VOICE Of A DEMON
That Demons use the Speech of the Women with whom they Converse; but their Utterance is indistinct, thin, and a hoarse muffled Murmur.
Although, as we have already said in the first chapter of this Book, the Devil works chiefly by subtle and secret ways to drive men to sin, yet at times he employs for this purpose the power of speech such as men use in their intercourse with each other; especially when he is scheming to bind men to him by a formal contract in the pact of witchcraft. For this is no ordinary and momentary desertion to the Devil, like our lapses into sin due to human frailty: it is a documentary making over of ourselves, in the same manner as master and servant enter into an agreement legally expressed in set terms and conditions of authority and obedience. For this reason a personal meeting and conversation is needed in order that each party may ratify such a pact.
It has already been shown that the Devil often manifests himself to man in human shape. It will be no less easy to believe that he also holds vocal intercourse with men. For if he can form for himself a human shape out of condensed air, what is to prevent him from making use of the vibrations of the same matter to counterfeit the human voice? For by the reception and repercussion of such vibrations, even valleys often repeat and very articulately imitate the voice. This fact, indeed, led the ancients in their ignorance to regard certain statues, oaks and caverns as their oracles. Apollonius (according to the Life by Philostratus, VI, 4) says that they ascribed the power of speech to the statue of Memnon at the moment when the sun touched its lips, as it did at its rising. Nicephorus Gregoras in his Byzantine History, Bk. V, says: “There are those who believe that certain Spirits, both good and evil, acquaint mankind with a knowledge of the future by means of a voice formed out of the air and sensibly sounding in the ears of men.” And just as the sounds of the vocal organs can be reproduced in their various tones and accents merely by the control of the vibrations of a comb (as Juvenal says); so also, thanks to their skill in illusions, do the Demons, without tongue or palate or any functioning of their throat or sides or lungs, inform the air with any speech or idiom they please. Those who formerly inhabited Greece (says Psellus in his De Daemonibus) gave their replies in the heroic manner: those among the Chaldaeans used the specch of the Chaldaecans: in Egypt they spoke Egyptian; and when those who lived in Armenia migrated to other parts, they used the vernacular tongue of the inhabitants.
And still to this day witches affirm that their Little Masters speak to them in their own tongue as naturally and idiomatically as one who has never left his native country; and that they even take upon themselves names in common use in the vernacular speech. Margaret Luodman, at Vergaville on the 2nd January, 1587, said that her Familiar’s name was Ungliick, that is Mischance: Sybilla Haar, at the same place on the 14th November, 1586, said that hers was named ‘Macheid, that is Harmful: that of Catharine Haffner, as she said at the same place on the 25th September, 1586, was Tzum Walt Viiegen, that is Flying-to- the-Woods; and Alexia Bernhard, at Guermingen on the 5th January, 1590, gave the name Feder Wiisch, that is Feather-wiper. Those who use the Romance tongue (for the inhabitants of Lorraine are divided between the two languages) mention such names as Maisire Persil, Joly-bois, Verdelet, Sautebuisson, and many other such which it would be idle to repeat.
But just as they can never so completely adopt a human appearance but that there remains something to expose the fraud and deception, as was shown in Chapter VII; so they cannot so perfectly imitate the human voice that the falsity and pretense of it is not easily perceived by their hearers. Nicole Ganater at Meinfeld on the 9th July, 1585, Eva Hesolette who lived in the vicinity of the Abbey of St. Epvre, Jana Schwartz, a native of Armcourt, at Laach on the 28th March, 1588, and many other women said that their Demons spoke as if their mouths were in a jar or cracked pitcher. And on that account it is always their wont when speaking to hold their heads down, as do those who speak in shame, being conscious of guilt. Or else their voice is feeble and weak. For Hermolaus Berbarus (Petrus Crinitus,t De honest. disciplina, VII, 2) told that he heard the voice of a whispering Demon answering a question which he and Georgius Placentinus had put to him concerning the entelechy of Aristotle. Pliny (RX, 2) writes that the same sort of curiosity caused Apion the grammarian, a learned man, whom in his youth he had himself often seen, to summon a spirit to recite Homer, and asked it to tell what was its country and parentage, but did not dare to relate its reply. I take this to mean that the Demon spoke in a voice so confused, ambiguous, muffled and feeble that he could understand no clear and certain meaning to report afterwards. For Psellus (De Daemonibus) says that Demons, for all their effort, give utterance to a thin, weak voice, so that by reason of the indistinct obscurity of it their lies may be the harder to detect. Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople, heard the confused voice of a specter standing by night before the altar, when he solemnly cursed it, as is testified in their historical writings by Cedrenus, Callistust and Theodorus Lcctor. The Demon Ulmus|| (Uita Apollonit by Philostratus, VI, 10), which I conjecture to be a word formed from Ulmus, an elm, was summoned by Thespesion, the eldest of the Gymnosophists, and greeted the sage Apel onus as he approached them. The lecanomancy of the Assyrians and Chaldeans used to evoke Demons which gave utterance through the pelvis in a harsh, thin hissing. All these instances go to prove that imitation, which (as Fabius says, Inst. orat. III, 5) is proper to art, can never so completely ape nature that there is not always some difference, and that the very truth far out stri the simulation which would follow in its tracks.
The author of the Life of St, Antony, Abbot of Alexandria, says: ‘When he was dwelling in the desert some abominable spirits tried to strike terror into him by monstrously appearing in various shapes: roaring and howling at him like wild beasts; as serpents harshly hissing at him; snarling and gnashing their teeth; glaring with terrible blazing eyes; breathing out flames from their mouths and nostrils and ears; in short, neglecting no possible form or shape which might appall him.” St. Jerome in his Life of Abbot Hilarion gives a similar instance of their imitation and variation of voices, if not of shapes: “Often at dead of night he heard the wailing of infants, the bleating of sheep, the lowing of oxen, the weeping as it were of women, the roaring of Lions! the uproar of armies, and many other different sounds; so that he was stricken prostrate with terror at the mere sound before ever he saw anything.” For the Devil takes an incredible pleasure in using every conceivable means to torment mankind, and is on that account always seeking for occasions by which he may excite terror. “Ate,” says Homer, “comes first, doing mischief to men throughout the world.” And Suidas interprets Ate as meaning the Devil, the Adversary.