What does “SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS” actually mean? Who is Hecate, and what are Runes? Here in the encyclopaedia of ‘Catweazles World’ you can look up what we have been able to find out about the individual names and terms that occur in the series. Writer and mighty master magician Richard Carpenter researched extensively on magic, the occult and mythology to give Catweazles world much historical accuracy.
We are much indebted to our sister in magic Eva from Germany for compiling this information. Have a look at Eva’s magical site: www.catweazle-fan.de
At the beginning of the episode The Black Wheels Catweazle recites a magic spell including the name Abraxas. Abraxas (also known as Abrasax or Abracax) is a gnostic deity and is used as a sign of victory and good luck. His name is also defined as a magic word. The well-known Abracadabra is said to have originated from the name. In gnosis (an esoteric religious movement) Abraxas is the lord of the world.
Many scientists believe that this name derives from the Hebrew word Habberakah, meaning the blessing. According to the gnostic numerical system* (see below) the numerical value of the Greek letters of Abraxas is 365 – the number of days in a solar year. This is also the numerical value of Meithras (the Greek form of the name Mithras) – the Persian god of light beloved of the Romans and later also the Celts. It is believed that Abraxas and Mithras are the same god. On his amulets Abraxas, who in this system represented the 365 aeons (ages) and was deemed to be the almighty, is depicted with the head of a cock or a lion, the body of a human and snake-like legs, which at their tips give way to scorpions. In his left hand he holds a whip or a club, and in his right hand a round or oval shield. He was invoked with all the names of the Hebrew god Jehova, i.e. Jah, Adonay and Sabaoth.
(a = 1, b = 2, r = 100, x = 60, s = 200) next letter
Adamcos is the name of Catweazle's athame. An athame (also called yag-dirk or seax) is a so-called witch's ceremonial knife with a double-edged blade. It serves to direct and bundle magic power and sometimes also to draw the magic circle, but never to cut with. Catweazle also uses Adamcos to hypnotise and to show the way. Consecrational rituals, inscriptions and symbols on the knife are said to further reinforce the magic powers of the athame and its wearers. And it is frequently worn like an amulet on a necklace. Catweazle also wears Adamcos, which is sacred to the goddess Hecate, with a chain around his neck. To consecrate is a magic rite to transfer forces to things.
In the German book Catweazle's witch knife is not called Adamcos but Adamos. I assume that Richard Carpenter derived the name from the word Adamas. Adamas (or Adamant) is a synonym for a very solid and robust material, crystal or metal. In the past Adamas was the name for steel, later it was used for the diamond. The Greek word adamas means invincible and in Greek mythology Kronos owns a sickle made of Adamant. Unlike iron this material could also hurt gods. next letter
Adramalech (also Adramelech, Adrammelech, Adrammelek, Andramalech) is mentioned by Catweazle in the episode The Sign of the Crab. Catweazle wants to cast a magic spell and send Tearful Ted the 77 plagues of Adramalech. The name of this demon derives from Adar-malik = glorious king. It also means king of fire, and he is described as the sun-god, and thus the counterpart to the moon-god Anammelech. Adramalech appears in the form of a donkey or peacock with a human torso. He is a being from Assyrian mythology and belongs to the group of the baals (i.e. rulers or masters). He is also held to be the grand chancellor of the underworld, wardrobe master of the ruler of the demons and chairman of the high council of the devil (founded by Beelzebub). next letter
Barakiel (also known as Barchiel, Barachiel, Barbiel, Barkiel or Baraquel) is one of the seven archangels and angel of the month of February. He rules over the planets Jupiter and the signs of the zodiac Scorpio and Pisces. Together with the angels Uriel and Rubiel, he is said to bring good luck to all games of chance. He is the lord of lighting, and is also called God's Lightning or Prince of Lightning. No wonder that in the episode Castle Saburac Catweazle thinks Sam Woodyard is Barakiel when he sees him working with a welding torch. next letter
Beelzebub (also Belzebub, Belzebuth, Beelzebuth, Hebr. Belezbul) is also called Lord of the flies. In the New Testament (Matthew 12.24) the lord of the demons is called Beelzebub. He is depicted as a fly with a dreadful appearance. Carrot calls his tortoise Beelzebub and gives it the nickname Beelzy. next letter
Cernunnos (also called Cerunnos or Hu Gadam) is one of the oldest Celtic gods (origin approx. 2nd century BC). His name means the horned one. He was worshipped in both Britain and France. He is frequently depicted sitting cross-legged and wearing a sleeveless tunic and a pearl necklace. He bears the ears and antlers of a stag and is deemed to be the god of the animals. Frequently depicted with animals such as the snake and the stag, Cernunnos is sometimes shown feeding them. This indicates that he is a god of plenty and fertility. Cernunnos can change his manifestation and adopt the form of a snake, wolf or stag.
In the episode The Curse of Rapkyn he is admittedly depicted in a tunic and sitting cross-legged, but his head has two faces. Mr Gladstone also mentions that the two faces make him similar to the god Janus. It can thus be assumed that in the series he is probably a kind of mixture between Cernunnos and the Roman god Janus. next letter
This apparently simple sign is an universal symbol with numerous meanings. The circle, which has neither a beginning nor an end, embodies an infinite cycle and is thus the most important symbol of eternity. It also stands for the cosmos, the divine, unity, perfection and life. In many interpretations the centre of a circle represents the centre of infinity or the origin of the universe (and is also a symbol of sun and gold).
