The author, Augustin Calmet, , was a French Benedictine scholar, who although widely admired during his lifetime on account of his Biblical scholarship, is now remembered largely on account of the present work, which in its earliest form was regarded as one of the first significant studies of vampire lore in Europe.
Rauner Special Collections Library: A Dissertation Concerning Vampires
The first volume of "The Phantom World" is divided 52 chapters. The first six of these deal with angels, the next eight with the history, philosophy and reality of magic, the next three on oracles and prophecies, the next six with sorcerers and witchcraft, the next seven with the devil and demonic possession, the next four on elves and nature spirits, and the remaining 21 on ghost, spectres and apparitions. The second volume comprises 63 chapters, followed by several short essays and letters related to the work.
The first six chapters deal with the resurrection of the dead, people returning from the grave, and those inadvertently buried alive. There follows ten chapters on vampires and revenants, including a historical survey of related folklore, four chapters on the ghost lore of different countries, with the rest of the chapters returning to ghosts, vampires and revenants, and also examining phenomena such as bodies that do not decay, corpses that show life after death, and looking at questions such as hether the devil has the powers to kill or restore life, etc.
Calmet's work was especially noteworthy as he gathered togeter as many accounts of vampirism as he could find, from all manner of sources. At the time there had been a surge of vampire reports from Germany and eastern Europe, and the phenomenon, which was all but unknown in France, was the subject of much curiosity and discussion. As described by J. Gordon Mellon: Calmet was impressed with the detail and corroborative testimonies of incidents of vampirism coming out of eastern Europe and believed that it was unreasonable to simply dismiss them. In addition, as a theologian, he recognized that the existence and actions of such blood-sucking revenants could have an important bearing on various theological conclusions concerning the nature of the afterlife.
Calmet felt it necessary to establish the veracity of such reports and to understand the phenomena in light of the church's world view. Calmet defined a vampire as a person who had been dead and buried and then returned from the grave to disturb the living by sucking their blood and even causing death.
The only remedy for vampirism was to dig up the body of the reported vampire and either sever its head and drive a stake through the chest or burn the body. Using that definition, Calmet collected as many accounts of vampirism as possible from official reports, newspapers, eyewitness reports, travelogues, and critical pieces from his learned colleagues. But another objection, and a much more serious one, is said to be, what I say of the illusions of the demon, leading some persons to doubt of the truth of the apparitions related in Scripture, as well as of the others suspected of falsehood.
I answer, that the consequences deduced from principles are not right, except when things are equal, and the subjects and circumstances the same; without that there can be no application of principles. The facts to which my reasoning applies are related by authors of small authority, by ordinary or common-place historians, bearing no character which deserves a belief of anything superhuman. I can, without attacking their person or their merit, advance that they may have been badly informed, prepossessed, and mistaken; that the spirit of seduction may have been of the party; that the senses, the imagination, and superstition , may have made them take that for truth, which was only seeming.
But, in regard to the apparitions related in the Holy Scriptures, they borrow their infallible authority from the sacred and inspired authors who wrote them; they are verified by the events which followed them, by the execution or fulfilment of predictions made many ages preceding; and which could neither be done, nor foreseen, nor performed, either by the human mind, or by the strength of man, not even by the angel of darkness.
I am but little concerned at the opinion passed on myself and my intentions in the publication of this treatise. Some have thought that I did it to destroy the popular and common idea of apparitions, and to make it appear ridiculous; and I acknowledge that those who read this work attentively and without prejudice, will remark in it more arguments for doubting what the people believe on this point, than they will find to favor the contrary opinion.
If I have treated this subject seriously, it is only in what regards those facts in which religion and the truth of Scripture is interested; those which are indifferent I have left to the censure of sensible people, and the criticism of the learned and of philosophical minds. I declare that I consider as true all the apparitions related in the sacred books of the Old and New Testament; without pretending, however, that it is not allowable to explain them, and reduce them to a natural and likely sense, by retrenching what is too marvelous about them, which might rebut enlightened persons.
I think on [Pg xxi] that point I may apply the principle of St. Paul;[ 1 ] "the letter killeth, and the Spirit giveth life. As to the other apparitions and visions related in Christian, Jewish, or heathen authors, I do my best to discern amongst them, and I exhort my readers to do the same; but I blame and disapprove the outrageous criticism of those who deny everything, and make difficulties of everything, in order to distinguish themselves by their pretended strength of mind, and to authorize themselves to deny everything, and to dispute the most certain facts, and in general all that savors of the marvelous, and which appears above the ordinary laws of nature.
Paul permits us to examine and prove everything: Omnia probate ; but he desires us to hold fast that which is good and true: quod bonum est tenete.
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Every body talks of apparitions of angels and demons, and of souls separated from the body. The reality of these apparitions is considered as certain by many persons, while others deride them and treat them as altogether visionary. I have determined to examine this matter, just to see what certitude there can be on this point; and I shall divide this Dissertation into four parts. In the first, I shall speak of good angels; in the second, of the appearance of bad angels; in the third, of the apparitions of souls of the dead; and in the fourth, of the appearance of living men to others living, absent, distant, and this unknown to those who appear.
