances and profligacy. He died on November 27th, 1779, at
his town house in Hill Street, having been foretold of his death three
days previously.

In the middle of the night of the 24th of November he was awakened by
the fluttering of a bird about the curtains in his bedroom, and
looking up, he saw the vision of a lovely woman dressed in white, upon
whose wrist a small bird was perched like a falcon. As he lay watching
the apparition, the woman spoke, warning him to prepare for death
within three days.

Although he treated the matter lightly, and his friends seconded him
in combating his superstitious fears, Lord Lyttleton died at the exact
hour named by his ghostly visitor and the casement at which the bird
was seen by the doomed man has since been frequently pointed out to
people interested in the tradition.

Closeburn Castle, the seat of the Kirkpatricks in Dumfries-shire, was
surrounded by a beautiful lake, and whenever any member of the family
was about to die a swan appeared on the waters and remained there until
the death had taken place, then disappearing as mysteriously as it came.

The story of this ghostly swan is a sad one. In former times a pair of
swans made the lake their favourite resort in the summer season. Year
after year the pair paid an annual visit to Closeburn to the delight
of the family, for they were thought to bring good fortune in their
train, and whatever misfortune or sorrow had been impending vanished
like magic at their appearance.

One Lady Kirkpatrick had been sick unto death when the first
information of the presence of the swans brought her speedily back to
health. Another year the heir of the house, a mere babe, lay almost at
his last gasp when the broken-hearted mother, gazing from the castle
window one dark night, saw the two swans descend as though from the
celestial world, and the next moment they were seen sailing
majestically upon the lake. Full of joy at this good omen, she turned
to her sick child and saw with thanksgiving and praise the first signs
of returning health, a recovery which proved to be speedy. And so many
stories were told of kindly influence exerted by the original birds
and their successors, that for one hundred and fifty years the
tradition held good. But after the elapse of that period a change
occurred, which unfortunately reversed the omen.

At that time Closeburn Castle was in the possession of a boy of
thirteen of the name of Robert. He was romantic by nature, but also
mischievous, and it happened that one day he was permitted to go to
the theatre in Edinburgh to see a performance of "The Merchant of
Venice." The lines which Portia says of Bassanio, that he would

      "Make a swan-like end
       Fading in music,"

struck his imagination very forcibly and afterwards he could not rest
because he was so anxious to know whether the song of a dying swan was
a fact and not merely a myth.

Moved by this absorbing impulse, he went a short time later into the
Park at Closeburn with the intention of shooting sparrows with his
cross-bow, and at that moment, unluckily, the prophetic swans came
sailing upon the lake in his direction.

Without a thought as to what might be the result of his action, Robert
aimed his bow at one of the swans, and the arrow, winging its way over
the lake, hit its mark so surely that the swan perished on the spot. Its
companion gave a shrill and lamentable scream and vanished forthwith.

Robert, filled with remorse at what he had done, buried the body of
his victim, which had drifted to the shores of the lake, and told
nobody what had taken place. But for many years, much to the surprise
of the family, no swans came to Closeburn.

Much later, when the matter had been almost forgotten, a single swan
returned, but, unlike the earlier visitants, it was shy to wildness,
and upon its breast was seen a blood-red stain.

People shook their heads and said this phantom swan boded the family
no good, and their prognostications came true, for though the swan
with the bleeding breast came more rarely than the others had done,
every time it appeared it heralded misfortune. First the sudden death
of the Lord of Closeburn occurred at home and then one of his
relatives was lost in a shipwreck. And again at the third nuptials of
Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, the first baronet of that name, his son and
heir Roger, who was in good health at the time, caught sight of the
swan, and in full conviction that the warning was meant to tell of
impending evil, he went home duly despondent. His father rallied him
on his mood, which he said proceeded from a jealous dislike of his new
stepmother. But Roger answered, "Perhaps before long, you too may be
sorrowing," and that very night he gave up the ghost.

Since then, tradition says, that the mystic wounded swan has never
been seen at Closeburn, and the tragic revenge has been completely

According to the account of Sir Walter Scott, supernatural appearances
announce death to the ancient Highland family of the MacLeans of
Lochbuy. The spirit of an ancestor who was slain in battle is heard to
gallop along a stony bank and then to ride thrice around the family
residence ringing his fairy bridle and thus intimating the approaching
calamity. The reference to this legend occurs in "The Lady of the Lake."

      Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast,
      Of charging steeds, careering fast
      Along Benharrow's shingly side,
      Where mortal horseman ne'er might ride.

A fox is an unusual animal to be responsible for a death-warning,
except perhaps in Japan, where so many superstitions cling round this
creature, but the Irish family of Gormanston is haunted by a small
congregation of foxes whenever the head of the house is about to die.

Before the death of the twelfth viscount, in 1860, foxes were seen
round about and even in the house for some days. A few hours before
his death, "three foxes were playing about and making a noise close to
the house, and just in front of the cloisters, which are yew-trees
planted and trailed in that shape." They wandered about the grounds in
pairs and sat under the viscount's window, barking and howling all
night. Next morning they were crouching in the grass in the front of
the house. Although they had access to the poultry yard, it was
certainly strange that they never touched any of the birds. As soon as
the funeral was over the animals disappeared suddenly.

When the succeeding viscount died, in 1876, the foxes were seen again,
appearing constantly under the bedroom window, especially when the sick
viscount was supposed to have taken a turn for the better, which,
however, proved to be a false hope, for he passed away soon afterwards.

On the occasion of the death of the fourteenth Viscount Gormanston the
coachman and gardener saw two foxes near the chapel and five or six more
round the front of the house, and several were barking in the cloisters.
Lord Gormanston's son, the Hon. Mr. Preston, watched beside his father's
body which lay in the chapel, and on one occasion, about three in the
morning, he "became conscious of a slight noise, which seemed to be that
of a number of people walking stealthily around the chapel on the gravel
walk. He went to the side door, listened, and heard outside a continuous
and insistent snuffling or sniffing noise, accompanied by whimperings
and scratchings at the door. On opening it, he saw a full-grown fox
sitting on the path within four feet of him. Just in the shadow was
another, while he could hear several more moving close by in the
darkness. He then went to the end door, opposite the altar, and on
opening it found two more foxes, one so close that he could have touched
it with his foot. On shutting the door the noises continued till 5 a.m.,
when they suddenly ceased."[145]

When a death is about to take place in the Baronet's family at Clifton
Hall, in Nottinghamshire, a sturgeon is said to force its way up the
river Trent, which runs at the foot of the beautifully wooded slope on
which the Hall stands, and whenever white owls are seen perched on the
family mansion of the Arundels of Wardour it is held to be an
indication that a member of the family is near to death.

In one family a little white dog appears to give warning that a death
is about to occur. The story is taken from J. A. Middleton's "Grey
Ghost Book."[146] A relative of General French was sitting in the
garden talking with a friend when the latter saw a little white dog
run under her companion's chair. As it did not reappear she became
curious and requested him to see what had become of it. The man rose
and removed his chair, but the dog was not there, having suddenly and
mysteriously vanished. Then he related that in his family a little
white dog appeared before a death, and that this was a warning to him.

Some time after they met again and she learnt that his uncle had died
the same night, and that she had seen the animal, and when she
remarked that it was strange that it should have been visible to her
and not to him, he said that on many other occasions the phantom had
appeared to someone outside the family, though always near to a member
of it to whom it was visible.

A black dog appears as a death warning to some families, as related by
Catherine Crowe in "The Night Side of Nature."[147]

A young lady of well-known family was sitting at work, well and
cheerful, when she saw to her great surprise a large black dog close
to her. As both door and window were closed she could not understand
how he had got in, but when she started up to put him out she could no
longer see him. Quite puzzled and thinking it must be some strange
illusion, she sat down again, and went on with her work, when
presently he was there again. Much alarmed, she now ran out and told
her mother, who said she must have fancied it, or else that she must
be ill. She said that she was quite well and that she was sure she had
seen the animal. Then her mother promised to wait outside the door,
and if the dog appeared again her daughter said she would call her.
Presently the daughter saw the dog again, but he disappeared when she
called her mother. Soon afterwards the mother was taken ill and died.
Before her death she said to her daughter, "Remember the black dog."

Another family in the east of England has a tradition that the
appearance of a black dog portends the death of one of its members. It
was not said that no death took place without such warning; but only
that, when the apparition occurred, its meaning was certain. The
eldest son of this family married. He knew not whether to believe or
disbelieve the legend. On one hand he thought it superstitious to
receive it, and, on the other, he could not altogether reject it in
the face of much testimony. In this state of doubt--the thing itself
being unpleasant--he resolved to say nothing on the subject to his
young wife. It could only, he thought, worry and harass her, and could
not by any possibility do any good, and he kept this resolution. In
due course of time he had a family; but of the apparition he saw
nothing. At length, one of his children was taken ill with small-pox;
but the attack was slight and not the least danger was apprehended. He
was sitting down to dinner with his wife, when she said, "I will just
step upstairs and see how baby is going on, and I will be back again
in a moment." She went and, returning rather hastily, said, "Baby is
asleep; but pray go upstairs, for there is a large black dog lying on
his bed. Go up and drive it out of the house." The father had no doubt
of the result. He went upstairs; there was no black dog to be seen;
but the child was dead.[148]

The New Hall at Nafferton was the occasional residence of the
Derwentwater (Radcliffe) family, who left it for Dilston Hall in 1768.
Gradually the place fell into decay and strange things were seen about
the house. The apparitions were most frequent at times of birth or
death, or as preliminaries to any fatal accident, and they took the
forms of a white weasel, a white hen, or a white rabbit, and sometimes
a headless person dressed in white. Rappings and other noises were
frequent, and became so obtrusive that finally a farmer who lived in
the house decided to investigate matters. He called his brother to
help him, and as the worst noises came from a cavity in his own room,
covered by a hearthstone and called the "Priest's Hole," they began by
digging up the hearthstone. Beneath it was an accumulation of rubbish,
which they emptied out until they found a flagged recess, surrounded
at the sides by a stone seat, the actual hiding-place of priests,
usual in the houses of gentry of Roman Catholic tenets. Seeing nothing
extraordinary, they were about to desist from their labours when they
thought they heard a voice urging them to go on digging. From the
"priest's hole" they entered another apartment, and then a third,
where they found a blood-stained shirt and nightcap, which were
apparently of new linen, but as soon as they were exposed to the
atmosphere they crumbled away like "burnt tinder."

On careful inquiry it was discovered that about the time of the
Radcliffes' occupancy, an old pedlar had been murdered on the spot and
his goods stolen by the innkeeper's daughters.[149]

Albert Smith, whose brother was a pupil at Guildford Grammar School,
tells a story of a phantom vision which appeared at the time of a
death. Several of the schoolboys had been sitting up all night for a
frolic when one of them said, "I'll swear there's a likeness of our
old huntsman on his grey horse going across the whitewashed wall!" He
was laughed at for being so superstitious, but next morning a servant
came from the family to say "the old huntsman had been thrown from his
horse and killed that morning whilst airing the hounds."

It is no easier to attempt to explain such an apparition than it is to
say why Jemmy Lowther, the "bad Lord Lonsdale," was said to dash about
in his phantom coach and six after his death.

Another member of a noble family was responsible for bringing trouble
on his house through his wicked ways.

The Lambtons were haunted for nine generations by a horrible snake or
worm which brought much evil in its train. One day the heir to the
estate, a ne'er-do-well, was fishing in the Wear on a Sunday and
catching nothing he vented his anger in loud curses. Soon afterwards
there were indications that a fish was on his line, and, to his
disgust, he found he had hooked a monster, something between a worm
and a serpent. Terrified, he threw the creature into a well close by.
Before long, repenting of his wicked ways, he betook himself to the
Crusades, leaving his aged father to look after the estates without
him. Meanwhile the monster he had caught grew too large for the well
and crawled forth to work ill to the country-side, laying waste the
land, devouring cattle, and plundering right and left. The villagers
tried to appease it by offerings of milk, but no real release was to
be had from this serpent-tyrant until the return of the young heir
from the Crusade. Then he battled with the monster for freedom, much
in the manner of St. George and the Dragon, except that he took a vow
to offer as a sacrifice the first living thing he met after his
victory was won. To his horror this happened to be his father, and
incapable of parricide, he preferred to allow a curse to descend on
posterity, and for nine generations the Lambtons died by violence.

      But no Christian might his father slay,
      No penance the deed atone;
      And no Lambton for nine ages past,
      To die in his bed was known.

Another story tells of what happened to a noble dame when she died,
after having lived an evil life.

Lady Howard in the time of James I was said to be the possessor of
evil qualities in spite of her beauty and accomplishments. She was
cruel to her only daughter, and was thought to get rid of her husbands
by mysterious means, for she had been married four times.

When she died she had to do penance for her sins. Being transformed
into a hound, she was compelled to run a long distance every night
from her residence at Fitzford, to Okehampton Park and back to her old
home, carrying a blade of grass picked from the park. This work was to
go on until all the grass had been removed from Okehampton.

That evil-doing is punishable by a descent in the scale of being is a
salient point which appears in the race-beliefs of many nations.

The Lady Sybil of Bernshaw Tower, a fair maid of high rank but evil
repute, turned into a white doe after making a strange compact with
the devil. Rich, young, and beautiful, her desires were still
unsatisfied and she longed for supernatural powers, so that she might
take part in the witches' Sabbath. At this time, Lord William of
Hapton Tower (a member of the Townley family) was a suitor for Lady
Sybil's hand, but his proposals did not meet with her approval. In
despair, he decided to consult a famous Lancashire witch called Mother
Helston, who promised him success on All Halloween. In accordance with
her instructions he went hunting and at a short distance from the
Eagle's Crag a milk-white doe started from behind the thicket, and he
found it impossible to capture the animal. His hounds were wearied and
he returned to the Crag, almost determined to give up the chase, when
a strange hound joined his pack. Then a fresh start was made, and the
strange hound, Mother Helston's familiar, captured the white doe. That
night an earthquake shook Hapton Tower to its foundations and in the
morning the white doe appeared as the fair Lady Sybil, who had been
fleeing from her suitor in animal shape. Thus Lord William married the
heiress of Bernshaw Tower, but a year later she renewed her diabolical
practices and not until she lay near death was it possible for Lord
William to have the devil's bond cancelled, which he did by enlisting
the holy offices of a neighbouring priest. After her death Bernshaw
Tower was deserted and tradition says that on All Halloween, the hound
and the milk-white doe meet on the Eagle's Crag, where Lady Sybil lies
buried, and are pursued by a spectre huntsman in full chase.[150]

Sometimes the ghost of a human being has the power of taking animal
shape, as in the case of the eccentric Miss Beswick of Birchen Bower,

Birchen Bower was a quaint four-gabled mansion built in the form of a
cross, and attached to it was a large barn, where many uncanny
incidents happened.

"On the 22nd of July," says the "Manchester Guardian" of August 15,
1868, "the remains of Miss Beswick were committed to the earth in the
Harpurhey Cemetery. There is a tradition that this lady, who is
supposed to have died about one hundred years ago, had acquired so
strong a fear of being buried alive that she left certain property to
her medical attendant, so long as her body should be kept above
ground. The doctor seems to have embalmed her body with tar, and then
swathed it with a strong bandage, leaving the face exposed, and to
have kept 'her' out of the grave as long as he could. For many years
past the mummy has been lodged in the rooms of the Manchester Natural
History Society (Peter Street), where it has been an object of much
popular interest. It seems that the commissioners, who are charged
with the rearrangement of the Society's collections, have deemed this
specimen undesirable, and have at last buried it."

