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Friday, October 29, 2010

Some Devilish Lore


A black dog keeps the devil away. (Russia.)

In Crete, basil is placed on windowsills to charm away the devil.

Never look in the looking-glass at night, unless you wish to see the devil. (Russia.)

The devil often takes the form of a black dog.

The Scotch believed that the devil had two crows sitting on his shoulders, who told him everything that goes on in the world.

As long as the people of Europe represented the devil in human form, they made him black; but the Australians and Africans make him as white as possible. Perhaps that suggested the saying that the devil is not so black as he is painted.

The Jews believed that by sounding a consecrated horn, the devil was made to take to his heels.

In Yorkshire, if you walk three times around a room at midnight in perfect darkness, and then look in the glass, you will see the devil's face.

There is a superstition that the devil always appears with a cloven foot, horns, and a tail. He disguises himself in many ways, but sooner or later one or the other of these will be sure to be seen.

The satan of superstition used to be thought to be the builder of all castles, bridges, monuments and works of art beyond man's strength, and he was also the moulder of the mountains and valleys.

The Australian aborigines believe that the devil is a night-bird, which they call Kvingan. The explorer frequently hears the strange, unearthly cry of this bird, but when he attempts to shoot a specimen, the natives refuse to accompany him on these occasions, and he will always be unsuccessful

The devil is betokened to be standing behind a person who makes faces in the looking-glass.

To raise the devil, the Scotch people made a circle with chalk, put a hat on it and said the Lord's Prayer backwards.

If, in conjuring the devil, you have a light, your words will have power.

The devil's grandmother is, as the Magyars say, 777 years old.

To say the word "devil" and not cross yourself, will bring him near.

If you wish the devil and his angels to flee from your dwelling, always bless your candle before you light it.

In conjuring the devil, it is necessary to have a light; words spoken in the dark having no power.

The Welsh have a custom of whitening all their houses, as they think the devil cannot come through white doors.

An English superstition is to the effect that you can call the devil to sight by saying the Lord's Prayer backwards.

In Russia, the devil prefers places with a great deal of water near them, therefore it is unlucky to live near a pond or river.

At Cape Coast Town, the natives arm themselves with sticks and other weapons, and prepare with much ceremony to drive out the devil. This takes place once a year toward the close of August.

There was a very tall, leafless, and black tree that stood many years ago at the end of the village of Biggar, in Scotland, which was generally believed to be possessed by the devil. No boy would pass that tree after dark on any account, as it was sure ill luck to do so.

Many conflagrations, in Bulgaria, are attributed solely to the power of Satan, who, when angry, can send all sorts of evil on men. Some did bloody penances of propitiation to ward off the ill influence.

If something is missing from its usual place and you cannot find it, it is a sign that the devil is holding his hand over it.

Many old traditions of Western Norway report a "black book," by means of which the devil could be let loose to do the service of the owner. He also could tie him up again when he so desired.

The Gold Coast people believe that the devil is always on hand to do mischief, and for that reason, slaves are made to slip into the seats of their masters as soon as they rise, to prevent the devil from sitting in the master's seat.

In the "Customs of the Welsh," by the Rev. W. Bingley, it is stated that it was usual in some parts of North Wales, whenever the name of the devil occurred, for the congregation to spit on the floor, and when the name of Judas was mentioned, for them to express their abhorrence of him by striking their breasts.

In New England, the devil was called, in the old days of witchcraft, "the black man," a soubriquet probably borrowed from English superstition. In "The Golden Legend," there is a story representing the evil spirit as a man clad in black, of great height, and mounted on a superb black horse.

Perfume made of the gall of a black dog, and a black dog's blood smeared on the walls and posts of the house, were believed by the Scotch to drive out both devils and witches.

In New Brunswick, it is believed that the devil and a select company come upon the draw of the bridge and dance a hornpipe there, it is therefore very unlucky to cross the fatal draw after ten o'clock at night

Amaymon was a mythical king of the East, one of the principal devils who might be bound or restrained from doing harm from the third hour till noon, and from the ninth hour till evening. He is alluded to in Shakespeare's "Henry IV.," and in the "Merry Wives of Windsor." According to Holme, he was the chief of the dominion of the north part of the infernal gulf.

If anyone wishes to know whether a deceased person ever had intercourse with the devil during his life, let him peep through the hames of the horses that carry the hearse, when, if such has been the case, he will see a black dog sitting behind the carriage.

An old French recipe for raising the devil is the following: Take a black cock under your left arm, and go at midnight to where four crossroads meet, then utter "Robert!" nine times and the devil will appear, take the cock, and leave you a handful of money.

The devil hates dried peas in Japan, and flees from them; they are therefore thrown about the houses to drive the devils out. Devils are also very much afraid of a holly leaf and the head of a sardine-like fish, called the iwashi. If you nail these to the entrance of your house, no devil will dare to enter in.

The Chinese believe that those who eat of the plant called Shuimong will die immediately after and become shui-mong devils; such devils are incapable of being born again, unless they can find someone else who has eaten the same plant, and is willing to take their place.

In North Wales, it used to be the custom to spit at the name of the devil and strike the breast three times at the name of Judas, to ward off evil influences. This was especially done in church.

If a man in Denmark wishes to have any communication with the devil, he must walk around the church three times, and on the third, stop and either whistle or cry, "Come out!" through the keyhole.

Persons who enter into a compact with Satan can raise wind and storms by calling him up, and these disturbances cannot be stilled save by the death of a black cock, a black dog, or an unchristened child.

In Scotland, the devil was supposed to appear often as a goat with rough hair, as the devil in the Scriptures is represented as such an animal. Sometimes he is seen riding on a goat with fire between its horns, to join in the Sabbath dance of the witches. He has a long curling tail, horns on his head from which sparks fly out, cloven hoofs, and a terrible smell of brimstone.

The following three proverbs, now applied metaphorically, are based on ancient superstition about the devil:
  • "Talk of the devil and he is sure to appear."
  • "Talk of the devil and he will show his horns."
  • "Think of the devil and he is sure to be back of you."
Jason Pratensis wrote that "the devil being a slender, incomprehensible spirit, can easily insinuate and wind himself into human bodies and, cunningly couched in our bowels, vitiate our healths, terrify our souls with fearful dreams, and shake our minds with furies. These evil spirits go in and out of our bodies as bees do in a hive, and so provoke and tempt us as they see we are inclined by our humors to it, or are most apt to be deluded." But, "Whether by obsession or possession these things are done, I cannot determine."
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