I shall occasionally add something on magic, wizards, and witches; on the Sabbath, oracles, and obsession and possession by demons. The apparitions or appearances of good angels are frequently mentioned in the books of the Old Testament. He who was stationed at the entrance of the terrestrial Paradise[ 3 ] was a cherub, armed with a flaming sword; those who appeared to Abraham, and who promised that he should have a son;[ 4 ] those who appeared to Lot, and predicted to him the ruin of Sodom, and other guilty cities;[ 5 ] he who spoke to Hagar in the desert,[ 6 ] and commanded her to return to the dwelling of Abraham, and to remain submissive to Sarah, her mistress; those who appeared to Jacob, on his journey into Mesopotamia, ascending and descending the mysterious ladder;[ 7 ] he who taught him how to cause his sheep to bring forth young differently marked;[ 8 ] he who wrestled with Jacob on his return from Mesopotamia,[ 9 ]—were angels of light, and benevolent ones; the same as he who spoke with Moses from the burning bush on Horeb,[ 10 ] and who gave him the tables of the law on Mount Sinai.
That Angel who takes generally the name of God , and acts in his name, and with his authority;[ 11 ] who served as a guide to the Hebrews in the desert, hidden during the day in a dark cloud, and shining during the night; he who spoke to Balaam, and threatened to kill his she-ass;[ 12 ] he, lastly, who contended with Satan for the body of Moses;[ 13 ]—all these angels were without doubt good angels.
We must think the same of him who presented himself armed to Joshua on the plain of Jericho,[ 14 ] and who declared himself head of [Pg 38] the army of the Lord; it is believed, with reason, that it was the angel Michael. He who showed himself to the wife of Manoah,[ 15 ] the father of Samson, and afterwards to Manoah himself.
He who announced to Gideon that he should deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites. The prophecy of the Prophet Zechariah is full of visions of angels. The books of the New Testament are in the same manner full of facts which prove the apparition of good angels. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, and predicted to him the future birth of the Forerunner.
The same Gabriel announced to Mary the future birth of the Messiah. There is every reason to believe that the star which appeared to the Magi in the East, and which led them straight to Jerusalem, and thence to Bethlehem, was directed by a good angel. Joseph was warned by a [Pg 39] celestial spirit to retire into Egypt, with the mother and the infant Christ, for fear that Jesus should fall into the hands of Herod, and be involved in the massacre of the Innocents. The same angel informed Joseph of the death of King Herod, and told him to return to the land of Israel.
After the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, angels came and brought him food. The Saviour confirms the same truth when he says that the angels of children constantly behold the face of the celestial Father. At the agony of Jesus Christ in the garden of Olives, an angel descended from heaven to console him. Stephen tells us that the law was given to Moses by the ministration of angels;[ 32 ] consequently, those were angels who appeared on Sinai and Horeb, and who spoke to him in the name of God, as his ambassadors, and as invested with his authority; also, the same Moses, speaking of the angel of the Lord, who was to introduce Israel into the Promised Land, says that "the name of God is in him.
Peter, being in prison, is delivered from thence by an angel,[ 34 ] who conducted him the length of a street, and disappeared. Peter, knocking at the door of the house in which his brethren were, they could not believe that it was he; they thought that it was his angel who knocked and spoke. Paul, instructed in the school of the Pharisees, thought as they did on the subject of angels; he believed in their existence, in opposition to the Sadducees,[ 35 ] and supposed that they could appear.
When this apostle, having been arrested by the Romans, related to the people how he had been overthrown at Damascus, the Pharisees, who were present, replied to those who exclaimed against him—"How do we know, if [Pg 40] an angel or a spirit hath not spoken to him? Luke says that a Macedonian apparently the angel of Macedonia appeared to St. Paul, and begged him to come and announce the Gospel in that country. John, in the Apocalypse, speaks of the seven angels who presided over the churches in Asia. I know that these seven angels are the bishops of these churches, but the ecclesiastical tradition will have it that every church has its tutelary angel.
In the same book, the Apocalypse, are related divers appearances of angels. All Christian antiquity has recognized them; the synagogue also has recognized them; so that it may be affirmed that nothing is more certain than the existence of good angels and their apparitions.
I place in the number of apparitions, not only those of good or bad angels, and the spirits of the dead who show themselves to the living, but also those of the living who show themselves to the angels or souls of the dead; whether these apparitions are seen in dreams, or during sleep, or awaking; whether they manifest themselves to all those who are present, or only to the persons to whom God judges proper to manifest them.
