Puy de Dôme - Places: A witch’s Travel Guide

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Puy de Dôme
Places: A witch’s Travel Guide

Puy de Dôme is a mountain in the Auvergne region of French, near Clermont. For at least two thousand years the thermal waters of the spa town of Royat have been considered healing and beneficial. The area is filled with thermal springs, caves, and grottoes.

The Celts considered Puy de Dôme sacred to the solar deity Lugh. The Romans worshipped Mercury here, building him a temple at the summit of this 5,000-foot peak during the first century of the Common Era. By medieval times the mountain was famous as the setting for witches’ sabbats.

Information about sabbats comes primarily from the confessions of a woman, Jeanne Boisdeau, tried as a witch in 1594 and subsequently burned at the stake. According to her confession, which, as with virtually all confessions of witchcraft, may be assumed to have been made under torture and so is questionable, witches journeyed from all over France, from as far away as Languedoc to rendezvous at Puy de Dôme on Midsummer’s Eve.

Witches mounted broomsticks and let the winds carry them to Puy de Dôme. Jeanne told her Inquisitors that witches worshipped Satan there in the form of a goat. Witches greeted him by kissing his posterior; the Devil said Mass using a radish as a sacrament. (Those familiar only with little round red radishes may be unaware of the phallic nature of many more rustic radishes.) The devil distributed charms to his devotees that served as amulets, providing safety from fire, animals, and assorted dangers. He allegedly breathed on witches to bestow oracular power on them.

During sabbats, allegedly during a Satanic Mass, a gigantic black hen appeared at La Cratère du Nid de la Poule (Crater of the Hen’s Nest) where it laid three black eggs before disappearing in flames. (This may be intended to recall the phoenix or to indicate Hellfire.)

The witches broke the eggs open: Satan’s instructions for the following year were found within. They then had a picnic of bread, wine, and cheese followed by dancing. Witches, demons, and the devil did a back-to-back circle dance going in a widdershins direction. The eldest person present held the goat’s tail while others held hands. (See ANIMALS: Chickens; DICTIONARY:Widdershins.)

It is unknown how much, if any, of Jeanne’s confession was true.