Because of the similarity with the sun the circle also became a symbol of life. Its shape implies a dynamic, endless turning movement that positions the circle in relation to time and the unyielding cosmic laws. Because it is similar to a zero, it also represents a potential for development that has yet to be implemented. In many oriental cultures, including Islam, the circle symbolises divine perfection. In occult practices the magic circle is accorded a strong protective effect, and it is also an important symbol for meditation (mandala). In psychology the circle embodies the ideal self that has achieved complete equilibrium. next letter
Clavicula Salomonis (also called Clavicula Solomonis or Clavicula Salomis) – The Key of King Solomon – is the name of a famous cabbalistic Book of Spells. At least since the Middle Ages it has been one of the most famous and most widespread of all text books of magic. The exact time and nature of its origin, however, are unclear. Clavicula Salomonis includes instructions on magic and the production of various seals or talismans. King Solomon lived in the 10th century BC in Israel, and ruled from 972 to 932 BC. It cannot be unambiguously proven whether he is really the author. Catweazle mentions this book of spells right at the beginning of the series. next letter
Crossing your fingers is the simplest way of forming the sign of the cross. It is especially effective as magic against the devil. A cross is a complete unity: it represents the four points of the compass and the four elements. If two lines cross you can hold on to a wish (or a lie) at the point where they meet. A wish remains at the point of intersection until it has been fulfilled, and a lie remains on that spot, is kept away by the evil spirits and does not create any difficulties.
In early times two people would cross their index fingers, whereby the first person made a wish and the second hoped the wish would be realised. This was later simplified in that just one person would cross their fingers. Thus in England and America crossed fingers still convey the meaning of hoping for a positive outcome, whilst in Germany you cross your fingers behind your back when you are lying and wish to avoid bad consequences or when you do not intend to keep a promise. next letter
The curse is a form of harmful magic. The aim, using formulaic words, is to bring misfortune upon another person or upon the person in question. Books of spells contain exact descriptions of the formulas and the rituals to accompany them. Cursing someone means invoking the revenge of a great power against which the cursed person has little protection. A curse is spoken magic; if you do not believe in magic a curse becomes blasphemous or meaningless. Rapkyn's curse in the episode The Curse of Rapkyn is as follows: Hexwood, I blight thee, Stones hold my power. One in the water, One in the tower. next letter
This magic chariot roars like the damned, says Catweazle upon seeing a tractor for the first time. Like the damned? Who are the damned? According to religious teaching the damned are those who at the Last Judgment are rejected by God. Unlike the blessed, whose prospect is eternal life by God's side, the damned must reckon on the devil looking after them. Everyone who has not lived in accordance with the laws of God and the church is cast into a state of damnation. Colloquially, a damned person can also be someone who has to suffer a particularly harsh fate. The reason for this does not always have to be readily apparent. next letter
Demon (Greek daimōn = deity) is the original designation for a god – later a being halfway between gods and humans – who (as was believed) can have a good or evil influence on human fate and cosmic processes. The Greek philosophers deemed it to be the divine aspect or the divine voice in a human being (daimōnion).
Demons are characterised by their unpredictable, moody nature, and often seize humans' spiritual powers. The bible describes them exclusively as evil spirits – fallen angels who represent a force against the power of God. Demons are often crucial figures in later sagas, and appear as superhuman beings. next letter
A divining rod is a fork-shaped branch of willow, alder, hazel bush, buckthorn, lime, birch etc. – but usually made of willow or hazelnut wood. The use of such forked branches for the purposes of magic is very old. Cicero mentions in his works a magic wand in which one can easily recognise the divining rod. But the first more detailed information on this comes to us through the Benedictine monk Basilius Valentinus, c. 1490, who cites the divining rod as Caduceum, Herold's rod, divine rod, Jacob's rod, soothsaying rod, baguette etc. Hermes' rod, which the winged god of merchants holds in his hands, also merely symbolises a divining rod.
It was supposed to serve to show the treasures concealed in the earth. It was later used by miners to find ore and veins of coal and water. The commonest method of use is for the diviner, i.e. the person using the divining rod, to hold the rod in front of him by the two short fork-shaped branches so that the rod sticks out vertically in front of his body. The basis of use of the divining rod is the fact that there are people in whose hand such a rod actually dips when over concealed pieces of metal, ore etc.
This capability of recognising such concealed objects of course lies not in the rod but in the sensitivity of the person in question, who feels the proximity of the metal, ore, water etc. and through involuntary and unconscious movements in the hands holding the rod makes it dip … and as we know from Catweazle you have to hold it the other way round to find wogle-stones. next letter
According to both popular belief and ancient magical traditions the eye represents more than just a visual organ. It is held to be the window to the soul, from which beneficent or destructive forces of the soul can emanate. The evil eyes of evil beings are already physiognomically recognisable: by a particularly fixed and piercing gaze and usually by a red, bloodshot colouring. This visibly evil eye was ascribed not only to man-eating giants, dreadful demons, hunchbacked dwarfs or witches, but also to people with evil intentions. Envious people in particular, for whom the good fortune and the glory of others is an abomination, are said to possess the evil eye. The evil eye creates more than just a moment of unconcealed malice – it was feared that those affected could be permanently damaged by it. For this reason it was important to protect yourself against this evil eye using as many repellents as possible.
Above all eye amulets and eye talismans were deemed to be effective counter-magic. The eye symbol of God was applied to buildings and building components as a characteristic sign of protection against evil deeds. There are also a number of hand signs that are alleged to ward off the evil eye. But the person in question must not notice these hand gestures, so you have to hide your hand in your pocket whilst making them. Spitting three times can also protect against the evil eye.
