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Demonology and Witchcraft - "Less we forget"

Hermann Loher

Written and compiled by George Knowles

A Rheinbach cloth merchant “Hermann Löher” delivered a unique testimony to the early modern “Witch Hunts” in the Rhineland, in his 1676 book “Wemütige Klage der pious unsuccessful”.  As a court clerk, he was initially involved in the Rheinbach Witch Hunts in the surrounding area until he himself came under suspicion of witchcraft and had to flee.  In his portrayal, he not only gives insights into persecution mechanisms, but also into the tensions that prevailed among the persecutors.  These descriptions are unique in that they do not try to gloss-over anything, but reveal the psychological pressure and unscrupulous attitude of persecution advocates.

Hermann Löher was born in 1595 in Münstereifel (today Bad Münstereifel) as the eldest child of cloth merchant Gerhard Löher.  Since 1601 the family lived in Rheinbach.  After the death of his father from 1625 Hermann led the business with wool and linen towels alone.  In 1631 he was admitted to the seven-member panel of the Schöffen at the High Court.  Only a few families were deemed eligible for the Schöffenamt reserve, and they formed the upper class of Rheinbach’s ruling elite.

Despite the Thirty Years’ War, the Rheinbachers had until then lived a peaceful life.  Even the witch-hunt, which demanded ever more victims in the Rhineland from 1626, had never touched the city before.  But this was now different, because in early May 1631 the first witch trial in Rheinbach against a maid service opened.  Rheinbach’s mayor Heinrich Degenhardt Schall von Bell appointed the notorious Bonn lawyer “Dr. Franz Buirmann” as the so-called “witch commissar” opening a floodgate of witchcraft persecutions.  These were trained lawyers from the Kurkölnische high courts, which should be consulted by the judicial courts as legal advisors in Witchcraft trials. 

The second victim of the trials was a poor old woman named Grete Hardt. But the third process victim was the 60-year-old cloth trader Christina Böffgens, widow of the former mayor of Rheinbach Pieter Böffgens.  Franz Buirmann continued to torture her despite her steadfast innocent claims until she died of the torture.  Immediately, the witch commissar summoned the present aldermen and persuaded them that the devil himself had broken the “stubborn witch” so that she could not betray her accomplices.

Already the trial of Christina Böffgens had aroused Löher’s indignation, so it became clear to him in the fourth trial that allegations and suspicions against the suspect were controlled by Buirmann and his Rheinbach clients.  This fourth victim was Hilger Lirtz, a former mayor and alderman.  He was tortured for 24 hours until he collapsed and confessed everything his tormentors wanted to hear.  The juror Jan Bewel was psychologically broken by these events, because Lirtz was his father-in-law, and he had tried in vain to avert his arrest and torture.  Also other aldermen were now put under pressure by Buirmann.  He persuaded the jury to issue him a blank warrant and shortly thereafter arrested Anna Kemmerling, the wife of alderman Gotthart Peller.  Peller’s vociferous protests did not help.  His wife also had to die.

The lawsuits against Christina Böffgens, Hilger Lirtz and Anna Kemmerling show that the allegations were sustained by a group of Rheinbach citizens more interested in overthrowing the ruling families power of authority.  Löher portrays how the interrogations and tortures directed and intervened with so as to provide “confessions” to those who wanted to get rid of them.  Mercilessly, any resistance within the present group of aldermen were cleared out of the way.  As an example, the oldest lawyer Herbert Lapp himself was executed.  Lapp had dared to contradict another demand from Buirmann for a blanket authority.  That was the death sentence for him and his wife.  So it was only a matter of time until the pursuers were interested in the other “witch-friendly-patrons” among the aldermen.  In fact, the rumor soon surfaced that Löher’s wife was also a Witch.  With bribes Löher succeeded to buy backing from the bailiff, but it was only a temporary rescue.

From 1632 the Kurkölnische pursuit stopped.  But in various places the witch-hunts began again in 1636.  Now, the pursuers look for the remaining aldermen to strike at: Schöffe Gotthart Peller had already passed away, but Hermann Löher and Richard Gertzen were still in office.  Hermann Löher had realized the danger he was in when rumours about him surfaced again in the summer of 1636, he fled with his wife and younger children to Amsterdam on 03rd August 1636, where there was no extradition.  Richard Gertzen also relocated to Amsterdam.  Thus, five years after the beginning of the Witches’ fires in Rheinbach and the surrounding areas, one of the seven layoffs at the Rheinbach court had been executed, one mentally broken, one had died after the execution of his wife, and two had fled.

With his remaining cash, Löher managed to open a new business in his new home, but his previous economic success was denied him.  In 1662 his wife Kunigunde died.  Löher remarried a few years later to Catharina Henrix Geel, who was also a German.

The horrors of the witch-hunts never left Löher and at the age of 80, decided to put his experiences on paper together with examples from other areas, to form a flaming accusation against the witch trials.  It was not until 1677 that he finished it.  But nobody wanted the book.  When Löher died in on the 12th November 1678 none of 1,000 copies he had printed had been sold.  Of these only two originals have been preserved worldwide, one in Amsterdam and one in Bad Münstereifel.  The reason was probably the unfortunate situation he shared with his wife Catharina who had to watch as her husband squandered her common assets for a book that nobody cared about.  Her bitterness about it led to the entire edition being stamped as waste paper.  For us today, however, the book has enormous value.  Nowhere in the world is there such a detailed description of the atmosphere and conflicts in a Witches court.  In addition, the book has a timeless message. Löher asks again and again how is it possible that people begin to hate their neighbours and friends all at once and even hand them over to death.  And that is just as relevant today as in the 17th century.



Yet to be added

Written and compiled by George Knowles  © 12th November 2020 



Best wishes and Blessed Be




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Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /  Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /    


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:

(Our Ancestors)


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagorasParacelsus /  Abramelin the Mage Archimedes AgrippaSocrates  /  Aristotle 





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen DuncanHermann Löher /  Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /  Lambert Daneau /  Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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