“Yet the same infallible scripture testifies, as Augustine points out, that angels have appeared in bodies of such kind that they could not only be seen but also touched. And there is, too, a widespread folk-belief in a phenomenon which many people have experienced themselves, or have heard reliably described by others with first-hand experience, whose word is trustworthy: these people claim to have seen Silvani and Panes which are the creatures that people call incubi; the French word for them is duses. I do not presume to make a definitive statement on this basis as to whether some spirits with bodies made from the element of air can arouse or experience lust, so that somehow or other they mate with women or undergo the like from men. But certainly, even this element is perceived by the bodily sensation of touch when a fan is set in motion. But here is something that we do know, from reputable sources: many men become the lovers of larvas of this kind, which they call fays and when they have transferred their affections with a view to marrying other women, they have died before they could enjoy carnal union with their new partners. And we have seen many men who had attained the summit of worldly happiness, but then, as soon as they renounced the embraces of fays of this kind, or spoke about them in public, they lost not only their worldly prosperity, but even the solace of a wretched life.” – Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia 3.86
“Also in the kingdom of Arles, in the province of Aix, they say that there is a crag on whose steep face, which is like a wall pierced with windows, two or more ladies appear to travelers when they are a long way away, conversing with each other, as they pretend, and clapping their hands at a shared joke. These women seem beautiful, charming and alluring to people at a distance, but when they come closer the vision utterly vanishes into illusion.” – Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia 3.43
“People sacrifice at trees, springs and stones as though at an altar and bring candles and a multitude of other offerings as if some divinity were to be found there who could benefit them or cause them mischief.” – Regino of Prüm, De synodalibus causis 2.5.43
“Many of the demons driven from heaven preside over the sea, rivers, springs or the woods; men who do not know god honor them and sacrifice to them as though they were gods.” – Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum 8
“What a thing is that, that when those trees to which people make vows fall, no one carries the wood from them home to use on the hearth! Behold the wretchedness and stupidity of mankind: they show honor to a dead tree and despise the commands of the living god; they do not dare to put the branches of a tree into the fire and by an act of sacrilege throw themselves headlong into hell.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 54.5
“Mark the days which come from Zeus, duly telling your slaves of them, and that the thirtieth day of the month is best for one to look over the work and to deal out supplies. For these are days which come from Zeus the all-wise, when men discern aright. To begin with, the first, the fourth, and the seventh — on which Leto bare Apollo with the blade of gold — each is a holy day. The eighth and the ninth, two days at least of the waxing month, are specially good for the works of man. Also the eleventh and twelfth are both excellent, alike for shearing sheep and for reaping the kindly fruits; but the twelfth is much better than the eleventh, for on it the airy-swinging spider spins its web in full day, and then the Wise One, gathers her pile. On that day woman should set up her loom and get forward with her work. Avoid the thirteenth of the waxing month for beginning to sow: yet it is the best day for setting plants. The sixth of the mid-month is very unfavourable for plants, but is good for the birth of males, though unfavourable for a girl either to be born at all or to be married. Nor is the first sixth a fit day for a girl to be born, but a kindly for gelding kids and sheep and for fencing in a sheep-cote. It is favourable for the birth of a boy, but such will be fond of sharp speech, lies, and cunning words, and stealthy converse. On the eighth of the month geld the boar and loud- bellowing bull, but hard-working mules on the twelfth. On the great twentieth, in full day, a wise man should be born. Such an one is very sound-witted. The tenth is favourable for a male to be born; but, for a girl, the fourth day of the mid-month. On that day tame sheep and shambling, horned oxen, and the sharp-fanged dog and hardy mules to the touch of the hand. But take care to avoid troubles which eat out the heart on the fourth of the beginning and ending of the month; it is a day very fraught with fate. On the fourth of the month bring home your bride, but choose the omens which are best for this business. Avoid fifth days: they are unkindly and terrible. On a fifth day, they say, the Erinyes assisted at the birth of Horcus whom Eris bare to trouble the