Where does this term occur in Catweazle? In the episode The Wogle Stone, when the construction workers suspect that Catweazle has the evil eye. But this is of course not the case ... Not our dear old Catweazle! next letter
Catweazle's familiar spirit is a small toad called Touchwood. A familiar spirit of a witch or magician is also called a spiritus familiaris or just a familiar. Witches are said to have possessed such assistants, who lent them a helping hand with their magic deeds. It was also believed that these beings were horned and winged imps who could also adopt the form of apparently ordinary animals. It was often insinuated of women accused of witchcraft that their pet (often a cat) was their familiar and a disguised imp up to no good. The following animals were frequently held to be familiars: cat, dog, toad, owl, blackbird, spider, bat, weasel, ferret, mouse, rat, snake, grasshopper… etc. next letter
Glassiabolas (also Glasylalabolas, Caassimolar, Classyatabolas, Glasya-Labolas, Cacrinolaas) is a demon in the form of a dog with the wings of a gryphon. He teaches all the arts and sciences, is the originator of bloodshed, can make humans invisible and knows the future and the past. He is the high chairman of the underworld and serves as a mount for the demon Nebiros.
Glassiabolas is mentioned by Catweazle in the episode The Enchanted King, when at the beginning he conjures up the demons to get them to say where he can find the sign of Libra. next letter
Goblin is a collective term for evil spirits inclined to pranks who get up to mischief in England. The appearance of goblins is said to be deformed and dwarf- or imp-like. There used originally to be friendly and helpful hobgoblins as a counterpart to the damage-causing goblins. Catweazle slightly misunderstands the name of the sculptor in the episode The Enchanted King. Cedric says to Catweazle: …Mr Gobbling. and Catweazle replies: No, not a goblin…. next letter
Catweazle's witch knife Adamcos is sacred to the goddess Hecate. But who is Hecate? The Greek word Hecate means The one acting from afar, and also derives from the Greek word hekaton meaning hundred – a hundred because Hecate brings here worshippers a hundredfold harvest. In the daytime she devotes herself to agriculture and at night to witchcraft. Hecate was originally a moon goddess, whose cult came to Greece from Asia Minor. The Ancient Greeks held the goddess Hecate to be the mistress of magic, ghosts and witchcraft. She was primarily a goddess of women, thus above all female magicians invoked her in their nocturnal pursuits.
Hecates' affinity with crossroads, which have been deemed eerie places from time immemorial, is manifested in that she is often depicted with three faces or three figures, to give her the optimum overview of triple forks. She sometimes also appears as a she-wolf or mare. Garlic is brought to her as an offering, and rue plays an important role when conjuring up Hecate. In magic, rue also serves as defence against evil spirits. next letter
An incantation (or magic spell) can either be written or spoken. Its power lies in the form of the words used – they can come from the mother tongue of the magician – and in the way they are emphasised. I have drawn up a list of Catweazle's best-known magic spells here. I have not been able to find a clear meaning for all of them. Here I have also explained the two magic spells Hocus-pocus and Abracadabra. In the series they are only mentioned peripherally, but the story of their origin is nevertheless very interesting.
"Salmay, Dalmay, Adonay."
This is probably Catweazle's best-known magic spell. (In the german version it is: Salmai Dalmai Adomai.)
Meaning: The word Adonay (Adonai) is of Hebrew origin and means my Lord. The name of God JHWH (Tetragrammaton) and its short form JH are read by Jews as Adonay. Unfortunately I do not know the meaning of the words Salmay and Dalmay.
"Sator arepo tenet opera rotas."
Meaning: This magic spell is the so-called Sator-Arepo formula, and is described above in the glossary. Literally translated it approximately means: 'The sower Arepo holds the wheels with difficulty.
"Gab, gaba, agaba."
Catweazle often recites this spell whilst blowing on his magic ring.
Meaning: All I have been able to find out is that there is a magic spell by means of which spirits are driven out. Part of this spell is: '... Beroald, Balbin, Gab, Gabor, Agaba …' (from 'The book of black magic and ceremonial magic'). It is questionable whether Catweazles's magic spell has anything to do with this.
"Pax, Sax, Sarax."
Catweazle recites this spell in the episode Duck Halt when he asks the runes to predict the future.
Meaning: In the 60s there was a party game or board game called Ka-Bala. It was supposed to predict the future. Whilst letting a ball roll in a circle, as in roulette, the player
When in the episode The Black Wheels Catweazle crushes the records he recites this spell.
Meaning: These words can be found in an old English song ('Everyman's Book of English Country Songs' von Roy Palmer, London 1979). The text of this song was written by Jesse Baggaley in 1930. 'Yan, tan, tethera, tethera, pethera, pimp…' is an old method of counting sheep.
"Zazel Hasmasel Barmasel Schedbarschemoth"
With these words Catweazle hypnotised Theda in the episode Castle Saburac.
Meaning: The words can be found in the book 'The Magus' by Francis Barrett. It is a listing of the names of various demons or spirits. 'Zazel' is one of the spirits of the planet Saturn, 'Hasmasel' belongs to Jupiter, 'Schedbarschemoth' to the moon…
Meaning: Hocus-pocus may have begun with an ancient Nordic magician called Ochus Bochus.
It may also be a shorter version of hocus pocus fidibus, a widespread blasphemous parody of part of the Catholic mass hoc est corpus filii (this is the body of the son). The expression unquestionably holds an important place in the history of the art of magic. Thomas Ady's 'A candle in the Dark: or, A Treatise Concerning the Nature of Witches & Witchcraft' (1656) contains an early description of hocus-pocus: I will tell of a man who lived in the time of King John, who boasted he was 'the most remarkable hocus-pocus of the royal majesties', and the people named him thus, for in each of the pieces he performed he said: Hocus pocus, tonus talontus, vade celeriter jubeo, a compilation of dark words, in order to blind the eyes of observers and allow his trick to pass all the more smoothly without detection. It is also probable that the word hocus-pocus derives from a pseudo-Latin 16th-century magic formula of travelling students: Hax, pax, max, deus adimax. In the early 17th century Magi, magicians and swindlers traversed the land with hocus-pocus or variants on it and plied their trade. Colloquially, hocus-pocus now simply means twaddle, nonsense or charlatanism.
