The employment of the human breath by the sorcerer as
* We have twice assisted at the strange rites of the remnants of that sect of fire-worshippers known as the Guebres, who assemble from time to time at Baku, on the "field of fire." This ancient and mysterious town is situated near the Caspian Sea. It belongs to Russian Georgia. About twelve miles northeast from Baku stands the remnant of an ancient Guebre temple, consisting of four columns, from whose empty orifices issue constantly jets of flame, which gives it, therefore, the name of Temple of the Perpetual Fire. The whole region is covered with lakes and springs of naphtha. Pilgrims assemble there from distant parts of Asia, and a priesthood, worshipping the divine principle of fire, is kept by some tribes, scattered hither and thither about the country. f Baadey-ku-Ba — literally "a gathering of winds."
an adjunct for the accomplishment of his nefarious purpose, is strikingly illustrated in several terrible cases recorded in the French annals — notably those of several Catholic priests. In fact, this species of sorcery was known from the oldest times. The Emperor Constantine (in Statute iv., Code de Malef., etc.) prescribed the severest penalties against such as should employ sorcery to do violence to chastity and excite unlawful passion. Augustine (Cite de Dieu) warns against it; Jerome, Gregory, Nazianzen, and many other ecclesiastical authorities, lend their denunciation of a crime not uncommon among the clergy. Baffet (book v., tit. 19, chap. 6) relates the case of the cure of Peifane, who accomplished the ruin of a highly-respected and virtuous lady parishioner, the Dame du Lieu, by resort to sorcery, and was burned alive for it by the Parliament of Grenoble. In 1611, a priest named Gaufridy was burned by the Parliament of Provence for seducing a penitent at the confessional, named Magdelaine de la Palud, by breathing upon her, and thus throwing her into a delirium of sinful love for him.
The above cases are cited in the official report of the famous case of Father Girard, a Jesuit priest of very great influence, who, in 1731, was tried before the Parliament of Aix, France, for the seduction of his parishioner, Mlle. Catherine Cadiere, of Toulon, and certain revolting crimes in connection with the same. The indictment charged that the offence was brought about by resort to sorcery. Mlle. Cadiere was a young lady noted for her beauty, piety, and exemplary virtues. Her attention to her religious duties was exceptionally rigorous, and that was the cause of her perdition. Father Girard's eye fell upon her, and he began to manœuvre for her ruin. Gaining the confidence of the girl and her family by his apparent great sanctity, he one day made a pretext to blow his breath upon her. The girl became instantly affected with a violent passion for him. She also had ecstatic visions of a religious character, stigmata, or blood-marks of the "Passion," and hysterical convulsions. The long-sought opportunity of seclusion with his penitent finally offering, the Jesuit breathed upon her again, and before the poor girl recovered her senses, his object had been accomplished. By sophistry and the excitation of her religious fervor, he kept up this illicit relation for months, without her suspecting that she had done anything wrong. Finally, however, her eyes were opened, her parents informed, and the priest was arraigned. Judgment was rendered October 12th, 1731. Of twenty-five judges, twelve voted to send him to the stake. The criminal priest was defended by all the power of the Society of Jesus, and it is said that a million francs were spent in trying to suppress the evidence produced at the trial. The facts, however, were printed in a work (in 5 vols., 16mo), now rare, entitled Recueil General des Pièces contenues au Procez du Père Jean-Baptiste Girard, Jeuite, etc., etc.*
We have noted the circumstance that, while under the sorcerous influence of Father Girard, and in illicit relations with him, Mlle. Cadiere's body was marked with the stigmata
* See also "Magic and Mesmerism," a novel reprinted by the Harpers, thirty years ago.
of the Passion, viz.: the bleeding wounds of thorns on her brow, of nails in her hands and feet, and of a lance-cut in her side. It should be added that the same marks were seen upon the bodies of six other penitents of this priest, viz.: Mesdames Guyol, Laugier, Grodier, Allemande, Batarelle, and Reboul. In fact, it became commonly remarked that Father Girard's handsome parishioners were strangely given to ecstasies and stigmata! Add this to the fact that, in the case of Father Gaufridy, above noted, the same thing was proved, upon surgical testimony, to have happened to Mlle. de Palud, and we have something worth the attention of all (especially spiritualists) who imagine these stigmata are produced by pure spirits. Barring the agency of the Devil, whom we have quietly put to rest in another chapter, Catholics would be puzzled, we fancy, despite all their infallibility, to distinguish between the stigmata of the sorcerers and those produced through the intervention of the Holy Ghost or the angels. The Church records abound in instances of alleged diabolical imitations of these signs of saintship, but, as we have remarked, the Devil is out of court.
By those who have followed us thus far, it will naturally be asked, to what practical issue this book tends; much has been said about magic and its potentiality, much of the immense antiquity of its practice. Do we wish to affirm that the occult sciences ought to be studied and practiced throughout the world? Would we replace modern spiritualism with the ancient magic? Neither; the substitution could not be made, nor the study universally prosecuted, without incurring the risk of enormous public dangers. At this moment, a well-known spiritualist and lecturer on mesmerism is imprisoned on the charge of raping a subject whom he had hypnotized. A sorcerer is a public enemy, and mesmerism may most readily be turned into the worst of sorceries.
We would have neither scientists, theologians, nor spiritualists turn practical magicians, but all to realize that there was true science, profound religion, and genuine phenomena before this modern era. We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people take their precepts as the rule of their lives. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practice them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self-conquest which their development exacts.
Was this article helpful?