A curious bargain appears to have been made by Miss Beswick, namely,
that every twenty-one years her body was to be taken back to Birchen
Bower and be left there for one week, and the more elderly inhabitants
declared that this was done at the stated times, and the body laid in
the granary of the old farmstead. On the morning when the corpse was
fetched away, the horses and cows were invariably found to have been let
loose, and sometimes a cow would be found up in the hayloft, although
how it came there was a mystery, as there was no passage large enough to
admit the animal. The last prank of this description played by Miss
Beswick, as far as information goes, was a few years ago when a cow
belonging to the farmer then tenanting the place was found in the
hayloft. Naturally enough the neighbours believed that supernatural
agency had been employed to place it there. This occurred at the
fourteenth anniversary of seven years after Miss Beswick died, and it
was a recognised fact that some apparition was usually seen at Birchen
Bower at the expiration of every seven years. No one could explain how
the cow could get into the loft, and blocks had to be borrowed from
Bower Mill to get her down again through the hay-hole outside the barn.

After Miss Beswick's death her house was divided up into several
cottages, and she seems to have haunted the spot. To one family she
appeared as an old lady in a silken gown, and her arrival was
invariably announced to them as they were seated at supper by a
rustling of silk which was heard at the entrance. Soon after the
lady, arrayed in black silk, glided into the room, walked straight
into the parlour and disappeared at one particular flagstone. As she
annoyed no one her appearance never drew forth any further remark than
"Hush! Here's the old lady again."

Tradition said that Miss Beswick had hidden vast sums of money and
other articles of value in the time of Prince Charlie (1745), and a
weaver who lived in a part of the haunted house found a tin vessel
full of gold pieces under the floor of the haunted parlour. It was
thought after this discovery that the phantom lady would rest in her
grave, but this was not the case, and she recently appeared near an
old well by the brook-side. A rustic going to fetch water, saw a tall
lady standing by the well, wearing a black silk gown and a white cap
with a frilled border. She stood there in the dusk in a defiant or
threatening attitude, streams of blue light appearing to dart from her
eyes and flash on the horror-stricken spectator. This appearance of
the phantom was said to mean that Miss Beswick could get no rest until
certain members of her family regained their property, a result which
does not appear to be yet achieved, for the phantom still haunts the
neighbourhood, on clear moonlight nights, walking in a headless state
between the old barn and the horse-pool, and at other times assuming
the forms of different animals which, however, are always lost sight
of near the horse-pool. Some people think that Miss Beswick concealed
something on this spot in 1745, and is now anxious to point out her
treasure to anyone brave enough to address her. On dreary winter
nights the barn where the phantom cow was found is said to appear as
though on fire, a red glow being observed through the loopholes and
crevices of the loft, and loud noises proceeding from the building as
though the evil one and his demons were holding revels there. But if
an alarm of fire is raised by a frightened neighbour and the farmer
has the premises searched, all is found to be in order, and the
terror-stricken inhabitants of the village declare that Madame
Beswick is up to her ghostly pranks again.[151]

The popular belief in transformation is at the root of a strange
family story about Callaly Castle, which is beautifully situated at
the foot of the wooded slopes of Callaly Castle Hill, whose highest
peaks are some 800 feet above sea level. In the modern building are
incorporated the remains of an ancient border tower, the stronghold of
the Claverings. The Survey of 1541 says, "At Callalye ys a toure of
th'inheritaunce of Claverynge in measurable good repac'ons."

This was probably the tower which owed its erection on its present
site--the "Shepherd's Shaw," to a difference in opinion between the
Lord and Lady of Callaly in olden days.

The following account of the legend was given by Mr. George Tate,
F.G.S., in an article on "Whittingham Vale," contributed to the
"Alnwick Mercury," in 1862: "A lord of Callaly in the days of yore,
commenced erecting a castle on the hill: his lady preferred a low,
sheltering situation in the vale. She remonstrated, but her lord was
wilful, and the building continued to progress. What she could not
obtain by persuasion she sought to achieve by stratagem, and availed
herself of the superstitious opinions of the age. One of her servants
who was devoted to her interests, entered into her scheme: he was
dressed up like a boar, and nightly he ascended the hill and pulled
down all that had been built during the day. It was soon whispered
that the spiritual powers were opposed to the erection of a castle on
the hill; the lord himself became alarmed, and he sent some of his
retainers to watch the building during the night and discover the
cause of the destruction. Under the influence of the superstitions of
the times those retainers magnified appearances, and when the boar
issued from the wood and commenced overthrowing the work of the day,
they beheld a monstrous animal of enormous power. Their terror was
complete when the boar, standing among the overturned stones, cried
out in a loud voice:

      "Callaly Castle built on the height,
       Up in the day and down in the night;
       Builded down in the Shepherd's Shaw,
       It shall stand for aye and never fa'."

They immediately fled and informed the lord of the supernatural
visitation; and, regarding the rhymes as an expression of the will of
Heaven, he abandoned the work, and, in accordance with the wish of his
lady, built his castle low down in the vale where the modern mansion
now stands."[152]

The animal connected with the Coneely family is a seal. In the west of
Ireland there is a seal-clan; the clansman, calling himself after the
seal, conceives himself to be of the blood of the eponym animal. In
very ancient times some of the Coneely clan were changed by "art
magick" into seals and since then no member of the family can kill a
seal without incurring bad luck. Seals are called Coneelys, and on
this account it was said that many branches of the family changed
their name to Conolly.[153] The story was so thoroughly believed that
it was said that people who knew of it would "no more kill a seal, or
eat of a slaughtered one than they would of a human Coneely."

In the Faroe Isles the seals are said to appear once a year in human
form, and in 1872 a writer to the journal of the Anthropological
Institute tells the story of an Irish girl who was transformed into a

"The seals which abound on the rocky parts of the shore," he explains,
"are regarded with profound veneration, and on no account could a
native be induced to kill one, as they are said to be the souls of
their departed friends. In the hut of the king is the skin of a large
white seal, which I ascertained was piously treasured on account of
having formerly been occupied by the soul of a maiden. The following
is the legend related to me:--

"'Many years ago a beautiful young girl lived upon the island and was
the betrothed of a "dacent boy" by the name of Rooney. One day Rooney
and his bride-elect were fishing out in a coracle, when a storm arose
and the frail craft capsized. The terrified lover endeavoured in vain
to save his sweetheart. Before sinking for the last time she said
farewell to him, and said she would become a white seal and would sing
to him. The broken-hearted Rooney swam ashore, but his reason had
fled. He daily made a pilgrimage round the island in the hope of
meeting his departed in the shape of a white seal; but his journeys
were always fruitless.

"'At length one stormy winter night, Rooney started from his couch
saying, "Hark, I hear her singing. She calls me now," and before
anyone could stop him, he had bounded off and was lost in the
darkness. His friends were about to follow when they were deterred by
a plaintive voice, chanting a melancholy lay, but when daylight broke
it ceased. Then a search was made and down on the seashore they found
the dead body of Rooney with a dead white seal clasped to his
breast.'" The souls of the lovers had fled to an enchanted island.

Siward in the legend was the son of a bear and had bear's ears.
Brochmail was a tusked king of Powis. A tusked or pig-headed birth is
said to appear periodically in the Powis family, and there was a story
of one member who was so repulsive to the sight that he was kept shut
up in the oubliette of Powis Castle.

In Llayn (Carnarvonshire) it is said that March Amheirchion, the Lord
of Castell March, had horse's ears, as in the Irish story. These
instances are again related to the birth of monsters and deformities,
like the Concheannaich or Dogheads, an ancient race who inhabited, in
former days, the district now called Moygoniby in Kervy.

Conaire the Great, a mythical king of Ireland, was the son of a Bird
King and was therefore forbidden to kill any feathered creatures.

In Scotland the clan Chattan, who gave their name to Caithness, called
their Chieftain Mohr an Chat, the Great Wild Cat, probably owing to
some physical peculiarity.

Cuchullaine, the "hound of Culain," is a totem name. There is a story
of a witch who offered one of the family some cooked dog-flesh to eat,
but he refused it as it was against the law that he should "eat his

His name was originally Setanta, but his nickname was obtained in this
way: One night when he followed Conchobar to the house of Culain, a
smith, the gates were locked, and a ferocious dog lay in watch. The boy
killed the hound, and when the smith lamented his loss, Setanta said, "I
will be your _cu_ (dog) until another is grown large enough to guard
your house," whence he was called hound of Culain or Cuchullaine.

According to one account Cuchullaine has more affinity with a bird
than with a dog. "Not only does Cuchullaine bear obvious in his name
his origin as a cuckoo god but his birth, exploits, and death are
those of a cuckoo."[154]

When he was going forth to his last fight he met three crones,
daughters of the mist, who asked him to sup with them. Bent on his
destruction, they were cooking a hound with poison and spells on spits
of the rowan tree. He refused to partake of the dish because it was
against the law, and they rebuked him, saying, "It is because the food
is only a hound and so you despise it and us." His chivalry thus
appealed to, Cuchullaine helped himself to a shoulder-blade out of the
stew, and held it in his left hand while he was eating, putting it,
when finished, under his left thigh. Then his left hand and thigh
became stricken and he had no strength for the fight.


[143] Quoted in Middleton, J. A., "Another Grey Ghost Book," 1914, p.

[144] Trevelyan, M., "Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales," 1909, pp.

[145] "True Irish Ghost Stories."

[146] 1914, pp. 194-5.

[147] 1852, pp. 378-9.

[148] "The Unseen World," 1853, pp. 79-80.

[149] "The Denham Tracts," Ed. by James Hardy, 1895, Vol. II, pp. 193-6.

[150] Dyer, T. F. Thistleton, "Strange Pages from Family Papers,"
1895, pp. 168-70.

[151] Ingram, J. H., "The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great
Britain," 1901, pp. 345-52.

[152] "The Denham Tracts," Vol. I, p. 324.

[153] "The Archæological Review," 1889, Vol. III, pp. 217, 315 ff.

[154] Kay, C. de, "Bird Gods," 1898, p. 92.

                             CHAPTER XXI

                            ANIMAL GHOSTS

For a ghost to take the form of an animal is not at all unusual, and
it has been suggested that human ghosts when they appear in the guise
of bulls, dogs, sheep, or other animals are accounted for by being
"throw-backs of the spirit to a lower animal form."

Black dogs with glowing eyes like hot embers, phantom calves, white
rabbits, etc., are sometimes thought in Lincolnshire to haunt the
spots where murder or suicide has been committed. They are supposed to
be either spectres of the dead in brute form or demons, and in Denmark
there is a legend that pigs or goats, if buried alive in walls, turn
to spectres.

In Wales the belief exists that the devil can manifest as a pig, calf,
dog, or headless horse.

A woman once passing through a village in North Pembrokeshire at night
shouted, "Come out, you evil one!" and there appeared a white cat in
answer to her call. In the same country a certain Mr. David Walter was
passing two large stones called locally the Devil's Nags, accompanied
by a mastiff, when an apparition in the form of a huge dog appeared in
his path. He tried to set his own animal upon the other, but the
mastiff was frightened and would not attack the phantom. Thereupon
Walter picked up a stone and was about to throw it at the evil beast
when it was suddenly illumined by a circle of fire, and he knew it to
be one of the "infernal dogs of hell."

A black calf was said to haunt a stream in the same neighbourhood and
one night two villagers caught the animal and took it home. They locked
it up safely as they thought, but in the morning it had disappeared.

The Roaring Bull of Bagbury is a famous Shropshire ghost. Miss
Georgina Jackson recites the story as it was told by an old farmer
called Hayward.[155]

A very bad man lived at Bagbury Farm, and when he died it was said of
him that he had only done two good deeds in his life, one being to
give a waistcoat to a poor old man and the other a piece of bread and
cheese to a poor village lad. After he was dead, his ghost refused to
rest and haunted the farm buildings in the shape of a bull, roaring
till the boards, the shutters, and the tiles seemed about to fly off
the outhouses. It was quite impossible for anyone to live within range
of this roaring which usually began about nine or ten o'clock at
night, sometimes even earlier, and at last became so troublesome that
the people at the farmhouse sent for twelve parsons to lay the ghost.

When the parsons came "they got him under," but could not lay him, and
at last they drove him, still in the shape of a bull, into Hessington
Church. All the parsons carried candles, and one of them, who was
blind, knowing that there was danger from a stampede, placed his
lighted candle in his top-boot. It was a good thing that he did so,
for presently the animal made a great rush, and out went every candle
except that belonging to the blind parson who said, as though prepared
for the event, "You light your candles by mine." But before he was
laid the bull made such a "burst" that he cracked the wall of the
church from top to bottom, as hundreds of witnesses have asserted from
that day to this.

At last they secured the ghost "down into a snuffbox," as the custom is,
and he begged that he might be laid under Bagbury Bridge, declaring that
every mare that passed over the bridge should lose her foal and every
woman her child. This threat made them refuse his request, and they
laid him in the Red Sea, where he has to remain for a thousand years.
The knowledge that he was so far away did not prevent the villagers
being very chary of crossing Bagbury Bridge at night-time.

Another story of a man who turned into a bull after death is told of a
squire at Millidrope in Corve Dale. He was killed by a fall from one
of the upper windows of the Hall, and an indelible blood-stain marks
the spot. Unfortunately for his peace of mind, his estate, owing to
his own carelessness or to the malpractices of his trustees, went to
the wrong heir. Unable to rest in his grave owing to this piece of
injustice, the squire haunted his own parish, where he was frequently
seen in the guise of a _flayed bull_.[156]

Edmund Swifte tells a story of an animal ghost in the Tower, which
appeared while he was keeper of the Crown Jewels. The peculiar point
about the story is that this phantom animal was seen with fatal
results. One of the night sentries in the Jewel chamber was alarmed by
a figure like a huge bear issuing from beneath the door. He thrust at
it with his bayonet, which stuck in the door. Then he fell into a fit
and was carried senseless to the guard-room. His fellow sentry
declared that the man was neither asleep nor drunk, he himself having
seen him the moment before awake and sober. Swifte saw the man in the
guard-house after the incident, when he lay prostrated with terror,
and two or three days later the poor sentry was dead.[157]

In the outer Hebrides it is believed that demons take the form of
dogs, and a story is told of a priest's dog which was lying on the
hearth while his master was hearing confessions. Suddenly the animal
started up, annoyed beyond endurance by the atmosphere of ultra-piety
and, exclaiming, "If you liked me before, you never will again," he
vanished amidst a shower of sparks.

The Highlanders have also a legend of an ownerless black dog, which
caused all kinds of misadventure in the vicinity where he prowled. A
hunter shot at the dog with a silver bit, and the aim was so
successful that nothing more was seen of the animal. Suddenly a small
boy ran up to the hunter with a terrible story of his grandfather who
had died within sight of his home as though stricken by a gun-shot
wound, and on examination it was found indeed that the silver piece
was imbedded in his flesh. There was no further misfortune in the
village after this double event, but the tale has more of witchcraft
about it than ghostliness.

Samuel Drew, who was apprenticed to a shoemaker, had a curious
experience at St. Blazey in Cornwall. It is told in his life written
by his son.

"There were several of us boys and men, out about twelve o'clock on a
bright moonlight night. I think we were poaching. The party were in a
field adjoining the road leading from my master's to St. Austell, and
I was stationed outside the hedge to watch and give the alarm if any
intruder should appear. While thus occupied I heard what appeared to
be the sound of a horse approaching from the town, and I gave a
signal. My companions paused and came to the hedge where I was, to see
the passenger. They looked through the bushes and I drew myself close
to the hedge that I might not be observed. The sound increased, and
the supposed horseman seemed drawing near. The clatter of hoofs became
more and more distinct. We all looked to see what it was, and I was
seized with a strange indefinable feeling of dread: when, instead of a
horse, there appeared coming towards us, at an easy pace, but with the
same sound which first caught my ear, a creature about the height of a
large dog. It went close by me, and as it passed, it turned upon me
and my companions huge fiery eyes that struck terror to all our
hearts. The road where I stood branched off and on the left there was
a gate. Towards the gate the phantom moved, and without any apparent
obstruction, went at its regular trot, which we heard several minutes
after it had disappeared. Whatever it was, it put an end to our
occupation and we made the best of our way home.