Meaning: This word, which we have all used dozens of times in fun, was taken very seriously in the Middle Ages. People believed that the word alone was an agent against fever. The sick wore a parchment amulet round their neck on which the word was written as a reverse pyramid. In many parts of the world people thought that somebody with fever merely had to write the word down several times, leaving out one letter more each time – as in the pyramid depicted. Like the letters, so also would the fever also disappear. The magic spell was also held to be an aid against toothache and infections. The belief in this magic word is probably centuries older than our calendar. It is thought that the word 'abracadabra' may originate from the name of God 'Abraxas'. In the mystical secret teaching of the cabbalists a form of abracadabra was used as a spell against evil spirits: A meant Father, Ben meant Son and Ruach Acadach meant Holy Spirit. In ancient times there was a widespread conviction that the very name of a supernatural being had magic powers. People called out such a name for protection – as we still do today – and thought it helped to know the true name of the correct deity. The belief that knowing someone's name would give you power over the bearer of that name can be found in German fairy tales – e.g. in Rumpelstiltskin: Oh, what a good thing nobody knows my name is Rumpelstiltskin!, and then the powerlessness when the name can be mentioned. Abracadabra also became a fixed expression in the art of magic when it became more widely used and the Magi began using fantastic, incomprehensible words instead of the names of deities and gods. The more mysterious the words, thought the Magi, the greater the magical powers (and the greater the reputation of the magician with the amazed public). next letter
The twin-headed Janus is one of the oldest Roman deities. He is the god of doors and gates and of beginnings, looking outwards and inwards, monitoring those coming and going. He is the general protector of all beginnings and transitions, lent his name to the month of January and was the first god cited in religious ceremonies. Janus was sacred to soldiers, because an army had to pass through the city gates when going into battle. He is also said to have been the inventor of money. Early Roman coins bore his image. Later on, the head of Janus also became a symbol of ambiguity or the evil and the good sides of one and the same thing. next letter
...Spells, charms, curses. Tis all here Touchwood! Prayers toTanit, prayers to Lucifer., Catweazle says about Rapkyn's book in the episode The Curse of Rapkyn. In the episode The Witching Hour, when Harold strikes a match, Catweazle says: Oh Lucifer, Oh Morning Star! Lucifer is the Satan of the Bible and of Christian literature. The name roughly means bringer of light or radiant morning star. The planet Venus used to be called Lucifer. The change in meaning of the name is because of a story from the Old Testament, according to which the morning star rebelled against God and wanted to erect its throne above God's stars. Lucifer is cast out from the sky and tumbles into hell, where he then rules as a prince. According to Christian mythology, diamonds arose when Lucifer was cast out of the sky and his light splintered into millions of shining fragments, which stand for the evil inherent in material possessions. The twin-headed Janus is one of the oldest Roman deities. He is the god of doors and gates and of beginnings, looking outwards and inwards, monitoring those coming and going. He is the general protector of all beginnings and transitions, lent his name to the month of January and was the first god cited in religious ceremonies. Janus was sacred to soldiers, because an army had to pass through the city gates when going into battle. He is also said to have been the inventor of money. Early Roman coins bore his image. Later on, the head of Janus also became a symbol of ambiguity or the evil and the good sides of one and the same thing. next letter
The magic circle is an important symbol in ritual magic. Three concentric circles are usually depicted, the radii of the second and third circles being respectively one hand's width and two hand's widths bigger than that of the first. In the middle circle you write the names of the angels, the rulers of the planets and the spirits that govern time of day, hour and place. In the outer circle the names of the spirits of the air are depicted on the four axes. Outside the circle pentagrams are depicted at the four corners. In the inner circle four holy names. In the middle of the circle, alpha is entered to the east and omega to the west. A cross divides the middle of the circle. When this circle has been drawn it is consecrated and blessed. Through these magic actions the area of ground bordered by the circle is protected from attack by hostile spirits, who have to remain at the edge of the circle.next letter
In many parts of the world being photographed is held to be portentous – even fatal. It is assumed that the soul of a human lies in his image. If you take a photo and thus create a duplicate of this image this allows the devil to take possession of the soul. It is said to being bad luck to engaged couples if they are photographed together – why should you challenge the evil spirits? It is said to bring especially bad luck being photographed with a cat, because the cat might harbour the spirit of a witch. It was also believed that if you wanted to put a curse on someone you had to turn their image towards the wall or turn it upside down next letter
Why does Catweazle always blow on his ring? As he usually does it three times I assume that this has its origin in the superstition of spitting three times, whereby it was believed that spitting loudly three times protected you against harm and bad luck. Hence the German expression Toi, toi, toi, a sort of good-luck formula. It was also believed that if you spat over your left shoulder you would be spitting in the devil's face and thus fighting off all evil – it was believed that the evil spirits lived to the left and the good ones to the right. So when Catweazle blows three times on his ring this is probably a kind of protective magic. Admittedly he does not spit on his ring, but the blowing has the same meaning. The use of rings as amulets is very old. The fact is that all rings used to be worn for protective purposes. Primitive peoples probably associate the ring with the sphere of the sun, and thus ascribe to it the strength and power of the sun. next letter
In the episode The Magic Riddle Catweazle finds a riddle written on the wall in magic script. He says: ... these words mean Malachim. Malachim (see left) is an ancient secret script of the Magi and is to be found in the Clavicula Salomonis alongside other scripts. This script is probably largely based on the Hebrew alphabet and is of cabbalistic origin. It is assumed that it derives from the old Hebrew characters in which the Thora or the Mosaic Law were written. Many people are also of the opinion that the Malachim or "angels' alphabet was used in all scripts inspired by angels and in all communications between heavenly beings and humans. It was very popular in the preparation of amulets and talismans. The riddle that Catweazle finds is as follows: Twelve there are that circle round. If power you seek they must be found. Look for where the thirteenth lies. Mount aloft - the one who flies. next letter
