Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Demonology and Witchcraft - “Less we forget”
Montague Summers (1880-1948)
Written and compiled by George Knowles
Montague Summers was not a witch, far from it, he was a Catholic Priest and devoutly against witchcraft, however one feels that his contribution to the literature of witchcraft deservedly earns him a mention in any roll call of witches. He was an eminent scholar and author who wrote extensively about the darker sides of witchcraft, demonology, vampirism and lycanthropy. He believed adamantly that witches were evil servants of the devil 'Satan' who throughout history deserved all the punishments they received.
Augustus Montague Summers was born in Clifton near Bristol, England on the 10th of April 1880. The youngest of seven children, his father Augustus William Summers was a prominent banker and justice of the peace. He was raised as an Anglican but later converted to Catholicism. Educated at Clifton College and Trinity College Oxford, he also studied at Litchfield Theological College and by the time he was 26 had earned both Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees.
His first post as a curate was at Bitton, near Bristol, but he was obliged to resign after being accused of interfering with the choirboys, although no charges were ever brought. Summers then entered the Roman Catholic Church and claimed to have been ordained a priest in 1909, at which time he added Alphonsus Joseph-Mary to his name. He was commonly known as the “Reverend Montague Summers”, but his standing and position within the Catholic Church was never really made clear and his name dose not appear on any clergy lists of Great Britain. Some reports have hinted that he had a special brief from high up in the Catholic hierarchy to write about and denounce witchcraft and the occult? From 1911 until 1926 he taught English, Latin and Drama at a number of schools devoted to academic studies on the darker side of witchcraft and demonology.
He was a strange and mysterious man, who when dressed in his clerical garb looked a distinguished and striking figure. He had long silvery hair and fine soft hands that sparkled with jeweled rings. Although he wasn’t tall in stature, he had a strong and powerful presence and people stood in awe of him. The author Dennis Wheatley in his book “Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts”, in his chapter on black magic states quite frankly that “Summers inspired him with fear”. Wheatley also used his physical appearance as a model for his sinister character Canon Copely-Syle in his black magic story “To the Devil-a Daughter”.
Through his researches into witchcraft and the occult, Summers naturally came into contact with some of the leading occultists of his day. This lead to a curious friendship with the notorious Aleister Crowley, as described by the author Charles Richard Cammell in his book “Aleister Crowley”. In it he reveals that Crowley and Summers not only knew each other but also shared a mutual admiration. At one time both Crowley and Summers lived in Richmond, Surrey, as did Mr. Cammell, who tells us that they used to meet in his flat and discuss their many interests in an atmosphere of friendship and wit. Strange indeed as they both advocated extreme opposite practices, although both had singularly brilliant minds in their knowledge of the occult.
Summers devoted more than 30 years to an intense academic study of witchcraft and demonology, subjects he felt many serious historians had neglected. As well as writing his own books on witchcraft, he studied and wrote a whole series of translations and editing’s on the subject. He reviewed the works of some of the pasts leading demonologists, men such as Jean Bodin, Nicholas Rémy and Francesco-Maria Guazzo. He also translated and edited into English other demonologists works, including the works of Henri Boguet, Reginald Scott, Richard Bovet and Ludovico Sinistrari.
His most famous piece of work was the English translation of the “Malleus Maleficarum”, written by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, first published in 1486. Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance and the entire time that witchcraft hysteria reigned, the “Malleus Maleficarum” was the most influential guide for the persecution, torture and execution of witches. Summers called it: “One of the most important, wisest and weightiest books in the world”. During its time it was second only to the Bible in sales, until John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” was published in 1678 and exceeded it.
A meticulous scholar and researcher, Summers disagreed with and ridiculed the theories of anthropologist Margaret A Murray, in that witchcraft was an organized religion in the Middle Ages. He is reported to have said: “That is a most ingenious suggestion, but a wholly untenable hypothesis”. In his own book “The History of Witchcraft and Demonology” (1926), he maintains that witchcraft, while not necessarily a product of the Middle Ages; did rise up at that time with sufficient force to threaten the very peace and salvation of mankind.
