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Between the Devil and the HostImagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland$
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Michael Ostling

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587902

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587902.001.0001

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Demon Lovers

Demon Lovers

(p.209) 10 Demon Lovers
Between the Devil and the Host

Michael Ostling

Oxford University Press

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

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