"I have often endeavoured in later years, but without success, to
account for what I then heard and saw on natural principles. I am sure
there was no deception as to the facts. It was a night of unusual
brightness, occasioned by a cloudless full moon. The creature was
unlike any animal I had then seen, but from my present recollections
it had much the appearance of a bear, with a dark shaggy coat. Had it
not been for the unearthly lustre of its eyes, and its passing through
the gate as it did, there would be no reason to suppose it anything
more than an animal perhaps escaped from some menagerie. That it _did_
pass through the gate without pause or hesitation I am perfectly
clear. Indeed we all saw it, and saw that the gate was shut, from
which we were not distant more than about twenty or thirty yards. The
bars were too close to admit the passage of an animal of half its
apparent bulk, yet this creature went through without an effort or
variation of its pace."

Peele Castle in the Isle of Man is haunted by an apparition called the
Manx dog, a shaggy spaniel, which was said to walk in every part of the
building, and to lie in the guard-chamber before the fire by
candlelight. In days gone by the soldiers were accustomed to the
apparition, but all the same they suspected it was an evil spirit, and
all were afraid to be left alone in its presence, and were also careful
of the language they used lest they should receive an injury if they
swore before it. The animal used to appear and return by a passage in
the church, and as this passage was also used by the soldier who had to
deliver the keys to the captain, and he was terrified at the thought of
meeting the phantom, it was arranged that he should have a companion,
and after that they went two by two, never singly.

One night one of the soldiers who had been drinking and was in a
bragging mood, declared that he would carry back the key alone,
though it was not really his turn to go. He would not listen to the
others, who tried to dissuade him. Blustering and swearing, he
snatched up the bunch of keys and marched off. Presently a great noise
was heard outside, but the soldiers were too frightened to go out and
see what was taking place. In staggered the adventurous boaster,
struck dumb with horror at what he had seen, nor could he by sign or
word explain what had happened to him, but died, in terrible agony,
his features distorted and his limbs writhing.

After this occurrence no one would venture through the passage, which
was soon bricked up, and the apparition never appeared again in the

Hergest Court, in Herefordshire, was haunted by a demon dog said to
have belonged to Black Vaughan. Black Vaughan was himself said to be
the ghost of the member of the family whose monument rests in Kingston
Church. So powerful was this ghost that he appeared in daylight and
upset farmers' waggons, or rode with the old wives to Kingston Market.
Once he was said to have appeared in church in the form of a bull, and
the usual elaborate form of exorcism was required to dislodge him, in
which twelve parsons with twelve candles had to remain in the church
until they had "read him down into a silver snuff-box." The demon dog
always appeared as a warning that death was nigh to one of the Vaughan

The Black Dog of Hergest was famous all over the country-side, and no
one ventured to enter the room he was said to haunt. At night he
clanked a chain, but at other times he was seen wandering about
without one, often near a pond on the high road to Kingston.

Another phantom dog-story comes from the parish of Dean Prior, a narrow
woodland valley watered by a stream. Below a beautiful cascade is a deep
hollow called the Hound's Pool. At one time there lived near to this
spot a skilful weaver. After his death he was seen by his family working
as diligently as ever at his loom, and, this being regarded as uncanny,
application was made to the vicar of the parish as to what steps were to
be taken to remove the apparition. The parson called at the cottage
where the weaver had lived and, hearing the noise of the shuttle in the
upstairs room, called to the ghost of the weaver to descend.

"I will," replied the weaver's voice, "as soon as I have worked out my

"No," replied the vicar, "you have worked long enough. Come down at

So the phantom appeared, and the vicar, taking a handful of earth from
the churchyard, threw it in his face. In a moment the apparition
turned into a black hound. "Follow me," said the vicar, and the dog
followed to the gate of the wood, where a mighty wind was blowing. The
vicar picked up a nutshell with a hole in it and leading the hound to
the pool below the cascade, said, "Take this, and dip out the pool
with it. When it is empty thou shalt rest."

The hound still haunts the spot, and to those who can see is ever at
work on the waters of the pool.[158]

Similarly Tregeagle, the famous Demon of Dosmery Pool, in Cornwall, is
doomed to empty the pool with a limpet shell which has a large hole in

A story is told of a talking Dog which haunted Dobb Park Lodge.

A treasure-seeker who went to explore the underground vaults at the
Lodge saw a great, black, rough dog as large as any two or three
mastiffs, which said, "No, my man, as you've come here, you must do
one of three things, or you'll never see daylight again. You must
either drink all the liquor there is in that glass, open that chest,
or draw that sword."

The chest was iron-bound and too heavy to move, the drink was scalding
hot, and the sword glittered and flashed like lightning wielded by an
unseen hand. Fortunately the treasure-seeker escaped after
extraordinary experiences with his bare life, returning as
empty-handed as he came, and since then no one has ventured into the
ruined vaults of Dobb Park Lodge, and the chest of gold is said to be
still there, waiting for an adventurer who can brave the terrors of
the "Talking Dog" and his surroundings.

The neighbourhood of Burnley used to be haunted by a phantom locally
called "Trash" or "Striker." These names came from the sounds made by
the animal which had the appearance of a large dog with broad feet,
shaggy hair, drooping ears and "eyes as large as saucers." His paws made
a splashing noise as of old shoes on a muddy road, and now and again the
brute emitted deep howls. His presence was considered a certain sign of
death in the family of anyone who caught sight of the apparition. If
followed by anyone the animal began to walk backwards, keeping his eyes
on the pursuer. At the slightest inattention on the part of his
companion the phantom vanished. Sometimes he plunged into a pool of
water, at others he dropped at the feet of the pursuer with a curious
splashing sound. Some attempted to strike the animal, but there was no
substance present to receive the blow, though the apparition remained in
the same position as before the blow was delivered.

Some animal ghosts appear in different shapes at different times.

The Manor of Woodstock was haunted in 1649 by an apparition described
by several witnesses whose narratives may be found in Dr. Plott's
"Natural History of Oxfordshire."

Commissioners took up residence at the Manor House on 13 October,
1649, but heard nothing of the ghost until three days later when
"there came, as they thought, _somewhat_ into the bedchamber (where
two of the commissioners and their servants lay), in the shape of a
dog, which, going under their beds, did as it were gnaw their bed
cords, but on the morrow finding them whole and a quarter of beef,
which lay on the ground, untouched they began to entertain other
thoughts." On the following day, the 17th, some evil spirit hurled the
chairs and stools up and down the Presence Chamber, "from whence it
came into the two chambers where the commissioners and their servants
lay and hoisted their beds' feet so much higher than their heads that
they thought they should have been turned over and over; and then let
them fall down with such force, that their bodies rebounded from the
bed a good distance."

The next day also a mysterious visitor appeared to be present, which
fetched the warming-pan out of the withdrawing-room and made so much
noise "that they thought five bells could not have made more." On the
20th and 21st of October various phenomena occurred, and then came a
respite until the 25th, on the night of which, amongst other curious
sounds and sights, there was "a very great noise as if forty pieces of
ordnance had been shot off together." Peace was restored until the 1st
of November when "something came into the withdrawing-room, treading,
as they conceived, much like a bear, which at first only walked about
a quarter of an hour: at length it made a great noise about the table
and threw the warming-pan so violently, that it quite spoiled it. It
threw also glass and great stones at them again, and the bones of
horses, and all so violently that the bedstead and walls were bruised
by them." This night they set candles all about the rooms, and made
great fires up to the mantle-trees of the chimneys, but all were put
out, nobody knew how. Nor was this all. For in spite of the fact that
one of the commissioners had the boldness to ask in the name of God
what _it_ was, what _it_ would have, and what they had done, that they
should be disturbed in this manner, and the questions, although
evoking no answer, caused a temporary cessation of noise, _it_
returned bringing seven devils worse than _itself_. Whereupon one of
the watchers lighted a candle and set it between two rooms in the
doorway, on which another of them "fixing his eyes saw the similitude
of a hoof, striking the candle and candlestick into the middle of the
bedchamber and afterwards making three scrapes on the snuff to put it
out. Upon this the same person was so bold as to draw his sword, but
he had scarce got it out, when there was another invisible hand had
hold of it too, and tugged with him for it and prevailing, struck him
so violently with the pummel that he was stunned with the blow."

This was too much, and two days later the commissioners and their men
removed out of the house, unable to stand the strain they were
undergoing any longer.

An apparition of a lady in the form of a colt is somewhat unusual, but
has been seen, if we may believe the statement of a woman called Sarah
Mason. Sarah also saw the ghost of a man who hanged himself and came
back afterwards in the form of a large black dog.

The story of Obrick's Colt[159] concerned a lady who was buried with
all her jewels and whose corpse was afterwards robbed by the clerk.
She haunted the spot, it was said, in the shape of a colt, and the
guilty clerk, meeting the phantom animal late one night in a narrow
lane, went down on his knees, and said earnestly, "Abide, Satan,
abide. I am a righteous man and a psalm-singer." The clerk was called
Obitch or Holbeach, from which the ghost is supposed to have taken the
name of Obrick's Colt. An old woman in the village declared that
"Obitch used to say that he saw the colt as natural as any Christian,
and he used to get up against the stile for him to get up on top of
his back, and at last the colt grew so bold that folks saw him in the
daytime." Holbeach, if that was his real name, never again knew peace
of mind on this earth.

On the 21st of January, 1879, a labourer had taken some luggage from
one Shropshire village to another, and on the return journey, his
horse being tired, he reached a canal bridge some way from home about
ten o'clock at night. To his horror a huge black creature with
gleaming white eyes jumped out of the hedge and settled on the horse's
back. He beat at the phantom with his whip, which, to his
astonishment, instead of meeting with resistance went through the
apparition. The terrified horse broke into a canter and tore home with
the strange creature clinging to his back.

The adventure was much discussed in the neighbouring villages, and
some days later the labourer's master was called upon by a policeman
who had somehow got knowledge of an account that he had been robbed
when crossing the canal bridge in question late one evening. The
policeman was told there had been no robbery, and a version of the
tale as it had happened was given him.

"Was that all?" he cried in disappointed tones. "I know what that was.
It was the man-monkey, sir, as _does_ come at that bridge ever since a
man was drowned in the canal at that spot."[160]

The following story was told to Bérenger-Feraud[161] and happened at a
country house on the plateau of the Garde near to Toulon. One evening
a woman was sitting by the side of her father who had been lying
dangerously ill in bed for some days with a disease which the doctors
could not identify. The neighbours came in to offer their services, to
keep watch over the sick man so that his daughter, who had spent
several nights without any sleep, could go and lie down to rest. She
thanked them but refused to do so.

Nevertheless they insisted on remaining, and as it was cold she
invited them to sit round the fire in the kitchen to warm themselves.
As her father seemed to be asleep for a little while she went into the
kitchen to speak to her visitors.

Of a sudden they heard the sick man give a terrible cry of pain and
fright. They all hurried into his room to see what was the matter, and
there, just above the old man's bed, was a huge stinging-fly which
hovered round and round him, buzzing in a horrible manner.

They tried to catch the dangerous insect, but this was not an easy
matter, for it buzzed so loudly that it positively menaced those who
came near it. From time to time it hurled itself at the limbs of the
sick man, and every time it touched him he gave vent to a shriek of
pain. Those who were near him could see large black blisters rising at
the spots where the stinging-fly attacked him.

At last one of the men who had more courage than the others beat down
the gigantic insect with his hat. They picked up its body with a pair
of tongs and threw it out of the house, shutting the door tightly so
that it could not return to its attack.

The deed accomplished, they looked at one another terrified at what
had taken place, and to their horror they could plainly hear the buzz
of the insect outside. The noise was so loud that the windows
positively rattled. Then a howl arose outside, a cry so strange that
no one present had ever heard the like, and after that all was silent.

They went back to the bedside of the sick man, who had suffered
severely, and who told them that he had been suddenly awakened by this
horrible stinging-fly, which had hummed in his ears and struck at his
body, in such a terrifying manner that he felt sure it must be an evil

Now that the insect had been captured and put out of the house he felt
better, but none of the visitors dared to leave the cottage, feeling
sure that a sorcerer was mixed up in the affair. They passed the night
sitting round the fire, carefully avoiding all mention of the matter,
as they were afraid that the noise of buzzing and humming would begin

The next morning at sunrise, they decided to open the door, and then
they saw the huge insect lying on the ground just outside. But the
mysterious part of it was that those who were courageous enough to
look at it closely, stated that it was not the real insect that was
lying there but merely its outer shell or covering, just like the skin
sloughed by a grasshopper and left behind when it changes its shape.

This then was taken to be proof positive that the stinging-fly was not
what it had pretended to be, but was a wizard in disguise, which had
intended to do harm to the old invalid, and the horrible cry which had
been heard when the insect had been thrown out of doors was only the
howl of rage uttered by the wizard at the failure of his wicked designs.

A woman at Toulon told the following story in 1888, saying it had
happened in her presence when she was a little girl. Her father, whose
name was Isidore, was an omnibus driver and for many years had lived
with his own sister in peace and friendliness. One day, however, they
fell into an argument and had such a violent quarrel that they decided
that they could no longer live together. Isidore, however, felt
grieved to think that matters had come to such a pass between himself
and the sister he had always loved, and he told a friend about the
affair. The friend answered, "You have quarrelled with your sister,
because one of your neighbours, who is a sorcerer, has cast a spell
over you. To end the enchantment you must give your horses a jolly
good hiding to-morrow morning, and then you will see the result. The
person who has bewitched you will be taken ill and will bear about his
or her body the traces of the blows you give to your horses." Next day
Isidore whipped up his horses, as he had been told to do, and he went
on slashing them all day long. In the evening he went to bed feeling
as though he had done a praiseworthy deed. The next day his sister
came to see him and spoke to him quite affectionately, and they
decided to bury the hatchet just as though no quarrel had taken place.
Then Isidore, to his surprise, heard that a neighbour, of whom he had
been very fond until then, and whom he had not in the least suspected
of witchcraft, had been taken ill. He hastened to visit her, and found
she was in bed, and that she showed traces of having been beaten. As
soon as he entered the room to condole with her she said to him
bitterly, "Why on earth did you strike your horses so violently? What
harm had the poor beasts done to you?"

This was taken as proof that the neighbour was a witch, and that the
weals on her body were the stigmata of the blows which Isidore had
given his horses, and he was convinced that this woman had tried to
separate him from his sister through sheer jealousy.

The well-known ghost of Tedworth, Wiltshire, called the "Drummer of
Tedworth," sometimes took the form of an animal, or at least was heard
making animal sounds. The following description is taken from Joseph
Glanvill's "Sadducismus Triumphatus."

On one occasion the village blacksmith stayed in the house sleeping
with the footman, hoping he might hear the supernatural noises and be
cured of his incredulity when "there came a noise in the room as if
one had been shoeing a horse, and somewhat came, as it were, with a
pair of pincers," snipping away at the sceptical smith. Next day the
ghost came panting like a dog out of breath, and a woman who was
present, taking up a stick to strike at it, the weapon "was caught
suddenly out of her hand and thrown away: and company coming up, the
room was presently filled with a bloody noisome smell," and was very
hot, though there was no fire, and the winter was severe. "It
continued scratching for an hour and a half and then went into the
next room, when it knocked a little and seemed to rattle a chain."

Sometimes the phantom purred like a cat and it was described by a
servant as "a great body with two red and glaring eyes."

The Rev. Joseph Glanvill himself went to the haunted house in January,
1662, and was convinced that the noises were made by a demon or
spirit. He heard a strange scratching, as he went upstairs, which
appeared to come from behind the bolster of the children's bed. It
was loud scratching, and when he thrust his hand behind the bolster at
the point from which the noise seemed to come it ceased but began in
another place. When he removed his hand, however, it began again in
the same place as before. "I had been told that it would imitate
noises," says Glanvill, "and made trial by scratching several times
upon the sheet, as five, and seven and ten, which it followed, and
still stopped at my number. I searched under and behind the bed,
turned up the clothes to the bed cords, grasped the bolster, sounded
the wall behind, and made all the search I possibly could." But all
his endeavours were fruitless; he could discover nothing. There was
neither cat nor dog in the room. After scratching for more than half
an hour, the phantom went into the midst of the bed, under the
children, "and then seemed to pant very loudly, like a dog out of
breath. I put my hand upon the place and felt the bed bearing up
against it, as if something within had thrust it up." The motion it
caused by this panting was so strong that it shook the walls and made
the windows rattle; yet this strange animal ghost was never explained.

