Home > Luther > Mice stealing milk and an unusual exorcism

Mice stealing milk and an unusual exorcism


cranach_johannes_bugenhagenTalk at Luther’s Dinner Table, 1536

(this translation is my own and is wrong in some parts.)

WA TR 3 p. 355-356.

“Most love potions and spells are cast by whores of the devil, and by shepherds, like the shepherd who sent Chancellor Brueck four sheep.  The sheep remained alive, but all the fat had disappeared from them.  I hold, that all the devils which Christ drove out at Jerusalem and Judea into the swine, they have come into this slime [shepherds living in Wittenberg, apparently? ], and perhaps this is an opportunity to preach the gospel to them, in order to drive out these demons.  There is such stealing, robbing, and sorcery, it must be the devil incarnate.

Lord Provost Kemburg complained that for the last two years there has been no milk because of the witches.  Dr. Martin Luther replied, “The Devil came to Pomeranus [i.e. Johann Bugenhagen, the pastor of the church in Wittenberg] in his house, so that his wife and maid tired themselves out churning butter, but it didn’t come out right.  Therefore Pomeranus taunted the devil, “Go shit in the butter churn.”  Then Satan quit, because he is the most proud of the spirits and can’t stand to be slighted.  And they said that when they ate the butter it was like eating dung.

So the wife took hold of the mouse.  And the next day in the morning a hag (witch) came with a wounded hand and foot asking for oil.  *”

(*footnote: “This is a brief summary, probably, of Luther’s talk.  He probably told in greater detail about a witch who wanted to steal her neighbor’s milk while transformed into a little mouse.  But the lady of the house catches the mouse and wounds it.  The next day the witch comes asking for oil for her wounds, which she bears in the same places that the mouse did.  Luther appears to have told this story elsewhere in the table talk…”)

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  1. Stuart V. Burt
    June 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Karl, Luther definitely would be persona non grata in today’s *CMS, thanks

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