For instance, in the Apocalypse ,[ 36 ] St. John saw the four animals, and the four-and-twenty elders, who were clothed in white garments and wore crowns of gold upon their heads, and were seated on thrones around that of the Almighty, who prostrated themselves before the throne of the Eternal, and cast their crowns at his feet. And, elsewhere: "I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the world,[ 37 ] who held back the four winds and prevented them from blowing on the earth; then I saw another angel, who rose on the side of the east, and who cried out to the four angels who had orders to hurt the earth, Do no harm to the earth, or the sea, or the trees, until we have impressed a sign on the foreheads of the servants of God.
And I heard that the number of those who received this sign or mark was a hundred and forty-four thousand. Afterwards I saw an innumerable multitude of all nations, tribes, people, and languages, standing before the throne of the Most High, arrayed in white garments, and having palms in their hands. And in the same book[ 38 ] St. John says, after having described the majesty of the throne of God, and the adoration paid to him by the angels and saints prostrate before him, one of the elders said to him,—"Those whom you see covered with white robes, are those who have suffered great trials and afflictions, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb; for which reason they stand before the throne of God, and will do so night and day in his temple; and He who is seated on the throne will reign over them, and the [Pg 41] angel which is in the midst of the throne will conduct them to the fountains of living water.
All these apparitions, and several others similar to them, which might be related as being derived from the holy books as well as from authentic histories, are true apparitions, although neither the angels nor the martyrs spoken of in the Apocalypse came and presented themselves to St. John; but, on the contrary, this apostle was transported in spirit to heaven, to see there what we have just related. These are apparitions which may be called passive on the part of the angels and holy martyrs, and active on the part of the holy apostle who saw them.
Acts xvi. The most usual form in which good angels appear, both in the Old Testament and the New, is the human form. They showed themselves in the same form to the holy women after the resurrection of the Saviour. The one who appeared to Joshua[ 40 ] on the plain of Jericho appeared apparently in the guise of a warrior, since Joshua asks him, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
Sometimes they hide themselves under some form which has resemblance to the human shape, like him who appeared to Moses in the burning bush,[ 41 ] and who led the Israelites in the desert in the form of a cloud, dense and dark during the day, but luminous at night. The cherubim, so often spoken of in the Scriptures, and who are [Pg 42] described as serving for a throne to the majesty of God, were hieroglyphical figures, something like the sphinx of the Egyptians; those which are described in Ezekiel[ 44 ] are like animals composed of the figure of a man, having the wings of an eagle, the feet of an ox; their heads were composed of the face of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle, two of their wings were spread towards their fellows, and two others covered their body; they were brilliant as burning coals, as lighted lamps, as the fiery heavens when they send forth the lightning's flash—they were terrible to look upon.
The one who appeared to Daniel[ 45 ] was different from those we have just described; he was in the shape of a man, covered with a linen garment, and round his loins a girdle of very fine gold; his body was shining as a chrysolite, his face as a flash of lightning; his eyes darted fire like a lamp; his arms and all the lower part of his body was like brass melted in the furnace; his voice was loud as that of a multitude of people. John, in the Apocalypse,[ 46 ] saw around the throne of the Most High four animals, which doubtless were four angels; they were covered with eyes before and behind.
The first resembled a lion, the second an ox, the third had the form of a man, and the fourth was like an eagle with outspread wings; each of them had six wings, and they never ceased to cry night and day, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
The angel who was placed at the entrance of the terrestrial paradise was armed with a shining sword,[ 47 ] as well as the one who appeared to Balaam,[ 48 ] and who threatened, or was near killing both himself and his ass; and so, apparently, was the one who showed himself to Joshua in the plain of Jericho,[ 49 ] and the angel who appeared to David, ready to smite all Israel.
In the Acts of the Apostles,[ 52 ] the angel who extricated them from prison, and told them to go boldly and preach Jesus Christ in the temple, also appeared to them in a human form. The manner in which he delivered them from the dungeon is quite miraculous; for the chief priests having commanded that they should appear before them, those who were sent found the prison securely closed, the guards wide awake; but having caused the doors to be opened, they [Pg 43] found the dungeon empty. How could an angel without opening, or any fracture of the doors, thus extricate men from prison without either the guards or the jailer perceiving anything of the matter?
The thing is beyond any known powers of nature; but it is no more impossible than to see our Saviour, after his resurrection, invested with flesh and bones, as he himself says, come forth from his sepulchre, without opening it, and without breaking the seals,[ 53 ] enter the chamber wherein were the apostles without opening the doors,[ 54 ] and speak to the disciples going to Emmaus without making himself known to them; then, after having opened their eyes, disappear and become invisible. The angel who appeared to the centurion Cornelius, a pagan, but fearing God, answered his questions, and discovered to him unknown things, which things came to pass.
Sometimes the angels, without assuming any visible shape, give proofs of their presence by intelligible voices, by inspirations, by sensible effects, by dreams, or by revelations of things unknown, whether future or past. Sometimes by striking with blindness, or infusing a spirit of uncertainty or stupidity in the minds of those whom God wills should feel the effects of his wrath; for instance, it is said in the Scriptures that the Israelites heard no distinct speech, and beheld no form on Horeb when God spoke to Moses and gave him the Law.