At Epworth parsonage, Lincolnshire, when the Rev. Samuel Wesley, father
of John Wesley, was rector, there is a well-known story of the haunting
of the parsonage. Robert Brown the servant heard, among other phenomena,
"as it were the gobbling of a turkey-cock close to the bedside."

The dog, a large mastiff, showed enormous fear of the strange
incidents and apparitions. "When the disturbances continued he used to
bark and leap and snap on one side and the other, and that frequently
before any person in the room heard any noise at all. But after two or
three days he used to tremble and creep away before the noise began.
And by that the family knew it was at hand."

Ewshott House, in Crondall, Hampshire, was haunted by a ghost that
made a noise exactly as though a flock of sheep from the paddock had
rushed by the windows on the gravel drive. In the morning, however,
there were no signs of sheep having passed that way.

Willington Mill was haunted by several spectres in the shape of
animals. The mill stood on a tidal stream which ran into the Tyne near
to Wallsend. The account of strange happenings there was published by
the "Newcastle Weekly Leader" many years ago. One of the servants once
saw a lady in a lavender-coloured dress pass the kitchen door, go
upstairs, and vanish into one of the bedrooms, but little notice was
taken of this apparition; indeed it was almost forgotten when
something else happened which drew attention to it. A certain Thomas
Davidson was courting this servant and was waiting for her to come out
of the mill and join him in a moonlight ramble, when, looking towards
the building, he distinctly saw a whitish cat run out and presently it
came close to his feet.

Thinking the strange puss was very forward, he gave her a kick, but
encountered no solid matter and puss continued her walk, disappearing
from his sight a moment later. Returning to the window, and looking in
the same direction, Davidson again saw the animal. This time it came
hopping like a rabbit, coming quite as close to his feet as before. He
determined to have a good rap at it, and took deliberate aim: but, as
before, his foot went through it and he felt nothing. Again he followed
it, and it disappeared at the same spot as its predecessor. The third
time he went to the window and in a few moments it made another
appearance, not like a cat or rabbit now but as large as a sheep and
brightly luminous. On it came and Davidson stood rooted to the spot as
though paralysed, but the animal moved on and vanished as before.

Mr. Proctor, who lived at the mill, on hearing Davidson's account,
said that he had seen the animal on various occasions.

After this experience ghosts were frequently seen and heard of at the
mill. The noises were dreadful, sometimes sounding like a galloping
donkey, at others like falling fire-irons. Doors creaked and sticks
crackled as though burning, and the rapping became almost incessant.
Sometimes the lavender-gowned lady appeared, and at another time
several of the inmates of the mill saw a bald-headed old man in a
flowing robe like a surplice. Spectral animals always formed an
important feature of the haunting.

In November, 1841, a gentleman paid a visit to the place and was
confronted by the figure of an animal about two feet high, which
appeared in a window. After careful search nothing was found, though the
animal was seen in the window by others from the grounds for half an
hour, after which it slowly faded away. A two-year-old child saw a ghost
kitten, while Davidson's aunt thought the spectre looked like a white
pocket handkerchief, knotted at four corners, which danced up and down,
leaping as high as the first floor window. This lady was one day
standing by the kitchen table when she was startled by the bark of a
dog, and two paws were laid heavily on her shoulders, so that she had to
lean against the table for support. No dog, however, was found in the
house. On several occasions the children, though nothing had been said
to them about ghosts, found amusement in chasing up and down the stairs
some animal they described either as a "funny cat or a bonny monkey."

In 1853, an attempt was made to discover the secret of the mystery of
the mill by a clairvoyante, who in her trance distinctly saw, the
"lady like a shadow, with eyes but no sight in them," as she described
her, as well as a number of animals. When questioned about these, she
answered, "One is like a monkey and another like a dog. Had the lady
dogs and monkeys? They all go about the house. What is that other one?
It is not a pussy, it runs very fast and gets amongst feet. It is a
rabbit but a very quick one." When asked whether the animals were
real, the medium replied in her quaint way, "We don't touch them to
see, we would not like a bite."

Beyond this there appears to have been no solution as to the mystery
of the haunted mill, although the medium declared that the trouble
"came from the cellar."[162]

A writer in "Notes and Queries,"[163] H. Wedgewood by name, visited
Mr. Proctor in 1873-4 to ask him the truth about the Willington Mill
ghost, and he told her that he had seen a tabby cat in the furnace
room. There was nothing unusual in the animal's appearance, and it
would not have caught his attention particularly had it not begun to
move. But then instead of walking like an ordinary cat it wriggled
along like a snake. He went close to it and followed it across the
room, holding his hand about a foot above it, until it passed straight
into the solid wall.

The well-known Cornish tradition says that if a young woman dies
neglected after being betrayed by her lover, she haunts him after her
death in the form of a white hare. The false lover is continuously
pursued by the phantom. At times it may rescue him from danger, but in
the end it is the cause of his death.

The following story of a phantom hare pursuing a false lover to his
death is told by Robert Hunt in "Popular Romances of the West of

A young farmer settled at a fine new farmhouse and a peasant's daughter
was placed there in charge of the dairy. The young farmer fell deeply in
love with her and she with him, and he betrayed her under a promise of
marriage, but his family refused to agree to the alliance taking place,
and provided a bride for him suitable to his station. The dairymaid was
sent away ignominiously when it was known she was about to become a
mother. One morning the corpse of a newly-born infant was found in the
farmer's field and the dairymaid was accused of strangling her child,
and was finally convicted of murder and executed.

But ever after that day ill-fortune pursued the young farmer who had
behaved in such a cowardly way, and though he removed to another part of
the country, none of his projects prospered. Gradually he took to drink
to drown his secret sorrows. He generally went out at dusk and it was
noticed that a white hare constantly crossed his path. The animal was
seen by many of the villagers to dart under the hoofs of his horse, and
the terrified steed rushed madly forward whenever this phantom appeared.

A day came when the young farmer was found drowned in a pool at the
bottom of a forsaken mine, and the frightened horse was still grazing
near the mouth of the pit into which his master had fallen.

The woman he had betrayed and left to die a shameful death, having
assumed the shape of a white hare, had haunted the perjured and
false-hearted farmer to his death.

It is said that fatal accidents in mines are often foreshadowed by the
appearance of a white hare or rabbit. At Wheal Vor, writes Mr. Hunt,
in "Popular Romances of the West of England," it has always been and
is now believed that a white rabbit appears in one of the engine
houses when an accident may be looked for in the mine. The men say
that they have chased the phantom animals without being able to catch
them, and on one occasion the rabbit ran into a "windbore" which lay
on the ground and escaped. Similarly in a French mine one of the
miners saw a white object run into an iron pipe and hide there. He
hastened forward and stopped up both ends of the tube, calling to a
companion to examine the pipe. But the animal ghost had disappeared
and nothing remained to explain what had taken place.

The devil appeared in the form of a hare at the hanging of two men on
Warminster Down in 1813, it was said. At Longbridge the devil appeared
in the form of a dog one Palm Sunday, according to the account of a
labourer, who when questioned as to how this was proved, exclaimed,
"_Sum'at_ was there anyhow, and we all fled!"

A farmer in South Wilts who died about 1860, threatened to revisit his
farm on a lonely moor and run about in the shape of a rat. The story
does not say what he expected to gain by choosing this particular
animal for transformation purposes.

Superstition gives to white birds a particular power of conveying omens.

A small white bird plays a part in warning an old harper in Wales of the
destruction of a prince's palace, whither the bard had been invited to
perform at festivities held on the occasion of the birth of an heir.

Tradition relates that Bala Lake was formed as a means of submerging a
palace where lived a cruel and wicked prince, who practised oppression
and injustice upon poor farmers of the district. The tyrant often heard
a ghostly voice urging him to desist from his evil ways and saying,
"Vengeance will come," but he treated the warning with contempt.

On the occasion of his son's birth, there was great rejoicing at the
palace, and the poor harper was called in to play to the guests. Mirth,
wine, feasting, and dancing continued till a late hour, and during the
interval in which the harper was allowed to rest, he retired into a
quiet corner, where, to his astonishment, he heard a whisper in his ear,
"Vengeance, vengeance!" Turning to discover whence the sound came, he
observed a tiny white bird hovering about him, urging him, as it were,
to follow. He fell in with the creature's wishes without stopping to
fetch his harp, and the bird led him beyond the palace walls, still
singing in a plaintive note the word "Vengeance, vengeance!" Over
marshland, through thickets, across streams and up ravines this strange
pair wandered, the bird seemingly choosing the safest path for her
companion, and growing ever more insistent in her cries of "Vengeance,
vengeance!" At last they came to the summit of a hill some distance from
the palace. Utterly weary the harper ventured to stop and rest, and the
bird's voice was heard no more, but as he listened he could distinguish
the loud murmur of a brook.

Suddenly he awoke to the fact that he had allowed himself to be led
away foolishly, and he attempted to retrace his steps. In the dark,
however, he missed his way and was forced to await daylight. Then to
his surprise he turned his eyes upon the valley in which the palace
had stood and discovered that it was no longer to be seen, for the
waters had flooded the face of the land, and on the placid lake that
lay in the valley his harp was floating.

Another story of birds that foreshadowed a calamity is told about
Yorkshire. A writer in "Notes and Queries"[165] passed through the
district of Kettering on September 6, and noticed an immense flock of
birds which flew round and round, uttering dismal cries. He spoke of
the matter to his servant, who told him the birds were called the
"Seven Whistlers," and that whenever they were heard a great calamity
might be expected. The last time he had heard them was the night
before the great Hartley Colliery explosion. Curiously enough the
writer, on taking up the newspaper the following morning, saw an
announcement of a terrible colliery explosion at Wigan.

On the Bosphorus the boatmen say, with reference to certain flocks of
birds which fly ceaselessly up and down the channel, never resting on
land or water, that they are the souls of the damned, doomed to
perpetual motion.

A strange bird-ghost is connected with the lake and house of Glasfryn.
On a certain evening, Grassi, which is the phantom's name, forgot to
close the well and the waters overflowed and formed a lake. There she
wanders at night bemoaning her carelessness. She also visits the house
as a tall lady with well-marked features, large, bright eyes and
dressed all in white. Another version of the story is that when the
water overflowed and the lake was formed, the fairies seized Grassi
and changed her into a swan and she continued to live by the waters
for more than a century and died still lamenting her lot. Another
version runs that the lady was changed into a swan as a punishment for
haunting the house.

Holt Castle, in Worcestershire, is said to have been haunted by a
mysterious lady in black who walked through a passage which led to the
attics, while the cellar was in the possession of a phantom bird, not
unlike a raven, which occasionally pounced upon the servants who went
to draw beer or cider from the casks there. By flapping his wings, the
unholy bird extinguished the candle of the adventuresome human being
who invaded his domain, and then vanished, leaving his victim
prostrated with fear.

York Castle was the scene in which an extraordinary ghost took animal
shape. The story is told in the Memoirs of Sir John Reresby.

"One of my soldiers being on guard about eleven in the night at the
gate of Clifford Tower, the very night after a witch had been
arraigned, he heard a great noise in the castle; and going to the
porch there saw a scroll of paper creep from under the floor, which,
as he imagined by moonshine, turned first into the shape of a monkey,
and thence assumed the form of a turkeycock, which passed to and fro
by him. Surprised at this, he went to the prison and called the
under-keeper, who came and saw the 'scroll' dance up and down, and
creep under the door, where there was scarce an opening of the
thickness of half a crown. This extraordinary story I had from the
mouth of both one and the other."

Among the curiously shaped phantoms are those which have an important
part of their anatomy lacking, and most common of all are the ghosts,
human and animal, that are seen without a head. Indeed the belief in
headless spectres, both of equine and canine beings, is remarkably
widespread throughout England.

The Rev. Richard Dodge, a Cornish clergyman, who lived near Looe, was
an exorcist, and was said to be able "to drive along evil spirits of
various shapes, pursuing them with his whip." One day his services
were commanded by a Mr. Mills, Rector of Lanreath, who said that
labourers had been startled by an apparition of a man in black garb
driving a carriage drawn by headless horses. Mr. Dodge met Mr. Mills,
but as they saw no apparition, they parted to return to their
respective homes. Mr. Dodge's horse grew restive and refused to
proceed, so he, thinking something uncanny was about to take place,
allowed the animal to return to the spot where he had parted from Mr.
Mills, whom, to his distress, he found lying prostrate on the ground
with the spectre and his black coach and headless horses beside him.

Jumping down to assist his friend, Dodge uttered a prayer, and the
spectre screaming, "Dodge is come, I must be gone," whipped up the
ghost horses and vanished into the night.

Spectre horsemen are common and one is said to haunt Wyecoller Hall.
The ghost is dressed in the costume of the Stuart period, and the
trappings of the horse are of uncouth description. On windy nights the
horseman is heard dashing up to the Hall. The rider dismounts, makes
his way up the stairs into a room on the first landing, whence
presently screams and groans issue. Suddenly the horseman reappears
and gallops off, the horse appearing wild with rage, its nostrils
streaming fire. The tradition is that one of the Cunliffes of
Billington, for long the owners of Wyecoller Hall, near Colne,
murdered his wife and reappears every year as a spectre horseman in
the home of his victim. She is said to have predicted the extinction
of the family, a prediction long since fulfilled.

The midnight hunter and his headless hounds are often to be seen in
Cornwall, and the Abbot's Way, on Dartmoor, is said to be a favourite
spot for their visitations. Sir Francis Drake was supposed to drive a
hearse into Plymouth by night, followed by a pack of headless, but
nevertheless howling, hounds. On Cheney Downs in the parish of St.
Teath, ghostly hounds said to have belonged to an old squire called
Cheney, were often seen and heard, especially in rough weather.

Herne, the ghostly hunter of Windsor Forest, has his counterpart in
the _Grand Veneur_ of Fontainebleau. While hunting in his favourite
forest, Henry II of France was suddenly startled by the sound of
horns, and the cries of huntsmen and the barking of dogs. At first
they sounded far away, but soon they came close by. Some of the
company in advance of the king "saw a great black man among the
bushes," crying in sepulchral tones, "M'attendez-vous?" or
"M'entendez-vous?" or "Amendez-vous." The king, startled, inquired of
the foresters and peasants what they knew of the apparition. He was
informed that they had frequently seen the rider, accompanied by a
pack of hounds, which hunted at full cry, but never did any harm.

Dan gives Pierre Matthieu's version of the story and adds, "I know
what several authors narrate concerning the hunt of Saint Hubert,
which they declare is heard in various parts of the forest. Nor do I
ignore what they say of the spectre called the 'Whipper,' which was
supposed to appear in the time of Charles IX in the forest of Lyons,
and which left the mark of the lash on several people. Nor do I doubt
that demons may wander in the forest as well as in the air. But I know
well as regards the 'Grand Veneur' nothing is certain, least of all
the circumstances in which, according to the reports of the authors,
this phantom appears, and the words of which he makes use."[166]

The spectre huntsman chasing the wild doe and the headless hounds in
full cry are amongst the many prominent demon superstitions still extant
and the chief legends concerning them, with their variants, are
mentioned by Charles Hardwick in "Traditions, Superstitions, and
Folk-lore."[167] The appearance of these and other animal spectres,
however, has never been satisfactorily explained, and the question that
naturally occurs to the student after reading such stories is whether
animals are able to send forth astral or phantasmal doubles in a manner
similar to that in which it is believed human beings can project them.


