In the 15th Century, the ironically named Pope Innocent VIII upgraded the ill-defined sin of witchcraft to the level of a major heresy and ordered the Holy Inquisition to root it out and quash it. Up until then the Inquisition primary brief was to destroy pagan beliefs, Judaism, and Islam within the realms of Christian Kings.
As always with a growing organization, the jumped into with enthusiastic zeal and to aid new Inquisitors To this end they wrote the Malleus Maleficarium (Latin for “Hammer of the Witches) as a handy guidebook for future witch hunters. After perusing the book again and from a long list of oddities and bizarre stories, one item sticks out to me. And here it is below:
“We have already shown that they can take away the male organ not indeed by actually despoiling the human body of it, but by concealing it with some glamour [i.e., magic]. And of the this we shall instance a few examples.
“In the town of Ratisbon a certain young man who had an intrigue with a girl, wishing to leave her, lost his member; that is to say, some glamour was cast over it so that he could see or touch nothing but his smooth body. In his worry over this he went to a tavern to drink wine; and after he had sat there for a while he got into a conversation with another woman who was there, and told her the cause of his sadness, explaining everything, and demonstrating in his body that it was so. The woman was astute, and asked whether he suspected anyone; and when he named such a one, unfolding the whole matter, she said:
“ ‘If persuasion is not enough you must use some violence, to induce her to restore your health.’
“So in the even the young man watched the way by which the witch was in the habit of going, and finding her there, prayed her to restore him the health of his body. And when she maintained that she was innocent and knew nothing about it, he fell upon her and winding a towel tightly round her neck, choking her, saying,
“ ‘Unless you give me back my health, you shall die at my hands.’
“Then she, unable to cry out, and with her face already swelling and growing black, said, ‘Let me go, and I will heal you.’
“The young man then relaxed the pressure of the towel, and the witch touched him with her hand between the thighs, saying, “Now you have what you desire.’
“And the young man plainly felt that his member had been restored to him by the mere touch of the witch….
“And what then is to be thought of those witches who sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird’s nest or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn, as had been seen by many is a matter of common report? It is to be said that it all is done by the devil’s wok and illusion, for the senses of those who see them are deluded. For a certain man tells that, when he had lost his member, he approached a known witch to ask her to restore it. She told the afflicted man to climbed certain tree, and that he might select the member he liked out of a nest in which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said,
“ ‘You must not take that one because it belongs to a parish priest.’”