Devil-Worship as Treason
One of the most upsetting things about witchcraft to Europeans of the past was the “fact” witches sold their souls to the Devil. Church authorities were already desperate to stamp out heresy, and outright Devil-worship (even if only assumed) made them apoplectic.
Although some so-called witches practiced only white magic, suspicions had already been aroused. Legal contracts made with Satan began to appear in courts. “These were taken as proof of heresy and high treason, both capital offenses, whereas offenses from blasphemy to practicing medicine without a license would deserve lesser punishments. Once witches were regarded as, in effect, citizens of another country, the kingdom of darkness, sworn in fealty to another prince, The Devil, they were political enemies, and all that was fair in war was fair in dealing with them” (Ashley 105, 106).
By 1398, it had been officially decided that witches entered into pacts with Satan. Maleficia was no a crime treated as treason to God and country. In 1608, William Perkins wrote in A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft that
though the witch were in many respects profitable, and did not hurt but procured much good, yet, because he hath renounced God his king and governor and hath bound himself by other laws to the service of the enemies of God and his church, death is his portion justly assigned to him by God: he may not live.
As treasoners and Devil-worshippers, witches were accused of many things:
- Denying the Christian faith
- Denying Christian baptism (or worse, being rebaptized by the Devil)
- Replacing godparents with Satanic colleagues
- Surrendering clothing and blood (as part of an oath) to Satan to represent their submission to him
- Accepting the Devil’s mark.
- Promising to pay taxes to the Devil
- Promising to sacrifice children to the Devil
- Promising to bring up their own children as the Devil’s servants
- Accepting the Devil as both god and king
Making a Pact With Satan
There were many ways of making a pact with the Devil.
The Formicarus (1435) gives the earliest if not the most complete description of what happens. Supplied with friends who have already forsworn God, the applicant arrives at a church on a Sunday morning very early and renounces God and the One, Holy, and Apostolic Church. He pays homage to The Devil, drinks the blood of sacrificed children, and subscribes to the rules of the damned, which cover many things from diet to cursing and sacrificing. He expresses the desire to trade his soul for one or more favors from The Evil One, often wealth or power for a specified number of years (Ashley 106).
Actually signing the Devil’s paperwork is difficult. It “must be signed in the person’s blood, drawn from the left arm. If it will not flow easily–human nature resists such an act–it is warmed with fire (representing passion overcoming intellect) and the person is inscribed in the ‘red book’ of death” (Ashley 107).
Another way of selling your soul to the Devil was to do the following:
- Get a piece of virgin parchment (from the first calf a cow bears, not a piece never written on before).
- Write on it with your own blood: “I promise GREAT DEMON to repay him in seven years for all he shall give me. In witness whereof, I sign my name.”
- Sign it in your own blood.
- Then, within a magic circle, hold the document in you hand and recite the invocation:
LUCIFER, Emperor, Master of All Rebellious Spirits, I beseech thee to be favorable to me in calling upon thy GREAT MINISTER which I make, desiring to make a pact with him.
BEELZEBUB, Prince, I pray thee also, to protect me in my undertaking.
ASTAROTH, Count, be propitious to me and cause that this night the GREAT DEMON appear to me in human form and without any evil smell, and that he grant me, by means of the pact which I shall deliver to him, all the treasures of which I have need.
GREAT DEMON, I beseech thee, leave thy dwelling, in whatever part of the world you may be, to come speak with me; if not, I shall thereto compel thee by the power of the might words of the Great Key of Solomon, whereof he made use to force the rebellious spirits to accept his pact.
Appear then instantly or I shall continually torment thee with the might words of the Key: AGLON, TETRAGRAMMATON, VAYCHEON, STIMULAMATHON, EROHARES, RETRASAMATHON, CLYORAN, ICION, ESITION, EXISTIEN, ERYONA, ONERA, ERASYN, MOYN, MEFFIAS, SOTER, EMMANUEL, SABAOTH, ADONAI. I call you. AMEN.
- When the demon appears, throw him the pact. Do not step outside the circle on any account
Breaking a Pact With the Devil
According to Saint Alphonso Maria de Ligouri (1696-1787), it is possible to break a pact with Satan, even if it has been signed in blood. The following steps must be followed:
- Renounce and abjure any contract with Satan.
- Destroy all writings, talismans, charms, etc., connected with the black art.
- Burn the written contract, or declare you regret and reject it.
- “Make restitution for any harm done, insofar as is possible”