[155] "Shropshire Folk-lore," pp. 108-9.

[156] "Shropshire Folk-lore," p. 642.

[157] "Notes and Queries," 2nd Series, Vol. X., pp. 192-3.

[158] "Notes and Queries," December 28, 1850, p. 515.

[159] Jackson, G. E., "Shropshire Folk-lore," pp. 108-10.

[160] "Shropshire Folk-lore," pp. 106-7.

[161] "Superstitions et Survivances," 1896, Vol. V, pp. 19-20.

[162] "Real Ghost Stories," pp. 261-75.

[163] Sixth Series, Vol. VII, January 6, 1883, pp. 12-13.

[164] 1881, pp. 377-8.

[165] October 21, 1871.

[166] Dan, "Le Tresor des Merveilles de Fontainebleau."

[167] 1872, pp. 153 _et seq._

                             CHAPTER XXII

                        THE PHANTASMAL DOUBLE

According to Adolphe d'Assier, member of the Bordeaux Academy of
Sciences, there is no doubt that the existence of the personality in
animals as a separate appearance is established, and as it is a
replica of the external form of the animal, he regards it as a living
and phantasmal image.[168] He cites the following stories in support
of his theory.

"Towards the end of 1869, finding myself at Bordeaux, I met one
evening a friend who was going to a magnetic _séance_, and asked me to
accompany him. I accepted his invitation, desiring to see magnetism at
close quarters. The _séance_ presented nothing remarkable. I was,
however, struck with one unexpected circumstance. Towards the middle
of the evening one of the persons present, having noticed a spider on
the floor, crushed it with his foot.

"'Ah!' cried the medium at the same moment, 'I see the spirit of the
spider escaping.'

"In the language of mediums, as we know, the word _spirit_ designates
that which I have called the posthumous phantom.

"'What is the form of the spirit?' asked the hypnotiser.

"'It has the form of a spider,' answered the medium.'"

This little incident, which recalls the ghost of a flea pictured by
William Blake, the artist, and Dr. Reichenbach's dying mouse, led
d'Assier to study the question of the duplication of personality
among domestic animals. After some investigation he was sure that the
medium's vision of a spirit spider was the reality, and he quotes
other examples of phantasmal doubles.

On April 18th, 1705, M. Milanges de la Richardière, son of an advocate
to the Parliament of Paris, when riding through Noisy-le-Grand, was
surprised when his horse came to a dead stop in the middle of the
road. At the same moment he saw a shepherd, of sinister countenance,
carrying a crook, and accompanied by two black dogs with short ears.
The man said, "Go home, sir. Your horse will not go forward."

At first the rider laughed, and then finding he could not make his
horse advance an inch, he was forced to return, against his will. Some
days later he was taken ill, and doctors were called in, who finding
that his complaint did not yield to ordinary remedies, began to talk
of sorcery. Young Milanges then confessed to his meeting with the
strange shepherd and his dogs, and a few days later, to his surprise,
when entering his own room, he saw the shepherd sitting in an
arm-chair, dressed as he had seen him before, holding the crook still
in his hand, and with the two black dogs by his side. In his terror
the young man called for his servants, but they could not see the
phantom man and animals.

At about ten o'clock the same night, however, the ghostly shepherd
flung himself at the young man, who drew a knife from his pocket and
made five or six cuts at his adversary's face.

A few days later the shepherd came to the house and confessed that he
was a sorcerer and had persecuted M. Milanges. He had transported his
double into the young man's chamber, as well as the phantasmal doubles
of his black dogs.

The existence of the living phantom, thus being proved to M.
d'Assier's satisfaction, he conceives that a posthumous phantom is
merely the continuation, as it were, of the living double. A story of
such an animal apparition was given to him by an educated and
reliable farmer at St. Croix, Ariège.

"One of my comrades," said the farmer, "was returning home at a late
hour of the night. At some distance from his house, which was situated
on a lonely farm, he saw an ass browsing in an oat-field by the side
of the road. Moved by a feeling of neighbourly interest, natural among
farmers, he intended to take the unprofitable guest out of the field,
and advanced to seize the ass and lead it to his own stable so that
its owner might claim it. The animal allowed him to approach without
difficulty and to lead it away without resistance. But at the very
door of his stable the ass suddenly disappeared out of his grasp, like
a shadow vanishing. In a fright at this uncanny incident, the farmer
woke up his brother to tell him what had occurred, and in the morning
they went to the oat-field, anxious to see whether much havoc had been
done to the crops, but could find no trace of the oats having been
touched or trampled upon."

The night was clear and there was no cloud in the sky. The young man,
when closely questioned, asserted again and again that he had distinctly
seen the ass vanish before his eyes at the door of the stable.

D'Assier's explanation is that the animal's spectre, originating on
the same principle as the human spectre, exhibits posthumous
manifestations analogous to those observed in the latter cases. The
ass of St. Croix was met with at night because, like the posthumous
phantom of a human being, he shuns daylight. "He is in an oat-field,
pasturing according to the instinctive habit of his race, but in
reality browses (as one would naturally infer) but the phantom of
grass or grain. He follows his leader whilst they are upon the road,
but refuses to enter the stable, which is for him a prison, and
vanishes in order to escape it. Here we have the essential features of
posthumous manifestations: and if the young man had inquired among his
neighbours, he would have learned, in all probability, that some time
previously a beast of burden had died and been buried on a
neighbouring farm."[169]

A similar story was told by a Customs officer, and is equally authentic.

"One evening when I happened to be on guard, with one of my comrades,"
said the officer, "we perceived not far from the village where I lived,
a mule which grazed before us and seemed as though laden. Supposing that
he was carrying contraband goods, and that his master had fled on seeing
us, we ran after the animal. The mule dashed into a meadow and after
having made different bolts to escape us, he entered the village, and
here we separated. Whilst my companion continued to follow him, I took a
cross road so as to head him off. Seeing himself closely pressed, the
animal quickened his pace, and several of the inhabitants were awakened
by the noise of his hoofs clattering on the pavement. I got in front of
him to the crossing, at the end of the street, through which he was
fleeing, and at the moment when, seeing him close to me, I put out my
hand to seize his halter, he disappeared like a shade, and I saw nothing
but my comrade, who was as amazed as myself."

"Are you quite sure that he hadn't turned aside into another road?"
asked d'Assier of the Customs officer who told him the story.

"That would have been quite impossible: the place where we were had no
outlet, and the only way he could get away was by passing over my
body: and, besides, the night was clear enough for us to see all his
movements. Next morning the inhabitants of the village were
cross-questioning each other about the racket they had heard in the

"Like the ass of St. Croix," continues d'Assier, "and like all
posthumous phantoms, our mule shows himself at night. He is met in a
pasture all absorbed in his favourite occupation, that is to say,
browsing imaginary grass. As soon as he finds himself tracked by the
Customs officers he takes flight, as though he were really carrying
contraband goods in his panniers, and he vanishes when he sees himself
about to be captured--all things which characterise the
post-sepulchral Spectre."

"In certain cases, not yet well defined," adds the same author,[170]
"our internal personality may, by reason of its fluidic nature, take on
animal forms. Hence, when one is in the presence of the spectre of an
animal, there is some reason to apprehend that this may be a
lycanthropic manifestation of the human phantom, unless certain
particularities identify its true origin. But I have said enough," he
concludes, "to establish the existence of the fluid form-personality in
animals and to demonstrate that the post-sepulchral humanity is but one
particular case of a more general law--that of posthumous animality."

Another story of animal transformation is regarded by d'Assier as
being a case of lycanthropia.

Two brothers occupied a house at St. Lizier, one of whom tells the
story as follows:--

"I lived at that time in one of those little houses that you can see
at the upper end of the town. I was about twelve years old and my
brother was about seventeen. We slept together in a room to which we
ascended by a small staircase. One evening we had just gone to bed
when we heard someone ascending the steps. Then an animal about the
size of a calf appeared. As the window had no blinds and the night was
clear, it was easy for us to make out the animal's shape. Frightened
at the sight of it, I clung to my brother, who at the first moment
seemed as frightened as myself. But, recovering from his terror, he
leaped out of bed, ran and caught up a pitchfork which was in the
corner of the room, and, placing himself before the animal, said to it
in a firm and resolute voice:

"'If thou comest by permission of God, speak: if from the devil, thou
wilt have to deal with me.'

"Thus encountered, the animal wheeled swiftly round, and in turning it
struck the framework of my bed with its tail. I then heard it descend
the staircase precipitately, but as soon as it arrived at the bottom
it disappeared and my brother, who was close behind it, was unable to
see where it went. It is unnecessary to add that the door of the house
was fast shut. As soon as I heard it descend the stairs I took courage
and as the window of our room was over the street door I opened it to
watch the strange visitor go out, but I saw nothing. My brother and I
thought we had seen a wer-wolf and we accused an inhabitant of the
vicinity, to whom were charged other adventures of this kind."

A more explicit case of lycanthropy occurred at Serisols, in the
Canton of St. Croix, about sixty years ago.

A miller called Bigot had a reputation for sorcery. One day when his
wife rose very early to go and wash some linen not very far from the
house, he tried to dissuade her, repeating to her several times, "Do
not go there: you will be frightened."

"Why should I be frightened?" she asked.

"I tell you you will be frightened," repeated her husband.

She did not take his threats seriously and went out in spite of them.

Hardly had she taken her place at the washing-tub, however, before she
saw an animal moving here and there in front of her. It was not yet
daylight, and she could not clearly make out its shape, but she
thought it was a kind of a dog. Annoyed by its restless movements and
not being able to scare it away, she threw her wooden clothes-beater
at it, and the tool hit the animal in the eye. Immediately the
creature disappeared and at the same moment Bigot's children heard him
utter a cry of pain from his bed and shout out, "Ah! the wretch! She
has destroyed my eye." From that day he was blind in one eye, so that
undoubtedly this animal was not an animal double, but the miller's
double in animal form.

D'Assier describes an epidemic of "obsession," or possession by demons,
which occurred in 1857 at Morzine, in Savoy, and lasted until 1863, many
young women and animals being attacked by a peculiar affliction. The
atmosphere of Morzine, he says, "was impregnated with a foreign fluid
(aura) since all that was required was to give change of air to ensure
escape from the clutches of the disease. In certain families the
domestic animals ate nothing, or satisfied themselves by gnawing the
wood of their mangers; at other times it was the cows, goats, or sheep
which gave no more milk, and what little some yielded was unfit for
making into butter. These phenomena especially showed themselves in
families where there were patients. Occasionally the sickness was
transferred from persons to animals, and vice versa. If a young girl was
relieved, a beast in the stable fell sick; and if the latter was cured
the young girl relapsed into her former state. In face of such facts it
was no longer possible to talk about obsession. The pest bursting forth
simultaneously in houses and cattle-sheds, could only be ascribed to a
physical cause, and the disorders that it provoked in persons attacked
showed clearly that these phenomena were due to an excess or a
degeneration of the mesmeric fluid...."[171] As a remedy, d'Assier
suggests that "Obsession being an abnormal afflux of magnetic fluid upon
the nervous system of the patient, the direct remedy is naturally the
neutralisation of this fluid by a current of cerebral ether turned in
the opposite direction and emanating from an energetic will."

Paracelsus, meaning probably much the same thing, declared that the
astral currents produced by the imagination and will of man produced
certain states in external Nature. The vehicle through which the will
acts for effectuating good or evil he calls the living Mumia. The Mumia
of a thing is its life-principle, a vehicle containing the essence of
life. Exerting great power, it can be used in witchcraft and sorcery.
"Witches," he says in "De Pestilitate," "may make a bargain with evil
spirits, and cause them to carry the Mumia to certain places where it
will come into contact with other people, without the knowledge of the
latter, and cause them harm." Thus diseases are spread, milk spoilt and
cattle infected, the injured people not knowing the cause of the evils
with which they are afflicted.

A curious story of bewitched cattle and "blue milk" is told by Franz
Hartmann in his "Life of Paracelsus,"[172] in which a kind of animal
demon appears to have "possessed" the cattle.

At a farmhouse not far from Munich the milk turned blue. It had been
deposited in the usual place and darkened gradually, appearing first a
light blue, and becoming of inky hue, while the layer of cream
exhibited zigzag lines and shortly the whole mass began to putrefy and
to emit a horrible smell. This occurred for many days running, and the
farmer began to despair, for he could not discover the cause of the
trouble. The stable was thoroughly cleansed, the place where the milk
was kept was changed, a different food was given to the cattle, and
samples of the milk were sent to Munich to be examined by chemists;
the old milk-pots were replaced by new ones, and so on, but nothing
produced an improvement in the existing state of affairs.

At last a Countess who resided in the neighbourhood hearing about the
matter, went to the farmhouse. She took with her a clean new bottle,
and filled it with the milk as it came from the bewitched cows. She
placed the bottle in her own pantry, and from that day the trouble at
the farm ceased, but all the milk at her own house turned blue.

This went on for three months, during which time everything that could
possibly be done was done to discover the cause of the milk being in
this condition. Then an old lady who lived hundreds of miles off,
having been appealed to, laid a spell by her own occult powers,
writing certain incantations on slips of paper which effected a cure
of the trouble. But before it ceased, a strange thing happened. As one
of the milkmaids was about to enter the stable before daybreak, a huge
black demon, in animal form, rushed out of the half-opened door,
knocked the milk-pail and lantern out of her hands, and disappeared
before she could awaken the household. After this all went well again.
An apparition of this character may be regarded as belonging to the
familiars or elementals rather than to the animal-ghosts.


[168] "Posthumous Humanity," 1887.

[169] _Ibid._, pp. 74-6.

[170] _Op. cit._, p. 80.

[171] "Posthumous Humanity," 1887, pp. 247-8.

[172] 1896, p. 154.

                            CHAPTER XXIII

                          ANIMAL ELEMENTALS

Suggestion no doubt plays a large part in producing a belief in the
power to change form at will, and the occult aspect of transformation
is perhaps more interesting than any other view of the subject.
Incantations, salves, herbs, drugs, perfumes, and other accessories of
ritual are merely employed to strengthen concentrative force and to
induce a suitable state of mind. In this sense the highest scientific
method of transformation is known to the Yogi who, by performing
_samyama_ on the powers of any animal, acquires those powers.[173]

_Samyama_ is the technical name for three inseparable processes taken
collectively. The three processes are, firstly, contemplation, or the
fixing of the mind on something, external or internal; secondly, the
unity of the mind with its absorption, in which the mind is conscious
only of itself and the object; and thirdly, trance, when the mind is
conscious only of the object, and as though unconscious of itself.
Trance proper is the forgetting of all idea of the act, and, still
more important, the becoming of the object (such as the animal)
thought upon. Thus, the three stages, contemplation, absorption, and
trance, are in fact stages of contemplation, for the thing thought
upon, the thinker, and the instrument (together with other things
which are to be excluded), are all present in the first; all except
the last are present in the second, and nothing but the object is
present in the third.[174]

The Yogi believes that the mind can enter into another body by
relaxation of the cause of bondage, and by knowledge of the method of
passing. The bondage is the mind's being bound to a particular body.
The cause of limiting the otherwise all-pervading mind to a particular
spot is _karma_ or _dharma_ and _adharma_, i.e. good or bad deeds.
When by constant _samyama_ on these, the effect of the cause is
neutralised and the bonds of confinement loosened, then the mind is
free to enter any dead or living organism and perform its functions
through it. But for this purpose a knowledge of effecting this
transfer is equally necessary....

