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Thursday 17 March 2011

A Polish Pact with the Devil

The impressively phallic-looking rock pictured on the left is known as Maczuga Herkuleza (the Club of Hercules), and is to be found in the Ojcowski National Park near Kraków in Poland. The photograph was taken by Ewa Babarowski, who drew my attention to the following connection between the rock and the Faust-like legend of Pan Twardowski...

Twardowski is supposed to have been a sorcerer who sold his soul to the Devil in sixteenth-century Kraków. The character may be entirely legendary, or he may be based on a real person... possibly even the English occultist Edward Kelley, who received his infamous Enochian Keys (by some magical means, quite possibly involving a pact with the Devil) while visiting Kraków in the 1580s.

According to the Polish legend, Twardowski negotiated a contract that saw him endowed him with formidable powers and knowledge until such time as he should go to Rome, at which time the Devil could have the sorcerer's soul and take it to Hell. Twardowski, of course, had no intention of ever visiting the Holy City -- but in fairly short order he found himself wandering into a local tavern which just happened to be called... Rome! When the Devil arrived to claim his soul, Twardowski attempted a few delaying tactics by giving His Satanic Majesty a series of seemingly impossible tasks... one of which was to balance this huge rock on its end!

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