Summers sincerely believed that witches deserved all the punishments they received, he also believed that the confessions of many witches tortured and persecuted, were not the products of hysteria and hallucinations as many would advocate, but to be in the main "hideous and horrible fact”. He embraced every belief about the evils and vileness of witches, and in the introduction of his book “The History of Witchcraft and Demonology” he tells his readers:
“In the following pages I have endeavored to show the witch as she really was – an evil liver: a social pest and parasite: the devotee of a loathly and obscene creed: an adept at poisoning, blackmail, and other creeping crimes: a member of a powerful secret organization inimical to Church and State: a blasphemer in word and deed, swaying the villagers by terror and superstition: a charlatan and a quack sometimes: a bawd: an abortionist: the dark counselor of lewd court ladies and adulterous gallants: a minister to vice and inconceivable corruption, battening upon the filth and foulest passions of the age".
Aside from writing about witchcraft, Summers also had a great deal of knowledge and interest in theatre, and the dramatists of his day. In 1914, he founded the Shakespeare Head Press, which re-printed many plays of the seventeenth century, along with his own prefaces; and in 1919 he founded the Phoenix Society for the Production of Old Plays in which he supervised the production of eighteen plays, as well as of a complete cycle of William Congreve's works. On one occasion in 1921, he combined his two interests and directed a revival of the seventeenth century play “The Witch of Edmonton”. It was staged at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith with the great Sybil Thorndike playing the part of the witch.
As a devout Roman Catholic, Summers completely accepted the proposition that the devil 'Satan' was a real and fearfully dangerous entity, and that witches were his servitors. All his books about witchcraft, while brilliantly written and readable, reflect this viewpoint. Perhaps the most outstanding of his books are: “The History of Witchcraft and Demonology” (first published in 1926, reprinted by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1969, and again by Bristol Park Books (New York) in 2010), “The Geography of Witchcraft” (London, 1927), “A Popular History of Witchcraft” (Kegan Paul, London, 1937), and “Witchcraft and Black Magic” (Riders, London, 1946).
Summers also wrote with equal verve, colour and total belief about vampires and werewolves, a phenomenon that he regarded as being allied to witchcraft, or at least associated with the activities of witches. His books on vampires and werewolves are say some critics filled with unsubstantiated old wives tales, they include: “The Vampire. His Kith and Kin” (1928), “The Vampire in Europe” (1929) and “The Werewolf” (1933).
Montague Summers died suddenly at his home located in Dynevor Road, Richmond on the 10th of August 1948, he was 68 years old. That same year a new edition of his most notable work, the translation of the “Malleus Maleficarum” was re-issued. His contribution to the literature of witchcraft has been a most valuable one and while many today might decry his views, none can doubt the meticulous scholarship that he brought to bare on the subject. Later when Hector Stuart-Forbes, who had been a devoted student and secretary to Summers for many years, died two years later, he was buried in the same grave as his mentor. For many years Summers grave had been left unmarked; then on the 26th November 1988, a headstone was erected bearing the inscription: "Tell me strange things", which is what Summers invariably said on meeting new acquaintances.
Grave site of Montague Summers
The final resting place of Montague Summers and his devoted student Hector Stuart-Forbes, is located in the East Sheen and Richmond Cemeteries, Richmond, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England - Plot: Section 11, grave no. 10818
His own books - Malleus Maleficarum - By Jacobus Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer (A Translation) - The Geography of Witchcraft - The History of Witchcraft and Demonology - Witchcraft and Black Magic.
The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.
An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present - by Doreen Valiente.
Iain MacFarlaine at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8955270
have recently receive a correction via my 'Guest Book', which I am happy to
append here having verified it's veracity. My many thanks to whoever
posted it :-)
have recently receive a correction via my 'Guest Book', which I am happy to append here having verified it's veracity. My many thanks to whoever posted it :-)
First published on the 23rd June 2001 - Updated 10th August 2016 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
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Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /
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Rituals contributed by Crone:
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Tools of a Witch / The Besom (Broom) / Poppets and Dolls / Pendulums / Cauldron Magick / Mirror Gazing
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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
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Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
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Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
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Old Masters of Academia:
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A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor 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 Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean 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" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘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 Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir 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 Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna 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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