We always think in relation to the ego within us, and therefore in
relation to the body. Even when we direct our mind somewhere out of
the body, it is still in relation with the thinking self. When this
relation is entirely severed and the mind exists as it were
spontaneously, outside and independent of the body, the Yogi finds the
state of internal mind most favourable for passing from one corporeal
shape into another, for it is nothing more than the _vrtti_ (or soul)
severed from the body that travels from one place to another. The act
of the mind cognising objects, or technically speaking, taking the
shape of objects presented to it, is called _vrtti_, or
transformation. Those familiar with the so-called
spirit-materialisations will readily comprehend the somewhat obscure
sense of this aphorism.[175]

Animal elementals or thought-forms were employed by magicians in the
remote ages, and believed to be created entities which persisted
throughout time and might be sent forth, somewhat in the nature of a
familiar, to wreak harm on others. Such animal thought-forms are
regarded as natural or possible by many occultists to-day and two
modern stories exemplify this belief.

A certain Miss Carter went to have tea at a friend's house where she
met a lady whom she knew, a Miss Thory, the sister of an eminent
philosopher. Miss Carter asked this lady whether she would be kind
enough to tell her fortune from the cards, but Miss Thory declined,
saying that she felt tired. Shortly afterwards Miss Carter went away
and, as soon as her back was turned, Miss Thory said to her hostess, "My
dear, don't have much to do with that young lady, because she goes about
telling people that she is beloved by an archangel who kisses her on the
lips, but I have seen the creature which hovers about her, and which she
takes to be an archangel, and it has the shape of a crocodile and is
trying to influence people through her. It is an evil elemental."

The other story concerns two friends, Mrs. Harper and Miss Sylvester,
who, travelling together on the astral plane, decided to visit the
bottom of the sea. They believed they arrived there and saw an
enormous octopus which was floating about amongst the wreckage on the
ocean bed. Miss Sylvester immediately made the protective sign of the
Pentacle and suffered no inconvenience, but Mrs. Harper neglected to
take this precaution and the monstrous animal followed her about. They
did not mention these strange experiences to anyone, and they were
well-nigh forgotten when some time later it happened that Miss
Sylvester introduced Mrs. Harper to one of her friends, a very
well-known poet. Meeting Miss Sylvester a few days afterwards, he said
to her quite frankly, "I suppose I ought not to say so to you, but I
did not much care for your friend, Mrs. Harper. The night after you
introduced me to her I could not sleep and whenever I thought about
her I was aware of some elemental creature crawling beneath my bed. It
had the shape of an octopus with horrible tentacles!"

Phenomena of this character are explained by the occultist as follows:--

The elemental essence which surrounds us is singularly susceptible to
the influence of human thought. The action of the mere casual wandering
thought upon it causes it to burst into a cloud of rapidly-moving,
evanescent forms. Thought, seizing upon the plastic essence, moulds it
instantly into a living being of appropriate form--"a being which when
once thus created is in no way under the control of its creator, but
lives out a life of its own, the length of which is proportionate to the
intensity of the thought or wish which called it into existence. It
lasts, in fact, just as long as the thought-force holds it together.
Most people's thoughts are so fleeting and indecisive that the
elementals created by them last only a few minutes or a few hours, but
an often repeated thought or an earnest wish will form an elemental
whose existence may extend to many days.... A man who frequently dwells
upon one wish often forms for himself an astral attendant, which,
constantly fed by fresh thought, may haunt him for years, ever gaining
more and more strength and influence over him...."

It is said that a magician who understands the subject and knows what
effect he is producing may acquire great power along these lines and
can call into existence artificial elementals which, if he be not
careful, escape from his control and become wandering demons.

The magicians of Atlantis brought into being wonderful speaking animals
who had to be appeased by an offering of blood lest they should awaken
their masters and warn them of impending destruction.[176]

An even more terrible, psychic animal-being is described by occultists
as the Dweller on the Threshold. In answer to the question, What kind
of an animal is a human creature born soulless? Madame Blavatsky[177]
explains that "the future of the lower Manas is terrible, and still
more terrible to humanity than to the now animal man. It sometimes
happens that, after the separation, the exhausted soul, now become
supremely animal, fades out in Kama Loka, as do all other animal
souls. But seeing that the more material is the human mind, the longer
it lasts, even in the intermediate stage, it frequently happens that
after the present life of the soulless man is ended, he is again and
again reincarnated into new personalities, each one more abject than
the other. The impulse of _animal life_ is too strong: it cannot wear
itself out in one or two lives only. In rarer cases, however, when the
lower Manas is doomed to exhaust itself by starvation: when there is
no longer hope that even a remnant of a lower light will, owing to
favourable conditions--say, even a short period of spiritual
aspiration and repentance--attract back to itself its Parent Ego, and
Karma leads the Higher-Ego back to new incarnations, then something
far more dreadful may happen. The Kama-Manasic spook may become that
which is called in Occultism, the 'Dweller on the Threshold.'...

"Bereft of the guiding Principles, but strengthened by the material
elements, Kama-Manas, from being a 'derived light,' now becomes an
independent entity, and thus, suffering itself to sink lower and lower
on the animal plane, when the hour strikes for its earthly body to
die, one of two things happens; either Kama-Manas is immediately
reborn in Myalba, the state of Avitchi on earth, or, if it becomes too
strong in evil--'immortal in Satan' is the occult expression--it is
sometimes allowed, for Karmic purposes, to remain in an active state
of Avitchi in the terrestrial Aura. Then through despair and loss of
all hope, it becomes like the mythical 'devil' in its endless
wickedness; it continues in its elements, which are imbued through and
through with the essence of Matter; for evil is coevil with Matter
rent asunder from Spirit. And when its Higher-Ego has once more
reincarnated, evolving a new reflection, or Kama-Manas, the doomed
lower Ego, like a Frankenstein's monster, will ever feel attracted to
its Father who repudiates his son, and will become a regular 'Dweller
on the Threshold' of terrestrial life."

Concerning the evolution of man-animal and animal-man, Madame
Blavatsky[178] declares, "it is most important to remember that the
Egos of the Apes are entities compelled by their Karma to incarnate in
the animal forms, which resulted from the bestiality of the _latest_
Third and the earliest Fourth Race men. They are entities who had
already reached the 'human stage' before this Round. Consequently they
form an exception to the general rule. The numberless traditions about
Satyrs are no fables, but represent an extinct race of animal men. The
animal 'Eves' were their foremothers, and the human 'Adams' their
forefathers; _hence the Kabalistic allegory of Lilith or Lilatu_,
Adam's _first_ wife, whom the Talmud describes as a _charming_ woman
with _long wavy hair_, i.e. a female hairy animal of a character now
unknown, still a female animal, who in the Kabalistic and Talmudic
allegories is called the female reflection of Samael, Samael-Lilith,
or man-animal united, a being called _Hayo Bischat_, the Beast or Evil
Beast (Zohar). It is from this unnatural union that the present apes
descended. The latter are truly 'speechless men' and will become
speaking animals (or men of a lower order) in the Fifth Round, while
the adepts of a certain school hope that some of the Egos of the apes
of a higher intelligence will reappear at the close of the Sixth-Root
race. What their form will be is of secondary consideration. The form
means nothing. Species and genera of the flora, fauna, and the highest
animal, its crown--man--change and vary according to the environments
and climatic variations, not only with every Round, but every
Root-Race likewise, as well as after every geological cataclysm that
puts an end to, or produces a turning-point in the latter. In the
Sixth Root-Race the fossils of the Orang, the Gorilla and the
Chimpanzee will be those of extinct quadrumanous mammals and new
forms--though fewer and ever wider apart as ages pass on and the
close of the Manvantara approaches--will develop from the 'cast-off'
types of the human races as they revert once again to astral, out of
the mire of physical life. There were none before man and they will be
extinct before the Seventh Race develops. Karma will lead on the
monads of the unprogressed men of our race and lodge them in the newly
evolved human frames of this physiologically regenerated baboon.

"This will take place, of course, millions of years hence. But the
picture of this cyclic procession of all that lives and breathes now on
earth, of each species in its turn, is a true one, and needs no 'special
creation' or miraculous formation of man, beast or plant _ex nihilo_.

"This is how Occult Science explains the absence of any link between
ape and man and shows the former evolving from the latter."

The Indians believe that sinners are reborn as animals. "After having
suffered the torments in the hells, the evil-doers pass into animal
bodies,"[179] and their classification of such punishment has been
carefully worked out.

Mortal sinners enter the bodies of worms or insects. Minor offenders
enter the bodies of birds. Criminals in the fourth degree enter the
bodies of the aquatic animals. Those who have committed a crime
effecting loss of caste, enter the bodies of amphibious animals. Those
who have committed a crime degrading to a mixed caste enter the bodies
of deer. Those who have committed a crime rendering them unworthy to
receive alms, enter the bodies of cattle. Those who have committed one
of the miscellaneous crimes enter the bodies of miscellaneous wild
carnivorous animals (such as tigers).

A thief (of other property than gold) becomes a falcon.

One who has appropriated a broad passage, becomes a serpent or other
animal living in holes.

One who has stolen grain becomes a rat.

One who has stolen water becomes a water-fowl.

One who has stolen honey becomes a gad-fly.

One who has stolen milk becomes a crow.

One who has stolen juice (of the sugar-cane or other plants) becomes a

One who has stolen clarified butter becomes an ichneumon.

One who has stolen meat becomes a vulture.

One who has stolen fat becomes a cormorant.

One who has stolen oil becomes a cockroach.

One who has stolen salt becomes a cricket.

One who has stolen sour milk becomes a crane.

One who has stolen silk becomes a partridge.

One who has stolen linen becomes a frog.

One who has stolen cotton cloth becomes a curlew.

One who has stolen a cow becomes an iguana.

One who has stolen sugar becomes a Valguda (kind of bat).

One who has stolen perfumes becomes a musk-rat.

One who has stolen vegetables becomes a peacock.

One who has stolen prepared grain becomes a boar.

One who has stolen undressed grain becomes a porcupine.

One who has stolen fire becomes a crane.

One who has stolen household utensils becomes a wasp.

One who has stolen dyed cloth becomes a partridge.

One who has stolen an elephant becomes a tortoise.

One who has stolen a horse becomes a tiger.

One who has stolen fruit or blossoms becomes an ape.

One who has stolen a woman becomes a bear.

One who has stolen a vehicle becomes a camel.

One who has stolen cattle becomes a vulture.

He who has taken by force any property belonging to another or eaten
food not first presented to the gods, inevitably enters the body of
some beast.

Women who have committed similar thefts, receive the same ignominious
punishment: they become females to those male animals.

Then having undergone the torments inflicted in the hells and having
passed through the animal bodies the sinners are born as human beings
with marks indicating their crime.

These transformations came about by the insistent wickedness of human
thoughts and deeds. Eliphas Levi discusses the magic power of the
spoken word in bringing changes of shape to pass. "In the opinion of
the vulgar," he says,[180] "transformations and metamorphosis have
ever been the very essence of magic.... Magic really changes the
nature of things, or rather modifies their appearances at pleasure,
according to the strength of the operator's will and the fascination
of aspiring adepts. Speech creates forms, and when a person reputed
infallible gives anything a name, he really transforms the object into
the substance which is signified by the name that he gives it....

"The life of creatures is a progressive transformation, having forms
which may be determined and renewed, preserved longer, or else
destroyed sooner. If the motion of metempsychosis were true, might we
not say that debauch, represented by Circe, changes men really and
materially into swine, for the chastisement of vices would on this
hypothesis be a lapse into those animal forms which correspond to
them? Now metempsychosis, which has been frequently misunderstood, has
a perfectly true side. Animal forms communicate their sympathetic
imprints to the astral body of man and are soon reflected on his
features, according to the force of his habits. A man of intelligent
and passive mildness assumes the ways and inert physiognomy of a
sheep; in somnambulism, however, it is no longer a person of
sheep-like appearance but a sheep itself that is seen, as the ecstatic
and learned Swedenborg experienced times out of number. Thus we can
really change men into animals--it is all a question of will-power."

"The fatal ascendancy of one person over another is the true rod of
Circe," he continues. "Almost every human countenance bears some
resemblance to an animal. That is, it has the signature of a
specialised instinct. Now instincts are balanced by contrary
instincts, and dominated by others which are stronger. To govern
sheep, the dog evokes the fear of the wolf. If you are a dog and would
be loved by a pretty little cat, be metamorphosed into a cat, and you
will win her. But how is the change to be accomplished? By
observation, imitation, and imagination.... By polarising one's own
animal light in equilibrated antagonism with an opposite pole."[181]

Paracelsus has written at length on the same aspect of the subject.
"Men have two spirits," he explains,[182] "an animal spirit and a
human spirit in them. A man who lives in his animal spirit is like an
animal during life, and will be an animal after death: but a man who
lives in his human spirit will remain human. Animals have
consciousness and reason, but they have no spiritual intelligence. It
is the presence of the latter that raises man above the animal, and
its absence makes an animal of what once appeared to be a man. A man
in whom the animal reason alone is active is a lunatic, and his
character resembles that of some animal. One man acts like a wolf,
another like a dog, another like a hog, a snake or a fox, etc. It is
their animal principle that makes them act as they do, and their
animal principle will perish like the animals themselves. But the
human reason is not of an animal nature, but comes from God, and being
a part of God, it is necessarily immortal."

"The animal soul of man is derived from the cosmic animal elements,"
he writes elsewhere,[183] "and the animal kingdom is therefore the
father of the animal man. If man is like his animal father, he
resembles an animal; if he is like the Divine Spirit that lives within
his animal elements, he is like a god. If his reason is absorbed by
his animal instincts, it becomes animal reason; if it rises above his
animal desires, it becomes angelic. If a man eats the flesh of an
animal, the animal flesh becomes human flesh; if an animal eats human
flesh, the latter becomes animal flesh. A man whose human reason is
absorbed by his animal desires is an animal, and if his animal reason
becomes enlightened by wisdom he becomes an angel.

"Animal man is the son of the animal elements out of which his soul
was born, and animals are the mirrors of man. Whatever animal elements
exist in the world exist in the soul of man, and therefore the
character of one man may resemble that of a fox, a dog, a snake, a
parrot, etc. Man need not, therefore, be surprised that animals have
animal instincts that are so much like his own; it might rather be
surprising for the animals to see that their son (animal man)
resembles them so closely....

"A man who loves to lead an animal life is an animal ruled by his
interior animal heaven. The same stars (qualities) that cause a wolf to
murder, a dog to steal, a cat to kill, a bird to sing, etc., make a man
a singer, an eater, a talker, a lover, a murderer, a robber, or a thief.
These are animal attributes and they die with the animal elements to
which they belong; but the divine principle in man, which constitutes
him a human being, comes from God. Man should therefore live in harmony
with his divine parent, and not in the animal elements of his soul."

The object of human life is therefore to realise that one is not an
animal, but a god-like being inhabiting a human animal form. If man
once realises what he actually is, he will be able to use his divine
powers and be himself a creator of forms.[184]

The same writer describes beings which are neither animal nor man, but
which have characteristics of both, and which he calls Nature-spirits or
Elementals. To these he gives the names of the Gnomes, the Nymphs or
Undines, the Sylphs or Sylvestres, the Salamanders, the Pigmies and the
Sirens. He attributes to them curious qualities and shapes. They can,
for instance, pass through matter, yet they are not spirits, rather
occupying a place "between men and spirits." They are not immortal, and
when they die they perish like animals. They have only animal intellects
and are incapable of spiritual development. The Nymphs live in the
element of water, the Sylphs in that of the air, the Pigmies in the
earth, and the Salamanders in the fire. Each species moves only in the
element to which it belongs. To each elemental being the element in
which it lives is transparent, invisible, and respirable. The Gnomes
have no intercourse with the Undines or Salamanders, nor the Sylvestres
with either. Animals receive their clothing from Nature, but the spirits
of Nature prepare it themselves. The Elementals belonging to the element
of water resemble human beings of either sex; those of the air are
greater and stronger; the Salamanders are long, lean and dry; the
Pigmies are of the length of about two spans, but they can extend or
elongate their forms until they appear like giants. The Elementals of
air and water, the Sylphs and Nymphs, are kindly disposed towards man;
the Salamanders cannot associate with him on account of the fiery nature
of the element wherein they live, and the Pigmies are usually of a
malicious nature.