forsworn. Look about you very carefully and throw out Demeter’s holy grain upon the well-rolled threshing floor on the seventh of the mid-month. Let the woodman cut beams for house building and plenty of ships’ timbers, such as are suitable for ships. On the fourth day begin to build narrow ships. The ninth of the mid-month improves towards evening; but the first ninth of all is quite harmless for men. It is a good day on which to beget or to be born both for a male and a female: it is never an wholly evil day. Again, few know that the twenty-seventh of the month is best for opening a wine-jar, and putting yokes on the necks of oxen and mules and swift-footed horses, and for hauling a swift ship of many thwarts down to the sparkling sea; few call it by its right name. On the fourth day open a jar. The fourth of the mid-month is a day holy above all. And again, few men know that the fourth day after the twentieth is best while it is morning: towards evening it is less good. These days are a great blessing to men on earth; but the rest are changeable, luckless, and bring nothing. Everyone praises a different day but few know their nature. Sometimes a day is a stepmother, sometimes a mother. That man is happy and lucky in them who knows all these things and does his work without offending the deathless gods, who discerns the omens of birds and avoids transgressions.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 765ff
“A man should not clean his body with water in which a woman has washed, for there is bitter mischief in that also for a time. When you come upon a burning sacrifice, do not make a mock of mysteries, for Heaven is angry at this also. Never make water in the mouths of rivers which flow to the sea, nor yet in springs; but be careful to avoid this. And do not ease yourself in them: it is not well to do this.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 752-758
“Never pour a libation of sparkling wine to Zeus after dawn with unwashen hands, nor to others of the deathless gods; else they do not hear your prayers but spit them back. Do not stand upright facing the sun when you make water, but remember to do this when he has set towards his rising. And do not make water as you go, whether on the road or off the road, and do not uncover yourself: the nights belong to the blessed gods. A scrupulous man who has a wise heart sits down or goes to the wall of an enclosed court. Do not expose yourself befouled by the fireside in your house, but avoid this. Do not beget children when you are come back from ill-omened burial, but after a festival of the gods. Never cross the sweet-flowing water of ever-rolling rivers afoot until you have prayed, gazing into the soft flood, and washed your hands in the clear, lovely water. Whoever crosses a river with hands unwashed of wickedness, the gods are angry with him and bring trouble upon him afterwards. At a cheerful festival of the gods do not cut the withered from the quick upon that which has five branches with bright steel [i.e. do not cut your fingernails]. Never put the ladle upon the mixing-bowl at a wine party, for malignant ill-luck is attached to that.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 724-745
“The mother of Galerius, a woman exceedingly superstitious, was a votary of the gods of the mountains. Being of such a character she made sacrifices almost every day, and she feasted her servants on the meat offered to idols.” – Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum 11
“If some one, forgetful of their fear of god, shall go to a soothsayer, male or female, for divination, or to receive answers from them, he shall pay half his price in the sacred palace, according as he is valued … and he shall also do penance according to the church canons. In the same way he who worships a tree which the rustics call holy and at springs, or performs sacrilege or incantation, shall pay a similar price. And if some one knows of a male or female soothsayer and does not denounce them or those who consult them, he shall pay the penalty. The same applies to those who send their servant or handmaid to consult the soothsayer.” – Liutprand 84.1.727
“Do not wash anything in the spring, or swim in the spring, or throw into the spring manure or anything else. Penalty: 2 sacred drachmas.” – LSCG 50
1. It is not permitted to dress up as a calf or a stag on the Kalends of January or to present diabolical gifts; on that day all favors shall be granted as on other days.
3. It is forbidden to make offerings or keep vigils on saints’ festivals in private houses, or to discharge vows among woods or at sacred trees or at springs, but, whoever has a vow, let him keep vigil in the church and fulfill his vow by giving to the servants of the church or the poor. Nor let anyone dare to make feet or images of men out of wood.
4. It is forbidden to turn to soothsayers or to augurs, or to those who pretend to know the future, or to look at what they call ‘the lots of the Saints’ or those they make out of wood or bread. But whatever a man wishes to do, let him do it in the name of god.
