French Folklore and Myth

 

France was the hub of intellectualism in Europe for centuries. It was the equivalent of modern-day London or New York City. As a result, its history was well-documented and well-preserved.

  • Buguet- a French spirit photographer who came to London in 1874. His photographs were wildly successful, until he was arrested for deception. Even after his trouble, and confession to manipulating the images, many believed he had genuinely photographed spirits, and there was a conspiracy to suppress them.
  • The “Monster Cyclone” visited Paris in 945 A.D. It was said that monsters dropped from the sky and they all carried battle-axes. They rushed the church and destroyed the pulpit, then used the parts as battering rams on the neighboring houses. This was most likely a violent windstorm.
  • Aldabert- A pseudo-mystic of 8th Century France.
  • Francois Alary- French visionary who published The Prophecy of Count Bombaste in 1609.
  • Albertus Magnus- French alchemist, scientist, and prolific writer of the 13th Century. St. Thomas Aquinas was among his pupils, and legend said he successfully created the philosopher’s stone. His works were still being published in the 1600s.
  • Alis de Telleux- The spirit of Alis de Telieux, was mentioned in a book published in Paris, in 1528. Her spirit haunted a monastery. She was a worldly nun and eventfully left the church, but repented before her death. The book is believed to have been authored by Adrien de Montlambert. She became a benevolent spirit of the St. Pierre de Lyon monastery.
  • The Little Red Man of the Tuileries predicted national disaster. Even Napoleon was warned by spirit in red apparel. It has not appeared since the Tuileries was demolished by revolutionaries in the 1880s.
  • A white phantom skiff appears to warn spectators of approaching epidemics or pandemics.
  • A troop of soldieries took shelter in an abandoned house in the 1700s. The second night, they were trampled by a giant phantom dog. Seven died.
  • Almanach du Diable– Peculiar almanac that featured strange predictions for 1737 and 1738. Legend said it was published in the “infernal regions.” Authorship as ultimately ascribed to a Dijon ironmonger named Quesnel. It was believed to be an attempt by the Jesuits to defame the Jansenists.
  • Almanach de Dieu– An almanac written in response to the du Diable, and legend said it was authored in heaven. The work was against the Jesuits.
  • Jean d’Anais- a lawyer from 1400s France, sometimes also known as Agnany. He wrote four books on demons, witchcraft, and magic. None achieved any note.
  • Arnoux- Author of a book titled On the Wonders of the Other World, published at Rouen, in 1630.
  • Jean Francois Baltus- A Jesuit scholar who published Reply to the History of the Oracles of Fontenelle, published in 1709.
  • Bataille- The author of Le Diable au XIX. He also published under the pseudonym of Dr. Hecks, and proclaimed to have witnessed secret rites and orgies of may infernal societies.
  • Ansuperomin- A sorcerer who existed around 1200 AD. According to Pierre Delamere, councilor for Henry IV, many witnessed him attending the Witches’ Sabbath. He was mounted on a goat-shaped demon and frequently played the flute for the dance.
  • Babau- A ogre that lived in central France. While a French name, some scholars believed it had a Celtic origin.
  • It was believed in Middle Age France that you could raise the devil by taking a black rooster to a place where four crossroads meet. Hold the rooster under your left arm and say, “Robert,” nine times. The devil would appear, take the chicken, and give you a handful of coins.
  • Albert Belin- a Benedictine author. Belin was born in Besancon around 1610. He wrote dissertations on astral figures and talismans. His works were published in Paris, in 1671 and 1709.
  • Poppet- a wax or clay figure used in black magic (vaudaux). This was the fetish that would eventually become a “voodoo doll.”
  • Pierre Aupetit- an apostate priest of Fossas, in Limousine. He was burned for celebrating the Devil’s mass.
  • Bourru- a phantom monk who walked the streets of Paris. The origins of the specter are unknown. He became a boogeyman that targeted unruly children.
  • Pierre Burgot- a werewolf, who was burned at the stake in Besançon, in 1521.
  • Michel Verdun- a werewolf, who was burned at the stake in Besançon, in 1521.
  • Jacques Cazotte- a French romance author, who was also believed to have written the Prophetie de Cazotte. Cazotte did not support the revolutionaries in 1792. As a result, like so many, his daughter was killed by the one month before he met the guillotine.

 

Anjou

  • Jean Bodin- author of numerous works. His most known work was Demonomanic des Sorciers, published in Paris, in 1581. He died of the plague in 1596.

 

Breton

  • Ancient Bretons wore glass rings to ward off evil.

 

Brittany

  • “John and his fire,” is the name of a figure, who walks at night. He has a candle for each finger, and twirls them quickly.
  • Divination was often done via needles. Twenty-five needles were placed on a plate, and water was poured over them. The number of needles that crossed indicated how many enemies you had.
  • Bees are sensitive to the fortunes or hardships of their masters. The keeper must adhere to certain natural regulations to be a successful apiarist. If there is a death in the keeper’s family, a piece of black cloth should be tied to the hive. If there is a celebration, a red cloth should be tied.
  • Bisclaveret- a werewolf. A human, transformed by magic, becomes a cannibalistic beast who creeps through the woods in search of their next victim.
  • Broceliande- a magical forest used by Merlin, of Arthurian legend. This forest was said to be where Merlin was enchanted by Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, and imprisoned under a stone slab.
  • Cacoux- once a caste of rope craftsmen. They were once treated as pariahs because the ropes they made were used by hangmen and slave owners. They were often prohibited from entering churches. They were considered sorcerers, and often tried to profit from that public bias through selling charms and amulets. They could buy and sell winds and storms. They were believed to be of Jewish origin. Some nobles wished them to wear a piece of red cloth on their clothing, so everyone would know what they were.