Men live in the exterior elements and the Elementals live in the
interior elements. They are sometimes seen in various shapes.
Salamanders have been seen in the shapes of fiery balls, or tongues of
fire running over the fields or appearing in houses. Nymphs have been
known to adopt the human shape, clothing, and manner, and to enter
into a union with man. The Undines appear to man but not man to them.
They may meet him on the physical plane, marry him and keep house with
him and the children will be human beings and not Undines, because
they receive a human soul from the man. If an Undine becomes united to
man she will thereby receive the germ of immortality. As an Undine
without her union with man dies like an animal, likewise man is like
an animal if he severs his union with God. If any man has a Nymph for
a wife, let him take care not to offend her while she is near the
water, as in such case she might return to her own element.

The Sirens are merely a kind of monstrous fish, and are related to the
Undines much as giant and dwarf monsters are related to the Sylvestres
and Gnomes. The monsters have no spiritual souls and are comparable to
monkeys rather than to human beings.

Such creatures seem almost too elusive to be labelled as human-animals,
but the description given of them by the great occultist at least opens
the mind to the possibilities of classifying beings not defined by
material limitations or by animal senses. Of this character are the
spirits or elementals called up in strange, and sometimes even gruesome,
animal form by magicians when at work casting spells.


[173] "The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali." Translated by Manilal Nabhubhai
Dvivedi, 1890, p. 66.

[174] _Ibid._, p. 56.

[175] _Ibid._, p. 71 and pp. 73-4.

[176] "The Secret Doctrine," Vol. II, p. 247.

[177] _Ibid._, 1897, Vol. III, pp. 524-6.

[178] _Ibid._, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 262-3.

[179] "The Sacred Books of the East," ed. by F. Max Muller, 1880, The
Institutes of Vishnu, Vol. VII, pp. 144-5.

[180] "Mysteries of Magic," 1897, pp. 233-4.

[181] _Ibid._, pp. 237-40.

[182] "De Lunaticus."

[183] Hartmann, F., "Life of Paracelsus and Substance of his
Teaching," 1896, pp. 60-2.

[184] _Ibid._, p. 62.

                             CHAPTER XXIV


To call up demons the magician takes certain steps by which he puts
himself into the right frame of mind, and by which he also ensures
means of protection against harmful magical powers which he may bring
into play.

He first draws a magical circle, of different character according to
the time of the year, the order of the spirits desired, the day, the
hour, and so forth. Three circles about nine feet in diameter with the
space of a hand's breadth between them is one method, certain signs
and written particulars being made within each circle. It is then
necessary to bless and consecrate the work, and after nine days'
preparation, being provided with holy water, perfumes, salves, and
ointments, a fine white linen garb of a certain shape; having drawn
the pentacle of Solomon upon parchment in which to bind unruly evil
spirits and having recited certain magical incantations, exorcisms,
and prayers, he is ready and prepared for the appearance of the
spirits he desires to consult for purposes of obtaining knowledge on
various things that concern him and his destiny.

Books on ceremonial magic explain how it is possible to call up demons
in the shape of beasts. "According to their various capacities in
wickedness," says Reginald Scott, "so these shapes are answerable
after a magical manner; resembling spiritually some horrid and ugly
monsters, as their conspiracies against the power of God were high and
monstrous, when they fell from heaven."[185]

Devils that belong to the supreme hierarchy, when they are called up
by magicians, at first appear in the form of lions, vomiting fire and
roaring hideously about the circle. Then they convert themselves into
serpents, monkeys, and other animals. After the conjuration is
repeated, they forsake these bestial shapes and gradually become more
and more human, appearing at last after frequent repetition of
ceremony, as men of gentle countenance and behaviour.

Demons from the two next orders of the infernal regions represent the
beautiful colours of birds and beasts as leopards, tigers, peacocks, and
so forth. By conjurations these also may be induced to take on human
shape. Some, however, can hardly be conjured to desert their monstrous
forms and continue to exhibit to the exorcist a pair of crocodile jaws
or a lion's paw "with other dreadful menaces, enough to terrify any
novice from such damnable injunctions as the practice of magic."

Such devils as Astaroth, Lucifer, Bardon, and Pownok, continues Scott,
who incline men and instigate them to pride and presumptuousness, have
the shapes of horses, lions, tigers, or wolves. Those that instigate
lust and covetousness appear in the form of hogs, serpents, and other
envious reptiles or beasts, such as dogs, cats, vultures or snakes.
Those who bend men's thoughts to murder, have the shape of birds or
beasts of prey. More tolerable are those qualified to answer questions
about philosophy and religion when called up, they seem almost human,
but have crooked noses like mermaids or satyrs. Such evil spirits as
have a predilection towards inducing mixed vices are not of distinct
shape like one single beast, but are compound monsters with serpent
tails, four eyes, many feet and horns and so on.

In Barrett's "Magus or Celestial Intelligencer,"[186] the author gives
the Key to Ceremonial Magic with Conjurations for every day in the
week--to be used in calling up familiars and spirits. Many of these
appear in animal form, namely, as a cow, a small doe, a goose, and
many others.

The familiar forms of the spirits of Mars, according to Barrett,[187]
"appear in a tall body and choleric, having a filthy countenance, of
colour brown, swarthy, or red, having horns like harts, and griffins'
claws and bellowing like wild bulls." Sometimes they take the shape of
a she-goat, a horse, or a stag. The spirits of Mercury are more
affable and human, though they cause horror and fear to those that
call them. Sometimes they appear as a dog, a she-bear, or a magpie.
When the familiar forms of the spirits of Jupiter are called, there
will appear about the circle men who shall seem to be devoured by
lions, and the demons may take the shape of bulls, stags, or peacocks.
On Friday, for instance, the conjuration may bring a camel, a dove, or
a she-goat, on Saturday a hog, a dragon, or an owl, but it must always
be borne in mind that apparitions in human shape exceed in authority
and power those that come as animals.

The raising of ghosts by fumes is discussed by Cornelius Agrippa.[188]

"If Coriander, Smallage, henbane, and hemlock be made a fume, spirits
will presently come together, hence they are called the spirit herbs.
Also it is said that a fume made of the root of herb sagapen with the
juice of hemlock and henbane, and the herb tapsus barbatus, red
sanders and black poppy makes spirits and strange shapes appear.

"Moreover, it is said that by certain fumes certain animals are
gathered together, and put to flight, as Pliny mentions concerning the
stone Leparis, that with the fumes thereof all beasts are called out;
so the bones in the upper part of the throat of a hart, being burnt,
gather all the serpents together, but the horn of the hart being burnt
doth with its fume chase them all away. The same doth a fume of the
feathers of peacocks."

"Hags and goblins," says Agrippa, "inoffensive to them that are good,
but hurtful to the wicked, appear sometimes in thinner bodies, another
time in grosser, in the shape of divers animals and monsters whose
conditions they had in their lifetime.

      "Then divers forms and shapes of brute appear,
       For he becomes a tiger, swine, and bear,
       A scaly dragon and a lioness,
       Or doth from fire a dreadful noise express,
       He doth transmute himself to divers looks,
       To fire, wild beasts, and into running brooks.

"For the impure soul of man, who in this life contracted too great a
habit to its body, doth by a certain inward affection of the elemental
body frame another body to itself of the vapours of the elements,
refreshing as it were from an easy matter as it were with a suck that
body which is continually vanishing...."

These souls sometimes do inhabit not these kind of bodies only, but by
a too great affection of flesh and blood transmute themselves into
other animals, and seize upon the bodies of creeping things, and
brutes, entering into them what kind soever they be of, possessing
them like demons.

Such herbs as belladonna, aconite, parsley, poplar leaves, and drugs
like opium, hyoscyamine and other ingredients, as the blood of the
bat, were used among other strange ingredients for making the
ointments, which were rubbed upon the skin until it reddened with the
friction. This had the effect of making the recipient believe he was
being transported through the air, and as the ingredients mounted more
and more to his brain, he was filled with imaginary visions of lovely
gardens, and forests, banquets, music, and dancing, probably also less
pleasant ideas of devils and mocking ghoulish faces.

Perfumes too had strange effects in producing states of exaltation or

Mexican priests rubbed the body with a pomade or salve to which they
attributed magical virtues, and at night they wandered in the forests
without fear of wild beasts, but not necessarily believing they had been
transformed, yet the idea of metamorphosis can surely be regarded as a
possible hypothesis when it is remembered that Man's body is composed
fundamentally of the same substances as the bodies of animals, that the
same elements murmur in the waters, rush in the winds and form the
insensate soil of the earth, that the cells in the human being are not
essentially different in composition or structure from the cells in the
bodies of animals, that all cells are formed primarily of protoplasm, a
compound of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, and that scientists have
already solved the problem of separating matter into electrons, and of
measuring vibrations even to the million and trillion per infinitesimal
division of time. Is it to be wondered at that in investigating such
theories strange results have been obtained and curious sights and
sounds have been seen and heard by the student?

The Chaldeans, who were among the world's greatest magicians, like the
Egyptians, represented demons under such monstrous forms, with
combined human and animal characteristics, that it was thought
sufficient to show them their own image to cause them to flee away in
alarm. One such specimen, for instance, had the body of a dog, the
feet of an eagle, the claws of a lion, the tail of a scorpion, the
head of a skeleton but half decayed, and adorned with goats' horns and
the eyes still remaining, and four great expanded wings. Such hideous
forms, borrowed as they were from the most different animals as well
as from man, were thought to have the characteristic features of the
first rudimentary beings born in the darkness of chaos. The magical
documents of the day throw light upon the interpretation of these
uncanny monsters. They undoubtedly were possessed of a talismanic
character and were intended to avert fatal influences, on the
principle that an image has the same value as an incantation, and like
it, acts in a direct manner on wicked spirits.

Winged bulls with human heads which flanked the entrance gates to
palaces were thought to be genii which kept real guard for the whole
time that their images dwelt there without disturbance. Expressive of
this was the ancient inscription:

    May the guardian bull, the guardian genius, who protects the
    strength of my throne, always preserve my name in joy and honour
    until his feet move themselves from their place.

In one of the magnificent palaces at Nineveh enormous figures are
represented having the body of a man, the head of a lion and the feet
of an eagle. These were arranged in groups of two figures fighting
with daggers and clubs. Sometimes the groups represent the struggle of
gods against malevolent spirits. Occasionally the gods were depicted
wrestling with one or many bulls or bull-headed men whom they assail
with swords. Demons of this character, called Telal by the Accadians
and Gallu by the Assyrians were believed to be particularly harmful to
man. The following fragment of a conjuration applies to a struggle of
two persons combating two bulls, or creatures which are half-men,

      Telal, the bull which pierces, the very strong bull, the bull
                which passes through dwellings,
      (It is) the indomitable Telal, there are seven of them
      They obey no commands,
      They devastate the country
      They know no order,
      They watch men,
      They devour flesh; they make blood flow; they drink blood;
      They injure the images of the gods;
      They are the Telal which multiply hostile lies,
      Which feed on blood, which are immovable.

In ancient Egypt incantations and exorcisms were used in order to
protect the departing soul of man from malevolent beasts and also to
keep the body from becoming, during its separation from the soul, the
prey of some wicked spirit which might enter, reanimate, and cause it
to rise again in the form of a vampire.

The following formula has been translated by M. Chabas:--

    O sheep, son of a sheep! lamb, son of a sheep, that suckest the
    milk of thy mother the sheep, do not allow the deceased to be
    bitten by any serpent, male or female, by any scorpion, by any
    reptile; do not allow their venom to overpower his members. May no
    deceased male or female penetrate to him! May the shadow of no
    spirit haunt him! May the mouth of the serpent have no power over
    him! He, _he is the sheep_!

    O thou which enterest, do not enter into any of the members of
    the deceased! O thou which killest, do not kill him with thyself!
    O thou which entwinest, do not entwine thyself round him!

In another incantation, which was directed against various noxious
animals, the man who wished to obtain shelter from their attacks
invoked the aid of a god, as being himself a god.

      Come to me, O lord of Gods!
      Drive far from me the lions coming from the earth,
      The crocodiles issuing from the river;
      Do not wave thy tail;
      Do not work thy two arms;
      Do not open thy mouth;
      Stop crocodile Mako, Son of Set!

In a third formula the enchanter entreats the support of Isis and

      In order that the jaws of the lions and hyænas may be sealed,
      The head of all the animals with long tails,
      Who eat flesh and drink blood;
      That they may fascinate (me)
      To lift up their hearing;
      To hold me in darkness
      To render me invisible
      Instantly in the night!

These magical words did not communicate divine virtue alone to man;
animals could also participate in them for the protection of man, as
they caused an invincible power to dwell in creatures, like, for
instance, the watch-dog, to increase his strength by enchantment, the
formula for which commences:

      Stand up! wicked dog!
      Come! that I may direct thee what to do to-day:
      Thou wast fastened up, art thou not untied?
      It is Horus who has ordered thee to do this:
      May thy face be open to heaven!
      May thy jaw be pitiless![189]

Through solemn incantations, through desire and by will power it may
thus be possible to strengthen animal-qualities for purposes best known
to those who employ such means. A modern writer on occult matters
explains the existence of wer-wolves and vampires on some such psychic

"The popular legends about them," he says,[190] "are probably often
considerably exaggerated, but there is nevertheless a terribly serious
substratum of truth beneath the eerie stories which pass from mouth to
mouth among the peasantry of Central Europe.... All readers of
Theosophical literature are familiar with the idea that it is possible
for a man to live a life so absolutely degraded and selfish, so
utterly wicked and brutal, that the whole of his lower Manas may
become entirely unmeshed in Kama, and finally separated from its
spiritual source in the higher Ego.... To attain the appalling
pre-eminence in evil which thus involves the entire loss of a
personality and the weakening of the developing individuality behind,
a man must stifle every gleam of unselfishness or spirituality and
must have absolutely no redeeming points whatever. And when we
remember how often, even in the worst of villains there is to be
found something not wholly bad, we shall realize that the abandoned
personalities must always be a very small minority. Still
comparatively few though they be, they do exist and it is from their
ranks that the still rarer vampire is drawn...."

The wer-wolf, though equally horrible, is the product of a somewhat
different Karma, and indeed ought perhaps to have found a place under
the first instead of the second division of the human inhabitants of
Kâmalôka, since it is always during a man's lifetime that he first
manifests under this form. It invariably implies some knowledge of
magical arts--sufficient at any rate to be able to project the astral
body. When a perfectly cruel and brutal man does this, there are
certain circumstances under which the body may be seized upon by other
astral entities and materialised, not in the human form but into that
of some wild animal, usually the wolf; and in that condition it will
range the surrounding country killing the animals and even human
beings, thus satisfying not only its own craving for blood, but that
of the fiends who drive it on. In this case, as so often with the
ordinary astral body, any wound inflicted upon the animal
materialisation will be reproduced upon the human physical body by the
extraordinary phenomenon of repercussion....

"The vast majority of animals have not as yet acquired permanent
individualisation and when one of them dies the Monadic essence which
has been manifesting through it flows back again into the particular
stratum from which it came.... The Kamic aura of the animal forms
itself into a Kamarupa ... and the animal has a real existence on the
astral plane, the length of which, though never great, varies
according to the intelligence which it has developed."[191]

There is, says J. C. Street in "The Hidden Way Across the Threshold,"
an electro-magnetic invisible liquid in which we all float like fish
in water. We are living continually immersed in this ethereal fluid,
which is always in motion in a whirling vibration. "A cat-like
soul-force can only find satisfaction in a cat-like body, a dog-like
soul-force in a dog-like body. In every case the soul-force, or
essence shadow, has a corresponding material body. An ape soul-force
could no more mould and clothe itself in a human body than a mouse
soul-force could do the same with an elephant body,[192] "yet the
elements that go to make up the human, animal, or floral envelopes or
bodies, are held in solution in the atmosphere, and can _through a
knowledge of the laws governing it_, be utilised to construct
instantaneously any of the multitudinous forms that exist in Nature."
Further than this it is impossible at the present moment to explain or
to grasp this strange theory of transformation which has held a place
in human thought since the earliest times, as is proved by the
foregoing collection of traditional phenomena.


