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"All of them witches!" 18 brooms from a home in Claremont, New Hampshire. Collected and interpreted by Roman Castavet. Photo: Aaron Almanza.

18 Brooms From an Old House in Claremont, New Hampshire. Wood broomsticks with various amounts of natural and synthetic fibers. Most are very dirty. Exhibition in 2008 included descriptive matter pertaining to both brooms and "flying ointment".

These brooms were discovered during the renovation of a nineteenth-century house in Claremont, New Hampshire. —Gift of the Bryant-Merrill Amalgam.

These artifacts are a familiar friend in most households, where they serve as one of the primary tools of the household economy, as well as symbols of fe/male energy.

Numerological Analysis

18 brooms. 1 + 8 = 9. 9 = 3 x 3. 3 = the triune concept familiar not only to Christians but also to pagans worshipping a feminine or a masculine/feminine divinity: 3=maid/mother/crone, a statement of the life principles of virginity, production, and rest; or expectation, fulfillment, and achievement.

Flying Ointment

Common procedures included donning magic items obtained from the Devil, such as a belt or wolf pelt, or the application of magic ointments or salves. Henri Boguet (Discours des Sorciers, Lyon, 1590), argued that these salves were used to deaden the senses and induce sleep, allowing the Devil to commit those acts "which the witch has in mind to do, giving himself the appearance of a wolf". Upon completion of these diabolic activities, Satan "so confuses the witch's imagination that he believes he has really been a wolf and has run about and killed men and beasts". This also allowed Satan to afflict on the body of the witch any sympathetic wounds sustained whilst in wolf form. Boguet, however, did not excuse the witch from responsibility for these demonic acts, since "even if they were guilty in nothing but their damnable intention" those who harbor such intentions have "first renounced God and Heaven". Nicholas Remy, who agreed with Boguet, argued that although the lycanthropic acts were carried out by demons, criminal prosecution was justified on the grounds of moral violation; that witches and werewolves are "so notoriously befouled and polluted by so many blasphemies, sorceries, prodigious lusts and flagrant crimes" that they are "justly to be subjected to every torture and put to death in the flames" (Demonolatry 118).

Alternatively, Jean Bodin maintained (De la Demonomanie des Sorciers. Paris, 1580) that actual transformation was "an absolutely certain, true and undoubted thing", since so many respectable witnesses, historians, classical thinkers, doctors and philosophers firmly believed its reality; whereas Johann Weyer's De Praestigiis Daemonum (Basle, 1563) was attacked by Bodin for arguing that lycanthropy was the result of the demonic exacerbation of mental illness. Other Continental demonologists relied on illusions and glamor alone (Lancre), illusions and demonic substitutions (Guazzo), or demonic exacerbation of hallucinogenic unguents (Nynauld) to account for lycanthropic transformations, whilst others relied upon variations of the models...

—W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the Russian People.