 

Burgundy

  • Henri Boguet- Grand Justice of the Saint Claude district. He died in 1619. He wrote a work against sorcerers, Discours des Sorciers. It was a brutal interrogation guide, and was later burned because of its cruelties, absurdities, and graphic scenes, which the author claimed to have presided.

 

Gascony

  • Jeannette Abadle- Confessed to witchcraft. She stated she was asleep in her father’s house one day when a demon carried her off to the Devil’s Sabbath. She saw the principal demon had two heads, like the mythical Janus. She refused to participate and was returned home. She renounced sorcery and was released.

 

Gaul

  • Bensozia- a cult from the 1100s and 1200s. Their meetings were in France. They were held to worship Diana of the ancient Gauls. She was also called “The Moon,” “Nocticula,” and “Herodias.” One account was found in the Couserans’ church manuscripts of woman from the 1300s, who said they attended such meetings. Attendees inscribed their names in the Sabbatic catalogue, and afterward were fairies. An ancient temple was found in Poitou during the 1700s, believed to be used by the Bensozia.

 

Hendaye

  • Marie d’Aspillette- Witch of Hendaye (known as “Andaye” during her time), who lived during the 1300s. She was arrested at 19. She confessed she had went to the Witches’ Sabbath and performed many unholy acts.
  • Marie Baleoin- Sorceress from the 1300s. She admitted to attending the Witches’ Sabbath and eating parts of a child. She was condemned to be burned.
  • Jeanne Belloc- A sorceress in the 1600s. She was indicted for sorcery at the age of 84. Her inquisitor was infamous Pierre Delancre. She said she began attending “meetings of Satan,” in 1609. She was presented to the devil, who kissed her. She received his mark. She stated the Sabbath was a form of bal masque, attended by some in human form, and others in animal form.
  • Jeanette Biscar- a sorceress who was taken to the Sabbath by the devil. He appeared as a goat. Her reward was flying.

 

Laon

  • Baltazo- One of the demons who possessed Nicole Aubry in 1566, in Laon. He claimed he wanted to free her from possession. He dined with her husband, but refused to drink. Demons are averse to water. Her husband was intelligent, and refused to meet the demon’s demands. One of his advisors summoned Beelzebub, and learned if he’d agreed to Balatazo’s request, he would’ve lost his wife in body and soul.

 

Louvers

  • Ansitif- An obscure demon who allegedly occupied the body of Sister Barbara, at St. Michael, during the Louvers possession in 1643.

 

Loudun

  • Arphaxat- a demon who possessed the body of Louise de Pinterville, during the possession of the nuns of Loudun, in 1633. Strangely, this is also the name of a Persian sorcerer killed by a thunderbolt.

 

Maubec

  • Berande- a sorceress burned in 1577. Another lady accused her of sorcery and was heard. Berande denied it. The other lady asked her if she could remember their last Sabbath, where she carried a pot of poison. Berande conceded. Both women were burned.

 

Normandy

  • The Lutin is much like England’s Robin Goodfellow. Lutin can assume many shapes. His pranks, however, were much more serious than those of Goodfellow.

 

Pitou

 

  • Melusina- the most famous “fay” in France. She was cursed to become a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. She made her husband, Count Raymond of Lusignan, avoid her every Saturday. One Saturday, the count hid to see what his wife did. Upon watching her transformation, he was revolted and abandoned her. She is now cursed to wander in that form for the rest of time. Another version of the story was told in Sir Walter Scott’s The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. In Scott’s version, Melusina married Count Guy de Lusignan, of Poitou, with the sole condition that he respect her privacy. They lived together many years and had many children. They built a tremendous castle and lived happily. Then, the count decided to see what she did during her private time. Sadly, he made the situation worse. She discovered her voyeur and turned into a dragon and flew away. She was the spirit of the Castle of Lusignan before it’s demolition in the 1800s. It was turned into a park.
  • Champagnat- his real name was Berthome du Lignon. He was a sorcerer who came to trial in Montmorillion, in 1599. He stated his father had taken him to Sabbath’s during his youth. He promised the devil his soul and his body. He carried his mark, and the devil had just visited him the previous night in prison. He claimed to’ve slain numerous people and animals with the magical powders the devil gave to him.
  • Pierre Bonnevault- a sorcerer who lived during the 1600s. He was arrested on his way to the Devil’s Sabbath. He confessed his parents had taken him to the Sabbath as a child, and dedicated him to the Devil. He claimed he agreed to give his bones to the devil, but not his soul. That he had performed many magical feats and slain many people with the devil’s help. He was condemned to death.
  • Jean Bonnevault- brother to Pierre, he was accused at the same time as Pierre. He prayed for infernal assistance, and history claims he levitated four to five feet from the ground. He then dropped, and his skin turned a bluish black. He discussed going to the Sabbath, and utilizing the various magical powders given to him to kill people. He was condemned to death.
  • Maturin de Bonnevault- father of Pierre and Jean. He was accused of sorcery and visited by experts who found a rose-like mark on his right shoulder. When the mark was pricked, he exhibited agony. Examiners believed this to be a devil’s mark. He claimed he had espoused Berthomè de la Bedouche, who was introduced to sorcery by her parents. He claimed they all scavenged the countryside for snakes and toads for their rituals. He claimed the Sabbath was held at four times in the year. He said he had killed seven people, and had been a sorcerer since seven years of age. He was condemned to death.

 

 

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