The angel who might have killed Balaam's ass was not at first perceived by the prophet;[ 57 ] Daniel was the only one who beheld the angel Gabriel, who revealed to him the mystery of the great empires which were to succeed each other. When the Lord spoke for the first time to Samuel, and predicted to him the evils which he would inflict on the family of the high-priest Eli, the young prophet saw no visible form; he only heard a voice, which he at first mistook for that of the high-priest Eli, not being yet accustomed to distinguish the voice of God from that of a man.
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The angels who guided Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah were at first perceived under a human form by the inhabitants of the city; but afterwards these same angels struck the men with blindness, and thus prevented them from finding the door of Lot's house, into which they would have entered by force. Thus, then, angels do not always appear under a visible or sensi [Pg 44] ble form, nor in a figure uniformly the same; but they give proofs of their presence by an infinity of different ways—by inspirations, by voices, by prodigies, by miraculous effects, by predictions of the future, and other things hidden and impenetrable to the human mind.
Cyprian relates that an African bishop, falling ill during the persecution, earnestly requested to have the viaticum administered to him; at the same time he saw, as it were, a young man, with a majestic air, and shining with such extraordinary lustre that the eyes of mortals could not have beheld him without terror; nevertheless, the bishop was not alarmed.
This angel said to him, angrily, and in a menacing tone, "You fear to suffer. You do not wish to leave this world. What would you have me do for you? The bishop talked to them, encouraged them, and exhorted them to arm themselves with patience to support the tortures with which they were threatened.
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He received the communion, and died in peace. We shall find in different histories an infinite number of other apparitions of angels under a human form. After what we have just related from the books of the Old and New Testament, it cannot be disavowed that the Jews in general, the apostles, the Christians, and their disciples have commonly believed in the apparitions of good angels.
The Sadducees, who denied the existence and the apparition of angels, were commonly considered by the Jews as heretics, and as supporting an erroneous doctrine. Jesus Christ refutes them in the Gospel. The Jews of our days believe literally what is related in the Old Testament, concerning the angels who appeared to Abraham, Lot, and other patriarchs. It was the belief of the Pharisees and of the apostles in the time of our Saviour, as may be seen by the writings of the apostles and by the whole of the Gospel.
The Mahometans believe, as do the Jews and Christians, that good angels appear to men sometimes under a human form; that they appeared to Abraham and Lot; that they punished the inhabitants [Pg 45] of Sodom; that the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mahomet, and revealed to him all that is laid down in his Koran: that the genii are of a middle nature, between man and angel;[ 59 ] that they eat, drink, beget children; that they die, and can foresee things to come. In consequence of this principle or idea, they believe that there are male and female genii; that the males, whom the Persians call by the name of Dives , are bad, very ugly, and mischievous, making war against the Peris , who are the females.
The Rabbis will have it that these genii were born of Adam alone, without any concurrence of his wife Eve, or of any other woman, and that they are what we call ignis fatuii or wandering lights. The antiquity of these opinions touching the corporality of angels appears in several old writers, who, deceived by the apocryphal book which passes under the name of the Book of Enoch , have explained of the angels what is said in Genesis,[ 60 ] " That the children of God, having seen the daughters of men, fell in love with their beauty, wedded them, and begot giants of them.
I acknowledge that, according to their system, the affair of apparitions could be more easily explained; it is easier to conceive that a corporeal substance should appear, and render itself visible to our eyes, than a substance purely spiritual; but this is not the place to reason on a philosophical question, on which different hypotheses could be freely grounded, and to choose that which should explain these appearances in the most plausible manner, even though it answer in the most satisfactory manner the question asked, and the objections formed against the facts, and against the proposed manner of stating them.
The question is resolved, and the matter decided. The church and the Catholic schools hold that angels, demons, and reasonable souls, are disengaged from all matter; the same church and the same school hold it as certain that good and bad angels, and souls separated from the body, sometimes appear by the will and with the permission of God: there we must stop; as to the manner of explaining these apparitions, we must, without losing sight of the certain principle of the immateriality of these substances, explain them [Pg 46] according to the analogy of the Christian and Catholic faith, acknowledged sincerely that in this matter there are certain depths which we cannot sound, and confine our mind and information within the limits of that obedience which we owe to the authority of the church, that can neither err nor deceive us.
The apparitions of good angels and of guardian angels are frequently mentioned in the Old as in the New Testament. When the Apostle St. Peter had left the prison by the assistance of an angel, and went and knocked at the door where the brethren were, they believed that it was his angel and not himself who knocked.
Paul desires that at church no woman should appear among them without her face being veiled, because of the angels;[ 64 ] doubtless from respect to the good angels who presided in these assemblies. The same St.