The mandrake root (also known as May apple) from the mandragora plant is shaped like a human and contains poisonous hallucinogens. It was held by the heathens to be holy, embodying the great mother. In Egyptian and Hebrew culture it symbolised fertility and was consumed to stimulate conception; it was also the symbol of the Hebrew line of the Reuben. In Arabia it was known as Devil's Candle, because it allegedly shone in the dark. As the emblem of Circe, the Greek magician, the power of enchantment was ascribed to it and it was used for magic potions. In the Middle Ages mandrake root was held to be a healing agent. It was believed that its roots grew under the gallows of murderers, nourished by what dripped down from the body. It was said that if the roots were torn from the ground they would issue penetrating cries, bringing death to those that heard them. Nevertheless they were also associated with positive attributes such as health and wellbein. Catweazle uses a mandrake root for the transformation magic in the episode The Demi Devil. next letter
Marbas, also called Barbas, is held to be one of the spirits of hell. He first appears in the guise of a large lion, but at the wish of the master he assumes human form. He can achieve much. It is within his power to give humans diseases and then heal these diseases. He can also transform humans into other guises, and he promotes knowledge of the mechanical arts and wisdom. He answers truthfully regarding concealed and secret matters. His seal (left) comes from the Goetia, an old book of spells and part of the book The Lesser Key of Solomon. Marbas is mentioned by Catweazle in the episode The Enchanted King when at the beginning he conjures up the demons: Come, infernal, terrestrial and celestial demons. Come oh Marbas, come oh Nebiros, come oh Glasyabolas - servants of the Zodiac, Spirits of the Brazen Vessel. Show thyselves! Lead me to the sign of the Balances. next letter
Nebiros is probably better known by the name of Cerberus. He is also called Kerberos, Zerberus, demon of the pit, Naberus or Naberius. Nebiros is one of the demons and is a prince of the infernal kingdom. He is strong and mighty, and if he is not wearing his three dog heads he appears in the guise of a rough-voiced raven. He nevertheless displays eloquence and kindness, and teaches the fine arts. You can see that this is no longer the Cerberus of the ancients – the frightening dog and incorruptible gatekeeper of the underworld who because of the many snakes with which his three manes were decorated was also called the beast with a hundred heads, centiceps bellua. It used to be said that he had fifty dog's heads, but by general agreement he is only conceded to have three. His teeth were black and sharp, and his bite caused immediate death. It is believed that the saga of Cerberus goes back to the Egyptians, who had mastiffs guard their graves. next letter
Nergal has an enormous, bull-like figure and causes chaos wherever he goes. He is a figure from the mythology of the Near East (Mesopotamia). As the ruler of the underworld he is also described as the god of Mars and the god of war or fortune in war, with the body of a lion and the head of a man. Nergal is mentioned by Catweazle at the beginning of the episode The Black Wheels: Oh, Adramelech, Nergal and Abraxas, wise demons, I call on thee. Tell me the power of these black wheels! next letter
Because of their connection with the night, owls are often deemed to be birds of ill omen whose cry heralds death and misfortune. For the Celts owls were holy, but they were also held to be night witches connected with corpses. In Africa they were deemed to be messengers of magicians, and in the Middle Ages in Europe it was believed that witches could turn themselves into owls. But as they can see in the dark and are considered serious and pensive they are also a symbol of wisdom penetrating the darkness of ignorance, and thus became an attribute of Athena, the Greek goddess of the wisdom and practical skills. In Catweazle an owl is deemed to be an ill omen, as it heralds the arrival of the Normans.next letter
Since the pentacle (also known as witch's foot, druid's foot, witch's cross, star of Bethlehem, star of the three holy kings or the five-pointed star), like the circle, has neither a beginning nor an end, it is a symbol of perfection and completeness. Its points symbolise the four elements and spirituality. Because of this double meaning the symbol was attributed with the power of exorcising evil spirits – thus it became the most important magic aid. Of all the magic symbols, the pentagram is the most revered. It shows a star, and thus the inner mystic energy. It is the sign of the earthly element in Tarot. In earlier times the pentagram stood for life and health. The gypsies called it the star of wisdom, and they revealed it by cutting obliquely through an apple, the core representing the shape of a pentagram. In the Middle Ages it was also said that witches and heathens blessed themselves with the pentagram instead of making the sign of the cross. Hence the name 'witch's cross'.next letter
In the episode The Walking Trees Catweazle discovers a hand grenade and believes it to be the legendary Philosopher's Stone. In reality the Philosopher's Stone (lapis philosophorum) is a substance allegedly produced by means of alchemy, using lengthy processes that are said to convert base metals into precious metals, and to have a rejuvenating and healing effect. At that time people hoped to be able to produce gold by this means. Separation and reunification of opposing principles – above all of the female and male principles – played an important role in the production processes. The depiction (left) comes from Mutus Liber – the Mute Book from the 12th century. It shows the 'philosopher's stone' in the athanor (alchemist's furnace); Mercury (above), standing between two angels, was held to be its personification. The depiction attempts to show that physical alchemistic operations mirror a spiritual reality – an idea put forward by the French alchemist Pierre-Jean Fabre using the following words: Alchemy is not just the art or science of the transformation of metals; it is a true and powerful science that teaches how to get to the essence of things – in divine language the spirit of life. next letter
When Catweazle's thumb is pricking he immediately knows somebody is approaching him. A book on superstition actually states that people used to believe an itchy or pricking thumb heralded visitors. Other superstition regarding the thumb is also described: people used to believe that a pricked thumb was a sure sign that evil was on its way. It was also believed that people with a long thumb were stubborn, and a wide thumb was said to indicate prosperity. next letter