5. Forbid especially, in every way, these observances on the vigils which are kept in honor of Saint Martin.
8. It is forbidden to offer mellita, mulsa or any other mixture of wine and honey at the altar of the divine sacrifice. Any potion other than wine mixed with water is forbidden. Great sin and crime belong to the presbyter who dares offer any drink other than wine in the consecration of the blood of Christ.
– The Diocesan Council of Auxerre
“O my daughter, no longer will I bring you offerings with lamentation, now that I know that you have become a god. Praise Isidora with libations and prayers, the maiden who was snatched away by the nymphs. Hail, my child; Nymphe shall be your new name …” – I.Metr. 87
“The trees formed the first temples of the gods, and even at the present day, the country people, preserving in all their simplicity their ancient rites, consecrate the finest among their trees to some divinity; indeed, we feel ourselves inspired to adoration, not less by the sacred groves and their very stillness, than by the statues of the gods, resplendent as they are with gold and ivory.” – Pliny, Natural History 12.2.3
“In the archonship of Theophemos, the fellow ephebes Pythagoras, Sosikrates, and Lysandros dedicated this stele to Pan and the Nymphs. The god forbids to carry in either colored garments or dyed garments or …” – SEG 36.267
“Hereafter no one of whatever race or dignity, whether placed in office or discharged therefrom with honor, powerful by birth or humble in condition and fortune, shall in any place or in any city sacrifice an innocent victim to a senseless image, venerate with fire the household deity by a more private offering, as it were the genius of the house, or the Penates, and burn lights, place incense, or hang up garlands. If any one undertakes by way of sacrifice to slay a victim or to consult the smoking entrails, let him, as guilty of lese-majesty, receive the appropriate sentence, having been accused by a lawful indictment, even though he shall not have sought anything against the safety of the princes or concerning their welfare. It constitutes a crime of this nature to wish to repeal the laws, to spy into unlawful things, to reveal secrets, or to attempt things forbidden, to seek the end of another’s welfare, or to promise the hope of another’s ruin. If any one by placing incense venerates either images made by mortal labor, or those which are enduring, or if any one in ridiculous fashion forthwith venerates what he has represented, either by a tree encircled with garlands or an altar of cut turfs, though the advantage of such service is small, the injury to religion is complete, let him as guilty of sacrilege be punished by the loss of that house or possession in which he worshipped according to the heathen superstition. For all places which shall smoke with incense, if they shall be proved to belong to those who burn the incense, shall be confiscated. But if in temples or public sanctuaries or buildings and fields belonging to another, any one should venture this sort of sacrifice, if it shall appear that the acts were performed without the knowledge of the owner, let him be compelled to pay a fine of twenty-five pounds of gold, and let the same penalty apply to those who connive at this crime as well as those who sacrifice. We will, also, that this command be observed by judges, defensors, and curials of each and every city, to the effect that those things noted by them be reported to the court, and by them the acts charged may be punished. But if they believe anything is to be overlooked by favor or allowed to pass through negligence, they will lie under a judicial warning. And when they have been warned, if by any negligence they fail to punish they will be fined thirty pounds of gold, and the members of their court are to be subjected to a like punishment.” – Codex Theodosianus, 16.10.12
“If you have ever come on a dense wood of ancient trees that have risen to an exceptional height, shutting out all sight of the sky with one thick screen of branches upon another, the loftiness of the forest, the seclusion of the spot, your sense of wonderment at finding so deep and unbroken a gloom out of doors, will persuade you of the presence of a deity. Any cave in which the rocks have been eroded deep into the mountain resting on it, its hollowing out into a cavern of impressive extent not produced by the labours of men but the result of the processes of nature, will strike into your soul some kind of inkling of the divine. We venerate the source of important streams; places where a mighty river bursts suddenly from hiding are provided with altars; hot springs are objects of worship; the darkness or unfathomable depth of pools has made their waters sacred.” – Seneca, Epistle to Lucilius 41.5