Pacts with the Devil
Throughout history there have been documentations of individuals
making agreements with the Devil. An agreement
said to have been entered into between Louis Gaufridi and the
Devil follows
‘‘I, Louis, a priest, renounce each and every one of the spiritual
and corporal gifts which may accrue to me from God, from
the Virgin, and from all the saints, and especially from my patron
John the Baptist, and the apostles Peter and Paul and St.
Francis. And to you, Lucifer, now before me, I give myself and
all the good I may accomplish, except the returns from the sacrament
in the cases where I may administer it; all of which I
sign and attest.’’
On his side, Lucifer made the following agreement with
Louis Gaufridi ‘‘I, Lucifer, bind myself to give you, Louis Gaufridi,
priest, the faculty and power of bewitching by blowing
with the mouth, all and any of the women and girls you may desire;
in proof of which I sign myself Lucifer.’’
Accounts of pacts with the devil emerged after Satan became
an important figure in Christian theology and an image of the
devil began to spread abroad in popular preaching. It was
given a biblical basis from a reading of Isaiah 2815, ‘‘We have
entered into a league with death; we have made a covenant with
hell.’’ Thus Origen (185–254 C.E.) and, more important, St. Augustine
(354–430 C.E.) could speak of a pact with demons.
The earliest Christian legend involving a pact with the devil
is a story concerning St. Basil (ca. 329–379 C.E.). The most important
was that of Theophilus, bursar of the church of Adam
in Northern Cilicia (ca. 538 C.E.). After his bishop withdrew his
employment, Theophilius sold his soul to the devil to recover
the position. This story, translated into Latin in the eighth century
by Paul the deacon, became a popular tale and was used
as the basis of the drama Le Miracle de Théophile, by Ruteboeuf
of Arras.
It was not until the medieval period however, that numerous
accounts of pacts with the devil appear in literature. From the
sixteenth century, the pact included homage and reverence to
the devil and was thus considered a form of apostasy and heresy,
crimes pursued by the Inquisition.
The first extended description of a pact with the devil seems
to have been published in 1435 by Johannes Nider in his book
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Formicarius. Then in 1486 the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches’
Hammer)—the main text used by the Inquisition and Protestant
witch-hunters over the next centuries—tied the worship
of Satan to witchcraft. Witches were branded as evil for, among
other reasons, having made a pact with the devil and then having
intercourse with him. The publication of The Witches’ Hammer
launched the great era of witch-hunts that culminated in
the incidents at Salem Village, Massachusetts, three centuries
later. Overwhelmingly, accounts of pacts with the devil are tied
to witchcraft persecution.
In 1587 the first book appeared recounting the story of Johannes
Faust, the legendary magician who made the most famous
pact with a devil figure, the demon Mephistopheles. In
exchange for his soul, Mephistopheles agreed to serve Faust for
24 years. He was granted every wish for that period, only to be
killed by the demon when the 24 years ended. Faust has inspired
a number of literary reflections upon the individual’s relationship
with evil.
Signs of the Devil’s Presence
F. Pierre Crespet described the mark with which Satan
brands his own
‘‘It may be assumed that it is no fallacy but very evident that
Satan’s mark on sorcerers is like leprosy, for the spot is insensitive
to all punctures, and it is in the possession of such marks
that one recognizes them as true sorcerers for they feel the
puncture no more than if they were leprous, nor does any
blood appear, and never indeed, does any pain that may be inflicted
cause them to move the part.
‘‘They receive, with this badge, the power of injuring and of
pleasing, and, secretly or openly, their children are made to
participate in the oath and connection which the fathers have
taken with the devil. Even the mothers with this in view, dedicate
and consecrate their children to the demons, not only as
soon as born but even when conceived, and so it happens that,
through the ministrations of these demons, sorcerers have
been seen with two pupils in each eye, while others had the picture
of a horse in one eye and two pupils in the other, and such
serve as marks and badges of contracts made with them, for
these demons can engrave and render in effigy such or similar
lines and features on the bodies of the very young embryo.’’
