A woman, alone at night, pulls an ointment jar from a chest hidden beneath her bed. Opening the container, she scoops a handful of the foul-smelling goop—the witches’ ointment, lamiarum unguenta—into her palm. She turns to an ordinary broom in the shadows of the corner, the kind that her neighbors foolishly believe has no other use than that of sweeping—maybe killing a mouse or two. At present, this woman intends to do neither. Grasping the besom, she smears the long wooden handle with her witches’ ointment, destroying the freshly woven spiderwebs that now trail her fingertips. Straddling the oily broomstick, she is instantly lifted out the window into the ethers to join scores of other women who have similarly anointed implements, soaring alongside demons that fill out the aerial entourage.
As they glide over rooftops and clouds, dotting the moon in their wake, all are careful not to mention the name of God or Christ lest they plunge to their deaths.… Read the rest