Osculum infame

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The Osculum infame in Francesco Maria Guazzo's Compendium maleficarum from 1608

Osculum infame is the name of the alleged ritual greeting of a witch when meeting the devil at the witches' Sabbath . The name means in German "shameful kiss" or "kiss of shame", since it was about kissing the devil's anus , his other mouth . According to folklore , it was this kiss that allowed the devil to seduce women.


The motif of the kiss on the back of an idol, demon or the devil can be traced back in the Middle Ages to the persecution of the Waldensians , who were said to have such practices. This was first carried over to other heretics . The accusation that the Templars kissed a black cat on the buttocks played a role in the destruction of the order. This motif was later transferred to witches. The kiss on the buttocks is part of the very sexualized representations and ideas of the Witches' Sabbath .

Depiction of a witch's sabbath from the chronicle of Johann Jakob Wick with Osculum infame in the foreground.

During the time of the witch hunt, many believed that witches worshiped and worshiped the devil by kissing his rump. The Osculum Infame is mentioned frequently in reports of a witch's sabbath and in confessions, most of which were obtained under torture .

The association of the words heretics with cat in the Middle Ages is explained with the alleged ritual, a cat as an animal of the devil on the butt to kiss (according to Alain de Lille : quia osculantur posteriora cati, in cujus specie ut dicunt apparet ice Lucifer ). Such a ritual, known as osculum infame , is described in the letter Vox in Rama (1233) by Pope Gregory IX. described.


  • Jonathan Durrant (2005): The Kiss in History , chapter The osculum infame . Manchester, University Press. (English)
  • Rosemary Ellen Guiley (2010): The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca . Infobase. (English)

Individual evidence

  1. Jonathan Durrant: The osculum infame. Heresy, secular culture, and the image of witches' sabbath. In: Karen Harvey (Ed.): The Kiss in History. Manchester University Press, Manchester / New York 2005, ISBN 0-7190-6595-X , pp. 36-60.
  2. WH Trethowan : The Demonopathology of Impotence. In: The British Journal of Psychiatry , Volume 109, Issue 460, May 1963, pages 341-347, DOI
  3. Rosemary Guiley : The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca. Infobase, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4381-2684-5 , p. 192 ( online )
  4. On heretic / cat etymology Meinolf Schumacher : Sündenschmutz und Herzensreinheit: Studies on the metaphors of sin in Latin and German literature of the Middle Ages , Munich 1996, ISBN 3-7705-3127-2 ( digitized version), pp. 379–383.