Jacques Fontaine writes,
‘‘These marks are not engraved on the bodies of sorcerers
by the demons for recognition purposes only, as the captains
of companies of light-horse know those of their number by the
colour of their coats, but to imitate the creator of all things, to
show his power and the authority he has gained over those miserable
beings who have allowed themselves to be caught by his
cunning and trickery, and by the recognition of these marks of
their master to keep them in his power. Further, to prevent
them, as far as possible, from withdrawing from their promises
and oaths of fidelity, because though breaking faith with him
the marks still remain with them and serve, in an accusation,
as a means of betraying them, with even the smallest amount
of evidence that may be brought forward.
‘‘Louis Gaufridi, a prisoner, who had just been condemned
to be burnt . . . was marked in more than thirty places over the
body and on the loins especially there was a mark of lust so
large and deep, considering the site, that a needle could be inserted
for the width of three fingers across it without any feeling
being shown by the puncture.’’
The same author claimed that the marks on sorcerers were
areas that had mortified from the touch of the devil’s finger.
‘‘About 1591, Leonarde Chastenet, an old woman of eighty,
was taken up as a sorceress while begging in Poitou. Brought
before Mathurin Bonnevault, who deponed to having seen her
at the meeting of witches, she confessed that she had been
there with her husband, and that the devil, a very disgusting
beast, was there in the form of a goat. She denied that she
would have carried out any witchcraft, but nineteen witnesses
testified to her having caused the death of five labourers and
a number of animals.
‘‘Finding her crimes discovered and herself condemned she
confessed that she had made a compact with the devil, given
him some of her hair, and promised to do all the harm she
could. She added that at night in prison the devil had appeared
to her, in the form of a cat, to which she expressed the wish to
die, whereupon the devil presented her with two pieces of wax
telling her to eat them and she would die, but she had been unwilling
to do it. She had the pieces of wax with her, but on examination
their composition could not be made out. She was
then condemned and the pieces of wax burnt with her.’’
An Exorcism
According to French Catholic Bible scholar Dom Augustin
Calmet at the Jesuit Chapel of St. Ignatius in Molsheim, a wellknown
inscription gave the history of a young German nobleman
named Michel Louis, of the family of Boubenhoren. He
was sent as a youth to the court of the duke of Lorraine to learn
French, and there lost all his money at cards. Reduced to despair,
he decided to give himself to the devil if that spirit would
give him good money, for he was afraid that the devil would be
able to supply him only with counterfeit.
While Louis was thinking this over, a young man his own
age, well built and well clothed, suddenly appeared before him.
Asking him the cause of his distress, the young man put out a
handful of money and invited him to prove its worth, telling
Louis to look him up again the next day. Louis returned to his
companions, who were still playing, won back all he had lost,
and won all his companions’ money as well.
Then he called on his Devil who asked in return three drops
of blood, which he collected in an acorn shell. Offering a pen
to Louis, the devil told him to write his dictation. This consisted
of unknown words, written on two different contracts, one of
which the Devil retained. The other was put into Louis’s arm,
in the place from which the blood had been taken. The Devil
then said, ‘‘I undertake to serve you for seven years, after which
you belong to me without reserve.’’
The young man agreed, though with some dread, and the
Devil appeared to him day and night in various forms, inspiring
him to various strange deeds, always with a tendency to evil.
The fatal period of seven years began drawing to an end
when Louis was about 20 years old. He went home, where the
Devil inspired him to poison his father and mother, burn the
castle, and kill himself. He tried to carry out all these crimes,
but God prevented their success—the poison failed to act on his
parents, and the gun with which he would have killed himself
misfired twice.
Becoming more and more uneasy, he revealed his plight to
some of his father’s servants and begged them to get help. The
Devil seized him, twisting his body around and stopping very
short of breaking his bones. His mother was forced to put him
in the care of monks. He soon left them and escaped to Islade,
but was sent back to Molsheim by his brother, canon of Wissbourg,
who again put him into the hands of the monks.