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Paul reassures those who were with him in danger of almost inevitable shipwreck, by telling them that his angel had appeared to him[ 65 ] and assured him that they should arrive safe at the end of their voyage. In the Old Testament, we likewise read of several apparitions of angels, which can hardly be explained but as of guardian angels; for instance, the one who appeared to Hagar in the wilderness, and commanded her to return and submit herself to Sarah her mistress;[ 66 ] and the angel who appeared to Abraham, as he was about to immolate Isaac his son, and told him that God was satisfied with his obedience;[ 67 ] and when the same Abraham sent his servant Eleazer into Mesopotamia, to ask for a wife for his son Isaac, he told him that the God of heaven, who had promised to give him the land of Canaan, would send his angel[ 68 ] to dispose all things according to his wishes.
Examples of similar apparitions of tutelary angels, derived from the Old Testament, might here be multiplied, but the circumstance does not require a greater number of proofs. Under the new dispensation, the apparitions of good angels, of guardian spirits, are not less frequent in most authentic stories; there are few saints to whom God has not granted similar favors: we may cite, in particular, St.
Frances, a Roman lady of the sixteenth century, who saw her guardian angel, and he talked to her, instructed her, and corrected her. Dives , Idem, , p. Philo, De Gigantibus. Vide Commentatores in Gen. Jamblichus, a disciple of Porphyry,[ 69 ] has treated the matter of genii and their apparition more profoundly than any other author of antiquity. It would seem, to hear him discourse, that he knew both the genii and their qualities, and that he had with them the most intimate and continual converse. He affirms that our eyes are delighted by the appearance of the gods, that the apparitions of the archangels are terrible; those of angels are milder; but when demons and heroes appear, they inspire terror; the archontes, who preside over this world, cause at the same time an impression of grief and fear.
The apparition of souls is not quite so disagreeable as that of heroes. In the appearance of the gods there is order and mildness, confusion and disorder in that of demons, and tumult in that of the archontes. When the gods show themselves, it seems as if the heavens, the sun and moon, were all about to be annihilated; one would think that the earth could not support their presence. On the appearance of an archangel, there is an earthquake in every part of the world; it is preceded by a stronger light than that which accompanies the apparition of the angels; at the appearance of a demon it is less strong, and diminishes still more when it is a hero who shows himself.
The apparitions of the gods are very luminous; those of angels and archangels less so; those of demons are dark, but less dark than those of heroes. The archontes, who preside over the brightest things in this world, are luminous; but those which are occupied only with what is material, are dark. When souls appear, they resemble a shade. He continues his description of these apparitions, and enters into tiresome details on the subject; one would say, to hear him, that that there was a most intimate and habitual connection between the gods, the angels, the demons, and the souls separated from the body, and himself.
But all this is only the work of his imagination; he knew no more than any other concerning a matter which is above the reach of man's understanding. He had never seen any appari [Pg 48] tions of gods or heroes, or archontes; unless we say that there are veritable demons which sometimes appear to men. But to discern them one from the other, as Jamblichus pretends to do, is mere illusion.
The Greeks and Romans, like the Hebrews and Christians, acknowledged two sorts of genii, some good and beneficent, the others bad, and causing evil. The ancients even believed that every one of us received at our birth a good and an evil genius; the former procured us happiness and prosperity, the latter engaged us in unfortunate enterprises, inspired us with unruly desires, and cast us into the worst misfortunes. They assigned genii, not only to every person, but also to every house, every city, and every province. They were represented sometimes under the form of a serpent, sometimes as a child or a youth.
Flowers, incense, cakes, and wine were offered to them. We often see on medals the inscription, Genio populi Romani ; and when the Romans landed in a country, they failed not to salute and adore its genius, and to offer him sacrifices. We have seen above what Jamblichus informs us concerning apparitions of the gods, genii, good and bad angels, heroes, and the archontes who preside over the government of the world. Homer, the most ancient of Greek writers, and the most celebrated theologian of Paganism, relates several apparitions both of gods and heroes, and also of the dead.
In the Odyssey,[ 77 ] he represents Ulysses going to consult the sorcerer Tiresias; and this diviner [Pg 49] having prepared a grave or trench full of blood to evoke the manes, Ulysses draws his sword to prevent them from coming to drink this blood, for which they thirst; but which they were not allowed to taste before they had answered the questions put to them. They believed also that the souls of the dead could not rest, and that they wandered around their dead bodies so long as the corpse remained uninhumed.
Even after they were interred, food was offered them; above everything honey was given, as if leaving their tomb they came to taste what was offered them. They believed that souls separated from the gross and terrestrial body, preserved after death one more subtile and elastic, having the form of that they had quitted; that these bodies were luminous, and like the stars; that they retained an inclination for those things which they had loved during their life on earth, and that often they appeared gliding around their tombs. To bring back all this to the matter here treated of, that is to say, to the appearance of good angels, we may note, that in the same manner that we attach to the apparitions of good angels the idea of tutelary spirits of kingdoms, provinces, and nations, and of each of us in particular—as, for instance, the Prince of the kingdom of Persia, or the angel of that nation, who resisted the archangel Gabriel during twenty-one days, as we read in Daniel;[ 79 ] the angel of Macedonia, who appeared to St.