[185] Scott, R., "The Discoverie of Witchcraft," 1886, p. 493.

[186] 1801.

[187] "The Magus," 1801, p. 120.

[188] "Occult Philosophy," 1651, Vol. I, p. 86 _et seq._

[189] _See_ Lenormant, F., "Chaldean Magic," chapters III and VII.

[190] Leadbeater, C. W., "The Astral Plane: its Inhabitants and
Phenomena," 1895, pp. 37-9.

[191] _Ibid._, pp. 51-2.

[192] Street, J. C., "The Hidden Way Across the Threshold," 1896, p.

                             CHAPTER XXV


No completely satisfactory explanation of the phenomena with which this
book deals has as yet been formulated, but the elucidation of the
problems of transformation, collected from many sources, should be
sought primarily in the latent power innate in man which enables him to
exert or project thought-forces, but little understood to-day, of which,
however, hypnotism and suggestion are the most familiar forms of
manifestation. Such power, acting upon the plastic mind-substance of the
spiritual world, may, as far as we know, produce forms, animal or
otherwise, in accordance with the desire (conscious or subconscious) and
the will of the projector. To bring about his purpose and procure
manifestation he has to induce a suitable state of mind, and to this end
he employs ritual and accessories of various kinds.

To take a single illustrative case in point. The animal masks used in
Indian theatrical shows serve as a means of suggestive illusion. In
mystical shows anticipatory fear is evoked by such means. Indians are
easily brought to a stage of inability to grasp the difference between
the real and the suggested wild beast. But Indians and other primitive
races are not the only ones to succumb to a strong will bent on
producing phenomena. These things affect all kinds of people, even in
the so-called higher grades of civilisation, and the effect of
auto-suggestion is quite as curious as that of hypnotism. A case has
recently come under notice of a woman who acquired the habit of going
down on all fours and making a noise of barking, firmly believing
that she has been turned into a dog. In how much is she removed from
the hyæna-woman of Abyssinia? The cure is much the same, and is
brought about by counter-suggestion in one form or another. In such
instances, of course, it is not to be supposed that actual
transformation has taken place, but spectators may nevertheless be
hypnotised into believing what the victim believes. By some such
means, too, Nebuchadnezzar may have been made to think himself a
subject of boanthropy when "he was driven from men and did eat grass
as oxen," continuing this occupation until his body was soaked with
the dews of heaven, till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and
his nails like birds' claws.

What difference is there between such a belief and that of the
spectator who thinks he sees the devil depart from a woman possessed
in the shape of a huge black slug? He also may have been influenced by
concentrated thought on the subject, and the question arises how far
can human credulity be worked upon by the almost limitless and as yet
little-understood power of the human mind. Much depends on the nature
of the individual, the environment, and the receptivity to the kind of
pressure brought to bear. Love of mystery and awe of the unknown are
also strong factors in establishing faith, the first principle
necessary for producing creative power. Even the wildest superstition
enshrines something of reality and a stratum of truth underlies most
widespread beliefs.

Research on these psychical subjects should be carried on earnestly
and with untiring patience, always with a view to eliminate the false
and preserve the true, wherever possible transmuting apparently evil
elements and bringing forth the fundamental good. Such methods should
make the prospects of discovering scientific facts more and more
favourable in the future.

Unfortunately a miscellaneous study of "isms" and "ogonies" is often
unproductive. Byron described the state of mind induced by ill-judged
efforts in this direction in "Don Juan," Canto IX, 20:

      Oh! ye immortal gods! What is Theogony?
      Oh! thou, too, mortal man! What is philanthropy?
      Oh! World, which was and is, what is cosmogony?
      Some people have accused me of misanthropy;
      And yet I know no more than the mahogany
      That forms this desk, of what they mean,--Lycanthropy
      I comprehend, for without transformation
      Men become wolves on any slight occasion.

The seeker after the facts about animal-metamorphosis, confused by
many undigested propositions, might thus also attempt to salve his
conscience, for man is certainly sometimes near enough to the animal
without physical change, but he would be fleeing to a subterfuge
suitable only for the idle and the ignorant. To the earnest student
there can be no rest until this obscure branch of occult science is
cleared up, though it may be but a side issue leading to more
important facts. If in the foregoing chapters a grain of truth lies
hidden which will help to elucidate the problem with which they deal,
they will have served their purpose in pushing a step or two through
the darkness which shrouds so many secrets of Nature.

      It is the mystery of the unknown
      That fascinates us, we are children still,
      Wayward and wistful; with one hand we cling
      To the familiar things we call our own,
      And with the other, resolute of will,
      Grope in the dark for what the day will bring.


  Abyssinia, 79, 80

  Accadians, 288

  Agrippa, Cornelius, 285, 286

  Ainus, 182, 188

  Alexander the Great, 174

  Alligator, 23

  Andersen, Hans C, 156, 166, 212

  Animal Elementals, stories of, 271-2

  Animal trials, 200

  Antheus, 66

  Ants, 26

  Arabian Nights, 145, 211

  Arawaks, 24-5, 27, 141

  Arcadia, 66

  Arundels of Wardour, legend of, 224

  Ass, 80-1, 113-14, 131, 135-6, 140-1, 149, 155

  Assier, Adolphe d', on animal ghosts, 261, 262, 263, 264, 267

  Assyrians, 288

  Auvergne, Gentleman of, 69

  Bakongs, 19

  Barrett's "Magus," 284, 285

  Basilisk, 171, 186

  Bat, 26

  Bear, 17, 147

  Berserkers, 147

  Beswick, Miss, legend of, 229-31

  Bisclaveret, 72-7

  Bison, 23, 30

  Black dog of Hergest, 241

  Blacksmith, suspicions concerning, 79, 80, 84, 85

  Black Vaughan, 241

  Blackwood, Algernon, 161, 195

  Blanche Biche, 115-17

  Blavatsky, Mme., 273-5

  Blue milk, story of, 268-9

  Boanthropy, 76, 294

  Bodin, 103

  Boguet, 58, 103

  _Bouda_, 32, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 92

  Bourgot, Pierre, 54-6

  Brer Rabbit, 158

  Butterfly, 26, 120

  Cadmus, 173

  Cagliostro, Count, 197

  Cakchiquel Indians, 184

  Callaly Castle, 232-3

  Calmuc stories, 148, 167

  Cambrensis, Giraldus, 13, 170-8

  Cariden, Joan, witch, 125

  Caridwen, 141

  Cat, 3, 7, 25, 106-9, 128, 189-98

  Cate, Anne, 124

  Centaurs, 160, 161

  Chaldeans, 287

  Châlons, tailor of, 60, 64

  Chanticleer, 200

  Cherokee Indians, 3

  Choctaw, 18

  Circe, 131, 132, 278, 279

  Clark, Helen, witch, 123

  Clarke, Elizabeth, witch, 121, 122, 123

  Clifton family, legend of, 224

  Closeburn Castle, 220-2

  Cock, 45, 198-200

  Cockatrice, 172

  Conaire the Great, 235

  Coneely clan, 233

  Corcini, Andrew, 50

  Cox, Julian, witch, 105-6

  Coyote, 30

  Creeks, 23, 30

  Crishna, 174-5

  Crocodile, 17, 24

  Cuchullaine, 235

  Dodge, Richard, 258

  Dog, stories of, 52, 53, 104, 109-10, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 138,
    171, 219, 225-6, 238, 239, 240, 241-2, 243, 250, 266

  Dog-ribs, 26

  Donkey (_see_ Ass)

  Dove, 135

  -- -maiden, 211-12

  Dragon, 171

  -- St. George and the, 186, 226

  Drake, Sir Francis, ghost of, 259

  Du Chaillu, 84

  Duke, _alias_ Manning, Alice, witch, 126

  Dweller on the Threshold, 273

  Elementals, 281-2

  Elizabeth, Queen, 118

  Eskimo, 19, 29, 31, 32 _n._

  -- legend, 210

  Ferrers family, legend of, 215-6

  Flower, family of witches, 129

  -- Joan, 127-8

  -- Margaret, 127-8

  -- Phillip, 127-8

  Fotis, 139-41

  _Galipote_, 54

  Gandillon, George, 59

  -- Perrenette, 59

  -- Pierre, 59

  Garnier, Gilles, 57

  Geti Afraz, 133-8

  Glanvill, Joseph, 103, 111, 249, 250

  Gnomes, 281, 282

  Goat, 45

  Gooding, Elizabeth, witch, 123

  Gordon, Sir Thomas Edward, 191-2

  Gorgons, 159, 163

  Gormanston, Viscounts, legend of, 223-4

  _Grand Veneur_, 259-60

  Grant, Margaret, witch, 11

  Grenier, Jean, 61-64

  Grierson, Isabel, witch, 108

  Hallybread, Rose, witch, 124

  Hapton Tower, 228-9

  Hare, phantom, legends of, 105, 253-5

  Harmonia, 173

  Harpies, 159, 162

  Hercules, 42

  Herod, 42

  Hiuen-Tsiang, 179, 187

  Holt Castle, ghost at, 257

  Hoopoe, 213, 214

  Hopi, 33-5

  Hopkins, Matthew, 121-3

  Horse, 111-13, 163

  Horseshoes, 112

  Hott, Jane, witch, 125

  Hound's Pool, 241

  Howard, Lady, 228

  Hyæna, 26, 79, 80

  Iroquois, 18

  James I, 64, 103

  Kaju wizards, 130

  Kalitas, 27

  Kalmucks, 43

  Kanaima tiger, 87

  Kingfisher, 214

  Kirkpatrick family, legend of, 220-2

  Kobenas, 37

  Kynanthropy, 76

  "Lady of the Lake," 222

  La Fontaine, J. de, 156-7

  Lamb, Charles, 159

  _Lamboyo_, 4

  Lambton family, legend of, 227

  Lamia, 175

  Lapwing, 214

  Le Brun, Charles, 42

  Leopard, 33

  -- Society, 66, 86-7

  Levi, Eliphas, 67-9, 278-9

  Lilith, 172, 275

  Livingstone, 82, 82 _n._

  Ljeschi, 164

  Lohengrin, 146

  Lorelei, 147

  _Loup-garou_, 12

  Lowther, Jemmy, 227

  Lucius, 139-40

  Lycanthropy, 2, 7, 8, 76, 84, 266, 295

  -- faithless men consigned to prison for, 53

  Lycaon, 66

  Magnus, Olaus, 74

  Magpie, 209

  Malec Muhammed, 133-8

  Mamor, Pierre, 51

  Manx dog, 240-1

  Mara, 147-8

  Marie de France, 72, 74 _n._

  Melanesians, 21-2

  Mermaids, 164-7

  Meroc, sorceress, 114

  Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass of Apuleius, 114, 139, 201

  Minerva, 173

  Minotaur, 167-8

  Monkey, 27

  Moquis, 33-7

  Moth, 26

  Mouse-maiden, 143-5

  Muscipula, 42

  Naga, 174, 178, 187

  _Nagual_, 19, 22

  Navajos, 25

  Nereides, 164

  Nightingale, 208, 214

  Nin-Gilbert, Margaret, witch, 106-8

  Obrick's Colt, 245

  Ojibways, 17

  Omaha, 30

  Osages, 17

  O-tsze, 88, 90

  Owl-women, 202-4, 206, 207

  Ox, 137, 153

  Oxenham family, legend of, 216-8

  Pamphile, 139, 201

  Paracelsus, 51, 267, 268, 279-82

  Peele Castle, ghost at, 240

  Petronius, 66

  Pig, 44

  Poiret, Margaret, 60-2

  Pondoro, 82, 83

  Powis family, legend of, 234

  Puck, 155

  Radcliffe family, legend of, 226

  Raqhosh, 151-2

  Repercussion stories, 109, 193-97

  Reresby, Sir John, 257

  Reynard, 157

  Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 42

  Roaring Bull of Bagbury, 237

  Robin, 213

  Rollet, Jacques, 59-60, 64

  Ross, Lord, 127-8

  Rutland, Earl of, 127-8

  St. Benedict, 48

  St. Catherine of Sweden, 49

  St. Francis of Assisi, 47

  St. Francis of Paula, 46

  St. Macarius, 113

  St. Pascal Baylon, 50

  St. Peter, 49

  St. Regulus, 46

  St. Ronan, 47

  St. Stanislaus Kostka, 49

  St. Vincent Ferrer, 48

  St. William of Acquitaine, 51

  Salamanders, 281

  _Samyama_, 270-1

  Satyrs, 159, 164

  Scott, Reginald, 64, 103, 113, 114 _n._, 283, 284

  Scott, Sir Walter, 103, 222

  Sea-gull, 210

  Seal, legend of, 233-4

  Sebek, 24

  Sekhet, 189

  Senkepeng, story of, 183

  Serpent (_see_ Snake), 173-88

  "Seven Whistlers," the, 256

  Siderial body, 68

  Sirens, 281, 282

  Skin-dress in transformation, 142, 143

  Snake (_see_ Serpent), 18, 33-7

  Sparrow, Susan, witch, 124

  Sphinx, 162

  Style, Elizabeth, witch, 126

  Swan-maidens, 145, 201

  Swifte, Edmund, 238

  Swine, 46

  Sybil (Lady), of Bernshaw Tower, 228-9

  Sylvestres, 281, 282

  _Tamaniu_, 21, 22

  _Tanoana_, 4

  _Tanuki_, 97, 98

  Tedworth, Drummer of, 249

  Thessala, sorceress, 154-5

  Tiger, 11

  _Tigritiya_, 32

  Tinkhlet Indian, 19

  Toradjas, 4

  Tower ghost, 238

  Townley family, legend of, 228-9

  Transformation, methods of, 5-7, 111, 143, 149-50, 151-3

  Transmigration, Egyptian belief in, 153-4

  -- Indian view of, 276-7

  "Trash," story of, 243

  Tregeagle, 242

  Trials of Bourgot, 54-6

  -- Gandillon family, 59, 64

  -- Garnier, 57

  -- Grenier, 61-3

  -- Rollet, 59

  Tumbukas, 77

  Ulysses, 131, 132

  Undines, 281, 282

  Valkyries, 146, 201

  Vampire, 4, 47, 53, 290

  Venner, Elsie, 177-8

  _Versipelles_, 67

  _Vouivre_, 186

  Webster, Dr., 103

  Wells, H. G., 167, 168-70

  Wer-foxes, 88-102, 149

  Wer-lion, 82

  Wer-tiger, 77, 87

  Wer-wolf, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 51, 54-77, 290-1

  Wesley, Rev. Samuel, 250

  West, Anne, witch, 122, 123, 124, 125

  West, Rebecca, witch, 123

  White bird, legends of (_see also_ Oxenham), 255-6

  White doe of Rylstone, 117-19

  Wierius, Johannus, 54

  William of Palermo, 70-2

  Willimott, Joan, witch, 129

  Willington Mill, ghosts at, 251-3

  Witches of Chelmsford, 121

  -- Pendle, 103-5

  -- Strasburg, 109

  -- Vernon, 109

  Witch of Niort, 109-10

  Wolf-worship, 65

  Woodpecker, 208

  Wyecoller Hall, ghost at, 258-9

  York Castle, ghost at, 257

  Zeus, 65

  Zulus, 188

  Zuni, 29, 30, 185

                              PRINTED BY
                      WM. BRENDON AND SON, LTD.,
                          PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND.

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation and spelling errors have been fixed throughout.

Page 155: The sentence ending in (...fair, large ears.") has no
opening quote, left as in the original text.

Page 216: The sentence beginning with ("It is a noticeable...) has no
closing quote, left as in the original text.

Page 292: The sentence beginning with ("A cat-like...) has no closing
quote, left as in the original text.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Human Animals" ***

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