Jean Bodin

Jean Bodin, an Angevin by birth, was born in Prague, and studied law that lead to his publishing of the Republique, which has been said to be «the term of the law.» However, it was for his Demonomaie des Sorcies that he became famous as an occultist. In this work he defended sorcery, and with the allowance for numerour errors described the spectrum of back magic. With his work of Heptaplomeres he aroused much suspicion concerning his religious convictions. In this work he discussed in the form of a dialogue the theological opinions of Jews, Muslims, and other deists to the disadvantage of Christianity. Although dying in the Catholic faith, he also professed tenets of Protestantism, Judaism, sorcery, atheism, and deism.

The Demonomaie was published in Paris, in 1581, and again under the title of Fleau des demons et des sorciers at Wiort, in 1616. In the first and second books Bodin demonstrated that spirits with mankind, and traces the various characteristics and forms that distinguish good spirits from evil. He describes the methods of diabolic prophecy and communication, and those of evocation of evil existences of pacts with the Devil, of journeys through the air to sorcerers’ Sabbath, of infernal ecstasies, spells by which one may change himself into a werewolf (see Lycanthropy), and of carnal communion with incubi and succubi. The third book speaks of ways to prevent the work of sorcerers and obviating their charms and enchantments, and the fourth of the manner by which sorcerers may be known.

Bodin concluded his study by refuting John Wier, or Wierius, who, he asserts, was in error in believing sorcerers to be fools and people of unsound mind, and states that books of that author should be burnt «for the honor of God.» A.G.H.

Sources: 2, 32; 81, 73-74.