Paul,[ 80 ] and of whom we have spoken before; the archangel St. Michael, who is considered as the chief of the people of God and the armies of Israel;[ 81 ] and the guardian angels deputed by God to guide us and guard us all the days of our life—so we may say that the Greeks and Romans, being Gentiles, believed that certain sorts of spirits, which they imagined were good and beneficent, protected their kingdoms, provinces, towns, and private houses.
The Platonicians taught that carnal and voluptuous men could not see their genii, because their mind was not sufficiently pure, nor enough disengaged from sensual things; but that men who were wise, moderate, and temperate, and who applied themselves to serious and sublime subjects, could see them; as Socrates, for instance, who had his familiar genius, whom he consulted, to whose advice he listened, and whom he beheld, at least with the eyes of the mind. If the oracles of Greece and other countries are reckoned in the number of apparitions of bad spirits, we may also recollect the good spirits who have announced things to come, and have assisted the prophets and inspired persons, whether in the Old Testament or the New.
The Phantom World
The angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel[ 83 ] to instruct him concerning the vision of the four great monarchies, and the accomplishment of the seventy weeks, which were to put an end to the captivity. The prophet Zechariah says expressly that the angel who appeared unto him [ 84 ] revealed to him what he must say—he repeats it in five or six places; St. John, in the Apocalypse,[ 85 ] says the same thing, that God had sent his angel to inspire him with what he was to say to the Churches.
Elsewhere[ 86 ] he again makes mention of the angel who talked with him, and who took in his presence the dimensions of the heavenly Jerusalem. And again, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews,[ 87 ] "If what has been predicted by the angels may pass for certain. From all we have just said, it results that the apparitions of good angels are not only possible, but also very real; that they have often appeared, and under diverse forms; that the Hebrews, Christians, Mahometans, Greeks, and Romans have believed in them; that when they have not sensibly appeared, they have given proofs of their presence in several different ways.
We shall examine elsewhere how we can explain the kind of apparition, whether of good or bad angels, or souls separated from the body. Vide Spencer, de Leg. The books of the Old and New Testament, together with sacred and profane history, are full of relations of the apparition of bad [Pg 51] spirits. The first, the most famous, and the most fatal apparition of Satan, is that of the appearance of this evil spirit to Eve, the first woman,[ 88 ] in the form of a serpent, which animal served as the instrument of that seducing demon in order to deceive her and induce her to sin.
Since that time he has always chosen to appear under that form rather than any other; so in Scripture he is often termed the Old Serpent ;[ 89 ] and it is said that the infernal dragon fought against the woman who figured or represented the church; that the archangel St. Michael vanquished him and cast him down from heaven. He has often appeared to the servants of God in the form of a dragon, and he has caused himself to be adored by unbelievers in this form, in a great number of places: at Babylon, for instance, they worshiped a living dragon,[ 90 ] which Daniel killed by making it swallow a ball or bolus, composed of ingredients of a mortally poisonous nature.
The serpent was consecrated to Apollo, the god of physic and of oracles; and the pagans had a sort of divination by means of serpents, which they called Ophiomantia. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans worshiped serpents, and regarded them as divine. The Egyptians considered vipers as divinities. Augustine[ 97 ] remarks that no animal has been more subject to the effects of enchantment and magic than the serpent, as if to punish him for having seduced the first woman by his imposture.
However, the demon has usually assumed the human form when [Pg 52] he would tempt mankind; it was thus that he appeared to Jesus Christ in the desert;[ 98 ] that he tempted him and told him to change the stones into bread that he might satisfy his hunger; that he transported him, the Saviour, to the highest pinnacle of the temple, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and offered him the enjoyment of them.
The angel who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel,[ 99 ] on his return from his journey into Mesopotamia, was a bad angel, according to some ancient writers; others, as Severus Sulpicius[ ] and some Rabbis, have thought that it was the angel of Esau, who had come to combat with Jacob; but the greater number believe that it was a good angel. And would Jacob have asked him for his blessing had he deemed him a bad angel? But however that fact may be taken, it is not doubtful that the demon has appeared in a human form. Several stories, both ancient and modern, are related which inform us that the demon has appeared to those whom he wished to seduce, or who have been so unhappy as to invoke his aid, or make a compact with him, as a man taller than the common stature, dressed in black, and with a rough ungracious manner; making a thousand fine promises to those to whom he appeared, but which promises were always deceitful, and never followed by a real effect.