Runes are characters used by the Germanic peoples before adoption of the Latin alphabet. They were originally symbols used in magic practices (oracles). According to Nordic tradition the first runes were discovered by the god Wotan (Odin), who in his striving for knowledge boldly underwent a painful ritual. After having stuck a spear into his side he hung for nine days on the branches of his Scandinavian tree of life. While his body swayed in the wind a few twigs broke off and fell to the ground in a pattern from which the runic alphabet arose. Things naturally look quite different if you go by the historical evidence, according to which the first runic alphabet, named 'Futhark' after the initials of the first six runes, was developed c. 200 AD by mortals in Denmark or Sweden. These first Germanic runes were relatively primitive and simply comprised straight lines arranged in various combinations. They were used for many non-magical purposes, including for writing letters, noting instructions and recording details of ownership in writing. The best-known runic inscription is to be found on the 'Sigurd Rune Stone' in Sweden and is reminiscent of the structure of a bridge. But right from the start magic powers were ascribed to runes. The Vikings and other Germanic peoples used runes for soothsaying, engraved them on their swords to make them invincible in battle, carved them on stone amulets to protect themselves against disease and magic and chiselled them on gravestones to ward off grave robbers. As from c. 450 BC runes were also used in England, where Anglo-Saxon magicians used them for amulets and for soothsaying. Thus far, over four thousand runes have been found in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and England. next letter
The ancient technique of predicting the future with the aid of runes has regained remarkable popularity over the past century. When the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons used runes for soothsaying they carved them on small thin wooden boards made from the branches of fruit-bearing trees. These small boards were then thrown onto a clean white cloth. A seer or rune master selected three of them (whilst looking up to the heavens and awaiting divine inspiration) and interpreted them. Nowadays keen interpreters of runes can buy sets of sixteen to twenty-three rune stones – round or elongated plates of stone or clay inscribed with runes. Using a simple modern system of rune-throwing the stones are mixed in a bag and shaken out onto a flat surface. You can then read all the stones lying with their symbol uppermost, or you can close your eyes and select three, representing the past, the present and the future. The runes can be interpreted on the basis of what is still known from the old interpretations, though many interpreters have developed their own system. next letter
Samson and Delilah
In the episode The Witching Hour Catweazle says to Harold when he sees a hairdresser's: Hair is magic, 'tis strength. Remember Samson. Who hath thy hair hath power over thee! The biblical story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16, 4-22) is perhaps the most famous example of destruction of a person by means of their hair. According to the Book of Judges, God gave Samson the gift of being almighty and invincible in battle provided he did not cut his hair. If ever he allowed a 'shearing knife on his head' he would lose all his strength and become helpless. For a long time everything went well, and Samson's fame as a mighty, awe-inspiring and invincible warrior spread. He principally fought against the Philistines, whom he held responsible for the loss of his wife. But although he hated the men of this people and killed them at every opportunity, he loved its women. And Delilah, his new wife, was one of them. Commissioned by the Prince of the Philistines with discovering the source of Samson's powers, she displayed her attractions and beguiled him until he finally admitted that his strength lay in his hair. She immediately gave this secret away to the Philistines, who waited until Samson had fallen asleep in Delilah's arms and then cut off seven locks of hair. This rendered Samson helpless, and he then had to allow himself to be taken prisoner by the Philistines, who later poked his eyes out. This story tells us that the belief in the power of hair comes from biblical or possibly pre-biblical times. Ever since Egyptian antiquity people have believed that a witch can use cut-off hair to cast a spell on someone. next letter
SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS ,is one of Catweazle's favourite formulas. This so-called Sator-Formula, Sator-formula (also called the 'Sator square') is a magic formula in the form of a square. The five words can be read vertically in both directions, i.e. from top to bottom or from bottom to top, and horizontally from left to right or right to left. This is known as a palindrome. A palindrome is a sequence of letters, words or numbers that are the same (or at least make sense) when read forwards or backwards. Because of this rare property, magic powers are ascribed to the SATOR-AREPO formula. It is one of the most widespread magic formulas, and the literal translation is: 'The sower Arepo holds the wheels with difficulty.' However, the exact meaning of the word Arepo is not quite clear. It is assumed that it is a name, though it is also possible that is derives from the Celtic word for plough, 'arepos'. There are many possible interpretations. Thus it could also mean: 'The sower Arepo keeps his works moving.' It can also be rearranged as an anagram, e.g.: 'Satan, ter oro te, reparato opes!' (Satan, thrice I beseech you: Give me back my fortune!) The word 'paternoster' is also recognisable in it. Regarding the origin of the SATOR-AREPO formula, the oldest evidence hitherto dates from 79 AD, Pompeii. The formula also appears on one of the pentacles of Saturn in The Key of King Solomon (Clavicula Salomonis). According to this book of spells this pentacle with its words is very useful 'against any unpleasantness', and is in particular used to repress the pride of the spirits. If you make incorrect use of it, however, it allegedly conjures up the negative power of Saturn and thus feelings of worry and restriction. next letter
No soot? No soot? I look like Schedbarschemoth, the black demon of the moon! Well, Catweazle really looks like that after climbing into a fireplace in the episode The Curse of Rapkyn. I have not been able to find much information on Schedbarschemoth. He is mentioned in the book The Magus (1801) by Francis Barrett, together with Betharsisim. These demons (also described as spirits or angels) are assigned to the moon: Hod, Elim Hasmodai, the spirit Schedbarschemoth Schartathan, the spirit of Malcha Betharsisim Beruah Schehalim. next letter
