The Weird Ways of Witchcraft by Dr. Leo Louis Martello (1969)

Dr. Leo Louis Martello

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Leo Martello's popular work on witchcraft, which is more of a guide for the layperson than those well-versed in the black arts. Still, it's a fascinating text from the man who sued the Catholic church for $500 million dollars as reparations for the European witch hysteria which plagued our brethren from the 15th to the 17th Century. He also sued the city of Salem, Massachusetts for $100 million for the American witch pogrom of the 17th Century. For this social activism he is revered in many circles. 

From the weird sisters in Shakespeare's Macbeth to Walt Disney's Evil Witch in his Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the witch has always been caricatured as some beak nosed old hag riding broomsticks, casting evil spells on her enemies, wearing tall pointed hats and generally raising hell wherever she fives. The Wizard Of Oz, both book and movie, continued the caricature. A 16th century attorney by the name of William West had this to say:

"A witch or hag is she which being deluded by a league made with the devil through his persuasion, inspiration, and juggling, thinketh she can design what manner of evil things soever, either by thought or imprecation, as to shake the air with lightnings and thunder, to cause hail and tempests, to remove green corn or trees to another place, to be carried of her familiar (which hath taken upon him the deceitful shape of a goat, swine, or calf, etc.) into some mountain far distant, in a wonderful short space of time, and sometimes to fly upon a staff or fork, or some other instrument, and to spend all night after with her sweetheart, in playing, sporting, banqueting, dancing, dalliance, and dovers other devilish lusts and lewd disports, and to show a thousand such monstrous mockeries."

What the Church has chosen to call Devil Worship or Satanism is merely the worship of those deities that existed before Christianity. The Papal Bull of Pope Innocent VIII in 1484 declared war on all aspects of witchcraft calling it a heresy. There were Black Magicians who made pacts with the devil, who truly believed in the power of evil. The 17th century Italian chronicler of demonology, FrancescoMaria Guazzo, describes eleven steps that the initiate Satanist must go through:

The Satanic Oath

1. A spoken denial of the Christian faith.
2. Re-baptism in the Devil's name, the novice given a new name to replace the Christian one.
3. Symbolic removal of the baptismal chrism (consecrated oil mixed with balm) by the Devil's touch.
4. Denial of godparents and gaining new sponsors.
5. As a token of submission, obedience, novice makes a gift of clothing to the devil.
6. While standing in a magic circle the novice pledges an Oath of Allegiance to the Devil.
7. Initiate's name is included in the "Book Of Death."
8. A promise to sacrifice children to the Devil.
9. A promise to pay annual tribute to the Devil (black-colored gifts etc.)
10. Marking the initiate with the Devil's mark ... a strangely shaped area on the skin which became insensitive.
11. Vows of special service to the Devil, which included destruction of holy relics, and most importantly, not revealing the secrets of the sabbat.

Anton LaVey initiates members of a California coven
The Black Mass

The Black Mass is still celebrated today. However, just as all Churches have updated their dogma and streamlined their theology, the Black Mass has also undergone modern revision. The classic Black Mass was performed by an expelled, unfrocked or renegade priest. His acolytes or assistants were female and dressed in church vestments. One dressed in red was a prostitute. The other dressed in white a virgin.

The Host was black instead of white, often made up of body wastes, with markings or images considered blasphemous by the church. Not infrequently it had an image of Satan stamped on it. The chalice was of either wood or metal and preferably the skull of a dead criminal. Instead of wine the chalice contained blood, and sometimes urine. The altar was covered with a black cloth, sometimes just a slab on stone on which were placed the candles, skull, bowls.

The candles were made with human fat, mixed with sulphur and were black. The candle-holders represented the zodiac and were made of ebony. The incense was a mixture of sulphur, alum, asafoetida and herbs, often foul-smelling. The High Priest sometimes wore black vestments with a white silk cape emblazoned with fir cones. Other times he wore purple or scarlet robes. The crucifix is turned upside down and so is the Bible when used. The latter was supposedly bound in the skin of an unbaptised infant who died.

There were 7, 9 or 13 candles usually arranged to form an inverted triangle ("Holy Trinity"). In the more debauched of the Black Masses the blood of a sacrificed child or female was mixed with the wine and given to the celebrants. The Black Mass begins by an Invocation to the Devil. The Lord's Prayer is recited backwards. Then there's a mock confession. The Sign of the Cross is made with the left hand but done in reverse.

The chalice is then passed around and the celebrants drink the wine mixed with blood and sometimes urine. The High Priest elevates the Black Host (and often one taken from the Catholic Mass itself). He then stabs the host with the same knife used in the blood sacrifice. He spits on it and then throws the host on the ground, and the celebrants, with screams of exultation, trample it underfoot. After this the contents of the chalice are poured over the desecrated and dissected host.

The weird witchcraft ritual that followed was this: It was believed that anyone who got a piece of the bloodstained host could then and there hold it up and call out the name of his chief enemy cursing him and wishing him injury or death. It was believed that this would hurt his enemy and perhaps kill him. The ending of the Black Mass was usually an orgy where everyone ate, drank, became drunk, indulged themselves in all lands of sexual acts ... that is, those who weren't either too full or too drunk to do so. There are many variations on the Black Mass. The modern Black Mass generally eliminates the obnoxious features such as drinking blood, urine, human or animal sacrifices, etc. And as for orgies or sexual license the Black Mass isn't needed for that! The Black Mass and the Witches Sabbath are closely interrelated, though not necessarily one and the same. Generally they are celebrated in the nude, everyone holding hands and dancing around the altar with their backs turned. The sexual orgies followed, far from being a Christian abomination, were really throw-backs to the primitive origins of most religions, phallic worship, its evidences still revealed in modern churches. It was the veneration of the creative power represented by Linga and Yoni.

Two of the witches I interviewed performed the Black Mass. But they did it out of contempt for Catholicism and all its rituals and not out of any sense of evil, and they certainly didn't believe in any of the superstitions connected with Middle Age witches, e.g. intercourse with the devil, kissing his backside, flying on brooms or sacrificing innocent for the sake of satanic power.

They consider black witches such as Catherine de Medici, who was responsible for the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and who employed an apostate priest who was a black magician to help her in her sorcery, as someone who was criminally insane. Her use of wax images of people she hated to torture them was in the realm of witchcraft. But when she had an innocent young child dressed in white prepared to receive the Holy Communion, and then had her sorcerer chop off his head, this was murder. The bleeding head was placed on a black host and both placed on an altar with burning lights. Her sorcerer recited incantations and demanded that the devil speak through the lips of the severed head. It has been recorded that they did hear a strange voice but not what was said. Anyway this ritual was performed to save the dying king of France, Charles IX. He died anyway.

The son of Catherine de Medici, Henri de Valois, continued the practice of black magic and the Black Mass in the turrets of his castle in the Bois de Vincennes. After he died a whole collection of Black Mass and black magic items were discovered. There were two silver satyrs turning their backs on the cross and with large crystal bowls behind them. These were used for potions, drugs, libations. There was also the dressed skin of a child, black candles, and other weird objects used for sorcery.


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