Bochnia, 1679, Regina Wierzbicka of Predocin, Maryna Mazurkowicowa of Bochnia, Borucina of Niedar. 15th March.
Wierzbicka took a child she had conceived with Bartosz Ogrodnicki, (they were not married) and having lain it down, paid a girl to look after it. When she returned, the baby had gone. The fate of the baby was never proven, but this feeds into powerful myths of the witch as a child stealer and murderer.
Wierzbicka’s back-story revealed that she had worked as a servant in many houses and claimed to be of the noble family of Okrasionek. Her father was mayor and she had a sister who married but had died seven years previously and a brother who had perished in the Army in the same year. Her parents had predeceased her. The mayoralty was sold to Pan Bronicki and she took 1000 zloties as her share. She worked for him for two years then moved every couple of years or so and eventually came to Bochnia.
Under torture, Wierzbicka confessed to using pins to ensure that her lover would not be unfaithful – to no avail. She had taken this advice from Borucina, who then instructed her to put a rose and frog in a pot. Wierbicka duly carried out the orders, adding a man’s belt she had obtained from the executioner at Nowe Miasto, but he found it and took the pot.
“I saw Borucina fly through the window at night, because I always slept next to her. I asked where she had been, then she told me and said she had 14 jars. I saw as she smeared herself and searched for a broom. I saw how she made milk from the post by the market. When she showed me, I asked her how and she told me it was through the Devil. She told me that when you give yourself to him, you will also be able to do that.
“She told me to go for water to the manor well on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I haven’t done that yet for she said that having come back with water I was to shout “Devil I give you my body and my soul”. She said that the Devil would come to me and ask me for a written pact and she taught me how to give it to him by bleeding myself through my left nostril.
“I didn’t go and missed the next time as well and felt so bad that I went to Mass at church, so that if I had a soul, I wouldn’t lose it. I took the child for Borucina’s witchcraft and she was to have bled it. I had to get the child and give it to the gardener for 12 weeks. Borucina’s brother killed a pregnant woman in the forest and ripped the child out from her.”
Pani Pieglowska, the former mistress of the gardener, had found spells on him. Witnesses claimed that Wierzbicka had made a spell using a pot with a snake, a rat and a frog and Pieglowska, in fear, had paid her well and let her go. Wierzbicka had a reputation for witchcraft.
The flight to the sabbat
Wierzbicka confessed: “Borucina smeared me once again and I flew. There were five of us, one flew on a sword, another on a broom and I couldn’t fly, but three weeks later I went, I hadn’t smeared myself properly and fell onto Skwarczowski’s fields. Borucina and Maryna flew back for me and propped me up between them. Borucina danced there and ordered me to dance.
“I saw the Devil, who was black, and when they led me to him, he punched me and he was dressed in the German/foreign style. They cooked scrambled eggs and gave me eggs, which fell out of my mouth when I breathed out and said the name of the Holy Virgin. They gave me a scapular and something black to drink. They pretended it was wine, but it was bitter. They flew away and I had to walk for three days to get home. On my return I went straight to the church and had a Mass said. Borucina and Maryna burnt the baby. Mazurkowa said this in front of me.”
Maryna Mazurkowa’s confession
When taken for the second torture, in contrast to what she had said before Mazurkowa now began to sing of her acts of witchcraft. She said that Borucina gave her a powder, and she drank it.
She confessed: “I know Borucina is a witch, she said herself and I was at the border (sabbat) with her. She didn’t smear herself with ointment, just drank powder and flew off on a broomstick. There were five of us, among them there was one man Jan Jaczek, who played on the pipes. We destroyed the wheat, the Canon Priest Dabski of Cracow hired Borucina to destroy the wheat. She was to destroy Uscia by burning. She knew about the baby because she met Wierzbicka at the sabbat and Borucina was to dry it and bleed the veins. As we threw the powder, we chanted “let there be years as dry as this dust, let there ne no rain and let nothing grow.” I know that Wierzbicka and Borucina burnt the child to powder. We drank that powder with Borucina.
Two years ago, our devils were Vojevode and Marshal, who always danced with us and we drank from pewter steins. I had sex with the devil called foreman and Wierzbicka with the Vojevode. I harmed nothing in Bochnia because I have been treated well here, except the harvest, and the results of that have been seen already. I learnt my witchcraft in the fields of Father Dabski with Borucina and Kucina, as he paid 1000 zloties. Only 100 zloties of the priest’s money remains and I have received nothing yet. Borucha has it. I renounce the Devil, to whom I gave my soul two years ago.”
Then two of the accused confronted each other.
When they were sentenced to death, they said: “Preparing ourselves for the Last Judgement and going to the next world, at this final end to our lives we confirm all that we said during torture, that we indulged in witchcraft, we renounced God, Our Highest Creator of Heaven and Earth, which we now regret. We call upon his help and salvation in our fall.”