Schemhamphorasch, (or written Schempamporasch) This word is used relatively often by Catweazle as a magic spell. But what does it mean? The word is Hebrew in origin, and means approximately 'The name is well pronounced' (uncertain meaning), 'Divided name' or 'Genuine undivided name'. Schemhamphorasch is the designation for the 72-syllable name of God. The source is the Second Book of Moses (14, 19-21). Each of the three verses contains 72 Hebrew letters, resulting in a total of 216 letters. If you now write each of these three verses in a straight line and one above the other – the first right to left, the second left to right and the third right to left again – you obtain 72 vertical three-letter lines, each forming a word. If you add the relevant Hebrew endings you obtain the names of 72 angels of attributes of God. Picture: The 72 holy names of God with their mystical connections. next letter
Spirits of the Brazen Vessel
In the first episode, The Sun in a Bottle, Edward had to swear to the 'Spirits of the Brazen Vessel' not to mention Catweazle to anyone. But what kind of spirits? And which vessel? King Salomon had allegedly locked 72 evil spirits together with their legions in a brass vessel – a metal cauldron – as punishment for their pride. When Solomon had tied them up and had sealed the vessel he sank it together with the spirits in a deep lake (or a cave) in Babylon. The Babylonians were surprised when they found the cauldron, and they ventured into the lake to break open the vessel. They expected to find a wealth of treasure in it, but scarcely had they broken open the cauldron when the upper spirits flew away, their legions following them. All the spirits returned to their old location apart from Belial, who ascended into a portrait and from there gave answers to those offering him sacrifices and worshipping this portrait as their god. The names of the 72 spirits are as follows: Bael; Agares; Vassago; Samigina (or Gamigin); Marbas; Valefor; Amon; Barbatos; Paimon; Buer; Gusion; Sitri; Beleth; Leraje (or Leraikha); Eligos; Zepar; Botis; Bathin; Sallos; Purson; Marax; Ipos; Aim; Naberius; Glasya-Labolas; Bune (or Bime); Ronove; Berith; Astaroth; Forneus; Foras; Asmoday; Gaap; Furfur; Marchosias; Stolas (or Stolos); Phenex; Halphas (or Malthus); Malphas; Raum; Focalor; Vepar; Sabnock; Shax; Vine; Bifrons; Uvall (or Vual); Haagenti; Crocell; Furcas; Balam; Alloces; Camio (or Caim); Murmur (or Murmus); Orobas; Gremory (or Gamori); Ose (or Voso); Amy (or Avnas); Oriax (or Orias); Vapula (or Naphula); Zagan; Volac (or Valak, Valu, Ualag); Andras; Haures (or Hauras, Flauros); Andrealphus; Cimejes (or Kimaris); Amdusias (or Amdukias); Belial; Decarabia; Seere (or Sear); Dantalion; Andromalius. These spirits are described in the book The Lesser Key of Solomon (The Goetia). Also in the book Die Kinder Lucifers, a german version of the Dictionnaire Infernal (from Collin de Plancy, approx. 1845). next letter
It is hard to say which superstition regarding black cats arose first. There is an ancient Nordic saga about the chariot of the goddess Freya, which was pulled by black cats. When the Nordic peoples had been converted to Christianity Freya became a witch and the black cats became black horses, which were unusually fast and doubtless possessed by the devil. The saga also relates that after having served as horses for seven years the cats were rewarded by being transformed into witches – though in the guise of black cats. In ancient Egypt, where cats were worshipped more than other animals, black cats were a symbol of good luck. But in the Middle Ages, when belief in witches was rife, black cats were blamed for everything evil. Black cats were held to be witches' familiars, and as in the Nordic sagas it was believed that after seven years of service cats themselves became witches. It a black cat crossed your path, it was a sign that Satan had given you his attention. Because of the long connection with witches the black cat is the symbol of the Anglo-American Halloween festival. Mariners like black cats, and their wives keep them to ensure their husbands return safe and sound. You will have good luck if an unknown black cat visits you. This turns into bad luck if the cat decides to stay. In America if a black cat crosses your path it brings you bad luck, whereas in England you will have good luck if a cat comes up to you. In Japan if a black cat crosses your path it brings you good luck. In Westphalia it will bring you good luck if a black cat crosses your path from left to right, whereas if it goes in the opposite direction it will bring you bad luck. next letter
Throwing salt over your shoulder:
For many people of earlier times salt was a magic substance that could be used for both good and evil purposes. Salt became a form of protection against the devil when it was recognised that it preserves food – it then seemed more than probable that it would also protect people against evil. It was assumed that a special protective spirit would issue a warning against any looming danger if salt was spilt. Because of the general conviction that good spirits lived on the right and evil ones on the left, people threw salt over their left shoulder into the devil's eyes. Salt has many meanings. It is firstly a symbol of sadness. The Norwegians believe that you have to weep as many tears as are necessary to dissolve the spilt salt. In New England people throw salt on the stove to help tears dry faster. In order to understand the superstition regarding salt it is important to know the historical background. Above all, salt was very rare, very expensive and very hard to obtain. It was thus extremely valuable, and a special gift you gave to strangers as a sign of welcome; for ancient civilisations hospitality was a far more important virtue than it is today. In Ancient Greece strangers were greeted with a pinch of salt placed in their right hand. In the oriental countries salt used to be given as an assurance of good will. In Hungary salt used to be strewn on the threshold to stop witches or other evil getting in. Both the Greeks and the Romans worshipped a goddess of salt, which appears exaggerated until you realise they believed that salt cleaned the oceans. Since they lived off the sea their survival was dependent on the mercy of such gods. At birth a pinch of salt was placed on the baby's tongue to make sure it would enjoy a long life and good health. As salt was so rare in Ancient Rome it was often used as a form of payment for legionaries. next letter
Tanit (also known as Tinnit) is a Phoenician moon goddess and the tutelary goddess of the city of Carthage. Since she is also held to be a goddess of fertility the Romans equated her with the goddess Juno, and the Greeks equated her with the goddess of hunting and fertility, Artemis. Her sign is a symbol found on many ancient stone engravings: a trapezium closed by a horizontal line at the top, surmounted by a circle (see left). One of the occasions when Catweazle mentions Tanit is at the beginning of the episode 'The Power of Adamcos': Whilst holding the telephone receiver in his hand he says: Great mother Tanit, I call to you.... In the first episode Catweazle mentions the howling owl Son of Tanit. next letter