I can even believe that they beheld what existed only in their own confused and deranged ideas. At Molsheim,[ ] in the chapel of St. Ignatius in the Jesuits' church, may be seen a celebrated inscription, which contains the history of a young German gentleman, named Michael Louis, of the house of Boubenhoren, who, having been sent by his parents when very young to the court of the Duke of Lorraine, to learn the French language, lost all his money at cards: reduced to despair, he resolved to give himself to the demon, if that bad spirit would or could give him some good money; for he doubted that he would only furnish him with counterfeit and bad coin.
As he was meditating on this idea, suddenly he beheld before him a youth of his own age, well made, well dressed, who, having asked him the cause of his uneasiness, presented him with a handful of money, and told him to try if it was good. He desired him to meet him at that place the next day. Michael returned to his companions, who were still at play, and not only regained all the money he had lost, but won all that of his companions. Then he went in search of his demon, who asked as his reward three drops of his blood, which he received in an acorn- [Pg 53] cup; after which, presenting a pen to Michael, he desired him to write what he should dictate.
He then dictated some unknown words, which he made him write on two different bits of paper,[ ] one of which remained in the possession of the demon, the other was inserted in Michael's arm, at the same place whence the demon had drawn the blood. And the demon said to him, "I engage myself to serve you during seven years, after which you will unreservedly belong to me.
The young man consented to this, though with a feeling of horror; and the demon never failed to appear to him day and night under various forms, and taught him many unknown and curious things, but which always tended to evil. The fatal termination of the seven years was approaching, and the young man was then about twenty years old. He tried to commit all these crimes, but God did not allow him to succeed in these attempts. The gun with which he wished to kill himself missed fire twice, and the poison did not take effect on his father and mother.
More and more uneasy, he revealed to some of his father's domestics the miserable state in which he found himself, and entreated them to procure him some succor. At the same time the demon seized him, and bent his body back, so that he was near breaking his bones. His mother, who had adopted the heresy of Suenfeld, and had induced her son to follow it also, not finding in her sect any help against the demon that possessed or obseded him, was constrained to place him in the hands of some monks.
But he soon withdrew from them and retired to Islade, from whence he was brought back to Molsheim by his brother, a canon of Wurzburg, who put him again into the hands of fathers of the society. Then it was that the demon made still more violent efforts against him, appearing to him in the form of ferocious animals.
One day, amongst others, the demon, wearing the form of a hairy savage, threw on the ground a schedule, or compact, different from the true one which he had extorted from the young man, to try by means of this false appearance to withdraw him from the hands of those who kept him, and prevent his making his general confession. At last they fixed on the 20th of October, , as the day for being in the Chapel of St. Ignatius, and to cause to be brought the true schedule containing the compact made with the demon.
The [Pg 54] young man there made profession of the Catholic and orthodox faith, renounced the demon, and received the holy sacrament. Then, uttering horrible cries, he said he saw as it were two he-goats of immeasurable size, which, holding up their forefeet standing on their hindlegs , held between their claws, each one separately, one of the schedules or agreements. But as soon as the exorcisms were begun, and the priests invoked the name of St. Ignatius, the two he-goats fled away, and there came from the left arm or hand of the young man, almost without pain, and without leaving any scar, the compact, which fell at the feet of the exorcist.
There now wanted only the second compact, which had remained in the power of the demon. They recommenced their exorcisms, and invoked St.
Ignatius, and promised to say a mass in honor of the saint; at the same moment there appeared a tall stork, deformed and badly made, who let fall the second schedule from his beak, and they found it on the altar. The pope, Paul V. Adam, Suffragan of Strasburg, and George, Abbot of Altorf, who were juridically interrogated, and who affirmed that the deliverance of this young man was principally due, after God, to the intercession of St. Melancthon owns[ ] that he has seen several spectres, and conversed with them several times; and Jerome Cardan affirms that his father, Fassius Cardanus, saw demons whenever he pleased, apparently in a human form.
Bad spirits sometimes appear also under the figure of a lion, a dog, or a cat, or some other animal—as a bull, a horse, or a raven; for the pretended sorcerers and sorceresses relate that at the witches' Sabbath he is seen under several different forms of men, animals, and birds; whether he takes the shape of these animals, or whether he makes use of the animals themselves as instruments to deceive or harm, or whether he simply affects the senses and imagination of those whom he has fascinated and who give themselves to him; for in all the appearances of the demon we must always be on our guard, and mistrust his stratagems and malice.
Peter[ ] tells us that Satan is always roaming round about us, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And St. Paul, in more places than one,[ ] warns us to mistrust the snares of the devil, and to hold ourselves on our guard against him. Sulpicius Severus,[ ] in the life of St. Martin, relates a few examples of persons who were deceived by apparitions of the demon, who [Pg 55] transformed himself into an angel of light. A young man of very high rank, and who was afterwards elevated to the priesthood, having devoted himself to God in a monastery, imagined that he held converse with angels; and as they would not believe him, he said that the following night God would give him a white robe, with which he would appear amongst them.
