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Thinking with DemonsThe Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe$
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Stuart Clark

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208082

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208082.001.0001

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Festivals and Sabbats

Festivals and Sabbats

(p.11) 2 Festivals and Sabbats
Thinking with Demons

Stuart Clark

Oxford University Press

In a drawing made in 1514 by the Swabian artist Hans Baldung Grien three female witches engage in a wild revel. Because there is nothing in the scene but their naked bodies, our reading of it must depend on how we interpret the gestures they make; there is just no other significant symbolism to be had. As with most visual images of witchcraft, several interpretations are possible. However, it is argued that the theme of the drawing was the power to represent, as well as the ability to understand, one thing as the inverse of another. Witchcraft beliefs, because they too were dependent on the inversionary principle, exhibited both sides of that principle's contradictory nature.

Keywords:   nudity, Hans Baldung Grien, witches, drawing, inversionary principle

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