bell, book and candle A phrase from the Roman Catholic
ritual for excommunication that sometimes is used
to denote a witch or witchcraft. Excommunication, or
exclusion from the religious fellowship of the church,
represents a condemnation to spiritual darkness, with
repercussions in society. The excommunicated becomes
an outcast in secular as well as religious life.
The rite is the equivalent of a curse and involves a
bell, the holy Book and a candle or candles. The priest
reads the following sentence:
We exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the
Church, and we judge him condemned to eternal fire
with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long
as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance
and satisfy the Church.
The priest then closes the book, rings a bell—a symbolic
toll for death—extinguishes the candle and throws
it down, which symbolizes the removal of the victim’s
soul from the sight of God.
The phrase “bell, book and candle” became associated
with witches because the church believed them to be
Devil-worshipers who should be excommunicated
Categories: Paganism and Witchcraft
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