Season of the Witch

With Halloween approaching, I went searching for the spookiest book I could find in the DeGolyer stacks.  We’ve got items on vampires, ghosts, and creatures that go bump in the night, and one work that claims to offer “full and plain evidence concerning witches.”

Printed in 1681, Saducismus triumphatus, or, full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions: in two parts. The first treating of their possibility, the second of their real existence (BF1581.A2) was written by Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680) and published after his death by Henry More (1614-1687).

Saducismus triumphatus title page

Our copy features two striking woodcut illustrations.  The first is a frontispiece featuring the Witch of Endor, described in the Hebrew Bible is a woman who aids Saul in summoning the spirit of the prophet Samuel.

The Frontispiece

The second image features six separate scenes, including the devil and demons, angels, and levitation.

Woodcut illustrations

The book makes an argument for the existence of witches, ghosts, and the supernatural.  It begins by interpreting biblical stories as evidence of witches, then shares numerous contemporary accounts of the supernatural. The stories are mostly tales of interactions between individuals in English communities and ghosts, such as the story of “a Dutch man that could see ghosts, and of the ghost he saw in the town of Woodbridge in Suffolk” or “the appearing of the ghost of one Mr. Bower of Guildford, to a highway-man in prison, as it is set down in a letter of Dr. Ezekias Burton to a Dr. H. More.”

Additional stories include cases of witchcraft and the ‘confessions’ of convicted witches, such as “the witchcraft of Elizabeth Styles of Bayford, widow” who after being arrested and imprisoned for witchcraft, described how “the Devil about ten years since appeared to her in the shape of a handsome man, and after of a black dog. That he promised her money, and that she should live gallantly, and have the pleasure of the world for twelve years, if she would with her blood sign his paper, which was to give her soul to him, and observe his laws, and that he might suck her blood.”

Happy Halloween!


Contact Christina Jensen to view Saducismus triumphatus and other books at the DeGolyer.