Demon Lovers

Michael Ostling

in Between the Devil and the Host

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587902
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731228 | DOI:

Series: The Past & Present Book Series

Demon Lovers

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The historiography of witchcraft tends to see confessions to diabolical sex as clear examples that accused witches were forced to adopt the ‘demonological script’. However, a close reading of the trials indicates that accused witches sought to minimize their sexual contact with devils, and emphasized that such contact was painful and unpleasant due to the devil’s ‘cold member’. This suggests that accused witches tried to maintain some control of their stories: they might be quarrelsome and spiteful, but they were not promiscuous—might be imagined as witches, but not as whores. However, some confessions ‘indigenized’ diabolical sex, assimilating it to the folkloric figure of the latawiec—part unbaptized infant, part treasure-hauling demon, part erotic fairy-youth.

Keywords: demonological script; diabolical sex; demon lover; latawiec; indigenization; witches; whores

Chapter.  8845 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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