Sunday 7 October 2007

The spectre Mævia

For those of you who may be wondering about that otherwise so elusive Magia Posthuma by Karl Ferdinand von Schertz that I now have at hand, here are just a couple of facts.

As those of you who are familiar with Calmet may remember, he relates that von Schertz (here in the English translation of Henry Christmas)

relates, that in a certain village, a woman being just dead, who had taken all her sacraments, she was buried in the usual way in the cemetery. Four days after her decease, the inhabitants of this village heard a great noise and extraordinary uproar, and saw a spectre, which appeared sometimes in the shape of a dog, sometimes in the form of a man, not to one person only, but to several, and caused them great pain, grasping their throats, and compressing their stomachs, so as to suffocate them. It bruised almost the whole body, and reduced them to extreme weakness, so that they became pale, lean and attenuated.

The spectre attacked even animals, and some cows were found debilitated and half-dead. Sometimes it tied them together by their tails. These animals gave sufficient evidence by their bellowing of the pain they suffered. The horses seemed overcome with fatigue, perspired profusely, principally on the back; were heated, out of breath, covered with foam, as after a long and rough journey. These calamities lasted several months.

Von Schertz actually mentions the name of this Spectrum: Mævia. Unfortunately, he does not identify the village (he only says: in Pago N., in the village N.), and neither does he date the events. Curiously, he writes that the spectre is seen as a cat (cattus), and not as a dog (Calmet has chien), so somehow Calmet got it wrong.

Otherwise, this is, as Calmet says, the incident that von Schertz relates at the beginning of his book before going on to refer to the case of the shepherd from Blov.

Like I have said before, it would be very interesting to have a critical and annotated edition of Calmet's book on revenants and vampires based on a reading of Calmet's source material.

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