It was then that the demon made the most violent efforts
against Louis, appearing to him in the form of wild animals. In
one attempt the demon, in the form of a wild man covered with
hair, threw on the ground a contract different from the original,
trying by this false show to get Louis out of the hands of
those who were looking after him and to prevent his making a
full confession.
Finally, October 20, 1603, was set aside for proof in the
Chapel of St. Ignatius, and for reproduction of the true contract
containing the deal made with the demon. The young
man made profession of the orthodox Catholic faith, renounced
the demon, and received the Holy Eucharist. Then
with terrible cries he said that he saw two goats of immense size
standing with their forefeet in the air, each holding between its
hoofs one of the contracts.
Pacts with the Devil Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
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But when the exorcism began and the name of St. Ignatius
was invoked, the two goats disappeared and there issued from
the arm or left hand of the young man—practically without
pain and leaving no scar—a contract, which fell at the feet of
the exorcist. There remained the contract that had been retained
by the demon. The exorcisms began once more. St. Ignatius
was invoked and a mass was promised in his honor. A
stork appeared—large, deformed, and ill-shapen—and
dropped from its beak the second contract, which was found on
the altar.
Of Magic and Medicine
There is frequent mention among ancient writers of certain
demons that showed themselves, especially at midday, to those
with whom they were on familiar terms. They visited such persons
in the form of men or animals or allowed themselves to be
enclosed in a letter, account, or vial, or even in a ring, wide and
hollow within. ‘‘Magicians are known,’’ states Pierre Le Loyer,
‘‘who make use of them [demons], and to my great regret I am
forced to admit that the practice is only too common.’’
Housdorf in his Théâtre des exemples du 8e commandement,
quoted by Simon Goulart, states,
‘‘A doctor of medicine forgot himself so far as to form an alliance
with the enemy of our salvation whom he called up and
enclosed in a glass from which the seducer and familiar spirit
answered him. The doctor was fortunate in the cure of ailments,
and amassed great wealth in his practice, so much so
that he left his children the sum of 78,000 francs. Shortly before
his death, when his conscience began to prick him, he fell
into such a frenzy that he never spoke but to invoke the devil
or blaspheme the Holy Ghost and it was in this unfortunate
condition that he passed away.’’
A Priest’s Pact
In the celebrated case of Urbain Grandier and the Nuns of
Loudon, the diabolical pact between Grandier and the devils
was produced as evidence in his trial in 1634. It survives today
in the Bibliothèque Nationale in France. This extraordinary
document is handwritten in looking-glass letters in Latin (presumably
devils did everything in reverse) and bears the signatures
(also reversed) of Satanas Beelzebub, Elimi Leviathan,
and Astaroth. Urbain Grandier’s pact, in his own handwriting
and signed, states his allegiance to Lucifer and his renunciation
of the Christian faith. In return, the pact promises Grandier
the love of women, wealth, and worldly honor. There are, of
course, doubts as to the authenticity of this document, which
the prosecution at Grandier’s trial claimed had been stolen by
the demon Asmodeus from Lucifer’s private files.
Charges of a pact with the devil were also entered in the trials
of Jeanne D’Arc and Gilles de Laval.
Modern Satanism
With the revival of occultism in the nineteenth century and
the emergence of Satanism in France, a new set of modern accounts
of pacts with the devil began to appear. Such pacts were
discussed at length by Paul Christian in his monumental History
and Practice of Magic (1870). Montague Summers, for example,
describes an incident reported in 1929 by Maurice Garcon,
who claimed to have watched a sorcerer invoke Satan in a secluded
location near Fontainebleau. At the peak of the midnight
ceremony, the sorcerer offered the devil a pact written in
his own blood. He offered his soul and another soul to the devil
for every wish he was granted in life. However, the devil did not
appear.
Gracon said he believed that the devil refused to become visible
because he (Gracon) was spying upon the sorcerer.
Sources
Christian, Paul. The History and Practice of Magic. N.p., 1870.
Revised edition, New York Citadel Press, 1969.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology.
New York Crown Publishers, 1959.
Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca,
N.Y. Cornell University Press, 1972.
Summers, Montague. A Popular History of Witchcraft. New
York Causeway Books, 1973