ok-pulled out Grimm's Teutonic Mythology and found some interesting references to the Eternal Hunter IN Germany...He is called Hackelberend-and one story does indeed say he hunted on the Sabbath-Sunday and was cursed-the other says that one his deathbed he refused to hear about heaven from the priest and replied "The Lord may keep his heaven, so long he leaves me my hunting". thus being cursed for all eternity to hunt... pags 922-923
"Miracle (wundern) is the salutary, magic (zaubern) the hurtful or unlawful, use of supernatural powers: miracle in divine, magic devilish; not till the gods were degraded and despised was magic imputed to them. Beings midway betwixt them and man, sage, giants, artful elves and dwarfs practice magic; only their skill seems more innate, stationary, not an acquired act. Man can heal or poison, by directing natural forces to good or to evil; sometimes he even shares the gift of miracle, but when he pushes the beneficient exercise of his powers to the supernatural point, he learns to conjure. Miracle is wrought by honest means, magic by unlawful; the one is geheuer (blessed, wholesome) the other ungeheuer. At the same time the origin of all conjuring must be traced directly to the most sacred callings, which contained in themselves all the wisdom of heatherndom, via. religious worship and the art of song. Sacrificing and singing came to mean conjuring; the priest and the poet, confidants of the gods and participants of divine inspiration, stand next-door to the fortune-teller and magician. Is is so with all nations, and was so with our ancestors: by exception, not of contrast. The ancient Germans knew magic and magicians: on this foundation first , do all the later fancies rest. And the belief was necessarily strengthened and complicated when, upon the introduction of christianity, all heathern notions and practices were declared to be deceit and sinful delusion: the old gods fell back and changed into devils, and all that pertained to their worship into devilish jugglery..."
Holda and Pertcha are purely pagan half-goddesses, round whom gathers the magic ring-
"After the conversion, sorcery links itself with the discredited gods both foreign and
domestic: not at once with the Devil yet to take root among the people. The Withes
are of the retinue of former goddesses, who, hurled from their thrones, transformed from
gracious adored beings into malign and dreaded ones, roam restless by night, and instead
of their once stately progresses can only maintain stolen forbidden conferences with their
adherents. Even when the bulk of the people was won over to the new doctrine, indivdual
men would for a time remain true to the old faith, and perform their heathern rites in
secert: but soon these pagan practices would cease for as real facts, and abide in the
memory and shaping fancy of mankind, and the more enduringly if they were connected
with popular feasts and the permitted or prohibited usage about healings and poisonings.
Performance, tradition, fancy were mixt up together, and no single century can possibly
have been without the notion of illicit idolatrous magic, even if we are unable to specify the
shape in which it entertained it." pg 054-1055 Teutonic Mythology.
What to my mind completely establishes the milder explaination of witche's doings, which
leaves the Devil out of the reckoning, is the collection of conjuring spells collected. Taken
mostly from witch-trails of the last few centuries, when the link between witch and devil
was a long-established thing to the popular mind, they refer not to devilish doing at all, but
everywhere to elvish or even christian. Some of them seem to be of high antuquity, or
heathen origins, and to have been handed down through a long course of oral traditions.
Their power to hurt or heal is founded on faith in elves and sprites, whose place is
afterwards filled with angels and holy names."
"of all the names (for the Devil) confessed by witches, none is commoner than Flederwisch-
which means the end limb of a gooze wing, used for the purpose of dusting, aptly denoting
the rapid whisking to and fro."