Before there were "alien" abductions, there were cases of demons carrying off sinners. As Ancient Astronaut Theorists might say, modern abductees return with only modern discomfort from anal probing while the earlier experiments conducted by the "extraterrestrials" or demons were much harsher. This piece of weird old art comes from Robert Burton's Wonderful Prodigies of Judgement and Mercy (1685).
Here is what Burton writes in describing this picture:
XVII. At Oster, a Village in Germany, there happened a most strange and fearful judgement upon a Woman who gave her self to the Devil, both Body and Soul, and used horrible Cursings and Oaths against her self and others, which detestable Custom she practised upon all occasions, but more especially at a Marriage in that Village upon St. John Baptist’s day; and though the whole company exhorted her to leave off that monstrous Villany, yet she would not be perswaded, but continued therein till all the People were set at Dinner, and very merry; when the Devil having got full possession of her, suddenly appeared, and taking her away before them all, transported her into the Air with most horrible out-cries and roarings; and in that manner he carried her round about the Town, so that the Inhabitants were ready to die for fear; and soon after tore her body into four pieces, leaving a quarter of her in the four several high-wayes, that all who came by might be witnesses of her punishment; and then returning to the Marriage, he threw her bowels upon the Table before the mayor of the Town, with these words; Behold these Dishes of Meat belong to thee, whom the like destruction awaiteth, if thou dost not amend thy wicked life.
The Reporters of this History were John Herman, the Minister of that Town, with the Mayor himself, and all the Inhabitants, they being desirous to have it known for Examples sake. Beards Theatre.
You have to admit, the bowels on the table are a nice touch, certainly more effective than modern aliens' penchant to deliver ethereal warnings about ecological or nuclear devastation.
Image and text courtesy Liam's Pictures from Old Books.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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