Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Aberdonian succubus...and a vanishing chamberpot

I am sure by now Innerpeffray Library needs no introduction! here are my latest excerpts from the Treatise of Specters, again from the section snappily entitled An History of Strange Apparitions, and cunning delusions of Devils.

Let us start with the improving tale of a young hunk from Aberdeen, who banished a succubus by fasting and prayer:

167. Hector Boethius in his 8th Book of the Histories of Scot. relates, that in a small Village of Scotland scarce 14 Miles distant from Aberdene, there was a very beautifull young man made open complaint before the Governour of Aberdene, that he was many Months molested and troubled with a she Devill, (as they call it) the handsomest that ever he saw, and finally when the dores were shut she came to him by night, and by her fair speeches forc’t him to embrace her: when t’was almost day, she went away making no noise, and trying many wayes, he could by no means be freed from that so great and base vexation. A prudent and devout Bishop commands the young man immediately to go to some other place, and according to the Christian Religion to conform himself to prayer, and fasting, more zealously then he used to do, hereby he thought the Devill would be put to flight from him, when he saw him so intent upon all good works. Upon this wholesome counsel followed good successe: Which when the youth had religiously performed, within few dayes after he was clearly delivered from these Hobgoblins. So the He-Devill did no longer trouble the Woman of Navete, after her confession, and holy Communion which accompany prayer and fasting. Legitur in vita Divi Bernhardi.Vierus,lib.4.cap.27.

Boethius is Hector Boece (1465-1536), a Scottish academic and philosopher. The next excerpt is a rather bizarre tale of a nunnery disturbed by the activities of a poltergeist. Aside from the nuns' spiritual tribulations, I feel rather sorry for them if they had nothing to eat except turnip porridge for more than seven weeks! 

173. The Nuns of Ventetus shut up close in the County of Horn. were cruelly handled by an evill spirit. A poor woman in Lent time borrowed three Measures of Salt of the Virgins, and restored almost twice as much about Easter. Here in the bed-chamber were found small white balls, as ‘twere seeds pargetted over with Sugar, but being tasted, they were salt. In the same place they took notice of a Ghost walking there, and groaning, they heard also that many Virgins were called to arise, and to go with her to the fire advertising them, that she was not well. If at any time they took the Chamberpot to make water, it was by force taken from them, and they watered their bed. Sometimes they were haled by the feet out of their beds, and were tickled at the Soles of their Feet, that with overmuch laughter they were ready to dye. Some had pieces of flesh pul’d off, many had their legs, arms, and Faces writhed the contrary way. Some were so tormented, though for fifty and odde dayes they eat nothing but Turnep Porrage without bread, yet they spued up such abundance of black stuffe, like Ink it felt so sharp, that it took off the skin from their Mouth. Some were lifted up above a Mans height, and instantly thrown down again. When about 13.friends came to visit and comfort them that were sick, they fell down from the Table, not speaking a word nor sensible thereof; others lay as if dead with their legs and arms Crosse; one was lift up aloft, and although some standing by, struggled to save her with their hands, yet was she snatcht away above their heads, and thrown down headlong again. Some went upon their toes, as if they had no feet, or at least no use of them. They climb’d Trees also like Cats, and came down again from them without any alteration of their body. It happened likewise, that the Governesse of the Monastery (which they call the Mother) in her perambulation, as she was discoursing with Margaret, Countess of Burens. was hurt on her thigh; The wound was black and blue, but was healed again. This cruelty continued evidently full three years, which afterwards they concealed. Vide Vierum.lib.3.cap.9.

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