Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

Though torture was frequently used to obtain confessions, and while many confessions are undoubtedly worthless, yet there is a residuum of cases where torture was not used, in which the persons accused confessed freely. Their God, they , said, had promised them that they would be happy in the after life, and they died without remorse or terror.

To the Church it was evident that this deity must be the devil, for it was axiomatic that all pagan deities were devils. At the very beginning of the Christian era, the author of Revelation had called the altar of Zeus at Pergamos “the throne of Satan“. In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Burton makes the identification of pagan deities with Christian devils quite clear, and points to the tradition that they could have intercourse with human beings:

“Water devils are those naiads or water nymphs. Paracelsus hath several stories of them that hath lived and have married to mortal men…. Such a one was Egeria, with whom Numa was so familiar, Diana, Ceres, etc…. Terrestrial devils are Lares, Genii, Fauns, Satyrs, Wood-nymphs, Foliots, Fairies, Robin Goodfellows, Trulli….”

In a Bull issued against a sect known as the Stedingers, in 1233, Gregory IV accused them of communion with devils, and of scorning sacraments, and added that the ceremony ended in “indiscriminate debauchery“. In the same century, the minister of the Scottish parish of Inverkeithing was presented for leading a fertility dance in the churchyard. In 1282, Dame Alice Kyteler was tried for worshipping a deity other than Christ. Margaret Murray has brought forward numerous other indications of the survival of a pagan worship. (182) It is also well established that the sabbath constituted a form of religious ceremony, including hymns, prayers, sermon, homage to the god and a ritual meal. Converts were required to make a public profession of faith and were then given a new name (baptized).