Since its October and Halloween is right around the corner, let’s have some fun looking at some real-world primary sources pertaining to horror and magic. You can use these as inspiration for your RPGs or to create stories.

Behold! The Malleus Maleficarum!!!

The title page of a 1669 Edition of the Malleus Maleficarum

Malleus Maleficarum, first published in 1486 or 1487 by Heinrich Kramer, a discredit Catholic Clergymen and inquisitor, examines all things associated with witchcraft. Jacobus Sprenger was added later as co-author.

The Hexenhammer, as its sometimes called, gives a us a glimpse of the religious zeitgeist of Europe leading up to the Protestant Reformation. The printing press led to the expansion of a literati capable of reading such a work, and the Catholic was still confronting heretic movements (which had been around in various forms since the 4th century, when heresy was more-or-less defined) and was at a loss to explain them.

So they blamed witches; they blamed women aligning themselves with Satan for the ills of the world. Why?

All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women [is] insatiable. See Proverbs XXX: There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, a fourth thing which says not, It is enough; that is, the mouth of the womb. Wherefore the sake of fulling their lusts they consort even with devils.

Kramer, Heinrich and Jacobus Sprenger. The Malleus Malificarum. Montague Summers, translator. The Folio Society. London: 1968. Page 29.

I’ve re-read Proverbs 30. I’m not certain which part he’s referring: a barren womb or the adulterous women who wipes her mouth. The part about consorting with devils isn’t in there, though Kramer earlier refers to Corinthians 11: A woman ought to have a covering on her head, because of the angels. That is, an interpretation the Angels here refers to Incubi, or the Sons of God who created Nephilium with mortal women in Antediluvian times (See Genesis 6:1-4).

Kramer believes witches to be worse than heretics. At least heretics can repent and ask for forgiveness (though it might still mean further torture and imprisonment for life, even their children are susceptible to excommunication and punishment). No, witches they must suffer the most extreme punishments: burning.

At yet he, himself, seems a little befuddled how easy it is for Inquisitors to root out and persecute witches. With all the powers of darkness seemingly at their beck and call, why aren’t witches more potent against those who wish to bring them to justice. At the end of Part One of the Malleus Malificarum, he poses the following questions:

First why do no witches become rich? Secondly, why, having the favour of princes, do they not co-operate for the destruction of all their enemies? Thirdly, why are they unable to injure Preachers and others who persecute them?

Kramer, Heinrich. Ibid, Page 33.

To which Kramer answers:

  • The devil buys witches at the lowest possible price to mock God. That’s why witches aren’t rich.
  • Witches don’t harm princes because they want to keep their friendship and good angels prevent the witch from harming her enemies.
  • Preachers and inquisitors are invincible to a witch’s power because they implement public justice. Kramer said he could give examples, but he doesn’t.

There’s two or three things I want to take away from all this:

#Downwithpatriarchy

Its this the ultimate book to gaslight somebody?

Why do game masters and fiction writers have so much difficulty coming up with ideas–when historical documents are chalk full of adventure ideas?

More from the Malleus Malificarum next week!