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In fact, at midnight the monastery was shaken as with an earthquake, the cell of the young man was all brilliant with light, and they heard a noise like that of many persons going to and fro , and speaking. After that, coming forth from his cell, he showed to the brothers of the convent the tunic with which he was clothed: it was made of a stuff of admirable whiteness, shining as purple, and so extraordinarily fine in texture that they had never seen anything like it, and could not tell from what substance it was woven.
They passed the rest of the night in singing psalms of thanksgiving, and in the morning they wished to conduct him to St. He resisted as much as he could, saying that he had been expressly forbidden to appear in his presence. As they were pressing him to come, the tunic vanished, which led every one present to suppose that the whole thing was an illusion of the demon. Another solitary suffered himself to be persuaded that he was Eli; another that he was St. John the Evangelist. One day, the demon wished to mislead St.
Martin himself, appearing to him, having on a royal robe, wearing on his head a rich diadem, ornamented with gold and precious stones, golden sandals, and all the apparel of a great prince. Addressing himself to Martin, he said to him, "Acknowledge me, Martin; I am Jesus Christ, who, wishing to descend to earth, have resolved to manifest myself to thee first of all. Martin remained silent at first, fearing some snare; and the phantom having repeated to him that he was the Christ, Martin replied: "My Lord Jesus Christ did not say that he should come clothed in purple and decked with diamonds.
I shall not acknowledge him unless he appears in that same form in which he suffered death, and unless I see the marks of his cross and passion. At these words the demon disappeared; and Sulpicius Severus affirms that he relates this as he heard it from the mouth of St. Martin himself.
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A little before this, he says that Satan showed himself to him sometimes under the form of Jupiter, or Mercury, or Venus, or Minerva; and sometimes he was to reproach Martin greatly because, by baptism, he had converted and regenerated so many great sinners. But the saint despised him, drove him away by the sign of the cross, and answered him that baptism and repentance effaced all sins in those who were sincere converts. All this proves the malice, envy, and fraud of the devil against the saints, on the one side; and on the other, the weakness and use [Pg 56] lessness of his efforts against the true servants of God, and that it is but too true he often appears in a visible form.
In the histories of the saints we sometimes see that he hides himself under the form of a woman, to tempt pious hermits and lead them into evil; sometimes in the form of a traveler, a priest, a monk, or an angel of light ,[ ] to mislead simple minded people, and cause them to err; for everything suits his purpose, provided he can exercise his malice and hatred against men. When Satan appeared before the Lord in the midst of his holy angels, and asked permission of God to tempt Job,[ ] and try his patience through everything that was dearest to that holy man, he doubtless presented himself in his natural state, simply as a spirit, but full of rage against the saints, and in all the deformity of his sin and rebellion.
But when he says, in the Books of Kings, that he will be a lying spirit in the mouth of false prophets ,[ ] and that God allows him to put in force his ill-will, we must not imagine that he shows himself corporeally to the eyes of the false prophets of King Ahab; he only inspired the falsehood in their minds—they believed it, and persuaded the king of the same.
Amongst the visible appearances of Satan may be placed mortalities, wars, tempests, public and private calamities, which God sends upon nations, provinces, cities, and families, whom the Almighty causes to feel the terrible effects of his wrath and just vengeance. Thus the exterminating angel kills the first-born of the Egyptians. When David, in a spirit of vanity, caused his people to be numbered, God showed him an angel hovering over Jerusalem, ready to smite and destroy it.
I do not say decidedly whether it was a good or a bad angel, since it is certain that sometimes the Lord employs good angels to execute his vengeance against the wicked. But it is thought that it was the devil who slew eighty-five thousand men of the army of Sennacherib. And in the Apocalypse, those are also evil angels who pour out on the earth the phials of wrath, and caused all the scourges set down in that holy book.
We shall also place amongst the appearances and works of Satan [Pg 57] false Christs, false prophets, Pagan oracles, magicians, sorcerers, and sorceresses, those who are inspired by the spirit of Python, the obsession and possession of demons, those who pretend to predict the future, and whose predictions are sometimes fulfilled; those who make compacts with the devil to discover treasures and enrich themselves; those who make use of charms; evocations by means of magic; enchantment; the being devoted to death by a vow; the deceptions of idolatrous priests, who feigned that their gods ate and drank and had commerce with women—all these can only be the work of Satan, and must be ranked with what the Scripture calls the depths of Satan.
John Bathurst Deane, M. They were to be seen at Molsheim, in the tablet which bore a representation of this miracle. Many persons regard magic, magicians, witchcraft, and charms as fables and illusions, the effects of imagination in weak minds, who, foolishly persuaded of the excessive power possessed by the devil, attribute to him a thousand things which are purely natural, but the physical reasons for which are unknown to them, or which are the effects of the art of certain charlatans, who make a trade of imposing on the simple and ignorant.
These opinions are supported by the authority of the principal parliaments of the kingdom, who acknowledge neither magicians nor sorcerers, and who never punish those accused of magic, or sorcery, unless they are convicted also of some other crimes.