In Greek mythology Themis is the daughter of Uranos and Gaia, and thus belongs to the divine lineage of the Titans. She is also the second consort of Zeus. On Olympus* she is responsible for ceremonies and feasts, and on earth she is the goddess of justice and order. Known for her wise and impartial advice, she even helped Zeus after he had married his third wife, Hera. Themis is equated with Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice and the legal system. Justitia is often used as the symbol of justice. Themis is mentioned in Catweazle at the end of the episode The Enchanted King. *(Olympus is a mountain in central Greece. In ancient Greek mythology it was held to be the seat of the gods.) next letter
In the episode The Eye of Time Catweazle catches 13 fish. The thirteenth fish is supposed to be something special, since according to Catweazle the number 13 means good luck for magicians. But surely the number thirteen means bad luck? What is the actual situation? As with much superstition there are different meanings, and thirteen can bring both good and bad luck. People used to believe that there were thirteen moons (i.e. months) rather than our traditional twelve, and if there are thirteen moons then thirteen must bring good luck. The Egyptians liked the number thirteen and thought it represented the final stage of earthly presence before entering the next world. They imagined a symbolic ladder with twelve steps that one had to climb in the course of one's life, whereby every rung represented a step on the way to knowledge. The thirteenth step led to eternal life. Death was just a transformation, not the end, and many people longed for this thirteenth step with some impatience. The origin of the superstition that thirteen is an unlucky number is shrouded in mystery. There is a theory as to how thirteen became an unlucky number, namely that when prehistoric peoples counted up their fingers and their feet they made it twelve. After that came the unknown or thirteen. Because the unknown is frightening, thirteen became a sinister concept. 'If thirteen people are sitting at table, the first and the last will die before the year is out.' Perhaps this superstition goes back to the biblical story that at the Last Supper twelve people sat at table with Jesus. As is well known, the traitor Judas left the table first and later committed suicide. It is thus clear that there are many different interpretations, and that you can choose what you wish to believe in. next letter
In traditions and legends toads have long been associated with witches and magicians. Witches were allegedly able to transform themselves into toads, kept them as pets or even used parts of them as ingredients for magic potions. Symbolically toads are related to the moon and the earth and in general to the female/maternal principle. In popular belief the toad is a spirit and a guardian of treasure that protects the house against misfortune. In China it stands for fertility and wealth. next letter
Touchwood is the name of Catweazle's toad and familiar. There is an old superstition according to which touching wood brings good luck, just like knocking on wood. In the days of the druids it was believed that good, helpful gods lived in the trees. People touched the bark and requested a favour. If the request was granted they came back and knocked again on the bark by way of thanks. It was also believed that knocking on wood would fend off the punishment for boasting. 'He who talks too much of his good fortune,' according to an old proverb, 'invokes suffering'. A long time ago people believed that the evil spirits became jealous if people referred to their good fortune and that they then took it away. That is why they touched wood. In the german version Touchwood is called Kühlwalda and is feminin. next letter
Walking under a ladder
Why does walking under a ladder bring you bad luck? A leaning ladder forms a triangle or pyramid – both of which used to be symbols of life. It was formerly believed that anyone passing through this holy triangle would be punished. In the Asiatic countries criminals are actually hung from a leaning ladder, not from a free-standing one. This is because it is believed that death is contagious and that people who walk under the ladder will encounter the spirit of the hanged person and will die. To the Ancient Egyptians the ladder was a harbinger of good luck. According to an Egyptian legend the sun-god Osiris used a ladder to escape when he was held captive by the spirit of darkness. Today many Egyptians wear miniature ladders as lucky amulets. If you do walk under a ladder there are three things you can do to stop the otherwise inevitable bad luck: you can quickly make a wish whilst still under the ladder, you can clasp your hands until you see a dog, or you can walk backwards under the ladder to the point where you started the fateful process. next letter
Widdershins means anticlockwise. It is also written widershins, withershins or widderschin, and derives from the German widersinnig = absurd. The opposite of widdershins is deiseil – clockwise. The meaning of the word widdershins is often defined as 'turn against the sunlight' (so you do not see your shadow). A powerful form of magic against bad luck is to turn round three times anticlockwise. Catweazle uses this magic in the episode The House of the Sorcerer, though he turns round more than three times! next letter
In the episode The Black Wheels Catweazle says to the doctor when he wants to give him an injection: No pricking! I'm not a witch! Why? Do you prick witches? In the persecution of witches during the Middle Ages the search for a witch's mark was a preferred test for securing conviction of witches. It was believed that every witch had a mark on her body that was applied during initiation by the devil. This mark could be a mole, a birthmark, a wart or a spot that was insensitive and bloodless. By pricking with a needle or a sharp instrument people tried to discover the witch's mark. next letter
The system of the twelve signs of the zodiac has been known since the 2nd century AD. Thousands of years ago astronomical researchers observed that the sun and the planets, which year after year moved across the sky, always travelled on the same narrow path around the earth. This path, which the Greeks called 'zodiakos', was divided by astrologers into twelve equal sections, the so-called signs of the zodiac, to each of which a constellation – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces – and a period of the year was assigned. Astrologers use the position of the sun and the planets within the circle of stars to make predictions and to determine the personality of the people born under the sign of the zodiac in question. The qualities belonging to each sign of the zodiac were developed thousands of years ago, and have been increasingly refined in the course of time. Curious about what the twelve signs of the zodiac are like in Catweazle? Just click on the relevant picture: (images of 12 signs of zodiac with click links to catweazle stills). next letter